Patterico's Pontifications

11/29/2014

November: Month Of C.S. Lewis

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

I did not realize this until this morning that C.S. Lewis was born in the month of November and died in November as well. Here is a brief look at the Christian apologist. While some will agree with its assessments, others may quibble. Given that many readers here are very familiar with Lewis’ writings and have drawn their own conclusions about this significant figure over the years, it would be interesting to hear your views. Suffice it to say, if you are anything like me, the passage of time has brought a more mature grasp (i.e. only somewhat less childish) and recognition of the skillful witty weaponry of seriousness the moral philosopher used to convey to readers the elegantly simple complexity that is God.

From a book that became my catechism for more than a year while suffering from debilitating physical pain, The Problem of Pain:

“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’ and look on things as if man were the centre of them.”

“Man is to be understood only in his relation to God.”

And of course, from The Screwtape Letters this devastating observation about the Christian:

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Finally, the modern woman should sneer, but I knowingly nod:

“Oh God, make me a normal twentieth-century girl!’ Thanks to our labours, this will mean increasingly, ‘Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite’.”

–Dana

227 Responses to “November: Month Of C.S. Lewis”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  2. Lewis died on November 22nd, 1963.

    Chuck Bartowski (11fb31)

  3. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, and JFK all died within a few hours of each other on November 22, 1963. There’s an interesting book by Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft, entitled Between Heaven and Hell, that puts the three together in limbo debating about what’s going to happen next. Lewis wins.

    I’ve posted a bit on Lewis on my blog if anyone’s interested:

    C.S. Lewis’s Fiction for Adults

    The Discarded Image

    C.S. Lewis’s Argument against Naturalism (that’s to part 1 of 7)

    Some Shorter Statements of the Argument from Reason

    Jim S. (a95060)

  4. A new study suggests that men and women are 14 percent more likely to die on their birthday than any other day of the year. This effect was strongest in people aged 60 and older, who were up to 18 percent more likely to die on their birthday.*

    happyfeet (831175)

  5. Please stop linking to the insanely disgusting Wall Street Journal Pay page…I would love to read the articles but my Apple won’t open it….

    reff (afac6b)

  6. Or, you can just ignore me since I am ranting….

    reff (afac6b)

  7. reff,

    Per askeptic on another thread, go to Google and then search, you will get in.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  8. Good Allah, this is a Pavlovian dogwhistle for Gil

    JD (86a5eb)

  9. Oh, I sure hope it’s more than that, at least to others, JD! Kicking against the goads as Gil is prone to do, just seems exhausting to me, but nonetheless, I’m glad he visits and engages, such as it is.

    Dana (f1eb7d)

  10. Thank you Dana and narciso! I will endeavor to strive to make it there now….

    reff (4dcda2)

  11. Lewis has always interested me in that he put so eloquently into words what I always knew: that God, Jesus, and the “belief” is something you can only feel….yet it appears visual and sensory in everything we do….and that God leaves to us what we do in response to Him….

    reff (4dcda2)

  12. “If we promoted justice and charity among men, we should be playing directly into the Enemy’s hands; but if we guide them to the opposite behaviour, this sooner or later produces (for He permits it to produce) a war or a revolution, and the undisguisable issue of cowardice or courage awakes thousands of men from moral stupor. This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions.”

    The “we” being Satan’s minions and “the Enemy” being God.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. Hi Dana:

    First, thank you so much for posting about C.S. Lewis. Love his writing!

    As for Gil, he may not haunt this thread. After all, I don’t think any person of faith here would go to an atheist thread trying to argue.

    Besides, I so enjoy C.S. Lewis’ work. Thanks again.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  14. Hi, Simon. Cowardice as the worst vice, or greatest sin, was the central theme of The Master and Margarita, which was written just prior to the Screwtape Letters but not published until much later. I wonder if Lewis and Bulgakov corresponded. It’s not a simple concept, but it’s easier understood with Screwtape’s promotion of inaction by the Patient. Christianity may be a pacifist religion but it is not a passive religion, is one way I would put it.

    nk (dbc370)

  15. A site well worth visiting for any Lewis reader:

    http://www.lewisiana.nl

    Lewisian (7b8c71)

  16. ‘God in the Dock’ is a nice sampler of Lewis’ essays.

    Next to Hume one of the most agile of minds writing in a deceptively simple, straightforward style which demands much of the reader, lest the meaning be missed.

    DNF (3b2963)

  17. One of my favourite Lewis quotes: “Meaningless combinations of words do not acquire meaning merely by appending them to the two other words `God can’. Nonsense remains nonsense, even when we talk it about God.”

    Milhouse (7aa205)

  18. Hi All,

    Dana mentioned that she is interested to hear your views on some of CS’s writings, and I am too. I think thats the purpose of the thread and I will keep it civil. Lets leave out the name calling and bigotry accusations. Ill in turn leave out the mockery.

    First I’d like to explore the problem of evil or suffering:
    Millions of children under 5 die every year. Over 200 million since 1990. Thats a lot of suffering and harm inflicted not only on the kids, but on their parents. Can anyone offer an explanation that would reconcile God’s love and goodness with this? From what I understand in the original post, this should not be a problem as long as we stop using the trivial meaning of the word love, and stop looking on things as if we were the center of things.

    “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’ and look on things as if man were the centre of them.”

    Second, this quote and what you make of it was of interest to me:

    “Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

    To me, in this quote CS implies that there are “traces of Him” available to be observed in the universe otherwise he would not have said “seems to have vanished” but rather “has vanished”. This seems to be the universe was designed for us, or fine-tuned for us, point. If im off base in my understanding please correct me. But if not, Im interested to hear what things in the universe indicate to you that it was created. On its face, we have an unfathomably large creation in which the vast majority is uninhabitable to us. There are billions upon billions of galaxies which each have billions upon billions of stars. Yet, all this was made to have a relationship with one species on an insignificant planet that by contrast to the universe is unfathomably small? That seems quite inefficient for an all powerful being. Is this how you would expect a designed system to run? If so, how would you expect a universe generated by chance to look?

    Gil (27c98f)

  19. Ah, Gil. I don’t care to fence with you, but I would simply point out that much of what you ask is directly addressed by C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” and “A Grief Observed.”

    But there is nothing new about this. Here is a place to start:

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

    You ask for no name calling, but I repeatedly run into atheists (as opposed to agnostics) who have the same disconnect as uber fundamentalists: they cannot conceive of a Creator greater than themselves. It’s a bit of stretch to call it narcissism, but there are elements in common.

    The problem of pain has been part of theology for thousands of years.

    C.S. Lewis is worth your time, but you must read it in an open minded fashion.

    Again, I don’t care to debate with you…but it is clear you have not read Lewis. Which is fine.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  20. You know, nk, I so admire the classical bent in your posts. I would like nothing more than buying you meals once a month and chat with you about various topics. And if I lived close enough, I would.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  21. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your reply. Youre right, I have not read CS Lewis, but it is more interesting to discuss with people here, than to read someone else’s views. I look at those quotes as jump off points. You of course dont have to “fence with me”.

    Ill just add that my non belief has nothing to do with inability to conceive of anything, but rather it has to do with lack of evidence in a very big claim.

    Gil (27c98f)

  22. Ok, Gil, here’s a couple of jumping off points:

    1. Since you brought up Cosmology, its reigning high priest is Stephen Hawking, an avowed atheist. I propose to you that only in a Christian culture would he have been allowed to live and nurtured as an infant and not abandoned to die as unfit.
    2. In other threads, you have advocated gay rights. I propose to you, again, that homosexuals have never enjoyed greater rights than in our Christian cultures.

    What say you?

    nk (dbc370)

  23. Hi nk

    Well, sure this is a slight shift, but we can explore.
    1. Im not sure what you mean. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21. He was a totally normal baby. Do you mean other cultures do not care as much for the disabled as Christian culture? That may be true, to me there are moral failings like this all over and we should work to improve the well being of all humans regardless of our beliefs.

    2. It may be possible to debate that point with regards to more secular cultures. But regardless, Im not sure what youre trying to conclude. For example you could have said the exact same thing about womens rights under Christian culture in the 1600s at the time. It did not mean there wasnt room to grow.

    Gil (27c98f)

  24. I’m aiming at your polemicism. Granted, you don’t believe. The stridency is unwarranted.

    nk (dbc370)

  25. Lewis could be a brilliantly incisive critic of modern follies. See That Hideous Strength, for instance.

    He could also be a blind reactionary.

    Rich Rostrom (aa953b)

  26. Maybe someone should ask Gil why it matters so much to him whether individual total strangers on a blog are “believers” or “non-believers”. Maybe he could explain why this seems to be of such interest to him to “explore”, or why this ongoing back and forth conversation of sorts is of value to him in conducting his daily living.

    elissa (e76e35)

  27. Ok, one more shift. I’d bet nine out of ten passengers on an airplane would not understand the principle of the airfoil if you explained it to them. Still, they fly? Do you condition the existence of God on your understanding of Him? Because, I confess, if I said I understood God I would cosign the papers to have me placed under guardianship for idiocy. But my lack of understanding does not preclude His existence, now does it, any more than those passengers’ lack understanding of the wing makes the airplane fall?

    nk (dbc370)

  28. nk,
    You brought up 2 points and Ive started to discuss. I dont think ive been abrasive / attacking thus far. Did you want to respond or point out how you have been offended?

    Gil (27c98f)

  29. elissa, I did, on the Thanksgiving thread and he claimed harms religions have done. Which is why my first point with him tonight.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. Maybe someone should ask Gil why it matters so much to him whether individual total strangers on a blog are “believers” or “non-believers”. Maybe he could explain why this seems to be of such interest to him to “explore”, or why this ongoing back and forth conversation of sorts is of value to him in conducting his daily living.

    Hi Elissa,
    You could just ask me directly. The reason is, that I am interested in what people believe and why. Some of these beliefs affect me directly, and affect public policy in the country I live in. This post was initiated to discuss ideas based on some CS Lewis’s writing and this is what I am doing.

    Gil (27c98f)

  31. No, Gil, you did not in this thread and that’s not what I meant. I met the stridency generally of your advocacy against religion.

    nk (dbc370)

  32. I *meant*

    nk (dbc370)

  33. This seems to be the universe was designed for us, or fine-tuned for us, point.
    …On its face, we have an unfathomably large creation in which the vast majority is uninhabitable to us. That seems quite inefficient for an all powerful being.

    Gil (27c98f) — 11/29/2014 @ 7:31 pm

    I don’t think Lewis was making that point there.

    In any case I don’t know why an all powerful being would be concerned with efficiency. That’s necessary for limited resources. These “I don’t see why God would do it that way” are actually strange theological arguments, because they claim to know how God, who is not believed to exist, would do things if He did exist. Then turning around and using this theology to demonstrate He doesn’t exist smacks of circular reasoning.

    Im interested to hear what things in the universe indicate to you that it was created.

    Well there is the fine tuning argument…

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  34. Do you condition the existence of God on your understanding of Him? Because, I confess, if I said I understood God I would cosign the papers to have me placed under guardianship for idiocy.

    No I do not. Rather, it is based on the lack of evidence. But you bring up what seems to be a double standard. When God allows something horrible to happen (like millions of children dying per year) the answer is that we dont understand gods will. But when something we like happens, we do understand: this is something good.

    And from the thanksgiving thread ill resurrect my quick answers to how I am affected by Chistian:
    There are real world issues such as the preaching in Africa to not use condoms leading to spreading aids. The prevention of possibly life saving stem cell research. The teaching of kids that the earth is 6000 years old and that humans lived with dinosaurs resulting in our population being dumbed down. The economic impact of companies being closed on Sundays only because they choose to honor god.

    Gil (27c98f)

  35. ==This post was initiated to discuss ideas based on some CS Lewis’s writing and this is what I am doing.==

    …except, Gil, you’re not–because you claim you’ve never read C.S. Lewis. Can you comprehend how insincere and how unserious and how incurious that makes you look here on a thread specifically devoted to the writings of C.S. Lewis? Please don’t feel you must officially contribute to a conversation about him when you admit you have no first-hand knowledge of his work.

    elissa (e76e35)

  36. In any case I don’t know why an all powerful being would be concerned with efficiency. That’s necessary for limited resources. These “I don’t see why God would do it that way” are actually strange theological arguments, because they claim to know how God, who is not believed to exist, would do things if He did exist. Then turning around and using this theology to demonstrate He doesn’t exist smacks of circular reasoning.

    Hi Gerald

    I do not claim to know how God would do things. You are saying that this universe is created. Im asking, how can you look at it in its current state of mass inefficiency and conclude that it is created? I think it is not right to on one hand claim the universe is fine tuned, but on the other say “ahh he just knocked over a can of galaxies because he doesnt care about resources” the two points dont mesh.

    Gil (27c98f)

  37. You know, Gil, there is nothing new about your arguments. I would contend you would benefit from actually reading the rich philosophical underpinnings behind the Problem of Evil. It’s older than Judeo-Christian belief. Even a stop at Wikipedia will take you through the ideas of religious and non-religious philosophers. Augustine has much to teach you, as do Epicurus and Hume. Irenaeus, as well.

    I guess I am something of a skeptical theist, in this general area: I do not believe a human mind is capable of understanding the university in its entirety.

    I hope you are not one of these narcissistic atheists that won’t read anything that is different from their own belief system, and yet claim superior logic despite that lack of knowledge. Again, even a Wikipedia search will give you lots to think about.

    Unless you just want to argue, that is. Many “aggressive atheists,” as I dub them do exactly that. There are little different from super fundamentalists: overly satisfied with the knowledge they have between their ears, and not interested in thoughts from outside. The universe is wide and deep; I have always understood agnosticism. The dogmaticism of atheism has always made me shake my head, especially given the thematic similarities I have just described.

    So I recommend you take advantage of the great philosophies on this topic.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  38. LOL. I meant “universe,” not “university.” Though mine is a challenge to understand from time to time.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  39. Preaching abstinence and fidelity before condoms (ABC) for the prevention of AIDS, is not a crime against humanity. Making embryos to use for research should be offensive even to secular humanists — it’s a form of cannibalism. I don’t know who teaches that the Earth is 6,000 years old but I doubt that their kids are cloistered and do not have access to natural history texts. Sunday closing laws? Please. It’s not the churches who got the laws enacted — it’s the businesses themselves. Because they want to take the day off without their competition staying open. Don’t sweat the small stuff, Gil.

    nk (dbc370)

  40. Do I understand this correctly?
    Gil finds injustice with millions of babies dying each year, yet is totally for millions of unborn babies dying each year so stem cell research can have stem cells for research?

    I think Gil should worry a lot less about others being “dumbed” down and who chooses to not work on Saturday or Sunday or whatever day for whatever reason.

    MSL (5f601f)

  41. On its face, we have an unfathomably large creation in which the vast majority is uninhabitable to us. That seems quite inefficient for an all powerful being.

    Yes you are claiming to know how God would do things. You’re saying he would do things “efficiently” as you perceive it. Or you’re just throwing random thoughts around and don’t know what you mean.

    The fine tuning argument isn’t about the universe being just the “right” size. You apparently don’t understand the fine tuning argument or you’re engaging in a straw man.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  42. Simon

    Thanks for coming back. I agree there is not much new ground here, on either side really. And no I do not shy away from other points of view. I have watched many talks by Christians like Frank Turek, William L. Craig, Eric Hovind / Sye Ten Bruggencate. Listened to countless hours of debate as well.

    The dogmaticism of atheism has always made me shake my head

    I hear this a lot. A statement like this leaves me wanting to ask if youve read other points of view or are you filling your knowledge of what atheism is only from sources? Have you heard of John Shook for example? In any case, what dogma is it that you think I ascribe to? I simply choose to withhold belief until sufficient evidence is produced. We dont take medicines until FDA approved studies are run. We dont get on airplanes until they are tested. We dont believe people’s claims without evidence in all walks of life. This is not dogma.

    Gil (27c98f)

  43. C’mon, nk. It’s just easier to argue with the small stuff. The Big Stuff is more complicated. Gil would learn a lot—about his own atheism—by reading and thinking. Some of it is the need to feel superior in a humbling universe. Some of it is the need to feel superior to others. Which is the odd philosophical equivalence between aggressive atheism and extreme fundamentalism.

    For me, the Mysteries are wonderful.

    Nk, if you get a chance, here is a wonderful SF story about religion:

    http://www.jackmcdevitt.com/gus

    So worth your time. Depending on how you feel about Augustine.

    Also, “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” by George R.R. Martin.

    http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-way-of-cross-and-dragon/

    Of course, I particularly enjoyed “Black Easter” and “The Day After Judgement” by James Blish.

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

    Lots of interesting information and philosophies and ideas in those. Lewis would approve, I think.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  44. To me, in this quote CS implies that there are “traces of Him” available to be observed in the universe otherwise he would not have said “seems to have vanished” but rather “has vanished”. This seems to be the universe was designed for us, or fine-tuned for us, point. If im off base in my understanding please correct me.

    You’re off base. Christianity has never taught or implied that the universe was designed solely for us. It was designed to accomplish God’s purposes, and humanity is only a small part of them. Lewis himself makes this point repeatedly. Here’s one quote:

    There is no question of religious people fancying that all exists for man and scientific people discovering that it does not. Whether the ultimate and inexplicable being — that which simply is — turns out to be God or “the whole show,” of course it does not exist for us. On either view we are faced with something which existed before the human race appeared and will exist after the Earth has become uninhabitable; which is utterly independent of us though we are totally dependent on it; and which, through vast ranges of its being, has no relevance to our own hopes and fears. For no man was, I suppose, ever so mad as to think that man, or all creation, filled the Divine Mind; if we are a small thing to space and time, space and time are a much smaller thing to God. It is a profound mistake to imagine that Christianity ever intended to dissipate the bewilderment and even the terror, the sense of our own nothingness, which come upon us when we think about the nature of things. It comes to intensify them. Without such sensations there is no religion.

    Returning to your comment:
    But if not, Im interested to hear what things in the universe indicate to you that it was created. On its face, we have an unfathomably large creation in which the vast majority is uninhabitable to us. There are billions upon billions of galaxies which each have billions upon billions of stars. Yet, all this was made to have a relationship with one species on an insignificant planet that by contrast to the universe is unfathomably small?

    Ignoring what was said before, the cosmology of the ancient and medieval world posited a universe that was larger than we can imagine, and an earth that was so infinitesimal by comparison, that for all practical purposes it could be treated as a mathematical point with zero volume. That is the cosmology in which Christianity arose and developed. Again, Lewis makes this point:

    More than seventeen hundred years ago Ptolemy taught that in relation to the distance of the fixed stars the whole Earth must be regarded as a point with no magnitude. His astronomical system was universally accepted in the Dark and Middle Ages. The insignificance of Earth was as much a commonplace to Boethius, King Alfred, Dante, and Chaucer as it is to Mr. H. G. Wells or Professor Haldane. Statements to the contrary in modern books are due to ignorance. The real question is quite different from what we commonly suppose. The real question is why the spatial insignificance of Earth, after being asserted by Christian philosophers, sung by Christian poets, and commented on by Christian moralists for some fifteen centuries, without the slightest suspicion that it conflicted with their theology, should suddenly in quite modern times have been set up as a stock argument against Christianity and enjoyed, in that capacity, a brilliant career.

    Returning to your comment again:
    That seems quite inefficient for an all powerful being. Is this how you would expect a designed system to run? If so, how would you expect a universe generated by chance to look?

    Again, ignoring what has gone before, you seem unaware of certain cosmological discoveries that have taken place over the last few decades. For example, Roger Penrose has written in The Road to Reality that the odds of just the sun, moon, and earth to come into existence by random processes is one chance in 10^10(60). But the odds of a universe coming into existence in which the low entropy condition is met, as is the case with our universe, is 10^10(123), which renders the first number “utter chicken feed” by comparison. This is interesting because nontheistic scientists have often said something similar to what you have: most of the universe is irrelevant to our existence, and if God created us we should expect to find ourselves in a much smaller universe consisting of just the sun, moon, and earth. Penrose is arguing that a universe like that, which these nontheists say would convince them that God exists, is much, much more probable by chance than the actual universe we find ourselves in.

    Jim S. (a95060)

  45. Again, Gil: read. It’s good for you.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  46. The fine tuning argument isn’t about the universe being just the “right” size. You apparently don’t understand the fine tuning argument or you’re engaging in a straw man.

    Gerald, I udnerstand the fine tuning argument. It has evolved as scientific understanding has evolved. For example a Rabbi once argued to me that the earth was finely tuned in a spot perfect for life with regards of the distance from the sun. This of course starts to fall apart with the Kepler mission that has found in the neighboorhood of 40 planets in the “perfect zone” after only 5 years looking at roughly only 125K stars in our galaxy. Many people will argue that the in physics, the coefficients of forces such as the weak force or the strong force, or gravity have to be exactly what they are or the universe wouldn’t exist. That of course is only a half truth – it wouldnt exist as we know it. Perhaps other life could have happened. Who knows.

    My point is, looking at the mass inefficiency of the universe – you said an all powerful god with unlimitted resources might not necessarily care about efficiency (ok granted) – how is it possible to conclude it was specifically created. It becomes hard to reconcile specific constants being tuned in exactly, with the approach of not caring about efficiency. Maybe god did just randomly blast out billions of galaxies and then fine tune a few things. But how can that be concluded just by looking at it?

    Gil (27c98f)

  47. Thank you, Simon. I’ll read them both. Here’s one back at you. http://www.watt-evans.com/jimtuckermansangel0.html

    George R.R. Martin’s Fever Dream was probably the best vampire novel I’ve read, BTW. Way above Anne Rice’s.

    nk (dbc370)

  48. OMG, nk, I agree 100% about “Fevre Dream”! I am also extremely fond of his “arty” SF novel “Dying of the Light.”

    And I am endlessly amused by GRRM’s prior snarking of fantasy novels as “Thud and Blunder” novels. That too is Greek justice/vengeance!

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  49. Depending on how you feel about Augustine.

    I’ve mentioned before that the Greeks are still debating whether he was for or against the filioque in The Creed. I’m staying out of it letting the priests hash it out, maybe after another 1400 years. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  50. I’ll bet you will like “Gus.”

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  51. Hi Jim
    Thanks for the corrections. Regarding:

    The real question is why the spatial insignificance of Earth, after being asserted by Christian philosophers, sung by Christian poets, and commented on by Christian moralists for some fifteen centuries, without the slightest suspicion that it conflicted with their theology, should suddenly in quite modern times have been set up as a stock argument against Christianity and enjoyed, in that capacity, a brilliant career.

    It is an interesting quote. Im not using the infinitesimally small earth as an argument against Christianity, but an argument against how we can conclude design or creation.

    For example, Roger Penrose has written in The Road to Reality that the odds of just the sun, moon, and earth to come into existence by random processes is one chance in 10^10(60). But the odds of a universe coming into existence in which the low entropy condition is met, as is the case with our universe, is 10^10(123), which renders the first number “utter chicken feed” by comparison.

    You are right I am unaware of Penrose’s work. While probabilities are interesting, and amazing to think about, improbability does not prove god – let alone the Christian god. We dont know if 10^10(123) universes existed and collapsed before this one was made and we got here or if this is the first one. If you dont know how many lottery tickets were sold, you cant look at the lottery winner and say “you must have known what the numbers were, you couldnt have just gessed randomly”. I realize this is going to get pounced upon “look he has to resort to the multiverse, that’s his God”, but the point is i dont know. The multiverse idea is a possibility, it may even be plausible -I dont know and neither does anyone else. Its beyond my knowledge, But to accept something even more complicated is not within testable reality is not a solution.

    Gil (27c98f)

  52. Its been fun guys 1:30am here i gotta call it a night.

    Gil (27c98f)

  53. Ok, I read “Gus”.

    — Is sex dirty?
    — If you’re doing it right.
    (Isaac Asimov)

    I’ll give it the classical interpretation. The dead as shades of their living selves, pining for their former lives, and envious of the living. Poor Gus.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. I’ve read The Road to Reality, and I’m familiar with the argument that if something has odds of 10^ whatever against it, therefore God.

    And the problems with it are fourfold:

    1) Randomness is certainly part of how the universe operates, but it is randomness within the constraints of physical law. For example, consider humble water, 2 hydrogens and an oxygen. Suppose that I have a tablespoon of it. In that tablespoon there are approximately 10^23 molecules. Two atoms can combine in triplets in 8 different ways; the probability of all 10^23 molecules being water are, if atoms combine at random, 1 out of 8^(10^23). This number can be written (close enough) as a 1 with 10^23 zeros after it; if you wrote down four zeroes per second it would take you about 1000 trillion years.

    From this can we conclude that God individually created my tablespoon of water? If we didn’t know anything about chemistry or physics, we might, but we since we do know a little, we know that while which particular H’s and O’s make which particular water molecules is random, the fact that they all form water is non-random, it is due to the operation of physical laws which alter the probabilities so that getting anything but water is negligible, even given 10^23 lottery tickets, so to speak.

    2)Equating improbability with evidence of design proves far too much. Each snowflake is individual because the odds of any two snowflakes having the same pattern is so small, given that they are composed of so many molecules of water (not 10^23, more like 10^21, which is still a lot).

    But consider the six arms of a snowflake–they duplicate each other. Each of those arms is 1/6 of the whole, so they still have a huge number of molecules. The probability of one arm of a snowflake duplicating another is almost the same probability that two snowflakes are alike–yet each arm of a snowflake nearly invariably duplicates the other five and each snowflake nearly invariably is different from all other snowflakes. So must we conclude that God individually designs each snowflake?

    There are religious believers who would say “yes”; but for those who would say “no”, they usually fall back on “snowflakes are just obeying natural laws”. Yes, and natural laws create a high degree of order out of randomness all the time–so religious believers who would answer this way have conceded that improbability is not enough to establish evidence of design.

    Snowflakes are made out of the same molecules that water is, and snowflakes follow the same laws of physics as a tablespoon of water does. A very small change in conditions turns water into snowflakes, spontaneously creating a high degree of order, without any divine intervention required.

    3) The other two points establish that a legitimate argument from probability requires a knowledge not only about how randomness works, but the non-random constraints that are operating–the argument that fine-tuning or improbability are evidence of design are just another variation on “God of the Gaps”. As we learn more about the universe, the things that seemed improbable and inexplicable no longer are, leaving less for God to do.

    4) “Randomness” is not what people think it is. For example: pick a number between 0 and 1 (not 0 or 1). Multiply by 1 minus your number. Multiply that by 3.6. This becomes your new number between 0 and 1. Repeat this a few dozen or hundred times. (Easiest to use Excel). You will never see the same number twice and you will never be able to guess what the next number will be.

    Even such a simple, repetitive procedure generates something that, to anyone but a mathematician, looks like randomness. Not only does order spontaneously arise from chaos, chaos spontaneously arises from order. If you want to argue that the randomness or lack thereof of something you observe in the universe is evidence of something, you have a great deal of work cut out for you. The last fifty years of math and physics research has discovered a great deal of what kinds of “randomness” there are, under what conditions they are found, and what can be learned from systems that exhibit these types of “randomness”. Theology has not, to my knowledge, kept up.

    So I’m afraid that an argument that hasn’t changed in the last millenium or two is not going to cut it with anyone who’s been paying close attention to what has been learned about the universe in the last couple hundred years. Nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century science has been very hard on some of these old arguments. Modern science certainly does not prove that God as religious believers understand him can’t exist, but it has a great deal to say about how the universe is observed to work which puts limits on what God might be and where evidence of Him might be found.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  55. Incidentally Roger Penrose describes himself as an atheist, for what it’s worth; I mentioned him only because a previous commenter used him as an authority, and not because Roger Penrose argues for the existence of God from design or fine-tuning.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  56. Gil’s blatherings about some so-called “lack of evidence” brings up an important point: There are none so blind as he who WILL NOT see. It is that refusal to see which makes debating worthless. Pearls, swine, some assembly required.

    John Hitchcock (54f071)

  57. Reading this thread reminded me of Levi claiming to have earned an A on an exam about a book he never read.

    JD (86a5eb)

  58. It becomes hard to reconcile specific constants being tuned in exactly, with the approach of not caring about efficiency.

    Any argument of this form is a theological one – it implies God wouldn’t make a huge universe. Period. And then leads to your typical circular reasoning.

    Maybe god did just randomly blast out billions of galaxies and then fine tune a few things. But how can that be concluded just by looking at it?

    And a straw man too.

    There is at least one perfectly good reason for creating a large universe.

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  59. Wish I read more of him. Where should I start?

    BTW I saw this fellow’s play and it’s really good.

    http://www.anthonylawtonactor.com/The_Screwtape_Letters.html

    Patricia (5fc097)

  60. 60. A delightful, short, simple, provocative work ‘The Great Divorce’.

    DNF (3b2963)

  61. 46. Indeed. Good advice for anyone, but especially for this particular naïf.

    DNF (3b2963)

  62. 59. Well done. Randomness derives from the perspective of the creature.

    DNF (3b2963)

  63. There’s also the ontological argument which I regard as convincing.

    However, to me the best argument for God’s existence is fulfilled Biblical prophecy, since it deals with actual history.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  64. 64. Clarence Larkin provides a nice introduction to the consideration of prophecy.

    Advanced study: Abram Heschel’s ‘The Prophets’, Harper Colophon, is essential reading. I’d recommend Vol. II be read first as in “Eat dessert first”.

    DNF (3b2963)

  65. “Gil’s blatherings about some so-called “lack of evidence” brings up an important point: There are none so blind as he who WILL NOT see. It is that refusal to see which makes debating worthless.”

    John Hitchcock – Gil does not seek to understand the beliefs or faith of others, rather as you point out he seeks “evidence” or “truth,” having already bypassed any need for understanding and ignores the first cautionary C.S. Lewis quote provided by Dana not to “look on things as if man were the centre of them” in framing his questions and arguments.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  66. Daley, I am eternally surprised by the narcissism of humanity. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Still, anyone who looks at the night sky, or through a microscope, should feel awe.

    Nk, I’m glad you liked “Gus.” I wish I had Gus to chat with.

    Simon Jester (21671f)

  67. how can we know for sure this is the month of C.S. Lewis

    happyfeet (831175)

  68. Simon – I knew it was pretty much a sure bet Gil would miss the point of the first two quotes Dana supplied. I did not misunderestimate him.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  69. Gerald…fulfilled prophecy convinces only if it has been fulfilled and only if it is a real prophecy…in other words, only a believer will be convinced by that argument.
    In fact, free will demands that no argument for the existence of the Deity be convincing..because if one was, our will would be co-erced. And ultimately all theological talk is useless, because no human concept can describe It. I should not even refer to God as It because that implies, falsely, that God is a thing in a universe of other things. God is not Truth, Love, Reality. God is God is the only true statement. Even something as because as exists/does not exist does not really apply to God. God exists but in a way totally different from the way we exist. The only real basis of tge spiritual life is direct experience. Scriptures and doctrines are merely intensive efforts to describe that experience.

    For me, if the Universe was not created, then everything is truly random chaos, and our pocket of existence is but a transitory bubble of apparent order in the choas. If the latter, then there is no true morality, only a morality imposed by the mind on appearance.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  70. “even something as basic as exists/does not exist”

    kishnevi (294553)

  71. To not have been created with design and intent is to say that we tumbled into existence, with no control or divine hand purposely making it happen. And if that’s so, then what’s the point? Of anything, really?

    Dana (8e74ce)

  72. @Dana: To not have been created with design and intent is to say that we tumbled into existence, with no control or divine hand purposely making it happen. And if that’s so, then what’s the point? Of anything, really?

    What if it’s the God of Osama bin Ladin that turns out to be the right one? Wouldn’t that be worse than not having a God at all? I think it would be worse.

    The point of existence what you make of it. I’m comfortable with the transitory bubble of consciousness I inhabit and I’m determined to make the most of the short time I have. I’m not in need of a sky fairy to make it all make sense for me, because it’s ok that it doesn’t make sense.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  73. Gil’s blatherings about some so-called “lack of evidence” brings up an important point: There are none so blind as he who WILL NOT see. It is that refusal to see which makes debating worthless. Pearls, swine, some assembly required.

    Hi John
    I am totally open to be convinced. What is your best piece of evidence? I am also very interested in why people believe what they believe. We can all understand each other better that way. I don’t think it is pointless.

    Gil (27c98f)

  74. @Gerald 59

    Any argument of this form is a theological one – it implies God wouldn’t make a huge universe. Period. And then leads to your typical circular reasoning.

    Gerald, we seem to be at an impasse. But Im telling you, i do not claim to understand what god would or would not do. Im just asking given that we have no idea how God would approach creating something how can we conclude from what we observe in the universe that it was created – especially given that from what we know of creating something efficiency is desirable. Of course this doesnt mean god would have to be efficient, it just would be one way we could recognize design / creation.

    Gil (febf10)

  75. @Dana
    To add to what Gabriel has said.
    The point is the meaning we put into our lives. My family has meaning to me. Bringing them up to be good people is important to me. Helping others, leaving the world a better place has meaning to me. Just because I don’t believe there is a place we can all spend eternity doesn’t mean everything is pointless.

    @Gabriel
    Thanks for that post on probabilities.

    Gil (febf10)

  76. Smite the unbeliever! … with suggested readings, not necessarily from religious writers, but from good writers dealing with religious and moral issues. “Young Goodman Brown”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne? I just remembered it, I must have read it when I was 19 or 20. Actually, Terry Pratchett’s “Small Gods” I think you would find enjoyable, Gil.

    nk (dbc370)

  77. Mocking other’s God as sky fairy etc shows a true desire to understand their beliefs. Bugger off.

    JD (86a5eb)

  78. Again, JD, the issue is one of reading, versus just knowing things.

    There have been lots of suggestions from many people. Yet there is little interest in reading those items. What amazes me about many atheists is how incurious they are about people of faith. It comes down to a lack of respect for this other point of view.

    Even very, very smart people will bring up “The Problem of Evil” and literally know nothing of the philosophical underpinnings. They just know things to be true.

    Which is ironic, when you think about it.

    Simon Jester (d00d6a)

  79. 70. “fulfilled prophecy convinces [..] only a believer”

    “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

    You are not informing Xians, we know all that. But we are happy you’ve begun to address the questions involved.

    And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 23″Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

    Hume’s ‘Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ should be reviewed closely if you are serious about epistemology.

    DNF (3b2963)

  80. I don’t care what they believe. The Devil needs a skull for a cup to toast the queen of the damned with on black sabbath and it might as well be Gabriel’s. They have the Commandments, they have the prophets. Gil’s attempts to convert others to the same child of Hell as him is what annoys me.

    nk (dbc370)

  81. Ah, nk…I so enjoy your commentary. Truly.

    You should read James Blish’s “Black Easter.”

    Simon Jester (d00d6a)

  82. Simon, I enjoyed Gabriel’s little mathematical conundrum. You are the expert on that subject, not me, but even I know that it’s a problem of an imperfect mathematical system which is not capable of perfectly describing the natural world. Kind of ironic, his use of it, I thought.

    nk (dbc370)

  83. What amazes me about many atheists is how incurious they are about people of faith.

    What amazes me about atheists is that they live without hope. Day after day in the mire of life. It’s sad and puzzling. If “I” in my finite and fallen state were the be-all and end-all in my life, I’d sure be questioning the point of it all.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  84. 78.Mocking other’s God as sky fairy etc shows a true desire to understand their beliefs. Bugger off.

    I don’t think Gabriel mentioned that he was interested in understanding your beliefs. I did. I did not refer to the Christian god as a sky fairy. I said I would lay off the mockery in this thread and I have. My questions still stand, im happy to discuss with anyone why they believe, what is it about a particular CS Lewis quote that you’ve taken to heart – what does it mean and how does it bolster your belief?

    77.Smite the unbeliever! … with suggested readings,

    Alas, after 2 days most responses to my points are “go read this”.

    imperfect mathematical system which is not capable of perfectly describing the natural world

    The above comment makes me sad.

    Gil (27c98f)

  85. How we know:

    The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

    Psalm 19:1-4

    And whether you see efficiency (as some sort of proof) or not, it is irrelevant because you are “man” and He alone is God. Back to the correct standing in the relationship. In faith we are able to hear, to see, and to know. Who are you, oh “man”?

    Dana (8e74ce)

  86. The above comment makes me sad.

    Please don’t be sad, Gil. After all, this is the only life will have, remember? You must squeeze all the happiness you can out of it.

    nk (dbc370)

  87. *you* will have

    nk (dbc370)

  88. What amazes me about atheists is that they live without hope. Day after day in the mire of life. It’s sad and puzzling. If “I” in my finite and fallen state were the be-all and end-all in my life, I’d sure be questioning the point of it all.

    Hi Dana,
    Many times I have given you examples of the meaning I find in life and you ignore them. Why not engage and discuss? Why do you think I live without hope? I hope my children will succeed and enjoy some of the things I do/did. I hope humanity marches on after me. How can you say I live without hope.

    And Simon,
    You label all atheists as incurious of people of faith. Yet here I am asking questions directly about why you believe, and you chose not to “fence with me”, or point me at other books. I am curious, it is you who wont discuss. It is other theists who wont engage me calling me swine, or shut their ears because im the working for the “child of hell”.

    Gil (27c98f)

  89. “I don’t think Gabriel mentioned that he was interested in understanding your beliefs.”

    Gil – What you most frequently say is you are interested in “evidence” and “truth,” which is not the same as understanding. People have patiently explained their beliefs to you on many occasions here yet you return time after time repeating the same demands for “evidence” and “truth,” not understanding. I call BS on your claims to having listened for hours to people like Frank Turek and other Christians, because if you had and you had actually absorbed anything, your questions and hypotheticals would not remain so laughably ignorant.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  90. “It is other theists who wont engage me calling me swine”

    Gil – Seriously? You created your own track record here, not somebody else. You are not a victim. Most people do not enjoy engaging with people who do not comment in good faith, which is the approach you have repeatedly brought to this blog. That is an issue of your own creation, not anybody else’s.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  91. having listened for hours to people like Frank Turek

    Hi Daley
    I can assure you I’ve watched Frank.
    He says things like “I believe in the big bang, I just know who banged it” and he also likes to setup his talks with Acronyms. I remember one when he used “CRIMES”.
    I have also seen William L Craig many many times.
    He likes to argue the Kalam cosmological argument, fine tuning, morality, and even sometimes the ontological argument.
    I have investigated the presuppositionalist arguments with Sye Ten Bruggencate and Eric Hovind

    Im past all that. Fine these are the reasons the professional apologist gives. Im interested in what the everyday other believers think. You can make assetions about what you think I have or have not studied. When a believer offers me a reason, I question it. Admittedly people don’t like that but I want to understand why the reason holds for them.

    Gil (27c98f)

  92. You created your own track record here, not somebody else.

    Hi Daley
    I stated at the beginning of this thread that I would keep away from mockery and I have throughout. That should earn me some currency, especially I should think with Christians.

    Gil (27c98f)

  93. Well, as far as the Big Bang goes, it’s a direct descendant of ancient Chinese cosmology. The Chinese believed the world was a flat disc, resting on the back of four elephants, themselves standing on the back of a giant turtle traveling through space. Now these “b-u-illions and b-u-illions” of turtles and elephants had to be conceived somehow. How else than by a “big bang”? (Credit Terry Pratchett)

    nk (dbc370)

  94. I did not refer to the Christian God as a “sky fairy” either. I did use the phrase, but the only God I mentioned explicitly was Osama bin Ladin’s…

    At any rate, some posters here say Gil is not a truth-seeker and does not argue in good faith. In addition, these posters argued that fine-tuning is evidence of God having created the universe. I put quite a bit of work together in addressing what is wrong with that argument in detail, and no one engaged with it.

    I am quickly forming my own opinion of who seeks truth and who argues in good faith. I myself would not be willing to repeat an assertion that had been challenged in detail without addressing the challenge–I happen to think that arguing in “good faith” requires that. But your mileage may vary, as they say.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  95. @nk: Well, as far as the Big Bang goes, it’s a direct descendant of ancient Chinese cosmology.

    Would you like a detailed post as to how the Big Bang differs from Chinese cosmology, as well as from the creation story that the Jews learned from the Babylonians? Would you like a detailed post about what the evidence for the Big Bang is, why the evidence for competing theories fall short, and how the math works?

    I’d offer it, but my last post which went into substantive details was completely ignored; so if you’d like to hear about the Big Bang i’d like to hear some substantive commentary on what I wrote about how probabilities can’t be sufficient to establish design, or at least an acknowledgement that any argument from design relying on probabilities cannot be supported, given the points I brought up.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  96. Probabilities as your mathematical system, or your understanding of your mathematical system, defines them and calculates them? How much faith do you have in them? To give you the “truth” about the universe?

    nk (dbc370)

  97. And you didn’t get the joke?

    nk (dbc370)

  98. You see, Gabriel, I’m a simple farmboy. When I was young, I worked a farm where we irrigated with ditches. We’d dig the ditches, and then we’d open the reservoir and the water would flow through them to the cabbages and tomatoes. We’d check on them occasionally to clear away any debris or built up silt but we did not push and direct and direct every drop of water to each and every rootlet. Do you understand?

    nk (dbc370)

  99. 97.Probabilities as your mathematical system, or your understanding of your mathematical system, defines them and calculates them? How much faith do you have in them? To give you the “truth” about the universe?

    I wouldn’t say that faith is a bad word to use here, but so be it. We seem to have enough “faith” in math to get on planes, to take medicines, to use our GPS’s to get where we want, hell even to launch a spaceship a decade ago in order to land on a comet! But now as soon as a relatively basic application of math with regards to well understood chemistry is used, all that goes out the window? It is suddenly unreliable or inadequate to “describe the natural world”? – your words. Is that honest and fair?

    Hey Gabriel, I’d be eager to bounce a few questions off you. Would you mind shooting me an email? I anonymized it for obvious reasons. jkhds-4784621408@sale.craigslist.org

    Gil (27c98f)

  100. *
    Oops I meant – “I would say”

    Gil (27c98f)

  101. @nk: Your answer, then, is that we can’t infer design from fine-tuning, because God may have chosen not to sweat those particular details. Very well, but I would point out that going with that implies that when you wish to say that something you see in nature is evidence for God, you will have a great deal of further work than just pointing to it; you will need to show what evidence you have that this is one of the important things that God put his fingerprints on. And once you are doing that, you are out of the realm of empirical evidence; you will need to make an explicitly religious argument, and it will only be effective with those already inclined to your religion.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  102. I come not to bury God, nor to praise Him. I respect and admire sincerely held religious faith, and I have no desire to argue anyone out of their faith–if people can ever be argued out of what they never were argued into.

    There are dogmatic atheists in this world–plains apes are everywhere inclined to dogma, because it’s a social signal. It’s especially fashionable among the blue apes right now; an atheist is rarely a red ape. And of course there are dogmatic religious believers; effectively 100% of them, because that’s what dogma IS.

    The only point I am trying to make by my comments here is that atheism is a rational position that can be defended and maintained by reason. It is not religion with Jesus crossed out and Darwin written over it in purple crayon. I concede that there are atheists who don’t argue very well and who aren’t very rational; but that does not mean that the arguments against religious belief do not exist and cannot be defended. Similarly, there are religious believers who think God is a man in the sky who makes good things happen for good people and bad things happen for bad people, but this does not mean that all religious believers have no better arguments. C. S. Lewis’s God is not a sky fairy.

    My own atheism came out of my background in physics. Certainly religion, in some forms, is compatible with modern science; modern science however has been hard on the sky fairies. (The Book of Mormon has been particularly hard hit.) Physics did not make me an atheist, but it formed my ideas about how the universe works, which leave little for God to do. The universe is a very strange place and it does not make a great deal of sense. There are parts of it that we are used to, and the apologetical arguments for Christianity that rely on empirical evidence do all right there, but when you get out into the broader universe they make very little sense any more.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  103. Not really, Gabriel. I don’t have the conceit of a wet rootlet which thinks its mathematical system describes the previous winter’s snowfall up on the mountain as well as the temporal lobe of the person who thought up the ditches and the parietal lobe which guided the hands that built the shovel which dug them.

    nk (dbc370)

  104. My 104 was to Gabriel’s 102, for clarity.

    nk (dbc370)

  105. Incidentally, getting back on topic, I am a big fan of C. S. Lewis and have read quite a bit of what he wrote. I find The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters fantastically enjoyable and both gave me a great deal to think about. Mere Christianity, on the other hand, I found disappointing, it seemed to me he’d turned his brain off, especially his Lunatic/Liar/Lord trilemma, which i found appallingly ignorant for someone as broadly educated as he was. But Great Divorce and Screwtape are parables, and some teachers did did better with parables.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  106. @nk: I will tell you a true story.

    I happen to be in favor of capital punishment, and I have my reasons. In my life I’ve known well a large number or progressives, nearly all of whom are agin it.

    One of my friends engaged my arguments, had no answer for them, retreated to reconsider, and then declared he had withdrawn his objection and thanked me for teaching him something.

    Another of my friends said that my arguments carried no weight with him, since he knew for a fact that 99% of people who support capital punishment only do so because they want to exact retribution on black people, and it was only the arguments of those people which he needed to worry about, and he already knew how to refute them.

    Which of my two friends was more worthy of your intellectual respect, if you were arguing with them?

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  107. Sorry. You cannot tempt me with your intellectual respect. Try the old-fashioned methods — women, wealth, power, stuff like that.

    nk (dbc370)

  108. @nk: Gil already noted that your dismissal of what you call a mathematical system which you wrote was written on, and conveyed to me, by a physical system which could not have been designed if there had not been a great deal of truth and utility in that mathematical system.

    Semiconductors could not work the way they do if quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics weren’t mostly true. We might still have personal computers, but they’d work very differently and would be manufactured in a very different way.

    So if you sincerely hold what you wrote to be true, you can’t have thought too hard about it–it says so right on the wrapper, as it were.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  109. @nk: I see that, like Jon Stewart, you’ve decided to go with “clown nose on, clown nose off”.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  110. “I stated at the beginning of this thread that I would keep away from mockery and I have throughout. That should earn me some currency”

    Gil – You also ignored the quotes Dana provided, probably because you did not understand them. Nevertheless, I am not mocking you or your beliefs, merely restating your track record of behavior here and that I do not believe you when you say want to understand the beliefs of others based on your track record of behavior. That’s a record of behavior you established over multiple posts over multiple good faith attempts by people here to engage with you.

    Once again, I have seen no evidence in your comments that you have absorbed anything from listening to or reading the Christian apologists you claim to have, your assertions to the contrary noted. While here though, you have been given many worthwhile reading suggestions.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  111. No. I was dead serious. I don’t give a s*** about your intellectual respect. I was trying to say it in a nice way. And also in an entertaining way because there are other people on this thread besides us.

    nk (dbc370)

  112. “But now as soon as a relatively basic application of math with regards to well understood chemistry is used, all that goes out the window?”

    Gil – Can you point out where nk dismissed the use of basic application of math for chemistry please? That is certainly not how I understood his comment.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  113. And if you’ll read my comments about mathematical systems, I said they were imperfect. Not useless, not “not mostly accurate”.

    nk (dbc370)

  114. nk – I would agree with Gabriel that as our knowledge of math and science has improved, especially over the past two centuries, our ability to explain how more and more of the world works has advanced, but that science does not prove the nonexistence of God.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  115. @nk: And I would agree with daleyrocks,

    I would agree with Gabriel that as our knowledge of math and science has improved, especially over the past two centuries, our ability to explain how more and more of the world works has advanced, but that science does not prove the nonexistence of God…

    and would add only, “depending on what you mean by God”, since some ideas about God are absolutely ruled out given that the universe works the way it does.

    Science is compatible with some forms of religion, and perfectly compatible with no religion at all. And science is never going to tell what you SHOULD do; for that you need some kind of religion or philosophy.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  116. @nk: I never offered you my intellectual respect. I asked you which sort of person you thought deserved YOUR respect.

    My question was very carefully phrased. Your repeated insistence on answering a question I did not ask is telling, while refusing to answer the one I did ask. It tells me that you and I both know the answer.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  117. the whole global warming fraud thing has given science a really bad name

    if we’re talking about intellectual respect

    happyfeet (831175)

  118. Our new blog friend Gabriel Hanna has an interesting name for an apparently avowed atheist. For some reason I get a kick out of this.
    According to different sources, (up to and including modern baby naming books) the name Gabriel means ‘God’s Hero’ or ‘God’s able bodied one’.
    In religious writing Gabriel is God’s special messenger angel. He is one of seven named archangels in Hebrew text. Gabriel is known as the angel of revelation. On several occasions in the Bible he is given the job of coming to earth to give important announcements and tell of special events.
    The angel Gabriel plays an especially important role in the Nativity. It was he who told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus.
    Gabriel is often depicted in statuary and in art blowing a horn. Other symbols that represent Gabriel include a lantern, a mirror, a shield, a lily, a scepter, a spear, and an olive branch.
    Gabriel is mentioned in the religious texts of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Baha’i.

    elissa (3a15b7)

  119. A genderless spirit, Angel Gabriel has been depicted physically in either male or female form throughout the ages for purposes of literature or art.

    elissa (3a15b7)

  120. Im just asking given that we have no idea how God would approach creating something how can we conclude from what we observe in the universe that it was created – especially given that from what we know of creating something efficiency is desirable. Of course this doesnt mean god would have to be efficient, it just would be one way we could recognize design / creation.

    Gil (febf10) — 11/30/2014 @ 6:09 pm

    If you’re making the limited point that the vastness of the universe is not evidence for having being created by God, you’re probably right. It’s also not evidence for not having been created by God, which you seem to be implying it is. It’s logically impossible for there to be evidence of some feature not being created by God.

    Intelligent design arguments aren’t applied to the size of the universe. Yet you keep going on about it.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  121. Missing the point, CS Lewis, is about how this increasingly unchurched world, affects human behavior, without religion what is the basis for an ethical code, we have to result to increasingly less effective systems, law and it’s corollary the use of force,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  122. I agree that science has answered a lot of questions:

    “Tell me why the stars do shine,
    Tell me why the ivy twines,
    Tell me what makes skies so blue,
    And I’ll tell you why I love you.

    Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,
    Tropisms make the ivy twine,
    Raleigh scattering make skies so blue,
    Testicular hormones are why I love you.”

    But I will not, will not that is, listen to “scientific” arguments why my faith is stupid just so the tweed and elbow patch cool kids will invite me to their wine and cheese mixers. There’s nothing in it for me. Like I said before, come with pretty girls, hard cash, a small kingdom, maybe eternal life, eternal youth and eternal happiness, and then you might have a chance.

    nk (dbc370)

  123. Also, elissa, the archangel Gabriel was played by Christopher Walken in the great B movie, “The Prophecy.”

    I’m just saying.

    Simon Jester (d00d6a)

  124. 79, 86. If one ‘knows’ the answer, perhaps purchasing last semester’s crib, showing one’s work is of no interest, tells us nothing.

    DNF (3b2963)

  125. so we have a gnostic Noah tale, and a Moses film where Christian Bale plays a mad prophet, Houston we have a problem,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  126. 96. You flatter yourself, Grasshopper. We tire of your presumption.

    DNF (3b2963)

  127. It tells me that you and I both know the answer.

    Why is it that dogmatic leftist aggressive atheists inevitably presume to know what others think better than they do?

    JD (86a5eb)

  128. so the ten commandments aren’t valid, as are Jesus’s teachings, this is where we come to, the world that Paul predicted 2,000 years ago, give or take, so consequently they deny his existence, bringing it into current day relevance, if Michael Brown hadn’t stole, there would be no confrontation that day, a point Rich Lowry tried to impress, upon the Peanut gallery of Meet the Depressed

    narciso (ee1f88)

  129. it’s the only authorized evangelism, JD, one might dub it a form of ‘mind arson’ to tear a system down you must undermine the foundations,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  130. 128. I am by no stretch of the imagination the sharpest knife in this drawer but as a junior in HS I read Tillich’s ‘Systematic Theology’, as a senior Kant’s ‘Prolegomena’ and ‘Metaphysics of Morals’, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Anselm, Athanasius,…

    But by 27 my brain had totally rewired; suddenly Hume and Wittgenstein made sense. I got a 50 on the first DiffEq test with the kid from Haifa at my elbow scoring 100, yet managed a B+ at the end. I could struggle thru Electromagnetism and Optics using Stewart’s equations and vector calculus. Working in factories and growing up a little made the difference.

    The ‘answers’ a youth arrives at easily are worth nothing at all.

    DNF (3b2963)

  131. 131. Maxwell’s equations, doh.

    DNF (3b2963)

  132. the important thing is you tried your hardest

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  133. 123. A tour de force.

    DNF (3b2963)

  134. nk, I am enjoying your attempts to engage Atheist #2 and the information behind those attempts. I have been a scientist all of my life, and by no means think I am wise enough to understand the universe. As Haldane famously said, the universe is stranger than we can imagine.

    There is something in most atheists that reeks of narcissism and self-satisfaction. Why, some people might smell a bit of brimstone in it!

    As I have written before, the key is the ability to conceive of a Creator greater than the conceiver. It may not be possible. But this is, again, how aggressive atheists (as opposed to agnosticism) are very similar to superfundamentalists (as opposed to people of faith) so often behave.

    Despite the differences of opinion, there has been much of value discussed in this thread.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  135. a failure of imagination, it’s the same conceit in AGW, you look at an earthquake or a hurricane, and one should tremble in humility, but Lewis was concerned about the ethical implications of nonbelief,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  136. Thank you, Simon. As to Gabriel’s question, which of his two correspondents deserves intellectual respect, the answer is: The one with the prettier wife of course. Nothing speaks more to a man’s good sense and judgment than whom he chooses to wake up next to every morning. Case in point, the Obamas. Why do some people have to make things complicated?

    narciso gets it. When an atheist talks, it’s the Devil speaking.

    nk (dbc370)

  137. no it’s more like the attitudes of those ‘who hath no understanding, again what us the basis of an ethical code,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  138. The demands for proof are comical.

    Goedel, Einstein’s conversation partner for 16 years on the walks to and from Princeton, demonstrated in 1936, that any definition of a language sufficient to do subtraction must perforce contain ambiguities among its well-formed sentences.

    Proof outside of tautology does not exist, period.

    On the contrary the Judeo-Christian basis of faith, its scriptures, are empirically evaluated by the faithful. At bottom every assertion therein must stand the test of 1). consistency with the noetic kerygma of the whole and 2). congruence with the objective world about us.

    This character of the religion alone, sets it apart from most others. It is necessary to faith, but by no means sufficient to belief.

    DNF (3b2963)

  139. Post one, on the topic of CS Lewis.

    The first thing I read by him was The Abolition of Man, from a secular literature textbook in an English composition class at UW-Madison. While it was a response to BF Skinner and behaviorism, I think it applies equally to genetic engineering and any other attempt humans will ever come up with in trying to “perfect” themselves/ourselves.

    The second thing I ever read was Mere Christianity, and I would like to hear how Gabriel so readily discounts the “trilemma” .

    I believe I then read the Screwtape Letters, which I did not find personally impressive at the time.

    Sometime later The Problem of Pain, though I find Kreeft’s Making Sense out of Suffering the best answer in regards to , “OK, now what do I do?” when actually confronted by it.

    Narnia was entered the first time in reading to my children. I’m not sure which is my favorite, though I know for sure there is none that I like better than The Last Battle, which demonstrates how evil succeeds in lying.

    If there is one thing by Lewis that I think should alter how I live every day, it would be The Weight of Glory, but in general I have been so intimidated at thinking about it I haven’t known where to start.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  140. Post two,
    the devil and his minions have plenty of proof of the existence of God, and it does them no good, actually, I guess it makes things worse for them.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  141. I once asked a girl out in college; towards the end of our date, I mentioned C. S. Lewis, and she said, “Who’s that?”

    I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I never asked her out again. No, really.

    bfwebster (037196)

  142. Post three,
    I was puzzled there a bit, as the only book titled The Road to Reality I knew of was by K.P. Yohannon, which is a call to wake up from the typical life of self-centered materialism and desire for comfort and security and live according to the reality of existence as found in the Scriptures, kind of an amplified and applied version of Lewis’ Weight of Glory. I was thinking about it just a few days ago and thought I should re-read it (probably 20+ years ago).

    I enjoy waxing poetic on philosophy of religion/metaphysics, etc., but for the most part I think there are many priorities before it. I would likely need to know someone who really had an interest in learning and understanding a Christian viewpoint, even if he/she disagreed, rather than someone interested in a debate/”discussion” where he/she was more interested in demonstrating their perceived superior logic and reasoning capacities.
    Besides, I well remember a (previously told) tale from college, where a relatively brilliant sophomore/junior (I forget which) returned to the dorm one day quite animated over being given by his Philosophy 181 TA a paper on “The Problem of Evil” that “proved” there was no God. His atheistic epiphany was short lived, however, as I guessed the paper he was referring to and asked whether his TA had also bothered to share a published response to it, and then the back and forth over it. No, of course the TA hadn’t, that would have promoted further thought rather than indoctrination of an anti-religious bias.
    Of the writing of books there is no end, and too much study will wear you out…and that was written even before there was the printing press, let alone desk-top publishing, blogs, e-books, etc.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  143. @DNF:You flatter yourself, Grasshopper. We tire of your presumption.

    I’m sure you could answer my points if you felt like it.

    @Simon Jester:I am enjoying your attempts to engage Atheist #2 and the information behind those attempts.

    It’s a curious kind of engagement, that never answers anything that was actually said.

    @JD:Why is it that dogmatic leftist aggressive atheists inevitably presume to know what others think better than they do?

    I’d have to find one to ask; since I’m not dogmatic, aggressive, or leftist. Atheist I’ll cop to.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  144. yeah well if this were a foxhole you’d be singing a whole different tune

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  145. @MD in Philly: I would like to hear how Gabriel so readily discounts the “trilemma”.

    It’s nice to actually get a question and not a jape or an insult.

    First Lewis says that anyone who would claim to be God, and really isn’t, is either mentally ill or evil. The problem is that this might very well be true in 1940s London but in the ancient world people were quite comfortable with the idea of men being gods and it was not out of the ordinary way at all.

    Every Pharaoh was a deity in his lifetime, so were Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. (Naturally Augustus Caesar claimed to be the Son of God.) They were not lunatics who might as well have thought themselves eggs, as Lewis puts it. I would admit that a case can be made that all these men were evil, but at the time they were not considered to be so, at least not for this reason, and they’re not at the level of “the Devil in Hell”, as Lewis puts it.

    The ancient world is silly with people claiming to be God or being worshiped as God, or both, and all these people were not mentally ill, and all these people were not the Devil in Hell.

    Lewis was classically educated and I find it very difficult to believe he was not aware that the ancient world had different ideas about gods and men than we have now.

    That’s the problem I have with the first two horns of the trilemma. But suppose I put that aside, am I forced to concede that Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic and therefore must really have been God?

    The problem here is that Jesus is known only from a small number of contemporaneous accounts that don’t quite agree with one another. Some of these accounts may have been firsthand. He may have been as real as Mohammed, or as real as King Arthur. Even if he were as real as Mohammed, the stories told about him may not have any more truth than some of those told about Mohammed.

    But the third horn is not nearly as bad as the other two, I think. Lewis doesn’t get the same thing out of the Gospels that I get, which is fine, but Lewis tries to sweep the ancient world under the rug, and I am not fine with that.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  146. Ah, Gabriel,
    you may have seen I made reference to being interested in how you apparently easily dismiss Lewis’ trilemma, if/when you have a chance.

    A different thing, as far as science explaining things goes, is science like a lantern in a dark room, the size of a gymnasium, where upon exploring you master an ever increasing percentage of what there is to be known,
    or like having a candle in an endless cavern, where you find that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know; every knew bit of knowledge reveals at least 2 new questions,
    or perhaps the lantern in the gymnasium, but you keep finding areas that just seem to be areas of vapor, where the truth of reality is literally outside of the comprehension of a finite human who essentially lives in 4 dimensions between the wonders of the Very Large and the mysteries of the Incredibly Small?
    The Greeks thought they had something when they had the idea of the “atom” (sorry, nk), then there was Bohr and others with protons, neutrons, and electrons, then there was the explosion of things with qualities like “charm” that are about as intuitive as the color purple to someone born blind. we get fooled into believing that the world is made up of answers like tests in HS or college, when those “answers” are perhaps just crude approximations after “hand-waving” the intricacies that we do not know how to take into account.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  147. Yeah, I smell “smug” going on. You say you not rude about people of faith, but recall your words.

    I smell a rat. But then, I don’t go to atheist threads to argue, do I?

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  148. “The problem is that this might very well be true in 1940s London but in the ancient world people were quite comfortable with the idea of men being gods and it was not out of the ordinary way at all.”

    Gabriel – Why do you feel the ancient world is more relevant to what people of faith believe today than 1940s London?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  149. Hmm, having seen your answer, a few thoughts of my own.

    First, while Jesus might have been a contemporary of people thinking of a person was a God (like Caesar), He was a Jew, who for thousands of years by then had rejected such a notion, He was much more in a setting of London in 1940. In fact, perhaps more like London of 1940 than the London of 2014.
    Second, I think you overstate the case for Jesus simply being more myth than reality, and even if real, little known. I guess one could say if one person named Mohammed could inspire millions if not billions of followers over a thousand years later, what is the big deal about Jesus inspiring His followers as well. Though it is easily noted that the followers of Mohammed have typically united belief with temporal power as a feature, while for Christians uniting the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God have been an aberration, and those spreading His message generally willing to risk their own lives rather than to take the lives of others.

    but thank you for your thoughts.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  150. MD in Philly – I also don’t think the idea of people considering themselves gods or societies considering their leaders to be gods or descended from gods is limited to the ancient world. I think those appellations could be put on a variety of 20th and even 21st century tyrants even if they did not necessarily claim them for themselves.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  151. MD in Philly, daleyrocks: What ancient people thought about gods vs men is highly relevant. Jesus was not discovered by 1940’s Londoners. The people who converted to Christianity in ancient times are the people who passed it on to 1940’s Londoners, and they were people to whom the idea of men being gods was not crazy or abhorrent.

    MD, you point out that this ideas WAS abhorrent to the Jews–and note that few of them ever converted to Christianity. Christianity was far more successful among the Gentiles, was it not? Most of whom had grown up worshiping Caesar at least on state occasions.

    As I understand it though, Lewis’s trilemma was not so much intended as an argument that Jesus really was God; it was intended as an argument against the view that Jesus can be thought of as a great moral teacher without bothering about his claims to divinity.

    Either way the trilemma is taken, I don’t think it’s very good. I think Lewis did know better, or should have.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  152. gabriel hanna
    let’s dump him in Ferguson
    see when he finds God.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  153. @Simon Jester:But then, I don’t go to atheist threads to argue, do I?

    I wouldn’t know; I go to them sometimes to argue with other atheists. But I thought this blog was about law and politics, and it wasn’t for Christians only. I’ve been commenting here, very infrequently, for about five years or so.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  154. daley- absolutely true in a functional sense, god=the one who must be obeyed and have your loyalty,
    but in our advanced society we tend to do away with human as “god”, at least the way we tend to think we thought about it
    I have seen a trailer for the new Exodus movie, I think there is a scene where Pharaoh gets “stompy-footed” insisting, “I am god!! I am god!!” Stalin or Mao never quite put it that way, I don’t think, thought in some ways it was the same.
    Gotta Serve Somebody.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  155. @Colonel Haiku:gabriel hanna
    let’s dump him in Ferguson
    see when he finds God.

    Oh, that’s a nice sentiment.

    The people in Ferguson are sorely in need of God’s help though, the looters most of all. You could be praying for them, instead of using them as a way to say something nasty to me.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  156. @MD in Philly:Stalin or Mao never quite put it that way, I don’t think, thought in some ways it was the same.

    Hitler might have eventually come out and said so. The SS had already developed a religion about him, which Hitler was derisively amused by.

    Gabriel Hanna (dcffe4)

  157. ; it was intended as an argument against the view that Jesus can be thought of as a great moral teacher without bothering about his claims to divinity.

    very true. He was arguing for the Historic Apostolic Christianity that believed Jesus was crucified, died, buried, and rose again, and was to be followed,
    not a moral teacher for people to be feel good about themselves.
    But the NT teachings show Jesus to be something far, far different than just one human claiming to be God over another human claiming to be God (Caesar).
    The NT teaching, whether one wants to believe it or not is for the moment beside the point, is that the Jews didn’t believe primarily because they put their trust for salvation in being good enough in their obedience to the Law, and so rejected Jesus’ message, and in rejecting Jesus’ message they quite logically rejected his claim to be equal with God, and worthy of death for blasphemy.
    (That is NOT to say I am putting forward the notion, that I find stupid, not to say ridiculous, though sadly held by many over the years, that “the Jews” were somehow blameworthy-responsible for Jesus’ death. All humans that have ever lived, live, or will live, Jew and Gentile, are responsible for Jesus’ death.)

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  158. “The people in Ferguson are sorely in need of God’s help though, the looters most of all. You could be praying for them, instead of using them as a way to say something nasty to me.”

    Nasty? Merely a social experiment. You could ride the Smug.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  159. Ding!!

    mg (31009b)

  160. Well, Rutherford and Bohr may have conceptualized the model of the atom, but it was Greeks who invented a nucleus of crushed walnuts and sesame with a surrounding shell of layers of filo soaked in honey syrup, so there.

    nk (dbc370)

  161. well as I see it, the Pharisees as with the Romans were vehicles for the fulfilling of Jesus’s covenant, they all played their part,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  162. Honey from the monasteries?

    mg (31009b)

  163. “You could be praying for them, instead of using them as a way to say something nasty to me.”

    Gabriel – Why do you assume people are not praying for them?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  164. As for the godhood of Alexander, it was a necessity. The Egyptians, that he took from the Persians, would only consent to be ruled by a god. When he sent messengers announcing the fact to the Greek city-states they were all scandalized except for the Spartans. They said, “If Alexander wants to be a god, let him be a god”.

    And I thought that Caligula was the first living Caesar to declare himself a god and he was nuttier than a baklava. But as Pontifex Maximus he could do it. Julius and Augustus were elevated posthumously, I’m pretty sure. Tiberius?

    nk (dbc370)

  165. Oh Tiberius was a piece of work, I’ll just reference one word, the Isle of Capri, of course Robert Graves has made Claudius meomorable,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  166. I’m late to the party and have not read The Problem of Pain, but my thoughts:

    It is truly amazing how people will sacrifice in order to save strangers from pain. Every time a child gets sick or hurt, legions of people go into the police academy,become firefighters, study medicine, enroll in nursing or medical school, and donate money so that some child they have never met can be happier, healthier, and safer. Medical students push their bodies to the breaking point to learn and be better physicians. Firefighters rush into burning buildings to save strangers. Soldiers scaled the cliffs of Normandy while the Nazis rained gunfire down on them to save people from the gas chamber.

    To deny God because He allows suffering is to demand that He solve all of our problems for us, leaving us no room for virtues – bravery, industriousness, and love for our fellow man – to save ourselves. Nor does it allow earth to be used as a testing ground, wherein some people set fires and bombs and other people run towards danger to save a stranger.

    bridget (37b281)

  167. Yes, I’ve read the Graves books. And other historians agree with his assessment of Tiberius even when they’re willing to cut Caligula some slack.

    nk (dbc370)

  168. As for the trilemma: CS Lewis demanded that we answer the question of who and what Jesus Christ is. No one doubts that the man lived, preached, and was crucified. The trilemma prevents people from weaseling out by saying that he was a great moral teacher but is not divine. It’s not about what Romans thought, Gentiles thought, or anything else but what we know of Christ and any logical explanation other than Him being Lord.

    bridget (37b281)

  169. You know, bridget and nk, I had a very strange experience as a boy that certainly seemed very ghostly and supernatural. I talked about it with a very devout friend of mine. He didn’t do what most people do when I tell the story: insist I am not telling the truth, or was duped, or come up with the most Rube Goldberg-ish explanations. My friend didn’t say any of that. He was quiet for a while, and then he said something that struck me like a thunderbolt.

    That story was for you, and is not really yours to tell other people. It’s yours. You shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks; just the impact of the experience on you.”

    I thought about that a lot. God whispers, I think.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  170. well, nk, you have a point, Rutherford and Bohr have become obsolete, but not so walnuts, honey, and filo (sesame, sort of obsolete in my book).

    I think the argument against the trilemma that was presented was essentially to deny the underlying postulates, it wasn’t a lack of reason, intellect, or honesty on Lewis’ part that was articulated as an argument against the trilemma,
    it was denying the premises as having merit.

    The message of the NT suggests it is by observing followers of Jesus acting like followers of Jesus as the outer evidence, and the internal conviction of truth by the working of God’s Spirit, that leads people to belief.
    All of the reasoning/apologetics is to clear away “roadblocks” that aren’t valid upon examination, and to deny false conclusions based on faulty reasoning. The trilemma says that if you think you can claim to be a good person because you claim to follow the teachings of Jesus, but you don’t fall for the resurrection and being God “nonsense”, you are being illogical (on several points, actually).

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  171. Christ’s divine and human nature is not open to discussion, as far as I am concerned. Not even from the most Christian of theologians. It’s the core of my faith, and everything else is peripheral. If I wonder about anything is whether demons are still permitted to talk to Him directly as they did when He was flesh.

    nk (dbc370)

  172. It was a still, small voice that Elijah heard.
    If I may be so bold, indeed, a person’s experience is what it is, and we can be quick to put God in a box so we should be careful not to,
    but I think one should also be mindful that a past experience might best be understood in the context of what follows at some point in the future.

    Job had some terrible experiences, and some friends who did a pretty poor job of trying to explain what the experiences meant,
    then he had an encounter with someone who helped broaden his perspective,
    and then,
    (not to be irreverent)
    but as I believe Forrest Gump said,
    Then God Showed Up.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  173. Didn’t see your comment before I posted mine, MD. I think accepting the teachings before accepting Christ’s divinity is putting the cart before the horse to put it mildly. Disobeying the Scriptures is merely sin, but “denying” Him is an amputation.

    nk (dbc370)

  174. sesame, sort of obsolete in my book

    Worried about diverticulitis, eh? 😉 You must toast it lightly in a frying pan and crush it with a rolled bottle before mixing it with the walnuts. That’s how my mother did it.

    nk (dbc370)

  175. I always find it so special that dogmatic atheists never stop to consider that their position is every bit as faith-based as the sky fairy believers.

    JD (86a5eb)

  176. not so much, nk, it’s just that the honey and filo are great, crushed walnuts are a nice addition, I just don’t get much additional with sesame seeds
    without the filo, problematic
    without the honey, not very sweet
    without the walnuts, well, they add something
    without the sesame, I don’t think I’d miss it…

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  177. It’s a type of short-sightedness, I believe, JD. Some think there are things everyone agrees on that are obviously true, and then people who are “religious” add stuff to that foundation. In one way I call that “Inside the box thinking, without realizing you are inside the box”, and ignoring the question as to what is outside the box.
    Of course, one always has help in being deceived, sometimes even human help.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  178. Speaking of thinking “outside the box” here is a shout-out to my fellow Illini. The elitist title of the article and its intro are just precious. But the content of the piece is what matters:

    This School In Rural Illinois Has Produced Some Of The Most Amazing Visionaries In Tech

    http://www.businessinsider.com/uiuc-amazing-tech-visionaries-who-went-to-school-there-2014-12?op=1

    elissa (74b420)

  179. elissa, I was out in Urbana last month for a memorial symposium. I have sent four undergraduate research students there to get PhDs, so it is a special place to me. You and JD are alumni, I believe.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  180. Nary a Gender Studies major to be found in that bunch, Simon. :) Yes I am an alum and proud of it. But I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking I spent much time in the rarefied air of the Engineering and Computer Science campuses during my four happy years in Champaign-Urbana.

    elissa (74b420)

  181. Hmmph….
    What’s worse, a SEC braggart or a Big 10 intra-conference skirmish….
    😉
    Dane County grows more corn and communists…

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  182. Privileged white kids. I went to Circle.

    nk (dbc370)

  183. In modern times you are allowed to refer to it in your curriculum vitae as UIC, I believe, nk.

    elissa (74b420)

  184. In modern times, I brag that it cost me $300.00 dollars per full-time quarter (including health insurance at $10.00 per quarter). 😉 I’m proud of Circle; everything you wanted in a college education was there, it was up to you to reach out and get it. I went to summer school because I liked it.

    nk (dbc370)

  185. Nope, elissa—one of my former students is a professor at Stanford now, and another is posdoc-ing at Cornell. I have few illusions about my place in science, but I shine by reflected light.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  186. “What ancient people thought about gods vs men is highly relevant. Jesus was not discovered by 1940′s Londoners. The people who converted to Christianity in ancient times are the people who passed it on to 1940′s Londoners, and they were people to whom the idea of men being gods was not crazy or abhorrent.”

    Gabriel – It is relevant to the extent you ignore all the changes in thinking about faith and religion and the world which have occurred since ancient times and still makes religion acceptable to such a large percentage of the world’s population, Christian or other faith. People don’t adopt faiths in a vacuum, so there are things which appealed to people in 1940s London and today, vastly different environments than ancient times, which attract people to faith. If there were not, we would see the major religions die out and most likely be replaced by newer ones. That’s why I don’t really care much about arguments based about how people viewed gods in ancient times.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  187. Re Lewis’s trilemma…it stands only if you accept the Gospels as an accurate history. But if you are not a believer, there is no reason to accept that premise. Like much of the Gospel account, later Christians ascribed such claims to Jesus which he may never have made. The trilemma works only if you are already a believer.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  188. Oh, daley…most atheists do indeed have a religion of sorts. Just listen to them for a while, and they will proselytize.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  189. Daley, his point is that in the first century CE, people claiming to be divine were neither evil nor lunatic, but part of a well known phenomenon. Appolonius of Tyana is a well known example, but not the only one. Lewis was imposing a 20th century mindset on a culture which approached these matters quite differently.

    kishnevi (294553)

  190. they’re weren’t newspapers as we conventionally understand them, but the chroniclers of the age, Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny, record the nature of the Christian community

    narciso (ee1f88)

  191. We’re repeating ourselves again.

    The claim was made that Lewis’ trilemma was either not very smart or not very honest, as people in the first century, unlike 1940 Britain, were used to the idea of people claiming to be (a) god.
    Since Jesus was a Jew and Jews had given up the person claiming to be god for more than a thousand years, there is ample reason to think that Lewis had a point.
    And as already acknowledged, Lewis’ trilemma was not intended to convince non-believers of anything, but to point out the inconsistent thinking of many who consider/ed themselves “Christians” who think of Jesus as being a teacher of moral principles but not God to be worshipped.

    Other parts of Mere Christianity were more aimed at the one who doubted the existence of God.

    And the talk of some that there are things in the Gospels that Jesus never claimed- please prove it, or acknowledge that is one opinion, and nothing more.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  192. #192

    There is no evidence stuff was added to the Gospels at some later point that wasn’t originally in there. Such claims are arrived at by illogical methodologies – or just lying IMO.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  193. 143. ” I would likely need to know someone who really had an interest in learning and understanding a Christian viewpoint, even if he/she disagreed, rather than someone interested in a debate/”discussion” ”

    Moreover, a counterpart needs to demonstrate achievement when expressing disagreement. “No one is greater than their teacher”.

    Wittgenstein eviscerated solipisism as the very words we speak are those with which we think and interpret to ourselves the ineffable. The notion that some thought, some realization, some criticism the ingénue rises with is greater than their utterance, their meager erudition is silly.

    Their idea is no less dumb than they themselves.

    Take Monod’s notion of randomness, and remember Einstein’s objection “God does not throw dice”.

    Einstein’s point is we have no assurance whatever that the underlying physics is not determinant simply because a given nucleus’ fission cannot be predicted. Randomness apart from a human observer is meaningless. It exists only where the observer exists.

    Brownian motion is another such example. Classical physics describes the interaction completely, randomness enters in, e.g., when one wants to predict a path of a subject.

    DNF (3b2963)

  194. there’s an argument over what is canon and apochrypha but that’s a horse of a different color,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  195. MD…there is a vast literature about the veracity and accuracy of the Gospels. The claims Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as making have no higher claim to accuracy than anything else in the Gospels, and therefore can be easily viewed as inventions by Christians from after Jesus’s death. In fact what little direct evidence exists supports the idea that the Gospels like most hagiography are full of elaborations and inventions, and of little vlue in determining what Jesus actually said and did. In fact when you come down to it, there is no direct evidence Jesus ever lived. The evidence is all circumstantial.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  196. 188. ” But if you are not a believer, there is no reason to accept that premise. ”

    A less disingenuous formula “there is no reason to bother to investigate the evidence from every angle”.

    DNF (3b2963)

  197. 196. Pretentious stuff and nonsense.

    DNF (3b2963)

  198. Gerald…the Gospels are hagiographies based on oral traditions. The inventions were already part of that oral tradition before the Gospels were written, and are the stuff that “was originally there”

    kishnevi (3719b7)

  199. DNF, not pretentious, but tactful. A roomful of believers does not usually take kindly to being told point blank their religion is a false one.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  200. there is a vast literature about the veracity and accuracy of the Gospels.
    Well, I agree with that.
    I think the items in the vast literature that you have read and those that I have read are probably different.
    Yes, all evidence is circumstantial, we have no fingerprints, we don’t even have a body!

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  201. 190. “Lewis was imposing a 20th century mindset on a culture”

    Idiocy, Lewis was a foremost philologist, arising when Latin and Greek were taught in grammar school.

    Princeton’s Metzger was the last classicist of note.

    DNF (3b2963)

  202. God being God is more than able to preserve through the ages His inspired Word in written form. If He couldn’t do this, He wouldn’t be God. Our finite selves demand it be so much more complex and so much more of a mystery than it is. We’re so dreadfully predictable. To accept Him and His existence, on has to accept that He is greater than we, He the creator – we the created. Hence, the yielded surrender to perfect love. The positional relationship determines the state of the soul.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  203. kishnevi- do you think we prefer to be treated as ignorant buffoons who don’t understand when someone is dismissing our convictions?

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  204. 201. A vast literature indeed. Take Elaine Pagels of Princeton, for example. She actually professes the language of first century Israel was Aramaic.

    This despite the evidence of the Qumran and Bar Kokhba caves in the Galilee two centuries later betrayed equal parts Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the former still a living language.

    Most of modern scholarship since the seventies is excrement.

    DNF (3b2963)

  205. well I try to be diplomatic when it comes to claimes related to various faiths, Tom Holland some years back, did a survey of all three ‘People of the Book’ religions, none came off an absolute confirmation, but guess who gave him most trouble on BBC 2

    narciso (ee1f88)

  206. 200. Seriously friend, your simplisme is showing. You’ve read the half of the story you cared to and done no work of your own.

    DNF (3b2963)

  207. Ultimately, that is the point, Simon and Dana, the demand for extraordinary proof, when by the same standard, the received wisdom of the current age would be lacking, is somewhat beside the point,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  208. 199. I would argue Matthew was written in Aramaic by AD 50, Mark by AD 65, Luke circa AD 70 with both of the earlier accounts in hand, and John by AD 100.

    The earliest fragment of any of the Gospels is that of John, on papyrus dated circa AD 125.

    Your rote parroting of oral tradition certainly has foundation in hymns of the early church but see Eusebius for early testimonies of church ‘fathers’ to the existence of the scriptures.

    DNF (3b2963)

  209. Ahem. Bar Kochba was roughly 130 CE, and Qumram’s dating is debateable but no later than the same era. The finds there reflect special situations not typical of the average country side in Herodian days. Hebrew was for religion, Greek was for nonJews, Aramaic the everyday language. And this is known from sources such as the Mishnah. The great Aramaic Targums of Onkelos and Yonatan were compiled no later than Hadrian. (Onkelos is said to be a close relative of Hadrian who converted and became a student of Rabbi Akiva, who was martyred in the Bar Kochba war.)

    kishnevi (3719b7)

  210. DNF…the first gospel dates to about 20 years after the death of Jesus, meaning oral traditions were already developed by the time the gospel was written, and it was oral tradition which assigned authorship to Matthew.

    kishnevi (294553)

  211. 210. And your point is..?

    Nazareth was a mornings walk outside Herod Antipas’ Sepphoris, a Greek metropolis.

    The Kings Highway bordered Israel on either side, it was the crossroads of the ancient world, and had been so for more than a millennium.

    The inhabitants of Israel, like modern day Belgium were polyglot.

    You are forcing your provincial American monoculture on a culture “which approached these matters quite differently”.

    DNF (3b2963)

  212. 211. Seriously? You cannot create a work half as cohesive and sound, and you expect us to accept that it was a symposia?

    Run away.

    DNF (3b2963)

  213. I take my leave as well.

    DNF (3b2963)

  214. “Oh, daley…most atheists do indeed have a religion of sorts. Just listen to them for a while, and they will proselytize.”

    Simon – I thought that was what Gil and Gabriel were doing.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  215. “Daley, his point is that in the first century CE, people claiming to be divine were neither evil nor lunatic, but part of a well known phenomenon.”

    kishnevi – Thank you. I understood his point.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  216. “the first gospel dates to about 20 years after the death of Jesus, meaning oral traditions were already developed by the time the gospel was written”

    kishnevi – Please forgive my ignorance, but how did the process differ for producing the Torah?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  217. I, myself, have often wondered whether the Torah was made up whole cloth in Persia by a bunch of Babylonian gypsies, who somewhere along the way had acquired a pidgin Phoenician and called it Hebrew, seizing on Zoroastrianism and modifying it with any Near East unverifiable history, myth and folktale that fit, in order to fool Cyrus into granting them the land called Israel.

    nk (dbc370)

  218. nk, have you read Michael Moorcock’s story “Behold the Man”?

    Simon Jester (5164ce)

  219. Yes, Simon, I have. As a matter of fact, I thought of it after I read the GRRM story you recommended. And The Last Temptation of Christ (don’t read that, Kazantzakis’s soul was darker than the keel of an Aegean fishing boat). It’s my beef with language. It lets you say, and write, all kinds of s***.

    nk (dbc370)

  220. the Qumran discoveries, are what gave new life to the Gnostic heresies, which were already dogeared when Baigent and Leigh picked them up, and Dan Brown popularized them,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  221. 203. All of your comments are seminal but this one cradles the crux of the matter.

    “If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.”

    “God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way perfect.”

    “According to the Eternal Purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our LORD: in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”

    “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end”

    “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say”

    DNF (3b2963)

  222. nk, I read “Behold the Man” as a boy—at the time, very, very conventionally religious. My “take” on it was transcendent, not atheistic. I remain conflicted on “The Way of Cross and Dragon.”

    And Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star” continues to haunt me (and not amuse me, like his “Nine Billion Names of God”).

    But then, my (Methodist) minister used to tell me I would make a good Jesuit.

    Except he suspected I was going to like girls.

    I look at the stars through a telescope, or a drop of pond water under a microscope, and I am humbled by the Architect of All. I believe we only get a small peek through a crack in the door of reality.

    Oh, and I agree with your comment, and your evaluation of Kazantakis’ prose.

    There is, as I have alluded, quite a whiff of brimstone in modern society.

    There is a great collection of Catholic themed science fiction (“Gus” was anthologized in it) I often recommend: “Sacred Visions.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Visions-Andrew-M-Greeley/dp/0312850255

    Michael Cassutt’s “Curious Elation” is such a “Twilight Zone” thought provoking tale.

    Always a pleasure chatting with you, nk. Someday I hope to meet you and raise a bit of ouzo in honor of you and your family.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  223. Let me know when you hit town for your business with UofC/Argonne. Inshallah, of course.

    nk (dbc370)

  224. Kairos, nk. Agreed.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  225. 152. See Cicero on the Gods. Worship of Nork gods and Manchurian aliens continues in our day.

    DNF (3b2963)


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