The Robert LaRocca files

http://normalbobsmith.com/hatemail453.html
Robert LaRocca is the friend of a friend who emailed me months and months ago and we’re been on and off conversing about where morality comes from and what not.There’s been so much bouncing between chats and emails that some of this has been condensed so it can be more readable and enjoyable. Your comments and input are welcome.

58 thoughts on “The Robert LaRocca files

  1. Martano666

    Hey Boby! I just wanted to drop in and say hello, as well as add a comment on this particular conversation you’ve been having with Robert LaRoocca. Clearly, LaRocca is an educated individual and capable of debating with some of the highly educated atheists. I really appreciate the fact that you (Bob), continue to take the time to carry out long, PAINFUL arguments with people like this. It is becoming more and more obvious to me everyday, that no matter how intelligent, and educated certain individuals are, when questioned directly and cornered on their religious beliefs, they really have no option but to ‘fold’, and resort to the ol’ tactic of “If the bible says so, then I believe so.”
    I realize that this is what you do for a living Bob, but that probably doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the constant string of emails you receive from the ‘slack-jawed’ and the educated believers.
    At one point in your conversation with LaRocca, he tried to make it sound like you have wasted your time for the past 10 years with all of your devotion to this website. I want to make it as clear as possible Bob. You must continue. There are thousands of people like ME, in Canada, and USA, that are desperately trying to get the word out and sometimes feel like it’s an endless battle. When I first found your site a couple years ago, I felt an overwhelming tidal wave of relief flow through my mind. Not just because I find your website very entertaining, and enjoyable to watch you consistantly WIN your email arguments as well as your comics, but it is the fact that you seem (at times), just as frustrasted with the absolute ignorance in North America and the rest of the world in 2010!!! I empathize with your frustration and this website has a way of alleviating it ALL within a few minutes of reading. I truly believe that you are correct with the last message you posted regarding your conversation with LaRocca. I’m talking about the whole thing about “Society will eventually banish believers in to the woods along with all the other fanatics and KKK etc.”
    This is what gives me a light at the end of the tunnel. This particular mindset, that society is getting smarter, and more critical. I know it is happening very slowly, but it is in fact happening and therefore, religions will be gone someday. -Phew-. I know this was a long comment, but I hope you read it!

    Talk to you later Bob!

    Marty Gordon -Ontario, Canada.

  2. Bob

    @ Marty,

    You are right, my authority and basic foundation is God’s self revelation in the Bible. In distinction, if you would notice, NormalBob wrote, “I believe our own assessments of right & wrong comes from the individual.” So, just like your paraphrase of my worldview, here is NormalBob’s: “I say it is so, so I believe it is so.” You see, in our conversation NormalBob and I have uncovered each other’s starting points for discussion. NormalBob’s starting point is his own feelings and sentiments; what at some points we called “the gut.” My starting point is a dogmatic claim that God exists and has revealed Himself in Scripture. Neither of us have “folded,” however. We have both unveiled our principal dogmas.

    What now? I think a good next step is for NormalBob to give a reason why he thinks it is important to critique a religion while having no foundation save his own distastes. Why all the gusto in denouncing Christianity if it is all just opinion? If its all just personal sentiment, then his website is as important as a website that defames orange sherbet. Simply put: in the next sentence from the one I already quoted, NormalBob says his own assessment is “arbitrary.” Doesn’t that make NormalBobSmith.com arbitrary too?

    Don’t worry, Martin. Neither you, NormalBob, nor I think it is arbitrary. NormalBob has vaporized and softened his hard “evidence” and “logic” critique of Christianity in order to evade my challenge. (Look at previous page in the last correspondence with Alex when he talks about things “based” on…etc) With a not philosophically thinking Alex NormalBob wields Logic and Evidence like a saber, with me it is curiously sheathed.

    I’m not trying to subtly disrespect the guy. Our conversation has been very amiciable.

    Bob LaRocca

  3. Hellbound Alleee

    This guy didn’t understand a word of what The Atheist Experience folks said. He didn’t understand, especially, the idea that morality does not exist outside of a human mind–and I don’t know if anyone explained that. Morality is an action, a process of a mind. It is what one does, it is not am ultimate, eternal judgment. It is not an answer. It is not a list of no-no’s. It is a process wherein one judges action. It is basically nothing like what this guy thinks it is. Theists always think there has to be an end to the story to be able to evaluate all actions into one cohesive Self, which doesn’t exist. Morality has to be in the context of action; not of say, writing a review of a movie which has a beginning, middle, and end. If the person is dead, we can judge his actions in life, but death isn’t really a finish-line, and life isn’t a race. There is no “true self” or “inner person,” which would be defined as a soul, to receive a score, a tally of minuses and pluses on how he contributed to himself and society. This is where theists get entangled. Life for us is a series of actions and interactions, some of which are beneficial, some detrimental, towards the individual and society. They trip up over the whole soul thing which is just fantasy. Even we lefties get tripped up, because it’s tempting to think that inside of our minds exists the ideal “us” somewhere, and if only we could show it we would win the Life Prize. Unfortunately, it’s not there, there is no cotton candy cloud of Idealism where true selves or actualized selves or souls are floating, screaming out “Me! Me! I’m reality! Down there is only a play, up here is real!”

    I really think people live as if this exists–it’s Philosophy 101 Idealism. It’s just like making up a God as a placeholder for the (bum-ba-baaaa) Standard of Morality. Morality just doesn’t exist as an ideal. It can only exist inside of minds/bodies through action and assessment. Why in the world do we need it to? My thoughts are that we think like children, and we’re trained to obedience. How in the world do we know what’s good to do unless Daddy and Mommy say so? If daddy and mommy don’t exist, then the child can do anything he wants, right?

    Wrong. Some of the rules are stupid, yes, because Daddy and Mommy are brainwashed just like everyone else. However, lessons are learned. It’s just not good to put your hand on a hot burner on the stove, whether or not Daddy says it is. He could possibly have another opinion about it, but blisters still hurt and you can’t use your hand for a long time. Can mommy and daddy eat children like, as he says disturbingly, “hamsters” without God making the rule? Well, we can forget that God recommends the eating of children in the bible as a punishment, because that would confuse things. But what if mommy and daddy do this? Will it help mommy and daddy in life? Probably not. WHy in the world do societies frown on this? Isn’t it silly and arbitrary that societies impose rules against eating one’s young? It couldn’t possibly have REALITY behind it, because it’s simply humans making the rule. It couldn’t be because we don’t want to live in a society where people we value highly and love (or people we call “ourselves”) could be killed easily and with no attempt to stop it, could it? Rape is wrong. How could I possibly say that without a higher authority to place this Ideal in Ideal Soul-Puff Land? Because I don’t want my freedom taken away? Because I don’t want my loved-ones to be harmed and their freedom taken away? This desire MUST be arbitrary because after all, other places don’t have such rules, right? Well. There are places where societies allow such rapes. Those in authority can ignore them, but their societies are harmed, because members of those societies are harmed greatly and cannot flourish–those raped and those who love those who are raped. All the society can do is make rules that keep rape away from those in power, because rape as an act is still bad and harmful when it is done to them. This is the sort of thing that many societies do–like our own. Make standards and rules that do not apply equally to all, clearly making the rule arbitrary and not a moral.

    And this is why morality judgments are individual actions that apply to society–and societies, even (especially) democratic ones cannot make universal moral rules be true. Democracy cannot make something be true even if many people believe in it. If a rule does not apply to all people equally, regardless of the class one lives in, regardless of sex, age, color of uniform, etc, it is meaningless. Morality must be based on reality for it to be morality. And we know that God cannot do this. For if morality is based on God, it comes from outside and is subjective. (See how I turned it around?) Like what your friend says, people can just change their minds, but God wont. Shit you say. If morality is SUBJECTIVE TO GOD, it is subjective to God’s whim. Anything God thinks at any given moment is right, making “right” meaningless. God has a real bastard record of changing His unchangeable mind about morality. He cannot be trusted as the arbiter.

    If you think God is the Standard of Morality, then you have admitted that Might Makes Right. And we’re just Not That Stupid.

  4. Bob

    Preach it, Alleee, preach it! The first paragraph is bare assertion, so I’ll only deal with the charge against me. Hopefully you can descend from your pulpit and read this.

    The point was, and is, that I DID understand when the man and women on the video said morality doesn’t exist outside the mind. However, I also understood their other points that conflicted with, even contradicted, that claim. For example, when they described survival as a “basis.” If there is such a basis, then morality exists regardless of the human mind, but in regard to that basis. Moreover, perhaps YOU didn’t understand them as YOU summarized their view that “morality doesn’t exist outside the HUMAN mind.” A large part of their explanation was that ANIMALS are accountable to morality (siberian fox). Remember that? “breed morality into animals”? Such an animal morality, according to the video, is definitely outside the human mind. Did I not comprehend “a word of what The Atheist Experience folks said” or is that charge on you? How about you explain how they can say morality only exists in the human mind and how also it could also be breed into an animal. Opps.

    Your charge of Idealism – I’ll keep this short. I’m not an idealist: 1) almost all idealist (perhaps save the Boston personalists) rejected that ultimacy was personal. I’m a theist, and my God is ultimate personality. 2) Idealism failed because they supplied no avenue whereby to access the ideal. Christians have the doctrine of revelation which is accommodated to human cultures. Such a doctrine was, and still is, rejected by idealists. I’m confused as to how you can charge in the same breath that I’m an idealist and I think moral absolutes are personal (subjective) to God.

    Your system hangs on your reference to the “REALITY behind it.” (Unfortunately you alluded to it during a diatribe, which confuses in what sense you’re speaking of REALITY). Then you say, “Morality must be based on reality for it to be morality.” But wait, just earlier you said it only exists in the human mind. So the mind is the authority and now ALSO extra-mental reality? You’re following the path both NormalBob and the Atheist experience followed – vacillating between subjectivity and objectivity. Opps.

    That REALITY has been the substance of NormalBob and I’s debate. What is that REALITY, Alleee? The philosophical discipline that investigates REALITY is called Metaphysics. In my metaphysical system, God is not just another subjective person – he is ULTIMATE ABSOLUTE personality. Therefore, metaphysically, His law is ULTIMATE and ABSOLUTE. Now, you might reject this, but to do so in a way that is worth anything is to expose how this conflicts internally with my metaphysical system. This you have not done, you have only preached against it.

    You have turned nothing around – my qualms never were against the subjective/personal nature of laws (logical, moral, etc) it is against the human individual as a standard for such laws. In my system laws are not arbitrary because God is not – he is a necessary being. Even an atheist would agree that humans are not necessary to the world. Atheists have no doctrine of revelation whereby they can, internal to their system, guarantee knowledge (God’s ultimate knowldge). If the individual is the standard, then the standard can only exist in the human mind. You have no way to impress the mind’s morality on reality normatively, nor do you have any way to impress your individual law on me. God has such power inherently as Creator, you, or any finite individual, do not.

    So, challenge my metaphysic internally, please.

    Bob

  5. Steven Bently

    I did supply a foundation for why xtain belief is so sad. Do you really believe there exist a god that after some 4000 years of sacrificing animals to atone for sins, he then decided to send his own sperm down to earth and impregnate a virgin girl in the middle east to have himself murdered to atone for everyone’s sins???

    Are you that gullible, are you that ignorant, are you that desperate to believe in something so insane and unbelievable, things that were made up by very ignorant and superstitious people some 2000 years ago?

    I would suggest quit trying to impress people by intellectualizing your ignorant nonsense beliefs in which you have been taught through indoctrination as all americans have been indoctrinated to believe in 2000 year old insane nonsense.

    We’re not at all impressed by your indoctrinated ignorance.

  6. gmcevoy

    hmm

    For a very long time, aboot 3.5 billion years, life on the beautiful blue marble consisted of microbes that piled up sorta like coral – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromatolite.

    What of morality then? Or on Titan?

    Some things seem to behave in what we’d call a moral manner. Others, gerbils f’rinstance, don’t.

    Our minds are part of a reality are they not? Being a part of a reality entails a mind creating things based on that reality, otherwise it is fiction. Morality is a name we give to behaviour that is caring, compassionate and respectful of others – it makes you feel good and helps ensure the survival of the species. The universe has no intrinsic morality for the various blobs of life which have variously popped up here from time to time. It does it’s thing and we get to sit here and wonder at it while we try to figure it out or make stuff up…

  7. Bob

    gmcevoy,

    Thanks for your thoughts and I respect your consistency. I think that’s where the natural/materialist worldview terminates – ignorance as to the ultimate or the universal. I have a question: Does the universe function as God in your worldview? That is, is the universe ultimate, determinative, eternal, etc? Tell me your thoughts.

    Bob

  8. Bob

    Steve Bently,

    Answer #1: Yes I belief in God and the incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity. I believe in the virgin birth of Christ. I believe in Christ’s atonement for sin. Now, do I REALLY believe these things? Well, that’s a question to be asked at church by a pastor or Christian friend!

    Answer #2 Am I gullible? Well, just on the cuff, gullibility in this regard presupposes that believing in Christian doctrine is inherently silly. Paul the Apostle calls it “foolishness,” in fact. I can even understand that upon your (presumed) working paradigm that Christian belief is “insane” and “unbelievable,” as it was to the Greek ears that first heard about it. The one word, however, that I must take issue with is your appellation of Christianity as “ignorant.” To deem anything ignorant assumes that you have certain knowledge to base such a disparagement. The point of our conversations above is to show how an atheist can have such certain knowledge to serve as a basis for his/her criticism of Christianity. I think there is no basis – NormalBob has pegged himself on the idea that individual sentiments are the basis for whether something is true or untrue. I hope to show him that this is not a viable option, even in the history of Western Philosophy. But if you, Steve, wish to join the conversation then you should propose some certain knowledge and demonstrate how such knowledge is objective to the point that it serves as a basis to denounce God as non-existent. That would help out our dialogue.

    Answer #3 I’m not trying to impress you. I’m trying to help you, NormalBob, myself, and anyone else reading get down to the bottom of these issues. I think the bottom is irrational rebellion against a God who each person KNOWS yet suppresses. I think the bottom is the way God exists in each and every worldview, whether you like it or not. Each time one of these guys resorts to an objectivity argument, I see God – my God suppressed and camouflaged, but still assumed. Important to note: Everyone is indoctrinated. In a matter of minutes, after asking why or how a few times, it will become evident the things you believe just because you believe them. Those are called doctrines, foundations, presuppositions. Everyone has them, and no one can prove them. To prove them is to supply yet another doctrine. So, Steve, let’s see what your doctrines are and also whether those doctrines account for the life you take for granted.

    Bob

  9. Steven Bently

    Well for one thing, your own book of man written garbage claims that no one has ever seen god, John 1:18, yet in your own words, “I see God – my God suppressed and camouflaged, but still assumed. ” You’re the only one here assuming a god exists!

    The onus is upon the believer,(you!) to prove that your god exists, yet you cannot, so why waste yours and our time trying to intellectualize your silly indoctrinated beliefs that you have no basis for proof thereof?

    Atheists do not believe in man made gods, as Bob clearly stated, we only believe in the here and now.

    “Answer #1: Yes I belief in God and the incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity. I believe in the virgin birth of Christ. I believe in Christ’s atonement for sin. Now, do I REALLY believe these things? Well, that’s a question to be asked at church by a pastor or Christian friend!

    Well you have a right to your silly beliefs, but we atheists have as much right to reject what we find ignorant and offensive!

    Muslims are just as fanatical in their silly beliefs as christians are theirs, yet you willingly reject Islam, surely a billion intelligent Muslims could not be wrong, as opposed to millions of christians could not possibly be wrong.

    Yet neither of you can provide any proof, except your man written book is all the proof that you need to believe.

    None of the gospels in the NT were written until around 30 – 100 A.D and the names of the authors are unknown, the names Paul, John, Mark, Luke, Matthew they are all English names attributed to the gospels, they are not even names common to the area in which the NT was supposedly written.

    But that is only a small issue compared to the ignorant message in which it contains. Are you so gullible to believe virgin birth is possible, then if so, if you have a daughter better be getting ready to be a grandfather at any moment in time.

    Most christians have never really read the bible, because of this ignorant statement, “That’s a question to be asked at church by a pastor or Christian friend!”

    That’s what christians rely on, another fanatical christian for their answers that they want to hear!

    You believe that jesus saves souls…lol, well according to your bible, your god knew long before he created a man and a woman that his Satan buddy was lurking around on earth just waiting to temp his subjects way before he allowed it to happen but yet you christians blame man and woman for their faults…how friggin ridiculous.

    All religious beliefs are insane, but you christians condone and pretend to worship a god that would send people to hell just because of their ignorant indoctrinated beliefs or for the rejection of silly indoctrinated beliefs.

    Until you can come up with some type of proof for your god, you’re just wasting everyone’s time, including your own precious time.

  10. Martano666

    LOL. This is getting interesting. Robert LaRocca,

    Ask yourself that question.

    Do you believe that ALL religions are true?

    I would assume that you would say ‘no’.

    So, then would it be fair to say that you believe human beings, over 1000′s of years, are DESTINED to ‘make up’ stories that sound completely fictional, and write them in books, and claim they are TRUE, and have millions of people believe them right? You know that humans have a history of doing exactly that….right?

    How did you decide which religion to choose? How did it come to your mind? Were you just laying around one day…completely unaware of anything to do with ANY religion and a voice spoke in your mind told you to go to a church and start to read the bible?
    Is that what happened? Or are you actually from a country that is FULL of Christianity and possibly have Christian parents and just kinda ‘dropped’ in to this world in a Christian surrounding and were much more likely to be become a Christian? Just ask yourself how you became a Christian. I mean really look at it. I’m not talking about you ‘found jesus’ when you were 15 years old or something like that. I mean, askyourself, when was the first time you went to church or heard the name Jesus Christ? With you family as a child?
    Now, ask yourself how muslims become muslims. Really, do you see a pattern throughout the world? Do you see religious people happen to ‘believe’ the religions of the families they were raised in? Or, do you think that they way that you became a Christian is unique, as it is for other Christians, and that the way people become other religions like muslim is not something you think about?

  11. Bob

    Before answering these questions, I want to point out that neither Hellbound Alleee, Martano666, The Praying Atheist, nor Steve Bently have answered my challenge about the foundations for a critique against Christianity. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve asked for you guys to supply a veritable starting point – a principle dogma – from which you would rationally reject to Christian doctrine. Your criticisms have, thus far, amounted to, in paraphrase, “Christianity just seems silly.” This is not a philosophical, rational attack.

    The Praying Atheist – When animals die their bodies decompose. They have no soul, like humans, and do to persist after death incorporeally. Animals have always died, even before the entrance of sin by human rebellion. Their death is not a result of sin, as our death is. Why do you want to know? I do not attach much significance to the destiny of animals (save my two goldendoodles!).

    Martano666 – I believe, as you guessed, that Christianity is the only true and authentic way to worship God because Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Peter said to the Sanhedrin, “there is no other name given to men by whom we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). I believe that that unless one worships the God who has been revealed in the person of Christ, as authoritatively comprehended in Holy Scripture, that person breaks the 2nd commandment and commits idolatry. So, there you have it. This is a dogmatic claim on the basis of God’s Word.

    I utterly agree with your perceptions – humans do have a religious bent, don’t they? Cicero once wrote, “there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that thee is a God” (as quoted by John Calvin in his Institutes). So you are correct, we have a preternatural drive to “make up” religions. John Calvin called this the sensus divinitatis (sense of the divine).

    I think you are very much part of this tendency, even as an atheist. Here is a great quote by Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck, “In the end there are no atheists; there is only argument about the nature of God” (Reformed Dogmatics, 53). You, Marty, if I may guess, believe the physical/material universe to be the ultimate reality of which we are all part. The Space/Time universe is eternal, never ending, ultimate, and determinative. Physical laws govern our lives – the universe has a providence of its own, an order, a logic inherent to it. The physical universe is your God, natural scientists are your priests, the Enlightenment your Reformation. You pretend that your position is neutral – but as I said, you have not proven its objectivity or its neutrality. You assume your worldview’s objectivity, its rectitude, its authority – like a Sunday school kid confesses a dogma.

    So, as I’ve been arguing for months now with NormalBob, we’re all dogmaticians with starting points we cannot objectively prove. We all have an ultimate reality to which, or Whom, we revere and defend. But, in my view, this situation is not relative. I’m trying to demonstrate that your worldview (natural/materialism) does not account for the life/reality you take for granted. Until we start talking about that, we’re just spinning our wheels.

    Getting to your next series of questions, they assume, again, that your worldview is neutral and objective and that mine is taught and subjective. My claim, my challenge, is that both our worldviews are taught and subjective, but mine is derived not from man but from God – that the teaching in Scripture provides access to God’s mind, ultimate truth accommodated to human patters of thought. In your worldview, inherent to it, all you have is human thought, as limited as you must admit it is.

    So we both move, live and breath by our tautologies. That is my claim. If you would like to refute this claim, pronounce an objective, neutral, self-evident proposition that is the foundation for all science and rationality. Then demonstrate how that proven proposition is in conflict with the claims of Christian Theism. Until you have done this, your railings against Christianity are useless and weak, just like Normal Bob Smith’s.

    Bob

  12. The Praying Atheist

    Bob, I wanted to know what you thought of this because animals – even the absolute smallest ones, with the possible exceptions of amebas and the like – happen to share with humans the same set of organs, they have a brain, a neurological system, etc. etc., just like we do. We are very, very, very much alike – except for the fact that they don’t have the means to proclaim themselves superior. I hope you can understand that, as a skeptic, I find these resemblances extremely perplexing. And you come in here throwing the word ‘soul’ at me, an incorporeal, undescribable non-entity, for which the only ‘proof’ lies in an ancient book, and hope that this will satisfy? Sorry, but no. But I shouldn’t be angry at you: I asked a question, and you answered it.

    My unending supply of questions – for which I deem christianity’s answers very unsatisfactory – is but one of the ways I have to rationally reject it, as well as all theistic views. I could throw questions at you forever, and you would probably not like it very much to have to go through all of them. Not to mention that it would be useless as well, because a lot of those questions have already been adressed throughout history, by not-so-dumb religious scholars, like Augustine of Hippo, for example, and I’m guessing of lot of the answers you provide have been lifted from various historical sources. In any case they’re bound to be very similar, since ultimately they all emane from the same, the one and only source of christianity.

    Are you not even perplexed a little by the fact that to get the Bible you read today, several ancient texts – all of them written many decades after the events they supposedly relate – had to be compiled, and that several apocryphal books had to be rejected in various councils throughout the centuries – very perturbed centuries of deep ignorance? In a way, you have a lot in common with muslims, basing your faith on the acts and decisions of mere men – not all proclaimed saints by your church. Why are you not a muslim? How would you rationally reject the islamic faith? And all other religions for that matter? By using the Bible, of course, since now discussing the existence of a deity is not an issue here. Well, I’m sorry, but as an historian, the very Bible is the weakest possible argument. You reading verses does not give them any weight at all, it does not make them magically ring ‘true’ to my ears. At the very least they first have to be compared to those of other religious texts, both ancient and present – yes, because we can write new ones too! That’s one of the ways History as a science works. We compare. And we find some very interesting patterns and resemblances – and not surprisingly, lots of absences too, and errors, about things we now know to be obvious. We always think of ‘sciences’, like physics and astronomy and the likes, when we we think of ‘atheists’; well, we should think of historians too, and I should say, of historians especially. Not a whole lot of believers in that class, believe me ;-).

    Am I getting too long-winded for you? Because I really feel like asking some of the questions I was alluding to earlier, just to show I was not lying about having many, you know. — I was speaking of organs: why do we have organs? Like intestines for example – you know what’s on one end of those and what it’s for, do you? Why do we have them? Why do we have to carry a brain, if we have souls? If our brain gets damaged, what of the soul? Heck, why do we even have a body, if a soul can exist without a body? Why do we have to go through this – rather short – life, if it’s to be followed by an eternal one? If God is eternal, how do you think he can explain his own existence to himself? What of the memories of an eternal thinking being? What of God’s memories ‘pre-creation’ if there was no such thing as time? How to order one’s memories in such a context? Oh, and how come ‘he’ gets to be a ‘he’, if ‘he’s’ without a body? Was God actually thinking before the Creation? For how long did he wait before actually creating something? How can you help me (and scientists) conceptualize the notion of being ‘outside of space and time’? And now the obvious: what of evil? Why did God have to create the very possibility of evil? Is it that as an all-encompassing, pre-creation being, God was partly evil? If God was the purest entity imaginable, how could he even conceive the very notions of sin and evil? Was he powerless when faced with the creation or non-creation of evil? Could he not conceive of a universe without the possibility of committing evil acts? Could he not, in his absolute power, find a way to prevent damnation while allowing free will? Admitting ‘his’ existence, why should I worship a being who has in him the will to doom for all eternity his own creations, and did not have either the will or the way to prevent it? Does all this questioning somehow make me sound angry? Because I’m not. I have many other questions, and I’ll be glad to ask them.

  13. The Praying Atheist

    I can’t believe I forgot that one:

    If the Bible is the word of God, why is it not written in the first person, and why isn’t it written in one clear and definite chunk?

  14. The Praying Atheist

    I’m thoroughly sorry for the triple post, but that last flash finally allowed me to formulate as clearly and succintly the “rational attack” that Bob was asking for. So here it is:

    The Claim: The Bible is the word of God.

    To verify this claim, I must find the answer to this question: Are those truly the words of a god?

    In order to do this, a number of sub-questions have to be asked and answered, the first and most obvious one being: What is a god?

    The answer to this question cannot reasonably be taken from the book I’m analysing. But according to believers, the answer is nowhere else to be found. In consequence, I will have to rule any answer to this question as having been pulled out of thin air.

  15. Apostate Lois

    “No, it is not a copout. any “absolute wrongness” presupposes I have a standard… that standard is scripture. If I were to deam the Bible as “absolutly wrong” then I must have an absolute besides the Bible.”

    Look, Robert, either you believe slavery to be wrong, or you do not. It really is that simple. The Bible says it is right and proper to buy slaves from the nations around you, and to beat them if they displease you. Do you, or do you not, agree with this? A simple “Yes, I do” or “No, I do not,” is all that is necessary here.

    Also, Jesus never said anything about abolishing slavery. Paul constantly refers to Christians as slaves of Christ and slaves of God. He was real big on preserving the hierarchy. God is above Jesus, Jesus is above men, men are above women, all Earthly authority is given by God, and so on. All this master-servant stuff was real popular back then. Each person had his or her place in the world, and that’s just the way it was. That included slaves, who were exhorted to obey their masters as if they were obeying Christ. No mention was made of what the poor slave was to do who had an evil master. I guess his beatings were part of “God’s plan” for him.

    “At least within my “gut” system there is an authority structure – upon which I can denouce certain propositions as false. ”

    What about the proposition that it’s okay to beat your slave as long as he can resume his duties after a few days? This is the idea proposed by God, himself, and relayed to the Israelites through Moses. Do you agree with it? Please check one: Yes [] No []

    ” My point is that you have made a universal statement: “slavery goes against human gut reaction.” 20th-21st century Western progressive culture reacts against the idea of slavery in such a way, but that is not universal.”

    The point is that GOD, himself, says it is okay to buy, sell, own, and brutally punish slaves. We know this is so because again and again, you can read in the Bible, “And the Lord God said unto Moses….” followed by a bunch of laws, commands, or instructions. Now, if the Lord God said unto Moses that you can beat slaves nearly to death and it is no more wrong than if you beat your cow or donkey (because cows, donkeys, and slaves serve the same purpose–to do work for their master), and you believe every word of the Bible to be true, then you believe slavery is okay.

    “What is right is an act of obedience to God’s law. It was lawful and therefore right to stone children, beat slaves for punishment, and wage war against nations. Coherent within my worldview, such commands come from an ultimate source – God. ”

    Ah, so if God told you to, you would buy a slave and beat him whenever you wanted to, and you would kill your own child for stealing a cookie out of the jar. Robert, I am very, VERY glad not to know you. I hope you never move to my neighborhood. You seem like the kind of guy who would rape little altar boys if you imagined your sky-daddy told you to do it. Do the police know where you live? You know, just in case?

  16. normalbob Post author

    I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see Robert become everyone else’s burden, finally. I’ve been having to deal with this for the last couple months! I am so willing to share the “wealth” of his confusing thought process with all of you.
    I’ve been very entertained and educated reading your responses and dissection of his arguments.
    Oh, and I can’t wait to get Hawking’s new book.

  17. Bob

    NormalBob,

    One of your proselytes just said I have a tendency towards rape.

    But please notice, none of them have supplied an ultimate standard, a universal law, an terminal authority upon which their critiques rest. In this way they are truly your followers. In this way, all they have is “I don’t like Christianity.” All the rhetoric amounts to just a matter of taste or distaste.

    Why is it meaningless? Because if they have no foundation, then they cannot demand that I have a foundation, at least a set one. I can always retort “a=a exists in your world, but not mine.” Why not?

    I wouldn’t say that because I believe the law of identity is universal, created by God (even though God transcends the law in his Triune personality). In my worldview, Universals exist because God has created them throughout reality. In their worldview, no universals exist, there is no authority, so there is no argument. There is only like and dislike, positive and negative sentiment. They cannot pronounce Christianity as immoral because the havn’t even hinted as to what morality is and how it is discovered. Really, I find it sad because it is irrational and confused. (I can back up the fact that it is irrational because to have a rational is to have a basis, which they have none).

    Interestingly, you called my thought process “confusing.” This is evidence of some progress. You didn’t call me wrong, stupid, irrational, crazy, etc… You called me confusing. Am I taking it too far to see this as a small concession that you realize that you cannot call me wrong if you have no standard for truth? Deeming me confusing has subjective undertones in regard to our reciprocative communication, not in regard to the veracity of my arguments.

    Unfortunately, the comments by those above do not dissect my arguments. They especially do not answer them. If they dissected them they would have 1) answered them, 2) named the arguments false, 3) judged my requests for some standard or foundation as illegitimate. They have failed on every account.

    I’ll try to get at some of the questions in the next few days. (I think the question about historiography and Scripture is especially apt, thanks praying atheist).

    Until then, Why is slavery wrong? Tell me why slavery is immoral. Is it universal wrong, sometimes wrong, just feels wrong? Your answer will help guide our discussion. Thanks, and goodnight!

    Bob

  18. normalbob Post author

    Everyone! Robert is married to the idea that an ideal set of morals must be written somewhere where they are unchanging & perfect and there is no alternative. An ultimate standard to which all living beings are measured against, or there is no foundation. Nothing else worth its weight. All just whimsical human decisions based on nothing but feelings, selfishness and really only weak human emotion.

    Saying morals are based on how you’d want to be treated, or empathy is worthless for some reason. Saying it’s based on how one can best live in peace with others so happiness can be pursued, that’s too flimsy. Too slippery. Too lacking of this ultimate moral list, no matter how flawed it may be.

    If no one here is able to name the location of this ultimate direction book of morals somewhere other than the Bible then he has you trumped. Only an ultimate judge with an ultimate, unchanging rule book can account for morals. Morals cannot not be established without it. Oh, that is unless it hasn’t been written yet. And writing it is exactly our responsibility in this world. We’re writing that which isn’t yet written because we’re the only ones who can. And the Bible is an example of morality written during humankind’s infancy. And perhaps the laws and morals we write about now is us in our teens. And as we write it we grow closer and closer to adulthood, and that ever evolving direction book of morality.

    It’s not written, Robert. That’s our job. Yours and mine. And clinging to that which was written in our infancy does nothing to progress our morality for the betterment of us all.

    Slavery is wrong because you wouldn’t want it done to you or people you care about. Hey, let’s write that down in our book, and X it out of the one we wrote 2000 years ago! Doesn’t that feel nice? That’s what maturing as a species feels like. It’s nice. Makes me feel warm inside. Helps me sleep better at night. Makes me feel safer and fairer, like there’s hope. Moves me closer to the world I want to live in. See how that works?

  19. The Praying Atheist

    Sorry Robert, but I beg to differ: I ‘have’ made the ‘rational attack’ you requested, and you have insulted me by first ignoring it, and by denigrating me indirectly while addressing a third party.

    Allow me to reiterate:

    Christianity’s Claim: The Bible is the word of God;

    To which I ask: Are the words written in the Bible really the words of God / of a god?

    This cannot be answered positively and objectively without finding the answer to this next question: What is a god?

    Since the veracity of the Bible and the dogma surrounding it is what we are trying to establish here, you cannot resort to using it to answer this question. This puts you in very hot water, because according to the dogmas of christianity, this is the only way to answer this question. All the ‘other gods’ are false, right? At least we can both agree on that. Can’t use them as proof either.

    So there you have it. All the philosophy, all the rhetoric and all the metaphysic in the world are not going to help you here: assertions are all you can make, and science is not content with those. Until a phenomenon or a posited truth can be demonstrated at will and by many different people holding different views, it will be deemed a coincidence, or an outright fallacy. And you cannot test ‘nothing’. Atheists have nothing to prove: they see nor feel nothing, and as such there is nothing to test. Case closed.

    Until you can irrefutably, scientifically prove that the Bible is indeed the word of God, not only do I not have to believe it, I have all the reasons in the world to believe that it is most decidedly ‘not’ the words of a god, because this claim cannot even withstand the slightest bit of scientific scrutiny and comparison with the bulk of other ‘human’ texts. Prove God in a Bible-less and scientifically demonstrable way, and bring along other examples of how a god speaks, and then we can talk. Note that even if you actually pulled it off, this ‘still’ wouldn’t immediately mean that the Bible in indeed the word of God. See how this works? No sophistical shortcuts here.

    So yeah, I say this is a potent attack. It’s the scientific way of finding truth – and of debunking myths.

    Here’s one last example, to better illustrate the kind of supposedly ‘undisputable’ assertions made time and time again by christianity:

    - See that? Those are the footprints of a Yeti.

    - What’s a Yeti?

    - A Yeti is what leaves these footprints.

    Well, wasn’t that quick? So, do you believe in Yetis now? Don’t you see the footprints?

  20. Martano666

    Ok. BOB! Listen. YOu asked what is the foundation for my critique against morals of CHRISTIANITY!?? I will answer you. EVERYONE’S foundation for their own critique against EVERYTHING (including christian morals and scripture) is based on their own self. Do you really not understand this? We are ALL different people. We all have different perspectives. There is almost no possible way that any 2 people out in the world will agree (morally) on every single issue. Our own morals are our own OPINIONS on life. If there was a guideline for all morals, we would have identical morals, or we would not be ‘moral’. Because there is no guideline, we have some morals in common, and some not. Our morals build over time when we experience things and learn what pain, and joy feel like to us. I realize that if I treat others well, they are more likely (but not guaranteed) to treat me well. I realize that this is neccessary to properly fit in with this society. If I was raised by wolves, (as some people have been), I would not be able to fit in to a human society. I would be able to fit in with the wolves. My behavior would be acceptable to them, but not to a human society. The same would happen if I was raised in a society that taught me to KILL christians. If I was raised by Muslim extremists, it would be nearly impossible for me to properly function in a Christian based society. This happens quite automatically. This is why these types of things are considered acceptable by some countries, yet completely IMMORAL from another countries perspective.
    You see? I’ll use capitals:
    THERE IS NO UNIVERSAL MORAL LAW, THE ONLY MORAL LAW THAT EXISTS, IS A PERSONAL ONE. IT IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE DEPENDING ON EVERYTHING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. PERIOD. That’s it. This is why so many Christians are ok with parts of the bible that OTHER Christians aren’t ok with. YOu guys are ALL demonstrating your personal moral law. You have taken it upon yourself to ‘proof read’ (or not read at all) certain parts of your bible and if you don’t particularly like a certain part of the bible (slavery, child stoning, killing, raping,) then you don’t bother to acknowledge that part of the bible, OR, instead you try to make excuses for the horrible deeds mentioned in the holiest book. (You prefer not to admit when the bible says things that go against your personal moral law) But there are fortunately some Christians out there that DO admit that they don’t morally agree with certain things mentioned in the bible, and therefore, they refuse to commit any of these horrendous acts.

    Point being: Even you Christians know that certain things in the BIBLE, instructed by god, conflicts with something in your own mind. Why is it conflicting with your mind, if you don’t have your own personal moral law (outside your enslavement to the bible)????

  21. Bob

    Real quick fellows,

    NormalBob – Very well, but you are assuming an enlightenment doctrine of progress. Who says what progress is? I guess your answer is: “Me.” If that’s what you’ve come to for an answer, then it is really just up to your tastes or distastes. You have nothing but sophistry and rhetoric to denounce the Christian faith. No foundation, no logic, no system then your personal taste. We’ve already come to this point. It is your answer, and I am grateful that you have given it. My point is that such an answer relativizes your claims against Christianity because I come from my own vantage point and interpret this whole world like a Christian. Who is being deceived? That is the question.

    Praying Atheist – I didnt’ ignore you. I just don’t have all the time in the world. Sorry if you are insulted. The point is: I know all I have is assertions. I’ve been saying for months (to Bob, mostly) that that is all anyone ever has. Everyone’s foundation is a bare assertion – a dogmatic claim, a circular argument. The question I have is which dogmatic claim (foundation) makes sense of life experience (logic, science, morality). I think the Christian dogmatic starting point can be argued as true because without such claims human experience breaks down (when people are philosophically consistent). That is, out of all the starting points that have come down the pike, I think Christianity is the most philosophically stable as a worldview.

    Here is an example: you asked me to “scientifically prove” that the Bible is the word of God. Well, how is something proven to be true? Can you prove that method to be true based upon the very standards of the method? No, you cannot (if you can, you should write a paper and become chair of some philosophy department). You have presupposed upon faith that such a method is actually a good one. It is your starting point, your assertion, your dogma. You may say, “well, I like the outcome.” But that still isn’t really a proof, according to your definition of proof. Just because I like the outcome of an experiment doesn’t mean the outcome is factual. Here is a summary question: what authority do you have to demand that I prove something in a Cartesian/Baconian way? There is your assumption, clear as day.

    Martan – Your position is more or less the same as NormalBob’s. I addressed his above. If you think they are different, please let me know.

    There are parts of the Bible that make me uncomfortable. Spiritually, speaking as a Christian, those are the parts that challenge me to be obedient to God. I also think I have my own personal morality. The difference is that I also answer to the authority of Scripture. A simple example, if I think its ok to be unkind to people, and the Bible commands me to be kind, I, by the grace of God, submit to God’s Word. You, if I take you right, answer to no higher authority than yourself.

    I do not believe some of those laws you guys confess as immoral are applicable to the Church for theological (biblical) reasons. Were they wrong then in the time of the Israelite theocracy? No. Are they wrong now? Yes, Christ abolished the Theocratic and Ceremonial law (not the moral, however). I can go through all the New Testament exegesis that shows how the national(theocratic) and ceremonial (sacrificial)Laws no longer apply and are not to be practiced, but I’d ask for you to take my word for it (I am a full time theology student, if that gives me any cred!).

    Those are my short answers. I’m grateful for this discussion, so I’ll try to keep up with it if you guys are interested. Here is a question/point I’ll end on:

    NormalBob – is the reason you have so vehemently attacked Christianity on this website (or at least severely mocked it) because of your views on Human progress? You have already said you have no standard but your own sentiments, is what you deem as human progress also a personal opinion? If all it every was was just personal opinion, why go so far to offend so many people? A lot of those hate mails are just people who happened upon your website and found it offensive. If it is just your opinion, why not just say it in an inoffensive way? Why say it at all? If you can’t say that Christianity is inherently, universally, ultimately wrong, why offended people with only your best guesses? This is my second question. You have answered the first (about foundations), please answer the second.

    Robert(bob)

  22. Bob

    Oh yeah, one thing.

    Praying Atheist – a few posts ago you asked almost 30 something questions. Are there two or three that you are interested in me tackling for discussion sake?

    Bob

  23. The Praying Atheist

    Hi Robert. Allright, now I feel like I have to thank you for actually taking the time to answer everyone. This is a pretty huge task. – Yes, I am definitely interested in pursuing this argument. I work at home, so unless I’m either not there or sleeping, chances are that I will be able to read your posts within hours after you’ve posted them. As you can tell, I was very eager to read what you’d have to say this time. ;-) (my aim is not to exasperate you, I swear; so yeah, you can forget aboyt my myriad of questions!)

    And I must say, you have pretty much left me speechless here, and probably not in the way you’d hope. Are you seriously questioning the validity of the method from which has come all of the progress humanity has ever made – using mere rhetorics? Just look at the world around you, at the computer you’re using to make your arguments known to us: do you really think that this computer (as well as all other computers ever made on this planet) is the product of mere assumptions, and not of careful observations and testing? Would you really go into a scientific lab carrying your Bible, and ask the scientists there to revise their procedures and abandon their standards, while using your book to question their authority? — Yes, because ‘my’ authority is irrelevant here: what you are really denigrating here is the scientific community as a whole, and of all the people on this planet that have adopted its standards.

    And I thought I was quite clear on the following points:

    Q: How is something proven to be true?
    A: When a phenomenon or a posited truth can be demonstrated at will and by many different people holding different views – that last part is very important, because obviously, the people that have set forth an hypothesis are bound to have some bias toward it.

    Q: Can you prove that method to be true based upon the very standards of the method?
    A: Yes, I can. 1. The outcome of the experiment is predicted ‘beforehand’ (what is called the “hypothesis”); 2. The outcome is as predicted, and 3. The outcome is always the same – provided the criterions themselves remain the same.

    Q: What authority do you have to demand that I prove something in a Cartesian/Baconian way?
    A: This authority comes from the predicted outcome (of an experiment) behaving as predicted, in such a way that only a demented or a very deluded man would still not be convinced.
    – Ex.: Copper (tested true: fact) is a good conductor (tested true: fact) of electricity (tested true: fact). Test: TRUE – FACT. — This can be demonstrated by everyone, everywhere. No amount of rhetoric is going to undermine that fact. Using this fact, we can carry further experiments and expand our knowledge.

    Besides, I’d argue that *my* authority regarding how *I* conduct *my* life is of some importance, you know? Because this is really what we are talking about here, right? Say you manage to prove the Bible right, then I am suddenly face with a most important choice: renouncing my principles and live as a slave to God, or be stubborn and be doomed forever.

  24. Bob

    Praying Atheist,

    You cannot call NormalBob or Martan your philosophical comrades. They have renounced objectivity and have placed all standards of knowledge in the thinking individual. You, on the other hand, remain a classic empiricist – along with all the typical rationalizing tendencies. You affirm that humans can have objective knowledge if a veritable method is followed. I affirm your method, I celebrate science, however, I must call into question its foundations.

    I believe that laws of logic exist, universal throughout the created realm. I believe that laws of physics (science) exist, and should be accounted for by everyone. I believe regular methods of inductive inquiry (science) should be followed by all. Would I carry my bible into a Lab? Yes (not literally, of course), but not in order to derive a scientific method from it, but only to give the necessary dogmatic foundation for that very method. Let me explain. Take a look at my three questions and your three answers.

    1) You would admit that there are limits here. For instance, everyone for centuries saw that the sun moves across the sky. Everyone could also then conclude, from the apparent phenomenon, that the sun moves across the sky. Examination of the phenomenon with better instruments proves the conventional theory wrong. Lets take social science. A certain majority think that industrialization improves society and holds the keys to ending poverty, misery, and inequality. A subsequent series of grim historical events, unforeseen, impossible without an industrialized socieity, call such judgments into question. In each case, the truth claim was tentative and limited. This doesn’t make such claims worthless, but at least truth with a lower case “t.” I actually agree, however, that agreed-upon descriptions of certain phenomenon does count as truth. I believe such truths cannot be brought to charge against the veracity of foundational claims. That is an important distinction that I’ll have to talk about later.

    2) Here is where you trip up. You invented a standard, a pragmatic one at that, to evaluate your science. You didn’t prove your method, you just added to it! You added to your method that hypothesis must precede experimentation, which is still before observation and interpretation. Why does prediction of results verify the method? That is the question that needs answering. Sub-point 3 falls under Hume’s critique of induction, that is, the regularity of an outcome is only judged by the past, not the future. You do not know if your results will remain the same then and there, only here and now. His famous example, “prove that the sun will rise on the morrow!” Saying, “Well, it always has!” is not a proof.

    3) You reiterated your 2nd point here. The authority you named is the success such a method has in predicting outcomes. The success is wrought from an understanding of natural laws, and an assumption that such laws are universal. The problem with assuming that laws are universal is that such an assumption is not proved. It is taken for granted. So why should the equation for gravity be descriptively true in my city of Philadelphia, and NormalBob’s in New York? More complicated, is it true on earth and across the galaxy. Even more tricky, is it true now and 5 years from now? (I’m thieving this all from one of the most famous Atheists, my favorite one in fact, David Hume).

    As a Christian, I can answer that yes, I have a reason to believe in the uniformity of nature, that scientific experiments will be regular and repeatable at all times and places. Why? Because I have a Doctrine of Creation wherein God creates the world in a uniform and regular manner. Season in and season out. Such a doctrine supplies a FOUNDATION upon which I can rationalize a method of inquiry that looks to regularity and repeatability as signs of scientific veracity. Just like the atheist science, the Christian does not worry that his theories will become totally obsolete when nature spontaneously changes its physical laws. The only difference between the Christian and the atheist is that the Christian has a REASON for such a belief.

    Does that make sense? Its just one example, but this post is already too long!

  25. Bob

    A note to NormalBob about his last post,

    You wrote, “progress our morality for the betterment of us all.” Doesn’t that also imply that there is a set idea towards which humanity is headed? If there is no universal ideal, the ideal humanity, how can there be progress towards it. If you didn’t know something about that ideal humanity, how can you even recognize progress if it was even happening? Humanity must be progressing towards something, some good, that will afford betterment and maturity, like you said.

    You also used the prase “ever evolving.” How can there be progress if it is “ever evolving.” That is like trying to count to infinity. Just because you count higher, you don’t really progress towards infinity. Right? If we’re “ever” progressing, we’re actually not progressing. Its like trying to reach the end of a circle.

    So at once you have ideals (the thing you said I had too) and you cannot have ideals. You want lines and circles. Which is it?

    The Enlightenment doctrine of Progress also assumed natural laws (physical, logical, moral) towards which society to strive to impliment and understand. You already rejected such laws and said your standard is the individual. What gives?

    Bob

  26. The Praying Atheist

    Lol at “this post is already too long”! Same goes for my posts! I’m afraid we’ll end up being our only audience – that is, if it isn’t the case already. Fortunately this time, I have little(!) to add.

    Yes, hypothesises precede experimentation, but there is a very important difference between an hypothesis and a dogmatic claim: you are not required to believe the hypothesis before the experiment has been carried out. Yes, you can still believe it even if the experiment fails, and even if there is no designable experiment (yet). But you shouldn’t expect everyone else to follow in your trace, and most important of all, you can definitely not use such an hypothesis (dogmatic claim) to order people around.

    This is why even a rather heavily religious country like the United States has applied since the very beginning the principle of separation of church and state. Like NormalBob said, our moral code is for us to write – especially considering that the Bible is void of just about all scientific discoveries since Copernicus. Now if you really want to live under a theocracy, I guess you can always move to Iran – but then of course, the almighty Allah is the ruler there…

  27. The Praying Atheist

    Oh, and it could be argued that Allah’s authority is greater than that of the president of the United States. They are many who believe this – and for reasons very similar to yours. But no matter, right? This is not dangerous at all. Totally insignificant.

  28. Bob

    Praying Atheists,

    I wasn’t saying that your hypothesis was your dogmatic claim. I was pointing out that the presupposition that the natural world (universe) is uniform is a dogmatic (unproven) claim. I think Christianity accounts for a such a dogma better than atheism.

    Bob

  29. The Praying Atheist

    Well, looks like we might be closing on to a final cadence after all. Had you simply said “theism” instead of christianity, I’d have been content and would’ve shaken your hand – unlike Voltaire and Diderot. Oh well. Feel free to have the final words, as I have said pretty much all I wanted to. I think I could only repeat myself now anyway, so I’ll leave you on a quote from Carl Sagan instead – it’s taken from an episode of ‘Cosmos’:

    “…if we wish to pursue this question courageously, we must, of course, ask the next question: Where did god come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step, and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question. Or, if we say that god always existed, why not save a step, and conclude that the universe always existed; there is not need for a creation: it was always here. These are not easy questions; cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries – with questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34-1W_9BhoU

    The whole Cosmos series can easily be found on YouTube and on many other sites. To anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, I cannot recommend it enough. This is hands down the best series I’ve ever seen.

  30. Martano666

    You see, if you were to listen to an atheist like myself explain the reasonS why I have a problem with Christianity, it would be much less frustrating for me if you could atleast respond to my answers with something like: “Ok Martano, I see what you are saying about the bible. I understand that science has no evidence to verify it, or any other religious book, and I understand your moral dilemma with some of the scripture, however, I (Bob Larocca) still disagree with you, and the reasons are: (- list of reasons)

    But, no. You can’t do that can you? You spend 99% of the time trying to spin circles around irrelevant issues like “Universal Moral Law” and trying to philosophize the entire conversation rather than just getting to the meat and gravy. There is NO NEED for all the B.S. you provide with your comments. You are just refusing to address the real issues here which are:

    -I don’t like many of the things written in the bible. I find them offensive.

    -I can’t seem to find any REASON to believe that the bible is true.

    -I CAN find several reasons why the bible, (and many other books) are LIKELY not true.

    The point is, Bob, if I do, or DO NOT, have a “foundation for my critique” of Christianity, that still has nothing to do with whether or not the bible is true. NOTHING.

    Also instead of using large combinations of words like “foundation for critique” you could try simply words like “reason”.

    See -> “Martano, can you provide me with a ‘reason’ for not liking Christianity?”

    That works much better than:

    “Martano, can you provide me with a ‘foundation for you critique’ against Christianity?”

    You see, when you start dancing circles around issues that are being brought up, and trying to intimidate people and confuse the issues by using ‘big words’ , you are just further revealing that you really don’t have much of an argument.

    Here is another example of you dancing around Bob:

    “ever evolving.” That is like trying to count to infinity. Just because you count higher, you don’t really progress towards infinity. Right? If we’re “ever” progressing, we’re actually not progressing. Its like trying to reach the end of a circle.

    That is exactly what I am talking about. You waste ridiculous amounts of energy playing what I call “word games” just so you can be ‘right’. Even though I disagree with what you said in that quote. It doesn’t even make sense, but I am not debating that issue here because if I do, then your tactic worked. You are well studied in your Ray Comfort tactics. Don’t address the issues being discussed, but rather, point out philosophical problems from your own perspective and convince the audience that you are correct by monopolizing these ‘mini issues’ that you do so well. You are good at it, but it is still quite obvious what you are doing. There are actually videos that teach people how to win debates using the very ‘tactics’ that you are using, rather than actually being correct. I’m sure you’ve studied them, because you demonstrate quite flawlessly.

    -anyhow

    Do you ever think about the fact that people like me, and Normal Bob, and other atheists, didn’t actually CHOOSE to not believe your stupid bible? Did you realize that? Do you ever think about the fact that our position of ‘not believing’ is not a choice at all? It is a direct RESULT, of the situation rather than a choice. My mind automatically doesn’t believe things that aren’t convincing. Sometimes, I am ‘wrong’. Sometimes, I find out later that there WAS evidence that proved me wrong, and then, quite automatically, my mind changes itself, and I now BELIEVE what I previously did not believe. But, if that evidence never shows up, it is unlikely that I will just change my position. SOMETHING would have to make my mind change. That is just the way it is.

    Can you provide me with a reason that should be considered ‘convincing’ to sway me towards your religion? Or, will I just get that old speech about how I am blind, and god is everywhere?

  31. Bob

    Oh Well.

    On NormalBob’s website many write “hate mails” that are uneducated and reactionary. They are ridiculed for it. I’m trying to get down to fundamental structures of our debate, the very patterns of thought that are underlying and presupposed, and I am discredited for it. I havn’t called you guys stupid, evil, or even dangerous rapists (like I was called above)! Instead, I’ve answered your questions and pressed my arguments. I’ve attempted to demark where your arguments assume propositions that are unproven and are dogmatic in character. Concerning such propositions I’ve requested explanation. I’ve received very little. On a number of occasions I’ve demonstrated contradictions in your critiques (like when Alleee said morality exists only in the human mind and can also be breed into animals, or when NormalBob said that there is such thing as ever-evolving progress). Neither Alleee nor NormalBob have responded to defend themselves against such accusations of contradiction.

    So what kind of interactions do you want? You want the kind that you can answer easily. You want the kind of person who responds with a “Jesus is Lord” just so you can ridicule such a proclamation against your assumed worldview. It is that assumed worldview that I’ve been trying to call into question. But you fellows just can’t deal with it. Does Martano really have a problem with words like “foundation” or “critique” or is he just frustrated that he can’t really explain why his arguments have any weight beyond personal preference?

    Then there is NormalBob with his doctrine of ever-evolving goalless progress. He cannot name an ideal save that which is an “assessment from my own individuality.” The principle of his worldview is his own determined “arbitrary” (his words) standard. Then why does he request this past week that a ‘hate mailer’ give “evidence” for the authenticity of Scripture? He wrote before, “And each others actions are judged accordingly by others individualistic views as well.” Well then why request for external evidence? It is because the only straight answer he gave me, that moral/logical standards are found in the individual, is disingenuous. He knows it, and therefore he will not live by it. He will only answer accordingly when pressed to give some reason for his criticisms against Christianity. Such an inconsistency is evidence that he actually has no foundation, no reason, no real contribution to offer. All he has is ridicule and mockery. If he would like to respond to this challenge by telling me why it is worthwhile offending and ridiculing people only for the sake of his personal sentimental preference, then such a statement will be the beginning of his self-defense. But I do not predict any such defense to ever arise. I wrote to Marty on August 28th,

    “Why all the gusto in denouncing Christianity if it is all just opinion? If its all just personal sentiment, then his website is as important as a website that defames orange sherbet. Simply put: in the next sentence from the one I already quoted, NormalBob says his own assessment is ‘arbitrary.’ Doesn’t that make NormalBobSmith.com arbitrary too?”

    That is a challenge laid down 2 weeks ago, and NormalBob hasn’t even addressed it.

    Speaking of evidence, such an evasion on NormalBob’s part evidences to me that these issues are not intellectual for him, this is a spiritual matter. It is self-deception, a suppression of the truth, and shaking of his fist towards God. This God, the God revealed in Jesus Christ, is calling everybody everywhere to repent for such rebellion and enmity. At this point, NormalBob will not repent, but he has failed to offer a reason why beyond his own subjective preferences. In the Gospel, such preferences are called Sin, the very thing God is merciful enough to forgive.

  32. Bob

    Martano,

    You wrote earlier, “EVERYONE’S foundation for their own critique against EVERYTHING (including christian morals and scripture) is based on their own self.”

    This will be instructive, trust me: Why don’t you give me a reason why I should abandon my faith? This will help expose your “reasons.” (or, as I like it, your foundational claims).

  33. Martano666

    Bob LaRocca Wrote:

    “Martano,

    You wrote earlier, “EVERYONE’S foundation for their own critique against EVERYTHING (including christian morals and scripture) is based on their own self.”

    This will be instructive, trust me: Why don’t you give me a reason why I should abandon my faith? This will help expose your “reasons.” (or, as I like it, your foundational claims).”

    Ok. Fine. Even though you refuse to give me any reasons why I should find the bible to be convincing, I will still answer you.

    I am NOT telling you that you should abandon your faith. I personally think it would be GREAT if everyone abandoned their religious beliefs. -BUT-
    There are definately some people out there, (some that I know personally), who really have nothing going for them in their life, and are approaching their mid-40′s and their faith is all that they have. Some of the people like this, would not be able to function AT ALL if they realized that this life is all there is and that their faith is all based on lies. They would suddenly have to realize that they WASTED the first 44 years of their life focusing on religion, rather than focusing on their career, and investments, and relationships, etc. If you remove this person’s faith, they are all alone, and don’t have a nickel to their name, or a job, or a house. This would be completely devestating to certain people, and I think those particular people are better off holding on to their faith. They might be a danger to society, or themself, if they thought that there was no ‘GOD’ that is watching their every move. It is TOO LATE for them. They NEED their faith in order to comfort them and give them hope that AFTER this life, there will be something good coming their way, because their ‘prayers’ did nothing to bring them love, or riches, or joy. While their hands were clasped in prayers, my hands were gripping hammers, and nails, and cordless drills, and paycheques, and beer cans, and concert tickets, and twigs with marshmellows on them, etc. <- do you see my point?

    God surely isn’t helping me in my life. Why would he? I don’t believe in him. When good things happen to me, it is because I worked for it, or got lucky. God will never convince me that he exists by simply ‘making my life good’. God would have to show me scientific proof that he exists. He knows this (if he is real), so I can assure myself, and you, that all the good things that happen in my life are NOT because of god trying to ‘open my eyes’ and grant me vision. I am 28 years old, married to a beautiful woman, and I own several houses. I will be a millionaire by the time I am in my mid 30′s (this is for sure). Why? Because I waste no time praying for things, I take action. I am a licensed carpenter and I make 23 dollars per hour. My wife is a manager of a ‘GoodLife Fitness’ women’s club. No kids yet. We work hard, and play hard. We enjoy life, and try to help others. We want no part of religious malarky. I wish other people could enjoy life the way that I do. It is all in how you handle life though.

    Ok. So now that that is out of the way.

    I can’t make you stop believing in your book. You have to realize that it is just as fake as Santa Claus. If you find the things written in the bible to be realistic sounding, then maybe you are also too far gone, like some of the people I mentioned earlier.

    All that I can do is tell you why I am CERTAIN that the bible is a fictional book. I would hope that your common sense can assess what I am telling you and see it from my perspective. Why don’t you just try that? For a second, pretend that you are reading the bible from an atheist’s perspective.

    I’ve already told you many reasons why I don’t believe the bible. I will list some again and you need to really step back and understand that: I AM NOT TRYING TO TRICK YOU!!! I AM NOT A DISHONEST PERSON! I don’t believe in SATAN. Satan does not exist. I am a good person that cares about other people and I consider myself a VERY VERY good life coach/motivational speaker.

    Here it goes:

    1. The bible says we came from Adam & Eve. <- this is not even scientifically possible or rational in any way. This alone is enough to convince me that the bible is pretty crazy.

    2. The bible says snakes can talk. <- no reason to believe this is possible at all.

    3. The bible talks about a man fitting 2 of ALL ANIMALS on one large boat. <- this is completely ridiculous and YOU KNOW IT IS.

    4. The bible claims that the earth is 6000 years old. <- watch a Youtube video of Lawrence Krauss protesting the Creationist Museum. He lists the TOP 10 reasons why the earth is NOT 6000 years old. All 10 of his reasons are testable and verifiable scientifically.

    5. The names of the people that supposedly wrote the bible are English names. (Matthew, John, etc.) These are not names that were used 2000 years ago in the area that the bible supposedly was written.

    6. The idea of a ‘god’ has been used to explain many many many things in the past that we didn’t understand, and now do. (Greek Gods explained nearly everything that we couldn’t) Therefore, it is well known that HUMANS do infact ‘make up’ gods to explain things. WELL KNOWN!!!

    7. The very idea of a god doesn’t even make sense. (A god was just hanging out ‘chillin’ for eternity, always existed. Then one day, before time existed, god decided to make everything.) <- How is this acceptable to you? How does this type of nonsense sound realistic in your brain? SERIOUSLY!!!! Ask yourself that. I don’t want you to answer me, just answer yourself, silently.

    8.Why does god exist? <- I can find no acceptable explanation for this question. I’ve looked hard.

    9. Evil exists. <- How could evil exist when god is all good, and god created everything? Many people claim that evil is the absence of god, like how cold is the absence of heat. Well, that is not acceptable. Otherwise, that means that god didn’t create everything. There was evil, before there was god. Then god showed up, and created all the good stuff, but the evil stuff is still around as well.

    10. The bible blames all evil on human beings, rather than blaming god. Seems a little unfair to me. The smart guy that created everything, is not responsible for his creation. Often the claim that our own ‘free will’ is why we our responsible for evil existing. Well, that does not account for the evil that lurks within nature. Floods destroying villages and drowing babies. Animals that are required to rip other animals to shreds causing excruciating agony for the unfortunate prey. God could have made all animals herbivores. -OR- god could have made meat grow on trees. This would avoid the constant bloodbath that is required in order for animals to survive. Seems strange that a peaceful loving god would create a system like the one we have now. I KNOW that if I was in charge, I could have designed a much better system, without the need for innocent people/animals experiencing pain.

    11. God requires sacrifices. <- not something that a peaceful loving god would want/need.

    12. Jesus being brutally murdered somehow was the only way for humans to make it to heaven. Everyone tries to justify this as a ‘wonderful’ event that had to happen. To me, it is sickening.

    13. Why do animals get old an die? If animals were put here for our consumption, they should be resilient. They shouldn’t die, unless I kill them. Why do they have brains and similar internal organs to humans?

    14. I can send you links to videos online of elderly people being burned alive. Why? Because the village people read the instructions in the bible that told them to kill witches. Several elderly people were suspected of being ‘witches’ because they were in possession of ‘charms’. A large fire was built in a pit, a gang of civilians beat these elderly 5 or 6 people, and forced them in to the flames. YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO if you don’t believe me.
    Bottom line is, it is religion that convinced the village that what they were doing was ‘good’ in god’s eyes.

    I don’t think I need to continue. I could list about 500 more reasons why I have a distaste for Christianity, and why I don’t find it convincing. But, I think the ones I’ve listed are MORE than enough for you to atleast try and look at things from my perspective. Just try it.

    Please Bob. Just simply try standing from an atheists point of view, and reading the reasons I have listed here.

    You need to understand that an atheist view is not an EVIL view. It is the rational view.

  34. Martano666

    You know, I had a similar conversation with my mother-in-law yesterday. She believes in god. She basically has made up her own version of how she thinks things are and eliminated all the bad stuff written in the bible, and kept a few of the good things. I say FINE. There is nothing wrong with speculating, or having personal philosophies about why we are here. But, this has to be taken for what it is. It is simply a personal feeling. That is all. There is no proof. No evidence whatsoever. Therefore, the likelihood of your own personal feelings about how we got here actually being TRUE, is almost non-existent. My mother-in-law (who I love very much) continued to say things like: “Well, it’s true for ME. What is true for me is not neccessarily what is TRUE for you Marty.” <- this is the problem here.
    It’s like so many of you Theists don’t seem to understand the meaning of ‘TRUE’. Bill O’Reilly even admitted the same thing on his national TV show. “well it’s TRUE for me” he said. As if truth changes from person to person. There is only ONE truth. Having faith is not having truth.

    I simply can’t understand how someone can actually BELIEVE the things in the bible as ‘true’.

    You see what this means don’t you? It means that if the bible IS in fact true, then people like myself will burn in hell for something that is not really in my control. I don’t have the ability to believe the bible the way it is written based on what I have experienced in my life. Sure, I could go around telling people “I believe Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior.” I could ‘pretend’ that I believe it all, but saying you believe something, and ACTUALLY believing it are not the same. So, even if I was on here pretending I believe in God, I would still know in my own mind, that I am a fraud. <- Surely god would be able to see through my lies, and still sentence me to hell.

    So here’s my dilemma. How do I aquire ‘faith’ in Jesus to avoid this guaranteed sentence to hell? I can’t just snap my fingers and change my mind. I need something to make my mind change.

    Everytime that I ask this question, I get a cop-out answer. I get answers like: “No Marty, you are wrong. You DO have the ability to believe in the bible and jesus. It says in scripture that everyone has the choice of believing in god so you just have to search deep inside you and you will find it. If you don’t find it, then you didn’t search hard enough or ‘properly’.

    For obvious reasons, this is not an acceptable answer to my problem.

    BTW, this problem that I have outlined is just another example of how the Chistianity ‘system’ is so heavily flawed, that it CAN’T be the system of a ‘god’.

    Any useful feedback is appreciated, but I am certain that Mr LaRocca will not even address my situation or he’ll give me a copout answer, because I have been searching for YEARS for an answer to my dilemma and have never found one other than: The bible is false.

  35. Martano666

    @ Bob LaRocca

    Bob wrote:

    “I think you are very much part of this tendency, even as an atheist. Here is a great quote by Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck, “In the end there are no atheists; there is only argument about the nature of God” (Reformed Dogmatics, 53). You, Marty, if I may guess, believe the physical/material universe to be the ultimate reality of which we are all part. The Space/Time universe is eternal, never ending, ultimate, and determinative. Physical laws govern our lives – the universe has a providence of its own, an order, a logic inherent to it. The physical universe is your God, natural scientists are your priests, the Enlightenment your Reformation. You pretend that your position is neutral – but as I said, you have not proven its objectivity or its neutrality. You assume your worldview’s objectivity, its rectitude, its authority – like a Sunday school kid confesses a dogma. ”

    Actually no. That is not what I ‘believe’. The physical universe is NOT my god. I am my own authority. The universe does NOT have order. It has chaos. I have no clue as to how it got here or why it is here. It might be that some higher power created this universe, and a HIGHER power created the higher power, and something created that higher and on and on forever, or it might be that we popped in to existence from nothing, or maybe we already existed. I don’t know. Bottom line is, I don’t ‘pick’ one and start telling people it is true. If there was evidence to sway me in one direction then I might start telling people about the evidence that swayed me. Maybe some atheists accept the universe as their god, but Iam not tied to any other atheists by anything other than my rejection of theistic claims. I am not pretending my position is neautral. My position IS neutral. I do rely on the scientific community to provide us with answers. If evidence is not provided along side the answers, I will NOT accept them. I don’t care what scientist makes the claim. I need proof.

    Here’s the huge difference between you and myself. Everything that I accept as ‘true’ is only accepted by me, when someone can demonstrate a good reason to believe it.

    You, accept things as true, WITHOUT a reason. But, not only do you NOT have a reason, but you also want to tell other people that it is true, and that science is wrong. You go AGAINST the scientific evidence. CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS?!

  36. Martano666

    Actually, you know what Bob, let’s just end this. I was wrong to get in on this conversation. I foolishly thought you might atleast listen to what I had to say. You refuse to answer the important questions I ask. (for obvious reason) You really are too far brainwashed. It’s hopeless. Just continue believing in dogshit.

  37. Steven Bently

    Martan666, You made some excellent points in your response to Robert, but his objective is not to listen to what anyone has to say, his objective is to impress upon us non believers as to how smart and wise he was to choose to believe in ancient nonsense.

    You said, “If you remove this person’s faith, they are all alone, and don’t have a nickel to their name, or a job, or a house.”

    I know so many people like this, they have spent all their money trying to impress the preacher, their neighbors, and jebus in fancy clothes, fancy cars, and eat out at expensive restaurants leaving big tips trying to make people think they have more money than they need, yet their credit cards are maxed out to the hilt.

    You can’t reason with them, they are just mimicking other people, they cannot think on their own, they do not know how and society does not encourage intelligent thinking, look at all the people who think Sara Palin is smart or Glen Beck, or Rush Limpbutt, Billy Graham, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Geo. and Laura Bush, these people are idiots, yet they are some of the most admired people in society, they are people pleasers. We are clearly out numbered, their evidence lies in group think, the more people that believe a particular thing is true, to them, this is sufficient evidence to believe it’s true, like you said they are all brainwashed and you cannot use reason to wake up an unreasonable person, that’s what the bible does, it takes away people’s ability to reason and to think logically, all religious books should be destroyed immediately, they do much more harm than good.

  38. Martano666

    Well put Steve.

    Sometimes I feel like I have a chance at ‘saving’ someone from this religious crap. It is possible, but you have to get them before they have made their mind up. If they are already to far gone in to the religion, the chances of myself being able to open their eyes is null. When talking with people like Bob Larocca, I always end up extremely frustrated. I feel like he is just sitting their ‘snickering’ with his nose stuck up in the air as he responds to all of our comments. As if he thinks he’s just the greatest thing since sliced bread. I sometimes sense that guys like him (when using tactics the way he does), are more interested in disagreeing with us atheists, rather than helping us see their perspective. I feel that I am very clear in my attempts to demonstrate MY perspective, but get almost no acknowledgments of such. (from him) Any good points I make are ignored, and the only things that are addressed are philosophical ‘flaws’ in the way I say things.

    The particular tactics that Larocca uses are dishonest, yet obvious to me. When debating, his goal is to throw so many ideas out there and distract and confuse the main topic of discussion, so that the opponent (me, you, N.B.Smith, etc) wind up spending the majority of the conversation debunking the hoaky claims and philosophical inconsistancies in his argument, rather than actually getting to the main topic of why we should or should NOT be convinced of the bible’s truth or lies.

    YOu see how many times I have asked for a reason as to why I should beleive the bible, and still haven’t received an answer. I just get things like: ” What is the foundation for your critique against christianity?” <- more distractions, which I answer, and still get nothing in return.

    Anyhow, I will continue to fight religion with my logic and evidence. Regardless of how frustrating it is, it is still worth it if I can save the odd person from it once in a while, and eventually I think we all know where religions are headed. Evidence rules all. We must not allow this offensive garbage to continue to invade our futures! Our children deserve better than to be surrounded by these idiots raising more idiots.

  39. Martano666

    I should point out that when I have children some day, I will NOT tell my kids that religions are false. I will teach them to using logic and be a skeptic of ALL issues in life, and I am certain that they will quite automatically become non-believers. Afterall, if people didn’t force their beliefs their children and others, religion would NOT exist.

  40. The Praying Atheist

    Steve,

    You said: “his objective is not to listen to what anyone has to say, his objective is to impress upon us non believers as to how smart and wise he was to choose to believe in ancient nonsense.”

    Keep in mind that he is a theology student. So in my opinion, it’s exactly the opposite: he is here ‘precisely’ to listen to what we have to say, so as to put his rhetorics to the test and afterwards teach others how to work their way around our arguments. In a way, this is evolution at work, hehe.

    There are many reasons to explain why the world’s main religions are still around today, while so many others failed. One major reason, of course, is that there were constant wars, at the end of which the victors got to tell their side of the story. But one of the most important reasons is that it permeates just about every aspect of a believer’s – our compatriots’ – life: christening, going to church regularly, Sunday school, saying graces before eating, praying before going to bed, iconography, confirmation, marriage, burials, cemeteries, ‘holy’days, etc, etc, you name it – the Bible itself appears as being almost irrelevant amidst all this, even though it serves as the means to all ends. This wasn’t all simply created overnight. All of those things were tried and tested throughout the centuries by the clergy-nobility alliance (especially in the last half of the first millenia), and the most effective tactics were kept in effect to keep a better grasp on the common folks. Everyone knows the word for it, and yet very few people beware. It’s called indoctrination, and it works far too well for my taste.

    The funniest thing about this is that at the same time, it was strictly forbidden for the common folks to even ‘own’ a Bible – let alone read it and try to make sense of it (but then again, most people were illiterate anyway, so the problem kinda took care of itself). Ultimately, of course, Protestantism came to allow believers to pick and read a Bible, and try to figure it out for themselves. And guess what, after a thousand years of hardcore indoctrination and persecutions, skeptics appeared almost immediately – and keep in mind that this was a time where ‘heretics’, even followers-of-Christ-type-heretics, were still furiously hunted and killed. Anyway, one could say that the Bible wouldn’t have been shielded as such if the keeper of the keys weren’t also a little skeptic themselves. While the common folks were still more or less forced to keep their blinders on, the Christian apologetics were at work 24/7, debating issues and making excuses for all the stuff they knew didn’t make any sense – yes, even at that time (the apocryphal books prove that this was a genuine concern)! Even today, the apologetics are pretty much the only ones to really argue in depth with atheists, while the ‘unlearned’ are advised to keep their distance and are force-fed lies about us and our arguments. In Islam, it is even strictly forbidden to have such a discussion with an atheist! This is the work of the ‘learned’, and the reasons for this are obvious. What we’re witnessing here is a soldier at work in enemy territory – doing mostly spying and gathering information.

    So there you have it: Mr. LaRocca here is a descendant of those first excuse-makers. Their work is unending, because science keeps making discoveries that continuously expose the outdatedness – and dare I say, the stupidity – of the Bible. But as demonstrated here, their only recourse is pretty much to wait for new arguments to arise and try to work their way around them, like one would when facing an invincible enemy.

  41. Atheist Named Jeff

    You wrote, “progress our morality for the betterment of us all.” Doesn’t that also imply that there is a set idea towards which humanity is headed?

    No. This is the same form of stupid argument that creationists use, regarding evolution: “If evolution is true, why haven’t we evolved wings yet?!”

    The fallacy is obvious: we are not evolving TO something, we are simply evolving. In the same fashion, recognize that “morals” simply change over cultures/eras and there is no “end goal” or “set idea” or “best morals ev4r!” (the process of which Dawkins describes as a “moral zeitgeist” in “The God Delusion”).

  42. Bob

    Wow, I got distracted for two weeks and there has been a lot of activity. Sorry guys, my semester started and I have bigger fish to fry. You guys have, and I speak on the whole, severly missed the point. At one point, Martan spoke of the universe in chaos, then a few sentences later talked about scientific proof. Huh? How can their be proof with chaotic data? He talked about how he was his own authority, then he lives by the authority of natural science. I’m asking you guys to be consistent.

    Atheist named Jeff – Betterment requires an ideal. Tell me how it doesn’t. Actually, don’t. I really cannot spend time anymore talking about this with you guys.

    Well, this has ended in name calling. The entropy of philosphical and theological reflection to the point of mockery and insult. The people on the video quoted Plato, you guys now refer to science as an invincible army, and say you’re still not being religious. Yikes. Evolution? No, devolution.

  43. The Praying Atheist

    Well, here I go again. I guess I care more about what others think than what I first thought.

    “I have bigger fish to fry.”
    - Come on, I mean, our souls are at stake here.

    “Martan spoke of the universe in chaos, then a few sentences later talked about scientific proof. Huh? How can there be proof with chaotic data?”
    - The universe is chaotic according to our definitions and our yearning for purpose and control, but its physical laws are consistent, so we can rely on them for some measure of order.

    “He talked about how he was his own authority, then he lives by the authority of natural science.”
    - All that means is that he lives by an authority – or authorities – of his own choosing. You – and other believers – seem very intent on depriving us of this right.

    “Betterment requires an ideal.”
    - Not necessarily. Ex.: you can choose between two things and realize only later that you picked the bad one. You can better yourself by admitting you were wrong and correcting your error.

    I really don’t see how we have “missed the point.” In the end, you’re the one claiming to follow an absolute authority – and yet you cannot even begin to define it, let alone prove its existence. Now I don’t know if you just don’t get it, but no one claimed that science is an ‘absolute’ authority: it’s only a tool we use to better understand and shape our world. Believers like yourself, on the other hand, do claim to have the final answer to everything. As one of them, your task is simple: define God and prove his existence. I pointed out the fact that you imperatively need your Bible to do this, which led us to our second point of contention: Is the Bible really the word of God?

    I proposed the scientific method to verify this, and, of course, since you know full well it already leads to conclusions you don’t like, you said it’s invalid:

    “…you asked me to “scientifically prove” that the Bible is the word of God. Well, how is something proven to be true? Can you prove that method to be true based upon the very standards of the method? No, you cannot.”

    Well, even if we were to agree on this, for the sake of this argument, all that would mean is that we can’t yet verify this claim, and that we have to search for the one ‘true’ method. Since you are so well-versed in logical argumentation, how can you not see that the reasonable position in such a case is to doubt the veracity of the claim? You can argue this all you want, but believing things for which there is insufficient evidence ‘is’ unreasonable. This has nothing to do with opinions.

    Oh, and by the way, since you’re so quick to point out contradictions, – real or imagined, – I’d like to point out that you actually said elsewhere that the scientific method is in fact valid:

    “As a Christian, I can answer that yes, I have a reason to believe in the uniformity of nature, that scientific experiments will be regular and repeatable at all times and places. Why? Because I have a Doctrine of Creation wherein God creates the world in a uniform and regular manner. Season in and season out. Such a doctrine supplies a FOUNDATION upon which I can rationalize a method of inquiry that looks to regularity and repeatability as signs of scientific veracity.”

    This is so great, because not only are you agreeing that the scientific method is valid, but you’re saying that it is because of God himself. So you really should have no problem proving his existence (and the authenticity of the Bible) using the very method that he himself has made so reliable.

  44. Bob

    praying atheist,

    I have bigger fish to fry like my education. I’m not directly trying to convert you here. I’m trying to get you guys to think a little more deeply about the issues.

    Martan wrote: “The universe does NOT have order. It has chaos.” He was not talking about his own categories, he was talking about the natural world. If it is chaotic, it is lawless.

    You have every right to believe in whatever authority you want, especially as I assume we’re both American Citizens. But you have to be philosophically consistent with your authoritative starting point. It is such consistency that I have been pleading for.

    “betterment requires and ideal.” In your example, you used the word “bad” and “better.” Both words are completely relative without an ideal. If they are relative, they cannot be utilized to describe progress, which is inherently non-relative. So, stick with their relativity and reliquish progress, or keep progress and defend an objective ideal. Your choice!

    The problem with your charge is that you do not accept my methodology for defining God – nor, because he is ultimate in my system, am I able to prove him by something more ultimate (authoritative). My God is the Trinitarian God of the Old and New Testaments of Scripture who has revealed Himself in Christ. Obviously I’ve gathered this description of Scripture, which is my source and norm for predications about God. This is a closed system I’m working with. I believe all systems are closed. The test is, which accounts for laws of logic, science, and morality? I believe Christianity exclusivly accounts for these things.

    On your last point: my purpose is to show that without presupposing God the scientific method doesn’t account for its assumptions. I take the existence of God revealing himself in the world as a philosophically basic statement. It doesn’t have to be proved because, as basic, it is the necessary presupposition of proof itself. Thus, just because I cannot scientifically prove the existence of God, I can make an argument that God is the necessary presupposition for proof. Like all scientists, I take the axiom “a science cannot prove its principles.” as valid.

    So I can affirm science as it is upheld by more basic metaphysical claims (Christian theism). Those metaphysical claims are authoritative in my system and therefore cannot be proven or unproven by the scientific method. Why? because the method depends on such metaphysical claims. To disprove the metaphysics is to disprove the method. I’ve been asking you guys over and over for what your metaphysical claims are, and you’ve flip floped each time.

  45. Bob

    Martan,

    Answers to your reasons for not believing in the Bible:

    1,2,3,7) Adam and Eve, talking snakes, Noah’s ark, God’s eternity. Whether you think this is rational or not is beside the point. The point is that you have no foundation for rationality. So what you deem irrational is arbitrary because objective reality, as you believe, is irrational because it is chaotic.

    4) The bible does not claim the earth is 6,000 years old. Even if it did, you would have no objective way to prove that it isn’t.

    5) Those names (John, James, etc) are English translations of Hebrew and Greek names.

    6) The Greek pantheon is not philosophically consistent. I would heartily agree with you that their existence does not lay the groundwork for logic, science, and morality. I would claim, however, that the Christian God of the Old and New Testaments does lay such groundwork.

    8) To answer why God exists would necessitate a more ultimate being than God in order to explain how he was caused. God is ultimate in my worldview so there is no such explanation. There logically cannot be such a higher ultimate without essentially altering my conception of God, making the question itself incoherent.

    9) Evil does not exist unless there is an ultimate personal Good. To affirm that evil exists is to affirm that an ultimate personal Good also exists. Even to say evil exists begs the question on how morality exists without God. My point has been, it cannot exist without God.

    10,11,12) “I KNOW that if I was in charge, I could have designed a much better system…” You have no philosophy to back up your use of the word “better.” All you have is your own standards. Thus, we are back to, paraphrase, “God doesn’t exist because I don’t like him.” Try setting up an ultimate standard, law, or authority by which to judge God. Then justify the existence and knowability of such a standard. Then your critique will have some weight.

    11, 13) What shall I call this? An argument from curiosity? The death of animals is not inherently contradictory with the existence of God. This is quite a reach here.

    14) This is not an argument. Those people misinterpreted Scripture. That fact is irrelevant as to the validity of Christian theistic claims.

    This gets us back to the original issue. You have no ultimate foundation in order to reject an ultimate claim such as my Theistic claim. If you have no such ultimate foundation, then you cannot say anything relevant in this discussion. All you have are personal sentiments. Try demonstrating how my worldview is self-referentially incoherent. That’s my tack with you fellows, one that I think is far more demonstrative of your utter philosophical poverty.

    You see, I am standing from your point of view. I’m just standing in a more consistent manner. If I was an atheist I would admit that I have ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO AFFIRM OR DENY ANYTHING. This is philosophically consistent. But I know that you guys cannot be consistent because you actually know your Creator, but are driving yourself to these absurdities in order to avoid Him. So, be consistent and disavow yourself of any objectivity, rational, or knowledge. Or, set up an ultimate paradigm and we’ll see how it works out.

    Bob

  46. Bob

    Martan,

    Here is something you said that is quite consistent, “The point is, Bob, if I do, or DO NOT, have a ‘foundation for my critique’ of Christianity, that still has nothing to do with whether or not the bible is true. NOTHING.” It has everything to do with whether you can know if it is true or not, but you are right, it doesn’t get at whether it is true in actuality. I’m affraid, that question cannot be addressed until we have mutually affirmed standards, authorities, and laws. This we do not have.

    Here is why you should believe in the God of the Bible as he has revealed himself therein:

    The God of Scripture is the God you know. You presuppose his ultimate existence in order to live your life, do your science, reason with your logic. If God didn’t exist, if you didn’t know him, you would not think that these areas would have any worth, any lasting value. But you do, and the only explanation is the existence of God.

    But you, Martan, like the rest of us, are a sinner, a covenant breaker, in rebellion against God. You borrow philosophical capital that can only exist in a Christian paradigm and cannot exist in an atheist paradigm, but deny the very God that such philosophical capital necessarily assumes.

    The evidence that the God of Scripture exists is your belief in logic, science, and morality. Why? Because He is the only foundation for such benefits. Every philosophical system that has tried to lay a groundwork for laws of logic and science has failed. Name one! I’ve studied this somewhat, and I think I can demonstrate that none of them attain objectivity or truth. They have failed for two reasons, 1) they picked the wrong dogmas to believe in at the outset, 2) they refuse to be dogmatic at all, which is folly because everyone is dogmatic.

    A point I have NormalBob: We both accuse the other of supressing truth. I think I can back up my claim that you are supressing truth because you keep on believing in truth but deny the necessary preconditions for such truth. I affirm the metaphysical preconditions for truth, and I also believe in truth. Theological truth, logical truth, scientific truth, moral truth. I would have none of these if I dispatched my beliefe in God as a Creator and Redeemer in Christ.

    Faith, Martan, is a gift from God. I do not believe you have the ability to carry it out. Your rebellion, just like mine, runs too deep – philosophically deep even. But, if you want to have faith, if you want to know God – ask Him for faith. The apostles in the New Testament promise that God will not deny you. 1st John says, “If you confess your sins he is faithful and just to forgive them.” Such faith will provide you with the kind of philosophical consistancy I’ve been advocating. More than that, it will afford a right relationship with a God who you have rebeled against. Not only is my God the ultimate precondition for human rationality, he is a God of mercy who welcomes sinners back. This, for me, is where my heart and my mind meet.

    Aristotle believed in being as ultimate, Descarte named his selfhood as the incorrigable, Kant had his sythetic categories. Each system has failed (although, I must admit, I have a deep respect for Aristotle). The ultimate they each were looking for is God, the Christian God who has revealed himself in Christ, attested by the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Be an Aristotlelean, be Cartesian, be Kantian – we’ll see if the system works out, and I’ll demonstrate to the best of my ability that one must presuppose Christian theism at the outset in order to attain the results these great men were after.

    Bob

  47. The Praying Atheist

    Robert, the fact is that your so-called “ultimate foundation” is arbitrarily chosen, and as such, it cannot be used as the final word of an argument. You are the one who has forfeited any semblance of objectivity.

    No, atheists don’t have any such ultimate, immutable foundation (even yours is not: slavery has since been abolished), and that’s because we feel that humanity probably can’t ever get to that point. Metaphysic-wise, this is where we atheists stand: we just can’t be absolutely certain, and so we better not start acting as if we are. — So, sorry but no, we (or at least I) have no “ultimate paradigm” for you to feel good debunking. What we (atheists, humans) can do, however, is to doubt those who do, those who claim they ‘do’ know. You did that too if you ever argued with a Muslim. But have you ever even met one? Or a Hindu? Or a Sikh? Because as of today, friend, over 4 billion people have yet to adhere to your “ultimate foundation” – and that’s assuming that each and every one of the Christians on the planet, no matter what their denomination, are in absolute perfect agreement with everything you hold for truth.

    As much as you want this to be a “God or no God” dichotomy, this is just not the case. What we have instead is “Your God” vs “This other guy’s god” vs “this guy’s many gods” vs “definitely no God or gods” vs “I don’t have a clue, but I’m not about to believe any of you guys.”

    If you really could stand from an atheist’s point of view, instead of building straw man arguments (“science is a dogma”, “hypothesizes are dogmatic claims”, I’m “rebelling against God”, right), you would see that there is simply nothing to differentiate the Bible from the Talmud, the Koran, or the Guru Granth Sahib, or any other sacred book from any other monotheistic religion that we humans have come up with. Thinking of it, why should we dismiss right away all polytheistic religions – like Hinduism and its Vedas, for example? They may even make more sense than the monotheistic ones. Who’s to say that the universe is not simply the working end-result of two or many different – often clashing – components? But anyway, for better comparison purposes, let’s stick with the monotheistic ones.

    All those monotheistic religions’ sacred book can be used in a circular argument to falsely “prove” that not only does a god exist, but that ‘he’ is also the source of this or that book, and not of the others. Like I said, if you really could stand from an atheist’s point of view, you would see that it’s legitimate in this case to expect something more before agreeing that yes, one of those books is indeed more ‘special’ than the others.

    You feel very secure within the imaginary walls of your imaginary fortress, but in reality, all you’ve done is to check “Win” for your circular argument, when “Fail” was the proper answer – because this is one of the worst ways to search for truth. In fact, using that as a basis for inquiry is not searching for truth at all; it’s searching for ways to fool others into thinking like yourself, regardless of the truth. — In a way, with your flamboyant words, what you’ve done is you’ve dressed a monkey with the emperor’s clothes, and now not only are you trying to sell me that it is my master (whose story and commands are conveniently recorded in a book), but you are also saying that I’m rebelling against this monkey because I refuse to believe you and to obey the book. And that’s assuming there even was an emperor in the first place (or any other authority figure – clothes or no clothes), and that the first religious leaders were not trying to make one up to strengthen their own authority. Oh, and now look! Here’s another guy with another monkey-emperor and another book, and he says he’s going to kill me if I don’t believe him! That’s sure to make him right any which way.

    Seriously now, I hope you understand why I prefer to remain a skeptic: this is so I don’t have to accept every claim that is thrown at me, especially two contradictory ones at the same time with no outside evidence whatsoever to support them. And don’t think for a second that you are impervious to this. Claims you find suspect can very well come from people you thought were your peers in convictions, when you find yourself disagreeing with them over this or that part of the Bible.

    I’m sorry, but I fail to see how you could prove either God or the Bible using mere words, no matter how good you are with them. Looks like a fool’s errand to me.

  48. Holy Profit Steven Bently

    Robert, you come on here trying to convince us that you are using intelligent arguments for your god and then you post, “Faith, Martan, is a gift from God” Yeah and he sends people packets of faith in the size of a mustard seed…DUH!!

    The word faith is equal to irrationality, I doubt seriously that you have enough faith to believe in the Muslim religion, but yet you have enough faith to believe in the religion that you yourself choose to believe in, Yet billions of people have more faith in the Muslim religion than the Protestant religion, why is that?

    As soon as you mentioned the word faith is a gift from god, your whole argument flew out the window!

    “Faith is a gift from god”…prove it!!!

    If you had as much faith as a mustard seed, you could move a mustard seed, yet it has never been done, therefore the word faith used in religious beliefs, is a total farce!

  49. Bob

    Bently,

    “faith is a gift from God” comes from Ephesians 2:8-9 in the New Testament. Look it up.

    I’m not trying to convince you that I’m using intelligent arguments. I’m trying to convince you that you, Steve, have the faith in certain authoritative principles. As you said, faith is irrational – but I think you would qualify the way in which you have faith in such principles. A philosophical starting point must be self-attesting. It must rest on its own authority, otherwise its not a starting point, but only what it rests upon is. I’m trying to get at your starting point, what I’ve also called your foundation. I have foundations, you have foundations. We all do.

    How do we test such starting points/foundations? The method I’ve proposed is that we see which foundation makes sense, accounts for, the most knowledge and life experience. For instance, we both think the scientific method is a good thing. Which starting point allows for it to philosophical function as a discipline? I think atheistic naturalism disallows the scientific method the necessary assumptions that must be in place for such a method to be valuable on its own terms. Instead, I believe the Christian doctrine of Creation, revelation, and providence lay the foundation for the metaphysical postulates that allow for the scientific method. I can demonstrate this.

    Why not Islam? Because their metaphysic leads back to a fundemental monism. Thier ultimate reality (allah, their God), is a single entity, which cannot account for the equal ultimacy of uniformity and particularity in the universe. Ok, I realize that I just said a lot, but at least know that I am aware Islam, and cognizant about why I am not a muslim. Their religion has no real doctrine of revelation, no doctrine of God’s condescension, no doctrine of redemption, no doctrine of the Trinity. The last doctrine is fundemental to my particular philosophical outlook. I would be consistent to abandon all my hopes in philosophy if I did not believe in the Trinity.

    Praying Atheist: You wrote, “As much as you want this to be a “God or no God” dichotomy this is just not the case.” EXACTLY! WOOO HOO!! YES!! I realize you do not believe in a god espoused by an organized religion. But you do have a God! Your God is your self, or perhaps it is the natural universe. Nonetheless, you God is whatever is ultimate, authoritative, that which you obey, that which you worship. What I must press upon is that you believe that truth is derived from yourself and the world. This is a classic mix of enlightenment epistemology.

    I gots to get back to work!

  50. The Praying Atheist

    Robert, your whole position rests on a circular argument, your faith and god arguments against atheists are fallacies based on homonymy, and your rejection of the Islamic faith basically amounts to a tautology, i.e. Christianity is true and Islam is false because Christianity is right and Islam is wrong – thanks again to the circularity of your position. — As for me, I have confidence (based on practice), not religious faith, and while I admire some things and people, I don’t pay them any ritual worship.

    There’s only two ways out of a circular argument: either #1- discard it altogether, or #2- find outside, convincing evidence to support it. — There’s no #3- make it true by confusing its detractors, nor is there a #4- convince everyone to buy into it before #2 so it doesn’t need to be proven anymore. Thinking of it, I’m not even sure that #2 is an option for people trapped inside of one. And I don’t want to be rude, but of what use are all these words if in the end they don’t address the problem of material evidence? The words you use keep pointing to nothing. I’m saying it again, my view of this is that you’re on a fool’s errand. You’ve bought into something that I cannot see how you’d prove, or else it would have long been proven already. There’s even a sort of ridicule to the mere need of arguing – and at such a level – in favor of such a grandiose claim. Molière would have liked you a lot.

    To think it could be so simple: your God appears, he does his godly thing, he confirms that the Bible, despite its two parts separated by centuries, its various and often anonymous authors, indirect witnesses, pages and pages of irrelevant details, accounts of horrific acts and requests, descriptions of supernatural occurrings with ‘possible’ metaphorical interpretations, overall scientific poverty, the propaganda in favor of a chosen people, the lengthy and dubious process of putting it together while rejecting some other parts (though still including the occasional forgeries), the various schisms of the Church throughout the history of the Christian religion, the awful deeds it has prompted to commit with no divine intervention to stop them, the countless translations, a total absence of a myriad of things that make our daily lives, as well as some perplexing similarities and conflicts with competing religions from both past and present and the blackmailing ways of its ultimate author, is still nevertheless pretty much what he said, and I’m convinced – after making sure it wasn’t all just an elaborate trick, of course. As to if I’ll worship him or not after that is a whole other matter.

    He supposedly did so in the past, and I say all he needs to do is to do it again. This should be no big deal for such as him. Or is it that he might be afraid that the people today are not as ignorant and credulous as those who first saw him? Or that it’d put a lot of people out of business?

  51. Cohiba

    I’m coming to this thread several months late (forgive me, I’ve only just discovered this site) and, seeing as I love to disturb sleeping hornets’ nests, I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

    The problem with Christian Bob here is that you folks have fundamentally backed him into a corner of sorts. From a metaphysical standpoint, his entire paradigm collapses if he concedes to consider that his core axioms, both regarding what he believes and what you believe, are wrong. Psychologically, this engages the fight-or-flight reflex which leads him to both ignore your main points while grasping for whatever bit of sophistry he can find to simply dismiss your arguments without more than a superficial consideration of the points you raise. It shows throughout this entire thread.

    Graciously ceding validity to Bob’s arguments proves deism at the very best. Sadly, such is the very best that Christians can do when they attempt to wrestle with these questions in the most intellectually honest manner they can muster. Bob can only argue that, from within his paradigm, you have no grounds for rationality — he cannot address the fact that despite his point of view you are nonetheless rational and have reasons for this outside of what he is willing to accept. The Christian apologist cannot accept people or things as they are, along with their reasons for being so, but instead must twist them to conform to their theology. When contradictions are met, they must explain away those contradictions as being the fault of who or what they are trying to explain rather than the fault of the actual philosophical approach they espouse. The essence of God is the only conceivable basis for rationality within Bob’s paradigm and thus, within his paradigm, it is absolutely inconceivable that one could reject God and still have a basis for being rational. It never occurs to one such as this that the actual problem might be with the paradigm itself and not the one with whom the matter is being argued. What exists is invariably ignored in favor of what ought or ought not to exist.

    Bob should not be blamed for this. Bob is the product of thousands upon thousands of years of biological, human, and societal evolution. The human mind has evolved in such a manner that, from the moment we are born, we begin to make connections regarding the world around us, forming relationships between objects and ideas. Throughout this formative process we almost never question the external factors that condition the assumptions we make as we piece together what is to become our overall paradigm as to how the world works. As far as we are concerned, it is just “the way things are.” We have evolved in such a manner that, when someone or something causes us to question the fundamental assumptions we take for granted, our survival instincts kick in and we resort to any and all sorts of argumentation, however dishonest, to ensure that they are not knocked out of place. Our views can only change to embrace a wider view of the world when we, of our own free will and accord, step back and critically examine our basic assumptions… and even then it’s hardly “easy.”

    At any rate, I thank you all for the interesting read and I thank Normal Bob for his fascinating website.

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