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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Ultimate Geek (like me)

Not so long ago, about the time that YouTube became overly popular, I vowed that I would never, ever, put a youtube video on my blog.

But today I break that rule (it must be that relativist atheism in me...)

Anyway, this guy is the perfect geek -- I am utterly in love with him (In a totally heterosexual way, of course).

His comic that he refers to is found at:
Ghastly Comic

I just wonder though, if it had been a Chevy hubcap that he used, I would feel the same way -- I am a diehard Moparman after all......


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Authoritarianism and Infallibility

When you examine today's conservative Christians, in their writings, their values, and their lives, one of the clear views is that of absolute authoritarianism. By that I mean they adhere to absolute morals (even if those absolutes change drastically over the decades and centuries), and those absolutes are handed down to them only via authoritarian figures. Those authoritarians may be political leaders like President George W. Bush, or via religious leaders like D. James Kennedy (or James Dobson, et. al). Oddly enough, the one authoritarian figure they largely ignore is their god; God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost. I have written about this ignorance many times in the past, concerning their embrace of capitalism over the God-endorsed economics of communism, their lack of endorsement of murdering the infants of unbelievers, their flippant views on behavior of women (and men), and most importantly, their utter incoherence when it comes to dealing with the whole of the bible (e.g. just what did Jesus do, and when did he do it).

In spite of all this, today's conservatives, simply make up out of thin air, the day's absolutes (which will not be the same as tomorrow's absolutes). But absolutism to them is beyond all the change that happens, absolutism really means agreement with authoritarian dictates of that particular time. Take Michelle Malkin (via Glenn Greenwald). Her positions are so contradictary as to be absurd. For Christians (Americans) to torture brown people suspected of terrorism or to hold them in prison without even a trial is perfectly acceptable, but for brown people (non-Americans) to convict Christians (via a trial) of terrorism is reheprehensible. Its all in the religion, eh, Michelle? Michelle is living, breathing proof that absolutes are only absolute on a day-to-day basis and only for "us".

The deeper question would then become, why is it that supposed absolutes are strictly relative to the day on which they are proclaimed? The answer is what Glenn Greenwald explored the other day regarding John Hinderaker and Republicans at large. The answer is that these conservatives take their absolutes from authoritarian figures, the president, leaders of the religious right, etc. No matter what those authoritarians say, it is not simply "right", but right in an absolute sense -- one that can never be contradicted, even by further proclamations from that same authoritarian figure. Consider In vitro fertilization. In the 1980's, soon after Roe v. Wade and the birth of the Moral Majority, Conservative Christians decided they had something to say regarding the recent medical breakthrough, in-vitro fertilization. To them, at that time, it was a moral travesty that human medical science had taken the creative powers of God by creating fertilized eggs via technology rather than the natural order of things as ordained by God. That was then. Today, they say no matter the method of procreation used, it is all God's handiwork, and all those "soulless babies" are now fully human. (Unfortunately, this is the only example I found of this, so take it with some due skepticism.) It is not hard to see how that absolute moral could have been conceived in 1981, yet today be twisted 180 degrees into what we now witness.

While I do tend to agree with Greenwald on the infallibility issue, I have my divergences as well. No one can be a master of all human knowledge, thus, there will always be some point in which we need to defer to authority of others -- that transcends both the left and the right. The difference is that the right, especially conservative Christians, distort that necessity into a requirement on every issue. That is the authoritarian aspect to infallibility.

The problem is that our country, our own government is now usurping that weakness, that lack of skepticism. The current attitude among conservatives is that we can do no wrong -- torturing, the shredding of our very own Bill of Rights, the bastardization of everything our forefathers fought for in the Revolutionary War into a call for infallibility of an authoritarian government. It is wrong and no American should stand for it.

Authoritarianism does hold some use for any society, but the moment infallibility is thrown into the mix, it no longer can be called a democracy, and can only be labeled for what it is, a dictatorship.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Iraq'd Up. The light at the end of the tunnel

It is true that hindsight is 20/20. In March of 2003, I could not have foreseen $300 billion (and counting) spent on Iraq, nor nearly 3,000 killed; to say nothing of the wounded, and the numbers of Iraqi dead and wounded. I did not support the war then, for other reasons -- all of which turned out to be right, no WMDs, no al Qaeda link, Saddam no threat to anybody. In fact I said then, and I still say today, there are worse dictators out there than Saddam.

But just think about how much this country would be better off, and safer, if that national treasure, our military and our money, were used here at home instead of that massive quagmire, more commonly called Iraq.

Using those troops to shore up our northen and southern borders, our ports, our airports and train stations, our sensitive buildings and areas. That alone would protect us from most terrorism here at home. That and the dead and wounded would still today be alive and healthy.

Then there is the problem with all that money, $300 billion and counting. The real weakness of this country is nothing physical, it is not a threat from outside, rather it comes from within. One thing I will agree with with Bush and Cheney, is that this is a nation based on consumerism. And that consumerism is in turn based on energy. Today, that energy primarily comes from oil, something that this country does not have enough of in terms of its native resourses.

If we go all big picture, let me show you something that is going on elsewhere in the world. The United States is involved in a massive international project known as ITER. It is an attempt at fusion power. The entire project is slated to cost roughly $10 billion. If we spread around that $300B between research on our own fusion program and building new nuclear power plants, spent fuel reprocessing plants, effective storage of waste, and research into commercial breeder reactors. (I will be posting a seperate essay focusing on the complete (fission) nuclear fuel cycle.)

When broken down, that $300B already spent could have funded %100 of America's own ITER project (at $10B), with the remaining $290B fully paid for 20 new nuclear reactors (at a cost of $5B each), and spent the remaining $190B on breeder reactors, fuel reprocessing plants, and an effective program to deal with waste.

Of course there is more to dealing with our energy needs than only dealing with nuclear, as I've briefly outlined above. Automobiles are the other major source of oil use. Going electric is the answer. Shaving off $90B from the above $190B and spending it on research and infrastructure will be a strong start to eliminating internal combustion engines as the power plants for our cars. Even offering it only as rebates to upgrading current IC cars to hybrid models, will go a long way in reducing oil dependence.

None of this says anything about the future expenditures wasted on Iraq by our GOP leadership.

Now what about Iraq itself... I say dump it off onto the United Nations. Let China take that mess over. Wouldn't that provide entertaining nightly news fodder??

Of course, this is all fantasy, we can never get back our national treasure, it is gone forever, but wouldn't it be nice to head off any further waste, and put it towards these goals? I guy can dream, and approach the future with a sense of hope, instead of a sense of dread of "more of the same" as we see from those on the right?

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Simple Question

Why is it that we, as Americans, have to give up those very things which make us American, to be (remain) American?

If we say that no technique to protect our safety is no longer out of bounds, then haven't we just shredded our very own Constitution??

For the Liberal-Atheist-Secular Humanist record, I would rather die protecting our values, than live by destroying everything we, as a country, believe in.

And guess what? Our values are enshrined in our Constitution. (O.K. I was glad slavery was abolished, and I was glad that equality was established after-the-fact. But tell me again why gays can't enjoy the same rights as straights??)

To just violate the Constitution in the name of protection, is cowardly. Period.

I remember 9-11. Do you? How would you honor those victims. I honor them by upholding those values put forth in our founding document, our very own U.S. Constitution. Those same values that the 3,000 died for.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Greed, the new Christian family value

I call this blog The Big Picture for a reason. All things are linked together and each part makes up one piece of the big picture, and the more pieces one has, the more complete the overall picture is. Science obviously plays a major role, as does history, philosophy, and theology. What we see today is yet another slice of the big picture that I am painting for you; what Christianity really is. As they say back home, "It ain't purdy."

Today's installment comes direct from CNN (via time).

It is a (relatively) new movement within Christian ranks. I hesitate to call call it a doctrine, for reasons you will see below. Identified as "Prosperity Lite" it presumes to profess that God wants his followers to be wealthy.

[Jesus] contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: "For what profit is it to a man," he asks, "if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"

Generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian means being ready to sacrifice. But for a growing number of Christians, the question is better restated, "Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?"

The basic idea is that in these modern times, one can have it all, wealth and an easy life here, then go to heaven.

Its signature verse could be John 10:10: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." In a Time poll, 17 percent of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61 percent believed that God wants people to be prosperous.

This, in a nutshell, tells all one needs to know about the value of the Bible:
"Prosperity's defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse."
The point I will make here is that it certainly true, that no matter what your personal Christian views are, you can find a biblical passage or set of passages to back it up. Basing Christianity on the Bible allows just about any interpretation one wants to adhere to. The real irony is that no matter what interpretation you choose, you and claim to take a literal (fundamental) view of the Bible. That is the "beauty" of the Bible -- It can literally say anything you want it to say. If you want to justify pedophilia, there's the Pentateuch, if you want to justify divorce, there's Jesus. If you want to justify slavery, there's the entire biblical record. If you want to justify racism, there's Genesis and Joshua. If you want to justify greed, lust, anger, any of the "seven deadly sins" you can do that as well. This does not even touch on the pacifist nature of many of the teachings of Jesus. No matter what your view is (outside of outright atheism) you can find it in the Bible. That is the endearing and self-sustaining property of the Bible that has allowed it to survuve for so long. There is something there for everyone (except atheists).

We have looked at the supposed "persecution" of Christians/Christianity in this country and found it laughably lacking. Now we see that Christians can not only be wealthy and comfortable, but that at the same time be persecuted. Now if persecution involves the ownership of a Porshe, then sign me up for that. If being persecuted means assurance of a healthy and long life, then please persecute me. All else is folderol.

I guess, persecution really means, at least according to these American Christians, healthy, wealthy, and unwise. In that view, please leave me out. I would give up the former, if I can increase the latter. Wisdom to me, means more than all the riches of the world. Knowing is infinitely more valuable than possessing. That is yet another reason why I refuse to accept Christianity (outside of its utter uselessness from a values standpoint).

If Greed is the new Christian pro-family value, then who in this country could not be called "pro-values" for greed transcends all religious and political boundaries. If wealth is the new poverty, then no American can be denied entrance to heaven.

Persecution of Christianity, today means nothing more than than handing them a pot of gold, and saying "fate brought you this."

Jesus stressed poverty and suffering for the fate of Christians, yet today, those are taken to mean, not rich enough, and not comfortable enough. "Suffer onto Jesus" today is defined as not having the wealth and comfort of Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, or James Dobson.

How disgusting is that?

Full Time article here.

Why isn't prosperity a doctrine? Because Jesus says so:
Matthew 19:21-23 [NKJV]
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Also, Christianity is God-decided to be strictly communistic:
Acts 2:44,45 [NKJV]
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

I could go on, but I have made my point. The New Testament and not just Jesus are strictly anti-capitalist. Oh yeah, and I forgot one of the Ten Biggies, Exodus 20:17.

Paul has something to say on the matter as well: Romans 8:18, 1 Corinthians 3:15, and the coup-de-grace: 2 Corinthians 7:9 [NKJV], "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing" (entire passage: 2 Cor 7:8-12)

Paul, too, lets the true christian know what is important: Hebrews 10:34,35 [NKJV]
"34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward."

Finally I wish to close with a thought on idolatry. How can hording gold or wealth be anything other than idolatry? For what value does wealth have in God's eyes? It places a measurable value on materialistic things over godly things. And isn't materialism the realm of secular humanists?

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Impartiality? At the WoldNetDaily?? Who'ya kidding..

WorldNetDaily can be called anything but impartial. But somehow, an impartial message accidentally slipped through.

My favortie passage was this:
The point is this. I am a professional, educated and responsible man who is strong in his faith and is quite comfortable debating the social and political issues of the day. Yet when placed in a setting where the majority culture proved hostile to my faith and beliefs, I became paralyzed with indecision and could not act decisively to defend and proclaim my own beliefs. I felt instantly ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land.

Now if we could only get this sentiment spread throughout conservative Christianity...

This is the seed of understanding as to why it is so important to put religion in its place, in the home, in churches, in the personal lives of its advocates, and not, I repeat not, into school systems, or public legal systems. For imagine if you were to go into a court of law, and find that a religious advocate (other than your own views) were deciding your fate. How much worse would that be, compared to a prayer before a high school football game?

Remember that the next time you want to go screaming to the defense of some unAmerican postulate like Judge Roy Moore.

Unfortunately, this will quickly slide into the memory hole of WND, and tomorrow they will return to their persecution of Christianity, already in progress.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Christianity and Educating Children

In Sunday's LVR-J, there was an article about Christians and home schooling. As usual, it was nowhere to be found on their pathetic website. So I dug up a copy of it at USA Today.

The money quote [Emphasis mine]:

Though the movement's rhetoric strikes public school supporters as extreme, some of its leaders are influential. They include R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who last year said the denomination needed an "exit strategy" from public schools, and the Rev. D. James Kennedy, pastor of 10,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale and host of a nationally broadcast religious program.

"The infusion of an atheistic, amoral, evolutionary, socialistic, one-world, anti-American system of education in our public schools has indeed become such that if it had been done by an enemy, it would be considered an act of war," Kennedy said in a recent commentary.

Before I begin, first, I'd like to say a few words about home schooling. I do believe that parents have the right to teach their children what they want, and to homeschool them. But that that presents some serious problems for the children, problems which border on abuse. First it limits contact with other children especially children of different race, creed, and philosophical upbringing. (I will touch on this again.)

Second, it has the distinct and dangerous possibility of not preparing those children for their lives. An example of this would be mathematics. How many parents (as much as I hate to admit it -- everyone should be proficient in math) are capable of teaching their children algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, differential equations? These are things that children are properly taught in public schools because they have teachers who understand the topic. How is a parent who cannot integrate something as simple x^3 + 5x^2 - 6x - 1 or explain the concept of limits, to teach their children these things? If they are not able, then that child would possibly go off to college in hopes to be an engineer or scientist without even the remedial knowledge neccessary, to accomplish their goal. This puts the child at a disadvantage and leads to frustration.

Of course, the point of homeschooling is not to educate, but to indoctrinate into conservative Christianity. Indoctrination that includes denying science such as physics and evolution; protection from opposing viewpoints such as liberal Christianity, and heaven forbid, sex education. (This is not even to mention atheism -- a worldview that is not mentioned or spoken of at all in public schools for fear of a lashing out by Christians.)

I would like to go on record here as saying that public schools are not perfect, nor is homeschooling perfectly imperfect. But with homeschooling, what is lost is hard to regain later in life -- but not impossible.

So, let us now look at that quote from D. James Kennedy, "The infusion of an atheistic, amoral, evolutionary, socialistic, one-world, anti-American system of education in our public schools has indeed become such that if it had been done by an enemy, it would be considered an act of war," Is there even one single word of truth in that sentence? Even "amoral" is not entirely truthful. It is true that schools leave it up to the parents to teach morality, they do teach some morals; hasn't Kennedy ever heard of anti-cheating policies, respect for fellow students, respect for educators, honesty, gender respect, and responsible sexuality practices (condoms are not a moral, they are responsibility). But atheistic, evolutionary, socialistic, one-world, and anti-American are not things taught in schools.

However, I am not certain what Kennedy meant by evolutionary. The schools certainly should (and for the most part do) teach the science of evolution, but in the context he uses it, it seems to mean changing, as in the nature of educating children changes over time. In that case, it is certainly a lie of the worst kind -- for example, children weren't always taught how to use computers, or the use of computers in educating, so there is some very beneficial use in evolutionary teaching. As for the other non-sensical use of evolutionary in that quote -- that being the teaching of the science of evolution; it is the duty of schools to teach reality, especially the reality of science. Simply that he refuses to accept science does not mean that children who want to become doctors or biologists, or simply learn how things work, should be denied that.

Kennedy really goes off the deep end in terms of socialistic, one-world, and anti-American. He clearly has lost all touch of reality in that regard. Schools teach economics, American history, civics. And all those deal with our current systems of government and economics. The one-world thing is crazy-conspiracy-theory material. How could schools possibility teach that, when the world we all know, can't even handle one government in one country, yet these yahoos like Kennedy think that magically all these disparate ideologies would ever come together and agree on one lone world government. That is real pie-in-the-sky-wishing, and wholly unrealistic at this point in history. Christians want (in the desirous sense) it to be taught and pursued because that fits in with their theology. In other words, they wish so badly that there was a one world government, that they imagine that is what is actually being taught and pursued. They want it to hasten on their end of times prophesies. That is just how insane this statement of Kennedy is, it reveals his inner desires for all to see. He wants it to be true so his worldview will make sense and become real (which it certainly is not now.)

Let us now look at that final part of Kennedy's statement, "it would be considered an act of war." Funny that, living by, and upholding the U.S. Constitution, and the liberty to which it adheres, is considered an act of war. So, if differing views than those of Kennedy's are considered an act of war, what will be the first shot? I imagine Kennedy will take out all those evil and blasphemous Catholic schools in this country, since they are now declaring war on America.. No, that would mean Christians are not in total agreement with Kennedy. Maybe just the public schools then. (Then the Catholic schools.) My point is simple. Kennedy calls differing (and opposing) views to his own an "act of war." This imagery comes so easily to men like him, because they have spent their entire lives singing songs about blood and war, and killing, that they don't see that "war" means killing. His "war," as defined by him, is one not unlike another uniquely American war. One where ideologies clashed to the point where it was no longer rhetoric, but actual and real bloodshed. By labeling this an "act" of war, he is taking this beyond rhetoric, into the reality that was the American civil war. Only this time it will not be limited by state borders, or militias organized by seceeding states, rather one of church versus church, and church versus state. Rhetoric has a funny way of becoming real. (Recall, for instance, Timothy McVeigh, the Christian terrorist who bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building, or Christian Eric Rudolf, the Olympic and abortion clinic bomber.)

[taking it back down a notch]

Now getting back to a theme I touched on, indoctrination of children in an isolated forum to prevent them from being corrupted by opposing ideologies. As Kennedy demonstrated, the only way for his worldview to come to fruition, is to make it so via deception and delusion via imagery of blood and murder -- that is projection of their desires onto other worldviews, those things one wants to see happen. The only place a one-world government is being taught is to these homeschooled children via deep Christian indoctrination. (Certainly being taught the history of the United Nations, and the hope of peace is not teaching a one-world government.) The only way this will succeed is to insulate those children from the realities of the world. If they're never taught evolution, and that the world is only 6,000 years old from the day they are born, unto they day they are "released" onto the world at age 18. Even then, they are likely to go to a Christian College (if any college at all). For if they go to a public university, or a secular private university, they face the possibility of learning the reality of the world. Especially if they are one who seeks truth through science.

Home-schooled children do run the extreme risk of not being exposed to other (quite possibly better) ideologies. If they never learn anything other than Christianity, then they can never understand why others reject it. If they are never given the tools of skepticism, then they cannot even evaluate their own views adequately.

Without understanding others, and other cultures/races/genders/sexualities, then now peaceful coexistence can occur. In light of the Christian (overuse of) war and blood imagery, crimes against humanity become mere stepping stones to heaven. Without knowing the other side's views, understanding becomes nonexistant. And most importantly, "knowing" does not equate to "accepting." But is does most certainly equate to peace. Nowhere on the fundamentalist Christian side, do you see "peace" show up in their writings. They try to claim Jesus is a god of peace, but then immediately sink into war, killing, and blood. Sometimes, peace means peace.

And sometimes war is the wrong route to peace.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Denying Christ

While I have been discussing the misleading and deceitful nature of conservative Christians, yet another proof of this has been going on. There have been a number of conservative Christians who have been slandering the two Fox News reporters who were kidnapped, and released; Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

Update: I have spoken with Darnell, the blogger I refer to below. He insists that he never meant to desparage the Fox reporters as I suggest. I have to take him at his word, and I tend to agree that he uses them in a sense other than what I suggest. I still feel my point holds strong, as they were used as an example, in a post that speaks of denial of Christ. I do not know his heart, so I will call draw, but will accept his explanation as honest and true.

This guy takes the cake. He has the cohones to savage them, and then say that no true Christian would deny Christ. Notice how he manages to cite many New Testament passages in his defense. But he glosses over the most crucial one with the statement "Every time I’ve read about Peter’s actions I’ve prayed that I would not act as he did. To actually see the face of the Lord performing miracles and all, then deny him is something I have a hard time understanding." *

One of the most important characters in the New Testament and Christianity is Peter, Jesus' right hand man, so to speak. Let us reconsider one of the Gospel pasages concerning him:
"And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly" [Matthew 26:75 NKJV]. This can also be found in other verses (thus showing it is not some obscure easily dismissed verse: )Matthew 26:34, Mark 14:30, Mark 14:72, Luke 22:34, and Luke 22:61. What we see, is that Peter, too, is guilty of denying Christ. I don't know about these so-called Christians, but being in the company of Peter, is not to be taken lightly. To make light of Peter, is to make oneself greater than the the gospel of Jesus, as you are calling into question the character of the "rock" of Christianity, and claiming to be more moral and stronger than Peter. While it may be simple to simply mention this, its real and profound implications in Christianity are to make oneself more perfect than the bible allows (Why can't these types of Christians read and live by the "great" apostle Paul, who claimed, "I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing" [2 Cor 12:10-12 NKJV]. I really find verse 10 appropriate and useful: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Funny, that it is so easy to ignore important aspects of the Bible, if it furthers one's own modern interpretation of conservatism, and the right to (pretend to) act superior. I think what we are witnessing today is an all-too-real self-righteousness that was famously lampooned by Dana Carvey's "The Church Lady" in the 1980's.

* Actually, I would say it would be impossible to deny. Because miracles were performed, and yet it was still so easy for Peter to deny, then one would think the whole story made up; with the details, as written, crafted purely for dramatic impact.

Update: Blogger Hal, of the Great Seperation, has a different take on this, that being the mark of the beast as found in Revelations.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Possibility of Atheism (part 3 of 3)

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Original article is here.

We are now at the final part of the essay by Craig, as presented by Walton, at the ever-so-prestigous blog, Atheismsucks (godless link here). Today we discover why atheists have no purpose, and anyone that believes in some mythical sky god (but only in the right mythical god), has ample purpose.

Purpose of Life
Finally, let’s look at the problem of purpose in life. The only way most people who deny purpose in life live happily is either by making up some purpose, which amounts to self-delusion as we saw with Sartre, or by not carrying their view to its logical conclusions.

He uses death as an example of how we atheists secretly sneak God into our views. The problem with his example, is that if one changed it from death to the lottery it still makes as much sense, that is to say it is useless as proof. Sure, one can hope to win the lottery, but reality is that you will not win the lottery. Just like the Christian can hope there is an afterlife, but the reality is there is none. Atheists accept the reality, Christians accept the fantasy. If some atheist "hopes" there really is an afterlife, it is the same as hoping to win the lottery, then reality sets back in. So what is the reality? There is a great fear of death, as the result of the uniquely human condition of realizing there is a "self" (i.e. sentience). Because of this, there lies an innate hope that death is not the end, that there will be more, because the "self" does not want to cease to exist.. This hope has transformed into a belief in gods over the millenia, and then into organized religions, and finally into monotheistic religions, of which Christianity is only one. I trust that it is not necessary to explain why hope and reality are not the same thing.

We often find the same inconsistency among those who say that man and the universe came to exist for no reason or purpose, but just by chance. Unable to live in an impersonal universe in which everything is the product of blind chance, these persons begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves.
Though all these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces.

Here he guesses as to what the inner thoughts of these particular atheists are, and then uses that guess as proof of his argument. To show how mistaken that is, allow me to do the same to Craig. Because he is so afraid of dying, he is willing invent a mythical being who will wisk him away from death and keep him alive forever. In order for him to complete this fantasy, he must convince others he is right, thus propagating the lie. Since Craig actually does not believe God is real, then I have proven there is no God! Se how that works? He really has no way of knowing what Sagan or anyone else is really thinking, but he imagines he knows, then he takes that guess and shows it as proof. It is nothing but transposing one's own incredulous belief onto another person as if they must possess it is well. And that fails as an argument.

Let us further analyze this statement, "these persons begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves." Does that sound familiar? It should. It is what was done with/to gods for millenia. In fact, the Bible does that exact same thing, consider this passage from Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in His own image" Clearly we have a god made up in the Bible to possess human characteristics. When I read Craig, I get the strong sense of his projecting his own fears and unbelief onto those who reject his superstition outright based on solid evidence (or the sore lack of evidence of a god.) Finally, do not Christians do this very same thing all the time as well? It would eliminate the entiure argument of the Discovery Institute if it became impossible for Christians to argue the personification of design and human characteristics in otherwise inanimate objects.

You can’t change the truth because you don’t like what it leads to. But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently support women’s rights. For if God does not exist, then natural selection dictates that the male of the species is the dominant and aggressive one. Women would no more have rights than a female goat or chicken have rights. In nature whatever is, is right. But who can live with such a view?
If Skinner’s theories are right, then there can be no objection to treating people like the rats in Skinner’s rat-box as they run through their mazes, coaxed on by food and electric shocks. But again, who can live with such a dehumanizing view?
If God does not exist, there can be no objection to using people as human guinea pigs.

Why? If Craig's posit is correct then there can be no way for people to see anything wrong with torturing animals. Furthermore, there can be no "war on Islamofascism" if those very same "Islamofascists" are fully human and equally valued. It becomes trivially easy to see that there is no big picture worldview when it comes to Christianity, just a bunch of little contradictory pieces that when put together become utterly absurd. The worldview of atheism, is much better at valuing humanity, and all of life on this planet for that matter, simply because when all life is common and connected, it becomes equally valued by default. The whole pseudo-evolutionary (creationist mischaracterization) idea of mankind being at the "top" of the evolutionary tree is false (evolution is about survivability and not superiority), and more importantly, applicable to the biblical version of creation.

What Craig neglects to realize is that humans have emotions, feelings, thoughts, and most importantly, the ability to communicate them. The simple statement, "stop, you're hurting me" and the fact everyone knows what it means, completely negates the rationale for his argument.

[some dreadful schlock about a 'Noble Lie" and Modern Man]

In order to survive, he must live in self-deception. For one cannot live happily and
consistently on an atheistic world view. Like a placebo, a Noble Lie works only on those who believe it is the truth. Once we have seen through the fiction, then the Lie has lost its power over us. Thus, ironically, the Noble Lie cannot solve the human predicament for anyone who has come to see that predicament.

Talk about irony.. I would identify the noble lie as Christianity. When viewed as such, this paragraph makes much more sense. When a worldview is based not just on what we can know via experience, but what every human can know equally, via the same experiences, then the atheistic worldview becomes the clear frontrunner on truth. This is provable through the simple fact that everyone can equally experience the material world, and no two people "experience" the supernatural world in the same way -- thus the huge variation in supernatural experiences throughout the world and throughout history.

The Noble Lie option therefore leads at best to a society in which an elitist group of illuminati deceive the masses for their own good by perpetuating the Noble Lie. If one answers, “for the sake of social coherence,” one may legitimately ask why I should sacrifice my self-interest for the sake of social coherence?

...And the answer would be survivability. No person who lives in a society is an island unto themself. We, as a species, depend on others for our food, the safety of our food, for shelter, protection, knowledge, etc. Take those things away, and the individual dies. We, as a species must trust those around us, for just those very reasons. This need for trust, brings with it an obligation of honesty and good faith (not the religious faith). Without trust, honesty, and good faith, society could not operate, and we would sink into anarchy and many, if not most, would die off. In that situation, we would witness the raw power of the Darwinian definition of "survival of the fittest."

[B]ut the problem with this answer is that self-interest and the interest of the herd do not always coincide.
Rue’s dilemma is that he obviously values deeply both social coherence and personal wholeness for their own sakes; in other words, they are objective values, which according to his philosophy do not exist. The Noble Lie option thus affirms what it denies and so refutes itself.

True, group interests and self-interests do not always coincide. This is the source of criminals, and the justice system. More noble humans try to mesh as best as possible the social good with the personal good. They try to mesh family good with self good. There are compromises involved, and those are dealt with via our intellect. To deny that, is to deny that humans are in fact, intelligent. And since Christianity has persisted for so long, maybe I am, after all, willing to agree with Mr. Craig, maybe humans aren't so smart after all.

posted by Frank Walton @ 12:39 AM

A few closing remarks. As we have seen, the individual arguments are all flawed, either logically or through bad assumptions. There was another problem with this essay overall; many, if not all, the quotes used were either misrepresented or misquoted. The quotes used were all either part of the argument made itself or examples used in place of an argument. This is an improper manner of defending one's argument.


Bertrand Russell, for example, wrote that we must build our lives upon “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”15 Only by recognizing that the world really is a terrible place can we successfully come to terms with life.
Is this an accurate representation of Bertrand Russell? No. The Reference is to "15. Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), p. 107." I found more information online here. Read this, and you will quickly see how misleading and deceitful Craig really is. Just in case you're interested, here is a list of some other Russell writings online.

As always, what we find is that the only way Christian apologists can make their case for Christ/God, is by lying, misrepresentation, sowing distrust, and ignarance. Are those really the primary values of Christianity? The defenders of Christianity certainly seem to think so. But then again, they have a good excuse to lie to their believers to convince them of their certainty... For Paul, the Apostle of Christ, told his followers in Romans 3:7, "For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?" Clearly, anyone who thinks it is acceptable to lie to further their cause/belief, will not be self-limited to do so.

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