Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Short Answer: No and No.

I came across a quaint little site called, and have decided to tear into its articles about God's existence and the divinity of Jesus, as a prelude to my upcoming attempts to shred up some CARM articles, in lieu of D'Souza inanity (which spawns too rarely to pique my interest anymore). So, first for the question of whether God exists (spoilers in the post title).

Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
Sigh. I don't know how I deceived myself into expecting anything different from this kind of drivel...

The Earth's size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth's surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.
The term "sustain plant, animal and human life" should be rather telling, since she has cleverly shifted from making the goal of "design" the production of life to the production of life identical to that which we experience as a product of Earth's particular environs. Plant, animal, and human life as we know them on Earth are apparently ends in of themselves, and only significant if they occur together. Even if we were to find that life was possible on other planets, it wouldn't matter from the author's perspective, because the goal is humans, and any planet that fails to produce human life is a failure, and proof that our planet was designed, solely on merit that humans exist there.

Blah, blah, blah, same thing for Earth's distance from the sun, rotational speed, and, for some reason, tidal pull. And a hell of a lot of it for water.
I'm sorry, I just can't bear to deal with more Goldilocks Zones (heh heh, pun). Also: WTF, on the claim that oceans would stagnate without tidal pull. Waves and underwater currents caused by heating variation kind of help out with that too....
A brain that deals with more than a million pieces of information every second, while evaluating its importance and allowing you to act on the most pertinent information... did it come about just by chance? Was it merely biological causes, perfectly forming the right tissue, blood flow, neurons, structure? The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.
Yes, yes, our brains is fantabulous. But, that doesn't mean that it had to be constructed by a phantom architect. They did most likely come about through entirely naturalistic, biological causes. It is a strawman to call it "chance" in the sense that the brain just popped out of thin air, whole and functional, however. It came about by chance, through gradual change and direction, the honing of brains of other animals, which are, in essence, just elaborate clumps of neurons. In that sense, it did not have to form the "perfect" structure, it just needed to continually form a slightly better one than the previous a few hundred, thousand, or million times over billions of years. As for the traits that you attribute to brain function: as impressive as cognition is, it really isn't a valid reason to start invoking the supernatural.
The alternative to God existing is that all that exists around us came about by natural cause and random chance. If someone is rolling dice, the odds of rolling a pair of sixes is one thing. But the odds of spots appearing on blank dice is something else.
Wow. What? So you are claiming that God has to exist simply because you think that there is no other possible mechanism through which existence, the planet, life, etc. could come into being? Very nice. The analogy that you make is a testament to that assumption.

Also, natural causes are an inadequate explanation for the amount of precise information contained in human DNA. A person who discounts God is left with the conclusion that all of this came about without cause, without design, and is merely good fortune. It is intellectually wanting to observe intricate design and attribute it to luck.

Patently ridiculous. This is akin to me grabbing a bag full of three hundred M & M's of various colors, throwing them on the floor, and claiming that the arrangment they wind up in is perfect, a testament to a greater guiding will, and daring you to call such a superior arrangment "luck". It is not intricate. It is not design. It isn't even luck. It is just how things wound up. In the case of DNA, after gradual bits of directed additions, removals, and alteratons. But still, far from a outright goal, and far from perfect.
Throughout history, billions of people in the world have attested to their firm, core convictions about God's existence -- arrived at from their subjective, personal relationship with God. Millions today could give detailed account of their experience with God. They would point to answered prayer and specific, amazing ways God has met their needs, and guided them through important personal decisions
An argument ad populum? Consider my mind blown. Just because people consider their coincidences divine will, their good fortune divine blessings, and their conviction divine guidance is not proof that it actually is. It is no more proof of the supernatural than any other gut feeling or chance happening is for any other superstition.
What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, andenergy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that?
Abject horror at the fact that so many people allow such things to dictate their life and justify them to dictate the lives of others (?).
I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him.
Way to self brainwash. God weighs no more heavily on the mind than Odin, Vishnu, or Nyarlathotep. What does weight heavily on the mind is the psychobabble that is so readily uttered by a good quarter of the world's population about how "God" is somehow the best non-answer to all our problems, ever. And, some people buy it. Hook, line, and sinker.
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that
Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or
prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God.

Wow. So the reason why Christianity is true is because your founder claimed to be the thing that you worship? How, in the name of all that is good and sane, does that serve to increase all? I guess this brings us to issue number dos: Is Jesus God? First, an updated "lord, liar, and lunatic" shell game, with "legend" as a welcome new option:
One possibility is that Jesus lied when He said He was God -- that He knew He was not God, but deliberately deceived His hearers to lend authority to His teaching. Few, if any, seriously hold this position. Even those who deny His deity affirm that He was a great moral teacher. They fail to realize those two statements are a contradiction. Jesus could hardly be a great moral teacher if, on the most crucial point of His teaching -- His identity -- He was a deliberate liar.

And this is part one of our series of dismissing accusations by simplifying human nature to levels of consistency that just aren't reflective of reality. The quality of moral teachings has nothing to do with your own morality (that is to say, hypocrites can have valid points). And lying is kind of a weak form of immorality anyway. So, not as much of a contradiction as you claim.
A kinder, though no less shocking possibility, is that He was sincere but self-deceived. We have a name for a person today who thinks he is God. That name is lunatic, and it certainly would apply to Christ if He were deceived on this all-important issue. But as we look at the life of Christ, we see no evidence of the abnormality and imbalance we find in a deranged person. Rather, we find the greatest composure under pressure.

What an interesting gambit: comparing Jesus to a straw madman in order to get Jesus off of the hook when it comes to being called out for being mistaken on his own perception of divine importance. Not all "lunatics" are dysfunctional, but, considering the way that Jesus lived, his tendency to go from serene to wrathful, and his willingness to suffer and die, it is very possible that he actually was "abnormal" and "inbalanced", just not in the stereotypical babbling incoherently while foaming at the mouth manner.
...there was no reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written later than A.D. 70.For a mere legend about Christ, in the form of the Gospel, to have gained the circulation and to have had the impact it had, without one shred of basis in fact, is incredible.
For this to have happened would be as fantastic as for someone in our own time to write a biography of the late John F. Kennedy and in it say he claimed to be God, to forgive people's sins, and to have risen from the dead. Such a story is so wild it would never get off the ground because there are still too many people around who knew Kennedy.
Self-refute much? If the earliest Gospels were written at least 40 years after Jesus's alleged crucifixion, that leaves ample time for mythbuilding to occur, and it also leaves ample time for those who knew Jesus to die. In addition, the "without one shred of basis in fact" is a strawman, given that you began the paragraph saying that the only thing that was "legendary" about Jesus was the idea that he was a God. Everything else was just embellishment, which people tend to eat up. And your counter-example proves it. One need only look at the plethora of conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy asssassination, arising quickly after, and persisting long past relevance, to see this fast-pace, long-term mythbuilding process at work.
could claim to be God, and you could claim to be God, but the question all of us must answer is, "What credentials do we bring to substantiate our claim?"
In my case it wouldn't take you five minutes to disprove my claim. It probably
wouldn't take too much more to dispose of yours. But when it comes to Jesus of
Nazareth, it's not so simple. He had the credentials to back up His claim.

How would you go about disproving this? Especially if you get to define what God is and is not beforehand, and get special privileges to redefine old definitions if you show enough magic tricks?
"I am Talaki, goddess of the invisible moon. I have no tangible powers, but I will totally mess you up in the afterlife if you cross me. Prove me wrong."
Blah, blah, blah, we know Jesus is god because the Bible tells us/implies that he is sinless (or at least acts it and is good at covering it up, like the many good politicians that have fallen into his religion). And also because of his miracles, the fact that he knows that he was going to die, and the Ressurrection.

So, basically, we know that Jesus is God because the Bible says that he is, and also strongly implies that this is so when it doesn't outright say it. Bravo. Convince that the Bible is worth jackshit and you might have won me. Otherwise, you might as well be reading from the Book of Mormon to prove to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet by quoting himself saying that he was.
They gave the soldiers money and told them to explain that the disciples had come at night and stolen the body while they were asleep. That story was so false that Matthew didn't even bother to refute it! What judge would listen to you if you said that while you were asleep you knew it was your neighbor who came into your house and stole your television set?

You could know this by: 1. Being a light sleeper. 2. Confirmation from a third party. 3. Evidence left behind (dropped objects, tracks, etc.) 4. Admissions from the guilty party. 5. Allusions to planning the act beforehand that only become clear in retrospect.

Stealing the body of Christ is something totally foreign to the character of the disciples and all that we know of them. It would mean that they were perpetrators of a deliberate lie which was responsible for the deception and ultimate death of thousands of people.

Once again, your complaints are overly reliant on people remaining consistent in all aspects of their behavior. Besides, considering that everything you know about the character of the disciples come from the disciples, you can't really say for certain what they would or would not do, since they most likely idealized their own natures.
Each of the disciples faced the test of torture and martyrdom for his statements and beliefs. Men and women will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.

Not convinced, because you are oversimplifying. Only a small portion of what they are dying for might be a known lie. Hell, many of them might not even be aware of it. They are willing to die for their devotion to a leader, even if it means lying about what actually happened to him, and pretending that his stowed away corpse is alive and kicking out yonder. They are dying not because they believe in a lie, but out of conviction to why they made the potential lie in the first place: loyalty to a beloved leader.

A second hypothesis is that the authorities, Jewish or Roman, moved the body! But why?Having put guards at the tomb, what would be their reason for moving the body? Also, what about the silence of the authorities in the face of the apostles' bold preaching about the Resurrection in Jerusalem?

Dammit, when will you stop making these broadbrushed dismissals? It is true that it doesn't make sense for the collective authorities to fake a Resurrection if they immediately thereafter try to repress mention of the very idea, but individual authority figures, or guards themselves, acting independently of their power base and only according to their own unknown will, could have very well had a hand in it.

In this view, Christ did not actually die. He was mistakenly reported to be dead, but had swooned from exhaustion, pain, and loss of blood. When He was laid in the coolness of the tomb, He revived. He came out of the tomb and appeared to His disciples, who mistakenly thought He had risen from the dead.

Countdown to most hilarious apologetic yet in 5...4...3...
Is it possible to believe that He would have survived three days in a damp tomb without food or water or attention of any kind? Would He have had the strength to extricate Himself from the graveclothes, push the heavy stone away from the mouth of the grave, overcome the Roman guards, and walk miles on feet that had
been pierced with spikes? Such a belief is more fantastic than the simple fact
of the Resurrection itself.

Obviously, it's simply not possible for someone to have been falsely diagnosed as dead, and survive a horrendous ordeal. And without eating or drinking for three days (in a damp tomb), don't get me started on how that spells doom. I mean, obviously, the only possible explanation is that he was dead, came back to life, regenerated his wounds, and was released from the tomb by angels. Much more probable.

It is impossible that One who had just come forth from the grave half dead, who crept about weak and ill, who stood in the need of medical treatment, of bandaging, strengthening, and tender care, and who at last succumbed to suffering, could ever have given the disciples the impression that He was a conqueror over death and the grave; that He was the Prince of Life.

ORLY? One would think that being alive would be sufficient enough to inspire much exultation, regardless of health. And, since they already thought of him as their personal holy philosopher-magician, it isn't surprising that they would see even his collapsing on their doorstep as profound and heroic. Seriously...stop trying to pretend that the human mind is so predictable.

Finally, if this theory is correct, Christ Himself was involved in flagrant lies. His disciples believed and preached that He was dead but came alive again. Jesus did nothing to dispel this belief, but rather encouraged it.

Since he most likely spent his three days in the tomb recovering, and possibly some of the time unconscious, he probably thought that he was dead. Kind of hard distinction for someone to make, no? Hell, people whose hearts have stopped are still said to have "died" even today. No accounting for nuance, eh?

And that's it. That is all they have. The anthropic principle, a bad understanding of what "chance" is, the "everyone else is doing it" argument, a few intentional misrepresentations of human nature, thought, and social complexity, and bad defenses of the Resurrection (which, I believe, was recently found to not even be in the original transcripts of the New Testament...oops). What was that about not needing blind faith? It may not be "blind faith" per se, but normal blindness coupled with faith is pretty much the same effect.


Stacy said...

Thank you for the giggles. :-)

This one was my favorite -

" Obviously, it's simply not possible for someone to have been falsely diagnosed as dead, and survive a horrendous ordeal. And without eating or drinking for three days (in a damp tomb)... the only possible explanation is that he was dead, came back to life, regenerated his wounds, and was released from the tomb by angels... Much more probable."

Asylum Seeker said...

It's only funny because it is true. ;)

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

A few weeks ago I was thrust into some Internet hell circle and happened upon a website like answers in genesis or some such thing. In it, there was this Q+A section where they answered some guy's question about why the people in the Bible lived so long. What they said was this: "the earth was surrounded by a sphere of ice that blocked out harmful gamma rays keeping men healthy. The flood occurred when God melted that ice and once the shield was gone or genetic material was damaged and we died sooner..."

I swear on TFSM's noodley appendage that I did not make that up.

I am sure of course that they did ;)

Asylum Seeker said...

I believe you, sadly. Because I have seen that same idiotic apologetic dozens of times (and my eyes still bleed today from the first exposure). Damn Kent Hovind. The idea that such a sheet would be sustainable without defying the laws of physics, and actually make people live longer when it is effectively a solid ocean blocking out light...jeez...they really don't think these things through, do they?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

What do you expect from people who ignore the last 1700 years of scientific development. They should however be prohibited from using any science sounding terms discovered since the time of Constantine.

Asylum Seeker said...

"They should however be prohibited from using any science sounding terms discovered since the time of Constantine."

If ever there was a law I could get behind, this would be it.