Theology and Science Aren’t Rivals (In Other News: the Sky is Blue, Water Wet)

touchingthevoid4601Continuing on with Mackie’s “Miracle of Theism”, we come to the thorny and emotional issue of arguments from design.

Mackie himself opens with Hume’s Dialogues, which contain several lines of argument (nicely summarized by Mackie). The first to be discussed is Hume’s idea that the entire universe cannot be said to be designed, because we cannot check that hypothesis with additional information (as we’ve included the whole of our information in it).

Because he tends to be very fair-minded, Mackie criticizes this argument in that it a scientific hypothesis or theory often goes beyond the available information–and is not useless for that (indeed, many have been put to amazing use). Still, he agrees with the basic formulation on the grounds that “the theistic hypothesis” does not explain why we observe the specific phenomena that we do.

Of course, the main thing to be said here is that it is simply wrong-headed to speak of “the theistic hypothesis” at all. Not only does this assume that there is only one form of theism (a falsehood that atheists are keen to reject in other contexts), but it is simply wrong to say that theism is a hypothesis in the first place.

Those beholden to materialism are constantly in danger of treating every topic as if it were science (save, it seems, when it is their personal views we happen to be discussing). No one dismisses a literary theory, a moral code, or a proposed law on the grounds that it is not a scientific hypothesis–that the results can’t be mathematically modeled or make predictions about the particular phenomena of stories, morals, or laws.

This is because these things are not science. More specifically, it is because they deal with free agents (writers, lawmakers, and so forth), and it is impossible to give a deterministic proof regarding the acts of such agents.

But this is what Mackie is demanding of theism. And it is to grossly misapply standards.

I’m coming to agree with those who maintain that there is a current tendency in philosophers to be consistently over-impressed by Hume. I enjoy his works, and he was clearly brilliant–but his arguments against theism were mostly directed at the easiest targets.

To insist that they had much, if anything, to say about all forms of theism is to deeply misunderstand what theism actually is.

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44 responses to “Theology and Science Aren’t Rivals (In Other News: the Sky is Blue, Water Wet)

  • Arkenaten

    the·ism
    ˈTHēˌizəm/Submit
    noun
    1.
    belief in the existence of a god or gods, esp. belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures.

    And the evidence is where?

    • Debilis

      It’s tempting to reply “over there where knowledge of what a topic is”.

      But, you know the drill offer me some evidence for the materialism that you embrace, and I’ll present something of equal or greater clarity in favor of theism.

      • Arkenaten

        I have no need to get involved in such things. I merely do not consider there is enough evidence to suggest a god/gods and certainly not the one presented by Yahwehists.

        I am not interested in the philosophy of it all.
        I read/studied the bible. It is crap. And thus, why concern oneself with trying to fathom some form of inner meaning to it?
        It is a fallacious document/s, and the source from whence you derive your notion of a god.
        As it is crap so is the god notion and the evidence leads to this conclusion.
        That is all I am interested in
        The rest is nothing but a blow.

        If you wish to move to “higher” ground then show my why the bible should be considered a reliable, trustworthy document?

        You have read it, I take it?

        • Debilis

          I’m aware that this is your position. I assume that you are aware that my position is that there is less evidence for any secular view I’ve found than there is for theism.

          But if you aren’t interested in philosophy, you shouldn’t be reading this blog. Your complaints come out of a self-professed ignorance of the subject. If you can’t understand, let alone answer, the reasons why your position is false, I don’t see why they should be taken terribly seriously.

          But the issue of the Bible is a topic we’re discussing elsewhere. This topic is on philosophy. You’re free to contribute to or leave the discussion. You are not free to demand that we change the topic because it bores you.

          The fact that someone might find a truth boring does not make it less true.

        • Arkenaten

          my position is that there is less evidence for any secular view I’ve found than there is for theism.

          This baffles me. Please, what exactly is a “secular view”? ( as you understand it)

          I know what the dictionary definition is, but as we never seem to touch sides regarding a mutual understanding of theism, It might clear up at least one bit of misunderstanding.

          I am not interested in philosophy in as much as it is used to justify the religious position in the absence of historical and archaeological evidence and to interpret the bible ( and other religious texts) to shoehorn an already preconceived idea into an eroding theological worldview.

          For example. Moses etc.

        • Debilis

          A secular view is any approach to life that is not religious. As for which secular view you’d like to defend, that’s up to you.

          So far, you seem to be defending a relativistic materialism (like that of Dawkins and Hitchens). But, if your view differs from theirs, let me know how.

          And I’m aware that you’re not interested in philosophy, but this is a philosophical topic. It’s like debating evolution while claiming that you’re not interested science.

          Yes, philosophy can be used to defend theism without reference to the things you mention. That is true. And you need to address those defenses if you’re going to say that your view is more logical.

          Because that is all philosophy is, thinking logically about the world we live in. If that defends theism, then we should accept theism as more logical than a view which rejects philosophy.

          The same goes for interpreting the Bible. If you feel that an interpretation is wrong, make a case that it is wrong. Simply demanding that Richard Dawkins’ idea of what the Bible said must be right is pure assertion.

          Really, it is belief without evidence.

        • Arkenaten

          A secular view is any approach to life that is not religious.

          My highlight

          Thank you. At least now I have your definition to work with.

          re·li·gious adjective \ri-ˈli-jəs\
          : of or relating to religion

          : believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion

          Do you agree with the dictionary definition of religious?

        • Debilis

          That seems reasonable enough to me.

          I’m interested in what evidence can support non-religious views on:
          1. Morality,
          2. Purpose in life,
          3. The cause/explanation of the universe, and
          4. The nature of consciousness/the mind

          that wouldn’t support theism equally well.

          For example: the idea that morality is simply a matter of our evolutionary history, and that we should listen to it for that reason, is no different than the claim that the religious impulse is, likewise, part of our evolutionary history.

        • Arkenaten

          ‘’That seems reasonable to me’’

          By this I take it to mean you agree with the dictionary definition of religion?
          (Don’t mean to come across as pedantic)

          Yes?

        • Debilis

          Indeed I’d be happy to use that definition for this discussion.

          I’m sure you’re driving toward something here. And that is fine (it is a debate, after all), but could you also answer my questions/challenges as well as drive toward the point you’re getting to?

          That seems only reasonable.

        • Arkenaten

          No, not driving at anything, merely trying to clear away any ambiguity before continuing.

        • Arkenaten

          Blast, I clicked too quickly.

          It-s a given then that you worship a single god ( found in the Triune) and the religion you follow is Christianity.
          The first part is easy for me to digest.
          The second we are on shakier ground. For me, not you, of course!
          Could you give me a hint? Name of church you attend (if any?) or do you simply consider the basic tenets of the Nicene Creed your starting point?

        • Debilis

          I’m not sure why all this is relevant.

          Most of my arguments aren’t particular to a religion–let alone a branch within the religion. The very fact that you’re asking these questions seems to be evidence that you don’t understand the arguments.

          It’s rather as if someone, arguing against the truth of evolution by natural selection, kept asking whether you believe in panspermia or abiogenesis. These questions aren’t about the fact that theology and science are different subjects.

          And the answers to them won’t give you a better idea of what I’m arguing than my telling you what my birthday is.

          So, nothing I’m claiming here is based on the position a particular church–or whether or not the Nicene Creed is true. It is simply a different topic.

          So, could you offer a response to my challenges? They’ve been made, and even iron-clad disproof of some religious belief of mine wouldn’t change the fact that they need to be answered.

        • Arkenaten

          The reason it is relevant lies in your opening statement of this latest exchange.
          To refresh.

          A secular view is any approach to life that is not religious.

          my emphasis

          I merely wanted to clarify this point.
          I cannot see why you would then think I do not understand the argument?
          I am still formulating a reply.

          And as for the “iron clad” line. If the religious perspective is shown to be fallacious then this would suggest that is all the defense needed.
          Nevertheless, I’m working on it.

        • Debilis

          Indeed, I agree that the term “religious” is relevant. It is completely fair to clarify the definition.

          I only wanted you to also defend your non-religious view. Please do so.

          But it is not “all the defense needed” to refute a particular religion. My disproof of materialism doesn’t depend on any religion being true. It would still be a disproof even if everything you’ve ever said about Christianity were right.

          All it would show is that some other view (than Christianity and materialism) must be the case.

          But we’re discussing Christianity elsewhere. Here, I want to see a reason to think that the materialism you’ve supported is true–and can defend against the reasons I’ve given that it is false.

        • Arkenaten

          There is also textual evidence that some of these writings are based on earlier accounts.

          Let me backtrack a moment to this comment.

          Where? Q? Supposition. And there is no consensus for any earlier accounts, unless you are simply referring to the original documents?
          Also,claims that there are Aramaic originals? Supposition.

          The NT. Was written in Greek. period. This is all we know

          I’m still looking over the rest of the thread….
          Won’t be long.

        • Debilis

          This is off topic.

          I really don’t see the point in discussing every side comment about the Bible when the main question of “is there any reason whatsoever to think that materialism is true” isn’t being answered.

          Can I simply write the word “Supposition” and consider materialism refuted, then?

        • Arkenaten

          You are asserting that, the claims for theism are better than atheism.
          Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists. (Wiki).

          As you have steadfastly refused to specify which theism or elaborate about your religion I am therefore forced to present my argument for atheism and materialism in the broadest sense to defend it.

          1.Theism maintains a deity exists but cannot identify which deity.
          2.It presents no verifiable evidence for its case and there are hundreds of claimants, as witnessed by the number of adherents and almost innumerable religions.
          3. As so many claim that my soul (or version of) is at stake the risk of acknowledging the wrong religion/deity is extremely high.
          4.In the face of the near impossible task of choosing the right religion/deity, the best option is obviously atheism.

          Reason:

          An omniscient deity would understand perfectly the dilemma facing one such as I and being acutely aware of the subtle machinations of those believing in theism, while recognising that ”he” is unable to personally manifest and the bloody history of almost every single religion, especially the Abrahamic religions, then an omniscient deity would surely acknowledge that my choice was not only the most sensible, but also the obvious choice.
          Atheism allows the right deity to choose me.

        • Debilis

          In this topic, I’ve simply been trying to explain what materialists tend to misunderstand about theism.

          As to your argument for materialism–it isn’t. At best, it is an argument for atheism–it doesn’t even try to make the case that there are no nonphysical things other than deities.

          But, as a case for atheism, it is also bad. It suffers from the exact same problem I mentioned mentioned quite a few times.

          Namely the “no evidence” meme. I know its a trendy slogan, but those who use it can’t actually tell me what sort of evidence they are looking for. Every time I ask, I get evasions and shifting goal posts.

          I’ve just been over the “too many religions” meme. But I didn’t mention that this assumes that there is an equal chance of each of these ideas being true. I’d want some support for that as well.

          But then this closes with a non-sequitur. “I don’t know which of these options are true” doesn’t lead into “I’ll just reject all of them, then”.

          Your reason doesn’t support that.

          First, if you are assuming that God, if there is a God, will be both omniscient and loving toward you on this point, then you’re assuming a tiny minority of religious views. Of all the hundreds of gods you’ve referenced, almost none are claimed to have those two traits.

          Second, the history of religions isn’t any bloodier than secular history (less so, actually), and manifestations are hardly the only reason to accept a conclusion.

          Therefore, third, any God that would be understanding toward you in this way would equally be understanding toward me. After all, if it is such a hard choice, and we’re both doing the best we can, that argument works equally for both of us.

          In fact, I’ve been much more eager to defend my theism than most atheists I know have been to defend their materialism.

          That being the case, I’d suspect that such a God would be more impressed with those who are actually considering their own views, not simply attacking the views of others.

        • Arkenaten

          Understanding is the key. And also tolerance’ something you have displayed a distinct lack of throughout every post you have written.

          You tacitly claim to represent a god by defending a belief in this god, yet you have no idea whatsoever what this god is like, or deity, or non-physical creator.

          My atheism and my materialism, if they are untenable have not attracted the negative attention of your deity throughout its long and chequered history.
          No intervention, nothing.

          Thus my atheism as much as my materialism , whether you like it or not, has much more validity than your theism simply because you are not considering your own views but trying to interpret for someone (god) that has no need of defense.

          In fact, any defense of theism merely displays an ignorance and an arrogance that is quite astounding, simply because what you postulate is man made and based on HUMAN reasoning and not any god’s.

          You have no case.

        • Debilis

          I agree that we should be understanding and tolerant of opposing views. I don’t think that we should be tolerant of mockery, but this is a different matter.

          But, whether or not I “tacitly claim to represent a god[sic]”, I don’t know where you get the that I don’t know what the God I happen to believe in is like. In the name of clear understanding, what I’ve said is that “what this God is like” is beside the point.

          But to argue that materialism is valid because no god has intervened in a way that you, personally, have noticed or would accept is to completely miss the arguments I’ve given.

          It is also to assume some things about what God must be like. How do you know that “intervention” isn’t simply making it true that there are arguments showing that materialism is false? The arguments are there. If they can’t be answered, then materialism is not true–whether or not God has intervened, or in what way, are simply beside the point.

          But the last paragraph here simply assumes that your position is correct. That is, everything that follows the “because” is only true if atheism has already been shown to be right. It is completely circular, then, to use this as an argument to support atheism.

          So, I’ve been asking for reasons to believe that materialism is true. To counter that with “theism is false because (if you assume that atheism is true) it is man made” is completely strange. It is both fallacious and misses the point entirely.

        • Arkenaten

          I agree that we should be understanding and tolerant of opposing views. I don’t think that we should be tolerant of mockery, but this is a different matter
          But, whether or not I “tacitly claim to represent a god[sic]“, I don’t know where you get the (idea) that I don’t know what the God I happen to believe in is like. In the name of clear understanding, what I’ve said is that “what this God is like” is beside the point.

          Of course you (and every other christen) claim to represent your god, by the simple fact that you are commanded to proselytize his word. And is not the Pope considered the Holy Representative on earth?
          Different religion but Same god.

          But to argue that materialism is valid because no god has intervened in a way that you, personally, have noticed or would accept is to completely miss the arguments I’ve given.

          Again, which god are we talking about. There are hundreds and your claim is as valid or invalid as every other person who claims they worship the “right” god.

          It is also to assume some things about what God must be like. How do you know that “intervention” isn’t simply making it true that there are arguments showing that materialism is false? The arguments are there. If they can’t be answered, then materialism is not true–whether or not God has intervened, or in what way, are simply beside the point.

          An omnipotent deity would be aware of the dilemma. I am not assuming anything about what this god would be like, you are, hence your ( and every other believer’s) claim to know what their god is like.My argument is based on your ( Christian)etc belief in his omniscience

          But the last paragraph here simply assumes that your position is correct. That is, everything that follows the “because” is only true if atheism has already been shown to be right. It is completely circular, then, to use this as an argument to support atheism.

          Again if we are dealing with an omniscient deity then my position is correct as if it is not then we are possibly dealing with a capricious deity, which flies in the face of what every god claimant, and especially claims of an Abrahamic deity.

          So, I’ve been asking for reasons to believe that materialism is true. To counter that with “theism is false because (if you assume that atheism is true) it is man made” is completely strange. It is both fallacious and misses the point entirely.

          It does not miss the point. Your indoctrination will not allow your mind to contemplate an environment that does not include your deity. But it DOES exclude every other.
          I reiterate, because of the plethora of deities and religions if there is a single, omniscient deity then it ( he ) would understand the position I take and would likely revile your stance which is intolerant and intransigent, not only against atheism, but also every other religion that holds in esteem a deity that differs from yours.

        • Debilis

          Reading over this, I only see two responses to my challenge of materialism:

          1. “Prove your particular religion to be true”, and

          2. “An omniscient God would give me the kind of evidence I’m demanding”.

          It is clearly fallacious to say that the first of these supports materialism–or answers my challenges.

          The second is less obviously fallacious, but no less fallacious. I have no idea why you seem to think that an omniscient God would give you the type of proof you want–as opposed to the type I’ve given.

          In fact, I’ve given reasons in the past why such a being wouldn’t do this. But this is simply assuming otherwise–and I don’t see why you would assume this.

        • Arkenaten

          Wrong on both counts. Which either shows you are just plain intransigent or ignorant.

          1. “Prove your particular religion to be true”, and

          No, I am not saying you have to at all. ( and you cant in any case, which is a no-brainer. Although it can be shown to be equally as wrong as all the others.)

          2. “An omniscient God would give me the kind of evidence I’m demanding”.

          Neither I demanding such a deity to give evidence. I already mentioned that if it exists it seems it is unable to manifest, and so far, this seems to be the case for <every single god ever mentioned
          What I am saying is this.
          An omniscient deity would be aware of the dilemma facing humans, and also aware of some of the often unsavory machinations of many who extol the “virtues” (sic) of religion.
          Thus, it would understand perfectly my reason for not choosing one religion/god over an other and opting instead for atheism.

          Read my previous reply over, especially the last paragraph. You have been handed you arse on a pate.
          Accept it, move on, and stop continually trying to worm your way out of the inevitable philosophical cul- de-sac your theism has led you.

          Rather take a deep breath, smile and simply acknwledge that your religious belief is based on faith and be content. I’m certainly not going to (try to) change that, now am I?

        • Debilis

          If you don’t want proof of my particular view of God (which makes sense, that’s off topic), I have no idea why you keep drawing attention to the fact that there are others. Of course, there are, but what on Earth does that have to do with the point?

          You claim that I am wrong on point number two, but then go on to explain exactly what I’ve just said.

          You’re insisting on evidence, and demanding on your understanding of evidence. I’ve already pointed out that there is evidence, according to the dictionary definition.

          But maybe God understands your reason for choosing materialism even better than you do. Maybe he’s aware that you have emotional reasons that you haven’t yet realized.

          As a case in point, you’ve been given reasons to dismiss your materialism, but still hang onto it without feeling the need to offer any defense. Perhaps God knows the reason why you’re doing this, and therefore knows that evidence isn’t the problem.

          I couldn’t say, myself, but God certainly could.

          In that case, it may well be that it is pointless to “materialize”.–that might make you afraid of him, or resent him, but neither of those are what God seems to be after in the first place.

          As a case in point, you often seem far more interested in me, personally, than the issues. Perhaps God knows that you really aren’t interested in real answers.

          I don’t claim to know. But, unless you’re claiming to know, this argument is no good at all. It only works if you know just what God would do. And you keep telling me that you don’t assume things about what God is like.

          This would mean that you don’t claim that God would disagree with me on this point–meaning that there’s no challenge at all here.

        • Arkenaten

          Read the comment properly…just for once.

          An omniscient deity would be aware of the dilemma facing humans, and also aware of some of the often unsavory machinations of many who extol the “virtues” (sic) of religion.
          Thus, it would understand perfectly my reason for not choosing one religion/god over an other and opting instead for atheism.

          Now, stop being a silly ass, relax, and acknowledge once and for all what you believe is based solely on faith and man made doctrine.

          Let me help you…

          “Our father, who art in Heaven……”

        • Debilis

          Setting aside the rudeness here, this seems to be the claim that I simply don’t understand your position.

          When I’ve made that claim, I’ve been told that I need to state it more clearly.

          So, do you plan to state this more clearly–because I don’t see anything here that I’ve not already answered. I’ve pointed out that you’re assuming things about God if you’re claiming that God would see things this way.

          But, as you insist that you are not assuming things about God, you need to quit assuming that this is how God would behave.

          Nor does the quotation at the bottom help at all. I have no idea what it is about that line that makes you think that any understanding of any God that anyone could name would obviously behave as you insist.

          Therefore, could you elaborate?

        • Arkenaten

          This is what omniscience, in essence means.
          Thus I am not assuming anything about your god that he wouldn’t assume himself.

          And if you wish to convey an understanding of your position to those who you consider fail to understand it, then perhaps you ought to consider changing your approach?
          How about one that is less asinine, for a kick off?
          One that suggests,
          I truly believe in my position and wish to convey my understanding of my god so therefore it might be better if I was not quite such a dick?.

          Just a thought…you know, use it lose..whatever.

        • Debilis

          You claim to know a lot about what an omniscient God would believe.

          Unless you’re claiming to be omniscient yourself, I don’t know how it is that you can claim that an omniscient God wouldn’t see things differently than this.

          There are many reasons why God might do things differently than you’re assuming. I’ve named several. And, surely, if I can name several, it is not out of the question that an omniscient being would know quite a few more.

          So, this seems to be simply an assumption–where my entire argument is that passionate materialists are jumping to too many false assumptions about what theism actually entails.

          As such, I don’t see any reason why I should accept that assumption as correct.

        • Arkenaten

          You claim to know a lot about what an omniscient God would believe.

          Well, my understanding is simply based on the word omniscience. I have not stated I can read your god’s mind.

          I have asked so many times that if my reckoning of what your god or theism is for you to simply state it.

          And all you do is direct me to another post or tell me I am off topic.

          Your god is Yeshua, who you believe is the creator of the universe. Everything else is just tinsel.

          Smoke and mirrors for the “tourists”.

          You have only the argument of plausibility, a la Bill Craig, which is hokum

        • Debilis

          I’m not aware of anything about the word “omniscience” that entails the things you’ve claimed.

          And, frankly, it doesn’t matter what “my God” is. I’m making a very particular point. This makes no more sense than for me to say “your view is materialism, and you’ve never explained or defended that. So it’s all smoke and mirrors”.

          This last is true; you’ve never actually defended your materialism. But I’m not complaining about that because that isn’t the topic.

          For the same reason, I don’t understand why you should be so upset that I don’t want to get into massive topic shifts. If I did, I’d expect a lot more defense for your view.

        • Frank Morris

          Ark makes the interesting comment: “Atheism allows the right deity to choose me.”

          While I empathize with what he rightly calls a “dilemma”, I don’t understand his logic on supposedly solving it.

          On a technical point, it isn’t atheism if you believe in a deity. It isn’t even agnosticism to believe a deity exists but to reject all organized religion. That is still theism.

          This argument makes some sense:

          A. There are numerous variations of theism.
          B. Therefore they can’t all be right.

          This argument is nonsensical:

          A. There are many variations of theism.
          B. Therefore they must all be completely wrong.

          There are variances in many opinions within atheism. Does that make it certain that atheism is wrong?

          Even the very definition of atheism – the belief that there are no deities – is not universally agreed upon… even by the statement I quoted from you. According to various polls, somewhere between 10% and 30% of all Americans who identify themselves as atheists believe in God.

          Go figure.

          Ark, I understand your dilemma and I can relate. Would a deity also understand? Personally I think so, but I wouldn’t know for sure.

          You say you want the deity to choose you, but in any healthy relationship, don’t both parties choose each other? If God chooses you and forgives all but gives you the free will to choose or reject her/him, then he/she can choose you, and yet still lose you by YOUR choice, no?

          I see your dilemma but don’t follow your logic.

      • Mark Hamilton

        Debilis, it’s your blog and you can do what you want, but I see how incredibly frustrating it is when people like Ark refuse to actually engage with the topic at hand. I’d like to reccomend that you simply delete comments which are deliberately off topic, especially if they’re inflammatory in nature. I know it can feel like censorship, or stifling discussion, but this is your blog. You don’t have any obligation to give someone a soapobox to stand on, especially if they’re going to use it to make a nuisance of themselves. They can do that on their own blog if they want. Just a suggestion, keep up the good work.

        • Debilis

          I think you make a good point. I was considering something like that.

          As such, I think I’ll start doing that.

          In any case, thanks for the kind words.

    • clapham common tree

      Hi Ark. point 2 of your argument is self contradicting. Billions (hundreds as you put it) of adherents (lets call them eye witnesses for the sake of this “trial”) constitute some verifiable evidence. Probably not evidence to your liking, but evidence nonetheless.

      As for the reason section, perhaps the problem is trying to solve step x+10 of the problem before starting with X. Its perhaps like dating – take the girl at her word to start with and who knows where things may end up 😉
      best,
      CCT

    • Debilis

      I had a look (in case you’re curious, I have read Pinker).

      But I’ve noticed something very much like what many atheists accuse church services of being. People getting together to strengthen their beliefs and opinions by repeating them at one another.

      It’s hard for me to imagine any of those people reading a similar conversation among theists and not insisting that it is pure indoctrination.

      To that end, I appreciate that you interact with those who disagree. I’ve always thought it was good for both sides.

  • kcchief1

    @Debilis
    My comment has no data to support it, just observation. I belong to many blogs both Christian and Atheist . I haven’t counted them today but I’m sure they are very close to being equal in number. What I can say is that the only time is see or hear of censoring someone , it has always been from a Christian Blog. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but I have yet to see or hear censoring being mentioned from an Atheist Blog.

    I am neither an Atheist nor Christian so I have nothing to gain by making these comments. As a former Christian , I do see this type of thought stemming from the way Christianity has behaved for the past 2,000 years.

    Religious censorship is defined as the act of suppressing views that are contrary of those of an organized religion. It is usually performed on the grounds of blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege or impiety – the censored work being viewed as obscene, challenging a dogma, or violating a religious taboo. Defending against these charges is often difficult as some religious traditions permit only the religious authorities (clergy) to interpret doctrine and the interpretation is usually dogmatic. For instance, the Catholic Church banned hundreds of books on such grounds and maintained the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (list of prohibited books), most of which were writings that the Church’s Holy Office had deemed dangerous, until the Index’s abolishment in 1965.

    If you think someone is running “Off Topic” , as a moderator you can ask the person to focus only on the topic or simply start a new topic for the subject they have touched on. I would think censorship would be the very last choice unless you want to concede your actions are in line with the religion you are trying to defend.

    • Debilis

      I’m sorry to hear that it is the religious that are censoring things. I am aware that it happens, and I disagree with it.

      As to the times that it has been done here. I can only assure you that I’m not censoring active points–even off topic points. I’ve only removed rude, comments without content. Things like speculations on my personal life, accusations of stupidity or malice, this kind of thing.

      I think that, if you were to read over the history of interchanges with those who have had their comments altered, you’ll find that this is only being done to those who were previously drifting into a pattern of rude one-liners in lieu of real content.

      So, I can’t claim to speak for other Christians, but I believe that all should be able to enter into the conversation–making their case. So long as they do so civilly, I think we only stand to gain from this.

      I hope this is more understandable than what it appeared to be.

      But, in either case, best to you.

    • Frank Morris

      kcchiefs, I have been banned from many atheist apologist websites, simply for politely pointing out facts that contradict the preferred anti-religious belief.

      Theist comment boards seem to only censor rude and/or vulgar comments, by my observations. It also appears to me that atheists are far more rude and deserving of censorship than theists. As evidence of that, one can merely read the above messages.

      Ark used words like “asinine”, “silly”, “ass” and even called his adversary a “dick”.

      Those comments deserve censorship, but were allowed by the board owner, even though he was the target of the attacks. I have heard no such personal affronts from Debilis or Mark.

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