Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

March 9, 2008

90 Minutes with Richard Dawkins

Filed under: books, culture, media, religion — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 1:00 pm

Richard Dawkins came to University of California at Berkeley on his University Tour. Unfortunately, I ran into some traffic on the way over, and hence arrived late. Late, as it turned out, just wasn’t going to cut it. The event sold out. There was a book signing afterwards, but having left my hardcover edition at home I didn’t feel like picking up another copy just for Dawkins to sign it. Resigned to my fate, I returned home from the bust.

In the bigger scheme of things, it is no great loss. I had already read “The God Delusion.” I’m already an atheist. I’ve watched quite a few of his presentations online. I highly doubt he would have covered any ground that I was previously unaware of. The draw of going to such events are the questions from the audience, but those tend to be very hit or miss.

Although, it was my personal failure for not arriving early enough, only having seating for 705 people seems to guarantee some people would be left out. If they would have gone with Zellerbach Hall, everyone interested would have been able to attend. I imagine the student group setting up the lecture didn’t do so because of the cost differences, and possibly because they didn’t believe Dawkins would be able to sell out Wheeler Auditorium. If that is the case, Dawkins seems to be a character of unanticipated popularity.

Thus, I always find myself at a little bit of a loss looking at the best sellers list. There are many fine books on the paperback non-fiction best seller list. “The God Delusion” is sitting above Friedman’s “The World is Flat” at 14. However, look at 5 on the list, “90 Minutes in Heaven”? It has been on the list 71 weeks whereas Dawkins’ book has only been on the list for 9.

To my surprise, Amazon recommends buying “90 Minutes in Heaven” with “23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese, thus exposing a fatal flaw in Amazon’s recommendation system. It should be recommending “Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time” by Michael Shermer, but I digress. Although, I’m still searching for “56 Minutes in Purgatory” so I could rest easy knowing there was a modern version of the Divine Comedy, but so far no luck.

However, the underlying point is here criticism. Dawkins has been criticized a lot, from an absurd caricature on South Park to endless litanies of his shrillness and stridency in advocating atheism. It is telling that the New York Times has not reviewed “90 Minutes in Heaven.” However, Jim Holt plays his role as an enabler for religious belief with an excellent review of “The God Delusion.” I want to say, there is nothing wrong with the review. It is well written. Points are well-argued with context, although I might not agree with all of them. I honestly wish all reviews were done as well as Holt’s of “The God Delusion.”

It is unfortunately the intrinsic state of atheism to be unable to deliver an absolutist knockout blow. The crux of the problem is Descartes’ evil deceiver. We can be confident in our own thinking, but since our perceptions of the world are fallible, it is necessary to admit we could be mistaken about everything else. However, the probability of this being the case is very low. This uncertainty is why many philosophers go reaching to god, just like Descartes did. God provides a way to assert something with absolutes, however introducing god produces as many issues as it answers. It is also true that this abstract, necessary metaphysical god to assert certainty is very different from one that we would associate with any religion. It is at best a metaphysical crutch that allow seemingly sensible people to cram all their superstitious belief into and pretend it is OK. Hence, atheists are caught in a catch-22 with the superstitious enablers who apparently want to run away from Occam’s razor.

Again, the issue isn’t the review. It is what the New York Times chooses not to review. Holt complains of logical sloppiness in Dawkins’ book. How about holding that standard to “90 Minutes in Heaven?” What, one of their reviewers could not find time to read a 208 page book in one of 71 weeks it has been on the best sellers list? It is in the nonfiction section no less. I’ll bet there is more truth in “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien than “90 Minutes in Heaven,” but at least O’Brien had the decency to call his work fiction.

Look at what people are claiming about Piper’s story:

The first is that he was dead for 90 minutes. I don’t know that I’ve heard of anyone being dead for that long and being resuscitated. The second is that if they were, they were in fact helped by a physical or medical technician to be revived. Don Piper was not, he simply came back to life for no apparent reason other than God. The third is that he came out with no internal injuries which given his circumstances was improbable to the extreme. That is why I give him great credibility.

I don’t know if the author of the post actually knows how credibility is supposed to function, and I highly suspect it is a marketing piece but still let’s take the post author at his word and assume he read the book. Piper “came back to life for no apparent reason other than God.” Piper rose from the dead with no help. The man was not breathing, his heart was not pumping, he was dead for 90 minutes and just woke up. We know brain cells die within 5 minutes of not receiving oxygen, and this man survived 90. Piper can help write a book and preach afterwards. How is this not one of the most talked about medical case studies in history?

If Dawkins deserves to be publicly criticized for his “tone [being] smug and the logic occasionally sloppy.” Doesn’t Piper deserve the same? Dawkins isn’t the one claiming to have gone to heaven and to have been raised from the dead by God with no physical earthly help, after all.

Advertisements

41 Comments »

  1. I notice that you did not comment on the fact that he was dead and confirmed to be so twice by trained medical technicians. I would question whether or not you read the book. How did he not have brain damage? The same reason he didn’t have internal injuries, the only explanation is God. You will have a hard time proving he wasn’t dead considering the accident and injuries he sustained, plus the fact that two times medical technicians declared him dead.

    Is that all you have about him not actually dieing is that he didn’t have brain damage? That seems like a weak argument considering he didn’t have internal injuries either.

    Plus I note that you also did not explain his vision of Heaven. Hallucinations and dreams do not have stay in long term memory, yet to this day he recalls vivid details. No mention of that either.

    There seem to be many things that you can’t explain about the story.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 13, 2008 @ 3:45 am

  2. Hi Christianfaqed,

    I didn’t comment on the fact that he was declared “clinically dead” because I assume that portion of the story was true, and am not disputing, just like I don’t doubt he was in a car accident either. I’ve seen pictures of his car and pictures of his recovery in the hospital along with the stories of the multiple surgeries he needed. I think it is safe to say, Piper was in a near fatal car crash. It is the other aspects that we have no evidence for that I doubt.

    People coming back from “clinical death” is one of those modern miracles that we sort of take for granted in the our era. However, it must be done quickly because of the irreparable harm that can take place particularly to the brain.

    You don’t have to question whether or not I read the book. I freely admit that I haven’t. However, I assume the people at christianfaqed have provided an accurate summary of the relevant facts about the accident. I might be mistaken, and tried to imply as much. However, I hope that you agree with me that it is not necessary to read all of “Mein Kampf” to criticize any of Hitler’s ideas or claims, or to read “On the Origin of Species” to criticize any of Darwin’s. The only matter of any real import is whether my criticism is valid that is: am I actually attacking things that he has claimed or misrepresenting his actual views? If I am misrepresenting his views, feel free to correct me. I assure you, that it is an honest mistake, and that I was mistaken or misled by something I read elsewhere, not deliberately trying to misrepresent claims. However, I would find it sort of ironic if you are claiming that I misrepresented the Piper’s claims since you appear to be affiliated with the website I got my information from.

    For my explanation as to why Piper didn’t have brain damage comes from aspects of the account that I actually dispute. Piper was either revived by the medical professionals, or they were mistaken in their initial declaration at the scene. For someone who was dead at the time, he seems to have an uncanny ability to tell what was going on around him while he was dead (and in heaven at the time with overwhelmed senses no less). But, he does appear to be one car in a four-car pileup. So, a medical technician’s time could have been limited.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330711,00.html

    In short, I question whether he was actually “clinically dead” for 90 minutes.

    Accordingly, wikipedia says that according to the book, Piper had 34 separate surgeries as a result of his accident.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Cite&page=Don_Piper&id=194924099

    If he had no internal injuries, what were the surgeon‘s doing cutting him open?

    I don’t dispute his vision of heaven just like I don’t dispute Dante’s vision of it in Paradiso. Look, he can say he saw it, and I can question it. It doesn’t really get us anywhere. The questions we can answer are: was he placed in a body-bag or just covered by a tarp? Did he have a long list of injuries consistent with being in a near fatal accident or not, according to relevant medical experts? Was he actually “clinically dead” for 90 minutes or is there another plausible explanation? Is he deliberately exaggerating these claims to make the circumstances seem more miraculous than they really were or trying to give an accurate and objective summary of what happened? How seriously were other people injured in the accident? If we determine that he is exaggerating about the basic physical facts, then that calls his credibility into question when he describes other events that he claimed happened to him.

    One of the major differences between you and I, christianfaqed, is that when I see something I don’t understand, I try to find a rational explanation for it. You seem to want to point to God. I am not going to have answers for every aspect of the story, but I’m willing to put in as much effort as you are if you want to try to find answers. I would start by asking Don Piper for all of his medical records for his injuries resulting from his accident, get the police reports, check local newspaper articles, and try to track down people who were also in the accident that day.

    However, what I expect to find is someone who mischaracterizes the circumstances and sees it through a prism that confirms his pre-existing irrational belief that he had already dedicated his life to. It is known as confirmation bias. That is just my hypothesis, not my conclusion and I am willing to honestly explore it. So, the real question is, are you christianfaqed?

    Comment by codesmithy — March 13, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  3. I apologize, you really should read the book before you jump to conclusions as many of my arguments would be unnecessary had you read the account. Don Piper has no idea what happened while he was out. It was the pastor who came along and prayed over him that gave his account, plus the medical technicians.

    Broken bones do not count as internal injuries… especially when they are protruding from the skin.

    The medical technicians were not pressed for time at all considering the others in the accident had minor injuries and refused any kind of treatment which is why he got checked twice.

    Again you do not explain how this dream or hallucination has been in his long term memory when those have been shown not to be able to stay in long term memory, nor do you have any good explanation of how a medical technician who is out to save lives could over look signs of life two times. He was obviously not pressed for time.

    Where as you have to make up unlikely scenarios, I accept eye witness testimony.

    He most certainly was not revived by medical technicians so how did he revive himself? A question that you will never be able to answer.

    Our differences is not that you seek a rational explanation and I point to God. The difference is that I believe God is a rational explanation. More so than your made up scenarios that come from someone who has not read the account.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 13, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

  4. Hi again christianfaqed,

    I don’t think calling for the New York Times to review a popular book with demonstrable staying power to the same standard they used with “The God Delusion” necessarily requires me to read it. Since, your site presents an author as a skeptic of such stories, I thought you would understand some of my skepticism of the more dubious claims.

    I would really like you to precisely define what you mean by internal injuries, then we can try to find out what surgeries Piper actually had. I would consider an ACL tear an internal injury, and Piper had his left arm and left leg severed. So, I think we need to agree on terms first. But it is certainly the case that he didn’t come out of the accident unscathed or with just superficial injuries.

    http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/donpiper_heaven051104.aspx

    For the record, I don’t really consider this an argument, more of a discussion.

    As far as Piper’s dream or hallucination being in long-term memory, how do you know it is in long-term memory? How was the brain activity measured? How do we ensure that what is in Piper’s long-term memory is actually his death experience as opposed to a story that he convinced himself of later (i.e. a post-hoc rationalization of a traumatic experience)? What experiment can we run to demonstrate the physical neurons of the brain rearranging themselves precisely to the experiences of the metaphysical soul?

    I am happy that you accept eye witness testimony. How about the eye witness testimony of countless people under controlled conditions as to the effect of oxygen deprivation on the brain? If Piper was under the conditions of clinical death for 90 minutes, he should have numerous complications.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Cite&page=Clinical_death&id=197999722

    Yet he doesn’t. How did these brain cells stay alive?

    I’m just enumerating other possibilities that explain the data. Each should be explored according to their own merits. I find it tremendously ironic to be lectured on unlikely scenarios by someone who apparently believes in divine intervention.

    Look, I’ll make this easy for you. I’m of the opinion you don’t have to be an expert in something in order to question it. According to the account, are you saying that Piper wasn’t dead for 90 minutes? Are you saying that brain injury doesn’t occur quickly when someone is deprived of oxygen? Are you saying Piper suffered brain injuries consistent with oxygen depravation for 90 minutes? Are you saying these two observations don’t contradict one another?

    I don’t have any real objection to reading the book, it is mostly just a constraint on my free time. So I’ll tell you what, I’ll pick it up from the library and write up a review, since it will be quicker and more certain than discussing the book with you. However, for a preview, I read the chapter on the accident off Amazon, and there are numerous things I find suspicious. For example on page 20.

    “According to those who were at the scene, the guards called for medical backup from the prison, and they arrived a few minutes later. Someone examined me, found no pulse, and declared that I had been killed instantly.”

    Someone? It doesn’t say a medical technician examined him and declared him dead, just that someone did with no hints as to their medical expertise or authority to do so. However, there is an interesting trick, there is an implication that medical backup from the prison examined him because they mention it right before the portion that he had been declared dead. However, there is not enough information in the paragraph to be sure of that conclusion.

    Oh well. Here is a question for you to ponder, if God is a rational explanation for phenomenon, then why not the Flying Spaghetti Monster? How do we know that this isn’t the work of his noodlely appendage for his own inscrutable designs. Or maybe Satan tricked Piper in believing he went to heaven. No, it was Zeus. Thor! Baal. Oh, Baal is a sneaky one.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 14, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  5. […] Filed under: books, religion — Tags: 90 Minutes in Heaven — codesmithy @ 9:21 am I’ve had some exchanges with someone claiming to be from Christianfaqed. They thought that I should read the book before I called for the book be reviewed by the New York […]

    Pingback by 90 Minutes Redux « Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind — March 14, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  6. I tried commenting before but it apparently didn’t take… So I’ll try again.

    I’m not sure why you keep bringing up the brain cell damage thing. If God can bring him back from the dead, he can fix a little brain damage. I’m saying that Don Piper was dead for 90 minutes and God brought him back to life without brain damage. God is not confined to our rules anymore than a programmer is confined by the rules of his program.

    Even if the first was not a medical technician, you have only shown that there are two witnesses to his death. I’ve been checking my pulse since I was 6 years old due to a heart defect of mine. I had to keep it in check. If a six year old can do it, I have confidence in any adult to be able to do it… Plus a medical technician.

    I doubt it was the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it is a work of fiction created by those mocking Intelligent Design. I doubt it was Zeus since he looked down on pitiful humans and it is also a highly mythological god, Baal falls into that category as well. If it was Satan, he is working against himself. His goal is to steal kill and destroy, this message has brought hope and faith to many people and I’ve yet to see any harm come from it.

    I know through historical records and witnesses that Jesus came and died on a cross for saying he was God. There are more than 500 witnesses to his resurrection. I know by historical facts that Jesus is God and than Heaven is real. So it’s not far fetch for me to believe that he can heal Don Piper and give him a glimpse of the gates of Heaven.

    You on the other hand have to come up with countless improbable circumstances to try to comb over this and every other miracle that has ever happened.

    Is it possible that two people mis-diagnosed Don Piper, one being a trained medical technician (from your version)? Yes. Is it likely? No.

    Is it possible to survive the massive injuries he sustained without immediate medical treatment? Yes. Is it likely? No.

    Is it likely that he went into a coma and suddenly revived himself from it through natural means? Maybe (I won’t even give a positive yes on that one). Is it likely? No.

    Is it possible he hallucinated this vision of Heaven and retains enough memory of it that he can write two full descriptive chapters more than a decade later? I suppose. Is it likely? No.

    The odds of pulling off what you are suggesting is near astronomical, but if you choose to believe that over the simple truth that is up to you. Most times the most obvious explanation is the truth.

    I began this discussion because you hinted that I made a rash and ignorant opinion of this account. You also even suggested that I merely wrote it as a marketing ploy. Thank you for backtracking your comment as it gave me an opportunity prove myself otherwise.

    You are correct, if we account for every single possibility we can believe whatever we choose to, but which scenario is most likely?

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 17, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

  7. Hello again Christianfaqed!

    Sorry about your previous comment. It came through, but it had no data i.e. I got something from the IP address you appear to be using, but it was empty. WordPress is like that sometimes. I actually have a habit of typing up comments in a word processor then copying and pasting them into the comment field.

    I’ll take a little bit of time to explain the brain damage thing. Here’s the basis that I’m going off of. If I drop a ball, it falls. As a human species we developed this theory known as gravity which explains that there is this very weak force that exists proportional to the product of the masses divided by the square of the distance between the two objects. We use this force to describe the motion of the planets and why when I drop an object it falls to the earth. We also use this force to do some surprising things, like plan orbits of satellites. It also helps explain the tide, and provides some possible explanations for why our climate changes (Milankovitch cycles). We use it to predict eclipses, plan artillery strikes and use it for insights into how our bodies works.

    We don’t know everything there is to know about gravity. Our knowledge of it has actually improved over time. However, whenever we found gravity doing something we didn’t expect, we didn’t find a god there, we found rules and a consistency in the way universe behaved.

    Although brain chemistry is not as well understood as gravity, there are a few things we do know. If a brain is deprived of oxygen for a significant portion of time, brain cells die. It is true for my brain. It is true for your brain. It is true for every animal that has a brain.

    However, the claim is in this one case, that isn’t what happened. God intervened. He either patched up Piper and sent him back (even Piper seems baffled as to why God would do so). Or there is a more mundane explanation for the events. I’m on the side of the mundane.

    First of all, I want to address the god issue. The logical problem you have invoking god is that for however improbable explanation I put forward. You are stuck one-upping it. As Dawkins puts it on page 114 in “The God Delusion,” “however statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable.” So, you might find the sequence of events improbable, but statistically you are claiming not only everything I’m claiming, but also a whole sequence of unlikely events. This is why I initially questioned if the author of the review knew how credibility is supposed to work.

    As for checking the pulse, there are a few issues at play here, not the least of which is human psychology. There are a few inconsistencies in the account about who exactly took the pulse. But, it was checked at least twice, the first time it was likely to have been a police officer before the EMTs arrived. The question is, when a Ford escort is hit, head-on at highway speeds by a semi, do you expect to find the driver of the escort to be alive or dead? Don Piper was messed up because of the accident, no doubt. Unquestionably, it looks like a fatal or near-fatal accident. Piper’s pulse could have been weakened by his blood loss. I’m sure a police officer can check a pulse, but where did he check for Don Piper’s pulse? The book doesn’t say.

    However, there is an interesting phenomenon that Richard Feynman explores in “Cargo Cult Science.”
    http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/cargocul.htm

    “We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of
    the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the
    charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and
    got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It’s a
    little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the
    viscosity of air. It’s interesting to look at the history of
    measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you
    plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little
    bigger than Millikan’s, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than
    that, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, until
    finally they settle down to a number which is higher.

    Why didn’t they discover that the new number was higher right away?
    It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of–this history–because
    it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a
    number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something
    must be wrong–and they would look for and find a reason why
    something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to
    Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated
    the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that.”

    I can hypothesize that the police officer didn’t find a pulse because he expected Piper to be dead. For the same reason, an EMT who checked had an even stronger expectation of finding no pulse. It wasn’t until Dick Onerecker noticed Piper was in fact still alive that anyone had an expectation of finding a pulse. Of course you expect to find a pulse on a person who is following along with a tune to the best of their ability.

    After reading the account, I’m quite sure this is what occurred. People who checked his pulse made a mistake. There were a lot of mistakes in the story if you hadn’t noticed: the incorrect tube insertion, the infection to his leg due to contaminated swabs, letting the prisoner drive the semi, Piper being sure it was Onerecker who was holding his right hand to name the ones I can immediately remember.

    I didn’t actually expect you to go through the Gods I had listed. I just want to point out that as an atheist, I only believe in one less god than you. Luckily, someone produced a list with all the gods we agree don’t exist.

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/02/11/gods-we-dont-believe-in/

    It is funny that you mention the historical accuracy aspect of Gospels. I’m not a scholar in the area, but I have read books like “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart D. Ehrman. From books like that, I come to roughly the same conclusion as Chomsky:

    “Who wrote the Bible? Current scholarship, to my knowledge, assumes that the material that constitutes the Old Testament was put together from various oral and folk traditions (many of them going far back) in the Hellenistic period. That was one of several currents, of which the collection that formed the New Testament was another. Biblical archaeology was developed early in this century in an effort to substantiate the authenticity of the Biblical account. It’s by now generally recognized in Biblical scholarship that it has done the opposite. The Bible is not a historical text, and has only vague resemblances to what took place, as far as can be reconstructed. For example, whether Israel ever existed is not clear; if so, it was probably a small kingdom somewhere in the hills, apparently virtually unknown to the Egyptians. That’s my understanding, from casual reading; I haven’t followed recent work closely.”

    http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1990—-.htm

    I don’t agree with that “most times the most obvious explanation is the truth.”
    I agree with H.L. Mencken’s sentiment, “for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

    http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1126503

    It was not my intention to indicate that you made a “rash or ignorant opinion of this account.” I read over everything that I wrote, and I’m unsure how you got that idea. (No, I’m not being coy either.) As for the “marketing piece,” as you may or may not know, there is a ton of spam on the Internet. The vast majority of the comments on this site are spam. Most of them are automatically filtered, however a few are not. In general, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, whenever someone says something like “I’m not an X, but product Y really convinced me of .” If you say something like that, I’m going to think you are trying to sell something, especially with the degree of viral marketing that goes on these days.

    The article starts off with “I’ll be honest, I picked up the book in immediate skepticism. I’ve never been much for believing people’s near death experiences.” I’m still looking for your skepticism of near death experiences. Can you mention one you find implausible?

    I’m also unsure how I backtracked. Is it because I read the book? I read it and posted a review, I didn’t think I was particularly kind.

    https://codesmithy.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/90-minutes-in-heaven-one-atheists-perspective/

    I think you also misunderstood my reasons for doing so, so let me clarify it a bit. In my original post, I was complaining about the standards the media applies to certain topics. It is something that I comment on quite a bit. The reason I commented on “90 Minutes in Heaven” was because it was a religious book (pro-God) that had been on list a great number of weeks that the New York Times hadn’t reviewed yet. I was calling for the New York Times to review it and apply the same high standard they used when reviewing “The God Delusion.” I didn’t and still don’t consider calling for such a review requires me to read the book. I did so because you were challenging me on specific points on the account and it was getting annoying trying to hunt down all the information online and dealing with the uncertainty and accuracy of the information. I am perfectly happy to play the role of investigative journalist. I actually quite enjoy it. I like figuring things out and solving puzzles. To my surprise, the book is particularly forth-coming in the details. You just have to ignore what Piper is saying and focus on what is happening. A skill that you can work on by reading good mystery novels, particularly Sherlock Holmes short stories. Doing so allows you to build a reasonably sure conjecture as to what really happened to Don Piper on January 18th, 1989 without invoking what George Carlin calls the “God Excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument. It came from God. Anything we can‘t describe must have come from God.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBrc8cPqv7M He swears quite a bit, so it is NSFW, but it is about 4:55 in.

    As for your last query: “You are correct, if we account for every single possibility we can believe whatever we choose to, but which scenario is most likely?” Mine. I’ll summarize: people made mistakes checking his pulse. He never had trauma to his brain or the organs in his thoracic cavity due to automobile safety measures and how they are designed to respond to impact. Modern medicine took care of the rest of the physical wounds, however he still faced many mental and social problems that his faith and the organization of the church helped him work through. Piper mistakenly and superstitiously credits his survival to particular aspects of his faith while ignoring more natural explanations. In fact, he is quite defensive about challenging his account.

    “In the same way, some may not believe my account’ they may think it was some kind of wish fulfillment during a point of severe trauma. I don’t have to defend my experience.

    I know what happened to me. For those of us whose faith is in the reality of heaven, no amount of evidence is necessary. I know what I experienced.” pg 205.

    Further admitting that he is not particularly introspective by nature and that he focused more on the why than the how (pg 201).

    In short, he is not using the proven tools we have for determining truth from untruth, evidence and logic. You may want to defend it as rational, at least Piper recognizes that it is not.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 18, 2008 @ 8:26 am

  8. I disagree, what you have is wishful thinking to support your own agenda. You have not one, but two people who apparently don’t really care to see if he is really dead or alive, but just assume he is dead… That’s a mighty big assumption.

    You still bring in the brain damage thing as if it has merit at all when talking about God. Even Stephen Hawkings refers to a Lawgiver as he cannot explain where the laws came from. Someone had to give these laws, such as gravity. Much like a programmer creates a video game, he is in no way bound by the physics he created for the game and can even cheat in his own game whenever he chooses. God is not bound by any of our laws, so fixing brain damage is in now way a big feat for God.

    I laugh when people say the new testament has been changed… It’s such a joke. I’ll debate that with any time you want.

    As for my skepticism, I personally don’t take “23 minutes in Hell” that seriously. Perhaps his vision was real, perhaps not, but his circumstances are questionable.

    I am much like that baptist preacher who prayed over Piper. Though I believe God can raise people from the dead, I don’t believe it happens often and I highly doubt I’ll ever see it myself.

    I’ve read the skeptics versions of Piper’s story and find that they are much like you, they either have not read the account (which it sounds like you now have) or they go for inane conspiracy theory stories.

    Your brain damage theory holds no ground when you are speaking about God, as if he is bound in some way to our rules.

    The fact that they checked said that they were looking for a pulse, two people, one medically trained. If he had one, odds are one of them would have found it, whether they wanted to or not, especially if he was conscious enough to breathe. Also note that the preacher was in there 15 minutes before he found any signs of life and what he did find was singing. Singing is no small feat for someone who just came out of unconsciousness but if he was that alert, he surely would have seen other smaller signs of life in the 15 minutes that he was touching him and praying for him.

    Your story is far fetched, I’m glad you have so much faith in it. It’s would be hard for me to bring myself to believe in such a low probability story. It is much easier for me to just accept what he said because that’s the only story that aligns with all the evidence.

    I realize your post was on why “The God Delusion” was not given more media attention. Perhaps you should go see “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” as they interview Richard Dawkins in it. It opens April 18th. I personally am looking forward to that specific interview.

    As you said in your first statement, you do not believe that God is a rational explanation, therefore anything that involves God will seem irrational. It is not irrational to Piper, he only acknowledges that some will believe it to be.

    I believe we have gone about as far as we are going to go with this discussion unless you’d like to discuss the accuracy of the biblical text.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 18, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

  9. Hello again,

    What is my agenda, praytell? I would really like to know.

    I can only be reminded of a quote from Pi written and directed by Darren Aronofsky: “You want to find the number 216 in the world, you will be able to find it everywhere. 216 steps from a mere street corner to your front door. 216 seconds you spend riding on the elevator. When your mind becomes obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out and find that thing everywhere. As soon as you discard scientific rigor, you’re no longer a mathematician, you’re a numerologist.”

    Just to recap, I’ve explained the psychological phenomenon. I’ve explained how this fits in with other facts we know about the accident and human physiology. I’m not claiming anything exceptional, just that the banal and mundane occurred. All you offer is your personal incredulity to such a scenario, insisting that it was your particular flavor of religious deity who tweaked the laws of the universe momentarily to save Piper’s life. If however, someone claims that Zeus, Thor, etc. did it, that is just crazy because those other deities are either fictional, disinterested in human affairs of this type, or too “mythological.“ All the time acting as if your chosen flavor of deity is immune to such criticisms. So, either your God actually did it or there is a more mundane explanation. However, you find the mundane explanation too improbable and lacking sufficient evidence as opposed to an invisible and all power entity acting through obscure means that temporarily alters the laws of the universe discreetly to save Piper life, possibly resurrecting individual brain cells and altering neuron connection to impress Piper‘s metaphysical experience of the soul into his physical brain. You are sure this is case because Piper, who happens to share your faith in your particular flavor of deity, claims to have seen an afterlife that is vaguely consistent with a particular interpretation of the book you use to worship your chosen flavor of deity with. An account that he didn’t share with anyone until around two years after the accident. Am I misrepresenting any of the discussion, or is there something you would like to add? I’ll give you the final word. However, I am curious, did you figure out Santa Claus wasn’t real, did someone have to tell you, or didn‘t you have that particular experience growing up?

    As for Hawking and the lawgiver of the universe, I wouldn’t necessarily personify the laws. I’m not a particularly big multi-verse fan, but it does gives one logical explanation to why we are here and the laws. Another possibility is there might actually be no other way to construct a universe. There are other possibilities also. I don’t lose any sleep over not knowing.

    As for debating whether the New Testament has been changed, it depends. Is it going to be on the grounds of textual criticism and evidence? Or is it going to be a repeat of this discussion where I offer what I think and evidence for it, and you dismiss it out of hand claiming God does anything he pleases for inscrutable reasons, and you know FOR SURE He ensured impeccable accuracy of the New Testament and the Bible in general! Because God said so Himself, in the BIBLE! If it is the second, I’ll pass.

    My original post was not about why “The God Delusion” was not given more media attention. It was about the standard that is applied to certain works, and which ones are ignored by the media. Booking a venue too small for Dawkins’ popularity had nothing to do with the media.

    As a Christian, I assume you are very familiar with the term hypocrite. If you are actually going to see “Expelled” may I humbly suggest that you read Neil Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish” to get a better idea of what you are actually arguing against. It is quite readable, comes in at about the same page length as “90 Minutes in Heaven” and gives some insight as to why scientists are so attached to the theory of evolution. Maybe you could enlighten me as to how Intelligent Design helps us find a fossil such as Tiktaalik better than traditional methods based on geological data and predictions made by evolution? Because, as far as I can tell, Intelligent Design offers no positive evidence, no testable predictions, just lots of personal incredulity, sort of like your side of this discussion.

    Thank you for providing a NDE that you find less credible. Do you know when “56 Minutes in Purgatory” is coming out?

    Comment by codesmithy — March 19, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  10. It is a foolish statement for anyone to believe that they are unbiased in any subject. If you truly believe you are unbiased, I won’t argue with you, but we all have agenda’s whether we know it or not. Atheism is a faith as any other religion is.

    Had you suggested one person misdiagnosed Piper I wouldn’t argue, it’s unlikely but possible, but here you have two. Two people falling into the same psychological attitude as to dismiss evidence to the contrary is absurd and to think that ambulance technicians are not given fail safe methods against such misdiagnoses is also a long shot. I work in a blood testing facility and we aren’t even playing with peoples lives but I know we have been trained meticulously to check and double check for certainty and in some cases triple check. If an ambulance worker is going to go through the paper work of testifying that this guy is dead, he’s sure. This also goes along with his resistance to the Pastor when he first got out of the car and said he was still alive. He had no reason to go double check, he was sure he was dead.

    You still ignore the fact that not only was he checked twice but there was another man in the car with him for 15 minutes touching him. You can feel someone breathing if you touch them, there is movement. Especially within a 15 minute period it is just bizarre that you would consider this a mundane explanation, however, it is your choice and you can see the number 216 in all of the miraculous events since that is apparently what you have chosen to see, despite the mounting evidence against your hypothesis. I’d mention the long term memory again but you just dismiss anything contrary to your theory out right anyway so it obviously doesn’t matter to you what really happened.

    Santa Claus is real, haven’t you read your history books? Or perhaps you believe he never existed because he has been over glorified in this generation. Santa Claus is real, lived and died and has an interesting story to tell… Odd that you believe he isn’t.

    I don’t have to say God’s name to prove the accuracy of the biblical text.

    This would be my opening statement:
    http://christianfaqed.com/how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-accurate/

    I have no problem reading about my inner fish, should be amusing. However, I would recommend you watch Expelled for the same reason. Apparently it is evolution that has been holding back scientists for years. What evolutionists are just now getting to is what ID scientists have found years ago, but it was suppressed because the scientists were ID.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 19, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  11. I asked you what my agenda was, not whether or not I had one.

    Atheism is as much of a religion as not collecting postage stamps is a hobby. You are correct it takes some faith, but you are drawing a false equivalency. Atheism requires the amount of faith necessary to believe that when you pick up a ball and drop it, it will fall to the ground. One question that has plagued my mind is if Christians are so sure their god is the right god and he can change the laws of physics at will, why do churches have lightning rods? (Don’t answer, it is rhetorical)

    I’m tired of discussing Piper. You’ve made your case, I’ve made my case. People can make up their own minds.

    I’ll finish up with a word about intellectual honesty and finish with why I definitely will not engage in a discussion about the accuracy of the biblical text with you. I will not call it a debate, because a debate you generally have a proposition and one side argues in favor and one argues against. Since there is no proposition, we can’t have a debate. Also, I’m not an expert in textual criticism or biblical texts, so if you actually have any issues, you would have to take it up with Bart D. Ehrman author of “Misquoting Jesus” who is both. All I would do is cite his work which I found understandable, logical, and sound.

    Intellectual honesty is about a few things: transparency, clarity, forthrightness. It is about honestly trying to understand the point the other person is trying to make. You knew exactly the context in which I asked the Santa Claus question. I don’t believe you live in that much of a bubble. However, you chose to be witty and coy, for what I can imagine is some personal satisfaction at evoking my frustration. You might find it entertaining, but I find it tiresome.

    Your post about the accuracy of the bible is notably backwards. If you were honestly interested in answering the question of whether or not the bible is accurate, you wouldn’t start with the probable motivations first. You would start with texts. Can you find earlier manuscripts that differ from latter manuscripts? The answer is: yes, you can. Then, when you’ve identified differences of what is supposed to be the same text from different sources, then you try to identify who introduced that change. Finally, after you’ve identified the changes and by whom, you can look for a bias and conjecture about motivations.

    But the real kicker is this quote:

    Back in 1979, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered they immediately took them and laid them side by side with manuscripts being written today. They were 99.9% identical. The only thing that differed was the word order of a few words and in Hebrew, word order is mostly irrelevant. If the manuscripts stayed accurate for 2500+ years, what proof could we possibly have that they ever changed at all. And if it did change, how significant could it have possibly have been?

    You don’t cite anything for this. However, if you do some research you find that the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) did have changes beyond just word ordering.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) like the magnificent Isaiah scroll closely follow the Masoretic Text (MT), but there are a few exceptions. For example, Psalm 145 is an alphabetical psalm. Each verse begins with the next letter in the alphabet, but “N” is missing in the MT. In the DSS it is there, so somehow a scribe left this verse out. Another important difference is in I Samuel 11 where the MT is shortened. The longer reading in the DSS explains what happens in this chapter.

    http://www.bibleandscience.com/bible/sources/deadseascrolls.htm

    Maybe there is some way that you can twist and parse your statement so it remains technically true. Maybe you just meant the scrolls discovered in 1979 compared against modern manuscripts that had already incorporated discoveries of the other DSS. Maybe you can point out that the question you asked was merely hypothetical. But the point and perception you were trying to portray was fundamentally dishonest. It doesn’t matter whether it was due to malevolence or incompetence. Your utter lack of transparency makes it indistinguishable. How significant could the changes have been you ask? Well, for the Old Testament it can help explain the next chapter, clarifies how tall Goliath actually was (9 feet vs. 7 feet), or gives us a new Psalm. For the New Testament, I’ll let Ehrman explain:

    To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us. It would be wrong, however, to say — as people sometimes do — that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them. We have seen, in fact, that just the opposite is the case. In some instances, the very meaning of the text is at stake, depending on how one resolves a textual problem: Was Jesus an angry man? Was he completely distraught in the face of death? Did he tell his disciples that they could drink poison without being harmed? Did he let an adulteress off the hook with nothing but a mild warning? Is the doctrine of the Trinity explicitly taught in the New Testament? Is Jesus actually called the “unique God” there? Does the New Testament indicate that even the Son of God himself does not know when the end will come? The questions go on and on, and all of them are related to how one resolves difficulties in the manuscript tradition as it has come down to us. – Misquoting Jesus pg 207-8

    In short, this discussion has lost its novelty. A discussion on the accuracy of the bible will go nowhere useful. I don’t find the topic that fascinating either. How about suggesting a topic were we can ultimately agree on an answer, I don’t know like the answer to this self-referential test.

    http://www.math.wisc.edu/~propp/srat-Q

    I would be interested to know if you found an answer I didn’t find.

    Updated:
    Sorry, I guess the Internet has changed. It popped up in my cache so I assumed that it still worked. Here is a link to what should be a good copy of the test.
    http://www.dougb.com/srat.html

    Comment by codesmithy — March 20, 2008 @ 8:06 am

  12. Just to note, “Misquoting Jesus” points out the same thing that I did. That the errors are minuscule and irrelevant. No where has it ever been shown that Jesus did not die on the cross or been resurrected afterwards. All four Gospels are in agreance on that issue. Some say that the oldest manuscript of Mark 16:9-20 aren’t in there but it irrelevant because the resurrection occurs in Mark 16:6.

    That goes for all of the changes ever found, they never detract from the core teachings. The questions the author brings up are questions that come straight from what we have, not from discrepancies. I’m not sure, is he indicating that because those answers aren’t clear that none of it happened? I’m not sure how that is a logical assumption.

    I chose my method because the minor indescrepencies between the over 5000 manuscripts are largely irrelevant so if something major had to change then it would have had to have taken place before 250 AD.

    Many suggest the early christians did not believe that Jesus was resurrected, though there is no evidence for that statement and we have early creeds that say they did believe that, then we know that from the very beginning Christians believed Jesus was resurrected and God. Seems like a stupid thing to believe if believing this defies Ceasar and the Jewish religion meaning persecution from both sides and still teaching to obey the government and be submissive to death.

    How do you logically explain that one?

    I was making a point with the Santa Claus statement, which I’m sure became apparent. What you stereotype as a myth is actual a historical character.

    You should also note that there was more than one book of Psalms found in the DSS… besides, how is alphabetical order changing the meaning and you quote a minuscule indescrepency in Isaiah. They probably know the scribe simply left it out because again, there were more than one Isaiah scrolls found. And still you don’t acknowledge the other 99.9% being accurate and how devastating that is to any argument that it has been changed.

    But obviously you don’t want to talk about it, so we’ll move on.

    P.S. your link is broken. I just got a 404 page.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 20, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

  13. Many suggest the early christians did not believe that Jesus was resurrected, though there is no evidence for that statement and we have early creeds that say they did believe that, then we know that from the very beginning Christians believed Jesus was resurrected and God. Seems like a stupid thing to believe if believing this defies Ceasar and the Jewish religion meaning persecution from both sides and still teaching to obey the government and be submissive to death.

    How do you logically explain that one?

    So does that mean you are a Mormon? I mean believing Jesus walked around America and that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri seems pretty stupid if you are going to get persecuted for it. Therefore, it must be true.

    As for Santa Clause, yes I’m sure the historical Santa Claus could tell if you had been naughty or nice, lived at the North Pole, was an elf, delivered presents Christmas Eve by coming down chimneys and utilizing flying reindeer, etc. etc.

    I edited the previous comment for the link. Sorry about that.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 21, 2008 @ 6:22 am

  14. I’d believe Mormonism if Joseph Smith wasn’t a con-artist. The Mormons were persecuted, but they did their fair share of persecuting as well. They killed several people, Joseph Smith killed three people himself before he was shot in prison.

    The Mormons were not submissive, the started their own war. Aside from that Joseph Smith made a great deal of money off of his Mormon venture as well as great deal of power. Much of which Brigham Young took over after his death and made the trail of blood and power even bigger. It’s pretty obvious why it was created. Money and power.

    Can’t say that about Christianity.

    I doubt the historical Santa could do any of those things. But much like Santa, if you do the research you can find the truth. I’m sure you have had the idea that God is some giant man living in the sky. That’s not how the bible portrays him, but that is how popular media portrays him.

    You will never find another religious story that tells of how the immediate disciples died for what they believed, despite not gaining power or money or rebellion from their beliefs. I challenge you to find it. (Note I say immediate disciples, that would be those who learned from Jesus himself).

    I’ll have to check the link later, my time is limited.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 21, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

  15. “I’d believe Mormonism if Joseph Smith wasn’t a con-artist.”

    Yup, that is right, one man’s prophet is another man’s con-artist.

    “The Mormons were not submissive, the started their own war. …
    Can’t say that about Christianity.”

    Your are kidding right? Two words: THE CRUSADES!

    “You will never find another religious story that tells of how the immediate disciples died for what they believed, despite not gaining power or money or rebellion from their beliefs.”

    Heaven’s Gate cult.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Cite&page=Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29&id=199732682

    Group members gave up their material possessions and lived a highly ascetic life devoid of many indulgences. The group was tightly knit and everything was shared communally. Six of the male members of the group voluntarily underwent castration as an extreme means of maintaining the ascetic lifestyle.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 22, 2008 @ 5:42 am

  16. …The Crusades… Are you not reading for context or are you simply out to just point out any flaw you can make up?

    My whole point in the whole conversation was to point out the roots of how Christianity began. The Crusades were centuries later. I was talking about the very beginning, just as I was talking about the very beginning of Mormonism.

    In this conversation, the Crusades are no more relevant than the myths formed around Santa Claus.

    Two things about the Heaven’s Gate cult, where is their persecution? What is their evidence? They had no evidence, only faith. Those that died for Jesus claimed to have seen him die and be resurrected. And this is the difference, the disciples SAW Jesus resurrected. The Heaven’s Gate people only had faith with no physical evidence.

    They died for a faith, just as many Christians do today, just as many Muslims and Buddhists do today. But the disciples are unique. They did not die for a faith, they died for what they saw happen. So either they knowingly went to their deaths for a lie or they knew the truth and they could not turn their backs on it.

    Give me an example of someone who has knowingly died for a lie. Heck, I’d bet you would be hard pressed to find someone who would knowing die for the truth.

    The severe problem you will have even if you do find one who would die for a lie (which I doubt you will), you have to find 10 more to match it over the same lie. The only disciple to ever turn his back on Jesus was Judas and he never saw the resurrection. Considering the persecution they faced and claims they made, I don’t know how you could think it was all fantasy.

    Even in Mormonism, all but 3 of their 8 “witnesses” turned their back on Mormonism, left and rebuked it. Again, can’t say that about the disciples who saw the resurrected Jesus.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 22, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  17. My whole point in the whole conversation was to point out the roots of how Christianity began. The Crusades were centuries later. I was talking about the very beginning, just as I was talking about the very beginning of Mormonism.

    Crusades are perfectly within context. If you are Mormon, you believe the tale starts when Jesus visited America after his death. Joseph Smith is merely a saint or a prophet. If you are a more orthodox Christian, you believe the church starts when Jesus starts preaching, however its serious beginning is with the conversion of Constantine the Great. The actions of the Church of Latter Day Saints are as relevant as those of western Christianity to liberate the Holy Land.

    The Heaven’s Gate people only had faith with no physical evidence.

    One, that wasn’t the original criteria, you challenged me with “You will never find another religious story that tells of how the immediate disciples died for what they believed, despite not gaining power or money or rebellion from their beliefs.” I did. The fact that you moved the goalposts, ironically to persecution and evidence just goes to show how shameless you are. Two, they would make the same claims Piper does, the same claims you do. They know what they experienced, or they believed some guy who claimed some sort of miracle or had a revelatory experience. They would as witlessly defend their belief on the same logical fallacies and point out all the trivial differences between their “true” belief and others, just as you have done.

    Even in Mormonism, all but 3 of their 8 “witnesses” turned their back on Mormonism, left and rebuked it. Again, can’t say that about the disciples who saw the resurrected Jesus.

    One, you didn’t cite. Two, so what? Can’t say Mormonism gave cover for the Spanish Inquisition either. The essential difference between the two is that more orthodox Christianity has much more blood on its hands.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 24, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  18. **One, that wasn’t the original criteria, you challenged me with “You will never find another religious story that tells of how the immediate disciples died for what they believed, despite not gaining power or money or rebellion from their beliefs.” I did.**

    No… you didn’t. The Heaven’s Gate people claimed to be following Jesus. They were not immediate disciples of Jesus. I specifically said immediate disciples.

    Those that shed blood obviously did not really know Jesus teachings. He taught to love your enemy and do not resist evil. He taught to obey the government. These people were not following Jesus teachings. Just because someone calls themselves a Christian doesn’t make it so anymore than if I called my self Irish (which I am not).

    **One, you didn’t cite.**
    I’m sorry:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon_witnesses
    http://www.irr.org/mit/bomwit1.html

    **Two, so what?**

    So what? There are over 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. His 11 closes disciples experienced extreme persecution for what they saw and told people, 10 of them were put to death for it, the other was exiled. They made no money off of this venture, no power, and spoke against rebellion… Who in the world would make this up and why? Give me one good reason why someone would make this story up.

    **however its serious beginning is with the conversion of Constantine the Great**

    Not according to Tacitus, the Roman historian working for Nero in AD 54-68. He wrote about the persecution of the Christians and how they were hated already, how Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. So they obviously began much earlier than the conversion of Constantine.

    Tacitus must have written that while a few of the original disciples were still alive. Christianity spread very fast and probably had a great deal to do with Paul and the disciples who were able to tell people that they were eye witnesses to the fact and no one could refute them. And throughout the historical writings of the time, no one did. Not Josephus or Tacitus or anyone else writing during this time.

    Odd isn’t it? If none of this happened why wouldn’t the romans or the Jews have just said “Well, none of this really happened but they believe it” Instead we have roman historians justifying the darkness that followed the crucifixion and the earthquakes. We have the Jews calling him a magician and a wizard instead of saying “He never healed anyone”. You have alot to explain if you believe Jesus did not do what is said that he did. Again, its the only story that fits all the evidence. What you may now come up with are several conspiracy theories, please do, I always love hearing them.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 24, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  19. The Heaven’s Gate people were following Marshall Applewhite. Like most other religions they morph the pre-existing myths into a new form. If you kill yourself because someone tells you there is a UFO behind a comet, it requires no stretch of the imagination to call that person a disciple.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/disciple
    1 a)One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.
    b) An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.

    It is the height of intellectual dishonesty that you don’t concede this obvious point and try to squirm your way out of it. You can even find independent people using the term to describe the cult.

    Whatever else they may have been, the Heaven’s Gate disciples were true believers, convinced that they weren’t from around here in the first place, and that leaving their mortal coils behind would be a joyous event.

    http://everything2.com/node/883350

    As for Mormonism, I’ll make this simple for you, Jesus = Jesus, Paul = Joseph Smith. You need to compare and contrast Paul and Smith, not Jesus and Smith. 500 witnesses is in the myth and therefore irrelevant. The book of Mormon probably has just as many witnesses to Jesus hanging out in America. I’m perfectly willing to admit Paul was a real person for purposes of discussion. If you want to bring the Gospels into play. You need to address details on how the Gospels were written. Are they historical accounts? What information did they use? Who wrote them? Etc. Their origin and history is just as dubious as the Book of Mormon’s, like being incestuously based off of one another, but with details changed and added. Written 30-40 years after Jesus’ supposed death. Not conforming to independent historical accounts particularly well.

    Those that shed blood obviously did not really know Jesus teachings. He taught to love your enemy and do not resist evil. He taught to obey the government. These people were not following Jesus teachings. Just because someone calls themselves a Christian doesn’t make it so anymore than if I called my self Irish (which I am not).

    Yeah, the crusaders are completely misinterpreting Luke 19:27
    http://bible.cc/luke/19-27.htm

    But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.

    Yes, I know, it is a parable. But the parallel is clear that God is the nobleman.

    There is a documentary called “The God Who Wasn’t There” and it really conveys why your pleas for the Jesus myth are highly disingenuous. Here is a short excerpt.

    As for Tacitus, the greatest issue that you have with any historical document like this one, is there is large period of time for it have been altered, by people who were desperate to give more validity to Christianity. That was the underlying point of “Misquoting Jesus” also. The overall story is maintained, but new passages are added to better mesh the whole together. Isolated and uncorroborated passages that don’t fit well into the overall structure should be looked at skeptically.

    Perhaps most damning to the authenticity of this passage is the fact that it is present almost word-for-word in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (died in 403 A.D.), where it is mixed in with obviously false tales. At the same time, it is highly unlikely that Sulpicius could have copied this passage from Tacitus, as none of his contemporaries mention the passage. This means that it was probably not in the Tacitus manuscripts at that date. It is much more likely, then, that copyists working in the Dark Ages from the only existing manuscript of the Chronicle, simply copied the passage from Sulpicius into the manuscript of Tacitus which they were reproducing.

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/gordon_stein/jesus.shtml

    How do you spell plagiarism? Word for word without citation?

    It is also important to note, some of the more of the mythological gospels were left out of the cannon, such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary although the plausibility of virgin birth, water into wine, walking on water, etc. are still debatable especially with what we know now about biology and chemistry. But, it important to remember, only the tame ones made it in. There were other stories of Christ floating around. Good stories mind you, but they are all essentially fiction. They are ultimately based on the same revelatory garbage that Piper uses in “90 Minutes in Heaven.”

    The greatest conspiracy is the one that Christianity believes, that Satan plagiarized Jesus’ story in the past to discredit believers in the future, almost like some Christians’ explanation of dinosaur fossils. The story of Jesus is a fine myth, like the Iliad and the Odyssey. It might even incorporate some true events. However, it is still fundamentally mythological, and the parallels it has with other folklore are clear and unmistakable to an objective observer. Look, we know more about the world and the universe today than people did 2000 years ago. The human condition may not have changed fundamentally, which is why the Bible can still be relevant. However, we need to place it in time, in context and stop pretending that it is real.

    Comment by codesmithy — March 26, 2008 @ 10:44 am

  20. That’s too bad, I was really hoping you would have a new argument. I’ve watched “The God Who Wasn’t There” and its quite possibly the worse researched documentary I’ve ever seen. Their claims are wild and unfounded in the least. They obviously have no concept of Jewish tradition or mentality. I will give one example. They mention crucifying someone on the eve of Passover as just an out right obscene suggestion because the Jews would never do such a thing. However, the Jews readily admit to doing such a thing on the eve of Passover in the Babylonian Talmud. I don’t see how it could be an absurd suggestion if the Jews themselves have no problem with that idea. More conspiracy theories.

    I actually wrote a comment on someone’s blog tearing apart each claim they made, I won’t repeat the post.

    Again you missed my point with the Heaven’s Gates people. They didn’t see anything, they had faith.

    I can say there were 500 witnesses because I have yet to hear anyone validly dispute that Paul did not write 1 Corinthians. And if he did, why would he make such a bold claim without being able to support it? There are 500 witnesses, wouldn’t be hard to track down just one and deny his claim… but no one did. More conspiracy theories to follow I’m sure.

    The difference between Smith and Paul is that Paul wasn’t talking about witnesses that lived 500 years ago, he was talking about witnesses that are still alive. Smith had zero witnesses to any of his bold claims of Jesus and the Father visiting him, while Paul had several other people with him who fell down when Jesus came.

    Paul had current modern day witnesses while Smith had none. Huge difference.

    As for your source on Tacitus I wonder exactly how much is word-for-word because what was said about the Christians was rather brief and basic and it wouldn’t be that hard for someone to say the exact same thing about them. I note that your source does not say how much is word-for-word, probably because it is only a minuscule amount that is word for word.

    For example it would be like asking people on the street what a rubber ball is. How many would say the exact same thing?

    Again, no proof, only conspiracy theories.

    You obviously have not researched any of the other gnostic Gospels. I’ve read most of them (I haven’t read the Gospel of Judas yet, trying to find a decently priced one). It doesn’t take much more than simply reading them to understand that they are no where near as accurate as the 4. And also many were not reproduced which suggest their origins were questionable enough that those of the day even knew they were fakes.

    An athiest archaeologist raised by athiests (so you know he wasn’t “brain washed”) decided to prove the bible wrong and began doing digs based on the Gospels. By the end of his excavations, he not only stated that Luke is quite possibly the most accurate historian in history, but he also converted to Christianity (I don’t have his name right now, but I’ll post it this afternoon as I don’t have my sources on me, most of my sources are books). How is it that a book supposedly so manipulated could be so accurate?

    I never suggested Satan plagiarized Jesus. What I have often wondered is do you really think these fishermen and tax collectors had masters degree’s in greek and roman mythology? With all of the minor similarities to so many different gods, they would have had to have known every story and been an expert in collaborating all of them into one person… Or is it more likely that the greeks and romans and others had so many gods that the parallels would have been hard to not go along with reality. Heck, I’d bet I have several things in common with several different gods.

    Even if some of the story aligns with others, it has little relavence. Joel Rosenburg wrote a book in 2000 where terrorist hijacked a plane and bombed an American city with it (The Last Jihad), the book ends with America going to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction. There was a documentary in the early 90’s made on predictions of Nostradamus where a terrorist wearing a turban bombed the twin towers. Does that mean that 9/11 never happened?

    Just because their are alignments in previous stories does not in anyway prove it never happened.

    And still you have yet to give me any reason why anyone would make this story up. Even if it was made up in 250 AD (the dating of the earliest complete new testament manuscript), give me one feasible reason it would have been made up.

    If you are accusing someone of a crime (i.e. lying) you need a motive for it. So what is the motive?

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 26, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  21. I neglected to comment on Luke 19:27. I’m glad you understand that it is a parable. The part that you are possibly missing is that this parable was probably told many times and from the other Gospels we know that verse 27 is speaking of final judgment (Matthew 25:30). Same parable. When you study the two together we see clearly that Luke 19:27 refers to the judgement when those who have denied God or even been lazy will experience true death in Hell.

    Had Jesus wanted anyone to literally be killed in front of him he would not have told Peter to put his sword away when the guards came to get him in the garden (Matthew 26:52, Luke 22:50-51, John 18:11)

    Those people chose to read only what they wanted to in order to justify their own agendas, much like those who burned witches at the stake using the bible as justification. Had they truly read the bible they would have read John 8:7 which would have negated any punishment they wished to afflict on them.

    Context is everything.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 26, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  22. Sir William Ramsey of Oxford University was the athiest archaeologist turned Christian by his archaeological findings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Mitchell_Ramsay
    http://www.probe.org/content/view/30/77/

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 27, 2008 @ 3:46 am

  23. OK, I’ll make this simple for you. Concede the point about Heaven’s Gate or this is over. I’ll let you post as much as you want, but I’m not going to reply until you do. Nothing about evidence of Heaven’s Gate’s beliefs was ever in the bargain. You said “You will never find another religious story that tells of how the immediate disciples died for what they believed, despite not gaining power or money or rebellion from their beliefs.” I did. You were wrong. Admit it. None of this junk about their faith or evidence or any other bullshit that you want to pull in. That wasn‘t part of deal. Admit you were wrong. Concede the point.

    As for Ramsay, I don’t care. The conversion stories go both ways and it still doesn’t change the fact that the myth is false on its face. Virgin births do not happen. If they did happen (which they don‘t), the result would be a female not male. Water into wine is chemically impossible. The reasons for this are obvious today, but are completely opaque to people living 2000 years ago.

    Why is any of this garbage important to me?
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,341574,00.html

    Because 11 year-olds shouldn’t die because of the delusion of their parents. They sat by her bed and watched her die. All they needed to do was take her to a doctor. They actually thought sending telepathic mind-beams to their invisible sky wizard was going to save her. Now she is dead. Obviously, the parents were wrong. Ever wonder why that is? Maybe because sending telepathic mind-bind beams to the invisible sky wizard doesn’t work, despite of Piper’s repeated claims that it does.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4681771.stm

    That is the harm of Piper’s story and this myth: another needless death. Do you see it now?

    Comment by codesmithy — March 27, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  24. I concede, as much as I am a disciple of Jeff Aenk, lead pastor at New Hope, the Heaven’s Gate people were disciples. I obviously should have been more specific in my meaning.

    No, I don’t see it now. All I see are people who need to study more and it is sad that their own delusions cost a life. These people were misled at some point and whoever taught them that will be held accountable as well. This is why teachers are under harsh judgement.

    James 2:15-17 “15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

    The biblical response to the situation you presented is to pray for them and take them to the hospital. Their faith did not have deeds to back it up, they were lazy and expected God to spoon feed them. That is not biblical practice and it cost them their daughter. It is a very sad story.

    I’m not sure how Piper’s story is harmful in this way. He was already dead before anyone prayed over him or felt any need to consider the idea that he might live. Had the pastor not prayed for him, even if he was unconscious and misdiagnosed as you suggest, he would not have survived as him having been left there longer without medical attention would have surely killed him.

    His story is not the only story like this. There is another where the man was dead for 3 days. They did a documentary on it, interviewing the doctors and even the mortician at the morgue where he was for 3 days. He died in a car accident and died of injuries. Not sure how you would claim him to be misdiagnosed when after his rigamortis set in, but I’m sure you’d think of something.

    There are other miracles of a ladies heart disease simply disappearing the night before her surgery. I know personally a football player from Michigan State who injured his leg and would have crippled him the rest of his life, even after surgery. The night before his surgery, my campus minister and a few others came in and prayed with him. The next morning when they went to take him for surgery, he was told his leg was completely healed. He didn’t even know when it happened, but he got up and walked out of the hospital and was able to play football again, even without surgery of any kind.

    How many conspiracy theories and random chances to do you have to come up with before it becomes more than random chance?

    Let me ask you, what would it take for you to believe?

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 27, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  25. Heh, I didn’t think I would find the heart disease one on youtube, but I did:

    Here is the raised from the dead documentary:

    The Michigan State football player I can’t give you anything on because like I said, that only one that I personally know about, there were not documentary or news stories done on it.

    Comment by christianfaqed — March 27, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  26. Well, if you’ll kill yourself at the behest of Jeff Aenk, I’ll take your word on that. And if you will kill yourself because Aenk says so, who are you really following?

    You have your biblical interpretation, other people have their own. I am thankful that yours lines up with reality in some respects. However, I wish at some point you’d apply Occam’s razor. Medical care is the critical aspect. Prayer works to extent that it helps a patient keep a positive outlook on the situation. Admittedly, the medical profession doesn’t do the best job keeping the patients hopes up. Much of that has to do legal issues, ironically religion is one of the few areas where we allow people to make grandiose promises that they are totally unaccountable for. If that were not the case, just think of all the lawsuits just related to sports!

    The harm is the extent that the society allows a myth to subvert medical research and retard the scientific education of future generations. 11 year-old girls are the exception. The rule are diseases that we haven’t found cures for because research has been stunted, septic abortions, greater incidents of sexually transmitted disease, etc.

    Piper’s crime is trying to shore up a myth which leads, in practice, to not only 11 year-old girls dying in a specific cases but to substandard handling of public health issues generally.

    As for your specific cases, the man who was dead for 3 days, are you kidding me? Psychic Surgery is more convincing.

    As for the woman with heart disease, I have to wonder how critically you examine these videos. She was placed on 1-A status, and she got better. We do have immune system. The body does have a limited capacity to heal itself.

    When you find a video of prayer-based limb regeneration, that will be a miracle.

    Comment by codesmithy — April 1, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  27. I saw zero specific arguments against the case of the pastor who died for three days. The documentary shows testimony of his wife, the mortician, and his personal doctor… and yet you blow it off as if it is nothing… He was taken to two different medical facilities and his personal physician and yet you say nothing. The mortician was a witness to him staying in the morgue for 3 days and you say nothing. There is video of him coming back to life and you say “are you kidding me?”

    Who is the one denying reality? I still don’t see how Don Piper has stunted medical research. If we want to start throwing blame then I blame atheism for Marxism which has killed more people than religion ever has in the last couple of millennium. It hasn’t stunted human rights and conditions, it eliminated them.

    If you want to generalize go ahead, but it works bad in your favor.

    The heart transplant one is a personal favorite of mine. I work with transplant patients and their blood testing. You don’t get on the list if there is possibility you will survive. 1-A is terminal short term. A month is a generous diagnosis. People don’t just regenerate, those people die, I see them everyday, and even if by some odd chance that they do regenerate, how odd is it that it happened to be during their prayer service. What are the odds?

    That’s what I mean about conspiracy theories and random chances. You honestly want me to believe all of it was random chance. Do you look at a watch and say “Wow, what are the odds of it randomly coming together just like that?”. I say “Wow, the creator must have been a genius.”

    These ideas don’t stunt progress, even if we see a creator where you see chance, we still can study it the same as you do to see how it works.

    Comment by christianfaqed — April 3, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  28. … There is video of him coming back to life and you say “are you kidding me?”

    The whole video and premise is absurd on its face. Do you really find it necessary to do a point by point refutation of alien autopsy videos? (They have those too you know.) Or do you just point and laugh at the people who believe such obvious nonsense? As I said before, get a documented case of limb regeneration and then you’ll have something.

    I still don’t see how Don Piper has stunted medical research.

    Is it because you don’t understand the argument, think that the argument is inconsistent, believe there is evidence that contradicts one of the premises or because you don’t think there is enough evidence to support the conclusion?

    I don’t know where to begin with your conflation of atheism and Marxism. As we have discussed before, we are both a-Thor-ists, a-Zeus-ists, a-Flying Spaghetti Monster-ists, etc. I fail to see how an absence of any particular belief tells you much of anything. The more useful metric is what people do believe. There are specific public policies which are being pursued, not based on logic or empiricism, but rather religious grounds. The ban on stem-cell research is one example. Opposition to morning after pills is another. Abstinence-only sex education is yet another. All these policies affect public health now, and in the future. They also affect people who see no moral objections to these pursuits but will adversely affected by the repercussions of these polices.

    Piper’s story is an example of one that has a pretense objectivity when, in reality, it was an incredibly subjective account of what occurred. It is this projection of superstition onto reality that I find so disturbing. The objective pretense Piper has can be result of being mistaken or dishonest. Either way it is harmful.

    That’s what I mean about conspiracy theories and random chances. You honestly want me to believe all of it was random chance. Do you look at a watch and say “Wow, what are the odds of it randomly coming together just like that?”. I say “Wow, the creator must have been a genius.”

    The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are over 300 million people in America. Even if the odds of something occurring are only 1 in a million for each person every year, across a population of 300 million, one would still expect it to occur to at least 300 people in the United States each year. That isn’t conspiracy theory, it is expected value.

    I don’t quite know what to make of your two points of “what are the odds of it randomly coming together just like that?” To begin with, I don’t believe in randomness, even at the quantum mechanical level. I believe in uncertainty and statistical outcomes that result from initial uncertainty and complex interactions too difficult to accurately model.

    Consequently, I don’t see randomness in anything. There is a history to seat-belt laws which explains why there was one in Piper’s Escort to begin with. As for the complexity of life, which I believe you are hinting at, that results from evolution and natural selection. It is based on two observations. The process of reproduction or duplication naturally produces offspring or copies that differ from the original. Think of going to a copy machine and making a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy. The same thing happens anytime you copy text, like the Bible, differences are introduced. A similar issue happens when you reproduce an organism. This is evolution. The second observation is that we have a process known as natural selection. The differences from the original can offer a competitive advantage, disadvantage, or be benign. Human beings are not the result of all the organisms that were consistently put at competitive disadvantages like some now extinct species. We are the result of a 3.5 billion years worth of, using Neal Stephenson’s phrase, stupendous bad-asses. We are the descendents of the most bad-ass single-cell organism, fish, rat, primate, etc. There was nothing random about this process. Our ancestors consistently proved they were the best at surviving and reproducing through all sorts of changing conditions and competitors.

    You say, “wow, the creator must have been a genius.” I think of the vast and complex natural history that it took to get to this point. Paraphrasing Adams, isn’t it enough to savor the beauty of a garden without believing there are fairies underneath it also?

    Also, this genius creator has its own problems. As incomprehensible as it is for the universe to just come into existence, it is more improbable and incomprehensible for a genius creator who is more complex than the universe to just come into existence and then create it. Complexity is not an argument against evolution and natural selection. Evolution and natural selection explain complexity in a compelling way that the infinite regress of a genius creator just can‘t.

    These ideas do stunt progress. As Al Gore describes in his book “The Assault on Reason,” sensible public policy is not being pursued, not because evidence or the reasoning, but because of manufactured controversy.

    For example, virtually all the arguments you’ve presented since we started this conversation are flawed. One criteria that you consistently fail at is the principle of open inquiry. You don’t present the rock-hard evidence that convinced you that Christianity was true and all the other religions of the world and throughout history were false. Sure, you defend your Christian belief, but you seldom hold evidence for your belief in Christianity to the same standard you hold to say, Mormonism. You freely point out Joseph Smith was a charlatan by pointing to independent accounts about the golden plates and not his word. Which is good and correct, however you freely accept Paul’s claim there were over 500 witnesses to the resurrection even though there is no independent account of who they were or what they saw. Worse yet, you hardly seem aware of it and the various logical fallacies you frequently employ, such as special pleading, false dichotomies, confusing the unexplained with the unexplainable and arguments from personal incredulity.

    As you say, “we still can study it the same as you do to see how it works.” But the point is you don’t look to see how things work, that is the whole problem. You’ve never explained exactly how god was able to keep Piper’s brain cells alive. Did he resurrect them? Did he ensure they still received oxygen? If so, how so? Did he teleport oxygen molecules in? If so, from where? Did he place Piper’s brain in a different space-time in which time actually passed more slowly?

    You consistently demand that I explain exactly how these admittedly rare and statistically improbable occurrences happen naturally, then happily declare your personal incredulity to any such explanation. But, you never explain how exactly God intervened supernaturally either. You just insist that he had to because something unlikely occurred. For lack of a better term, that is bullshit. Until you stop saying god did it, and start explaining how exactly god did it with experiments and evidence, I am going to insist religion stunts a person’s reasoning and human progress and this discussion proves my point.

    [codesmithy edit: correction changed 4.5 to 3.5 billion years]

    Comment by codesmithy — April 4, 2008 @ 9:08 am

  29. I am not the only one with conflicting ideas. You discredit biblical text on the basis of making a copy of a copy of a copy from copy machine and how they get worse, yet for evolution that method does not apply. Even though we are genetic copies of our parents we are consistently copied and we even see a great deal of genetic defects form, but you apparently believe that through evolution, after a copy of a copy of a copy eventually the copy will get better and even become better than the original.

    There were some minor and insignificant changes made to biblical text over many hundreds of years but none of them changed the core meaning and most of them were deliberate additions for commentary purposes. Never do we see Christ not resurrected.

    Paul’s claim to the resurrected Jesus is supported by 500 witnesses. What a stupid claim to make if it wasn’t true. Joseph Smith conveniently saw Jesus when no one was ever around and his story changed multiple times and his “inspired” inspiration needed multiple revisions.

    Paul also submitted to authority even unto death for what he believed. Joseph Smith killed people. There is more than a few differences between Paul and Joseph Smith.

    I can give you reasons why even the government would create alien autopsy videos, but are you honestly going to tell me that the guy that made this documentary set out to deceive people. I mean we know who made this autopsy video, but we do not know who made the alien autopsy videos. That in itself discredits them.

    You will see what you wish to see.

    Even if we can from a best single cell organism you cannot give credit to evolution for creating the first one. It had to be a random chance. Though even that doesn’t matter, even if all the components of a single cell some how came together, it still wouldn’t be able to form even the most basic single cell organism and even if the astronomical impossibility that it did form this single cell (about the odds of a hurricane hitting a junk yard and building a b-52 bomber), you would still have nothing more than a dead single-cell organism. No amount electricity will bring it to life.

    So it is random chances and astronomical improbabilities that you believe brought life to the universe.

    You point out the laws that brought seat belts into Don Piper’s car. You acknowledge that there are laws to the universe but you do not credit a law maker.

    As for explaining how God brought Don Piper back to life, how could anyone know that. Who says he has to do any of that. If the universe is a video game, God is the programmer. He may not have to do anything more than manipulate the code of the universe and all science within the game is rendered meaningless. I can no more comprehend how God does these things anymore than Master Chief can understand how he keeps respawning after he dies.

    Should we have had the opportunity to study what went on it would have been an amazing thing to watch and study I’m sure, but we don’t even know if we have the tools to study it. Even if we were to some how explain it, that doesn’t take God out of the picture.

    You a-thor-ist comment reminded me of your earlier quote about atheist being as much a religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby. I would say that not collecting stamps was indeed a hobby if you spent time debating with stamp collectors over whether or not they should collect stamps, create a blog about giving you ideas on how non stamp collectors should be and actually calling yourself a non-stamp collector… then yes indeed I would consider not collecting stamps a hobby as much as I would consider atheism a religion.

    Comment by christianfaqed — April 4, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  30. I am not the only one with conflicting ideas. You discredit biblical text on the basis of making a copy of a copy of a copy from copy machine and how they get worse, yet for evolution that method does not apply. Even though we are genetic copies of our parents we are consistently copied and we even see a great deal of genetic defects form, but you apparently believe that through evolution, after a copy of a copy of a copy eventually the copy will get better and even become better than the original.

    No, my point about the Bible is simply that it has changed over time. As a believer in an objective history or reality, if one someone says you were born on April 1st and another person says you were April 5th, either one is right and the other one is wrong, both are wrong, or there is some other type of reconciliation that has to happen. Survival has very little to do with historical accuracy. Just look at all the historical myths that keep on getting propagated like Marie Antoinette saying, “let them eat cake.”

    Evolution combined with natural selection works. There is a topic in computer science known as “genetic algorithms” which solve real problems using exactly the processes I described. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can evolve a perfect tic-tac-toe player fairly easily using the process I described. It takes a while, but it does work and happens to be embarrassingly parallel.

    Here is a video of a guy evolving a clock.

    Paul’s claim to the resurrected Jesus is supported by 500 witnesses. What a stupid claim to make if it wasn’t true.

    Who said religion had anything to do with intelligence? Seriously, are you ever going to stop appealing to your personal incredulity? Do you not know what personal incredulity means? There is a simple way to prove or disprove this statement: an independent, objective source. But, affirmative claims require affirmative evidence, not just your apparent inability to believe the opposite.

    Even if we can from a best single cell organism you cannot give credit to evolution for creating the first one.

    You are right, that isn’t evolution, that is abiogenesis. I’m glad you can distinguish between the topics. There are lots of fascinating questions surrounding it. However, the idea that inorganic compounds are fundamentally different from organic compounds was disproven by Friedrich Wöhler in the 19th century when he successfully synthesized urea. Given we already have living life forms to copy from, it isn’t too much of stretch for me to believe that at some point we’ll be able to create a completely synthetic life form (create a simple form of life directly from inert raw materials), that is we will be able to perform abiogenesis. When we are able to do this, it should give us some insights on how life may have first began on this planet. Again, I don’t have all the answers, but these are incredibly new topics and we’ve already made incredible amounts of progress. Rationally, I don’t see why you are so pessimistic about the prospects. We’ve already synthesized many organic compounds, and our ability to create more complex chemicals continually improves.

    You would still have nothing more than a dead single-cell organism. No amount electricity will bring it to life.

    Vitalism was discredited in the 19th century. Let me welcome you to the 21st. There are reasons cells die. It isn’t like a perfectly functioning cell has its ghost leave and then stops working.

    So it is random chances and astronomical improbabilities that you believe brought life to the universe.

    Sigh, did you grok anything I had to say about randomness? We don’t actually know how improbable or probable life is until we start looking at other planets and moons in depth. So far, we are 1 for 2. What informs your keen intellect on the statistical probability of abiogenesis occurring? Your incredulity?

    You acknowledge that there are laws to the universe but you do not credit a law maker.

    No, I admit my ignorance on how the laws of the universe came about. A law maker is not the same as a personal god. I swear, that must have been the first coup for newspeak to replace all the names like “El Shaddai” and “Jehova” with God. However, it is a critical error to personify the laws. Are you actually too blind to see how you are weaseling the definition? I also addressed this back in comment 9.

    Should we have had the opportunity to study what went on it would have been an amazing thing to watch and study I’m sure, but we don’t even know if we have the tools to study it. Even if we were to some how explain it, that doesn’t take God out of the picture.

    Then why don’t you try to explain it instead of wallowing in your ignorance by making uninformed and baseless assertions on how the universe works? I mean the first problem with your “universe is a video game” analogy is that you have no evidence that is actually the case. It is just a constant stream of assertions. No experiments. Just boundless ignorance and disinterest. Again, I have to question whether or not you know the meaning of skepticism.

    You a-thor-ist comment reminded me of your earlier quote about atheist being as much a religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby. I would say that not collecting stamps was indeed a hobby if you spent time debating with stamp collectors over whether or not they should collect stamps, create a blog about giving you ideas on how non stamp collectors should be and actually calling yourself a non-stamp collector… then yes indeed I would consider not collecting stamps a hobby as much as I would consider atheism a religion.

    Well, first of all, we need to define religion.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/religion

    1.
    a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    So, attacking the argument where it is strongest seems to be 4 A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. As for your other points, I’m not trying to convince you there is no god, I’m trying to convince you that god did not do X. Where X is one of the various topics we have debated, including the one that started this which was resurrect Piper. There are certain forms of theism that I do respect. I don’t agree with them, but I respect them. I just do not respect the ones that involve miracles and especially those that require one to turn a blind eye to demonstrable and repeatable evidence.

    Identifying oneself as an atheist is a tad bit of an oxymoron, I admit. I consider atheism as more of an intellectual achievement more than an unifying ideology. The cause I am committed to is evangelizing the principles of the enlightenment. The set of ideas that produced liberalism, modern science, and democracy. I used to think that the principles of the enlightenment were so obvious and innately compelling people would naturally just gravitate towards them. I realized later that wasn’t the case. We have a marketplace of ideas, which means you have to sell them. This also means you have to pay attention to your competition. Organized religion is like a snake-oil salesman. It promises a great deal, but can’t prove it can deliver on any of its promises. But one can rest assured, the salesman will always have a few anecdotes to point to of its great success stories. It is foolish and naïve to believe enlightenment ideals will win out in this situation. If what the snake-oil salesman was saying were true, why wouldn’t you buy it? This puts people like me in the unenviable position of pointing out the snake-oil doesn’t work. That is my cause, not atheism.

    If our society doesn’t follow enlightenment principles, then our freedoms, science and democracy are just pro forma. We become cargo cultists. We do everything we think we are supposed to but something essential is missing. The cargo does not come.

    But, atheism does not demand that I do that. It is just a merit badge I earned along the way. It also helps prove another point, that atheism does not lead to nihilism. Atheism is not a religion. Following the principles of the enlightenment might be, but it is a stretch.

    Comment by codesmithy — April 5, 2008 @ 9:52 am

  31. No, my point about the Bible is simply that it has changed over time.

    What has changed? You keep saying that but you haven’t given anything specific at all in that area. Are you talking about the commentary that was added? Are you talking about the last part of Mark? How are those significant changes?

    Evolution combined with natural selection works. There is a topic in computer science known as “genetic algorithms” which solve real problems using exactly the processes I described. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can evolve a perfect tic-tac-toe player fairly easily using the process I described. It takes a while, but it does work and happens to be embarrassingly parallel.

    How absolutely ironic is it that you call my parallel of the world to a video game unfounded, yet you show me how programmers evolve tic-tac-toe players as evidence for evolution. They still have programmers, the code doesn’t appear out of nothing.

    Vitalism was discredited in the 19th century. Let me welcome you to the 21st. There are reasons cells die. It isn’t like a perfectly functioning cell has its ghost leave and then stops working.

    Perhaps you misunderstood what I was saying as I don’t feel like this statement applies. In order for it to have ghost it would have had to been alive in the first place. What you are telling me happened was that something that was created by molecules and such that randomly came together was one second an inanimate object and the next a living single cell organism. It was at most a shell of a single cell organism and then it was alive by some means unknown.

    You, like my video game analogy, just made that up with no evidence to support it. In an unknown time out of unknown substances, under unknown circumstances something unknown happened and then this single cell was alive… Is that really what you want me to believe?

    You can tell yourself all you want about atheism, but it is a religion in my understanding. You simply choose a different god. The god of statistical probabilities or the god of knowledge or the god of self.

    Who said religion had anything to do with intelligence? Seriously, are you ever going to stop appealing to your personal incredulity? Do you not know what personal incredulity means? There is a simple way to prove or disprove this statement: an independent, objective source. But, affirmative claims require affirmative evidence, not just your apparent inability to believe the opposite.

    It just doesn’t make any sense. The Jews wrote tons of things about Jesus. They knew who Paul was, they knew 6 of the disciples. Why not just say “Oh this stuff never happened.” Why didn’t anyone ever in contemporary history of his time just simply say “None of this happened”. They could have done that. The Jews could have said “And Paul claimed all these people saw it but we never met one”, Acts takes place in Jerusalem where all of this happened. If they were faking a story, why would they start in a place that could just say “Hey we were here a couple weeks ago when you said this happened, we didn’t see any of this”. They start in the place that could discredit them the most. But no one ever did.

    You can say it has changed but Archeology says it hasn’t. William Ramsey started out as an atheist when he set out to disprove Acts. He gave up after 25 years and declared Luke one of the most accurate historians of all time. If it has been changed as much as you think it has, how in the world could it be so accurate?

    The problem is, you discredit the historical relevance of the Acts and the gospels. You say they have been changed but can’t show any of that. Archeology says its probably one of the most historically accurate books on the planet.

    If it is then that means Christianity did start in Jerusalem. If it did, what an odd place to start, in the very city that could discredit it the most. Instead we find Jews saying Jesus was a magician, not a regular man. We have Romans justifying the darkness and the earthquakes that followed the crucifixion instead of saying it never happened.

    Your willingness to ignore the historical meaning and repercussions based on the idea that it is simply “part of the fairy tale” is a flaw. Examine it as the historical text it is. It has not been changed as you claim, I have evidence to show it hasn’t and you have none to show that it has. Not in any significant way other than the addition of commentary.

    If you study the formation of myths you will find that as far back as we have the claim of Christians and the resurrection, you will find it was far far to early for that type of myth to have formed.

    Continue on your quest to block out the bible as a fairy tale if you wish. It holds truer to history than you may think.

    It is because of the truth of the bible that I believe Piper’s story. It is much easier for me to believe that God raised him from the dead after 90 minutes than it is to say that he was unconscious, two people misdiagnosed him and a third did not notice the signs of life after 15 minutes in the car with him.

    Believe as you wish, but do not claim my idea is any more preposterous than your own.

    Comment by christianfaqed — April 7, 2008 @ 10:31 pm

  32. What has changed?

    Read “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart D. Ehrman. There is nothing in it for me to discuss Biblical accuracy with you.

    How absolutely ironic is it that you call my parallel of the world to a video game unfounded, yet you show me how programmers evolve tic-tac-toe players as evidence for evolution. They still have programmers, the code doesn’t appear out of nothing.

    The programmers are irrelevant. Rules to the universe and thus the code governing the simulation are a given. It is simply an experiment you can do to prove to yourself that random mutation with selection does work. I think you aren’t comprehending the timescale and scope.

    Again, I don’t know how the rules of universe came about. However, you are making a humongous leap by personifying them. Regardless, one particular bronze age myth is almost certainly not going to give you any insight into the matter. There are particular problems with claiming a deity including the infinite regress it causes. Logically, you need something that generates complexity from simplicity. Evolution is such a process. Evolution may not be the explanation for everything but evolution combined with natural selection explains the diversity and complexity of life we currently see on this planet. It also helps explain new discoveries like fossilized snakes with legs.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7339508.stm

    This just wasn’t discovered, it was predicted.

    Perhaps you misunderstood what I was saying as I don’t feel like this statement applies. In order for it to have ghost it would have had to been alive in the first place. What you are telling me happened was that something that was created by molecules and such that randomly came together was one second an inanimate object and the next a living single cell organism. It was at most a shell of a single cell organism and then it was alive by some means unknown.

    Show me this living ghost that you can add to a cell to make it come alive and take away to cause it to die.

    You, like my video game analogy, just made that up with no evidence to support it. In an unknown time out of unknown substances, under unknown circumstances something unknown happened and then this single cell was alive… Is that really what you want me to believe?

    Why do you insist on wallowing in your ignorance? Admittedly, there are still missing pieces. A number of Nobel prizes have been won by getting better answers to all those “unknowns.” We don’t know exactly how abiogenesis occurred yet. But, science has a few ideas on where to start looking and it doesn’t include consulting bronze age myths.

    You can tell yourself all you want about atheism, but it is a religion in my understanding.

    Wow, what else can you show with your “no true Scotsman” argument?

    Why didn’t anyone ever in contemporary history of his time just simply say “None of this happened”.

    Generally, people don’t write histories of all the stuff that didn’t take place. Books were fewer and more limited in the past. Many important texts didn’t survive. Your question is kind of like asking why didn’t the 9/11 commission report address all of the claims of the conspiracy theorists. Regardless, you need independent corroborating evidence, not the lack of contradicting evidence to prove your point. So please, stop appealing to motivations of actors and your personal incredulity. You don’t know the motivation of the actors. Your personal incredulity is not evidence.

    However, you must admit some of the things Celsus says are funny.

    http://www.bluffton.edu/~humanities/1/celsus.htm

    So, don’t say Christianity didn’t have any early critics.

    As for William Ramsey, forgive me if I have to take it with a grain of salt. Just think of all those Christians that followed David Koresh. The Branch Davidians must have been on to something! He had 53 followers! 53 > 12!

    Archeology says its probably one of the most historically accurate books on the planet.

    Bullshit.

    Examine it as the historical text it is.

    Personally, I find Celsus much more plausible.

    …[Celsus] accuses [Jesus] of having “invented his birth from a virgin,” and upbraids Him with being “born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God.”

    http://www.bluffton.edu/~humanities/1/celsus.htm

    If you study the formation of myths you will find that as far back as we have the claim of Christians and the resurrection, you will find it was far far to early for that type of myth to have formed.

    This has got to be a joke. Resurrection goes back to Horus at least.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5.htm

    Believe as you wish, but do not claim my idea is any more preposterous than your own.

    I claim your idea of what happened is more preposterous than mine. Your mastery of logic and evidence based reasoning never ceases to underwhelm.

    Comment by codesmithy — April 11, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  33. Read “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart D. Ehrman. There is nothing in it for me to discuss Biblical accuracy with you.

    That’s because you’ll lose, just like everyone else who had tried to disprove biblical accuracy. I’ve read enough books on biblical inaccuracy and I seriously doubt this one is any better than the other 152 books on the subject. It’s all made up with no evidence to support it.

    The programmers are irrelevant.

    Right, they are as irrelevant as God is… Without the programmers the code wouldn’t exist.

    However, you are making a humongous leap by personifying them.

    About as humongous of a leap as personifying a programmer…

    It also helps explain new discoveries like fossilized snakes with legs.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7339508.stm

    This just wasn’t discovered, it was predicted.

    Now that was amusing. Can’t even really say for certain that the leg was ever attached to the snake or what function it would serve if it were. Can’t really tell what time period it was from. Heck, you really can’t even say that it had two legs. But it was predicted and well, anyone in psychology can tell you about self-prophecy. If you’re looking for it, you will find it.

    What it does help with is making up more fairy tales about evolution, it doesn’t prove anything.

    Show me this living ghost that you can add to a cell to make it come alive and take away to cause it to die.

    So basically everything in your world is merely an object? Life must be cheap in your world.

    Wow, what else can you show with your “no true Scotsman” argument?

    I so gave my reasoning for my statement about atheism being a religion and you couldn’t rebut it with anything other than, well, I know it looks like one but it really isn’t.

    Bullshit.

    I show you an atheist set out to disprove the accuracy of the book of Acts and he finds discovery after discovery until he gives up 25 years later and converts to Christianity and this is your rebuttal?

    So, don’t say Christianity didn’t have any early critics. Personally, I find Celsus much more plausible.

    Um… Celsus wrote in the 2nd century. There are much earlier works than this, but look what he does say. He never claims that Jesus does not have special powers. It seems that even extreme skeptics could not say that Jesus didn’t do miraculous things. You’d think if anyone was going to say that, it would surely be him.

    This has got to be a joke. Resurrection goes back to Horus at least.

    Please try to keep up with the conversation. I was not talking about general myths of resurrection, I was speaking of the time you think it took for the real person of Jesus to develop a myth surrounding him about him being resurrected. Not the myth of resurrection in general.

    There are oral creeds of Jesus resurrection that date back to a maximum of 36 A.D. a mere three years after his death, and the creed started in Jerusalem. You can’t just say something like that three years after and expect people to believe it without witnesses. Afterward Christianity boomed both there and in Rome, which is why Celcus probably felt the need to refute it. He didn’t just have 54 followers, he had thousands even after he died. How many followers does David Koresh currently have?

    David Koresh’s myth died with him, as did all the other people’s claiming the same thing. Jesus’ did not, it spread like wildfire because the only thing people could say was “well, he must have gotten his miraculous powers from Egypt, not God”.

    I claim your idea of what happened is more preposterous than mine.

    No, you simply believe that anything that isn’t scientifically explainable is preposterous, which is a bias. You have a presupposition of antisupernaturalism. You develop that on your own, you can’t prove it. Any evidence given to you about the contrary is instantly disregarded, such as the man dead for three days and coming back to life that you don’t believe despite the eye witnesses and testimony of doctors. You choose not to believe in any kind of supernaturalism, that is your own bias, you can’t force it on others.

    Comment by ChristianFAQed — April 14, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

  34. That’s because you’ll lose, just like everyone else who had tried to disprove biblical accuracy. I’ve read enough books on biblical inaccuracy and I seriously doubt this one is any better than the other 152 books on the subject. It’s all made up with no evidence to support it.

    This from the person who berated me for not reading “90 Minutes in Heaven.” Since you are so familiar with the Bible, I’m sure you are familiar with the meaning of the word hypocrite. Of course, my point was merely that the claims Piper‘s claims in “90 Minutes in Heaven” were extraordinary and deserved scrutiny. You are claiming Ehrman made it all up and has no evidence. A claim that is patently false. Seriously, I am starting to question why I even respond to you.

    Right, they are as irrelevant as God is… Without the programmers the code wouldn’t exist.

    The point is that the computer can generate the code we are actually interested in via evolution and selection. It just takes some work to set up the arbitrary rules of the simulation. God as rule-giver of the universe is a much weaker claim than Jehovah. The problems with a complex entity handing down the rules of the universe has already been discussed.

    About as humongous of a leap as personifying a programmer…

    Yup, a huge mistake given machines can generate code and find solutions to problems the programmers sometimes can‘t.

    Now that was amusing. Can’t even really say for certain that the leg was ever attached to the snake or what function it would serve if it were. Can’t really tell what time period it was from. Heck, you really can’t even say that it had two legs. But it was predicted and well, anyone in psychology can tell you about self-prophecy. If you’re looking for it, you will find it.

    What it does help with is making up more fairy tales about evolution, it doesn’t prove anything.

    If you listened to the expert and read the article many of the questions would have been answered. But given that pythons and boas have vestigial remnants of legs in the same spot, it isn’t too much of a stretch that this now extinct snake had a larger version of the same thing.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/anal-spur

    It existed nearly 92 million years ago. It had two legs, one is apparent, the other one is embedded and they used x-rays to confirm it.

    If you want to role-play the extreme skeptic, that is fine. Just hold your claims up to the same standard.

    Of course, this isn’t the only prediction evolution makes, Kenneth Miller describes another:

    I so gave my reasoning for my statement about atheism being a religion and you couldn’t rebut it with anything other than, well, I know it looks like one but it really isn’t.

    Your reading comprehension is absolutely abysmal, you know that right?

    I show you an atheist set out to disprove the accuracy of the book of Acts and he finds discovery after discovery until he gives up 25 years later and converts to Christianity and this is your rebuttal?

    Conversions don’t mean anything, only the evidence. It is telling that you emphasize the conversion over the evidence. The conversions go both ways. It doesn’t make the talking snake, flood, being inside a whale, virgin birth, water into wine, resurrection, etc. more plausible.

    Please try to keep up with the conversation. I was not talking about general myths of resurrection, I was speaking of the time you think it took for the real person of Jesus to develop a myth surrounding him about him being resurrected. Not the myth of resurrection in general.

    Oh, then I apologize.

    How long did it take Marshall Applewhite to develop the spaceship myth? How long did it take Hubbard to develop Scientology? Smith and Mormonism? Jim Jones? It is telling that you don’t cite anything for this.

    David Koresh’s myth died with him, as did all the other people’s claiming the same thing.

    You forgot the exception for Scientology.

    You choose not to believe in any kind of supernaturalism, that is your own bias, you can’t force it on others.

    Pretty much. I find superstition can be fatal.

    Comment by codesmithy — April 15, 2008 @ 7:11 am

  35. […] that political agenda is, who knows.  I just find it odd because I was accused of having an “agenda” before.  Honestly, Martinsburg just seems like a small town in Eastern West Virginia.  It […]

    Pingback by Obama and West Virginia « Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind — May 17, 2008 @ 11:46 am

  36. Pretty much. I find superstition can be fatal.

    Funny, I find it can be life giving:

    http://www.newsnet5.com/health/16363548/detail.html

    http://wcco.com/local/comatose.woman.recovers.2.652126.html

    Odd isn’t it? She was brain dead for how long? 17 hours… And she woke up with no brain damage, can talk and will be able to walk on her own shortly if not already.

    Perhaps the universe does not have to follow your rules as much as you wish it did.

    Comment by christianfaqed — May 27, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  37. Hello again Christianfaq’d,

    I know this may come as a surprise to you, but news casts pander to the beliefs of the vast majority of their watchers. Another example is how they claim local inventors make amazing discoveries.

    https://codesmithy.wordpress.com/2007/09/16/energy-ignorance-making-saltwater-burn/

    It is a way to make the local community feel special. I’ll admit, these are medical rarities. But if you want scientific proof, one needs to track the successes as well as failures. Michael Shermer gave a good talk about the subject at TED.

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/22

    Scientific surveys done on prayer demonstrates that it has no effect on outcome.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/31/news/pray.php

    So it is notable what is at the end of Raleane Kupferschmidt’s story:

    Her doctors at United Hospital in St. Paul say what’s she survived isn’t unheard of, they just haven’t seen anything like it in their careers.

    Val Thomas also wasn’t brain dead for 17 hours. She had no measured brain waves during that period. The two are not synonymous. Her blood was flowing during most of treatment. If it were the case that the blood didn‘t flow, well, she wouldn’t be alive.

    So yes, unlikely events do happen. People win the lottery. People get struck by lightning. People make seemingly miraculous recoveries. Just because something is very unlikely, doesn’t mean it is impossible. There are over 300 million people in the United States. As of 2001, approximately 80% of people consider themselves Christian.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Demographics_of_the_United_States&oldid=215086772

    So, if an unlikely event happens, there is a good chance it happens to a Christian. Together with the bad things.

    But, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that these were truly miraculous occurrences. There was actually no natural explanation (like there is). How would you rule out if it were Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, invisible unicorns, the ghost of her mother, or any number of supernatural creatures with mystical powers? Again, pinning it all on Jehovah is just special pleading.

    In short, there is no evidence that your imaginary friend who you believe has magical powers did anything. So how about singing the praises of the doctors, the paramedics, and other medical professions such as those who invented the equipment that helped save those two lives?

    But, as far as superstition being fatal goes. The real danger of this delusional belief in an imaginary entity that intervenes in daily affairs is the train of thought it inspires in the likes of John Hagee. See, if your imaginary friend can do anything or stop anything, then it naturally follows that anything that happens must have your imaginary friend’s tacit endorsement. Reconciling god with evil is called theodicy, there have been various stabs at it. Hagee’s thinking on the subject is among the most primitive and is particular toxic, not to mention ironic.

    Here is an example of Hagee’s line of thought: hurricane Katrina was a terrible disaster. God could have stopped such a disaster but didn’t. Therefore, god must have sent Katrina to New Orleans because something was going to happen that he didn’t like. Hagee provides the authoritative answer that it was a gay pride parade, and the city of New Orleans was destroyed for being willing to tolerate it.

    What is ironic about this form of scapegoat-ing, is it is the exact same deceit that was used when persecuting Christians. If there were a drought, it was because whatever local deity was pissed because the Christians weren’t making a proper sacrifice, or praying to the god. Hence, the local population was being punished for their tolerance of such sinners and must show their intolerance and hatred for people who dare believe something different.

    It doesn’t help that he is also a dispensationalist crack-pot who sees it as his mission to lay the groundwork for Armageddon. Even from a secular perspective, I think the policies he advocates could set off a world war. More concerning, Hagee cheers on the genocide. Six million Jews slaughtered, all part of god’s plan for this nut. Jehovah was just getting warmed up for billions of others awaiting his wrath for not believing in his invisible goodness.

    When does the madness stop?

    Comment by codesmithy — May 28, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  38. How would you rule out if it were Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, invisible unicorns, the ghost of her mother, or any number of supernatural creatures with mystical powers?

    Who did they pray to? Have you ever heard of anyone of the party claiming it was the Spaghetti Monster, fairies, invisible unicorns? Have you ever heard of Hindu miracles? Buddhist miracles?

    Aside from that, there is historical evidence for Jesus death an resurrection. Eyewitnesses and the like, secular and christian. Jesus claimed that he was the only one true God. Either he was telling the truth, he is the son of God, God incarnate, and the only God or he was lying and he was none of the above.

    I believe the evidence points to the fact that he was everything he claimed to be. That is how I know it was Jehovah and no other god.

    Comment by christianfaqed — May 29, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  39. Who did they pray to? Have you ever heard of anyone of the party claiming it was the Spaghetti Monster, fairies, invisible unicorns? Have you ever heard of Hindu miracles? Buddhist miracles?

    They prayed to god. I did not hear anyone claiming it was something different, but here’s the rub: prove that it was not the Flying Spaghetti Monster messing with the people for his own inscrutable reasons. You say he is made up, but maybe that is what he wants you to think!

    Look, the truth is the truth no matter how many people believe it. The same is true for a lie. The fact of the matter is that once you start adding the people where people prayed and still ended up dying, you find there is no correspondence between prayer and outcome. It has no effect. You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.

    As for Hindu miracles or Buddhist miracles, it matters on what you mean. Does an event happen to a Hindu or Buddhist that would be considered miraculous by certain cultural standards? Yes, as the below picture demonstrates.

    Do other cultures have superstitions? Certainly. Go to authentic Asian restaurant and you frequently see a Budai.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughing_Buddha

    Aside from that, there is historical evidence for Jesus death an resurrection. Eyewitnesses and the like, secular and christian. Jesus claimed that he was the only one true God. Either he was telling the truth, he is the son of God, God incarnate, and the only God or he was lying and he was none of the above.

    You are setting up a false dichotomy there depending on what you mean by lying. If you define lying as having intent, then it could be that Jesus was sincere and thought he was the son of god, but was deluded or mistaken. There are others. Of course, this is assuming that Jesus even existed, etc., etc.

    I believe the evidence points to the fact that he was everything he claimed to be. That is how I know it was Jehovah and no other god.

    Maybe that is exactly what the Flying Spaghetti Monster wants you to think!

    Comment by codesmithy — May 30, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  40. Maybe that is exactly what the Flying Spaghetti Monster wants you to think!

    If you wish to be a conspiracy theorist you are well within your rights. I am not, for the most part I accept the plain and simple truth over convoluted conspiracy theories.

    Proofs are for mathematics alone, the rest is just following the evidence. I can no more prove the Spaghetti Monster did or didn’t do it any more than I can even prove to you that I am a real person and not a figment of your imagination or a character in your dream.

    I just tend to believe the evidence and where it leads rather than coming up with convoluted stories to explain it away when it is inconvenient.

    Comment by christianfaqed — June 3, 2008 @ 1:43 am

  41. If you wish to be a conspiracy theorist you are well within your rights. I am not, for the most part I accept the plain and simple truth over convoluted conspiracy theories.

    It is not conspiracy theory. It is just a basic recognition of the fact the Flying Spaghetti Monster is as likely to be true as Jehovah, Zeus, Zoroaster, Baal, or any other supernatural deity. Once there is some convincing evidence one way or another then fine. Dismissing one supernatural explanation as conspiracy theory while finding another one acceptable is just bias. It would be one thing to say praying to Jehovah made a tangible difference in outcomes, as opposed to Zeus. Even if you didn’t have an explanation, at least you’d have a repeatable phenomenon. But that isn’t the evidence that you have. There is no measurable difference in outcomes from praying. There is no correlation. Something you’ll discover very easily once you take off your Jesus goggles and start counting the tragedies along with the miracles.

    The short of it is there is no evidence Jehovah protects his houses of worship from lightning bolts any more that Zeus hurls them to express his displeasure at such buildings. According to mythology, these feats should be easy for such beings, so one has to ask why are these supernatural entities (who are also supposed supremely interested in the affairs of humans) so shy? Is it because they see faith as a virtue, or because it is a way to dupe the credulous.

    I just tend to believe the evidence and where it leads rather than coming up with convoluted stories to explain it away when it is inconvenient.

    I admit, Jesus-did-it is a very simple explanation, however unconvincing and almost certainly wrong it may be. This is for exactly the same reasons Zeus-did-it is such a moronic explanation for the various happenings of the world.

    Comment by codesmithy — June 4, 2008 @ 7:07 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: