Monday, October 5, 2009

Simon and doubting Thomas.

So I get blog posts. The best place to respond is clearly on the blog.

Simon writes:

There are many different thoughts in Science and religion on the start of the world. So what is right? Are any of them right? The fossil record leaves more questions than it answers. The biblical guide to creation leaves more questions than it answers. So that gets me nowhere.

We're off to a staggeringly confused start. Which one is right, science. Why is science the correct answer, because it changes it's opinion all the time based on the evidence to have the answer that gets closest to the truth and when it finds errors it corrects them. The fossil record sometimes does raise interesting new questions and sometimes there are more questions than answers. Likewise religion's claims in genesis certainly does give us more questions than answers. The problem here is the quality and quantity of the answers given and the questions raised. For example the latest bipedal ape fossil is that of Ardipithecus does the critter raise more questions than it answers, perhaps. The staggering difference between this and the Biblical account is that it actually answers *some* questions. And the questions that it raises in turn are smaller and more specific. We have a much clearer picture as to what our side of the family looked like some 4.4 million years ago, however is Ardi a prime example of what such bipedal apes looked like or is there more variation among bipedal apes. How much did the chimpanzee line change if bipedalism was already pretty common 4.4 million years ago? The questions we ask because of the fossil finds are specific and able to be investigated.

Now, comparing this to the Bible we note that Genesis solves no problems whatsoever. And it does raise questions like what the fuck? And seriously dude, clay?

Fossils in areas that we don't have much information on do give rise to questions, but these questions are a result of our mapping the perimeter of our ignorance. We may not now know what we want to know but we have a better idea of what we don't know. We have better questions to ask. Science and religion differ greatly on this point, because regardless if we become better versed on what we don't know the absolute volume of our ignorance goes down. We actually learn things about the world. And answer one big question and replacing it with three smaller questions is an a fantastic deal in my book.

So you then have a dilemma. Do you accept flawed model 1 or flawed model 2?
You can argue either case as much as you like and never find a happy common ground other than "I believe this because I think it seems reasonable" So I wanted to have a better reason to believe either.

Wrong. I can find fantastic ground that certainly isn't common ground. I'm fine basing many of my beliefs within the firm foundation of science. I don't want common ground with religion. Religion is a swamp of nonsense and flawed epistemological reasoning. I'd rather use a good foundation and get rid of things that do not work. It isn't that I think it's reasonable. It's that there is literally a world of evidence supporting it.

I know you probably think Jesus is just a big joke, but he is historically proven.

As I said before, I'm about the evidence. Go ahead and show me this historical proof. I'm actually quite well versed on the evidence for historicity of Jesus and this is part of the reason why I don't believe in a historical Jesus. Further historical evidence is hardly proof of anything magical. Unlike Jesus or Buddha (though the Buddhists don't really care) there is fantastic evidence that Muhammad existed. I'm talking real evidence of actual places and actual people who saw and recorded his existence, contemporary sources, and archeological evidence. There's really no question about it. Does that therefore prove Islam?

There is as much evidence for Jesus as Julius Caesar (more in fact, but not the point here).

There is significantly less evidence for Jesus than for Julius Caesar. In fact, if there were as much evidence or even a fraction as much then there would be no place for any debate. Julius Caesar likewise has actual people and places contemporary which record his existence, extra-Roman sources that speak of the same events as the Roman sources and clear archeological evidence of the events. Julius Caesar is said to have taken Rome from a Republic to a Empire, and we find exactly that in the historical records as well as many independent confirmations of various events within Roman politics.

SO if Jesus existed, he was either a) the biggest liar ever, b) totally deceived, or c) telling the truth. You probably wonder why I am even writing this.

I'm certainly not wondering why you are writing this, I'm quite well versed on apologetics and notice the most blatant attempt at invoking C.S. Lewis' Lunatic, Liar, and Lord argument ever. What's more amusing is that you don't even bother to follow through with the rest of the argument. You're suppose to say he wasn't a liar because he said some general platitudes in the Sermon of the Mount that people agree with, and he wasn't a lunatic because something-something, and therefore he was really Lord. The argument itself is rather silly and is an obvious false trilemma and excludes more the reasonable answer of Legend. I'm not sure if Robin Hood existed and he certainly seems like a stand up character so am I to accept that if he claimed to be God incarnate he really would be? He's a character in a book and a corpus of various legends that builds up remarkably quickly. King Arthur sounds like a stand up guy, but am I really suppose to accept that he pulled the sword from the stone and was given Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake? I certainly shouldn't call such stand up people liars or lunitic.

The answer is that I was very much where you are now 10 years ago. I spent a lot of time trying to "prove" evolution and atheism, and all I got was more questions and issues.

Another classic claim and it is on the surface false. If you actually were where I am, you certainly wouldn't be making these claims today. I'm far better versed on theology and apologetics than you and your obvious ignorance of the serious problems precludes the chance that you were a healthy minded empirically driven atheist with a functional epistemology. This claim is often employed by people who weren't as churchy as they now are. It's a different category all together. I'm fine with evolution and atheism and I get more and more answers. Science is one of the only things that gets bigger and better and more beautiful the more you dig.

When I looked at God's principles and word, I had to ask a bigger question. I had to ask what the penalty for being wrong under either option was.

God doesn't have principles. God doesn't exist. And punishment is a smaller and petty question, not a larger one. It's a weak notion that doesn't really matter. You should always do what is right in every situation and damn the consequences.

This was my starting point. A lot of things happened after this that convinced me beyond doubt that God and Jesus are real, which I could go through but will refrain (unless you want to hear them at some point).

I'm quite interested. Evidence would be a nice change of pace. Considering how much Allah is going to have you tortured in the hereafter is a terrible reason to accept religion. If you don't give me 1000 dollars, you are going to be tortured by ants in the after life who spend all day long eating your eyes. Sounds pretty gross, so you should pay up. This is the sum of your "evidence": threats. I'd prefer actual evidence rather than bold-faced claims and threats.

Don't discount God because of his followers.

I certainly don't. In fact, I find the most reasonable religions to be the ancient pantheons like the Greek, Roman, and Norse. I think they are significantly more reasonable than the Christian God and they don't have any (many) followers at all. I don't discount God because of the followers. I discount God because God doesn't exist.

So many people stuff it up and make silly points because they want to look godly. You obviously have researched this, but in the end it comes down to weather you are willing to bet your life on it..

Pascals wager is a particularly pathetic argument. It's not even an argument for God, it's a pragmatic argument that you should accept God whether it's true or not.

I'm privy to the atheists wager as a reply because frankly it makes a lot a sense. There are three possibilities. Either God does not exist, God does exist and is an evil jackass who punishes people on the basis of beliefs, or God exists and is fair and just. The end conclusion is that you should do good. If God doesn't exist, then doing good is it's own reward. It makes life good and safe and prosperous. If God exists and is a jackass who thinks Anne Frank should be supernaturally abused and murdered forever for the same reasons the Nazis thought Anne Frank should be abused and murdered (Being Jewish and not accepting Jesus) then screw that God. Seriously any God who would damn Gandhi to burn in hell forever but feel that Torquemada warrants eternal bliss is a piece of shit. And finally if there's a fair and just God, then the obvious staggering lack of evidence makes it pretty easy not believe and certainly wouldn't punish individuals for having entirely reasonable beliefs. In which case doing good has an infinite reward. In all the cases the best answer is simply to do good.

You however argue that your God is the second variety the kind of God who does to Anne Frank what the Nazis could only do briefly forever for the unconscionable sin of failing to accept bad and lacking evidence for an absurd claim by suspending her basic use of reason and upbringing.

Thanks for your time.

And thank you for yours, I hope you respond.

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