Skeptical Lobster

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 8, 2010 in Funny

(original here)

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Reginald Selkirk September 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

I hear Occam’s razor is a good tool for cracking lobster shells.

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Márcio September 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

“So, do you think the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing?”

“Yes.”

“Why only the universe can do that?”

“Blasphemy!”

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lukeprog September 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Reginald,

Heh.

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Jeff H September 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

“Why only the universe can do that?”

Because once the universe comes out of nothing, there’s no longer “nothing” to come out of?

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cl September 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Eh… I’ve got a sense of humor, don’t get me wrong, but I tend to not like these sorts of things. There’s something to be said for a good caricature, but at the same time, we should be cautious with the extent to which we further them. Of course, people who think mockery and insults have a place in debate will probably disagree!

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Hermes September 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

You disagree with yourself?

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Lorkas September 8, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Oh snap

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Márcio September 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm

“Because once the universe comes out of nothing, there’s no longer “nothing” to come out of?”

Doesn’t make any sense Jeff. “Nothing” is not a “thing” that existed prior to the universe and ceased to exist after it, it is the “absence of anything”, right?

So, why the universe is the only thing that has the property “can come into being uncaused out of not anything(nothing)”?

Why a house can’t have that property, or a horse, or a human?

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lukeprog September 8, 2010 at 5:17 pm

link for cl

Not every post on this blog has the purpose of debate.

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Hermes September 8, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Márcio, Dr. Krauss;

Short version (easy to misunderstand);
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfOL_oGgRVk

Slightly longer edited version (empty isn’t empty; nothing weighs something);
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiAKFjdzcHw

Full unedited version;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

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cl September 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Not every post on this blog has the purpose of debate.

I know, I’m just sayin’, a lot of that stuff contributes to the culture wars. As far as that link… fair enough, maybe that’s been the problem. Since you approve of mockery and ridicule, I will now take to mockery and ridicule where I feel it appropriate [in a spirit of good faith and without personal insults, of course].

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vanlacrmcake September 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

“Of course, people who think mockery and insults have a place in debate will probably disagree!”

D’aw!

Cl’s passive aggressiveness is actually really cute, because she’s seems completely unaware of how she appears to other people

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tsundere

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Bill Maher September 8, 2010 at 6:54 pm

cl,

this is an atheist blog. if you don’t like it, then don’t visit the site. don’t be one of those people that visits a site of a contrary opinion then get butthurt when they post stuff you disagree with.

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lukeprog September 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Hermes,

Good link to the short version. Nice excerpt. Not that i understand it. Is ‘quantum fluctuations’ equal to “nothing”? I’ll have to read Hawking’s book, maybe.

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Hermes September 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm

“TWIM values free speech. Ads might get cut, that’s about it. Comments and criticisms from readers, writers, logicians, freethinkers, believers, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, scientists, theologians, philosophers, cranks, haters and trolls are welcomed. Inflammatory vitriol is subject to harsh rebuttal and/or mockery.”

Source: http://thewarfareismental.wordpress.com

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Hermes September 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Luke, as you are probably aware, Lawrence Krauss covers some mind bending things in his longer presentation. Because the details are still abbreviated even in his longer presentation, but people usually don’t want to spend an hour on that or simply can’t, I attempted to provide Márcio some options.

Not being a physicist, I still don’t get what he provides in his full presentation but it does provide enough to change the focus of the conversation; nothing — in physics — is not only not nothing but is actually most of what exists and it has properties.

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Brian_G September 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Luke said
“Good link to the short version. Nice excerpt. Not that i understand it. Is ‘quantum fluctuations’ equal to “nothing”? I’ll have to read Hawking’s book, maybe.”

Hermes said
“Not being a physicist, I still don’t get what he provides in his full presentation but it does provide enough to change the focus of the conversation; nothing — in physics — is not only not nothing but is actually most of what exists and it has properties.”

I’ve watched Krauss’ talk several times. Krauss doesn’t use the term “nothing” the same way William Lane Craig does. Krauss says things like “nothing isn’t nothing anymore, in physics” and “most of the mass of a proton is in the empty space between the quarks.”

I’ve seen some of these online discussions where people point to Krauss to show that the universe can come from nothing after all. We need to be very careful not to confuse our terms. Krauss’ argument does nothing to disprove the premise in William Lane Craig’s Kalam argument “everything that begins to exist has a cause.” He hasn’t proven that the universe came from nothing using the term “nothing” in the same way. If you think about it how could one scientifically prove that something came from nothing? It’s one thing to say “we observed an electron that appeared and nothing that we saw prior to it’s appearance seemed to cause it to appear and when we repeated the experiment we could only predict the appearance of the electron by a probability function” it’s quite another to say “we saw an electron come into existence uncaused out of nothing.”

My understanding of Krauss’ argument is something like the following:
1) If we add all the positive and negative energy of the universe together we get zero.
2) This means that there are no external forces which are needed to add anything to our equation.
3) Since no external energy is needed, God didn’t bring the universe into existence.

However, Christian thiests have long claimed that God created ex nihilo, that is out of nothing. This of course doesn’t mean that the universe popped into being uncaused out of nothing, but that God didn’t use any pre-existing material to create the world. If this is the case, it isn’t terribly surprising that the positive and negative energy of the universe equals zero. Perhaps this is how one creates out of nothing.

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lukeprog September 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Brian_G,

Setting aside my thoughts on the inadequacies of the God hypothesis, I agree with what you say about Krauss meaning something different by “nothing” than Craig does, and so pointing to Krauss’ talk doesn’t really address Craig’s argument. Craig would immediately ask, “Well where did the quantum soup come from?” Krauss’ talk doesn’t whisk this problem away, even if Craig’s deity hypothesis doesn’t whisk away any problems either.

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Hermes September 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Brian_G, in general no problems.

The mechanism of Christian theists for ex nihilo creation is not valid just because it is claimed to be so. The Christians or other theists can’t take all advantages of the sciences while shirking all deficits (to them) at the same time.

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mojo.rhythm September 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm

There’s a subtle but extremely important distinction between:

1. There was literally nothing before the universe.

and

2. There no such thing as “before” the universe.

If you are a naturalist, you do not have to believe that the universe popped into existence out of nothing. That is just ridiculous.

First off, if space-time is a block, then the universe does not come into being. Second; even if time was some flowing thing, that does not mean it popped into existence out of nothing. Quentin Smith made a really convincing Kalam cosmological argument for a self-caused universe in the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, and he thinks of time in the same way that Craig does.

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Brian_G September 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

mojo.rhythm,

I don’t see how B theory of time or Quentin Smith’s argument helps.

B-theory.
It’s been argued that on B-theory of time the Kalam argument doesn’t work. Craig seems to agree with this; however, he seems to hold an unusual (from my upbringing) theological position that God is inside of time. Here where I’m unconvinced. Suppose that time is a static block, that one could look at from the outside seeing all moments of time as if they were in the present. Supposedly that this is a problem for the kalam because every moment simply exists from all eternity. No explanation is needed to explain what happens at t=0 because t=0 simply exists from all of eternity. But this is true for all moments in time. Suppose that Sarah is shot at 10am on Thursday. This moment simply exists in a static state. But we don’t say that it was uncaused or didn’t need a cause. What’s so special about what happens at t=0? Surely it’s not caused by what happens at a prior time, but that doesn’t mean it’s uncaused. It’s plausibly explained by something outside of time.

Quentin Smith’s argument
Smith’s argument, if I’m thinking of the same one you are, is that basically that we can divide time in to arbitrarily earlier and earlier moments without getting to t=0. So we can talk about t=0+1/2 , t=0+1/3, t=0+1/4 . . .t=0+1/n. And so we can speak about an infinite number of moments never quite getting to t=0. Each moment is explained by the one before it, and since there are infinitely many of them, every one is explained. But how does this solve anything? You can tell a similar story about anything. Suppose Bob is holding the gun that killed Sarah. His defence lawyer can use the same argument to show that Bob is innocent. Let t=0 represent the time the bullet left the gun. The bullet hits Sarah at t=1. We can explain this event without Bob every pulling the trigger. The position of the bullet at t=1 can be explained by the velocity and position of the bullet at t=1/2, the bullet at t=1/2 can be explained by the bullet’s position at t=1/3, etc. This can be repeated infinitely and every position of the bullet is explained by the one before it without Bob pulling the trigger.

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Derrida September 8, 2010 at 11:26 pm

“Since you don’t believe that the Pickle created the universe, you must believe that it came uncaused out of nothing!”

“Actually, that’s a false dichotomy.”

“Blasphemy!”

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cl September 9, 2010 at 12:02 am

Bill Maher,

this is an atheist blog. if you don’t like it, then don’t visit the site. don’t be one of those people that visits a site of a contrary opinion then get butthurt when they post stuff you disagree with.

If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here. Sure, there are some things I don’t like, but like I’ve said many times before, Luke’s site is a genuine resource to (a)theism. Don’t be so uptight.

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Keith September 9, 2010 at 2:54 am

Luke said,

“Craig would immediately ask, “Well where did the quantum soup come from?””

—————

Isn’t this like asking “Where did God come from”? Or is that different once again because God is a necessary being outside of time and space, etc.?

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Reginald Selkirk September 9, 2010 at 4:18 am

I will now take to mockery and ridicule where I feel it appropriate [in a spirit of good faith and without personal insults, of course].

Bring it, bro. Just be wary of falling into the twin pits of hypocrisy and irony.

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Bill Snedden September 9, 2010 at 4:50 am

Keith: “Isn’t this like asking “Where did God come from”? Or is that different once again because God is a necessary being outside of time and space, etc.?”

“Yes” to the first and “no” to the second. Whatever the “ultimate cause” of our universe might be, god or otherwise, it has existed eternally and by necessity (i.e., it couldn’t have *not* existed).

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Pedro Amaral Couto September 9, 2010 at 4:54 am

«So, do you think the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing?»

I may think that, but I’m not sure if it’s true. Both caused and uncaused universe are strange concepts to grasp, like the finite and infinite time and universe propositions. I would need further evidences to debate about that issue.

«Yes.»

Oh, you share the same belief.

«Why only the universe can do that?»

I’m not sure if the universe can do that and I didn’t say it’s only the thing that can do it.

«Blasphemy!»

That’s silly. If someone say “2 + 2 = 5″ would you yell: “Blasphemy!”?

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Justfinethanks September 9, 2010 at 5:21 am

Brian_G

he seems to hold an unusual (from my upbringing) theological position that God is inside of time.

Actually, he believes that at the creation of time, God entered into a time-relationship with humans (and all matter). Which sort of makes sense, because how could God communicate with humans if he didn’t?

Suppose that Sarah is shot at 10am on Thursday. This moment simply exists in a static state. But we don’t say that it was uncaused or didn’t need a cause. What’s so special about what happens at t=0?

There’s nothing contradictory about recognizing that other temporal events are necessary for something else to happen and holding to B theory. But it’s like acknowledging that the second inch of the ruler is necessary for the third inch to exist. These inches aren’t something that really exists one “moment” after another in time as the folk think of it. What’s special about t=0 is the same thing that is special as the first inch of the ruler. It exists statically, and there is nothing that needs to be before it, because it would just be silly to talk about “before” or the “cause” of inch one. Because there’s just nothing there.

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Reginald Selkirk September 9, 2010 at 6:11 am

Whatever the “ultimate cause” of our universe might be, god or otherwise, it has existed eternally and by necessity (i.e., it couldn’t have *not* existed).

I cannot agree with that. It is easy to imagine that no god, no ultimate cause, no universe, or anything else might ever have come into existence. You present no evidence or arguments to deny the possibility of that non-occurence. We know it didn’t happen (or not happen, whatever) that way, but that is not the same as saying that it could not have.

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Brian_G September 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

Justfinethanks,

I didn’t get into the details, but Craig has said a number of times that God is timeless without creation and in time from the moment of creation. He’s written a whole book on the topic of God and time that I haven’t read.

With discussing of B-theory and the kalam, it’s important not to forget that the kalam argument isn’t:
P1 Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
P2 Time began to exist.
therefore, time had a cause.

Perhaps the t=0 needs no explanation because it simply exists eternally. But that does nothing to explain the events that happen within time. Within time there are cause and effect relations between events. It’s just as reasonable to expect that the universe has a cause as the events in every other moment of time. The fact that there is not a before t=0, only show that the cause must be outside of time.

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Thomas Lantern September 9, 2010 at 8:59 am

God is not a pickle.

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Reginald Selkirk September 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

True, pickles actually exist.

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Bill Maher September 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

Reginald,

LOL

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Hermes September 9, 2010 at 10:27 am
Bill Snedden September 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

Reginald Selkirk: “It is easy to imagine that no god, no ultimate cause, no universe, or anything else might ever have come into existence.”

I’m not sure I agree with that. It’s about as easy to imagine as a square circle. That is to say, we can speak of it as an abstraction, but we can’t actually conceive of what it might be in a *positive* sense.

Reginald Selkirk: “You present no evidence or arguments to deny the possibility of that non-occurence. We know it didn’t happen (or not happen, whatever) that way, but that is not the same as saying that it could not have.”

As Craig says, ex nihilo, nihil fit. It’s especially important to note what’s been discussed upstream: when physicists talk about “nothing”, they apparently don’t mean the same thing as philosophers. “Nothing”, to me, means the negation of everything, including possibility. If “nothing” (non-existence) were to have ever been the putative state of affairs, it still would be. As it’s not at this point, we know that it never has been.

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Bill Snedden September 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

Oh, I realized I didn’t address the second part of your objection: “…not the same as saying that it could not have”

I would argue that “nothing”, as a putative state of affairs, is a logical impossibility. “Nothing” cannot exist; only “something” can exist. In order to argue “Nothing could have existed” one must reify “nothing” into “something” and that’s self-defeating.

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Thomas Lantern September 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm

The author of the strip seems to suggest that the concept of God, any concept of God, is comparable to an invisible pickle that is in the sky. Really? The concept of an intentional creation (even, for example, Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover) is so ridiculous that we may as well believe in an invisible sky pickle?

It seems intellectually dishonest to suggest that any and all known formulations or concepts of God are as ridiculous as a flying pickle. That seems the equivalent of suggesting that a belief in atheism inherently leads to immoral rapists and murderers.

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Thomas Lantern September 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm

addendum:

Faith in random chance is still faith.

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Derrida September 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

“I would argue that “nothing”, as a putative state of affairs, is a logical impossibility. “Nothing” cannot exist; only “something” can exist. In order to argue “Nothing could have existed” one must reify “nothing” into “something” and that’s self-defeating.”

Hmm. Shouldn’t we be wary of linguistic confusions here? When we say “Nothing exists”, I take it to mean that anything that could exist, doesn’t. Which seems possible to me. However, if we think of nothing as a thing, an empty space simply not filled with matter, then to say that there is “nothingness” is surely incoherent.

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Hermes September 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Thomas, it was clear to me that the lobster analogy was based off of a Christian-style deity, not ‘any deity’. Is there some overlap? Of course, deities are similar.

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Hermes September 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Thomas Lantern: Faith in random chance is still faith.

Who’s arguing for random chance?

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justfinethanks September 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm

It seems intellectually dishonest to suggest that any and all known formulations or concepts of God are as ridiculous as a flying pickle.

How? To say that the universe is best explained by a supernatural flying pickle who interacts in the physical world isn’t reallly any more or less outrageous than saying the universe is best explained by pointing to a supernatural omnipotent person. They both deeply violate what we understand how persons and pickles operate. If either explanation is the truth, I certainly wouldn’t find myself more surprised by one over the other.

Why exactly is one reasonable and the other silly?

That seems the equivalent of suggesting that a belief in atheism inherently leads to immoral rapists and murderers.

Not really. Because “atheism leads to immoral rapists and murderers” is a claim that could be backed up with studies, statistics, and facts if it were true. Do you have any? The only legitimate claim religious people might have in terms of religion and morality (that I’m aware of) is that there is indeed some evidence that the religious are more likely to give to charity. Of course, the religious should be careful in thinking this correlation indicates causation, as there is also a correlation between being religious and being racist.

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Thomas Lantern September 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I’ll resubmit my “unfair comparison to atheism” in a more lobster-friendly format:

Reasonable Lobster: So you believe in nothing, huh?

Atheist Lobster: No, I just don’t believe in anything outside of nature.

Reasonable Lobster: And that’s based on deciding the scientific method is the best way to know if something is true… which you decided without the scientific method, right?

Atheist: Well, we’ve never proven anything outside of nature exists using science.

Reasonable: Which is because science presupposes naturalism, right?

Atheist: Because that’s all that science have ever shown us.

Reasonable: Which is circular reasoning, right?

Atheist: Blasphemy!

Coming up with a response that is both diplomatic and honest is difficult.

I think in all honestly I probably would have found this a lot funnier back when I considered myself an atheist/agnostic. But now I guess the best I can muster at this point is that anybody who actually tries to read and understand the Bible would never find this comparison remotely funny, reasonable, or accurate. But most atheists probably don’t really read the Bible all that much.

For what it’s worth, I have no problem with any alleged correlation between religious people and any negative acts, as I would agree that most religious people are probably hypocritical jerks.

I rewrote this about six times, I really did try to put my best foot forward, I hope it comes through in what I’ve written. Cheers, have a good night everyone.

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Hermes September 10, 2010 at 12:57 am

Christian Lobster: So you believe in nothing, huh?

Atheist Lobster: Er, no….

Christian Lobster: You have to believe in nothing!

Atheist Lobster: Er, no, no I don’t. How would anyone do that, anyway.

Christian Lobster: You don’t believe in any gods!

Atheist Lobster: That’s kinda what an atheist is, but what does that have to do with believing in nothing?

Christian Lobster: [ grumble grumble ]

Atheist Lobster: [ checks cell phone ]

Christian Lobster: Ah! Aren’t you a naturalist? Don’t you follow science?

Atheist Lobster: Follow science? It’s both useful and informative, yes, but I don’t understand what you mean by follow. It can help us learn about how reality works, but I don’t use it for everything. Mostly, I use the fruits of the sciences like medicines (biology and genetics) and my GPS (physics; quantum mechanics). As for naturalism, nature exists so I don’t know what you’re getting at there either.

Christian Lobster: But but! That’s not right!

Atheist Lobster: Don’t you agree that science is generally reliable as a tool and acknowledge that nature exists?

Christian Lobster: Arrrr! You’re denying the God of the Bible!

Atheist Lobster: Do you have evidence for your deity?

Christian Lobster: The Bible … crap! Personal revelation … CRAP! [ starts to mumble, counts on fingers ]

Atheist Lobster: I feel your frustration. If you find any evidence I’d be glad to look it over. In the meantime, I’ll be over here taking some migraine medicine and getting directions on my GPS-enabled cell phone to anywhere else.

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Hermes September 10, 2010 at 1:20 am

Thomas Lantern: But now I guess the best I can muster at this point is that anybody who actually tries to read and understand the Bible would never find this comparison remotely funny, reasonable, or accurate. But most atheists probably don’t really read the Bible all that much.

I’ve read it twice — cover to cover — plus countless commentaries on it. Many former Christians I know left Christianity after intense and honest study of the Christian Bible.

Penn Jillette wrote something along those lines, but it’s a common comment among atheists; Reading the Bible (Or the Koran, Or the Torah) Will Make You an Atheist

In all fairness, though, I was a religious Christian — but a non-theist — for about 10 years before I dropped Christianity. I’m with the lobster in the cartoon; the invisible supernatural pickle doesn’t make much sense and neither do other invisible supernatural things or beings.

Yet, you made a comment and I addressed it with both general comments, a personal reply on my own position, and I even provided a link where you can read someone else’s thoughts.

So, in the spirit of tit-for-tat, I have a few questions for you;

Have you read Homer? Do you understand the other Greek classics? Have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh? Did it sound familiar? The ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead’? Any texts about Oden? How about other religious texts and sources such as the Vedas, the Quran/Koran, the Tao te Ching, the Book of Mormon, … or Dianetics?

Bottom line: Why should atheists in general be experts in your religious texts? Are you an expert in the others?

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 5:42 am

Thanks for the link, Hermes.

I haven’t been a Christian that long and so I haven’t yet read the Bible completely. I’ve read the New Testament cover to cover and I’m honestly probably 40% or so through the Old Testament (I’ve read from Genesis to most of Deutoronomy, and many of the prophets near the end of the OT, as well as some of Isaiah and Jeremiah).

I read Penn Jilette’s article/interview. He’s generally a nice enough guy with some thoughtful things to say. I can definitely see why reading the Bible might make someone become an atheist – churches do paint a picture of the Bible that can be perhaps a bit disingenuous (by leaving out the difficult passages such as ones you might find in the Pentateuch). Oddly enough I find the more I read the Bible the more I believe.

You rewrote my lobster conversation quite well – the point I was trying to make was that my version was perhaps a bit uncharitable and unfair towards atheists (just as I thought the OP was unfair towards theists). I’ll concede the point however that I do think Christians stumble greatly when attempting to proselytize others (and have even wondered if they should even bother 99% of the time… that is, wondered if they’re actually doing what they’re supposed to).

I wouldn’t ask atheists necessarily to be an expert in the Bible, but I feel the OP is not at all representative of the God of the Bible. But I admit that I don’t carry the same presuppositions going into this that an atheist might, and I guess that’s what I’m trying to work on here (bridging the communication gap).

I have read about 50% of the Quran, and I’ve started reading the Book of Mormon and some scripture relating to Hinduism (I’m sorry I can’t remember the name atm – it’s in a compilation of various religious scriptures sitting on my bookshelf).

I agree that you can’t read everything about everything. You have to draw the line somewhere. Perhaps I have no business suggesting what other people should read. I intend to read the Bible from cover to cover in Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT), as I believe that’s what God wants me to do – read the scripture aside from what anyone else says about it, and make up my own damn mind about what it says and what it means.

Much of my evidence is not really scientific at all, it is based on my personal experiences. I’ve read here that Luke seems to think that our own feelings or intuition is not a good place to reason from and I can’t really see why. At the end of the day that’s all I have.

I don’t know, I threw in my two cents and I’m clearly swimming upstream. I have more questions than answers. You’re clearly considerate enough to respond and I appreciate it, Hermes. I’ll concede that I can’t really make my case very well right now. Objections retracted.

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Reginald Selkirk September 10, 2010 at 6:09 am

Book Review: The Naked Bible

It’s always good to see fellow atheist bloggers breaking into the publishing world, and it’s in that vein that I’m pleased to review The Naked Bible by Andrew Bernardin, the blogger behind 360 Degree Skeptic. The lengthy subtitle of this book is: An Irreverent Exposure of Bible Verses, Versions, and Meanings that Preachers Dishonestly Ignore, and it delivers on that promise.

Another nice touch is that, for many verses, this book quotes several different translations. Often, this shows how some contemporary publishers have tried to paper over the uglier side of the Bible by deliberately softening the translation or making it vague, as compared to other translators who had no such scruples. Here’s an example from the book, Genesis 24:60, as translated in the New Living Version:

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 7:34 am

Yes, Reginald, I most certainly do credit other personal experiences. I think, for example, that it’s totally reasonable that Joseph Smith had some sort of revelatory experience when he openly and honestly asked God why there was so much separation in God’s church (i.e. the different sects). The Taoist “Flow of the Universe” sounds a lot like the Jedi’s Force to me, neither of which seem wholly out of place in Biblical Scripture. I’m pretty sure you can find references to the Holy Spirit in the Tanakh, and I know you can find it in the Quran and the Bible (I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in the Book of Mormon either). There is a lot of overlap in religious literature which seems reasonable to me given that I believe God exists. I don’t necessarily believe any particular piece of text that rests in my hands is infallible, however, Bible or otherwise – I believe man has the power to corrupt the message of God (it says so explicitly in the Bible as I’m sure most of you already know).

As per your link, I think it is indeed in everyone’s best interests to go back and read the original scriptures and do what they can to truly understand their meaning. I also think the best way to do this is to earnestly ask God to inspire one with the Holy Spirit to do so.

Yes, one should do their best to study whatever seems most logical. For me right now that would be the OT in Hebrew and the NT in Greek.

Cheers!

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 7:37 am

Addendum:

I agree that human perception is not perfect, I do not believe God grants perfection to flesh. I also believe that God does not grant the same inspiration to all people, part of the reason I enjoy speaking about such matters with other people (although at times it can frustrating, for both sides I’m sure).

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 7:39 am

my post above yours, Reginald, is a response to you, in case you or anyone else missed it. Cheers!

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Hermes September 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

Thomas, thanks for the good comments.

If you really want to get into the text, my basic recommendation is that you read the Epic of Gilgamesh and the ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead’ while reading or shortly after reading Genesis. Note the similarities and the archaeological dates for each source.

This is just the base of the mountain.

I do have a question for you. Since you have not read any edition of the Bible cover to cover, what arguments (if any) did you personally find persuasive when you chose Christianity?

* * *

Related;

Electronic versions of the Bible

The Epic of Gilgamesh (general search)

Text;

* http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh

The Papyrus of Ani / The Book of Coming Forth by Days / … / “The Egyptian Book of the Dead” (general search)

Text;

* http://www.bardo.org/ani

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the links Hermes, I’ve saved them so that I might look at them if I get the chance. I don’t mean to make excuses, but I do tend to be rather busy most of the time and can’t be certain if or when I’ll look at them. Regardless I appreciate the effort.

In brief, thinking about what I would later found out was known as the Kalam Cosmological argument led me to believe that God existed. Shortly thereafter brief sporadic readings of the New Testament seemed to suggest that Jesus was at least an enlightened teacher if nothing else. After a few years of gradually thinking more on the subject, I found that the last of my objections to Christianity seemed assuaged by a copy of “Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, that the pastor who married me and my wife gave me.

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al friedlander September 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

“Much of my evidence is not really scientific at all, it is based on my personal experiences. I’ve read here that Luke seems to think that our own feelings or intuition is not a good place to reason from and I can’t really see why. At the end of the day that’s all I have.”

That’s incredibly honest of you to write openly. Kudos

“I found that the last of my objections to Christianity seemed assuaged by a copy of “Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, that the pastor who married me and my wife gave me. ”

Honestly, it’s funny cause we’re like two version of the same person, taking different turns at the fork of the road. One of my largest turns towards -atheism- was after reading the same exact book, haha.

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Reginald Selkirk September 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I’ve read here that Luke seems to think that our own feelings or intuition is not a good place to reason from and I can’t really see why.

Perhaps partly because our perceptions and cognitive mechanisms are known to be subject to illusions. Here are some examples.

Perhaps partly because you discount the same sort of evidence from other sources. For example do you credit “personal experiences” cited as evidence by Hindus and Buddhists?

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Thomas Lantern September 10, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Honestly, it’s funny cause we’re like two version of the same person, taking different turns at the fork of the road. One of my largest turns towards -atheism- was after reading the same exact book, haha.

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! What a world we live in… :) Cheers, Al

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cl September 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Sorry, I’d missed this quip earlier:

vanlacrmcake,

Cl’s passive aggressiveness is actually really cute, because she’s seems completely unaware of how she appears to other people

Luke, where do you find all these armchair psychologists?

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Hermes September 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Cl:
Snipe snipe, it’s what I am.
Snipe snipe, I’m fully bland.
I pass my aggression all along.
I do it as easily as a song.

It doesn’t take a poet or a psychologist to see what you’re up to. It’s quite painful to watch. Maybe, one day, you’ll snap out of it.

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