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RED STATE At Sundance! Protesters, Anti-protesters, And General Hoopla! AICN Is There!

Nordling here.

Like many of you, I'd give my right nut to be at Sundance, but sine I can't I live vicariously through Quint and Rav's set reports.  And fortunately for them, they were able to snag what is arguably the hottest tickets at the Fest this year - tickets to Kevin Smith's RED STATE.  If any of you have been following his Twitter feed, you'd know about the various controversies rising up about the film.  Kevin Smith's a master at how to manipulate the press, I'll give him that.  Access denied is access desperately desired.  Whether or not the film is good or not, we'll find out shortly as it looks like everyone's sitting down to them as I write this at 7:25 PM Central time. His skills as a filmmaker are obviously up for debate, but Smith's gotten everyone's attention with this film, and it probably hasn't been since CLERKS that a Smith film has created so much buzz and interest, not just at Sundance, but with the film community as a whole.  For that, I take my hat off.  From P.T. Barnum to William Castle, I'm a fan of self-promotion like that, and Smith's simply damn good at it.
In recent days, if you've been following his Twitter feed (and who hasn't?  He's probably the most prolific Twitterer out there) he's been getting into it with the Phelps clan and their idiot ilk.  If you don't know who the Westboro Baptist Church is by now, I'm not going to get into their douchebaggery here.  The vast, open Internet is at your disposal.  But due to the subject matter of RED STATE (it's Smith's first horror film, concerning a group of religious zealots not unlike the Phelps family, and lots of murders are involved) apparently they consider it an insult to the family, to the church, and to God and have been unequivocal in letting Smith know he's damned to hell.  Smith (a Christian himself) never met a press opportunity go to waste, so he fought back with his humor and good spirits, and the past few days have seen him go after the Phelps clan with relish.  Can't say I blame him.  It's just too much fun not to.  If for nothing else, it's worth it to follow Smith's feed for that alone.  But Westboro announced that they were going to protest Sundance and RED STATE, and Smith announced he'd counter protest right back.  So this afternoon, Rav got some photos of the whole event.  Gotta warn you, people easily offended might want to steer clear.
The parade begins.  This is apparently the counterprotest, and it's good to know that normal people outnumber the assholes.
"God hates your feelings."  That's some deep Yoda shit right there.  Seriously, it takes some skill in juggling four signs like that.  And I'm not sure, but is she standing on the American flag?
Not much to say about this.  Take it back, there's a whole bunch to say about this, but not enough space to say it in.
Good to know.  You hear that, Hoover?!
You should be embarrassed, you spelled the word wrong.
I hope RED STATE is good.  I'm a fan of Kevin Smith.  Every filmmaker has duds in their catalog, and I have to say that Smith's voice, especially in the 1990s, spoke to me in a way that most other filmmakers of the time didn't.  RED STATE's a different film for him, and the mutual feeding going on between Smith and the Westboro loonies is actually pretty great, as Smith beats the haters at their own game.  The Westboro Baptist Church is loathsome, and I hate to see them pop up in the news whenever some terrible event happens in this country, like bottomfeeders.  But they probably aren't going away anytime soon, and so the best thing we can do is approach their hateful rhetoric with humor, love, and support for the gay community.  I trust Quint and Rav implicitly when it comes to film, and they'll give an honest assessment of RED STATE, of that I'm certain.  We'll know in a couple of short hours.
Nordling, out.
Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST


    by chadiwack

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST

    Kevin Smith: Over rated.

    by chadiwack

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:31 a.m. CST

    The Comic Con protest last year was epic.

    by shutupfanboy

    Those Westboro nuts had no idea what hit them to the point the cops started laughing while trying to protect them. I can't wait for someone to take the Westboro family out by any means necessary.

  • I'm curious?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST


    by Rob

    So sayeth this site! So say we all!

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Christians are crazy

    by Redhead_Redemption

    why do people spend so much of their energy hating the choices of others. There's nothing waiting for you after this life, why waste the little time you have by being a dck farmer? You know what I do on sundays. I masterbate and watch football, you spend it in a stuffy church listening to an old man read you stories from a fairytale book.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:40 a.m. CST

    I'm an Athiest

    by Redhead_Redemption

    I think you're all crazy

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Who cares if the film is good or not, That antiprotest is gold!

    by TheJudger

    Damn that was awesome. Get em Smiddy. Chopssticks indeed. God loves fudge! The Power of Flying Spaghetti Monster Compells You All! They actually have a website called godhatesf** Who are these sad little people? Colorful words on large sheets of paper held on stick, scare me not. I wonder if the god hates fags sign girl likes anal?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Whoa! I just googled Westboro Baptist, so misguided. sad.

    by chadiwack

    These people are severely SEVERELY misguided.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:46 a.m. CST

    If There is a god then the only people he likey hates are Jets fans

    by Redhead_Redemption

    Just sayin'

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Christian - someone who believes in Jesus Christ.

    by Tarijeno

    I gotta hand it to these guys. Anybody that stands up to, and makes fun of the WBC gets major brownie points in my book.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:49 a.m. CST

    I think there to it than just 'believing' tarijeno.

    by chadiwack

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST

    the only thing sadder than internet trolls

    by circletimesquare

    is real life trolls, like WBC

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:53 a.m. CST

    No "Elite Squad" review?

    by Human Tornado

    I can't believe you people went to see a Kevin Smith film instead of "Elite Squad 2: Elite-er".

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:57 a.m. CST

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, repentance, baptism, holy ghost, etc.

    by Tarijeno

    I live in a religious community. All my neighbors are "Christians". They've all been baptized, etc, and they're hardly Christlike. They use their allegiance to their Christianity as a justification for discrimination. Most people believe in something. Even if it's just common sense.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:01 a.m. CST

    God hates Frogs

    by Redhead_Redemption

    Kermit is an abomination

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Religious people are like sheep

    by Redhead_Redemption

    They just do as they are taught and never question anything Have any of these people ever met a gay person? They are just like you or me, they just happen to have a different sexual preference and I bet for all the protesting these girls do, most of them take it in the butt in the bedroom. Overly religious girls are always little sluts behind closed doors

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    I'm Agnostic

    by TheJudger

    I'm wise enough to know that no one actually knows why this all is, or what is truly behind it. Pretty damn sure we aren't the most important creation through out the whole of the universe, and if there is some sort of deity behind the whole of reality. Via the realities of out insignificance- I'm pretty sure it doesn't give a damn what we do or how we conduct ourselves. Do you know how large the universe is. You honestly think all of it was made just for us and us alone. Ha! Grow up. Jesus is a perversion of Egyptian mythological tale of Horus. Horus story came first before Christ existed! Horus was born to a virgin, he walked on water and resurrected the dead. He was crucified and resurrected. Christ was probably real, and just a man. Words and stories were larger then compared to how they are now. There was no radio, no film. To entertain and control people in large numbers there was only one way. Through Written Word. Any God who is jealous of it's own creations, their actions, or faith. Is no God of mine. We as people without the laws of God before us know Right from Wrong. Don't do on to others what you don't wish done unto you. That is the only law you need to live by.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Standing on the Flag

    by Bad Wolff

    Yes, the WBC likes to desecrate the American flag. You see, we're a damned nation because we're to accepting of the gays. These are also the guys that protest at the funerals of soldiers, for the same reason.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Wow - thanks to all the religious experts on here...

    by CREG

    It's like a cashier explaining all the ins and outs of quantum physics. I love how you are an expert in something that you don't believe in or are obviously uneducated in. All of your "I know" "There is no" and "Religious people are" statements always show your types ignorance by continually basing your PHD assessment of a religion on a couple of nut-jobs. Those idiots (WBC) should try reading the book their religion is based on for a change. They have no clue who the God they are supposedly serving truly is. Counter protest FTW. That's awesome.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Obviously this was coordinated by Kevin Smith

    by MovieSquad

    I can't believe the blogs fell for this protest BS. This is a rent-a-mob coordinated by Kevin Smith so that he can generate "controversy" and sell tickets to his craptastic movie. Otherwise, no one would come.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:44 a.m. CST

    "Jesus died on a cross. Thor has the hammer."

    by YoyodynePropulsionSystems

    Definitely the best comic con counter protests to Phelps. Oh, and the guy in the trek outfit with a sign that said 'god hates Jedi'. This is becoming quite a feud

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:45 a.m. CST

    @ tarijeno

    by The Dread Pirate Roberts

    I would modify that to: Christian= someone who believes in the DIVINITY of Jesus Christ. I am pretty sure he existed and walked around... just not on water.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Christian Fundanmentalists = Taliban

    by Judge Briggs

    Same thing, really.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST

    Why would God hate a bundle of sticks?

    by Redhead_Redemption

    S'good for having fires and stuff to keep warm. Why hate that?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:03 a.m. CST

    @ thedreadpirateroberts

    by Tarijeno

    Yes, I should've made that clearer. I personally believe in Christ, and his divinity, but I get really skeptical when a pastor starts asserting expertise over such things because he can memorize bible verses. I've seen and heard of too many Christian pastors preaching financial consecration and marital responsibility to his parishioners while driving around in Corvettes and having extra-marital affairs with other dudes. There are too many hypocrites in organized religion to take it seriously any more.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    well said tarijeno

    by The Dread Pirate Roberts

    I've always said "never trust a closet gay pastor in a corvette" haha

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Omigod, I think I know...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ..the chopsticks chick!

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:14 a.m. CST


    by fpuk99

    I'm an athiest, and think the WBC lota are idiots. However, you come accross as just as a self-opinionated, basement-dwelling virgin.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:16 a.m. CST

    You do know Jesus is a myth right?

    by Redhead_Redemption

    the man and his powers never existed. the fact that the ideal limage of him is of a blond blue eyed tall white guy should tell you he's a creation of the people who created christianity. If he did exist he would look alot more like kal pen then he would brad pitt It might be time to grow up and stop beliving in imaginary friends

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:19 a.m. CST

    "Yes, the WBC likes to desecrate the American flag."

    by buggerbugger

    That's because God hates flags.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:24 a.m. CST


    by jeah

    Do you people who label the Bible as a fairytale think you’re any different in believing a random accident happened that aligned all the planets in perfect rotation, established a particularly habitable planet where over time some molecule thingy emerged from the dirt, sprouted limbs, developed a brain, adapted to the environment and more importantly, learned how to create an offspring to sustain existence? Does this argument, as the equivalent of the law of infinity that if a monkey typed randomly on a typewriter forever that eventually Shakespeare’s Hamlet would pop out any harder to believe than the idea that creation has a design and that God, who is supernatural beyond our limited finite comprehension, is the designer and the Bible is His guide to those who follow Him through faith?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:38 a.m. CST

    chadiwack, what's your horse in this one?

    by Subtitles_Off

    A Christian is a person who believes Jesus of Nazareth was The Son of God. Some Christians think they should convert others to that belief. Some think they must act in a way they understand to be Jesus-like. Some keep their mouths shut and their hearts open. Some only go to church once or twice a year. Some are deluded and think they "own" the United States of America. There isn't one type of Christian that is any MORESO than another. Personally, I only have use for the third type I mentioned, but there are an infinite bunch of types I didn't even list. The Westboro nut-jobs are Christian, too.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Red Slate

    by con

    Some people just can't share...cause that's what its all about. Movies rock, music rocks, when people rock, just make sure you do it with open hands...and minds. Sundance rocks rocks

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST

    One is as bad as the other

    by torontoxic

    Religious nut and hipster/retard nut = one and the same. Nuts. Nice to see AICN is admitting its bias though. Personally I'd rather be dead than a hippy.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Some idiot compared quantum physics to religion?

    by MediaGold

    Bwah ha ha ha ha! More like religion can be compared to comic books.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:48 a.m. CST


    by Franky_Four_Fingers

    You should be embarrassed, you spelled the word wrong............I'd give my right nut to be at Sundance, but sine I can't I live vicariously through Quint...

  • The level of stupid on this site reminds me why I don't visit it much anymore. Kevin Smith is as relevant as Soul Asylum.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Oh the Lulz...

    by Iudex

    Smith says his inspiration for Red State is Warren Jeffs, and Jim Jones... It's called Red State implying that it's about "Right Wing" people... Problem is Jeffs and Jones are Lefties... Jeffs is a ardant democrat, and Jones was a communist.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:55 a.m. CST

    God hates figs AND fags.

    by MediaGold

    I personally like both, but... Leviticus 20:13: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." Sorry, but the WBC are the religious sect that adheres to the Bible the closest. They're the true Christians. Shame on you phoney "Christians" that use your own morality gained from millenia of social evolution and secularism to override the Godly morals contained in the Buybull.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    No wait, that's an insult...

    by MediaGold

    to comic books. Comic books are actually entertaining.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:05 p.m. CST


    by Quin the Eskimo

    Why are you all so mean to Christians? It's kinda fashionable I suppose. But I'll spot you the crusades and raise you Mother Theresa and the Sistine Chapel. It makes me sad (as a Christian) that everyone is so angry, sometimes justifiably. I apologize for the horrible things done in Jesus name, but I differentiate myself from those using religion as a means to their own end. I wish you would do the same. It's easy to paint over a religion with a wide brush, but people need to be judged as individuals. Don't try to put them in your mental construct of what Christianity means to you.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Why the Christian hate?

    by NateLibre

    You can't judge an entire religion based on your hometown pastor, your "Christian" neighbor that lives down the street, or these Westboro nutjobs. I've met some amazing, compassionate, and humble Christians throughout my life. Just sayin'.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST

    the comicon anti protest was much cleverer

    by john

    proving again that geeks rule

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Love the counter protest, and RE: Christian hate

    by bubcus

    There are two kinds of Christians: The Christians who are good people that follow the teachings of Jesus in being kind, charitable, altruistic, and forgiving. and The "we're better than everybody else and the rest of you are all going to hell" Christians that you want to slap upside the head. They tend to be fanatical, rude, and judgmental on virtually everything. The Westboro baptists tend to be the most extreme of the lot.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST


    by BizarroJerry

    I don't think I've ever seen an image of Jesus as blonde-haired and blue eyed. I've seen him as a dark-haired, brown-eyed white guy mostly. Granted, of course he wouldn't be very white-looking either.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Stop lumping them all together

    by BizarroJerry

    The WBC are the worst kinds of people calling themselves "Christians". I consider myself a christian, and I've discussed these WBC folks with many others I know, and they all think these people are reprehensible. As they should. In addition to their anti-gay agenda, I know that they also seem to be very anti-military, a trait that most right leaning folks do not share. Anyone who considers themselves a christian should instinctively find something wrong with the phrase "God hates", no matter what comes after it.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:54 p.m. CST

    About Christians...

    by chip2po

    I have to agree with a couple of the above posts that there's alot of hate on here towards Christians based on the actions of a group of delusional extremists who call themselves Christians, but are anything but! When you do that, you are no different than these WBC people who hate all gay people for no other reason than the fact that they're gay. I am a practicing Christian, yet I am fascinated by science and all the theories and knowledge about our existence that comes with it. I believe Jesus Christ is my savior, but I go through periods of doubt from time to time (I'm human, why wouldn't I?). Finally, I don't hate gay people. As a matter of fact, I have gay friends and family members whom I love very much, and I show all people, gay or straight, equal amounts of love and respect because that's what being a TRUE Christian is all about. Christ showed love and respect to the so-called dredges of society (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.) and had a few choice words for the "righteous" hypocrites that would shun them for being "sinners". These WBC people are modern-day Pharisees who are acting like anything but Christians! I know it is easy look at all Christians as nut cases when all you see in the media are the extreme fundamentalists, but don't lump all Christians in the same category. You'll find the majority of them are more or less just like me. Get to know people and judge them on their own individual merits... better yet, how about we don't judge each other at all!

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:55 p.m. CST

    Expanding talkbacks?

    by Bass Ackwards

    Am I the only one having issues getting the talkbacks to expand? Guess if I am, asking in the talkbacks is the wrong away to go about finding out.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 12:58 p.m. CST

    I'm a Christian. What should one exemplify?

    by MisterBlue

    The Bible says its "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." A good list of admirable human traits. Anyone who claims to be a 'Christian' and does not show these traits, the Bible says is 'not of us.' There's a lot of terrible people out there claiming to belong to Christ, and I believe, based on Scripture, that they have a big surprise waiting for them. You can disagree with someone on hot points but still exhibit these traits to them. Its called CIVILITY!

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:01 p.m. CST

    subtitles_off ... great comment by the way, so....

    by chadiwack

    The word Christian simply means Christ-within. Someone who lives and follows the teachings of Jesus not someone who just spouts off religious nonsense. Someone who is compassionate and loving. Not someone who just has a fish decal on their bumper and claims to be a Christian. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger. I think that just because these severely misguided Westboro peeps say God and/or Christian in a sentence shouldn't mean you include ALL Christians in the same circle. It's all about LOVE, Love is an ACTION it's a verb. True followers of Christ practice what they preach, what the Bible says. These people are practicing hate. I sincerely doubt that any of these Westboro people have ever had a real encounter with Jesus. It's sad really.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:03 p.m. CST

    The reason for the Christian hate

    by RedBull_Werewolf

    Is because you have such silly belifs that it's very easy to laugh at you. Anyone that would live their life following the garbage in the bible is clearly not very bright, think for yourself once and awhile and stop molesting children - thats just wrong

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:12 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the pictures.

    by carey adams

    I have thought for ages that the site needed a decent damn photographer to send to festivals and some of the bigger events AICN covers.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    bizarrojerry - to be accurate -

    by MisterBlue

    the Bible says in Proverbs 6: "16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community." Sounds a bit like what Westboro does, especially the last one.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST

    redbull_werewolf - what an ignorant thing to say -

    by MisterBlue

    so because you disagree with our beliefs we are child molesters? I have as much right to believe what I do as you have the right to believe what you do. I think that to not follow the God of creation is folly, but that's your call. But I'm not going to reduce you to an unfounded personal attack just because we disagree. Any true Christian would definitely condemn any child molestation, and anyone who would perform such a terrible act. I'm a father of two, and I love my kids - shame on you for your ignorant comment.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    jeah, only a human would think God wrote the bible

    by antonphd

    if god wrote the bible he must have been high on something because compared to the universe he made the bible is a piece of shit.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 1:54 p.m. CST

    why does god send humans to hell

    by antonphd

    for acting like every other single life form on this planet that god created? murder, rape, theft. all standard operating procedures for ALL life on this planet for basic survival. so, god programmed all life on this planet for survival but for the one species that can really understand the wonder and beauty of life and the permanence and horror of death he is going to torture them in hell forever for acting the way he programmed every other life form on this planet to act for survival? bull fucking shit.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST


    by Quin the Eskimo

    Because God doesn't consider humans to be animals. Man has self awareness.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Nordling, the normal people ALWAYS out number the assholes

    by schadenfreudian

    But the assholes are, by and large, usually pretty fucking loud.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Addendum to my previous comment

    by schadenfreudian

    they always outnumber the assholes, unless you're at Burning Man.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:20 p.m. CST

    It's disappointing that their anti-protest is so weak when they could...

    by moonlightdrive

    have really shown them up for what they are with a bit of research and some thoughtful well written signs. Yeah ok, it wouldn't have changed anything but it would have further publicised their idiocy and shown them up for what they are.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:36 p.m. CST

    @ mediagold - Thanks for proving my point moron.

    by CREG

    I never compared the two. If you would actually use your brain when reading something instead of jumping to conclusions based on your own bias you may learn something instead of making snap judgments. And Christians are condemning and judgmental... right.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:42 p.m. CST

    The truth is even stranger

    by VMS

    "Westboro" nuts are not Baptist, Christian, Fundamentalists, or Conservative. Look it up - their leader ran for office multiple times as a Dem, and Al Gore fundraised out of his kid's house, and agreed with them re:homosexuality at least in 1984. Really, really strange stuff... but that narrative doesn't fit, so...

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 2:47 p.m. CST

    I talked to somebody who said ..

    by MattHooper

    The protesting was more entertaining than the fucking movie. *Please note I haven't "seen" the movie, therefore this is neither an anti-endorsement, nor an endorsement. Merely passing along an observation. A funny one. lol

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3 p.m. CST


    by heks

    Hey thejudger, Believer, atheist, agnostic, whatever ... but you should at least be aware that the whole Christ-Myth, Jesus-Horus (or Jesus-insert-name-of-some-Egyptian-deity-who-did-or-did-not-exist) thing is nearly absolute nonsense. Do not believe everything Bill Maher (or other filmmakers) tells you. These comparisons first arose in the 18th and 19th centuries and have since been rejected as baseless by virtually all serious scholars in the relevant fields. This silliness has only been resurrected with the rise of the internet pseudo-intellectuals, stemming from a series of self-published books by self-proclaimed experts, all of whom pretty much exclusively cite each other and the original few self-proclaimed 'Egyptologists' of the past couple centuries whose works have been debunked ... at least where they've actually been acknowledged as even being worthy of debunking. This subject is a true litmus test for the neutrality of a person's skepticism. Imagine if some Christian said that there was absolute proof of, I don't know, let's say Christ's resurrection. They write a book and they describe the evidence, which is, let's say, something in some non-Christian source in the 1st century that describes the event in detail and would, for the sake of argument, convince you of its truth. Then they cite some other Christian in support of the existence of the evidence. Then you go to that second Christian and find him citing some other Christian in support of the existence of this evidence. On and on it goes. But as you follow this trail, everyone only cites other Christians who share their own convictions and nobody ever points directly at a piece of objective evidence that you or any other objective person can access ... or, if and when they do point at specific evidence, it's some version of the written work that nobody can find or access, or that has been debunked as fraudulent or of late origin. My bet is that you would pretty quickly start to doubt and soon reject the claims being made by these people. Well, this is exactly what goes on in the Christ-Myth community, but the number of supposedly uber-rational atheists and agnostics who accept their claims unquestioningly seems, at times, staggering. I've heard these comparisons for the past few years and made a mental note that I should at some point look into the matter because much of it sounded a little off. What I did not expect to find is that it is, almost entirely, a fabrication. For goodness sake, they've even made up connections between Jesus and Egyptian and Sumerian gods that never existed. Anyway, I would not be surprised to now be flamed by some atheists (though I could always be happily surprised), but you claim to be an agnostic, which to a certain degree goes hand-in-hand with skepticism, and when you get right down to it, skepticism is skepticism, except when it's a smoke screen for a complete lack of skepticism on a different subject. Take care

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:15 p.m. CST

    You know those folks are over the top...

    by impossibledreamers

    ...when guys like Sean Hannity hates them. That's hardcore fascist folks I guess.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Damn the 1st amendment, those types of signs should be banned

    by JackieJokeman

    God I hate those cutsey ironic "clever" anti-protest signs. Fred Phelps is bad too.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Sean Hannity hatres them because they get BETTER press than he does.

    by Subtitles_Off

    Jealous little prick.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:48 p.m. CST

    vms, lemme guess. You believe everything you read on the internet.

    by Subtitles_Off

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:51 p.m. CST

    OK, chadiwack. Thanks for clarifying, though

    by Subtitles_Off

    you didn't need to. I mean no offense to you or your convictions when I say, um, I believe with all of my brain that no one who has been alive for over 2000 years has had a real relationship with Jesus Christ. The use of the premise "reality" contradicts the premise of "faith."

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:53 p.m. CST

    bass ackwards, you are NOT alone.

    by Subtitles_Off

    We all are experiencing weirdness with the expanding-unexpanding-reexpanding threads. Oh, and Jesus always walks with you. (Couldn't let it go.)

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Everybody here knows that The Bible is a translation

    by Subtitles_Off

    that includes the political nonsense of the age it was translated, right? I mean, no one here really buys into that literal word of God, mularkey? You're all always claiming to be so savvy, and all.

  • just put re-posting what "moviesquad" already posted. next up for Kevin Smith: bringing MTV's Skins to theaters calling it Kids 2: Reloaded

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:01 p.m. CST

    I'm Catholic

    by D.Vader

    Not all Christians are stupid and judgmental just as not all Muslims are evil and hate-filled. We should all know this by now.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Something fishy about the Westboro psychos

    by darthvedder81

    I have this weird feeling the whole thing is some kind of bizarre ruse. They are just so over the top and disjointed in their pontificating it almost seems like some kind of meta-joke that got way out of hand.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:21 p.m. CST

    How would anybody know to protest this movie?

    by DinoBass

    Before the screening at Sundance I hadn't heard a whole lot of plot details about Red State, and there were absolutely no controversies over anything in the film I was aware of. All that was being reported (and there really wasn't a lot) was that it was the first horror film from Kevin Smith. My question is, how did these morons know there was anything to protest in the first place?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Good question, dinobass.

    by Subtitles_Off

  • I'm sorry but Just because a 200 year old book tells me that a man walked on water isn't going to get me belive in jesus. when you factor in all the cloudy goings on surrounding the formation of christianity in the 4th century and the way science has discredited most of what is understood about religion then I'm left with no other option but to consider christianity to be a fraud and a joke But hey, keep on beliving that the earth is only 6000 years old or that a god put two people in the jungle and now we are all spawned from them, which means no mater who you fuck it's gonna be incest Athiests are rational people they question their surroundings and they make up their own mind, theres a reason that the smartest people in the world are athiests

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Other directors who should switch gears into

    by CreasyBear

    hitting soft targets for manufactured "controversy": Uwe Boll, Mark Steven Johnson, the "Epic Movie" guys. They can get lots of people to relate to their stance and anger against a tiny sub-micro-category of people, and thereby gain simulated cred. Works like a charm! Though the Westboro clan is particularly useful for this: anti-Christians will gladly jump onboard the bandwagon in a broad way for a movie like this, and Christians won't rally against it for the sake of the Westboro villains, since those Westboro people aren't really Christians in the first place. Well done, Kevin! Have your cake and eat it, too, big guy.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Redhead Redemption

    by D.Vader

    Your last subject line is the whole point. That's faith.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:39 p.m. CST

    And Redhead Redemption...

    by D.Vader

    Who are these "smartest people in the world"?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Re: redhead_redemption

    by bubcus

    "Athiests are rational people they question their surroundings and they make up their own mind, theres a reason that the smartest people in the world are athiests." I agree that people should question their surroundings and make up their own mind. I'd like to add a couple of points to your information for your consideration: *The Bible consists of three elements: - A history of the people (predominantly Jews) - A series of faith promoting stories/events - A collection of religious rules or commandments The fall of Adam takes place approximately 6000 years ago. Most religions believe the Earth started just prior to that and was created out of nothing by God. Obviously science does not agree and for just cause. However, another outlook on it could be that everything was established by God and those Biblical "days" could have been millions of years. The whole account of Adam could be symbolic. *When Christianity formed into a state religion around 300 AD through Constantinople, there was a vote established as to the nature of God and the scrolls were sifted through and compiled into what is today's Bible. I find a lot of Christian groups completely ignore history and adhere to what was established by a committee three hundred years after Christ. Keep questioning everything and learning all you can in life. I do believe in God and Jesus but at the same time, I keep an open mind to any and all information I read. We're given our brains to use, not to be mindless puppets.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:01 p.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    You are an atheist? Thank goodness i find somebody with sanity in here. Cool nick, by the way.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Redhead Redemption...

    by MackAndJacks

    "theres a reason that the smartest people in the world are athiests" That's a really bold and ignorant statement. There is great works of thought in religious history. Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard were no dummies at all, and nor are the students and professors who read them. Theology was a very well respected academic field, but unfortunately liberal religious people live an Icarus-like existance. Fly too close to the sun, and your wings melt. The problem is that the most vocal proponents of religion since the beginning of modernization are the fundamentalists and evangelicals. But they do not represent the height of intelligence of religious people. I suggest you check out the works of Paul Tillich (a liberal Christian socialist who defected to the US when Naziism was on the rise in Germany). If you can read and understand him and come away from it all saying that he was an idiot, then I'm the king of England.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Redhead Redemption...

    by MackAndJacks

    Quotes from Wikipedia... "The first element is the experience of the power of being which is present even in the face of the most radical manifestation of non being. If one says that in this experience vitality resists despair, one must add that vitality in man is proportional to intentionality. The vitality that can stand the abyss of meaninglessness is aware of a hidden meaning within the destruction of meaning. The second element in absolute faith is the dependence of the experience of nonbeing on the experience of being and the dependence of the experience of meaninglessness on the experience of meaning. Even in the state of despair one has enough being to make despair possible. There is a third element in absolute faith, the acceptance of being accepted. Of course, in the state of despair there is nobody and nothing that accepts. But there is the power of acceptance itself which is experienced. Meaninglessness, as long as it is experienced, includes an experience of the "power of acceptance". To accept this power of acceptance consciously is the religious answer of absolute faith, of a faith which has been deprived by doubt of any concrete content, which nevertheless is faith and the source of the most paradoxical manifestation of the courage to be."

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Redhead Redemption...

    by MackAndJacks

    I don't suggest that you have to agree with the quotes I posted, and I sure as hell won't try to convert you. But you have to admit that there is indeed intelligence in honest-to-goodness Christianity (this Westboro garbage is not it). Suggesting that Christians are stupid and that the most intelligent people are Atheists is as dumb as suggesting that Mexicans are stupid because they don't speak English. If you have faith, you have faith, and if you don't have faith, you don't have faith. It's never a matter of intelligence.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:28 p.m. CST

    Redhead Redemption...

    by MackAndJacks

    Oh, and that quote was from Tillich... Sorry, I forgot to identify it.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 5:50 p.m. CST

    as an atheist

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    I just wanna say some people believe in invisible fairy people who work for a giant with a beard... and some people believe in real shit if youre gonna be religious, you must accept EVERYTHING your religion says. and that includes talking reptiles and talking bushes. but oh well, me and tallboy will be partyin our asses off in Hell. along with just about every person ever to exist. last question though... why didnt Jesus write the bible? is he illiterate or just lazy? or is it hard for imaginary people to write down their thoughts? ALL HAIL SUMERIANS (at least they were closer to the beginning of time so they should know more than Moses or L Ron Hubbard)

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 6:02 p.m. CST

    on another note

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    AICN has been doin good recently (besides posts not opening up) by providing us articles where we can argue/debate/discuss with each other about religion, mutant movies, and false stories. good job Harry! you should get sick more often

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 6:22 p.m. CST

    wait, tallboy is religious

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    shit, I thought you were the one praising Gervais Golden Globe line... I take back my party invitation to Hell I got an extra ticket, anyone interested?

  • I'm just going to go out on a limb here and respond to you as though you intend to be taken seriously. You said: "I'm sorry but Just because a 200 year old book tells me that a man walked on water isn't going to get me belive in jesus. when you factor in all the cloudy goings on surrounding the formation of christianity in the 4th century and the way science has discredited most of what is understood about religion then I'm left with no other option but to consider christianity to be a fraud and a joke" First, I assume you meant 2000 year-old book, not 200, but even then, you'd only be referring to the youngest writings within the corpus. Second, I'm not sure that anyone would expect you to believe in Jesus because a book says he walked on water. Has that actually ever happened to you? "Hi, I'm a Christian. I think you should believe in Jesus cause the Bible says he walked on water." Next, Christianity wasn't formed in the 4th century. It became a state religion in the 4th century, which was in many ways the final nail in the coffin of primitive Christian practice and belief. The most informed defenders of Christianity and Christian history acknowledge that the enfranchised church was never more than half-Christian. The actual teachings of Jesus and his followers in the first century are what someone should consider when evaluating the inherent worth of Christianity. Also, I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "science has discredited most of what is understood about religion." Do you mean it has discredited most of Christian belief? If so, a claim like that requires a pretty myopic perspective and artificial limitation of what, exactly, "Christians" believe. I'll explain what I mean by this in response to your next paragraph. You said: "But hey, keep on beliving that the earth is only 6000 years old or that a god put two people in the jungle and now we are all spawned from them, which means no mater who you fuck it's gonna be incest" First of all, your comments about the earth being 6,000 years old will hit home for Young Earth Creationists, but nobody else. Many accept the Genesis account of creation but have no conflict with the approximate age of the earth, universe, and life itself as scientists find it to be, and they see no conflict with that age in Genesis. Further, on this idea that science has discredited Christian belief, which I assume to mean in an area like the creation of the earth that is open to scientific inquiry, Genesis breaks down the development of the earth and life into 10 steps that mirror the geological progression accepted by modern scientific findings. If you work out the chances of accurately guessing this order, it is 1 in 3,628,800 ... and that's just putting them in the right order. Forget the chances of accurately guessing the earliest geological states themselves. As for the issue of two people being placed in a "jungle" (actually, a garden in the Middle East or Africa) and all humans being spawned from them ... well, it's kinda funny that you mock this, since the modern study of genetics finds the very same thing in the same location, only the time frame is pushed back in line with evolutionary theory. You said: "Athiests are rational people they question their surroundings and they make up their own mind, theres a reason that the smartest people in the world are athiests" That's a very romantic and self-congratulatory view of atheism (not to mention amusing), but it's nonsense and amazingly ahistorical. Like virtually every other topic in the world, there are some theists and atheists who hold their views because they've researched and thoroughly reasoned them out and there are others who blindly accept the word and reasoning of others. The New Atheism has a reputation for either historical revisionism or historical ignorance and for being philosophical simpletons, with Richard Dawkins being out at the bleeding edge of this crowd. Contrary to popular atheistic myth, not all Christians who reject something like universal common descent of all living organisms through the unguided processes of random mutation and natural selection do so because it challenges their comfortable faith. That's true of some, of course, but many reject it because they consider it an affront to reason and rationality and to be an incredibly biased selection of the available evidence, interpreted through the misguided prism of methodological naturalism, which is kind of like starting your down INSIDE the opponent's endzone and then patting yourself on the back for getting a touchdown. It somehow goes conveniently forgotten that the modern empirical sciences have their root in a belief in a rational God who rationally designed both nature and the mind of man to be capable of understanding it and that atheism has historically been philosophically rejected on the grounds that it is, in the final analysis, once all the threads have been unraveled, irrational. You can be an atheist if you choose, obviously, but you do yourself a disservice when you delude yourself about your intellectual heritage and when you offensively assert or imply that theists don't question things or think for themselves while, ironically, praising the intellectual excellence, integrity and independence of atheists by spouting inaccurate nonsense you've heard somewhere but haven't questioned or examined. Take care

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 6:52 p.m. CST

    I am sure Mithras forgives you all....

    by PhilipMarlowe

    for the errors of your beliefs.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 6:58 p.m. CST

    "You do know Jesus is a myth right?"

    by Carl XVI Gustaf

    The rest of the Bible is fact.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Mister Blue...

    by Animorganimate

    ...those are all great traits humanity is capable of displaying, but why can't we just exhibit those traits without equating them to some supernatural being named GOD (like vampires, or werewolves...or pretty-boy werewolves loving on effeminate male-vampires using a human woman as their sex-bridge)? I am a man of science, and completely opposed to the simplistic, primitive, caveman idea of a GOD (even though I completely appreciate and admire the thought process involved with explaining the SUN before we had the answer)...but I still believe in, and live my life by, these great values we as a species are able to project. Hell, I'm even a vegetarian because I value all life on this rare planet. But it doesn't mean I have to degrade my whole existence by dreaming up a myth to justify the fact that nature always finds a way, and I'm so lucky to have been a part of that. But I'm just as lucky as an ant must feel to find that morsel of food it's spent it's entire life finding...or a microbe feels while cloning itself for it's survival. Or even a germ on a planet thousands of light years away from this insignificant rock in the universe must feel for just being. Anyway...the point is, we all believed in stories as children. It's how we learn about normal, everyday ways of living. But to continue to use those same stories as crutches for your adulthood just shows...weakness, and some sort of learning disability.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 7:28 p.m. CST

    Like Tallboy, I'm a lifelong catholic too

    by D.Vader

    Well, a very lazy catholic, but I too thought Gervais' final line at the Globes was hilarious.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 8 p.m. CST


    by jorson28

    Wow... Does nobody even question whether or not there are "haters" on both sides? Does Smith, like Michael Moore, not realize that, to the "haters" that they've identified, and much of middle America as well as the so-called "Red States," his ridiculous and unoriginally vulgar satire in alleged criticism of all conservatism only HELPS THE VERY PEOPLE HE CRITICIZES?! Gay rights, like abortion, is a lead-weighted issue. The Constitution clearly allows for the tolerance and integration of gays and their culture, regardless of some behavior that the government can't really control (in spite of a mentality among modern-day Democrats that it can supposedly do anything), and if Smith and others are STILL griping about it even when they have one of the most liberal presidents to sit in the Oval Office since FDR, then more power to them. Their own discontent will just prove that instead of actually tackling the issues with SERIOUS ACTION, possibly by running for office themselves (especially since credentials don't seem to mean anything anymore - on either side), they're instead content to just sit back and put down anyone that may disagree - which, from his and others' perspective, should not be unlike the tactics of those criticized in a perfectly legal, but still such an equally unprofessional manner. I guess it just never occurs to Smith or to anyone else that most registered, Republican voters are, like their Democratic counterparts, all talk, because the odds of them really doing something successfully like, say, keeping gays from being together, or women from having abortions, are pretty infinitessimal. No matter what you say or think about the Tea Party, Republicans and conservatives, the FACT is that the Tea Party DOES NOT have the full endorsement of the Republican party on all matters and likely won't, especially now that they've put defense spending on the proverbial chopping block that they're trying to set before their chosen and elected candidates. The Republican mainstream has still yet to regain its full credibility after Bush's mistakes, which is a significant reason why the Tea Party exists in the first place. Even though they're not endorsing any Democrats, to my knowledge, they're also not endorsing many candidates more favored by the RNC - which I think made another mistake by eliminating Chairman Michael Steele, a black man, after a successful election season, and when it likely only makes them look more racist for doing so. The only thing their so-called "success" in the mid-terms will mean, though, is two years of gridlock, with them trying to repeal this or that, Obama vetoing every attempt, and then them trying to block pretty much everything Obama tries to do in the final two years of his first term. Of course, if Smith really cared about Obama's chances for re-election, he'd present a more civilized image of the "people" that Obama and the Democrats allegedly represent... BY BEING ONE OF THEM! Instead, he and Michael Moore, at least in the past, have gone a long way toward propagating the idea, amongst many, that the Democrats only represent the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR OF AMERICAN VOTERS, both in terms of economic standing and general moral and ethical character. And if anybody here thinks that the average voter will be swayed by YET ANOTHER story about misappropriated GOP funding from YET ANOTHER greedy, corporate monster or a suspiciously-wealthy church and/or religious (i.e., Christian) organization - or the idea that the Tea Party is akin to some twisted, conspiratorial, modern-day Knights Templar, out to protect Christianity and its followers at the expense of truth and compassion, etc. - then they may have quite another thing coming. Then again, I personally think that if that lesson were really able to sink in, it would have after last November. As a Republican, though, I see this as GREAT NEWS! I hope Smith's self-released film makes a ton of money from people anxious to laugh at it but, as I suspect was the case in 2004 with Moore's 9/11 movie, not even close to ready to take it seriously enough to affect their voting decisions. Seriously, though... Who are the "haters" again?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    heks - restoring my "faith" in TB'ers

    by theBigE

    Thanks heks and others for putting a little more meat in the discussion on this talkback. I'm embarrassed for people that are so closed-minded they type "your beliefs are fairy tales for fools and you're an idiot if you believe them." Sounds like a very taliban-type mindset. As a Christian, I worship with people who disagree with me on abortion, death penalty, gay rights, and other issues of the day. We respect our differences but find our common ground. Please folks, keep an open mind and don't lump everyone into one category.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 8:16 p.m. CST

    Where's my Post?

    by jorson28

    I could be wrong, but it appears that what I just posted is no longer here! I won't go into it all again, but I will use this as a test of my theory by reasserting that Smith's success with RED STATE would likely only HELP THE "HATERS" he's making fun of because, as a Democrat himself, he'll inadvertently reinforce - with his unoriginally vulgar satire - the idea that Democrats primarily represent the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR OF AMERICAN VOTERS, in terms of economic standing as well as civility and a moral/ethical character. In the end, though, until we realize that what is actually "Constitutional" is the participation of BOTH liberal and conservative representatives in government, in order to preserve democracy and its inherent choices - and that no voter on either side should feel like their entire lives might be at stake just because someone from a different party wins an election - then very little is likely to improve in this country, regardless of who holds office. What's more, my evident criticism of someone like Smith does NOT mean that I fully or blindly endorse everything that the GOP does, unlike Sarah Palin, et. al., and a Democrat friend of mine who, while stumping for her candidate(s) in the last election, declared a 99% faith in her party and its candidates' capabilities.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 8:25 p.m. CST

    8 of the world's smartest people:

    by bubcus

    Did a quick google search for world's smartest people: 1. Kim Ung-Yong – IQ = 210 2. Christopher Michael Langan – IQ = 195 3. Philip Emeagwali – IQ = 190 4. Garry Kasparov – IQ = 190 5. Marilyn Vos Savant – IQ = 186 6. John H. Sununu – IQ = 180 7. Judit Polgár – IQ = 170 8. Stephen Hawking – IQ = 160 Bonus: William James Sidis – IQ = 250 Anyone want to sit down and go through who on this list is Atheist and who isn't?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 8:39 p.m. CST


    by heks

    The new talkbalk setup seems weird. Posts seems to appear, disappear, then reappear upon successive refreshes ... but I can still see your first post. Take care

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:22 p.m. CST


    by musically_endowed

    can we please not talk about religion, alot of people are going to look stupid. Also if you think the man Jesus didn`t exist, you`re more retarded than the people you laugh at. He`s a historical fact. The Jews don`t believe in him, but acknowledge his existence. Please stop.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Endless Hypocrisy

    by tomandshell

    "why do people spend so much of their energy hating the choices of others." Funny--I was just wondering the same thing. I think people on both sides unfortunately have the whole blindly judgmental prejudice thing going on. I don't say that all Muslims are suicide bombers, and I don't consider Fred Phelps to be an appropriate poster child for contemporary Christianity. In my own personal life, I have seen a lot more hatred and arrogant intolerance directed towards Christians than the other way around. Now, I'm sure other people have had a different experience--I can only speak for myself, but I feel the need to do so instead of blindly lumping millions of people into a loathsome category based on a nutjob from TV. This country/world has a long way to go before we can truly start accepting each other despite our differences. It's unfortunate that people on both sides seem to be incapable of that sometimes.

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 10:23 p.m. CST

    Dear Kevin Smith

    by ryan thomas

    You are fat and dumb.. and also i hate firefly. if you like firefly u are so stupid its not even funny

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Christian Fundamentalists I've known

    by deelzbub

    over the years have mostly been humble folks (with a few exceptions) and ALL (emphasis intentional) I've known lived a very simple life (meager and borderline poor, in some cases). How do these Westboro folks get the funding to travel the entire country to protest @ funerals and film festivals? Who is bankrolling these kooks?

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Dear Kevin Smith

    by ryan thomas

    You are so stupid and fat. your movies r dumb like alien 3 and the empire strikes back. Also i hate firefly. that show is so dumb if you like it then you are so stupid its not even funny

  • Jan. 24, 2011, 11:52 p.m. CST


    by Rupee88

    good Prince song...anyway I wish KS the best with this ploy but there's no way he will be successful going up against multi billion dollar conglomerate media empires who want him to fail. The would have him killed if they needed to but instead will just pressure theaters not to show his film, regardless of how good or bad it is.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 12:47 a.m. CST


    by heks

    As best I can tell, it's like this: 1. Kim Ung-Yong – IQ = 210 (not sure) 2. Christopher Michael Langan – IQ = 195 (Theist) 3. Philip Emeagwali – IQ = 190 (Theist) 4. Garry Kasparov – IQ = 190 (Atheist) 5. Marilyn Vos Savant – IQ = 186 (Atheist) 6. John H. Sununu – IQ = 180 (Theist) 7. Judit Polgár – IQ = 170 (not sure) 8. Stephen Hawking – IQ = 160 (Atheist) Bonus: William James Sidis – IQ = 250 (Atheist) We might add in Ben Stein, who I also read had an IQ over 200 and who is a theist. Here's the thing though: this is all pretty meaningless. First, IQ only measures so much and all intelligence is not created equal. Having a genius level of intelligence that makes you excel in mathematics will not necessarily mean you have any gift for philosophical thinking at all, and vice versa. Further, this is a snapshot of alleged IQ's of people around right now, but what about the greatest thinkers of the past 2,000 years who did believe in God, like several of the people on that list above do? Also, what are we really willing to base on the personal views of people with highly measured IQs and thus high potential for intelligence, even if it happens to be limited in scope? Let's take me for example. My IQ has been variously measured at 142, 144 and 165. My 142 score came from a test where I challenged the answer of the question I got "wrong." The next time I tried the test that one question had been replaced with a different question of the same sort, which I then got right. That accounted for my 144 score ... but I got 100% of the questions on that test correct and it was only calibrated to measure up to 144. The next test I took gave me a score of 165. My actual score is probably somewhere in the middle. But knowing this, the question is, So what? As I recall, my strengths seem to be in logic, in subtle pattern recognition and in problem solving. I was able to intuitively figure out certain math problems that required logical thinking or pattern recognition, but you know what? I sometimes struggle with simple arithmetic. In grade 10 I got 95% in advanced math by applying myself, but I generally disliked math and did poorly. In fact, I didn't do all that great in high school, but that was mostly because I was bored out of my mind and so didn't pay attention. So, I'm not a dumb guy and I really excel with ease in some areas, but I suck at simple math. You don't want me splitting the dinner bill. If someone blindly accepted my solution to a simple long-division math problem because I have an unusually high IQ, they would probably be sorely disappointed. How much more important should it be considered to make up one's own mind about something like the existence of God rather than blindly accepting the personal views of people with genius IQs who may have no special ability whatsoever in the area of philosophical reasoning and who may not even be personally informed on the various issues involved? My intellectual strengths are in relevant areas, I try to be informed on the various issues and the arguments on both sides of the debate, I have an above average IQ, and I believe in God. Is anybody here going to think that, for this reason, maybe they should start believing in God too? Probably not. I HOPE not. Additionally, contrary to popular atheistic claims, atheists are not immune to uncritical indoctrination, and anyone who is indoctrinated with the sanitized version of evolutionary theory taught in school and the popular media and raised on a liquid diet of materialism will, OF COURSE, think that theism is nonsense. It's really no different than children who are raised with unquestioning religious belief and taught that blind faith is a virtue thinking that atheists must be possessed by the Devil. Both are highly ignorant and perfectly content in that ignorance. Another thing to consider is something that can be seen right in this talkbalk. Atheists, especially the new breed of atheists, are prone to be enamored with their own rationality, whether real or deludingly perceived, which may motivate them more often to have their IQ measured. I'm not saying this is a bad thing or a good thing. It's just a thing. But it may skew statistics. Finally, highly intelligent people are not immune to the emotional motivations that drive many more average people to atheism, such as the loss of a loved one. In some cases, like with Marie Curie, it happens at a young age and is carried through to adulthood. Ultimately, there is not much to be proved or even seriously suggested by a statistical consideration of the ratio of IQ to belief. Statistical correspondence does not necessarily have anything to do with with causal relation. Take care

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 1:09 a.m. CST

    How old are you, Nordling?

    by Timmy Chicago

    What possible excuse can you give for such a shitty first paragraph? There's a typo in the first line, for fuck's sake. The writing is 6th grade level. For the love of everything sacred...oh, never mind. This is AICN, the land where grammar went to die. "Whether or not the film is good or not" ack. ack ack ack. This isn't about being a grammar nazi. It's about YOU showing your readership some goddamn respect. Read what you write and revise what you write. Spitting shit out and then saying, I'm tired, like so many of your cohorts on this site... ah, feck feck feck.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 1:26 a.m. CST

    RIP Jack "The Juice Man" LaLanne

    by TheJudger

    96 years old. My great grandmother turned 102 a few months ago, and she never worked out a day in her life. But to her credit she never smoked and she drinks very very seldom. Just goes to show you. Ego and pride and habits good or bad don't mean much. Just saying. Jack was so cool shit though. Respect.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 1:28 a.m. CST

    Christianity is a fairytale, and so is humanity evolving from apes.

    by dailysportspages

    Both of those groups believe in something incredibly fantastic and impossible to prove. Both are faith based groups.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 1:57 a.m. CST

    How much did Kevin Smith pay Westboro to be there

    by BlacksOnBlondes

    Kevin needs to step up his game man and starting doing real movies. Oh yeah thats right Cop Out lol.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 2:35 a.m. CST


    by TheJudger

    This world is not perfect, and neither are we. We are very unsymmetrical beings in shape and functionality. Even our brains don't work as well as they could. Fruit flies can fuck and spread just as well as man. In fact The insects of the world greatly outnumber us. So we have the best functioning brains of all creatures of earth, and we have thumbs, and we can convert the resources of the planet into creative and useful items. So what. Pride. It's a Killer. I don't believe and you do, and that's that. Same thing goes for Hex. I knew of Horus a while back, and honestly I don't care if he came before or after or never at all. It doesnt matter to me it's just another man made thing. I once heard a religious idiot say the Devil created Dinosaurs Fossils to make man disbelieve in God. All of these devote believes without seeing adding their own convictions and believes to their Gods, because they don't believe it fully or accept the word as it was written. They always have to bend it up some to fit it into the way they want to accept and see the world and reality around them. Get mad at yourselves. You cant judge your God if you believe. I dont. So I can Freethink about anything I want. I dont believe in Nothing, but the Something to me is unknown, and it is. It is to us all, and you know it. You know no God. You only think you do, and hey whatever helps you sleep, sin, love, hate and ignore and so on and so on.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 2:58 a.m. CST

    When I choose to love hate respect or disrespect

    by TheJudger

    It's not because God told me. It's not because God wishes me to do it. I'm an Illiterate Dyslexic ADHD Bastard with bad grammar. I hate trying to do any type of text based pseudo intellectual idealism conversational stuff. I will lose on my spellcheck errors alone. I'm an artist with the physical medium. That's how I express my true intelligence. Words and terminology bum me out. I'd rather communicate through shapes and sounds. Guess I came of being on the wrong rock. And now I'm done talking. I wanted to say my peace but I didn't want to offend, but I guess I cant do that because personal beliefs are strong subjects for all who have them. Every so often someone will tell me they will pray for me or for someone close to me. I can't tell them how much that offends me. I bite my lip. I'm kinda tired of doing that.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 3:40 a.m. CST


    by heks

    "What specifically do these people lack (emotionally or intellectually) that leads them to believe such silly fluff?" That's your idea of an honest question? You take a group of people, ignorantly decide that their having belief is caused by some lack or failing on their part, then turn around and ask them to explain how, specifically, you're right about them ... and then you claim it's a serious and honest question? I'd say, don't make me laugh, but it's too late.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 4:03 a.m. CST


    by Aquanaut

    as an atheist, i too was quite put off by redhead redemptions complete naiveté. however, i did want to examine some of your statements further... "Christians who reject something like universal common descent of all living organisms through the unguided processes of random mutation and natural selection...many reject it because they consider it an affront to reason and rationality and to be an incredibly biased selection of the available evidence, interpreted through the misguided prism of methodological naturalism" how are these concepts an affront to reason and rationality? how is the selection of evidence biased? how is methodological naturalism a "misguided prism"? please present an alternative method to naturalistic science for the study of that which we interact with. "It somehow goes conveniently forgotten that the modern empirical sciences have their root in a belief in a rational God who rationally designed both nature and the mind of man to be capable of understanding it" please elaborate on how this would have any bearing on facts or evidence, which must be tested and reviewed. it is facts and evidence as those formed from scientific inquiry that form the basis of the rejection of the claim "there is a god" "atheism has historically been philosophically rejected on the grounds that it is, in the final analysis, once all the threads have been unraveled, irrational." please elaborate. again, atheism is simply a rejection of the claim "there is a god" based on available evidence. the various religions of the world have the same opportunities to present evidence for the veracity of their claims. if there is evidence for the core of what you believe (i.e. a god) please point the way to where and how this can be reviewed.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 4:18 a.m. CST

    viggeo_morgenstein, again

    by heks

    You said: "Finally, many people who experience tragedy of some sorts cling to religion to get them through the day. The death of a loved one for example... People want to be COMFORTED in knowing that this recently deceased individual is in a "better place" now. (Seeking comfort through delusion)" You realize that this is the very reason that many turn to atheism, right? They decide that losing a loved one means God can't exist. I just pointed this out in a recent post in the case of Marie Curie, a very intelligent woman, who made this emotional decision after losing her mother and, I think, her sister at an early age. She then carried this early emotional decision into adulthood. If people who turn to God after loss are to be considered delusional, are we to consider those who turn away from God after loss delusional as well? Personally, I'd consider the latter to be more delusional, though it would probably be better to say less rational, because the abandonment of God after loss is based in a false conception of what one ought to expect from the state of the world if the Christian God exists and is thus based on poor reasoning. It's a problem that is often exacerbated by individual Christians or the Church itself when they spout such nonsense as, "God wanted another angel in heaven" as the reason for someone's passing. If you were truly "far too wise, logical, and rational to believe [in] intellectual buffoonery" then I imagine you'd see the glaring flaw in your argument. As a general rule, the truly wise, logical and rational do not mock things they've made no effort to understand ... and it is painfully obvious that many of the atheists that have chimed in over the course of this talkbalk have no accurate understanding of any form of Christian belief. They are willing to mock people who believe in God as being infantile and stupid, being incapable of critical analysis and thought, and unquestioningly believing whatever is fed to them. But then you have some of these atheists turning around and trying to mock Christians Bill-Maher-style for believing in Jesus because his story is a recycled version of the Horus story or some other Egyptian or Sumerian myth, even though they've clearly not looked into the matter at all and have no idea that it's almost entirely a fabrication that has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by the online atheist community. In the case of 'thejudger', he brought up the argument that Jesus was just a rip-off of Egyptian myths, but when I pointed out that this was all nonsense he replied by saying of the Horus story, "honestly I don't care if he came before or after or never at all. It doesnt matter to me it's just another man made thing." Ok, he doesn't care. The Horus connection was used to support the idea that Jesus is just a man-made story based on earlier man-made stories, but then he doesn't care if the Horus connection is valid cause it's just a man-made story. Well, that's great. But then what was the point except to repeat some randomly heard but never checked fact or argument, which turns out to be inaccurate, simply because it seemed favorable to the atheist position at the time? For atheists to pretend that it is only (or even mostly) the theists who are willing to uncritically accept whatever they hear as long as it agrees with what they believe is, well, pretending. Like most other games of make-believe, it can be fun, but it's ultimately meaningless.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 4:25 a.m. CST


    by heks

    All good questions ... and I appreciate the reasonableness of your general tone. I'll try to get to them tomorrow night, because it's 5:30am where I am now and I have business meetings tomorrow ... I mean today :( I'll try to keep my answers as brief as possible based on the setting. Take care until then, heks

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:24 a.m. CST


    by pod dop

    That's the best i could do. Damn 40 character minimum for usernames...

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Jesus Christ- Son of God

    by T 1000 xp professional

    lived a selfless life filled with love, spreading a message about faith, giving and success in all areas of one's life to everybody who would listen. That's The Man who I'm trying to model my life after. People pervert this idea in trying to suit their selfishness. I may screw up every now and then to carry this out, but even with all that I can't explain to you how much God has blessed me and my family. Honestly, I don't understand or wish to understand the bitterness towards this pure truth and I'm not here to enforce or push anything upon any of you. My God gave you free will to accept His way that'll give life it's full potential. I was debating whether to divulge a little about myself as a referent by saying that out of an AICN talkback I'm a somewhat nice guy that LOVES all things film and filmmaking, videogames, comics, music, kind of enthusiastic about too many a thing yadda yadda but I'm sure you come up with a more imaginative picture in your head. So what you need to know is God loves you all and sacrificed quite a bit so you can have the best.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:24 a.m. CST

    lol @ spelling/grammar

    by T 1000 xp professional

    one of the little things that make the talkback so special, hehe

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:35 a.m. CST

    t 1000 xp Professional

    by xevoid

    I appreciate your honesty. As an atheist, however, it would not surprise you to understand that others disagree and happen to have very good reasons for their disagreement. 1) You know very little about what Jesus actually did. You have a number of conflicting stories in a 2000 year old book, and those who wrote down what he did centuries later had specific reasons for making Jesus look good. As a Historian, I can tell you that the stories in the gospels do not pass the historical test for accuracy, and cant be relied on for history, much less a person to model your life after. 2) The bitterness I have towards this "truth" is represented by the fact that many people say that God has done wonderful things for them, but ignore the fact that all God had to do was give Hitler a bad case of the flu, and WWII would not have been the genocide and war that it was. Genhis Kahn killed 30 million asians, followed by Tamerlane in the 14h century, who wiped out another 20 million. They each lived long lives. Where was your God then? 3) Finally, what did Jesus Christ actualyl sacrifice? To sacrifice means to give up something of value. But he lost nothing. This is the biggest hoax in world history, that Jesus "sacrificed" for your sins. He cam back three days later. Big deal. If I lose my wallet, and I get it bak three days later with all my personal beliings intact, what have I lost? Nothing. You see, a REAL sacrifice would have been for the following to occur: Before the crucifixion, There were three in one: God the Father, God the Son,a nd God the Holy spirit. After the crucifiction, there were only two: God the father and God the holy spirit. Why? Because God actually really sacrificed part of himself for all eternity for mankind. But he DIDNT do that. Three days later, Humpty Dumpty was together again. So big deal. What are all the sins of humanity on a God, even for a few hours, if he comes back three days later? So what? What did he REALLY sacrifice? Ask yourself this? Please go ponder this.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:30 a.m. CST

    I call BS on this being a stunt. And I'm an atheist.

    by OutsideChance

    Smith desperately needs a hit after a series of big bombs. And when are you going to find conservatives at Sundance? Nope. Silent Bob definitely set up a rent a mob.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST


    by Quin the Eskimo

    1.) Allowing yourself to be tortured to death is not nothing. I openly weep at a papercut. 2.) If we were puppets controlled by God, it would take away any element of free will. As I understand it God doesn't demand to be a part of your/my life, he want's you to want him. 3.)I have my moments of doubt. Believe me. I saw my pastor father have a heart attack and die right in front of me. I was pissed at/didn't believe in God for years. However I had to see "genuine" Christians who are some of the most kind people I've ever met. 4) I don't believe science contradicts God, as much as it gives context to him. John Polkinghorne, the Anglican particle physicist/vicar says that science and religion are looking through different windows at the same reality, trying to make sense of it all. I think that's about right.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:43 a.m. CST

    The Sacrfice

    by T 1000 xp professional

    The big deal was that the one and only Holy God paid the price necessary which was living a life without flaw to then willingly take upon himself all of mankind's sins, becoming the perfect sacrifice once and for all. As a way to fulfill all the prophecies that were said before, Jesus resurrected, overcame death and therefore, conquered every SINGLE aspect of human life. Unfortunately, We do live in a fallen earth(that needed a perfect sacrifice) where evil reigns outside of God's will and bad(understatement) stuff happens and quite often so. Whoever accepts Christ's salvation goes into a covenant with a loving and all-powerful God granting us authority over our own individual lives. God cares for you so much that he put me in your life as a tool, even if it was only in the form a AICN post. You now got me praying for you and who knows, maybe that's just the little thing you needed. Good things are on the way, man.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:44 a.m. CST

    or as they say in the U.S., Sacrifice* lol

    by T 1000 xp professional

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Quin the Eskimo

    by xevoid

    1) Certainly being tortured to death is a horrible occurrence. But for a God, not so much. 2) Yet you believe presumably in intercessory prayer. That is, If you pray, God may occasionally intervene in your life. Why then did he not intervene when many people prayed during WWII? Did God have to wait for the Americans and Russians to stop hitler, or could he have intervened and given Hitler the flu? This is a reasonable question. 3) You don't need God to be good. 4) Faith is not testable. It is a matter of faith that God created the earth and created us. I can neither prove or disprove this, because it is outside the realms of science. However, science does have a better explanation than "God did it for his own glory."

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    t 1000xp

    by xevoid

    I'm afraid you will never be able to see past your "faith" to the reasonable question I ask, but I'll try again: What did he actually LOSE? Remember, he was a GOD. a diety. You pray to him. He was not merely a man, with some aspects of a God. No, in your theolyg he was all knowing and all powerful. So once again, what are all the sins of humanity and ~35 yrs of life on earth to an infinite, all-knowing, immortal being? Nothing. Nothing at all. The sacrifice was nothing. He did not sacrifice part of himself, as Christians love to say, because he got everything back three days later. Big deal! And you didn't answer my question on #4: Wouldnt a better sacrifice, a REAL sacrifice, been for there to be the Holy Duo now rather than the Holy Trinity? Wouldn't god PERMANENTLY sacrificing part of himself have been a real sacrifice? See, Stepehen was stoned for his beliefs. He did not know he would be on earth again. It was a horrible way to die. he sacrificed everything for his beliefs. He didnt come back. But Jesus? He came back three days later. Big deal.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:59 a.m. CST


    by xevoid

    Read what you said: "The big deal was that the one and only Holy God paid the price necessary which was living a life without flaw to then willingly take upon himself all of mankind's sins, becoming the perfect sacrifice once and for all. As a way to fulfill all the prophecies that were said before, Jesus resurrected, overcame death and therefore, conquered every SINGLE aspect of human life. " How is living a life without flaw paying a "price" for any God? You need to look up what the word price means. He overcame death and conquered every aspect of Human life? he's a GOD! That is NOTHING for a God. Plenty of Gods have claimed even greater things. Big deal.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 12:39 p.m. CST

    You're trying arbitrarily classify what is a worthy sacrifice for God

    by T 1000 xp professional

    And you're right... It is nothing for "a god" But the true God accomplished it all as a man.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST

    It's not arbitrary.

    by xevoid

    Christian's make a big deal out of this sacrifice, and in fact the entire religion is based around it. It's reasonable to ask whether it was a sacrifice or not, and whether another form of sacrifice would have been more legitimate, better, or something worthy of actually worshipping him over. The true God accomplished it as a man, you say...yet he was still a God. Still infinite, still all knowing. And still he lost nothing. I have yet to meet a Christian who can provide a good answer to the God the Duo vs God the Trinity question I posed above.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST

    God sacrificed when he became 100%

    by T 1000 xp professional

    human. You've been blessed with the foresight and knowledge that a healthy lifestyle and working out will provide long term health benefits, yet I somewhat doubt you always feel like clocking in some time on the treadmill. Sweaty and uncomfortable perhaps. How about living a flawless life without sin as a human(pretty easy, right?) with the foresight and knowledge of all the effort and pain that'll be experienced in the process. This is for no personal benefit or gain whatsoever and only for our sake? How about doing this for people who despise you? God the Trinity will always exist, so God the Duo is flawed in concept. God set the laws with His initial creation, and the first law of thermodynamics might do a pretty good job in explaining this. In actuality, Christianity/humanity's gain is based around his resurrection.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:30 p.m. CST

    1000 xp professional

    by Smack_Teddy

    i have a question that honestly is not to make any point of any kind but out of my own personal obsession with not understanding why Jesus suffered and saved us all for our sins, and it proves the existence of God as our salvation etc. This one thread with that Jesus sacrifice that i find a sort of circumnavigational self-fullfilling loop-construct in logic that keeps me from receiving many of the bibles messages or teachings, because most seem to be emphasised around this big Jesus sacrifice one. I have asked so many religious or spiritual people to explain this to me or help me understand it, because i have a real yearning or sense of respect to understand it seriously, and yet every time i only come away convinced they don't see the hustle/turn/trick of getting a proverbial cat to chase its tail and setting that as the 0 point of referance in revelation of meaning to the teachings and their message, so (i'm honestly trying to sound polite and respectful here, while being honest which i believe is important most of the time), so i'll try putting it another way which i'd be really appreciative if you answered:<p> "The big deal was that the one and only Holy God paid the price necessary which was living a life without flaw to then willingly take upon himself all of mankind's sins, becoming the perfect sacrifice once and for all"<p> Especially if you place a semantics tag around 'perfect' (alot of folk think Satan is perfection or the need for perfection don't they? semantics there so on etc), havnt many regular normal human beings made a conscious descision to do this, to undertake this task or practise, many times before Jesus & the disciples came along, and many times afterwards, and still continue to do so. Some who, did this not even with a conception that the will or reason to do so was anything more than a spiritual as well as intellectual sense rather a propthesised all knowing Christian one? But like others point out, even if we buy then that they werent the most 'perfect', they don't get to be ressurected, barely even acknowledged publicly or in documented form before returning to the lord. I mean (question ended here) to me were all part of God and vice-versa, God is V.A.L.I.S (sorry to get all PKD tourettes but my faith), so for me that would kind of work, if you buy the idea Jesus is just a metaphor or analogy for ALL of us, but i have no clue if that resonantes in this Christian message of Jesus sacrifice or holds comparison in any way for example, because i get the sense the point is Jesus was a singular awesome manifestation of God distinct from us commen folk for example, so God became a man to prove he could in human form practise what many other humans who didnt need to be God only a created [part of him to be so awesome managed to accomplish without recognition, or am i being Naive and theres a ton of Jesus's in christian history just not documented/accounted for this way? Or back to the message that we should all think of ourselves and one another as Jes- This is going on and on now isn't it? That basic question above reamins though, respectfully so Sir.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:33 p.m. CST

    "Jesus is just a metaphor or analogy for ALL of us"

    by Smack_Teddy

    excluding people such a Hitler of course, heh...

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:35 p.m. CST

    and homophobes/haters

    by Smack_Teddy

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:22 p.m. CST

    1000 xp pro- Freewill

    by TheJudger

    The "Will" of any living organism is not really Free. The drive and desire is not fully understood or self created in all instances. Why does one person like Coke more than Pepsi or vice versa. What makes one person honest, selfless, and helpful, and the other dishonest selfish, and destructive. Why are some living things attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex. The "Will" portion of "Freewill" is not Free at all. The whole "Given Freewill" statement to me doesnt really sit well. Because the "Will" part is not really decided by us.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Great. Give them more publicity. Super

    by I_am_the_ultimate_product

    The WBC guy is the new PT Barnum. Please, everybody, stop looking at the dancing bear.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST

    as a person who HATES Viggeo/LowesTranney/ryan_the_retard/etc

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    I am sad to say, I agree with most of what he said... fuuuuuuuuuuuuck I still say I am an atheist, but like he said, it depends on your definition of God the universe or nature is one God, since it gives us a place to live and eat and shit and stuff our parents is another God, seeing as they literally created us from their fluids its all semantics really IMO. but if youre telling me there is a powerful being who is "blessing" me but not blessing another person, I call bullshit and I call him a asshole. blah blah blah, I cant wait for Nibiru to come back. seems like a nice place to live PS: Jesus told me to say those things. he also told me that Mohammed and Set are trying to gangbang him up in Mt Olympus

  • Is that it wasn't just. The OT is very clear that each person should pay the price for his own sins; the sons shall not bear the burdens of the father nor the father the burdens of their sons. Jesus supposedly paid the price for all fo our sins. yet this was an unjust act. If My son commits murder, and I tell the judge who sentences him, "Take me, put me in the electric chair instead", it might be a very loving act, but it was not justice. The Christian will say that no amount of our own sacrifices are good enough in Gods eyes, and we needed the blod of Christ to pay the price, as we couldn't do it ourselves. Well, why not? Who set that up? Who decided that one? God did supposedly. So god makes it so that we CANT redeem ourselves, sends his son (also an infinite God) for a "sacrifice" (a three day vacation from earth, really), and then people praise God on Sunday every week for this amazing "gift." It's ludicrous. Most Christians I know never think about it in these terms; they are so overwhelmed by the "gift" but when you stop to really think about it's silly.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:14 p.m. CST


    by yourSTEPDADDY

    my thing with the Cruxification fairytale is that, God should have always known Jesus would be stabbed with a spear. he should have always known Eve would eat the apple. there should be no surprises. he made a apple knowing Eve would eat it which led to Jesus dying. if he did know all of that was gonna happen, its kinda pointless to create the apple in the 1st place. he essentially killed Jesus. which is absurb and fucking ridiculous. so, why should I be impressed by Jesus "sacrifice"? it wasnt a sacrifice, he was murdered by his own father. a real sacrifice wouldve been Jesus fly up to space and rip Gods head off, sacrificing his father for us, not the other way around or maybe God isnt powerful or omnipotent or omnianything. maybe hes like Al Bundy, sittin on a couch with his hand in his hands. if so, I could believe that. that makes much more sense than blessing football players with touchdowns and giving innocent kids AIDs either way, Im speakin blasphemy. I hope God wont be mad at me even though supposebly Im made in his image. so, God is a blasphemist... fuckin dickhead

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:15 p.m. CST

    but to not totally hate Christians I must say

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    I wish I could illogical, naive, dumb enough to have "faith". at least you have something to look forward to. me, I dont know whats coming next for me. hopefully I can be reincarnated into Beyonces dildo. that would be nice and warm

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:18 p.m. CST

    question to the atheists/nonreligious people

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    do you believe in souls? me, I say no. I believe we have brains that makes us think and feel the way we do (which is proven facts). but I dont believe there is something in me that constitutes my behavior or feelings or what have you ....fuuuuck, this TB makes me feel so "empty". oh well

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:25 p.m. CST

    h ave to agree with Stepdaddys stance on Viggo etc here

    by Smack_Teddy

    without trying to upset or shake anyones faiths or beliefs

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST

    although i don't think some people get

    by Smack_Teddy

    the different 'ways' in which the bible is read or understood: like the whole Jacobs ladder business: Some would say its what literally a totem or portal to the heavens, some would identify the bibles talking more about for example alligning your sharka points to a blissful-medi-like state of consciousness or perception of reality up through your spine neck to brain etc, and when you get in that Zen like sate of meditation and new found awareness of consciousness like moving out the cave thats the experience of knowing & interacting with God or the divine.... It means all sorts to people, so i don't feel so comfortable going after the bible looking for literal intepretations or dogmatic self-assured intepretations of anykind that find their way into real world practises. I wish to get closer to understanding the super-objective truth of what all texts like the bible, torah etc might be getting at and trying to say or depict & document, and thats where PKDs discussion of V.A.L.I.S comes in so heavily for me for example<p>. To me its more than feasable a guy who reads and takes faith, practice, guidance, understanding etc from the bible is 'reading' it on levels that wouldn't be that much different from 'reading' or unlocking the language of Kabbalah for example, rather than taking some ancient pre-ordained knowledge-forewarning that the gays are sinners (you could rad that line as, "don't be so fucking lazy when you get together with your bros like a bunch of layabouts or you might just all develop diabetes). These are more ancient forms of scientific, philosophical understanding & documentations of ourselves and reality that deserve a huge amount of respect & anaylsis as to what they might really be getting at in this sense rather than a load of bullshit self serving political retranslations to teach us all Jews are bad, homosexuality is a sin, if your a rebel of anykind to any authority & not unquestionaing and loyal as a brain damaged dog like Able then your probaly lucifer/satan incarnate or under his influence etc, (i think God was having a day ofg and Yahweh highjacked his form on the Cain/Able front, drove poor Cain mad and mistrustful of any worth of blood bond or kinship or equality through good nature: message don't be such a hippy who has a problem slaughtering lving beings or your an evil shit who would stab your brother in the back if you could for being inept and not nutting up and being a blunt tool of merciless slaughter) ...<p>... put aside all that crap and theres something very serious, profound, and philosophically-scientifically thought out & developed as a postive-constructive aid that in terms of over a huge length of time in documented form passing information from one reciever to another deserves alot more respect & analysis than it might appear to get or simply contain on the surface. If peole were more open to such things, i'd like to think those stupid self-serving extremist jerk-offs wouldn't get away with what their alowed to pull. OR they woudn't have the nerve to bring the message & teachings of God into it anyway.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    brief comment on the sacrifice issue

    by heks

    I'm working away on my response to aquanaut's questions, but I will say this ... much, including Jesus sacrifice, makes no sense when viewed in light of the Trinity doctrine. As such, in my opinion, any attempt to understand the sacrifice as a just and rational event will fail if you try to fit it into a Trinitarian framework.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Jesus' life was an example

    by T 1000 xp professional

    for our benefit. The recognition was not sought out by him. In fact, whenever he healed somebody and did a supernatural act of kindness he told others to tell no one. One of those Bible moments I love, because even saying that the word would still spread like wildfire. He also lived with the purpose of saving us from an unfulfilled life and afterlife, not for his own personal reason of being a "good" human being. Over the course of life's journey many people try to fill their void by trying to be "good", but along the way the road always gets bumpy in their choices. Only God knew what was up from the get go, so His journey was a mistake-free direct one with us in mind. smack_teddy your post with a lot of thoughts, and I tried to understand fully. Xevoid, that's sort of a misinterpretation of the Old Testament that you have. Sin does have a legacy and there are countless stories of generational curses brought upon as a consequence of sin.(King David is a prime example). The "gift" is access to an unbreakable covenant with God - creator of all things. No filmmaker gets that creative. This is the gospel, and that my friend is cool news.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:20 p.m. CST

    thanks xp

    by Smack_Teddy

    althought to clarfiy, i'm not suggesting any of these people would only do so for recognition, and in fact im sure in many cases they would adopt the same attitude of not wanting attention drawn to themselves by having words of their deeds spread <p>I also believe they would make a choice and do such things as Jesus did so accordingly, to save "us from an unfulfilled life and afterlife" in some sense or understanding of that spiritually-practically, and not just for their own personal reason of being a "good" human being".... unless you subscribe that those two things are infact one and the same...not a bad thing to subscribe to i 'reckon, if its not simply serving the ego of course<p>I'll be spending all of tomorrow looking up The Trinity Doctrine now...feel like a guy going into the study of Quantum Physics who knows what prime numbers are and Pi is and everything

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:26 p.m. CST

    t1000 xp professional

    by xevoid

    So you are saying it is acceptable in your world that the sins of my parents get visited upon me, and that I must pay the price because of the actions before me? This of course is a primary reason why your god is not worth worshipping. We pay the price because of original sin in Christian theology. We are doomed to sin because of Adam's choice. We,, to be blunt, fuck that. I didn't sign up for that, and I can as an intelligent person reject that as a basis for worshipping your god. If he set it up so that we pay the price for Adam's sin, thus "requiring" your god's son's sacrifice to redeem ourselves, well then he stacked the deck against humanity to begin with. I reject your God, I reject your god's "love" for me, and I reject the prayers of his followers who are so blinded by their faith they can't see the ludicrousness of the story right in front of their eyes. The "gift" of access, as you say, was only made available after YOUR god stacked the deck against his creation from the beginning. So fuck him. Your God has had the ability to stop the greatest atrocities in human history, and he has repeatedly chosen not to. The "love" of the Christian god is laughable.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 10:32 p.m. CST

    As an evangelical atheist

    by xevoid

    Let me "witness" to everyone still reading this talkback. The true gospel is this: belief in the Christian god and the truth of scripture over that of reason, science, intelligence and humanity will get you nowhere. What we need now is the END of faith, not more of it. We need to be good to each other because it is good for us as a species and as individual humans, not because some mythological character tells you to. Read the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and all the other scriptures...choose for yourself. But don't need God to be good. Enjoy your life, be good to one another...and be careful of proselytizers spreading the word of God. They are a dime a dozem and their words never hold up to good scrutiny. And that my friends is the real Gospel. Can I get an Amen?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:14 a.m. CST

    It's hilarious that Phelps is a lifelong democrat...

    by Chet_P_Disney

    More like Blue State. Someone find a link to that Phelps and Al Gore photo? Oh Kevin Smith, is there a liberal cock won't you suck?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:18 a.m. CST

    Smith's 'allusions to Waco'

    by Sick Fixx

    Does that mean he's sympathizing with the WBC-like church by the end? Because, as I remember, the situation at Waco marked the first time that our government had ever used tanks against its own people, blatantly violating posse comitatus laws and criminalizing a religious movement for no real reason. With that said, I have absolutely no love for the Westboro church, but the Branch Davidians were nowhere near as hostile as a church like Phelps', yet they get away with this shit all the time at the funerals of dead rock stars and soldiers.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:36 a.m. CST

    aquanaut ... I hope you're going to be around ...

    by heks read my response to you when I'm done, cause I'm 5 pages in and I don't want to be doing this for nothing :) When I get to the end I'll try to streamline it a bit, but it's difficult because these are not one sentence issues. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:39 a.m. CST


    by Dancingforever

    Outstanding post. Let me add a few things.... Any religion, at it's best, is a guide for people as the go through life in terms of best practices. The parables, ideas, and goals for humanity expressed through the various faith based systems are not inherently bad. That being said, when one opens themselves to a belief system in an invisible being in the clouds, it opens one up to manipulation by others who "supposedly" are in touch with said deity. As we have seen through time, this has lead to countless people being fleeced by con men, millions dying because of various religious wars, and sadly a sense of imposed self guilt infused into young children to carry for their life. I like what you said about people needing to be good people for the sake of being a good person alone, not because of a fairy tale. I couldn't agree with you more. Only when we abandon the superstitions from the past and fairy tales of the present will humanity grow together and move forward. Religion was necessary i our early development, but we no longer need it and need to move past it for our own growth to go forward. I won't even go into the fact that the bible thinks the world is only 6,000 years old, Dinosaurs, Leviticus advocating death to homosexuals, the endless contradictions in Christian logic etc. These are all obvious proof that it's bullshit, but they distract from the real conversation of people taking the next evolutionary step and leaving faith based systems in our past.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:30 a.m. CST

    aquanaut ... here you go.

    by heks

    NOTE: I probably will not be contributing to this talkback anymore after this post because it's taking up too much time, but I'll watch to see if you have any questions about where to find certain material if you want to do more reading. Hi Aquanaut, Let me begin by saying that I do believe atheism is ultimately irrational, but I do not believe it is obviously irrational. In other words, I don't think it's stupid in concept nor do I believe that atheists are, themselves, inherently foolish. By saying that I believe it is ultimately irrational I mean only that, in the end, it seems to me to fail to give way to sound reasoning and sound principles of reasoning and, in some ways, requires more faith than Theism. Now, let me take one of your comments out of order to set the context for my responses. You said: " atheism is simply a rejection of the claim "there is a god" based on available evidence." This is a FORM of atheism. It is generally referred to as 'soft atheism'. A 'soft atheist' generally does not consider the idea of God to be obviously silly or people who believe in God to be intellectually or emotionally deficient. A 'soft atheist' simply can't get there in terms of accepting the conclusion of God's existence based on the available evidence. I consider this position to be more rational than the alternative of 'hard atheism' or 'militant atheism', which describes persons like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, etc. In the book, An Atheist Defends Religion, Bruce Sheiman, who is himself an atheist (obviously), refers to this branch of atheism, quite fittingly, as Fundamentalist Atheism. This form of atheism is not content to reject the conclusions of the positive case for the existence of God. Instead, it tries - somewhat foolishly if Dawkins is to be taken as an example - to argue a positive case for the non-existence of God; often to humorous and logic-bending effect. With that out of the way, let me make one more comment before I move on to your questions. In the response that follows, I will not be trying to *prove* anything to you, nor will I be making any effort to be exhaustive. Every single issue I raise is expansive and deserves time and space I can't give it here. My responses should be taken as an overview and primer on the issues I mention; a jumping-off point for further reading and research if you have any interest or desire. My intent is simply to give you some context for the comments I made and that you have questioned. Now, on to your questions. I said: "Christians who reject something like universal common descent of all living organisms through the unguided processes of random mutation and natural selection...many reject it because they consider it an affront to reason and rationality and to be an incredibly biased selection of the available evidence, interpreted through the misguided prism of methodological naturalism" Then you said: "how are these concepts an affront to reason and rationality?" First, it wasn't "these" concepts, but "this" concept ("it"), that many consider an affront to reason and rationality. I want to be clear here that it is not the concepts of random mutation and natural selection that are the problem, but the assertion that they are sufficiently powerful to explain the full diversity of life and make the theory of *unguided* universal common descent plausible. The co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russell Wallace, whose discovery, I believe, slightly pre-dated Darwin's and was more expansive, recognized that the power of natural selection to bring about change was limited and settled on a theory of Intelligent Evolution, which was the epistemological precursor of the modern theory of Intelligent Design, which is so thoroughly misrepresented by its critics as to be laughable. Unlike Wallace, Darwin had the idea that natural selection could explain everything, which was a nonsensical proposition to Wallace. It remains nonsensical to many today, in large part, because of its nearly incomprehensible degree of implausibility. The change from one kind of living thing to another requires a very large number of changes, with many non-functional intermediate states, with the requirement for the non-functional states to be selected for and thus preserved for continued improvement towards some future functional state of increased complexity, even though natural selection is not supposed to work that way, and even though all the evidence shows that the extreme vast majority of all mutations are loss-of-function mutations and are either harmful or neutral. This includes 'adaptive' mutations that result in a selective benefit under certain circumstances (think sickle-cell anaemia, antibiotic resistance, etc.). To reason that the conferring of selective advantage to an organism, under very specific circumstances, via loss of genetic function and the ensuing decrease in complexity provides evidence of the capability of random mutation and natural selection to build copious amounts of complexity over time is to not reason at all. Loss-of-function mutations are expected to happen 100-1000 times more often than the simplest gain-of-function mutations (say a specific one- or two-point mutation) … and extremely simple to achieve gain-of-function mutations are the only ones that can be reasonably expected to occur. Likewise, arguing that the very rare appearance of extremely simple gain-of-function mutations provides a sufficient basis to argue for complex gain-of-function adaptations spanning wide non-functional genetic gulfs is to make an entirely unwarranted extrapolation. I'm going to move on because I don't want to dwell too much on one point and there is more to say. Now, further on the issue of Universal Common Descent … the idea that there exists anything like a scientifically agreed upon tree of life showing the ancestral relationships of living things is a myth. The problem is not that there aren't any such trees but that there are far too many. Any such cladistic scheme only holds up in the context of it's own assumptions and selective choices. Choosing a different basis for comparison produces a different and contradictory tree. Using one gene or protein produces one story while choosing a different gene or protein produces a different, contradictory story. RNA and DNA schemes provide conflicting results. This is not just limited to microorganisms but is true even among the higher organisms and at every level of this tree. An evolutionary bioinformatics specialist named W. Ford Doolittle said, "Molecular phylogenists will have failed to find the 'true tree,' not because their methods are inadequate or because they have chosen the wrong genes, but because the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree." And this all dovetails well into your next question. You asked: "how is the selection of evidence biased?" I've just mentioned one way in which it is biased. Organizations that advocate for Darwinism and influence its presentation in schools fight tooth and nail to have only a very sanitized version of evolutionary theory presented to the public, both in school and through the media. They will use the concept of a phylogenetic tree to argue for the truth of universal common descent but studiously avoid the fact that the concept of a such a tree only holds up (and even then not entirely) when you exclude the fact that there are as many trees as there are methods of comparison. If one gene suggests one ancestral story for life on earth and a different gene suggests a conflicting story, how reasonable is it to claim that universal common descent is proved true by the ability to build a tree of life? The points I mentioned above are not unknown within the scientific community, but at present you will virtually never hear it mentioned in schools or popular media. Now, if I were to sit here and really think I'm sure I could come up with vary many other examples, but for the purposes of this discussion I'll limit myself to only two more because they fit well with your next question. The next example of a biased use of "evidence" is in the area of biogeography. If anyone is unfamiliar with that term, it essentially refers to the geographical distribution of biological organisms throughout the planet. Like the phylogenetic tree, it is claimed that the geographical distribution of organisms fits neatly into a nested tree pattern. In some places this is true, which is not surprising, but there are a number of significant cases where this is not true at all. Attempts to resolve the incongruities of biogeography have given rise to such gems as the unfalsifiable assertion that a couple of monkeys from Africa got onto some makeshift raft, along with a good amount of supplies of food and water, and made the approximately two-week trip across the Atlantic Ocean to land in South America, where they began to propagate. If this sounds ridiculous to you, don't worry, cause it sounds mostly ridiculous to the people who accept it too; it's just that they don't feel there is any alternative if they want to maintain their views on universal common descent. This option is considered to be the most plausible of attempted solutions, which is saying something. But at least these monkeys weren't too lonely. I believe there are *at least* two dozen cases of such oceanic dispersal claimed to have taken place with numerous organisms, all equally unverifiable and unfalsifiable. At any rate, the claim that biogeography neatly supports universal common ancestry is pure bluff. But it begs the question, if these many cases can only be explained by ad-hoc, implausible scenarios, and yet universal common ancestry is not falsified, could there exist *any* biogeographical evidence that could possibly falsify it? And if not … if any unexpected or contradictory cases can simply be explained away with some fantastic hypothetical scenario, what then is the true value of cherry-picking biogeographical evidence where it does agree with universal common ancestry? It quickly becomes like the broken clock that tells the correct time twice per day. Next we have the issue of homology. This term predated Darwinian evolution and referred to similarities between living things, but Darwin tried to explain these homologies in terms of his theory of descent with modification and viewed it as one of the strongest forms of evidence in favor of his theory. The problem is there are many such homologous features that are NOT believed to be the result of inheritance from a common ancestor and are instead explained by convergent evolution. To get around this, Darwinists redefined "homology" to refer to those similarities that are the result of inheritance from a common ancestor. Of course, this created a new problem. Perhaps you see the circularity. You can't define homology as being those similarities that are due to common ancestry and then turn around and use their existence as evidence OF common ancestry because that's circular reasoning … a point that even Dawkins eventually picked up on. And yet, it is still one of the primary evidences cited in favor of common ancestry by those defending Darwinism. I hope you can see, though, that there is a major problem in arguing that some phenomenon is clear evidence of common ancestry taking place, except when it isn't evidence of that at all. But the problem doesn't end there. Contrary to expectation, even those homologous structures that are claimed to be the result of common ancestry often follow different developmental pathways, while homologous developmental pathways result in very different structures. I'll continue this point with your next question. You said: "how is methodological naturalism a "misguided prism"?" Allow me to give you an example. In 1990, Tim Berra wrote a book called, "Evolution and the Myth of Creationism," in which he unintentionally but simultaneously showed the problems both of using homology as evidence for common ancestry and approaching the scientific enterprise from the perspective of methodological naturalism. In his book, Berra said, "If you look at a 1953 Corvette and compare it to the latest model, only the most general resemblances are evident, but if you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious. This is what paleontologists do with fossils, and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people." The problem with Berra's analogy should be immediately obvious. The significant similarities accompanied by occasional significant differences that are to be found when considering one model of corvette to the next are the result of incremental design changes. The designers took what worked, kept some of it, and added new features, all the while keeping it functional. This is just what designers do. They reuse and adapt designs for new purposes. In other words, homology can also be explained by common design, and was before Darwin came along. And the expected activity of a designer fits better with the incongruities that continue to arise in phylogenetic and biogeographical research that are avoided when trying to sell those fields of study as supporting common ancestry. Jonathan Wells and Paul Nelson offered some insightful remarks on this issue, and I don't think I can say it better, so I'll include their words: "Ironically, therefore, Berra's analogy shows that even striking similarities are not sufficient to exclude design-based explanations. In order to demonstrate naturalistic evolution, it is necessary to show that the mechanism by which organisms are constructed (unlike the mechanism by which automobiles are constructed) does not involve design." And that brings us back to the first issue I discussed, which is that the mechanism offered to explain unguided universal common ancestry has not at all been proved sufficient to achieve the results. It has simply been asserted to be sufficient because it is naturalistic and that's what's needed. Wells and Nelson make a further comment on this point: "One could simply postulate that the mechanism of biological evolution is naturalistic, arguing that the postulate is justified because science is limited to studying natural mechanisms. Although such a philosophical move may seem very reasonable, it gravely compromises the status of evolutionary biology as an objective science. Asserting that something is objectively true implies that it is based on empirical evidence, not merely assumed a priori on philosophical grounds." Essentially, if you decide that your preferred mechanism is up to the task before it because your theory and philosophical position requires it to be so, and then you claim that your theory is sound because your mechanism is capable of what it needs to achieve, all you've succeeded in doing is making a circular argument and setting up an unfalsifiable theory. We can demonstrating the point with Dawkins, because he's always fun. You remember when I said earlier that a major problem with universal common descent in that there are numerous changes required to get from one kind of organism to another and that when there are large non-functional gaps to be crossed, as it seems there always are, natural selection isn't capable of bridging them? Well Dawkins agrees, so look what he said on the matter while being interviewed by a fellow atheist: "There cannot have been intermediate stages that were not beneficial. There’s no room in natural selection for the sort of foresight argument…It doesn’t happen like that. There’s got to be a series of advantages all the way…*If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem, not natural selection’s problem.*" Now, please keep in mind that *nobody* claims to have any idea what any of these constantly functional and advantageous pathways are. Dawkins is simply saying exactly what it sounds like … that they MUST exist because they just HAVE to exist, and the fact that nobody can figure out even one such pathway is unimportant. If this sounds a lot like faith, that's because it is. The next words out of Dawkins mouth are, "Well I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part since the theory is so coherent and so powerful." Of course, what's funny about this comment is that the mechanism of natural selection is the all-powerful foundation on which the theory itself stands or falls. Apparently we are supposed to understand that the theory is sound and warrants belief because the mechanism is powerful and we are supposed to believe that faith in the power of the mechanism is warranted because the theory is sound. Is there any chance you're starting to understand why I scoff when I hear the claim that atheism and evolution are supported by purely rational and empirical arguments and that the new atheism is being led by the most logical, rational and scientific minds, too bright and rational for the disease that is faith? It's a common claim, but it's a ridiculous one. So, to directly address the question of why methodological naturalism is a "misguided prism", we can begin with my analogy in that other post. I said it's like starting your down inside the opponent's endzone and then patting yourself on the back when you get a touchdown. As a methodology, it artificially limits where the evidence can lead, and in the struggle to promote a materialist philosophy it ensures the battle is won before it's ever begun. And it doesn't take a theist to find fault with the methodology. The atheist philosopher, Bradley Monton, has spoken of the inherently unscientific nature of methodological naturalism. If you look him up I'm sure you'll easily find his views on the matter, either in writing or in a podcast. The thing that needs to be understood is that when you tell people to come up with an explanation for some phenomenon while placing a specific solution out of bounds, those people will not disappoint. They will usually manage to come up with all manner of clever explanations without appealing to the disallowed solution, but that doesn't mean that the disallowed solution isn't the right one. And when that particular solution has been set out of bounds arbitrarily on philosophical grounds, the risk is even more significant … especially in a case where that solution happens to be the only known causally adequate explanation, such as with the relation between intelligence and specified information. I have to move on cause this is getting really long. You said: "please present an alternative method to naturalistic science for the study of that which we interact with." Simple: follow the evidence where it leads without predetermining where it is allowed to lead. As Bradley Monton has recognized, the fact that a supernatural explanation may not be necessary or correct does not make it either irrational or unscientific, *UNLESS* you redefine science to be a naturalistic enterprise for philosophical reasons (which is precisely what has happened) and *assume* the accuracy of a materialist philosophy a priori, thereby disavowing the very historical conceptual origins of the empirical sciences. I said: "It somehow goes conveniently forgotten that the modern empirical sciences have their root in a belief in a rational God who rationally designed both nature and the mind of man to be capable of understanding it" Then you said: "please elaborate on how this would have any bearing on facts or evidence, which must be tested and reviewed. it is facts and evidence as those formed from scientific inquiry that form the basis of the rejection of the claim "there is a god"" This has been addressed above to a certain degree, but we need to consider just what evidence is. The same facts can be counted as evidence consistent with various and even contradictory explanations and theories. The case of homology is an example I mentioned above. You say, " it is facts and evidence as those formed from scientific inquiry that form the basis of the rejection of the claim "there is a god"," but this isn't strictly true. See, what methodological naturalism guarantees up-front, with no fuss, is that evidence that is consistent with both a natural and a supernatural conclusion will be claimed exclusively by the naturalistic conclusion … even if the supernatural conclusion would seem to be the better explanation, and even when the naturalistic conclusion is not clearly a sufficient or plausible explanation for the evidence, and even when the naturalistic option is unfalsifiable and incapable of being proved. Recognizing this, the claim that there is no evidence in favour of God's existence is an incredibly disingenuous cheat. Imagine if you and I observed facts 1 through 10 that strongly and immediately pointed to the single conclusion of X, but when you offered X as the obvious conclusion I proceeded to come up with a highly convoluted and grossly implausible alternate conclusion of Y that I could never hope to prove and you could never hope to falsify. And then suppose I told you that you had no evidence favoring your conclusion of X because I was claiming it for the highly speculative, implausible and unfalsifiable theory of Y that I'd developed to account for the existence of that evidence in the first place. Would you consider my claim to be a valid representation of the reality of our situation and of the relative strength and plausibility of our conclusions? Would you accept my claim that you had no evidence for your conclusion? Well, this is precisely what has happened in the case of evidence that points to God existence. There was a reason that many scientists, specifically the atheistic scientists, got highly uncomfortable when the presence of a Big Bang was first discovered and why it took so long to be accepted. They came face-to-face with the Cosmological Argument and it was not uncommon for them to outright say that the conclusion of a Big Bang was philosophically unacceptable as a result of its theological implications. The same goes for the Teleological Argument (sometimes referred to as the Fine-Tuning Argument). Most cosmologists and other scientists tried to explain away as fortuitous chance the many finely tuned laws and constants of the universe that allowed for life … until they discovered the Cosmological Constant and the fact that it required a fine-tuning to, as I recall, 120 decimal places to allow for life. At that point, *nobody* was willing write all this fine-tuning off as pure-chance. It went beyond a tremendous stretch of credulity before discovering the necessary value of the Cosmological Constant, but afterwards it was impossible. God was rearing his ugly head again, and again cosmologists and other scientists were lamenting the undesirable and uncomfortable theological implications. Here was the big problem: If the fine-tuning wasn't by chance, then it was by intent, and that was an unacceptable conclusion. So what did they do? They figured out a way to get back to chance. How? Well, they developed a convoluted theory to account for and swallow up the evidence that was uncomfortably pointing to some kind of theological conclusion. It was a theory that they couldn't hope to prove and that theists couldn't possibly falsify. You likely know this theory by the name of The Landscape, or The Multiverse. It is a 'theory' that was developed to account for and claim evidence that pointed in a different, undesirable, theological direction. I can only hope that by this point you see the logical problem with inventing an implausible and unfalsifiable ad-hoc hypothesis to account for a specific set of facts and then turning around to claim those facts as evidence in favor of your hypothesis. Not to mention the utter lack of validity in then claiming that the conclusion you specifically invented your hypothesis to avoid has no evidence whatsoever in its favor. Ironically, The Landscape only helped to push back the problem, but did not succeed in evading either the Cosmological Argument or the Teleological Argument. The latter has now actually taken on a materialist form, because it was realized that in a landscape of infinite universes there will inevitably be other life, some of which would be far inferior to our own intellectually and technologically, and others of which would be far superior to our own intellectually and technologically, which opened the door to the very real possibility that our existence is just an extremely complex simulation in a highly sophisticated computer being run by highly advanced life forms … oh, and hey, that would actually account for the origin and fine tuning of our universe and the appearance of design in biology. Well, what do you know? How far we've come only to end back at essentially the same place: the very rational possibility of an advanced and personal intelligence outside the confines of our universe and responsible for our existence. So, after all this, do you see where I'm coming from? At all? I've only scratched the surface of every one of these issues and it has taken me 8 pages to do it. If you have any interest in really examining this subject in more depth, I suggest you begin by looking into the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments, along with counter-arguments and counter-counter-arguments. There's likely no better place to do that than with William Lane Craig's consideration of the subject, which I believe borders on the exhaustive. Just do a search for his name and 'cosmological argument' and you'll probably have no trouble finding it. You might also want to consider hunting down the series, "What We Still Don't Know" with Martin Rees for further discussion by atheists of the simulation hypothesis. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 4:27 a.m. CST

    heks had me there

    by Smack_Teddy

    till he states like fact that its foolish to argue a positive case for the non-existence of God... if were not talking about God in the VALIS or Alan Patridges definition of 'a sort of gas' know what i mean right?...<p> When Dawkins refers to God or his non existence, and how we should look at this postively i believe he's more referring to the ideological dogmatic religous precident over what or who God is exactly and what he does/has done exactly. Its that which he is really trying to smash or disprove, in respect or aim of what the fella above was saying about evolving - both consciously & spiritually, by understanding our connection better toreality, to its divinity of the order out of choas and just its divinity in itself.<p> To him - or me rather i shpould say - all the beauty, faith, belief, truth & 'salavation' if you like he experiences in his seemingly rigid dogmatically scientific terms, he understands in his own way to be 'God', and one could easily say in a sematical sense is infact God in its own way or proof of his existence, Dawkins is bringing it as a modern day prophet if you like here!...but if that were true he would be a slightly dodgy one: he's just not willing to have his real spiritual-emotional feeings matched to his strong scientific thoughts & heart taken as "Yes the whole of reality i describe is God and his work and is awesome if you think about/understand it!" and spun by any kind of Zealot or someone with a need to put things in box or vaguely-mishmashly plant ideas in peoples minds for whatever reason... <p>but Dawkins main problem or obstacle i beleive is that he cans simply be an overly aggresive, bullish personna in getting his point of view across to others...something he seems to have dialed down a bit recently <p>When i actually get some proper sleep i'll read your post properly Heks, assuming your actually reading this ramble right here that is

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 7:34 a.m. CST

    People who disagree wiht AICN

    by brobdingnag

    are assholes. got it.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:10 a.m. CST


    by heks

    If I'm being honest, I had a hard time following what you were trying to say there. Nonetheless, let me point out that what I actually said was: "This form of atheism is not content to reject the conclusions of the positive case for the existence of God. Instead, it tries - somewhat foolishly if Dawkins is to be taken as an example - to argue a positive case for the non-existence of God; often to humorous and logic-bending effect." I didn't say it is necessarily foolish to attempt to argue the positive case for God's non-existence. I said that Dawkins' attempts to do so have been somewhat foolish. But the comment could easily be expanded to the attempts of the other leading New Atheists.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:35 a.m. CST


    by xevoid

    I will respond to you later this morning. As a devout atheist, I have something to say.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:07 a.m. CST


    by heks

    Please feel free, but know in advance that I'm unlikely to respond at this point, so I'd appreciate it if you don't try to make a deal about a lack of response. I've spent the last two nights writing that post and trying to keep it as short as possible, which took longer than writing it, and I just don't have any more time to spend on the matter. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:23 a.m. CST

    oh, and...

    by heks

    Please don't assume that I am unaware of counter-arguments that are offered on some of these points just because I haven't specifically addressed them. I've spent somewhat ridiculous amounts of time on this subject and my comments were made *in-spite* of attempted counter-arguments ... not in ignorance of them. I feel the need to say this in advance in light of my withdrawal from the discussion and because of those atheists in the crowd that get their kicks out of claiming that anyone who disagrees with them is not just wrong but immediately and necessarily irrational. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Catching up: Engage

    by T 1000 xp professional

    thejudger, We do have free will. People are constantly lied to in telling themselves that they're an unchangeable product of their circumstances. Our mindset and way of life got to where it was by a process of conditioning and choices (not to mention genetics) and we are the product of those formed habits, but through Christ we may be set free from the old. Through Him we can re-condition ourselves. Trust me, it's a good thing. Smack_teddy, I'm sure many people would make the same choices as Jesus theoretically and in hindsight. On paper we'd all love to make everybody's life that much more blessed all the while being the life of the party, admired and still spoken about 2,000 years later. That's theoretically, but when it comes down to the actual decisions we make, our natural desires of self-preservation constantly contradict a "good" lifestyle. p.s. me loves quantum mechanics lol Xevoid, It's not my world in which sin has a consequence, it's the world that we all live in. The unfortunate evidence is in everyday life. How often to people get dealt "bad cards"? God did not stack the deck against humanity. Adam had it all right from the beginning. ALL of his needs were taken care of by God, but God still had to give him a choice. One choice of disobedience out of all the many possible options. If it's not one atrocity it's another. Our fallen nature has this drive towards chaos, so even though He has shown his grace countless times, in being free moral agents in our quest for gratification, we will continue to make many selfish decisions (unintentionally or not) that go go against God's perfect order, which is the perfect plan for us. The Holy God cannot be around sin. He loved us so much to give us Jesus (a second Adam and a second chance), so we can accept him, re-establish the connection with Him, and not only live a life spared from the bondage and consequences of sin, but a life filled with love and happiness. That is the one and only way in which this motivation/nature of love will become intrinsic. God is love. and Xevoid, with all that you said, it's never too late, God still loves you and this second chance will continue to be available to you.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Well, I would hope that

    by xevoid

    You don't spend all that time writing a screed that few people will see without reading a thoughtful response to it. 1) I'm a hard atheist. Not a softie. There's plenty of evidence for the non-existence of God. Furthermore, there's plenty of good reasons to believe that God, specifically the Christian one, does not exist. I believe, in the affirmative, that he does not exist. 2) I wont argue with you on evolution...I have debated on stage creationists from ICR and had my own radio show where I methodically explained on a weekly basis why the arguments of Christians who reject evolution are wrong. Rather than debate the science, we can take a look at the chance that your side had to present the exact evidence you talk about, i.e, that unguided evolution is not a good explanatiuon and that intelligent design is the only rational explanatiuon. You are aware of the Dover case. I have read the ruling. You should too. It absolutely destroys your argument. And a republican judge wrote it. But you wont read it. 3) You quote Dawkins all the time as though he speaks for evolutionary biologists. You quote the following: "Well Dawkins agrees, so look what he said on the matter while being interviewed by a fellow atheist: "There cannot have been intermediate stages that were not beneficial. There’s no room in natural selection for the sort of foresight argument…It doesn’t happen like that. There’s got to be a series of advantages all the way…*If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem, not natural selection’s problem.*"" Dawkins is simply incorrect; there are plenty of examples of non-beneficial intermediary stages. The issue is your (and his, I suspect his quote was taken out of context) confusion between natural selection and evolution. A creature may have a non-beneficial mutation that gets passed down in further generations...but then, due to environmental changes, that non-beneficial mutation suddenly provides the creature an ability to live in an environment it did not need to before. Then, due to natural selection, that creature is able to thrive and expand it's territory, whereas before it may have been barely succeeding. 4) Dude, there is so much wrong with your understanding of modern biogeography that it's laughable. What creationists ignore is the VAST amount of time that was available for things to take place. Hundreds of millions of years is plenty of time for all sorts of crazy things to occur, like monkeys floating across the Atlantic. But I'm going to simply ask you: who designed your God? And who designed him? If incredible complexity is evidence for a creator, then certainly the incredible complexity of a God is evidence of a creator of him, and so forth. If you state "Well, there has to be a pont where it stops", I will argue that you are being arbitrary. Why does there have to be an original creator? Why could there not be an infinitely long series of explosions and compressions of big bangs, since the beginning of time? Why is that unreasonable as a theory of how we got here? And if you bring up the 2nd law of Thermodynamics, I will reach through your monitor and slap you, and then politely explain why that does not apply. Anyway, I know you don't want to respond, so that's fine. But I have debated creationists in public and in print for almost 20 years now. So thats fine.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:52 p.m. CST

    WBC has better signs.

    by Kontarsky

    Stupid hipsters couldn't even spend 30 minutes to make an actual readable sign. And no, printing out Harry Shithead wanted posters DOESN'T COUNT. Fail on both ends.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:29 p.m. CST


    by heks

    Your response simply shows why it isn't worth my time to continue this discussion. Like your atheistic comrades, you trot out these ridiculous "gotcha" arguments and confidently, if stupidly, assert that I'm not aware of stuff you mention and will not look into it. Let's just take one example. The Dover trial. You act as though you've found some "gotcha" point in your favor that I've never heard of. You say: "I have read the ruling. You should too. It absolutely destroys your argument. And a republican judge wrote it. . . . But you wont read it." This is the problem with your ilk. Your ridiculous and arrogant assumptions. Not only have I read the decision rendered by Judge Jones (who demonstrated himself to be an activist judge), which, by the way, is nearly a verbatim copy of the brief presented to him by the ACLU, repeating all of their blatant errors and misrepresentations, but I've also read the entire court transcript and all the briefs written by all the parties on both sides. But there's no point discussing with you how much a joke that trial was, because you think, quite laughably, that Jones' ruling destroys my argument. If you're credulous enough to believe that, there's nothing to discuss. But since immunology became a significant part of the case, why don't you track down what microbiologist and immunologist Don Ewert has to say about Judge Jones' treatment of irreducible complexity and the immune system and find out, after casting courtroom theatrics aside, who was standing on solid scientific ground. Oh, and the complex God argument? Please. You are, like Dawkins, simply showing a complete lack of familiarity with philosophical and Christian thought on the subject for the past 2,000 years. If you like to argue these points but haven't bothered to educate yourself on them, why should I do it for you? Oh, and by the way, I'm not a "creationist". That terms has specific implications and they don't apply to me. Anyway, I'm glad you feel confident in the degree to which your knowledge of these matters impresses you and the degree to which your intelligence is superior to all Theists. I guess we all need faith in something. I, for my part, remain unimpressed.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Bale is the new frontrunner for DT's Roland....

    by Nice Marmot

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:45 p.m. CST

    nice marmot

    by heks

    That's an interesting development. He could work out well, though I personally have no issue Viggo in the role. Hey, wow ... it's kinda nice that I just made a comment related to film rather than theology. I almost forgot what it was like :)

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 4:38 p.m. CST

    more fun, heks.

    by xevoid

    Activist judge, eh? Isn't it curious how those who disagree with his decision call him an activist...he was a republican judge with no dog in the hunt. To creationists, any judge who disagrees with them is an activist. Your side had a chance to challenge and argue against the briefs presented by the ACLU...and you couldn't do it. Your side's lawyers and witnesses were challenged at every turn, beaten down with logic. I can only quote you what the judge himself said: "Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." BREATHTAKING INANITY. Read it again. Because thats' what your side presented...a breathtakingly inane case. Next, you do exactly what creationists do all the find one scientist who disagrees, and then use this as evidence the whole thing is flawed. I did track down his comments. He's an idiot. His argument boils down to: “Homology isn’t evidence for common ancestry because it can be explained by common design.” But anything can be explained by common design, be it similarities, dissimilarities – you name it! Common ancestry predicts certain homology patterns, ergo finding those patterns constitutes evidence for common ancestry. The same can’t be said for design, however, because it doesn’t make any predictions. It's not science. Oh, and you ARE a creationist. You may try to prevaricate like Michael Behe and the rest of his "ilk" and use Intelligent Design as a reason to believe that you believe in science at heart because ID is science, but you are fooling nobody. You may not be a 6-day creationist, but you are a creationist nonetheless.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:07 p.m. CST


    by T 1000 xp professional

    at the risk of belittling your 8 page post.. Good read, dude! btw that Roland news was refreshing indeed.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:25 p.m. CST

    Douglas Adams on religion and puddles

    by FuzzyLumpkins

    . . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in; an interesting hole I find myself in; fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:35 p.m. CST


    by heks

    My friend, feel free to continue deluding yourself. Judge Jones pre-empted the observation that he was being an activist judge because it was obvious that the nature of his decision and comments would lead to that conclusion. Oh, but wait ... he said in advance he *wasn't* being an activist judge, so we should just accept him at his word instead of objectively categorizing the nature of his activities. As I've already said, I've read pretty much every document associated with this trial including, obviously, the decision. What exactly do you think you're showing me that I'm not aware of? I was going to point out Jones' pre-emptive statement about not being an activist judge in my last post, but I figured there couldn't possibly be a need for me to do so. Apparently I gave credit where credit was not due. My apologies. Also, you apparently don't even understand who was arguing what or what role certain ID proponents were playing in that trial. I mean, seriously, why on earth should I waste my time debating with someone who OBVIOUSLY has nothing but the most passing and shallow familiarity with the real issues and who is willing to be spoonfed the assertions and poor arguments of people like Ken Miller and company and uncritically swallow them down like mother's milk? You are doing nothing more than parroting the misinformed and misrepresentative statements about ID and Theism that can be found on all the Amen-Corner atheist and materialist websites out there, run by people who have themselves clearly never bothered to objectively inform themselves on any of these issues and instead spend all of their time patting themselves on the back for their admirable rationality and inimitable critical thinking abilities. So, congratulations ... you can read, kinda. And in addition to this, you foolishly make the arrogant assumption that I'm unwilling to read some little document you read on the trial when I've actually read considerably more from the trial than you have, namely, everything. I've spent many years dealing with the type of amateurish arguments you're making here, the conflating of issues, making silly assumptions, trying to prove other people to be irrational through faulty logic that you're evidently incapable of recognizing, etc. Look ... when it comes right down to it, if someone like you thinks I'm stupid and irrational, I'm honored. Really, I am. How could I be anything else? You seem to be quite representative of the caliber of atheistic antagonists out there, and I'm quite comfortable - even if a little bored - by that fact. So please, say what you like, because at this point I have no reason to believe any of it will be any more significantly informed than what you've offered so far, which is bluster and uncritical, regurgitated nonsense that sounds convincing only to the uninformed and to those people who are already determined to believe it's true.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:39 p.m. CST

    t 1000 xp professional

    by heks

    Thanks. I'm glad *somebody* appreciated it or found it interesting or useful. I'm not sure where aquanaut went, since I was specifically answering his questions, but oh well. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:57 p.m. CST


    by heks

    I agree that that sort of thinking is something we should be sure to watch out for. The obvious problem, however, when trying to relate the analogy to something like the Teleological Argument is that it is uncontroversial and undisputed that a naturalistic mechanism like rainfall into a depression is sufficient to account for the appearance of a puddle. On the other hand, the sufficiency of naturalistic laws and of mechanisms like random mutation and natural selection to produce complex (or even simple) life is precisely the point of controversy and dispute. A more accurate analogy might be a person unexpectedly waking up in a beautiful, fully-stocked log cabin in the woods all alone and thinking it seemed like the place was built and stocked for habitation. It might be even more apt if the person was a little person and all the ceilings in the place happened to be 5 feet high. Take care

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 6:21 p.m. CST

    Sarah Palin at Sundance!

    by themanwithaname

    Can't believe she can juggle four signs at once! She's got my vote!!!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:56 p.m. CST response

    by Aquanaut

    Oh yes...i am aware of the concepts of soft/hard atheism and the scales designed around them. Beneficial mutations are commonly observed. They are common enough to be problems in the cases of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing organisms and pesticide resistance in agricultural pests (e.g., Newcomb et al. 1997) They can be repeatedly observed in laboratory populations (Wichman et al. 1999). Horizontal Gene Transfer was common in the very earliest life. In other words, genetic information was not inherited only from one's immediate ancestor; some was obtained from entirely different organisms, too. As a result, the tree of life does not stem from a single trunk but from a reticulated collection of stems (Woese 2000). This does not invalidate the theory of evolution, though. It says only that another mechanism of heredity was once more common. Horizontal gene transfer does not invalidate phylogenetics. Horizontal gene transfer is not a major factor affecting modern life, including all macroscopic life: "Although HGT does occur with important evolutionary consequences, classical Darwinian lineages seem to be the dominant mode of evolution for modern organisms" (Kurland et al. 2003, 9658; see also Daubin et al. 2003). And it is still possible to compute phylogenies while taking horizontal gene transfer into account (Kim and Salisbury 2001). as to issues in the field of biogeography...i'm going to file that under..."science doesn't have it all figured out". it seems as though creationists cite bias when ignorance in a scientific field isn't treated as though it is evidence for creationist claims. Homology is not defined as similarity due to common ancestry and then used as evidence for common ancestry. Rather, the evidence for common ancestry comes from the patterns of similarity of many traits. These similarities show that organisms group naturally into a nested hierarchy. For example, that ladybugs and scarabs are both types of beetle is based on various common traits such as hardened front wings; beetles, flies, and grasshoppers are types of insect; insects, scorpions, and centipedes are types of arthropod. Such grouping does not depend on any assumptions about origins and in fact was first codified by Linnaeus, a creationist. A grouping suggested by many common traits is evidence of common ancestry. This is true no matter what you choose to call the traits. The homology label gets added after the evidence for common ancestry is already in. (Mindell, David P. and Axel Meyer. 2001.) It is perhaps a mistake for an evolutionary biologist to use designed objects like cars and compare their similarity to living things to back up their claims...but no more so for the creationist, who also makes comparisions between man-made objects and naturally occuring objects. but by doing so must shed light on the glaring separation of that which is in fact designed and that which is biological. in other words, if we use a watch as an example of order for us to use it as such an example we must point out how it is different from the natural world. "a major problem with universal common descent in that there are numerous changes required to get from one kind of organism to another and that when there are large non-functional gaps to be crossed, as it seems there always are, natural selection isn't capable of bridging them?" Anything mutations can do, mutations can undo. Some mutations add information to a genome; some subtract it. By any reasonable definition, increases in information have been observed to evolve. We have observed the evolution of -increased genetic variety in a population (Lenski 1995; Lenski et al. 1991) -increased genetic material (Alves et al. 2001; Brown et al. 1998; Hughes and Friedman 2003; Lynch and Conery 2000; Ohta 2003) -novel genetic material (Knox et al. 1996; Park et al. 1996) -novel genetically-regulated abilities (Prijambada et al. 1995) The fact is that evolution can produce irreducibly complex structures, and in fact has been observed to do so, both in living things and in the computer simulations of evolution called genetic algorithms. How can an evolutionary process give rise to an irreducibly complex system? There are three ways. The first can be summed up as scaffolding: extra parts which support a partially functional system until it is completely assembled, at which point the extra parts become unnecessary and are pruned away by selection. The second, change of function, is a major mechanism of evolutionary change that has been known about since Darwin's day. A system which originally evolved to perform one function may become co-opted and take on a new function, starting out with multiple functioning parts rather than having to acquire them one piece at a time. Finally, there is the case of improvement becomes necessity, where an adaptation is at first merely beneficial, but as later changes build on it, it becomes indispensable. All three of these mechanisms have been implicated in the origin of various complex molecular systems. "They will usually manage to come up with all manner of clever explanations without appealing to the disallowed solution, but that doesn't mean that the disallowed solution isn't the right one." This seems a bit slippery to me...i've seen the identification of many logical fallacies in the realms of creationism and christian apologetics. arguments can either be countered or not, "clever explainations" or not. from my experience, that is the fundamental reason the creation solution is "disallowed". it contains too many logical fallacies. any scientist worth their salt, no matter what their angle is...if they can't counter an argument, they say "i don't know". creationists already have their ultimate answer though...that's not science. any unknown void can be filled with god. when a naturalist says "i don't know", a creationist might say.."that's god". that's not a solution...that's a stopgap. naturalists don't rule out the supernatural...that's the problem, once it's been verified or can be's no longer supernatural is it? that's why i use the phrase "based on available evidence". we will most likely find the answers to many of the gaps removing the necessity for supernatural claims in those areas or to look at it another way, taking something that was deemed supernatural and finding a way to measure it or readily observe it...which would declassify it as supernatural...but there will likely always be gaps somewhere. we can't keep filling the gaps with god...we invariably find naturalistic causes for phenomena in the universe. we don't have it all figured out...but instead of assigning mysteries with a supernatural cause...why can't we just say "i don't know". it's not about predetermining where evidence is allowed to lead, but their must be a criterion for scientific inquiry to work. god has been considered plenty...and numerous fallacies have been illuminated. those must be dealt with. I'm familiar with the cosmological argument, including craig's adaptation of the kalam cosmologival argument. 1. An actual infinite cannot exist in reality. 2. Therefore, an infinite number of events cannot have occurred before the present. 3. Therefore, the universe began to exist. 4. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 5. Therefore, the universe has a cause. There are several important problems with this argument. The first one lies with Craig's claimed proof that an actual infinite cannot exist, a claim which he uses to argue that the universe must have had a finite history and therefore a beginning. Craig's argument for this point relies on alleged self-contradictions that arise when considering the idea of an actually existing infinity. For example, the set of all numbers is infinite in size, as is the set of even numbers, but if we subtract the latter from the former the resulting set is still infinite. More importantly, Craig claims it is impossible to form an infinite set by successive addition - no matter how many times we add 1 + 1 + 1 + 1..., the sum will always be a finite number, never infinity. Therefore, no matter how many past events have occurred, there can only be a finite number of them and there still must have been a first event, a beginning to the universe. While Craig argues that a potential infinite, defined as a value that increases indefinitely without bound, can exist, he denies that an actual infinite can ever exist in reality. It is true that an actual infinite, if such a thing existed, would possess some very strange and counterintuitive properties; for one thing, such a set could be the same size as one of its proper subsets, which is the source of most of the "absurdities" Craig claims to have pointed out. But this does not prove that such a thing is impossible, merely that the human mind cannot adequately conceive of it. There is no law that requires reality to conform to our expectations. Most people would also find the idea that light can behave both as a particle and as a wave to be counterintuitive or absurd, but nevertheless, quantum mechanics has taught us that it is so. Regarding the supposed impossibility of forming an infinite by successive addition, Craig's argument makes a key faulty assumption. Of course an actual infinite cannot be formed by successive addition if one only has a finite number of steps to do it in. But an actual infinite can be formed by an infinite number of successive additions. In other words, there could have been an infinite number of events before now as long as there was also an infinite amount of time before now, which is exactly as we should expect. One might object that this proves that it is necessary to start with an infinite in order to get an infinite. This is true, and it is not a problem if one postulates a universe that has always existed as a brute fact requiring no further explanation, just as theists postulate a God that has always existed as a brute fact. Finally, there is a problem with this premise that Craig does not seem to have considered, and one that shows why the kalam cosmological argument, despite its greater sophistication, is still built on special pleading. How many things does God know? An omniscient deity, obviously, would know an infinite number of things. How many things can God do? Equally obviously, an omnipotent deity would be able to do an infinite number of things. But these are not potential infinites; they are actual infinites. The number of things God knows or can do, according to traditional theism, is not increasing indefinitely without bound; it is already as great as it will ever be. Therefore, since Craig argues that an actual infinite cannot exist in reality, then he has proven by his own argument that God does not exist - at least, not an infinite god of the type conceived of by so many theists. We next consider premise 3, which states that the universe began to exist. As Craig puts it, "The astrophysical evidence indicates that the universe began to exist in a great explosion called the 'Big Bang' around 15 billion years ago. Physical space and time were created in that event, as well as all the matter and energy in the universe". Craig has far overreached himself here. Nothing about Big Bang theory implies or requires that space, time, matter or energy began to exist at that point after previously not existing. Simply stated, the Big Bang was a point at which the universe as we currently observe it was extremely hot and dense. Our current formulations of the laws of physics break down under these conditions, and so we do not know what came before that. But this does not entail that the universe itself came into existence at that point. It might well have existed in another form prior to the Big Bang. It might even have always existed, so that the Big Bang would not be its beginning but merely the least recent event in its history that we can observe. In this case, the kalam argument's premise 3 fails and therefore the entire argument fails. In regards to the Teleological argument, there are problems that can be addressed without needing the multiverse at all...It is true that life as we know it, at least large, complex life such as human beings, would not exist on the Earth if conditions were significantly different (although the parameters of environmental variation are not as sensitive as some theists think; some, for example, assert that we would either freeze or boil if the Earth's distance from the Sun varied by even a few kilometers, unaware that the planet's orbit is an ellipse and its distance from the Sun varies by almost five million kilometers over the course of a year). However, this is not at all surprising. When we look into the cosmos, we see an enormous number of places utterly hostile to our kind of life: worlds bathed in the fierce glare of heat and radiation from nearby suns, worlds dark and frozen by the chill of space, worlds perpetually convulsed by volcanism, worlds constantly bombarded by impacting meteors, worlds lacking the chemical compounds necessary to sustain life such as ours. Is it any wonder that life arose here and not there? Is it any wonder that we live on the Earth and not one of those places? Of course not: we exist where we can exist. What would be far more miraculous, and far more indicative of supernatural influence, would be if we found ourselves on a planet where the environment was not conducive to our kind of life. The cosmological version of the fine-tuning argument is more sophisticated, but nevertheless is not difficult to defeat. The key is to recognize that every step of this argument relies on implicit assumptions, none of which are supported by any evidence at all, and without any of which the argument collapses. For example: how do advocates of this argument know how many different sets of values for the physical constants could have led to life? Perhaps life as we know it would not exist if these values were different, but that does not prove that life of any form could not exist. It could be that most of the universes that would result from changing these constants would contain some sort of complex life, even if that life would in most cases be extremely different from what we are used to. Advocates of the fine-tuning argument implicitly assume that only one, or at most a few, sets of values could have led to conscious life of any form, but there is no possible way they can know this. Furthermore, how do advocates of this argument know that all possible values for these constants were equally likely, or even that they could have been different at all? Defenders of the fine-tuning argument implicitly assume that the current values were selected uniformly at random from an infinite or at least a very large range of possibilities, but there is no possible way they can know this. Indeed, for at least a limited subset of cases, we know that this is not true. Some physical constants are interrelated, such that a change to one would necessarily produce a change in the others. yeah, neither of us has scratched the surface...suffice it to say i don't think either one of us is going to be convincing the other of anything, but it was nice to get your POV on the matter. as i said i'm familiar with craig's work and many arguments and counter arguments...i believe in research, and i think any human being of any worldview should engage in it.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 2:06 a.m. CST


    by xevoid

    So, this thread is continuing, and I hope it does for sometime. I sure wish there was a way to make a Threads of Distinction section on this site for these sorts of talkbacks. Anyways, Yeah, what you said, aquanaut!

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 2:33 a.m. CST

    Hey Aquanaut

    by xevoid

    here's a good deconstruction of the kalam argument from Dan Barker's's long, but very good. And no one here will read it anyway. The curious clause "everything that begins to exist" implies that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist (BE), and those that do not (NBE). In order for this cosmological argument to work, NBE (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty[2], but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God. If God is the only object allowed in NBE, then BE is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise "everything that begins to exist has a cause" is equivalent to "everything except God has a cause." As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God's existence, and we are back to begging the question. Where do theists obtain the idea in the first place that there is such a set as NBE? By what observations or arguments is the possibility of beginningless objects warranted? Certainly not via the cosmological argument, which simply assumes NBE; nor from science, which observes nothing of the sort. If they get their initial idea from a religious document or from "inner experience," their argument may be more presuppositionalist than evidentialist. [3] To say that NBE must accommodate more than one item is not to say that it must contain more than one item. The set might actually contain only one of the eligible candidates. The cosmological argument could be made successful if it could be shown that NBE contains exactly one item from a plural set of possibilities, and if the winning candidate turns out to be a personal creator. The question of accommodation is not whether the set does not contain more or less than one item; it's whether it can not contain other than one. If it can not, then the argument is circular. It would be like a dictator staging an election that permits no other candidates but himself: it's rigged from the start. (I am indebted to Michael Martin for insights on this matter via personal email correspondence.) Additionally, if the only candidate for NBE is God, then the second premise, "The universe began to exist," would reduce to "The universe is not God," again assuming what the argument is trying to prove. If NBE is synonymous with God, the argument looks like this: 1. Everything except God has a cause. 2. The universe is not God. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. This is logical, if not very useful. The circular reasoning is revealed when theists build from this point. Based on the above "universe has a cause" conclusion, Craig argues for a personal creator: "We know that this first event must have been caused. The question is: How can a first event come to exist if the cause of that event exists changelessly and eternally? Why isn't the effect as co-eternal as the cause? "It seems that there is only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to infer that the cause of the universe is a personal agent who chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation 'agent causation,' and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present."[4] This appeal to a personal creator depends on the premise that "we know this first event must have been caused." However, if God is the only item allowed in NBE, the argument effectively (if not intentionally) begs the question. In order to avoid begging the question, theists must produce one or more real or hypothetical candidates other than God for NBE. We have no experience of any NBE objects in the natural universe (how could we?), nor can we propose anything hypothetical that does not begin to exist as a real item in the natural universe.[5] We can't have such a thing within the natural universe if "begin" means "begin in time" because time itself is a result of the Big Bang. No item in the natural universe transcends time, so it cannot "not" begin to exist. Assuming that current Big Bang cosmology is correct, it would be incoherent to say that something happened "before" time began. But perhaps there could be something outside[6] the natural universe that would be accommodated by NBE, besides God. (Craig seems to allow this ontological possibility when he "infers"[7] that the external cause of the universe is an "agent causation," implying that it might be otherwise.) Since most theists' definition of God includes personality, NBE might be open to an impersonal force as well as a personal force--or a number of impersonal and personal forces. This would not necessarily lead to polytheism, deism, or violate the principle of economy--it might be true that only the personal agency actually exists from the set of possibilities. However, if theists allow the theoretical possibility of an impersonal transcendent object in NBE--and it seems they must allow this, or some other nontheistic hypothesis--and if they have not convincingly eliminated it (or them) from the set of actual items in NBE, then they must remain open to the possibility that the origin of the universe could be explained in a purely naturalistic manner. Transcendent does not equal supernatural. Have theists successfully eliminated all but one candidate for NBE? By what criteria have they concluded that an impersonal force cannot cause a universe? After all, experience within the universe shows us that many impersonal causes "create" many natural effects. Craig appears to be justifying the hypothesis of a personal external force via the fact that the natural universe contains complex intelligence and free personal agency--humans, for example--and a creator must be at least as complex as the thing it created[8]. Otherwise, the creation would have been greater than the creator, which is impossible. But is it impossible? What exactly does "greater" mean? Flowing water created the Grand Canyon: which is greater? Loose pebbles start avalanches. We build machines that are "greater" than ourselves: forklifts, jet airplanes, bombs. We create machines that think better than we do--witness the defeat of World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov to IBM's "Deep Blue." A man and a woman who are both of average intelligence can produce a child who is a genius. Nature abounds with examples of complexity arising from simplicity. If this is true in the natural world, then why would it not be equally true in a transcendent or supernatural world, if such a world exists? If we are allowed to draw an inference, as Craig does, from one world to the other, then we cannot rule out the possibility of the universe (or God) having arisen from simpler causes. There is no way to dismiss the option that impersonal forces created the right situation for the universe, including intelligence, to arise. This principle holds in biology. The overwhelming consensus among biologists is that we evolved from simpler ancestors, and so did our ancestors. Theists who agree that the universe originated in a Big Bang about fifteen billion years ago should not be uncomfortable with the observation that life evolved over that vast period of time. (Those few theists who accept cosmology but reject biology may be picking their experts based on theology rather than science.) If theists such as Craig think we can infer anything from natural observation about the characteristics of a transcendent creator, then we naturalists could be justified in playing the same game: we might "infer" that the creator (if it exists) evolved from a less complex, non-personal source. Some theists dismiss biological evolution from simpler origins (some discard only macro-evolution, and some only the evolution of DNA), but even if they are right, this would not help them: complex/simple does not necessarily translate to personal/impersonal. Who is to say that personality could not have arisen from an impersonal cause? The impersonal might be more complex. If this is impossible, theists must explain why. Even if it is wrong, in spite of a wealth of evidence, that complexity arises from simplicity, in order for the cosmological argument to hold, theists must at least acknowledge the possibility of one or more transcendent forces that is not personal. They must ontologically contend with something else "out there" that is not God: they must define it, and then eliminate it. It does no good to say that the "something else" accommodated by NBE might have been created by God, because that simply rolls the set back up into a single item. (We might then claim that it was the other way around: God was created by "something else.") Since this uncaused nontheistic impersonal transcendence would need to exist "on its own," if it exists, then it would not be dependent on God, and therefore God would not be creator and master of everything. Until theists can satisfactorily eliminate this "something else," they cannot conclude that a personal god is the cause of the universe. Perhaps theists might suggest or prove that the impersonal transcendence is not possible at all: maybe NBE cannot even accommodate such a thing. But if that is true, they are back to square one, and need to propose "something else" as a candidate for NBE in order to keep from begging the question. Theists might point out that the "something else," even if clearly defined, would be merely theoretical. True, but so is God.[9]If they had evidence for God, they wouldn't need the Cosmological Argument at all.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 3:40 a.m. CST

    hey aquanaut

    by heks

    Thanks a ton for your response! Perhaps it seems strange that I should be so excited by it, but I'll tell you why I am. You've presented a respectful and thought-out summary of your views and reasoning that demonstrates you've put real time into trying to be familiar with your opponent's position and without feeling a need to resort to arrogant claims of special rationality or imputing irrationality to your opponent. I've been debating various topics in extreme detail for over a decade and it's hard to find people of any persuasion who warrant such a complement. And, I must admit, in my personal experience it is especially difficult among atheists. As odd as it may seem, you're the first I've come across. The tone of other atheists in the rest of this thread has been the norm in my experience and eventually that becomes like a mosquito incessantly buzzing around your head. Having said all that, I wish I had the time to carry on this discussion further. You've presented some meat worthy of interaction and I can feel myself itching to carry this on, but I just don't have the time right now. Since you are clearly fond of research, like I am myself, I'll have to hope that it will be sufficient if I simply mention some topics that you might enjoy looking into a bit further (and I'll have another read over your post later to see if there's something I'd like to look into more). First of all, I think you might have missed my point when discussing efforts to create a phylogentic tree that the incongruities and non-nested patters are not limited to the base of the tree, where horizontal gene transfer is expected to occur. The non-nested patterns exist even among the higher organisms where HGT is not thought to occur. It happens at every level of the tree and, as I said, different points of comparison paint significantly different pictures. As for homology, I don't mean to pound my fist or anything, but yes, it does get defined in terms of common ancestry and then get used as evidence for it. As I said, even Dawkins recognized that this was happening and that it was logically problematic. If I recall correctly, he addressed it in The Greatest Show on Earth. In terms of studies showing an increase of information, like those conducted with Lenski, Mike Behe recently published a peer-reviewed article in which he analyzed the results of all such lab studies, including Lenski's. If you have a chance, give it a read (I'm 95% sure it's available online), read the critiques, then read Behe's responses. In terms of the evolutionary algorithms, they have all been addressed in detail and their problems made manifest. For a good consideration of the topic, check out what Stephen Meyer has to say in Signature in the Cell, though he is not at all the only source that can be found for a thorough critical analysis of why these fail as evidence favoring the ability of natural selection to produce significant amounts of specified complexity. On the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments and the issues relating to infinite sets, I greatly enjoyed your comments. Of course, I disagree with your conclusions and with your application to the thoughts of God, which I think you've got very wrong, but it's entirely possible that your argument is caused by having had someone suggest to you that God's thoughts are and must be infinite in number. Pretty much all of your counter-arguments have been addressed by Craig himself on various occasions and in various places in writing, audio and video. If you find something that hasn't been addressed (though it seems to me everything here has been) you should drop him a line with the challenge. I've probably missed something I wanted to address, but at 4:37am I'm a tad tired and, like we've now both acknowledged, we've both only just scratched the surface of these massive topics. Do continue in your habits of research and critical thinking and I'll try to do the same. Oh, wait. I just remembered one more point I wanted to address. I don't go for a God of the Gaps type of mentality. Keep in mind that in discussing common ancestry, I was only providing some context for why the theory of unguided universal common descent strikes many as ultimately unreasonable. That was not intended as an argument for God's existence. Contrary to the claims of it's critics, ID makes both a negative case against Darwinism and a positive case in favor of design. But, again, contrary to the claims of its critics, ID, as a theory, does not claim that the designer is God. This is not because it is attempting to be coy but specifically because the fact of biological design, even if accepted, does not necessitate the conclusion of God's existence and, in fact, tells us very little about the nature of the designer. In reality, ID proponents don't even believe that ID theory contravenes methodological naturalism, in spite of their view of the problematic nature of that methodology. Anyway, I say this because I don't want you to confuse what I intended to impart when discussing those subjects. It was not to argue for God's existence on the basis of what a naturalistic approach seems incapable of explaining sufficiently. Thanks for the discussion, heks

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 4:10 a.m. CST

    What is it with you xevoid?

    by heks

    There you go again: "And no one here will read it anyway" I read it ... and it's horrid. It's confused from start to end but it really hits its stride halfway through when he posits a reason for Craig's claim that the transcendent force must be personal other than what Craig clearly explained as the reason for his claim. Then he just gets carried away on that tangent. Craig has already responded to the logical lunacy of this argument. Honestly, I just don't think I'm going to bother reading your posts anymore. Can anyone tell me if there's a block feature on here anywhere?

  • Jan. 28, 2011, 9:54 a.m. CST

    The last word.

    by xevoid

    I has it.