Only the Worst Positions Allowed

KwameJoseph-WorstEverThe list of ways in which the New Atheists misrepresent theism has gotten pretty long in recent years. Still, there are some major themes which seem to be at the core of most of the problem.

One would think that it would be a simple matter to clear up a few basic misunderstandings, but it is amazing how often proponents of this disinformation are utterly convinced that they are doing no such thing–even when they are in the middle of spreading it.

Enter the particular misunderstanding to be discussed:

If you’re demanding that the Bible be interpreted literally, you aren’t talking about Christianity.

It is incredibly common for anyone who interprets any passage of the Bible (not just Genesis 1-3) non-literally to be dismissed with a simple “well, you clearly reject real Christianity anyway”.

The first thing that needs to be said, I suppose, is that not even the most fundamentalist believer takes the Bible absolutely literally at every passage. To demand that one is simply not a theist unless one is even more literal than the fundamentalist is definitely a straw man fallacy.

So much has been said by others. What I’d like to add, however, is a note about how quick people are to deny that this kind of demand adds up to a claim about what Christianity is.

I’ve long since lost track of the number of times I’ve been told that atheists don’t try to define God, but merely respond to what the theist claims. I’ve been told this by people who promptly demand that I’m completely wrong to interpret a passage of the Bible differently than they do. This is a blatant contradiction.

Also, it is a false dichotomy.

Whether or not the New Atheist take on the Bible is correct (it isn’t), the point is that this is no reason to be an atheist. And the New Atheists are simply wrong to demand (as most of them do) that the only options on the table are their fundamentalist atheism or a religion even more fundamentalist than Falwell’s.

The simple fact is that none of the arguments for theism I’ve presented here have relied on trusting the Bible as authoritative, let alone literal. Yet attacks on such bad theology are frequently presented as irrefutable counters to them.

All this shows, then, is that one (very silly) understanding of Christianity is false. It doesn’t address theism, or defend the materialism that the New Atheists embrace.

So, let’s agree at the outset that the weird caricature of theism that the New Atheists mock is untrue. It seems reasonable that we should then move on to at least two other ideas:

1. The concept of theism that is actually being defended, and

2. The materialist atheism that has gone strangely undefended.

So far, the response I’ve received to the first is a perpetual bewilderment at what I’m saying. At every point, atheists claim to not understand my actual beliefs (leading me to wonder how they can be so confident that they’ve refuted my beliefs)

As to the second, that’s generally ignored. And, though I count it a victory in debate that materialists are so completely unable to defend their view, I’d hoped for more thoughtful engagement than a skirting of the issue.

That is to say, those who claim that we shouldn’t believe things without evidence should completely reject materialism.

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50 responses to “Only the Worst Positions Allowed

  • violetwisp

    How do you view the words of the Bible then? Is it something influenced by your deity, written by men and prone to errors? Most Christians believe it is an error-free guidebook left by the god God, yet they all, without exception, interpret it differently. Also can you point me to the post where materialists are unable to defend their point of view, and you have the ‘victory’?

    • Debilis

      Greetings to you! (and otherwise jumping right in).

      While it isn’t really possible to give a full interpretation in a blog comment, I can say that I tend toward classical theism, and that I consider the genre of each section of the Bible before interpreting that part.

      But it’s worth mention that I wasn’t making a comment on whether or not it is inerrant. And that is another false dichotomy, in any case. “Error free” does not equate to “should be read literally”.

      So, whether or not “most Christians” believe in inerrancy, it does not follow that most believe in the version of Christianity that the New Atheists are attacking.

      As to my arguments against materialists, there are quite a few on this blog. I’m not claiming “victory” in the sense that answers are certain, but I am saying two things:

      1. By the standards of evidence that have been demanded of me, I’ve seen no evidence for materialism.

      2. When I speak to materialism, I mostly get subject changes to attacks on this (poor) interpretation of the Bible.

      • violetwisp

        It would be interesting to have a discussion with out about an issue like demons or same sex marriage, to understand how you use the Bible to guide your understanding of the god God and human life. Do you ever plan to post on specific subjects like this?

        • Debilis

          I didn’t have plans for those specific topics, but I thought I’d talked quite a bit about how I see God, and the post on gratitude was specifically about human life.

          Part of the problem is that my view isn’t simply about answers to questions, but about what questions are even important. So, even by categorizing my view by my position on the current hot-topics, one has already misunderstood it. Often as not, my position is “that’s not all that important”.

          I’ll try to answer whatever questions raised, but I’ll almost certainly keep emphasizing that the issue isn’t really significant to my view (actually, the two examples you give are in that category).

          To understand where I’m at, the idea that gratitude is central to moral behavior much more important. I believe that modern western culture has a much bigger problem with expecting and demanding luxuries than with particular issues about the definition of marriage.

          And even to marriage, my major concern (and you’ll find this in the Bible) are the issues of divorce, the idolization of romance, and a selfish approach to dating/marriage/sex.

          What does the Bible say on demons and same sex marriage? Very little.

          What does it say on the issues like caring for others and having a sense of gratitude? They are major themes.

          I hope that makes sense. I’m really not trying to avoid questions. And I’ll speak to a topic if you ask directly. But, for the most part, I’m simply interested in different questions.

          But I do apologize if that is frustrating. Please do ask if there’s an issue that you’d like me to speak to.

  • john zande

    Debilis,

    Perhaps you can point me to the disclaimer in the bible where the author says “Sections XYZ are allegorical, sections JTD are poetic, and sections WQS are apocalyptic imagery.”

    That would help. Thanks in advance.

    • Debilis

      So, if such a disclaimer isn’t written, then we should take everything literally?

      Then what about this:

      Perhaps you could repeat the disclaimer in your post where you explain that by “point me to” you don’t literally mean that I should pick you up and aim your head at the passage, but simply to type out the reference?

      Almost all writing contains non-literal statements, and I don’t know of any book that footnotes these parts. Rather, it is known through cultural and literary context. This is always the case with writing.

      In fact, we may well live in the most literal culture in the history of humanity. Why on Earth should we demand that the writings of other cultures–which span multiple genres–be taken more literally than ours?

      But, if there is no such reason, then there is no reason to demand that arguments based on literal readings have anything to say to those of us who don’t take that particular passage literally.

      • john zande

        So, you wasted 164 words just avoiding saying there is “no disclaimer anywhere.”

        Thanks. I think that says all that needs to be said.

        • Debilis

          We’re back to counting words?

          In that case, apparently you needed 24 to say “I don’t have reason to insist on taking every section literally.”

          You may not want to think past “no disclaimer”, but some of us are more aware of how language works than that.

          Really, this isn’t remotely an attempt to actually understand and engage with my actual beliefs. It’s simply a set of rhetorical tricks. This does nothing to address what I actually said.

          Or we could just demand that things are meant literally without a disclaimer. But, that being the case, the lack of a disclaimer in my last post certainly means that I didn’t say the thing you’re claiming.

          Why are you so willing to read non-literally there?

        • john zande

          “I don’t have reason to insist on taking every section literally.”

          Really? And where does it say that in your book? Your book does not claim, anywhere, to be fiction, and simply throwing a tantrum and attacking people who point this out doesn’t advance any argument. It merely makes you look a tad foolish. Let me demonstrate. Your “book” claims to be a historical document that cannot be tampered with:

          “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160, NKJV).

          A nice, affirmative line, followed by:

          2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God

          All scripture is breathed by god, and NO ONE is to ever mess with it:

          John 10:35 Scripture cannot be broken

          And

          Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

          And

          Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

          And

          Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

          (There are many, many, many more examples… But brevity dictates these few entries.)

          Now, as you admitted, there is no disclaimer saying “this section is allegorical, those few verses are poetic, or this sentence is apocalyptic imagery.” Allow me, however, to grant you Genesis. It’s so patently absurd I don’t even like talking about it. It’s low hanging fruit and not worth my time. Let us, then, look at Moses. Is there a disclaimer ANYWHERE saying Moses wasn’t actually a historical character? Is there a notice saying the Jews weren’t actually ever enslaved in Egypt? Is there a single note, ANYWHERE, saying “we didn’t actually sojourn through the desert, or conquer Canaan”?

          Is there? No. The text is presented (deceptively) as “truth”… Yet we now know it is historical fiction. As the second edition Encyclopaedia Judaica concludes: the entire Exodus narrative was “dramatically woven out of various strands of tradition… he [Moses] wasn’t a historical character.” This fact is recognised by the absolute majority of Jewish Rabbi’s today, and even Orthodox Rabbis are starting to concede the fact. See Orthodox Rabbi Norman Solomon’s 2012 book, Torah from Heaven: The Reconstruction of Faith, in which he states Moses and Exodus narrative was not rooted in reality but was rather a “foundation myth;” an origin dream, not a descriptive historical fact.

          Interestingly, does Jesus then tell his followers that Moses was fiction? Absolutely not! He speaks of Moses many times, and even (allegedly) meets with him!

          How do you explain this, Debilis? If Jesus spoke only the “truth,” why then did he lie?

          You say: “Really, this isn’t remotely an attempt to actually understand and engage with my actual beliefs,” and yet this entire post, and the majority of your posts in general, have been nothing but attacks on people who don’t subscribe to your particular brand of jaundiced hermeneutics. Re-read this post, Debilis. Do you see any affirmation or statements pertaining to your belief? Of course you don’t. You are simply attacking people who point out the tremendous errors in your book and, by default, your belief system.

          So, to conclude: there exists not a single disclaimer, but numerous passages stating historical accuracy and theological inerrancy… and you don’t feel at all comfortable with this. In your defence I can certainly sympathise with the predicament you’ve found yourself in. You’ve attached yourself to a religion that is impossible to defend. Sure, you can maintain some fragile finger-hold on your belief by performing elaborate circus tricks which demand severe cherry-picking and re-re-re-interpretation, while simultaneously ignoring the point that if something was indeed “true” then it should remain unmolested by divergences in language.

          My advice: jettison Yahwehism and just adopt Pantheism. It’s far more logically sound, and doesn’t require the ludicrous circus tricks which clearly make you so uncomfortable, anxious, and irritable.

        • Debilis

          This is much closer to addressing the issue. Thank you.

          But we get off to a bad start here. “[W]here does it say that in your book?” is just to assume that writing should be taken literally unless it directly states otherwise. Since that is precisely what I’ve been questioning, it is completely circular.

          You do quote a number of passages that claim that scripture contains truth. But this is completely irrelevant unless you’re assuming that “true” means “literally true”. If I say “there is truth to be found Shakespeare”, am I claiming that Shakespeare’s writings are literal, historical fact?

          Not at all.

          The idea that the content of a statement exists only on the literal level, unless noted with a disclaimer is absolutely silly. Shifting to another example, I find no such disclaimer in Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”.

          So, are you saying that everything in that book is a literal claim? Are you claiming that Nietzsche literally meant that the supreme being had met his demise–and that Buddha’s shadow is on a wall somewhere?

          This seems completely weird. And, frankly, I don’t see an effort here to understand–but simply to make unreasonable demands that are of more rhetorical than logical value.

          If you could name even a single book from antiquity that offers disclaimers when it is speaking non-literally, there might be something like a reason to demand this of the Bible. There might be some reason to think that this is an expected convention of the language of the time.

          If, however, there is no such thing, it’s just a random demand. And one can make random demands of anything–that doesn’t make it reasonable.

          But I’ve not attacked “people who don’t subscribe to [my] particular brand of jaundiced hermeneutics”. I’ve only criticized those who demand that a ridiculously simple-minded and academically discredited view is the only possible way to read the Bible–and one needn’t even address the more credible understandings in order to draw conclusions about Christianity.

          But, to correct your conclusion, I feel completely comfortable with the lack of a disclaimer. The presence of one would be the suspicious thing. It would put it outside the conventions of the writing of the time: providing evidence that it is forgery.

          Nor is my interpretation particularly new or novel. In fact, it is older than the idea that the Bible should be read literally in every part.

          Really, I see all these strong words and big claims here. As much as I appreciate your passion, it is completely arbitrary to make these demands.

          And, last, could we please refrain from personal comments? Obviously, I’m not nearly so irritable as you suggest. Equally obviously, but far more importantly, you really aren’t in a position to know enough about me to try armchair psychologizing.

          If you have a good reason to support this demand for disclaimers, that would be a good reason for me to change my view. Personal speculation about my mental state is exactly the sort of unsupported “elaborate circus tricks” that you accuse me of making.

        • john zande

          “But this is completely irrelevant unless you’re assuming that “true” means “literally true”.”

          -Ah, here we have our hero slip on his Magic Decoder Ring and yell, SHA-ZAM!

          “The idea that the content of a statement exists only on the literal level, unless noted with a disclaimer is absolutely silly.”

          No, Debilis, no it’s not, and sneakily trying to shift attention (and lessen the degree of scrutiny) by saying “content of statement” won’t work on me. If a book claims to be historical document (as the Bible does) then it must be analysed under that premise; then accepted as truth by its own definition, or filed as myth. Now don’t get me wrong, myths can (and do) contain wonderful truisms. There’s more wisdom in Aesop’s fables than all the books of the bible contained, and 800 years before Jesus (if he existed) Homer delivered a beautiful rendition of the Golden Rule in the form of Calypso’s promise to Odysseus (Book V, lines 208 – 210).

          Now, I presented a clear example, which you simply ignored: Moses. Is he, or is he not presented by the author as “historical fact”? Yes, or No? Please answer this question. Also please answer what this ultimately means for Jesus not informing his followers that Moses and the Exodus narrative was a foundation myth, an origin dream, not a descriptive historical fact.

          Further: Let us consider the genealogies presented in the Bible. Are these not appeals to historical “fact”? Did these proclaimed generations not give numerous theologians the (varying) age the earth? Clement of Alexandria believed it was 5592 BCE, Julius Africanus thought 5501 BCE, Eusebius figured 5228 BCE, Jerome figured 5199 BCE, Hippolytus of Rome thought 5500 BCE, Theophilus of Antioch arrived at 5529 BCE, Gregory of Tours calculated 5500 BCE, and of course we can go all the way up to Dr. John Lightfoot and Bishop James Ussher in the 17th century who arrived at their respective 6,000 year old earth calculations. Were not these people, Debilis, working from the belief that the genealogies were “fact”? They were, of course, because nothing told them otherwise.

          What about the entire conquest narrative? Towns, cities, names of Kings, numbers of soldiers, dimensions of walls, orders, and acts of genocide are all listed by the author as “fact.” Correct? Is the conquest narrative factual, though? No. It’s inventive geopolitical myth: historical fiction written in such a way to “deceive” the audience… and indeed it did deceive audiences until the middle of the last century.

          Interestingly though, we do have a contrast to study. Jesus uses clearly defined “parables.” The audience is informed with a crystal clear note: “He set another parable before them, saying…” (Matthew 13:31–32), “He spoke also this parable to certain people… “(Luke 18:9-14), “Then Jesus told them this parable: … (Luke 15:3-7), “Jesus spoke to them again in parables… (Matthew 22:1-14). Here we have the author distinguishing fact from fiction. One must ask: If it was fine here in these instances to make such a clear distinction, why not then in other places?

          Now, Debilis, is the reader of scripture anywhere encouraged to “interpret” the texts as they feel fit, or is it the case that THREATS OF DAMNATION are leveled at anyone who dares alter it, be it by redaction, editing, or interpretation? Tell me, is threatening someone with hellfire and plagues anyway to encourage the freedom of interpretation you seem to believe is necessary? Of course not, and by practicing your brand of hermeneutics you’ve doomed yourself to Hell. (That’s not me speaking, rather the instructions and warnings issued in your book). The bible makes clear and unequivocal statements that it is to be taken literally. No ifs. No buts. Do it, or suffer the consequences… and you have failed to negotiate your way around this rather precisely identified needle.

          I say “irritable” and “anxious” based on the subject matter of the majority of your posts. A simple observation, you might say. You are NOT singing about how great your love of a god is and how happy you are, rather pre-emptively attacking those who present counter-arguments. That, I’m afraid to say, shows me what’s foremost on your mind. If you were comfortable in your belief you’d be churning out positive posts concerning all the evidences you see for your god. Your posts, however, are not that at all. They are defensive, and your chosen method of defence is attack: an assault on those critiquing your book/worldview. You assail what you call “materialists,” who are nothing but the 10th generation of naturalists born out of the Enlightenment: the moment western civilisation overthrew the regressive grip of the Yahwehist and marched out from the appropriated named, Dark Ages. Yahwehists have been attacking naturalists ever since, and you are no different. You cannot demonstrate your god, the very texts which even mention it are known myths, so you strike out at those who’re ignoring you as they strive to better the human condition, not retard it. So again: If you were comfortable in your belief you’d be churning out positive posts concerning all the evidences you see for your god. Your posts, however, are not that at all. They speak of an anxious, uncomfortable, and irritable author.

        • Debilis

          You’re allowed to disagree, of course, but I don’t find the tone of confidence here in sync with the strength of the arguments.

          Let’s get to that:

          First and foremost, it is simply not true that the Bible “claims to be historical document”. This is for the very simple reason that “the Bible” isn’t a “document” at all, but rather a collection of documents. I completely agree that some documents in that collection claim to be historical records. I completely disagree that this remotely means that we can demand that every part of the Bible be interpreted by the same standards.

          I tend to take Moses as a real historical figure. But, frankly, is that really important? Assuming (hypothetically) that he was not, I don’t see any reason why Jesus should have made a case about that. At least, I can’t find any statement he makes about Moses that really hangs on whether or not the history is literal fact.

          Rather, he’s trying to make a point about life and spirituality, the literal history would have been a distraction.

          And, of course, this is assuming that Moses wasn’t an actual person. I see no reason to think that.

          The same goes for matters of the age of the Earth. Yes, there have been people who have read things this literally. I could also name several of those who’ve specifically opposed this (Origen, Augustine, Wesley, Warfield, etc.) The point isn’t that some haven’t tried this; the point is that it’s completely anachronistic to do so. Genesis is written to help people know how to live–not settle curiosities about the age of the Earth.

          Nor does the “threats of damnation” theory hold up. Not only are these not threats in the first place, but they make no statement about how literally to take the Bible.

          Perhaps even more importantly, it seems that they aren’t having anything like the affect that you claim. It is the New Atheists, not Christians, who are unable to consider non-literal understandings.

          The Bible simply does not demand literal interpretations of every passage. Yes, I take many parts literally. But there is no one, univocal, way to understand every section of it.That only makes sense given the range of time and genres that these books cover.

          About the issue of me, personally, I have three thoughts:

          First, I really think this is armchair psychologizing (assuming that my writings here are a fair representation of what I spent most of my time thinking about). Anyone who actually believes in taking a scientific approach wouldn’t overgeneralize from such limited data.

          Second, if it were true that spending the majority of one’s blog on disagreeing with positions is proof of an anxious and irritable mind, you may want to have a look at your own blog. I see very little there about the wonder of materialism–and how good it is for life. Rather, I see much more attacking of religious views.

          I’m not making any claims about what that says about you, but your own logic would accuse you of being having to “strike out at those who’re ignoring you as they strive to better the human condition” because “if you were comfortable in your belief you’d be churning out positive posts”.

          Really, all these attacks are is evidence that religion, or even belief in morality, isn’t needed for judgmental moralism.

          Third, if you would read over my posts, you’ll find them both rhetorically tame compared to the vitriol characteristic of many New Atheist writings and much quicker to defend the positive arguments for my position than any of the New Atheist writings.

          I could always improve, of course (working on that), but my writings are clearly more “comfortable” than angry internet atheism.

        • john zande

          Debilis, please answer the question. This is the third time I have asked. Does the author of the Exodus narrative present the story as fact or fiction?

          A simple “Fact” or “Fiction” reply will do.

          While you’re answering this, please also provide one-word answers to these further questions which I raised, but you avoided:

          Does the author/authors of the various genealogies present them as fact or fiction?

          Does the author/authors of Genesis present the events, and later the Patriarchs, as fact or fiction?

          Does the author/authors of the Conquest narrative present the events as fact or fiction?

          Finally: Is there ANYWHERE in the Bible, excluding the clear mentions of “parables” in the NT, where the author/authors make a note to any passage being allegorical, poetic, or apocalyptic imagery? If not, then please clearly explain how “you” decide what is, and what isn’t factual?

          You say, “I can’t find any statement he makes about Moses that really hangs on whether or not the history is literal fact.” Are you serious? John 5:46: “For he (Moses) wrote about me.” I think that’s a pretty clear statement, Debilis, don’t you? So the question was: How do you explain Jesus making such a terrible historical blunder?

          You say, “And, of course, this is assuming that Moses wasn’t an actual person. I see no reason to think that.” You see no reason? So, let me get this straight: you’re not only contradicting 100 years of exhaustive archaeology conducted by even biblical advocates such as Albright, but you’re also saying every leading (reputable) biblical archaeologist in the world today, every reputable biblical scholar, and just about every non-Orthodox Jewish Rabbi is mistaken? You’re saying the Encyclopaedia Judaica is wrong when they take every scholars work and conclude “he [Moses] wasn’t a historical character”?

          Are you, Debilis, saying all these people are wrong? Yes or No. If yes, then please clearly and concisely explain how you know every one of these people are wrong.

          Final note: My blog is titled “Sketches on Atheism.” As Atheism is a singularly defined thing, I think it’d be somewhat odd if I were to write about anything else except 1) Yahwehism and its absurd explanation for the universe, and 2) the regressive nature of religion on society. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means criticising you, or your blog, merely making an observation about the general theme you employ here. Your focus, I think you’ll agree, is on pre-emptively lashing out at those who present counter-arguments to Yahwehism, NOT a testament to your perceived evidences of Yahwehism. If you just attacked the counter-arguments in your comments sections then I wouldn’t have cause to make a note to this. However, it’s your posts, the actual articles you publish by your own free accord, which shape this assessment. Beyond that I cannot make any comment about you or how you conduct yourself.

        • Debilis

          This seems to be lapsing back into the idea that a position can’t be correct unless it is easy to understand. I see no other reason to demand simple, one-word answers than this.

          I’ll try my best to answer your questions, but keep that in mind as you read them.

          First “fact” or “fiction” aren’t the only options.

          For the Exodus, I tend to take the basic thrust of the story as historically literal. This doesn’t mean that I think it is without any flourish whatsoever. Nor are turns of speech and apocalyptic language “fiction”. This is straight-forward, so long as one isn’t trying to pigeonhole my position.

          The authors of various genealogies are, well, various. I tend to assume that they are blending literal fact with a certain amount of understood rhetoric and figure of speech. The amounts of each will certainly vary.

          I’m aware, of course, that this answer doesn’t fit squarely into the pre-defined categories some insist upon. But it isn’t hard to come up with examples of breakthroughs in various fields that didn’t fit neatly into predefined categories. Demanding a square fit would be to disregard the search for the truth in favor of easy answers.

          This is even more true when we get to Genesis. Which part? Some sections are more literary; some are more literal.

          One common thread through all of this is the simple fact that, if you want a clear answer, you need to ask a specific question.

          So, how do I decide what is or isn’t “factual”? I take most everything in the Bible to be “factual” in the sense that it presents truth.

          But I assume that by “factual” you mean “literal”. And that is decided by the particularities of the genre in the original context.

          It’s perfectly obvious, to modern western people, when a story is fictional–or when a particular statement in a fictional story is being presented as literal fact. This is because we have a proper understanding of the context.

          We can know, when a fictional doctor says “This condition has been known to cause hallucinations, but, in your case, it is activating parts of your brain that most of us never use” that the author is presenting the first half of the sentence as based on actual scientific fact, though the second half (like the doctor himself) is fictional.

          This is perfectly obvious to us, but someone in the future might think it ridiculous to suggest that writing can be so convoluted as to contain a mixture of fact and fiction in a single sentence and expect the audience to know which is which.

          Really, it is entirely strange to say that every genre can be neatly categorized into “fact” or “fiction”.

          Regarding the passage you mention, the full verse reads “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” The point is clearly not “Moses was a literal figure” (though I expect that he was). The point is clearly a claim of credibility based on the authority of scripture. It has nothing to do with the literal facts surrounding Moses.

          And, yes, I am aware that there are many who disagree with the idea that these events happened in history. Of course, it is a wild overstatement to claim that this is somehow universal. But my position isn’t dependent on proving that these are literally true. If you want to claim that they were not, feel free to make that case.

          But the constant refrain that the majority of non-orthodox rabbis don’t take Moses to be literal serves to support my point.

          After all, I’ve not been arguing that Moses is a literal figure. I’ve been arguing that there’s no good reason to demand that the Bible should be read literally in every respect. If you are demanding that ” just about every non-Orthodox Jewish Rabbi” should be taken as authoritative on the subject, then it’s important to note that they agree with me.

          Regarding the final issue, I’m pleased to know that you aren’t trying to draw greater conclusions based simply on my blog. Thank you.

          Thus, I’ll skip the personal and simply point out that I’ve defended the positive arguments for God’s existence in numerous posts.

          That is always about addressing objections. In fact, I’m sure if I didn’t, I’d be getting complaints about that. But the conclusions have always supported theism.

        • john zande

          Debilis, although I can sympathise with your position, you are simply avoiding answering in a manner in which you can indeed answer. We are not talking about simple literature genres here, so it’s a false equivalency to try and lump “scripture” (which makes a GARGANTUAN truth claim) with something like The Hunt for Red October, or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

          The simple fact is this: the authors of the books present every chapter and verse as true and historical. They emphasised this with things like genealogies to give the claims made in the narratives a perception of legitimacy. The narratives are peppered with historical deception (place names, for example) to give the illusion of factual history. Exodus names cities the Jews were forced to build and the stations 600,000 men (a clear number) stopped at in the Sinai. The Conquest narrative goes into extraordinary detail, right down to the dimensions of walls! All tools to produce a historically sounding narrative… and nowhere is there a note saying it’s allegorical.

          We know there is no history in it, yet you say: “And, yes, I am aware that there are many who disagree with the idea that these events happened in history. Of course, it is a wild overstatement to claim that this is somehow universal.”

          -It’s not a wild claim at all, and I think you’re better than stooping to such low-grade, unintelligent hand-waves. As Israel’s oldest daily Newspaper, Hareetz, announced recently:

          “Currently there is broad agreement among archaeologists and Bible scholars that there is no historical basis for the narratives of the Patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, and the conquest of Canaan, NOR ANY ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE TO MAKE THEM THINK OTHERWISE.”

          To prove my point beyond a shadow of a doubt I would simply challenge you to present a SINGLE reputable archaeologist (preferably an Israeli, who holds tenure, Professorship would be good, and has led digs in Israel and the Sinai, and has published papers on those digs in recognised journals) to categorically state, in writing: “The Patriarchs were real, the Israelites were in Egypt, Moses was a real historical character, there was an exodus of some two-million people, followed by a triumphant conquest of Canaan.” This challenge extends to finding a single Jewish Rabbi who’ll also commit to this statement.

          You’re dismissal of “he wrote about me” is entirely unsatisfactory… and I think you know it is, so I won’t persist. It is something you’ll have to grapple with in your own time, and at your own pace. Jesus blundered terribly. He did not know basic regional history; a history he was, allegedly, intimately involved in.

          Now, finally, you have not told me how “you” determine what is fictional and what is not. You danced around the subject, but you failed to actually answer it. So please: how do “you,” Debilis, determine what is factual and what is not? What is your method? Is it recognised by anyone other than you? Can it be repeated by others? What is your clear and established process?

        • Debilis

          To start, I completely agree that we can’t simply treat scripture as modern writing. I had thought that was a key part of my point.

          I completely agree that scripture makes vast truth claims. But what we are discussing is the question of exactly which truth claim it makes–so it makes perfect sense to consider the literary context.

          “The simple fact is this: the authors of the books present every chapter and verse as true and historical.”

          How do you know? What makes you so confident, before we’ve even discussed the cultural and literary context of any of these books, that every single one of them is intended to be read in the same way one would read a modern book on history?

          “All tools to produce a historically sounding narrative…”
          Again, how do you know that this is true in every last culture? Even in our culture we often say “and a million people were there” without expecting to be taken literally. How is it that you are so confident that “600,000” is meant 100% literally in every culture and all contexts?

          Also, I have no idea why the idea that a lack of direct claims of allegory is a significant point. Not only have I never encountered a literary allegory that announces itself directly (that would rather kill the mood, I think), but this seems to assume that “literal” and “allegory” are the only options.

          But I’m not going to comment much on the remarks about the authenticity of the Exodus. My point has always been about exegesis, and this is getting off into another massive discussion.

          Rather, I’ll simply point out that, again, you seem to be providing me with evidence of exactly what I did claim: that a literal reading is not incumbent on believers. Every time I say this, I’m told that many Rabbis don’t take the Exodus literally–as if that somehow contradicts what I’ve said.

          You’re free to abandon any point you’d like, of course. But I don’t remotely feel unsatisfied about my comments on Jesus’ mention of Moses. I don’t remotely see how saying “but he wasn’t literally real” would have affected Jesus’ basic point (even if it were true).

          If you disagree, please feel free to explain the difference it would have made. But, so far, it seems like completely missing the point.

          I do seem to be picking up on a pattern of confusion between not answering a question in a way that you would like and not answering, period.

          In this case, I’ve already explained how I “determine what is fictional and what is not”. I’ve said that I start by recognizing that literal claims and fiction aren’t the only options, then look into the actual genre and cultural context.

          That is my method. If you didn’t catch that, you’ll need to re-read the last paragraph. It may not be an answer that you, personally, happen to like, but it is very much an answer. In fact, it is a pretty standard answer–not the kind of thing that should surprise anyone.

          And that is to say that, yes, it can be repeated by others and recognized by experts. This is simply what is done when educated people go about interpreting writing. It’s been an open secret since antiquity.

          Or, did you want something more specific? Then we need to be talking about a specific passage. Asking about the Bible in this way is rather like asking about how one interprets “20th century books”. Of course I’d respond to that by asking things like “from what country?” and “of what kind?”. Vague questions mean vague answers.

        • john zande

          You say: “The simple fact is this: the authors of the books present every chapter and verse as true and historical.” How do you know?

          -I provided you plenty of examples. Genealogies, place names, numbers of people, numbers of camels, dimensions of walls. I could fill dozens of pages with examples, and you know I could. Each and every one a little tool of deception. Each little detail used to give the illusion of authenticity and history. I also provided you passages which clearly state no interpretation is to be made of said scripture because it was inerrant, breathed out by god. You appear to be ignoring all this, and doing the apologists well honed “hand-wave.”

          Now, beyond here I’m afraid to say there is no real point in persisting. You have your Magic Decoder Ring on, and that has signaled that you just aren’t going to see reason in this. That’s fine. That’s your choice. It’s unsatisfactory to me, unacceptable to rationally-minded, truthful folk, but I understand you’re in a tremendously awkward position and must defend your worldview. Defending this rather fantastic worldview, however, means ignoring the patently obvious, and if you’re going to do that, then I’m just wasting my time. I think you’ll agree…

        • Debilis

          You presented sections that you, personally, interpret as literal. You didn’t present a reason to interpret them thus.

          I know you like examples, but that isn’t what I asked for. I asked for reasons. What is your reason for interpreting these things literally?

          Really, if you are going to resort to using the phrase “hand-wave”, you need to answer my challenge (as opposed to “hand-waving”).

          But you’ve also been given examples of times when writing lists facts and information that would strike those outside the cultural context as an attempt at being literal. By your standards, nearly every film ever made is full of “little tools of deception”.

          But perhaps a better example is the Daily Show. My wife and I watch it occasionally, and I’ve never once heard Jon Steward offer an errata that, sometimes, he’s joking. Does he really expect people to believe that some of his material is “fact” and others are “fiction”? Is that just some elaborate scheme to get him out from under the claim that sometimes he says things that aren’t factually true?

          Even worse, some people go so far as to say that his “jokes” are meant to reflect “greater truths” about the political system, and even human nature. Is that obviously a “dodge” to avoid admitting that his so-called factual show is really just “fiction”?

          Really, how does he expect people to know which is fact and which is fiction without some errata? Perhaps subtitles on his screen that read “now joking, but to make a broader point”?

          So, unless you think one can absolutely demolish every political commentary that Stewart has ever given by pointing out that some of the things he “claims” are ridiculous, then you agree that this “little tool of deception” approach isn’t going to cut it.

          And that is the long and short of it. I’ve long since seen a pattern in the New Atheists of wanting to stop all thought the instant their point is made. Actually considering further is bitterly mocked, and those who want to engage in it are accused of being irrational.

          I can’t think if a worse parody than stomping your foot and saying “but thinking further is so irrational”.

          So, you’re only wasting your time if you persist in demanding that we stop thinking at what you call “the patently obvious”. But, if you claim the right to do so, then I suggest that you also dismiss quantum mechanics, relativity, and most of modern science. It doesn’t seem very interested in acknowledging the truth of “the patently obvious” rather than thinking further.

        • john zande

          Debilis, either you are being deliberately idiotic as a means of deflection and evasion (a common theistic trick when they don’t want to admit something), or you actually can’t recognize the lunacy of your own words. Which one it is, I’m not entirely sure. I had taken you for being mildly intelligent, but that is now in serious question.

          I provided you examples. You have ignored them. Then you pull out this cracker: “By your standards, nearly every film ever made is full of “little tools of deception”. I do hope you’re aware of what a False Equivalency Fallacy means. Perhaps you don’t? I urge you to look it up, study it, and see the ridiculousness of your evasive tactics.

        • john zande

          I should apologise for the tardiness of that last comment. I just couldn’t believe what you wrote.

          Alas, a thought just occurred to me. This might be a way we can move this forward. In fact, it’s the only way I can see us moving this forward.

          As you are clearly saying most of the Bible is not truthful, and therefore cannot be believed “as read,” then I’d like you to list every section of the Bible which IS truthful. That is to say, I’d like you to detail what can be believed, and what should just be dismissed as non-literal. I ask this, again, because you’re going to great pains to tell me the Bible is NOT TO BE believed, despite numerous passages saying it should be believed, and never altered, added to, subtracted from, or interpreted.

          This list will allow me to understand your position and see your method in action. Perhaps you can break this down into sections to make it easier. Maybe you can start with the period of Egyptian slavery, the entire Exodus Narrative, and then Conquest? Can you dismantle this passage of allegedly “historical” events chapter by chapter and tell me what is factual, and what is not…. And perhaps also how you know this to be true, despite what the author says.

          Thanks. I’ll be waiting….

        • Debilis

          I seem to have to make the same clarifications multiple times.

          I’m not remotely saying that most of the Bible isn’t truthful. I’ve specifically been saying that not every truthful statement is literal. I’ve been challenging the idea that every piece of writing can be crammed into one of the two pre-defined categories you’re allowing.

          Really, there seems to be a pattern here of refusing to deal with the position I actually take, as if you’re really more interested in winning arguments and attacking other views than understanding those views and reasoning about them.

          So, rather than insist that I take a position that I don’t and demand that I outline that strawman further, you need to defend your position. After all, I’ve simply challenged the idea that the Bible must automatically be read literally-and have answered the (dubious) reasons that have been given for this idea.

          If you are going to keep demanding that I accept it, I need more than bad understandings of my position and requests that I write up a full commentary. Rather, I need to be given an actual reason why passages claiming that the Bible is true should be read to mean “the Bible should be taken literally”.

        • john zande

          Debilis, please stop lowering yourself and committing false equivalency fallacies. I’m sure you’re better (and smarter) than this. We are NOT talking about “any” form of writing, so just forget trying to say we are. We are discussing “sacred” Yahwehist scripture; religious text which makes a tremendous truth claim.

          You, however, have been going out of your way to tell me that we have to completely disregard this truth claim. You have been telling me the Bible is not accurate, despite its claims to be… Claims which I thoroughly backed-up by providing EVIDENCE stating just that very thing. You, however, HAVE NOT PROVIDED A SINGLE PASSAGE which supports your rather odd position…. I say “odd,” considering the text we are discussing; a text which makes clear truth claims.

          So, please don’t dodge my request. Don’t delay any further and evade actually supporting your position. As it is *YOU* saying this sacred Yahwehist scripture is not accurate then I’m asking *YOU* to then present me a clear and coherent list of what parts are truthful/accurate/historical, and which parts are not. Is this asking too much? I think not as it is *YOU* who is making this claim.

          Surely you can support your own position, correct? Surely you’ve thought this through and have the answer ready to give me. Why else would you be making such a statement without the evidence to support it?

          You do have the evidence to back-up your claim, don’t you?

          Now, going through the entire Bible is a large undertaking, so I’ll settle for you just dealing with the “historical” account of Egyptian slavery, Moses, Exodus, and Conquest. Could you please go through this passage of events and tell me in clear, coherent English what is believable (accurate/historical/truthful), and which parts are not. Importantly, also please provide your evidence for knowing what sections aren’t believable (accurate/historical/truthful).

          Thank you. I look forward to you supporting your claim.

        • Debilis

          I agree that we are discussing a particular form of writing. But I’ve not seen any reason, at all, to make the declarations about this form that you’ve made.

          That is to say, you keep demanding that it must be read literally because (as far as I can tell) because certain sections read to you as if it were literal. I need a better reason than that.

          I completely agree that it makes “a tremendous truth claim”. I’ve only ever disagreed with the idea that this is, somehow, a reason to demand that people take every section literally.

          Nor is repeating the “don’t dodge” meme going to address this. I didn’t remotely claim that this scripture isn’t accurate. You can insist that I did, but, if you’ll actually read over this page, you’ll find that it is simply not true (not even if you capitalize *YOU*). In fact, you’ll find that I’ve clarified this exact point more than once already.

          Really, it seems that there is very little interest in understanding or addressing what I’ve actually said. Rather, this all seems an attempt at winning an argument–rather than reasoning about the issue at hand.

          So, no. I’m not the one making the claim. You are the one making the claim. Specifically, you’ve demanded that we read scripture literally. I’ve asked for a reason in support of this claim, and have only ever gotten “prove that it is inaccurate” as a response.

          But I’ve said nothing about which parts of the conquest of Cannan are literal. In fact, you’re having to ask, I suspect, because I never made a claim about that, or any other passage.

          Rather, it is you who have demanded that it is meant literally (even though you keep pointing out that most Rabbis don’t take it that way). So, I’d like to see some evidence for that claim.

          And this gets me to a fairly common situation. It seems that, no matter what claims they are making (or how fervently they’re making them), the New Atheists are perfectly comfortable demanding that anyone who disagrees with their way of seeing things are the one’s who are making claims.

          That, of course, leads into demanding evidence that the New Atheist position is wrong. Whether or not there is such evidence (there’s a lot of it, incidentally), the point is that “scripture presents itself as literal fact” is a claim.

          If you want me to believe it, demanding evidence that it is wrong doesn’t count as support for that claim.

        • john zande

          My goodness, Debilis. Okay, I can see this is going nowhere. Again. You tell me the Bible cannot be read literally. In return I show you numerous passages where the authors in fact DEMAND it be taken literally, as the “word of god,” and failure to do so will bring a plague on you. You, however, conveniently ignored these presented reading notes, pretending they didn’t exist. I showed you numerous examples of where the “sacred scripture” gives clear details of things that are presented to the reader as “facts,” yet you hand-wave these examples away as simple annoyances. You, of course, know better. And finally, as it is you, Debilis, saying the “sacred scripture” cannot be taken literally, or factually, or historically, I asked you (reasonably, I must add) to then show me which parts are to be read as factual, historical, truthful. You, alas, also conveniently (and completely) dodged this request… yet simultaneously maintaining the position that you alone could determine what was truthful and what wasn’t. I even attempted to make it easier on you by asking you to simply demonstrate this “knowledge” of yours on a single passage of scripture. You evaded doing this, as well.

          So, where have we arrived? You say the Bible isn’t to be read literally, but you can’t 1) show me a single passage which supports your claim, and 2) are seemingly incapable of actually listing which sections are truthful, and which sections are poetic, and therefore open to interpretation.

          Conclusion: You have a Magic Decoder Ring which enables you to practice a particular brand of reality-denying “Debilis Hermeneutics.” I apologise if that sounds harsh, but that is the take-away from this conversation.

        • Debilis

          Sadly, I’m inclined to agree that we’re going in circles. Let me clarify:

          1. For at least the third time, I didn’t claim that the Bible can’t be read literally. I challenged the demand that it must be.

          Surely, New Atheists used to claiming to “lack belief” should understand the difference between questioning a claim and claiming the opposite.

          2. None of the passages you quoted contained demands that any passage, let alone everything in the Bible, be read literally.

          Rather, they insist that the Bible is true, and shouldn’t be altered. That doesn’t remotely equate to “literal”.

          3. As I’m not the one making demands about how the Bible must be read, there’s no reason for me to outline how I read it. Rather, what we need is some support of the actual claim:

          That it must be read literally.

          All this has been said, and yet I keep getting comments that ignore these facts (which, ironically, accuse me of “hand-waving” and “dodging”).

          Nearly all of the New Atheist complaints of the Bible assume that the Bible must be read literally. I happen along and ask “why assume that it must be read literally”, and the response is “prove that it cannot be read literally”.

          This is properly known as the argumentum ad ignoratium fallacy. If the New Atheists are going to insist that attacking literal interpretations dispenses with all religion, they need to give us a reason to take every part of scripture literally.

          That should be your takeaway.

        • john zande

          I really don’t think you should be talking about committing fallacies here, do you, Debilis? Trying to equate your sacred holy scripture with, say, “Alice in wonderland,” or the “Hunt for Red October” is laughable, and that’s putting it mildly 🙂

          It’s a pity you haven’t’ been able to rise to the occasion, but not at all unexpected. You like making statements, but it seems you can’t actually follow through on them. My request was patently simple: take one passage (Egypt, Exodus, Conquest) and demonstrate to me which parts were factual (as the author implores the narrative is), and which parts weren’t according to your own personal Debilis-Hermeneutic Method. If one makes claims as you have then i believe it only reasonable that that person then provide a working example of the claim. This is called “proof of concept,” and it helps people believe you.

        • Debilis

          I don’t remotely “equate” those things. As some were insisting that writing is either “fact” or “fiction”, I provided examples of writing that did not fit cleanly into those categories.

          Nor does any of this clear the New Atheists of the need to actually offer a reason to read the Bible as they do.

          Frankly, I completely agree that the claims of Christianity would be silly if the New Atheist’s way of reading the Bible were the only way to read it. Show me that this is the case, and you’ll have de-converted me.

          I’ll skip over the personal remarks, though, and simply end by pointing out (for at least the fourth time) that I’m not making the claims. I’m challenging the claim that these passages must be read literally.

          If demands that I prove otherwise are the only defense of that, then this is indeed an argumentum ad ignoratium fallacy–and remains that regardless of whether or not one calls me names.

  • Arkenaten

    As you claim you lean toward classic theism would you say you believe in divine simplicity?

  • paarsurrey

    @Debilis :March 20th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    “Often as not, my position is “that’s not all that important”.”

    The discussions should be on the core teachings of a revealed religion; for other subject, your above response is reasonable.

    Regards

  • paarsurrey

    @john zande :March 21st, 2014 at 6:27 am

    “Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the
    plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

    I want to share an incident with friends here

    Quite sometimes ago two JWs persons came to my house and told me that there had been no change in the Bible, it is impossible and opened before me the above two passage of Revelation 22:18-19 from the Urdu Protestant Bible (later I came to know that JWs don’t had their own Urdu JW’s Bible at that time, and hence they preferred to follow Protestant Version and not the Catholic Version).

    Incidentally I had a Catholic Urdu Bible with me which I was studying very intently, and I was much impressed by its contents.

    I brought that and put that on the table. I said let us check both the versions, I did not know as to what the result would be. So we started checking the list of books given in the beginning.

    We came to know that there were some six books in the Catholic Urdu OT Bible which were not to be found in the Protestant Bible.

    They (the JWs) became pale and upset and went away.

    So the addition or diminution of the books; and besides that many passage/verses and chapters missing or adding suggest, please don’t mind, that perhaps both the Protestants and Catholics have been cut off from the tree of life in terms of the above verses of Revelation 22:18-19.

    What is the remedy?

    Can both the mainstream Christian denominations agree to a version which should be acceptable to both of them and the JWs?

    Thanks

    • john zande

      Paarsurrey

      The King James version of the New Testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the Church of England. There were not (and still are not) any original texts to translate. The two oldest manuscripts available were penned hundreds of years after the last apostle allegedly died; they contain 3,036 conflicting textual variations and do not mention a resurrection in the earliest written gospel. That part was secretly added to copies generations later. There were over 8,000 copies of the copies of the copies made, producing a story so blindingly contradictory that “Christians count 133 contrary opinions of different authorities concerning the year the Messiah appeared on earth” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

      ….But that doesn’t matter.

      The King James translators didn’t refer to any of these manuscripts, anyway. Instead, they edited previous translations of the corrupted documents to create an entirely new bible which the King and Parliament would approve of.

      In other words, 21st Century Christians believe the “Word of God” is a book edited in the 17th Century from tainted 16th Century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of contaminated 4th Century scrolls that claim to be copies of secretly falsified (lost) letters possibly first written (at the earliest) in the last years of the 1st Century regarding a gnostic character who lived perhaps two or even three generations earlier… but who no historian, social commentator, court record keeper, curious onlooker or graffiti artist along the entire eastern Mediterranean seaboard apparently noticed during his supposed life.

      • Arkenaten

        It really is quite distressing how few people are aware of the facts regarding the compilation of the bible and yet millions upon millions are indoctrinated with the belief that it is inerrant or the inspired word of a god.

        Most odd.

        Even odder is that more and more top scholars and academics in the relevant fields and top members of religious organisations are finally beginning to admit that much of the religious texts of the bible are fallacious.

        Even certain ancient scholars were aware that the writer/s of a gospel like John were not above embellishment or ”being entirely truthful” .

        This over goes under the General Theological Radar and bypasses Mister and Mister Ordinary Christian, simply because it was never intended for such folk to even read the bible let alone have a true understanding. The message was to be interpreted and disseminated by ”god’s” earthly ministers. But it is picked up by those who really wish to listen.

        Sadly, even when this is pointed out, the evidence is still rejected, as is evident on blogs such as this.

        It must be due to a dawning realisation over a lifetime of betrayal that closes down certain parts of the brain to the point where educated, reasonable logical people simply cannot get their head wrapped around the idea that it is pretty much all made up.

        Such realisation must be enough to cause serious psychological issues for some people and I do not envy them the inner struggle.

        One can only only hope that eventually someone like the Pope will admit the truth that they have been party to the biggest fraud in human history.

  • Frank Morris

    Debilis: “That is to say, those who claim that we shouldn’t believe things without evidence should completely reject materialism.”

    I have no problem with believing in things without evidence as long as one admits it is merely an unsupported belief and one isn’t trying to force their beliefs on others.

    …And as long as it doesn’t go AGAINST evidence, as materialism does.

    Oh wait. Materialists DO force their beliefs on others by advocating that only their cult religion be allowed in a public school classroom. All science must be censored except if it is toeing the religious line of atheism.

    I completely reject materialism, not because of their obvious lack of evidence, but because of their DENIAL of overwhelming evidence.

    • Arkenaten

      All science must be censored except if it is toeing the religious line of atheism.

      As far as I am aware science is not censored, Frank.
      Could you provide examples of censorship?

      • Frank Morris

        Ark, it is a serious ongoing problem, yet the blame for it falls on both creationists and materialists.

        In an attempt to counter creationism being taught in public schools ( a valid need), very clear laws have been written, state by state with few exceptions, spelling out exactly what must be taught instead.

        The approved curriculum involves quite materialistic pseudoscience, such abiogenesis, Darwinistic evolution and a dogmatic ban on any discussions of teleology. This government sponsored agenda, right or wrong, may not be questioned nor may it even be mentioned that there are alternate theories.

        Early attempts to open up the discussion, unfortunately were driven by the Intelligent Design movement, a Creationist group in thin disguise. This failed attempt only tightened the censorship further.

        More recently the challenges have been more science-driven, but it is a steep uphill battle against mandated censorship. Lawsuits are well underway to allow the teaching of teleology and to teach students that life does appear to be intelligently controlled, not random chance. Someday, we may even be able to discuss consciousness, free will and the mind.

        The most recent science standards (NGSS) has finally dropped the word “random” from its section on mutations, despite howls from die-hard darwinists. Also, they have dropped the false claim that copy errors can lead to beneficial changes by luck. Yet it is still implied and the teleological alternatives can not be presented.

        At least not legally. True, polls show some 70% of HS science teachers refuse to teach materialism. There are also 2 states that allow discussion of evidence that refutes materialism.

        Arguments against materialism, so freely expressed here, are banned in public school institutions. That is censorship.

        • Arkenaten

          Maybe you ought to be a little more understanding with your condemnation of the current education curriculum, especially in light of the choke hold over pretty much all forms of education by the Church for hundreds of years.

          Science is advancing at such a rapid rate that such issues will likely resolve themselves in any case, without any gnashing of teeth and frothing at the mouth by either side and in a lot shorter time frame than what humanity has had to put up with concerning the dogma espoused by religious organisations across the board.

          The real problems are found in areas of education that are pushing insane religious – backed educational models upon children.
          These are the areas people like you should be focusing their anger and frustration against, not people like Dawkins.
          Perhaps some of his vitriol is misguided, but the man isn’t a fool.
          Which is a lot more than one can say for the likes of ID proponents and, AIG and Ken Ham and his religiously warped cohorts.

        • john zande

          Frank, *YOU* not understanding the Theory of Evolution is not an argument against the theory.

          It is scientific fact, just like the Theory of Gravity is scientific fact.

          If, however, you have a competing theory for speciation, then by all means please state your hypothesis and present your supporting evidence. I’ll be happy to review it…..

  • Frank Morris

    Ark, Ham and Dawkins are birds of a feather, just misusing science from opposite religious agendas. Why do both extremes simply point fingers at the other extreme rather than defend their own wrongness?

    I see no reason why I should be an advocate for change in an education system of hundreds of years ago. It’s already changed.

    I also see no use in fighting against what you call the “real” problem, since the creationists have failed miserably and it is rightfully illegal to teach it in a public school and it always will be.

    Call me crazy but I am concerned about the problems in science education here and now. Teaching misinformation is never good and in Biology, teaching falsehoods and banning truth is deadly. We can’t take this too seriously or too urgently. We are way behind where we ought to be by now due to materialist fraudulence.

    Millions are suffering and dying from preventable diseases, while we are still in the stone age of chemo and radiation for cancer and cutting out body parts, rather than understanding how life works and doesn’t work.

    If you had a loved one dying from cancer or HIV or other fatal disease, you would likely not be advocating a few more generations of materialist censorship and pseudoscience rather than opening up the areas of discovery.

    I guess if evangelizing atheism was more important than lives and suffering to all of us, we could get a comfortable seat on our laurels and look backwards in awe of ourselves. But dogmatic advocates of the status quo deserve no credit for any of the advancements they boast about.

    All advancement is from those who think outside the box, fight orthodoxy and look ahead to what could and should be, but isn’t.

  • Frank Morris

    John, my major in college was Biology, so of course I understand evolution about as well as anybody. The Theory of Evolution IS scientific fact.

    It is Darwin’s fallacy that is complete garbage.

    Darwinism, which is essentially chaos and death, is the most destructive force imaginable. There is not the slightest hope that it has ever created any trait at all in any organism ever.

    We don’t need to guess or debate about how evolution happens, We can induce evolution in real time and sit back and watch it happen predictably and consistently.

    What a surprise. It is never Darwinian. Evolution works just exactly the same as all other movements of matter in all living things. Functional. Purposive. Non-random. Need-based. Intelligent.

    Do you understand that movements of matter in living things are purposeful and that living things have a self-aware consciousness that can move intrinsic matter intentionally by free will?

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