Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Suck

So I've finally figured it out.

We suck.

No seriously, look at
this article.

See? We suck. Sad.

We are, as a country, a self-centered narcisistic lot with delusions of grandeur. We seem to have come to the unspoken concensus that believing we are NUMBER ONE, is somehow indistinguishable from actually being number one. We've grown sloppy and bloated, and we just don't give a shit anymore.

And I'll sing my sad, sorry song yet one more time here, and tell you that yes, absolutely, I blame the fucking religion. The religion, coupled of course with a ravenous pack of amoral Republican wolves who play the stupid sad sorry lot of religious fools like an out-of-tune saxaphone. This duality, the fools (sheep) and the wolves, is why we are in such a sad state of denial as a country. Heck, we've practically made blind patriotism a religion. Or perhaps more correctly an addendum to the already-existing religion.

We are the Lotos Eaters. We are asleep.

WAKE THE FUCK UP.

There. I've said it.

***************************
For those who cannot use the link provided, here is the article in full from Explore, the Journal of Science and Healing (http://www.explorejournal.com/home) minus references:

Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 8-12 (January 2011)

5 of 13


ABSTRACT

FULL TEXT

FULL-TEXT PDF (185 KB)


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Trends That Will Affect Your Future … A Portrait of American Societal Health

Stephan A. Schwartz



The SchwartzReport tracks emerging trends that will affect the world, particularly the United States. For EXPLORE, it focuses on matters of health in the broadest sense of that term, including medical issues, changes in the biosphere, technology, and policy considerations, all of which will shape our culture and our lives.

Article Outline
• Abstract

• Tax Cuts

• Povertry Rate

• Moving In

• Prison Population

• Physical Health

• Hunger

• Justice

• References

• Biography

• Copyright

When Benjamin Franklin—the only founder who drafted and signed all three of the documents that brought the United States to life, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris (September 3, 1783), and the Constitution—dreamed of the America he would like to see develop, the imagery that came to his mind was of a middle-class, largely urban culture made up of immigrants who were technologically sophisticated, family oriented, joyful, and upwardly mobile. And when he thought about how they might happen to become that society, it wasn't just the people he thought about. He also understood the importance of infrastructure as a factor in creating a middle class. He felt so strongly about this that he used his will to continue to support his plan for America beyond his death. He left specific bequests for public works and created the microlending model that has proven such a powerful transformative force, leaving what today would be several hundred thousand dollars1 each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia. The infrastructure money was to be used specifically to build such an infrastructure and nurture such a middle class. He explained his intent was to create that “Which may be judged of most general utility to the Inhabitants, such as Fortifications, Bridges, Aqueducts, Public Buildings, Baths, Pavements or whatever may make living in the Town more convenient to its People and render it more agreeable to Strangers, resorting thither for Health or a temporary residence.”2

This is classic Franklin. He defines a goal, and a process for achieving it, but leaves any personal cherished outcomes as to how this should happen unstated. Franklin put his money on creating civic amenities—the kinds of things now seen as the prime targets for budget reductions—because he knew they are essential for a healthy city. His genius allowed him to conceive of the impact over time that parks, sanitation, and hospitals would have on the lives of all the city's people. He knew that each interaction with clean water, or decent medical care in an emergency, or a place to go for a picnic improves the quality of life and lifts morale. People think in larger terms, attempt more. Are more optimistic. The interaction each individual in the city has with these amenities might seem small and not terribly important, but in aggregate, over time, they are a powerful force in shaping a city's character through their impact on the lives of citizens and visitors alike.

How different that view is from the policies that seem to govern so many municipalities, states, and even the federal government today. Ultraconservative Grover Norquist voices this worldview: “I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”3 What he does not say, and what is not acknowledged, is that such a vision of governance can only be attempted through the radical reduction of the social safety net Franklin recognized as so important, because philosophically this worldview sees no role for government in doing such things.

So do these anti-Franklinian ideas really work?

A large percentage of politicians apparently think so and, through their voting, have attempted to create this Ayn Rand world, with the Bush tax reduction for the rich as one of its crown jewels. Just about this time last year, I wrote an essay “The Vanishing Middle Class,” which dealt with what was happening in 2009 as a result of pursuing those kinds of policies.4 I talked about Franklin's view and the truth of what was happening, noting:

University of California, Berkeley, economist Emanuel Saez had reported that, in 2007, the disparity between the richest and the poorest reached a level never before seen, going all the way back to 1917 when modern tax data began to be collected. According to Saez's study, the top 10% of earners in America received 49.7% of all the income earned in the United States. To give this context as recently as the 1970s, the top 10% earned around 33% of all the income earned in the United States—a 17% shift. This contrast becomes even starker when only the super rich are considered. According to Saez, ‘The top 0.01 percent of earners in the US are now taking home six percent of all the income, higher than the 1920s peak of five percent, and a whopping six-fold increase since the start of the Reagan administration, when the top 0.01 percent earned one percent of all the income.'4


Or, put another way, as of 2007 the top upper-class 1% of households owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

A year later, these trends have continued, and every one of my markers has become more distorted in favor of the top at a cost to the middle class and the poor. There are a hundred ways to show this breakdown. Here are seven, by which I hope you will see that I am not selectively picking my data to make a polemic case, but describing the actuality of American society just when it transits the midterm elections. Perhaps it will provide some guidance for the choices we now must make.

Tax Cuts
Just as they did in 2000, the Republicans are running, as I write this, on an economic platform centered on tax cuts, and proposing that the Bush cuts be made permanent for the richest Americans. The 2008 income tax data are now in, so we can assess what their economic theory is worth, and how it fulfilled its promise that tax cuts would produce widespread prosperity, by looking at all the years of the George W. Bush presidency. This is what David Cay Johnston, on the faculty of Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management, and Pulitzer Prize–winning tax analyst, concluded, based on the IRS data:

Total income was $2.74 trillion less during the eight Bush years than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels (all figures are in 2008 dollars). In only two years was total income up, but even when those years are combined they exceed the declines in only one of the other six years.

Even if we limit the analysis by starting in 2003, when the dividend and capital gains tax cuts began, through the peak year of 2007, the result is still less income than at the 2000 level. Total income was down $951 billion during those four years.

Average incomes fell. Average taxpayer income was down $3,512, or 5.7 percent, in 2008 compared with 2000, President Bush's own benchmark year for his promises of prosperity through tax cuts. Had incomes stayed at 2000 levels, the average taxpayer would have earned almost $21,000 more over those eight years. That's almost $50 per week. Just measuring the second through seventh years we find that total income was still nearly $2 trillion lower than if 2000 level income continued.5


Povertry Rate
That same US Census data also described what has happened to the nation's standard of living, comparing just the latest time period—2008 data with that of 2009. Here are some of the highlights:

Some 43.6 million people were living in poverty last year—the highest number since 1959, five years before President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty. The poverty rate was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008 and the highest level since 1994. Hispanic households took the hardest hit: Their poverty rate rose 2.1 percent from 2008's level, compared with a 1.1 percent jump in the rate for blacks and whites. (The US government considers an annual income of $21,756 to be the poverty line for a family of four.)

A record number of Americans, 50.7 million, were not covered by health-care insurance in 2009. At the same time the survey was being taken, Congress passed President Obama's contentious health-care reform law.6


Moving In
From the 50s until about five years ago, one of the strongest American familial trends was for children to grow up and move away. It was a central part of the nuclear family ethos. That is now reversing thanks to the grinding down of the middle class through unemployment, job loss, and reduction in income even when a person is employed.

From 2005 to 2009, family households added about 3.8 million extended family members, from adult siblings and in-laws to cousins and nephews. Extended family members now make up 8.2% of family households, up from 6.9% in 2005, according to Census data released in September 2010.

“Clearly, a big part of that is the economic recession and housing costs,” says Stephanie Coontz, cochair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research association. “We're seeing a shift away from the 1950s and 1960s mentality against extended families, when ‘modern’ women did not take in aging parents for fear of hurting their marriage.”7

And this shift involves far more than blood relations. “For the first time in more than a century, more than half of people aged 25 to 34 have never been married. The number of people in non-family households—those whose members are not related—grew 4.4% from 2005 to 2009, faster than the 3.4% growth for family households.”7

Prison Population
According to the Pew Research Center's Economic Mobility Project, the US prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, from 500,000 to 2.3 million.8 The American Gulag is now larger than the 35 largest European countries combined. The incarceration rate in the United States—753 inmates per 100,000—is five times that of the United Kingdom—itself an anomaly at 151 prisoners per 100,000. France, which is next, stands at 96, with Germany at 88. This means more than one in 100 Americans is in prison, and one in every 28 children in the United States has a parent behind bars—up from one in 125 just 25 years ago.7

It probably won't surprise you to learn that a family with a parent in prison on average earns 22% less the year after the incarceration than it did the year before. After all, who wants to hire an ex-con in a tight labor market? And children with parents in prison are significantly likelier to be expelled from school than others; 23% of students with jailed parents are expelled, compared with 4% for the general population.

“Both education and parental income are strong indicators of children's future economic mobility,” the survey notes. “With millions of prison and jail inmates a year returning to their communities, it is important to identify policies that address the impact of incarceration on the economic mobility of former inmates and their children.”7

In all, 2.7 million US children have parents behind bars, and “two-thirds of these children's parents were incarcerated for non-violent offenses,” the study notes.7

And when you break the statistics down by race, it just gets nastier. There are large disparities. Among black children, fully one in nine, or 11.4%, have a parent in jail. For Hispanics, the number is one in 28, and for white children it's one in 57.

I hope marijuana law reform passed in California, because this alone could help reverse these trends, simply by reducing the 858,000 arrests in the United States in 2010 for marijuana. That's marginally down from the 2007 peak of 872,000. It is notable that more than 50% of these arrests are nonviolent violations involving marijuana.9

The cost to states of this human warehousing now exceeds $50 billion per year, or one in every 15 state dollars expended.7 What is worse is that a growing number of small towns and cities now look to the gulag for their economic well-being. Like something from an Orwell novel, it is a complete cycle: one group of Americans lives on the incarceration of another group of Americans. And although it would appear illogical, it goes on even though it is well-known that the children of incarcerated parents face a much harder struggle in life. The gulag that incarcerates their parents, in the process, also often condemns the next generation to a life in jail.

Why would any society do this? Well, from the point of view of those who live on keeping them, and who mostly live in low-crime areas, isn't this exactly what is wanted? Thus, we have created a lobby whose rice bowl is dependent on the gulag. It is a truly Dickensian reality that few talk about for fear of being labeled “soft on crime.” It is a form of willful ignorance on the part of politicians and citizens alike.

Physical Health
In 1950, before the inception of the present illness profit industry, the United States, compared with the world's other leading industrial nations, was fifth with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands.10 In 2010, the United States position concerning female life expectancy had fallen to 46th.11 And when both men and women were combined, it went to 49th.12, 13 Americans live 5.7 fewer years of “perfect health”—a measure adjusted for time spent ill—than, for instance, the Japanese.14

Is this the result of lack of spending on the part of the United States? Most emphatically it is not.

Health policy expert Uwe E. Reinhardt, the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University, headed a team that specifically considered this. They found, “per capita health spending in the United States increased at nearly twice the rate in other wealthy nations between 1970 and 2002.”15 As a result, the United States now spends well over twice the median expenditure of industrialized nations on healthcare, and far more than any other country as a percentage of its gross domestic product.15

Peter A. Muennig, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, in New York City, and Sherry A. Glied, professor of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health and currently on leave as assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, analyzed Reinhardt's and many other studies in a groundbreaking exegetic survey of healthcare.16 They concluded:

We found that none of the prevailing excuses for the poor performance of the US health care system are likely to be valid. On the spending side, we found that the unusually high medical spending is associated with worsening, rather than improving, 15-year survival in two groups for whom medical care is probably important.

We speculate that the nature of our health care system specifically, its reliance on unregulated fee-for-service and specialty care may explain both the increased spending and the relative deterioration in survival that we observed. If so, meaningful reform may not only save money over the long term, it may also save lives.16


Hunger
It doesn't get much more basic that not having enough to eat. It is hard to think of America as a place where large numbers of people are facing hunger as a daily reality for themselves and, even worse, for their children. That happens in Africa, or maybe Asia, but surely not here. You think not? Millions of our fellow citizens routinely are forced to make life decisions based on whether they or their children will eat or go without to pay for housing or medical bills. And even the slender pipeline of assistance that does exist is problematic; 70% of emergency food centers face threats to their survival.

According to a study from the nation's largest food bank operator, the number of Americans in need of food aid has jumped 46% in three years, including a 50% jump in the number of children needing food assistance and a 64% increase in hunger in senior citizens' homes.

According to the largest study of domestic hunger ever done, Hunger in America 2010, a study based on more than 61,000 interviews with clients and surveys of 37,000 feeding agencies, “hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States”17:



1.Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. This is an increase of 46% over 2006, when we were feeding 25 million Americans, including nine million children, each year.


2.That means one in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America for food and groceries.


3.Feeding America's nationwide network of food banks is feeding one million more Americans each week than we did in 2006.


4.Thirty-six percent of the households we serve have at least one person working.


5.More than one third of client households report having to choose between food and other basic necessities, such as rent, utilities, and medical care.


6.The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50% since 2006.17



“Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, which operates some 200 food banks across the country.

“It is morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic necessities,” Escarra said in a statement.

She added that “these are choices that no one should have to make, but particularly households with children. Insufficient nutrition has adverse effects on the physical, behavioral and mental health, and academic performance of children.”18

Feeding America's report is far from alone in reporting this food catastrophe.

“The Food Research and Action Center found that nearly one in five in the US—18.5 percent — report having gone hungry in the past year, up from 16.3 percent at the start of 2008. Households with children were even likelier to experience hunger, with nearly a quarter reporting hunger in the past year.

“Perhaps worst of all, the Feeding America study finds that 70 percent of emergency food centers are reporting “one or more problems that threaten their ability to continue operating.”18

Justice
I have placed this last because I hope you will agree with me that where there is not justice, there is not civil society. It has always been my safe port that no matter what else happened in America, I always saw the justice system as fair. Perhaps you feel the same way, and will be as appalled as I was when I read the World of Justice Project (WJP) report, Rule of Law Index 2010.19

To understand why I think this report is such a big deal, perhaps it will help to say who funded it: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Neukom Family Foundation, the GE Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and LexisNexis. I list them to make the point that this is the pinnacle of nonpartisan philanthropy, not some political think tank with an agenda. We can trust the data.

The project, involving 900 researchers from 35 countries, who have polled 35,000 individuals, in addition to searching each nation's records, presents itself in this very Franklinian way:

“Establishing the rule of law is fundamental to achieving communities of opportunity and equity—communities that offer sustainable economic development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights… . The rule of law is the cornerstone to improving public health, safeguarding participation, ensuring security, and fighting poverty.”

When the WJP talks about the rule of law, they spell out very carefully what they mean. They refer to “a rules-based system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:



•the government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;


•the laws are clear, publicized, stable, and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;


•the process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient;


•access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.



With this as the basis for its analysis, the Rule of Law Index 2010 then lists what it calls the 10 “factors,” which break down further into 49 “subfactors.” These descriptors are the basis upon which the Rule of Law Index 2010 evaluates a nation's justice under the rule of law. The outcome of this exercise is a quite extraordinary assessment “of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law—not in theory but in practice [emphasis added].”19 Here are the 10 factors; they all sound very “American”:



•factor one: limited government powers


•factor two: absence of corruption


•factor three: clear, publicized, and stable laws


•factor four: order and security


•factor five: fundamental rights


•factor six: open government


•factor seven: regulatory enforcement


•factor eight: access to civil justice


•factor nine: effective criminal justice


•factor 10: informal justice19



As I started reading the report, I assumed that whatever other self-inflicted wounds we have brought to ourselves as a nation, our justice system was still solid, and that the United States would rank at the top of the world's list. Surprise. The WJP groups countries by regions as well as such considerations as income level, then evaluates them, dropping factor 10—“informal justice”—because it is does not involve law. Not surprisingly, the United States is grouped with North America and Western Europe, and there are seven nations in our bloc: Austria, Canada, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and USA (Table 1). These are the nations where the survey was carried out for the 2010 report, with other countries to follow in later reports.

Table 1. Nine-Factors Ranking Analysisa


Nations Factor One Factor Two Factor Three Factor Four Factor Five Factor Six Factor Seven Factor Eight Factor Nine
Austria 3 3 4 1 1 6 3 3 1
Canada 4 4 3 3 4 4 4 5 6
France 6 5 5 4 6 5 6 6 4
Netherlands 2 2 2 5 3 2 2 2 3
Spain 5 6 7 7 5 7 7 4 7
Sweden 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 1 2
USA 7 7 6 6 7 3 5 7 5

a
Countries are ranked from one to seven.


For the United States, it is a death's head portrait of the reality that lies beneath the smug rhetoric we use to hector others about justice and the rule of law. I am embarrassed. We all should be. This has haunted me since I read the report. If America is not a leader in justice, what are we? I could pick a dozen other trends, from closing libraries, to depaving streets, to decline in educational performance, but do we need to go further? If America were a patient, what would you tell him about his lifestyle and habits? What would you see as his prognosis?

On the basis of data, it is impossible to say America's societal health is good. On the basis of that same data, we can also conclude policies based on cutting taxes, without recognizing that it is in the societal interest to assure a decent quality of life for all, are destructive. We know enough to see that democracy cannot function properly without a healthy and vibrant middle class, and to prove to ourselves that we are killing ours. We need to change course—not on the basis of political ideology—but on facts. Facts about what does and does not work.

It is the middle class that holds the key, just as Franklin saw all those years ago. The middle class has enough money to dream, but rarely enough to do it alone. Success requires working together, finding compromises. And that's what most of us say we want. According to research by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, 92% of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the United States, choosing Sweden's model over that of the United States.20 The America Benjamin Franklin imagined while sitting beneath his mulberry tree in the courtyard of his house in Philadelphia over two centuries ago.

References

1,022 comments:

  1. I think that we are being led by the nose by global corporations.

    Yes we do suck. But take heart Brian, it's not just the United States.

    Corporations are our babies, they're our inventions, they exist to take advantage of poverty stricken people and to steal the resources of the planet for us.

    They can't help it if, since they are designed to take advantage of people, that they also take advantage of us.

    But their model is religion. Religion is the ultimate corporation, the ultimate blameless person whose individual members are only trying to do 'what's best'.

    The guy who wrote, "If there wasn't a God we'd have to invent him.", likely finally understood that we have to create transcendental monsters to rail against those other ones.

    He basically realized that there is no defeating a corporation*, which, depending on your point of view, is either a God or Satan.

    There is no defeating self-serving monsters who don't really exist, is there?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would agree we humans DO many things that suck, but that does not in any way proves that we humans suck. I think you are confused because we do not live up to your expectations. The potential and ideals of what is possible, and the reality of what is, leads many who deny evolution to believe the human race is corrupt (as in the fall of man) but I fail to understand how anyone who buys into evolution cannot see we are a work in progress. Would you expect a 5 year old child to be as knowledgeable as say a 50 year old person? Or would you expect a 5 year old to have the knowledge of a 50 year old and not make the simple blunders that are commonly expected from a 5 year old. In comparison the 5 year old is much closer to a 50 year old in knowledge that the oldest human that ever lived is privileged to total knowledge. While those who use faith can make a being or countless beings greater than man, (even perfect) however for those that stick to what we KNOW cannot help but see that humans are the most magnificent creatures we KNOW. When I think of the advancement humans have made since written history began I am amazed at the progress we have made.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, no Jerry. We are currently devolving, not evolving. In the old days the stupid were killed off by predators and such, or failed in society and starved, but today we preserve the stupidest of us and allow them to breed even more than the smartest among us. We have made ignorance a viable lifestyle, by supporting it, and even cherishing it.
    Jerry, the best answer to an ignorant christian, is and always has been, a lion.
    The new governor of alabama just said that if anyone is not a christian, then they are not his brother or sister...
    I'd love to see him get it on with a felis leo. That's what he deserves.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes we do suck. But take heart Brian, it's not just the United States.
    -----------------
    It isn't? You're counting the third-world countries, I guess. Among the major industrialized countries, as the data states in the article I linked to, we indeed are the suckiest.

    More important and germane to my point though, is the fact that we suck so very much precisely because we deeply believe that we don't. We BELIEVE we're just the most amazingest country that evah evah existed, when we're actually pathetic and sad and small-minded and selfish. THAT'S what bothers me the most. And that my friend, is all abuout the FAITH thing.

    Faith = Stupidity. Pass it along.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The best answer to an ignorant christian, is and always has been a lion.

    I like it. A great bumper sticker.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Brian,
    All things in life goes in cycles. Things can be charted like the stock market, and man's evolution can be charted the same way. Sure things go up and down and we might well be in a pull back in our evolution but that will be temporary. I think you are looking at to small of a picture. Even in the last two hundred years our country has overcome many of mans mistakes so it is steady by jerks that we go forward with some set backs, but the over all trend for man is forward, not backward. While our country has made new highs on the chart of evolution which many people cling to as in the thinking we are the most advanced country in the world we both know better. This country will most likely fail in time and be replaced by some type of government which may be better or worse, it will in the long run proceed in making new highs on the chart of evolution even if it takes hundreds of years. (maybe even thousands) I think you are looking at the dregs of mankind, organized religion, and projecting that onto all of society. Let us take Abraham for example. According to the story, when he took his son up on the mountain to sacrifice his son's life to god to save his bony ass it was looked upon as a truly great deed. In this country today he could look forward to spending his life in jail or a nut house. Sure there are many like Observant that cling to the antiquated ideas of our fore fathers, and it is up to the advanced thinkers to help bring them up to speed, and whining about their refusal to see how screwed up their thinking is does not help. I have watched you, and others, put forth so many facts that have without doubt proven the basic beliefs of organized religion to be false without success in changing minds. In other words trying to take something from someone's mind, as in argument, does not work except with the open minded. In order to convince the laggards in society one has to offer a positive to go toward, not a negative to their silly beliefs. Telling religionist they are wrong just makes them dig in their heels, and not even hear the ideas they are being exposed to. I do agree with most of your way of thinking, I think the only value of arguing with Observant or DD types is for the benefit of those listening as these people are not open to any facts of truth. Like is a 5th grade teacher that has goals of teaching her/his class a subject better spend the time trying to take something from the minds of the students or spending the time with new ideas that are not automatically rejected by preconceived ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here's the Beast's 'most loathesome person' of 2004.

    Recognize anyone?

    "3. You
    Crimes: You gaze idly at the carnage around you, sigh, and go calmly back to your coffee and your People magazine. You can’t stop buying useless crap, though you’re drowning in a deepening pool of debt. You think you’re an activist because you bitch all day on the internet, but you reelect the same gangsters at a 99% rate. You consider yourself informed because you waste a significant portion of your life watching the same three news stories cycle over and over again on your gargantuan, aerodynamic television set while you eat processed food. You really thought everything would be okay if Kerry won. Not only do you believe in an invisible man who magically farted out the universe, you also excoriate and marginalize those who disagree. You have a poorer understanding of your country’s foreign policy history than a third world peasant, but you can’t wait to see what Julia Roberts will be wearing at the Oscars. You cheer as Ukrainians challenge an election based on exit poll data, but keep waiting around for someone else to fix your problems. You can’t think, you can’t organize and you won’t act. This is all your fault.

    Smoking Gun: You’re fat.

    Punishment: You’re soaking in it."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was particularly fond of this year's #33. Fuck you Damon Lindelof.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Brian,

    I tried looking at the link, but all I get is a blank page. Does it work for the rest of you guys?

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's still working for me. Just checked it.

    Let me know... I could post the whole article I suppose if you can't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. No need... I'll try again later after I've loggd off and closed everyrthing down. If it still doesn't work after that...?

    ReplyDelete
  12. OK...

    I tried again, and no luck. Maybe if someone posted a direct link in a comment?

    I want to read the article...

    ReplyDelete
  13. "First we have good reasons for thinking Santa does not exist."- Matt(on M&M)

    Taking the case of Santa to be like the case of a corporation, there are people who represent Santa much like there are people who represent a corporation and people who represent any particular religion.

    The answer to 'how do I know these persons exist?' is very similar.

    How do I know Santa exists?
    a)stories
    b)the gifts which show up
    c)Santa at the mall(building + representative)
    d)Santa on the street collecting for charity
    e) and so on.

    How do I know GM exists?
    a)the vehicles, there they are
    b)the commercials(stories)
    c)dealerships(buildings + representatives)
    d)and so on.

    How do I know God exists?
    a)churches
    b)stories
    c)representatives
    d)and so on

    BTW, I'm not equating Santa with God to try to make a connection with 'childish ideas', corporations are not exactly childish.

    One difference I can see here is that with corporations, their product shows up, with Santa, the gifts show up, with God, not so much.(Unless you count 'everything', I'm not trying to be dickish)

    We can all imagine(sort of) what it is we're talking about when we imagine a corporation, Santa and God, yet they are all immaterial.

    So we have these immaterial persons right? Sure there ARE differences but why should I not notice the similarities?

    ReplyDelete
  14. All human relationships (history/evolution/nationhood/marriege/etc)can be likened to a potted plant. At first, growth is vigorous and rapid, even when unattended. Eventually, as the plant matures, growth slows down and may even start to regress, unless someone adds plant food, does some pruning and even repots the plant. In other words, human endeavors require constant attention and periodic rethinking if theyb are to continue to succeed.
    It seems to e that we in the USA are currently in a period wherein recent lack of attention has, perhaps, put us in need of repotting. As expensive and sometimes painful as this process may be, we have done so many times in the past, and we can fervently hope that we will continue to do so (although there are certainly no guarantees).
    Although I agree that the current ascendency of fundamentalist religious thinking and its injection into our national politics has been largely detrimental to our place(s) in the World, this cycle (as Jerry rightly points out) has been repeated many times in history. Usually, it has either resulted in repudiation of its negative effects upon the body politic by the people involved, or the government in question has fallen. We will have to see how this time in inhistory plays out, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Weird how it all seems to be coming to a head, to an end coinciding with the end of the Mayan calender.

    I wonder how the propensity for people to be so affected by prophecy which they are in awe of, to 'make it so' is forcing it to come about, at least in some fashion.

    Look what happened in the case of the second World War. Hitler, determined to exterminate what he considered group of second class citizens, in some kind of perverse twist of fate, helped the Jews to return to Palestine.

    Could it be that bankers, in their effort to hunker down, to grab as much wealth as possible for themselves, to ride out any possible 'End of Age' changes prophecied by the Mayan Calender, inadvertently started a series of troubles which will end in some kind of 'End of Age' changes described by the Mayan Calender?

    ReplyDelete
  16. "The best answer to an ignorant christian, is and always has been a lion."

    Remember Christians were called atheists with no trace of irony, and punishment neatly followed.

    Unfortunately their discourse today doesn't carry the weight of acknowledgment of that fact. Maybe ours should?

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've now posted the full article in the body of my post, at the end, so now anyone who can't find it through the link I provided can read it in full.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Brian said,

    The new governor of alabama just said that if anyone is not a christian, then they are not his brother or sister...

    Actually he was telling the truth. If a person is not a Christian ,he or she is not his brother or sister in the Biblical teachings of Christian brothers and sisters.


    He should of added to his statement that we are all brothers and sisters in Adam.
    Then the cry babies wouldn’t have had any thing to sneer about.

    ReplyDelete
  19. No crybabies here. We just know a real self-centered shallow egotistical religious asshole when we hear one. Simple. Call it like we sees it.

    You people have a PROBLEM. Ya know that?

    Nope. Ya don't. Clueless to it. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey Observant,

    How would you do against a lion?

    Just wondering...

    No doubt you believe you'd get help, a la Daniel.

    Nah. You'd be purina lion chow for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Actually he was telling the truth. If a person is not a Christian ,he or she is not his brother or sister in the Biblical teachings of Christian brothers and sisters.
    -----------
    Thereby admitting that his religion is an exclusivist religion, us against them, and does not promote peace or love between people UNLESS they happen to believe in the same religion. To deny universal brotherhood is to deny the very essence of Jesus' teachings. Of course, with how badly their heads are screwed up, it all seems okay to them.

    You've been fed a vicious pack of lies about Jesus, and because they allow you to NOT be a decent person to others, to NOT have to work at being a better person, to NOT deal with people not like you, to NOT love others if it's hard, you just suck it up and ask for dessert, dontcha?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jerry said,

    Observant that cling to the antiquated ideas of our fore fathers, and it is up to the advanced thinkers to help bring them up to speed, and whining about their refusal to see how screwed up their thinking is does not help. I have watched you, and others, put forth so many facts that have without doubt proven the basic beliefs of organized religion to be false without success in changing minds. In other words trying to take something from someone's mind, as in argument, does not work except with the open minded. In order to convince the laggards in society one has to offer a positive to go toward, not a negative to their silly beliefs. Telling religionist they are wrong just makes them dig in their heels, and not even hear the ideas they are being exposed to. I do agree with most of your way of thinking, I think the only value of arguing with Observant or DD types is for the benefit of those listening as these people are not open to any facts of truth. Like is a 5th grade teacher that has goals of teaching her/his class a subject better spend the time trying to take something from the minds of the students or spending the time with new ideas that are not automatically rejected by preconceived ideas.
    January 19, 2011 6:45 PM
    -------------
    Sure I do, I am steadfast and unmovable when it comes to Biblical doctrine.
    You saying it is antiquated and out of touch with the new age thinking process only proves one thing, YOU Jerry, are in denial of Biblical fact.
    Facts you say…. Propaganda and scientific theories are what is being used by the left and atheist in an attempt to darken the Gospel light and way.
    Your folly will be manifested soon enough. You seem to think that you are somewhat better than those lazy un-informed thinkers who do not agree with your world view, or your version of spirituality… It could be that Christians do not have the need to invent another religion as you have seemed to do with you cherry picking from all sorts of books. Well you know the old saying Jerry, You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. In this case drink of the living water. I wish I could reach you, but it seems as if you would rather die with your false hopes.
    Just think Jerry, this time next year you can change you beliefs again and again and again.
    Sorta like an evolving religion ah Jerry. Too funny!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sure. go ahead and laugh.
    That's all a sane person can expect from an insane christian who sees everything in reverse, anyhow.

    May the peace of the Lord replace the piece of your brain that He removed. Oh yeah, it did. Not very well, though.

    ReplyDelete
  24. And changing one's beliefs as new data comes in is one of the primary signs of SANITY.
    Not that you'd recognize it as such, Mike...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Actually he was telling the truth. If a person is not a Christian ,he or she is not his brother or sister in the Biblical teachings of Christian brothers and sisters.
    --------------
    I want to go back to this. It occurs to me that in a way you're right, that he's not their brother or sister in the relgion. He's also not their brother or sister in say, Islam. However, saying this in the way that he did, in that forum, shows that such was not his intended shade of meaning. Sure, he could have said 'while I'm not their brother in my religion, all people are brothers and sisters to Jesus...' but of course, that's not how he feels, is it?
    Nope, he meant it just like it sounded. As him saying that he doesn't need to LOVE people that aren't believers in his religion. Which makes him no better than an Islamic fundamentalist, or any other kind of fundamentalist.
    He's a self-absorbed religious asshole. Period.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey...

    If Jesus didn't *actually* promote universal brotherhood amongst all people,

    And Martin Luther King did...

    Then MLK is a holier person, a better man, a better human, more 'godly,' than was Jesus Christ.

    Cool. Why, He wasn't even that hard to beat!

    ReplyDelete
  27. YOU Jerry, are in denial of Biblical fact.
    --------------
    I've always loved it when you say this.

    Biblical fact. It sounds so ooooooh... impressive. Doesn't it?

    To me it sounds like a little child talking about how Humpty Dumpty is real.

    Nothing in the Bible is fact. Or almost nothing. When you say 'Biblical fact' it just makes you sound silly.

    Are you really a grown man, really? Because you have a lot of faith in things that are easy to disprove. Grown men shoulldn't be that way. They should ask questions. They should not be so easily duped into believing in fairy tales.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Mike, didja read the article at all?

    It shows how much we've slipped.

    It's you, Mike. It's you and people just like you, that's why we've slipped.

    You're BELIEVERS, so all you are used to doing is BELIEVING what your 'trusted people' tell you. And they're believers too. So it's the blind leading the blind, with a few non-blind wolves thrown in who use you for their personal gain. BELIEVERS are why we're falling behind, mike. Nothing else. People who just BELIEVE that we're 'NUMBER ONE!!!' and never, ever ask if it's really true anymore, never look to see what needs to be worked upon, never look to improve this country, because any change doesn't fit in with their stupid, silly BELIEFS.

    It's you Mike. Really, it's you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Propaganda and scientific theories are what is being used by the left and atheist in an attempt to darken the Gospel light and way.
    ----------
    ...the way of the idiot is hardly something to cherish like you do. Scientific theories go against your religion for a very good reason. Because it's so very, very wrong, Mike.

    You can lead a christian to water, but if he doesn't believe that it's water he'll die of thirst. Or maybe he'll just fuck the horse.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Nowadays if Jesus came back and didn't let anyone know who he was, the religious right would label him a total pussy hippy dirtbag wino who hung out with far too many men for their comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Observant,
    Who is out of touch with biblical fact? The book you worship says that any one who testifies unto themselves is false testimony. Then it goes on to testify to itself as well as having Jesus testify to his self. So according to the bible both itself, and Jesus give false testimony. Fact, fact you say, you ignore fact at all cost to cling to antiquated ideas the book you worship presents, at least the ones that you think justifies your position, not the ideas it contains that disagrees with what you say. Of course that leaves you in an indefensible position seeing as how the book is so contradictory that taking any side is a sure looser.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Brian said,

    all people are brothers and sisters to Jesus...

    NO, they are not…This is the hole point of the matter… If a person is NOT a Christian, then there is NO sister or brotherhood in Jesus pertaining to the Biblical aspect of Christian relationships. Just as you said, we are not brethren to them who are in the Islam faith.

    My point is this, we are all brother and or sister [ whatever your gender might be] as pertaining to the flesh in Adam.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Jerry said.

    Who is out of touch with biblical fact? The book you worship says that any one who testifies unto themselves is false testimony. Then it goes on to testify to itself as well as having Jesus testify to his self. So according to the bible both itself, and Jesus give false testimony. Fact, fact you say, you ignore fact at all cost to cling to antiquated ideas the book you worship presents, at least the ones that you think justifies your position, not the ideas it contains that disagrees with what you say. Of course that leaves you in an indefensible position seeing as how the book is so contradictory that taking any side is a sure looser.
    -------------------------------------
    You are out of touch with Biblical fact.

    I don’t worship the Bible… it is a road map that leads from earth to heaven. I worship God in Spirit and truth who just happens to be the one who inspired the Book to start with.

    The works that Jesus done while here on earth before he was crucified testified of who He is, as did the Holy Spirit and God the Father of all living.

    I ignore the false data you try to pass off as being credible.

    The only thing that is contradictory is you understanding of scriptural truth.

    You are forever learning but unable to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This thread finally has helped me articulate my true concern about fundamentalist Christian beliefs - its fundamental narcissism. It has devolved into an apologetic for almost any degree of self serving behaviors separate from any obligation to others save telling them they are flawed and unworthy.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Moreover, this narcissism (right on Pliny!!)as is true of all proselytizing, is not so much about concern for an unbeliever's soul as it is about seeking affirmation that the believer has it right. They could not care less about the moral health of any other person: only that by warning all of us infidels and unbelievers that we will "burn in hell" unless we affirm their hoped for reward by accepting their delusions as our own.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:[20]

    1.Shamelessness — Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
    2.Magical thinking — Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
    3.Arrogance — A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
    4.Envy — A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
    5.Entitlement — Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
    6.Exploitation — can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
    7.Bad Boundaries — narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.
    --------------
    I think this covers about every man women boy and girl on earth, you think? So we are fundamentaly grouped together.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Harvey said,

    seeking affirmation that the believer has it right.
    ---------------------------

    You keep parroting this statement as if it was true. I think you are the one who needs to feel affirmed because you are in doubt of your own delusions.

    ReplyDelete
  38. And by the way, in case you don’t know a fundamental Christian is one who is opposed to both modernism in theology and the cultural changes that modernism endorsed.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Brian said,

    all people are brothers and sisters to Jesus...

    NO, they are not…This is the hole point of the matter…
    ------------------
    Hole? Really? Hole? Seriously?

    Dude, why would we ever listen to a man that spells like a first-grader? What would such a person know that is worth knowing? The NickJr. TV Schedule?

    You are too dumb to matter.

    If it were true that all people are NOT brethren to Jesus, then your Jesus is just another worthless piece of self-centered shit. Like, oh, I dunno.... You? Yeah, you.

    You're apparently an asswhole. Lol. Hoo new?

    ReplyDelete
  40. I think this covers about every man women boy and girl on earth, you think? So we are fundamentaly grouped together.
    ----------------
    NO! It does NOT. You're a narcissist, so you SEE it that way!

    Blinded by your own ego. And it's not pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  41. And by the way, in case you don’t know a fundamental Christian is...
    -------------
    That's fundamentalIST.

    Because a 'fundamental' christian is just a big ass. (Look up the word 'fundament')

    ReplyDelete
  42. Mike, you're a perfect example of 'the seven deadly sins of narcissism,' so much so in fact that you even believe that they apply to everyone, when they MOST DECIDEDLY do not. In fact when I read them, I do NOT see myself in them, nor anyone here today but YOU. You're the one that fits it. That is why you believe that they apply to everyone. That is point number 2, MAGICAL THINKING, and you're really big on that one. You magically think (believe) that the list fits everyone, so that you will never see that it only fits you here, and not any of us.
    Sorry to be the voice of truth, but hey, it's not as if you're gonna listen, so who cares...

    ReplyDelete
  43. If you can’t see yourself in the list then you are as blind as a bat
    And if you feel I am so dumb then why do you spend so much energy in dissecting what I say?
    as whole hole hoe ho ho ho. What a dip shit sperm brain you are ass wipe

    ReplyDelete
  44. I think this covers about every man women boy and girl on earth, you think? So we are fundamentaly grouped together.

    Sounds like a perfect desription of most fundamentalist Christians to me.

    Down to the last jot and tittle.

    ReplyDelete
  45. And if you feel I am so dumb then why do you spend so much energy in dissecting what I say?
    -----------
    Lower forms of life fascinate me. I'm really good with insects and invertebrates, too. :-)

    And uh, nope. The list fits you, my troglodyte friend. No one else here. Just you. And you can never see the truth. What a rip! How funny!

    ReplyDelete
  46. What a dip shit sperm brain you are ass wipe
    ----------
    ...and that would be number 3. Arrogance.


    3.Arrogance — A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.

    You're so funny, it's almost cute here.

    ReplyDelete
  47. If you can’t see yourself in the list then you are as blind as a bat
    -------------
    Can you see in the dark? Bats can...

    They have incredibly excellent eyesight PLUS sonar!

    So thank you. I'm practically gushing here at the compliment. You're so sweet. And ignorant of the lower orders... but sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I guess I should apologize for deflating you to the point where you felt the need to re-inflate, Mike.

    Sorry about that.

    Must be tough.

    ReplyDelete
  49. "What a dip shit sperm brain you are ass wipe"

    So I take it 'dip shit sperm brain' and 'ass wipe' aren't mutually exclusive? Huh. I thought they were. But apparently 'dip shit sperm brain' is a type of 'ass wipe.'

    ReplyDelete
  50. I don't worship the Bible… it is a road map that leads from earth to heaven. I worship God in Spirit and truth who just happens to be the one who inspired the Book to start with.

    The works that Jesus did while here on earth before he was crucified testified of whom He is, as did the Holy Spirit and God the Father of all living.

    I ignore the false data you try to pass off as being credible.

    The only thing that is contradictory is you understanding of scriptural truth.

    You are forever learning but unable to come to the knowledge of the truth.


    The truth is you do worship the bible, that is what is leading you astray. Years ago I became aware of what is known as blaming the victim. You are a victim of your own silly, self defeating indulgence in the antiquated thinking of our forefathers. It is understandable that those of the past wrote the best their thinking could produce, and I am thankful they did so. However it takes someone who cares little for the truth or facts to continue to accept those dead words of a book over the living realty. You claim to worship the truth and spirit something that you have shown over the last several months as being beyond your understanding due to accepting worn out thinking systems as the gospel truth. Maybe in your mind it is true which shows you as being neurotic. In other words you are a victim of your own ignorance. You are smart enough to figure this out if you really tried, but due to your own laziness(???) it does not look like you will ever accept the advanced truth that is available today. Just one example of your confused thinking shows up when you have repeatable said that one needs to read a book to understand the spiritual path. Not only must one read a book, but a certain editions of a book and if they do not get it he/she is not going to the mythical heaven you seem to know nothing about except what you make up, and try to pass off at authentic knowledge. Even in that book it contradicts your belief in what Jesus said. He said anyone, I repeat, anyone who wants can come. Of course this is like so much that you do not understand, apparently because it would make your understanding irrelevant to anyone except someone whose ego NEEDS to claim exclusive knowledge. By the way how do you explain this supposedly road map that leads to heaven when Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within? Do you need a road map to look inside yourself? Of course you have made statements that show you do not believe the kingdom of heaven is within, but at some imagined geographical location. Who said God inspired the bible? Of course the bible says so, it testifies to itself, thereby telling all readers that its testimony if false.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I think this covers about every man women boy and girl on earth, you think?

    Most people I know don't fit any of these. But of course your comment explains why you feel you must need of your religion and your narcissism makes you think everyone else needs it too.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Of course I think that we don't have the free will that you do Mike, so I'm thinking that you deliberately obscure your own position on things to suit yourself.

    How easy is it to imagine that narcissism is 'the other guy' and blame any of your own shortcomings on your sinful nature?

    How arrogant are you to dismiss me as immoral simply because I don't believe there is a spirit(ual) realm?

    Tell me honestly, Mike, what do you think of them poor dumb fucks who send money to Peter Popoff and Pat Robertson?

    What? You say you'd rather they sent the money to you???

    Thought so.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Well said, Jerry.

    Ryan, I don't know anyone personally that fits those criteria, but whenever I speak to christians I seem to have no problem spotting the telltale signs as described in that article. Ironic that Mike is the one that posted it, since it applies to him here and no-one else, except of course MI. Eric is on a different plane. I'm not even sure what he believes. He claims to believe in God as described in the catholic dogma, but that's as hard to pin down as deciphering heiroglyphics.
    The fundamentalists I think, are the most prone to narcissism. Or is it that being a fundamentalist CAUSES narcissism, because it's a part of that line of programming, to inflate the ego to a ridiculous extent, to the point where you can't even IMAGINE being wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  54. But apparently 'dip shit sperm brain' is a type of 'ass wipe.'
    -----------
    Must be 'New Charmin Dipshit Sperm-Brain Toilet Tissue...'

    I love it when the christians melt down in a puddle of egotistical rage like that. It brings back memories of childhood bullies I've known over the years...
    A true narcissist can't abide another person acting in a manner inconsistent with their wishes. It brings on the self-righteous wrath, you know, like God (the abusive father) shows all the time...

    ReplyDelete
  55. How easy is it to imagine that narcissism is 'the other guy' and blame any of your own shortcomings on your sinful nature?
    -------------
    My wife's a social worker for the state, and she tells me that whenever a person questions themselves, as in saying 'Gee, could I actually possibly BE a narcissist?' or whatever, that's a sure sign that they are NOT ONE.
    I doubt that Mike ever, ever questions anything about himself like that. To me it seems a natural thing to do, all the time... I bet it never even occurs to him. Which is why he is, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

    The name "narcissism" was coined by Freud after Narcissus who in Greek myth was a pathologically self-absorbed young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Freud believed that some narcissism is an essential part of all of us from birth.[1] Andrew P. Morrison claims that, in adults, a reasonable amount of healthy narcissism allows the individual's perception of his needs to be balanced in relation to others.[2]

    A disproportionate number of pathological narcissists are at work in the most influential reaches of society such as medicine, finance and politics.[3]

    ------------
    And I'm the only guilty one here. lol at YOU CLOWNS.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I don't get it, Mike. Why did you copy-and-paste in the definition for what you have, thinking (perhaps?) that somehow we'd think that it applies to us and others we know?
    It doesn't. Stop posting it, because it makes you look even sillier here. And more narcissistic, for that matter. You can't stand the fact that we're all noticing it in you (and always have, for that matter,) and so you're frantically posting definitions in an attempt at dodging the truth here.
    The reason that you're posting them, is that you're blinded to the fact that they describe you here and not others.

    ReplyDelete
  58. And btw, we're not talking about a small amount of narcissism here. The 'healthy amount' that Freud spoke of.
    We're telling you that you are a narcissist, which means that it is the core of your whole being. Your entire personality is based on it.
    After all, what's more narcissistic and more egotisitcal than actually believing that you and your particular tiny sect of a religion is absolutely right, and all the other millions and millions of people on the planet that do not subscribe to it, are wrong? That takes an enormous amount of self-centeredness.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.
    -----------------
    Like as in for instance, not being in favor os helping out the poor and the middle class, and calling that 'socialism' or even 'communism' as if it were any different than what Jesus was trying to do. Why, your type of narcissist even believes that wanting to do that, help out the poor and disenfranchised, is somehow 'faggy' and effiminate and stupid, and calls people like me 'tree-hugging liberals' as if that weren't a thousand times better than being a know-nothing troglodyte like you.

    ReplyDelete
  60. The cure for narcissim, is self-doubt.

    Do you ever, ever, EVER fucking doubt in yourself, Mike?

    I'm not talking about doubting if you can beat up someone else, or doubting that you can run a marathon or high-dive off a cliff. I'm talking about doubting in your own core ideas, at least enough to actively QUESTION them.
    We all do that here. You, never. MI, never. Even Eric, never. But the rest of us, I think I can say, yes, all the time.
    You are physically incapable of doubting in your silly religion, for instance. Can't happen. Your brain is wired shut on the matter. And a lot of other, similar matters which relate to who you are and what you believe in.
    You're stagnant, Mike. Can't allow change or growth, because you've been taught that it's EEEEVVVUL.
    A sad case, to be sure.

    ReplyDelete
  61. We (most of us) left the religion because we became capable of self-doubt, and as soon as we asked ourselves the hard questions (that the faith tells us are EVIL to even ask,) why the religion fucking failed the test! (No wondre they didn't want us to ask them!!!)
    Who knew! Hey, it surprised me...
    So, like any SANE persons, we left the faith. We discarded that which was no longer useful.
    You are absolutely incapable of this, and the really screwy thing is that you're fucking proud of even that.
    You're just a proud man, with little to actually be proud OF, as far as we can tell. The pride was artifically blown up your ass to keep you in line, to keep you stupid and not asking those questions. By the religion. That's how it grabs people. By their pride. By inflating it. Because to an ignorant person (or a child,) it feels good to be proud. Religion makes you feel good by inflating your pride to the point where you're lost to the rest of mankind, in your own little fantasy world where you are right and we're all gonna get punished for even disagreeing with you (in hell, after we die.)
    How stupid. How childish. But, how typical.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism
    ***

    (all people are brothers and sisters to Jesus... -stbtg)

    NO, they are not…This is the hole point of the matter… If a person is NOT a Christian, then there is NO sister or brotherhood in Jesus pertaining to the Biblical aspect of Christian relationships. Just as you said, we are not brethren to them who are in the Islam faith.
    --------------------
    Nicely done, narcissist.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Let's get it straight. You Mike, do NOT believe that Jesus considered all men and women his brothers and sisters. You believe that when he spoke of brotherhood, of love thy brother etc, that he was talking about ONLY IF THEY BELIEVE LIKE WE DO.

    If that is the case, you are a mockery of a christian. Period.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Just as you said, we are not brethren to them who are in the Islam faith.
    -------------
    You can't tell the difference between what I said and what you're saying? Geeze, whadda ya need, a primer?

    Okay. (sigh)
    I consider ALL PEOPLE my brothers and sisters. I was saying that *if you are only talking about common beliefs* then one can say that another person is or is not a 'brother in christ.' The meaning there is that the other person is not in your religion. NOT that the other person IS NOT YOUR BROTHER IN ALL OTHER WAYS. As in, all people are brethren. That's one of the few things I like about Jesus, so don't you go polluting it any more. It's sickening.
    Your beliefs are evil Mike, if anyting is. They are just like the beliefs of the oppressive Imams over in Iran. They are the beliefs of the suicide bomber, only with a different god substituted in. Which is little difference.

    ReplyDelete
  65. If Jesus did not love the Romans, then why did he not advocate violence and rebellion against them, as even the people had hoped he'd do?

    He was the 'Prince of Peace,' not the fucking terminator.

    Boy, you just can't get the 'decency' aspects of your god, can you? It must be like trying to see into the ultraviolet for you.

    ReplyDelete
  66. What about 'love thy neighbor' then, Mike?

    Is it really 'only if he's a christian?'

    Is that really how you see it, Mike?

    I mean, if it is, that's amazing to me. It's almost as if some so-called christian came out and said that Jesus ate little children or something really heinous like that.

    I think I've finally run across an 'anti-christ' Mike.

    It's you.

    See? You were looking for him in the wrong places. You should have looked within yourself. You know, your blind spot.

    ReplyDelete
  67. ?

    How do you mean that, Harry?


    I assume that you mean it in similar fashion to when I tell him he's an 'antichrist.' As in, that he does not exemplify the generally-accepted christian ideals of other-love and self-sacrifice, etc. That in fact, he's exemplifying their very opposites.

    Or does he call himself something else?

    Excuse the confusion. It's been a long day.

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  68. I just find it interesting that we have here the atheist sticking up for the fact that Jesus was supposed to be a nice guy, and a christian claiming that it wasn't that way at all...

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  69. Bri,

    That was an inspired statement straight from God. You can't ask me any questions about it. It speaks for itself. It is the truth. Even if you erased it from your blog and forgot about it, it would still be true.

    I feel some more truth coming on...

    "Yes Lord? Mike's not a Christian. Yes Lord I know. He's what?!"

    Brian, apparently Mike is a shaved ferret.

    It's all so clear now. The logic is another proof of my previous statement's truth, besides the fact that it's from God.

    Mike is a ferret, apparently a degenerate ferret who likes to expose his nakedity, and ferrets can't be Christians. Ergo Mike is not a Christian.

    Perfect.

    "What? Yes Lord? A message for Ed? You want him to become a rabbit? Oh, a rabbi. No? A rebbetzin. Sometimes it's hard to hear you Lord."

    Well Ed, good luck with that. I know most of us aren't called to become the wife of an orthodox rabbi, and it might be tough at times, not having a penis and stuff, but apparently Jesus is going to convert the entire synagogue through your sacrifice.

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  70. Harry said,

    Mike's not a Christian.
    -----------

    You are right ,so true.

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  71. Thanks for passing that on, Harry.

    I'm a little deef from all that .50cal ball ammo going off next to my face while I was in the army.

    Do I have to buy a new wardrobe?

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  72. Oh yeah! Aren't you Christians supposed to be in church or something?

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  73. "A disproportionate number of pathological narcissists are at work in the most influential reaches of society such as medicine, finance and politics.[3]"

    Medicine? Really. I often get that sense at 3 am or holidays when looking around the ED at all the health care workers taking care of the sick and injured.

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  74. When Mike says 'medicine' he means medical insurance.

    Funny how these guys hate 'government hands in your pocket' but they seem to love all the middle men with their hands in your pocket when it comes to insurance.

    Corporations whose job it is to take your money for as little as possible return are 'good', government needing money to run government, 'bad'.

    Just so long as the government services that Mike LIKES are okay, he's fine with getting rid of everything else.

    That must be an obscure part of Biblical Truth, or just sheer solipsism on Mike's part.

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  75. I'd just like to reiterate that so many of the things Jesus supposedly said were very prickish and fit Mike's assholish nature perfectly.

    The whole "I'm an atheist but Jesus was a groovy dude" thing is one of my pet peeves.

    Granted, 'do unto others' and the Sermon on the Mount are nice and all, but the fact that they directly conflict with so much else is one of Christianities most obvious flaws.

    It's likely that that there was a Jesus (or two), but it's impossible to say if he was the groovy dude, the prick, both or neither.

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  76. The whole "I'm an atheist but Jesus was a groovy dude" thing is one of my pet peeves.
    -----------
    Agreed Ryan, but the most generally accepted 'version' of Jesus (in my day, and still today I'd wager) is the Prince of Peace version, professing universal love. Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek.
    This angry vengeful 'revelations Jesus' idea seems new to me, a construct of the dominionist fundamentalist wave to justify all the violence they love so dearly.

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  77. And Ryan, to be truthful I speak within the 'cultural norm' when I speak of Jesus being a nice guy etc. Personally I seem to have even more skepticism than you do that he ever lived at all. I'd give it less than a twenty percent chance that there even ever was a Jesus, any Jesus. I think he was cobbled together from the myths/legends/memories of several itinerant preachers wandering about the region at the time.
    He is just too *useful* to the powers that were (and that still 'be') to be real.

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  78. "I'd just like to reiterate that so many of the things Jesus supposedly said were very prickish and fit Mike's assholish nature perfectly. "

    Exactly. The character of Jesus basically calling a non-Jewish woman a dog is one of those instances. The whole exchange is creepy and condescending. But of course to Mike it was a *test of faith* for her to acknowledge she was a dog so Jesus would help her child.

    24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[g] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.

    25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet.

    26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

    27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

    28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

    29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

    30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

    What a swell fuckin guy.

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  79. Yes, agreed Harry. That and the infamous 'punish the fig tree for not bearing fruit' episode. Embarassing.

    Still though, if you take the concensus of all the Jesus stories, he's more often nice than an asshole, right? And isn't that how he's portrayed in general, as being all about love and kindness and empathy? That's what I was taught in Sunday School, at any rate, and most protestants I've known also seem to agree with it. Most, with some notable exceptions. People that I met while in Texas, for instance.

    The (anamalous?) stories that portray Jesus as an asshole are more evidence (to me at any rate) that Jesus never lived at all. Different stories about him (by different men in different times) show him differently. Mostly as a nice guy, but with some bad depictions. So to me, it was what the author at the time wanted to accomplish.

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  80. I mean, many of the stories show Jesus as being a pretty balanced individual, and then you have these totally out-of-character stories. Too inconsistent. It's not the same Jesus, or rather, not the same author writing pastiche.

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  81. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
    ---------
    Does this mean that Jesus' miracles are in some kind of short supply, not to be wasted?
    Not sure I get the syntax.
    He didn't have any problem curing the centurion's boy sex slave and then praising the centurion for his faith.

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  82. Oh, 'the children' are his followers. Of course. So she's the dog for being greek. Yeah, not nice.
    Plus, hey, she had enough faith in him to seek him out for his help, so that's technically a follower anyhow, no?

    As bad as that is, I find the fig tree one even worse, since it shows that Jesus had a vindictive temper and no respect for a living thing.
    Which totally doesn't fit the profile.

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  83. I think I'll move to NZ and get a PHD, they apparently give them away down there.

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  84. Olbermann gone; how sweet is that! I was going to wait till 2012; you know, when the chess game is over and Ob'y is gone too. But Olbermann's departure seemed to warrant a post.

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  85. You must be one of these people who only like other folk who agree with you, eh, Fanman?

    Hope he runs for President and wins!

    That'll be the time to invest in Depends undergarments, no doubt sales will skyrocket!

    And I WANT to 'picture' you wearing a diaper soooo much.

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  86. So nice of you to only come here to gloat, fanman. Very christian of you. Schadenfreude (oh, look it up) is like a sacrament to you people, huh? What, do you drink vitriol as your mommie's milk? Suck at satans teat maybe?

    You heard 'turn the other cheek' and thought Jesus was talking about you mooning people.
    Wrong cheek.

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  87. People like fanman and observant are precisely WHY we suck, as noted in the article.
    Nothing good to offer anobody but bile and idiocy. Useless as tits on a boarhog, as they say in amarillo...

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  88. I believe that the Christian movement in North America has turned into a a bunch of thinly disguised social darwinists.

    No, it's not overtly your genes that they imagine is inferior, it's your bank account that counts.

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  89. What I mean is how easy it is for them to turn the notion that we are all born equal into a competition where they suppose it means that just because you were born into a struggling family doesn't mean that you can't compete with someone who is going to inherit millions.

    But their measure of success is still how much money you have though.

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  90. "I think I'll move to NZ and get a PHD, they apparently give them away down there."

    If you're referring to Matt Flannagan or Glenn Peoples -- and I suspect you are -- then you're nuts. Glenn Peoples especially: he's extremely erudite, and extremely smart. (He's also a pretty cool guy.) You can learn a lot from guys like that, even if you disagree with them. So rather than putting them down ("they apparently given [PhDs] away down there), you should be thanking them for taking the time to discuss these issues with you.

    That's the approach I take with people like John Loftus: I know that he's damn smart, that he knows his stuff, and that he's spent a lot of time thinking about these issues. (He's also a pretty cool guy.) We may disagree, but I acknowledge that I can learn a lot from him, and I appreciate the time he takes answering my questions and responding to my arguments.

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  91. Can a theist learn from an atheist, when the primary thing they should be learning is the fact that they are mistaken?

    I don't respect those who are wrong in an eloquent manner. They are even more of a pain than the fundies that can't spell their slurs properly.

    But do go on...

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  92. Incidentally, nice silent whistle there pboy. I had no idea what you were talking about... but there are obviously those lurking that did.

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  93. Eric; I was referring to Matt and was being glib, obviously, but I apparently touched a nerve. Could it be you have doubts about the value of a PhD in Philosophy? Just asking… But the actual problem is that Matt’s belief and more importantly, his overriding desire to hold his belief in these myths causes him to debase his intellect defending some very stupid things.

    In addition, it blows my mind that laymen like Ian and Ed, and to a lesser extent myself, can typically argue “professional” apologists to at least a stalemate. And I think that speaks to the pointlessness of the profession.

    Also, no idea who Glenn Peoples is, but I’m sure he thinks you’re a cool guy too. ;)

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  94. Ryan, my beef with philosophy in general is that it is entirely possible to successfully defend the logic of a philosophical construct based upon false assumptions or premises that are scientifically indefensible.

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  95. All this falderol dragging atheism into philosophy to defeat it using metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, cosmology etc. is a simple ploy to make it all a matter of opinion.

    We're all agreed that the material world exists?

    Well, science can go a long way to squeezing, not 'GOD' out, but squeezing the 'belief in GODs' out.

    Theological philosophy is simply philosophy which has been hijacked to give Christian(in the West) apologists a stick to beat uneducated unbelievers with.

    None of the above philosophical divisions are 'settled matters', much like science isn't a settled matter.

    Eric will say something like, "Haven't you heard of the beta-theory-of-time(or whatever) as if THAT becomes the standard to rail against simply because he favours it, and as if we are all constrained to delve into who is saying what about time and if a certain percentage of scientists claim to believe that, then we 'just have to' and there is nothing else for it."

    I, for one, am not very impressed with this word twisting 'magic'.

    I've reduced poor Matt Flanagan to wailing, "Charicature!", simply by using his own logic, in the same way he uses it.

    Guess he wakes up every moring and thanks his Lord that I can't be bothered learning his beloved jargon and memorizing a list of theist philosophers.

    I mean, come on, "Charicature!"???

    Whatever helps you sleep at night, I suppose.

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  96. I think it's important to realize that none of us would have a leg to stand on if we tried to argue physics with a physists or biology with a biologist.

    But with philosophy and/or theology it's different for some reason, I wonder why that is...

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  97. Ryan,

    That's not entirely true. Philosophy and math do crossover in logic. Logic for better or worse is still considered a part of philosophy. They even teach it in discrete mathematics, which yes I know is a bit of a hodgepodge, but still found useful for training in computer science.

    I even found out that the fundamentals of programming, and Pliny can attest to this or tell me my info's wrong :), are based upon the forms of logic problems and their proofs.

    -----------

    Everybody else,

    I am no spert in Philosophy, something I've proven over and over again sad to say, but I can say categories of critical thinking about whatever subject are not as clear cut nor as fuzzy as some would like to declare.

    Physics is a great example. The king of sciences as far as I'm concerned. It is more than a safe bet that Einstein's metaphysical insights (sorry Eric NOT God) helped inform his astounding ideas. But it's important to stress of course that metaphysics was not his goal, empirically proving his hypothesis was.

    Newtonian and Quantum mechanics have yet to be reconciled, correct?
    Is it so improbable to think that epistemological questions, or metaphysical questions won't help create an insight into the problem, which physicists will then use mathematics and experiments to solve?

    Finally, you should realize that science versus religion is two lines of metaphysical discourse fighting.

    Science is winning. It has a better thought process behind it, which has helped it to develop better tools, which has expanded our knowledge base. It also has other people from within the discipline holding themselves and each other accountable according to empirical data and the thought process itself.

    Religion has none of this.

    I like religion's complexity and richness, and it should be studied in order to give clarity to our history as a species. But it is a metaphysical dead end as far as I can tell.

    Regardless, point being science is not just SCIENCE. It is the best epistemological and metaphysical line of thinking we've ever had.

    Philosophy is only a tool for us to discover more about ourselves and the world around us. Any pompous ass who says otherwise probably has a book coming out or a lifestyle invested in the subject.

    If any of you want to check out a good philosophy blog, Pliny pointed me to Rationally Speaking a while back. It belongs to an evolutionary biologist who now mainly does the philosophy of science. Maybe it'll give you a better impression of why and how philosophy should be done.

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  98. "Regardless, point being science is not just SCIENCE. It is the best epistemological and metaphysical line of thinking we've ever had."

    Sorry, it should read, "...best metaphysical line of thinking we've ever had."

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  99. "Can a theist learn from an atheist, when the primary thing they should be learning is the fact that they are mistaken?"

    How interesting, especially in light of this:

    "I'm talking about doubting in your own core ideas, at least enough to actively QUESTION them.
    We all do that here. You, never. MI, never. Even Eric, never. But the rest of us, I think I can say, yes, all the time."

    So let me get this straight: I concede that I, a theist -- who, according to you, *never* doubts or questions my *core ideas* -- *can* learn much from atheists, while you, an atheist -- who, according to you, *always* questions and doubts your core ideas -- can only teach me that I'm wrong?

    Please tell me that you can see the obvious contradiction here. Please tell me that you can see that given what you and I said, it's you who refuse to question your core ideas, not me. Imagine if I had said that the primary thing atheists have to learn from me is the fact that they are mistaken! Now I may have concluded that atheists are mistaken, but I have most certainly not concluded that it's impossible that I'm wrong about this! You, however, apparently have!

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  100. "Could it be you have doubts about the value of a PhD in Philosophy?"

    No, I do not doubt its value. Its monetary value, perhaps, but not its intellectual value.

    "it blows my mind that laymen like Ian and Ed, and to a lesser extent myself, can typically argue “professional” apologists to at least a stalemate."

    Neither Floyd nor Ed, in any of the threads I've read, have come even close to doing so. (I noticed that Matt and Glenn had precisely the same sorts of complaints about Floyd that I've had -- cool guy though he is. Coincidence?) Did you have a specific thread in mind?

    "my beef with philosophy in general is that it is entirely possible to successfully defend the logic of a philosophical construct based upon false assumptions or premises that are scientifically indefensible."

    Huh? How in the world is that a beef with philosophy?! Are you under the impression that philosophers have little or no problem with "false assumptions"? One of the *main* things philosophers do is root up all the assumptions an argument rests on to determine if they're true, false, probable, etc. Honestly, that has to be one of the least informed criticisms of philosophy I've ever heard! Re: scientifically indefensible premises, well that's an ambiguous phrase. Do you mean (1) premises that scientists have shown to be false (improbable, etc.), or (2) premises that science has nothing to say about? If you mean (1), then again, this is nonsense, since philosophers spend most of their time, by far, working on the truth or falsity of the premises of the arguments they're examining, and no one accepts premises that have been shown to be false, scientifically or otherwise. If you mean (2), then I agree, but see no problem, for every scientific argument itself rests *necessarily* on premises that are, in that sense, scientifically indefensible!

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  101. Eric said: "Did you have a specific thread in mind?

    The most recent on Matt's blog. I'm sure your perception being similar to Matt's has more to do with your shared priors than anything else.

    Harry; point taken, upon reflection, I was referring to philosophers who prostitute their intellect to apologetics.

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  102. Eric said,
    Huh? How in the world is that a beef with philosophy?! Are you under the impression that philosophers have little or no problem with "false assumptions"? One of the *main* things philosophers do is root up all the assumptions an argument rests on to determine if they're true, false, probable, etc.

    I am probably behind times but I have never heard of the proof that the idea that God is dead has ever been addressed and over come by the supposed philosophers of today. Could you fill me in on that proof if in fact it has ever been seriously dealt with.

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  103. "All this falderol dragging atheism into philosophy to defeat it using metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, cosmology etc. is a simple ploy to make it all a matter of opinion."

    How amusing, especially since the *only* arguments *for* atheism are philosophical arguments!

    "Theological philosophy is simply philosophy which has been hijacked to give Christian(in the West) apologists a stick to beat uneducated unbelievers with."

    Another one! This comment too shows no familiarity whatsoever with "theological philosophy"! Floyd, most of those arguments *are first* published, discussed and debated in *peer reviewed* academic journals or academic presses (which are not, I assure you, composed of all theists). In other words, they're decidedly not aimed at "uneducated unbelievers," but at the best educated unbelievers! Indeed, prominent atheist philosopher Quentin Smith has said that the problem is that *educated* unbelievers -- professional philosophers! -- far too often have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true and that theism is false!

    "I've reduced poor Matt Flanagan to wailing, "Charicature!", simply by using his own logic, in the same way he uses it."

    You did nothing of the sort. You caused Matt to say, in other terms, the very same things I've said to you: "I never said that," "You've misunderstood me," and so on.

    "I think it's important to realize that none of us would have a leg to stand on if we tried to argue physics with a physists or biology with a biologist."

    There's a big difference between *having* a leg to stand on and *thinking* that you have a leg to stand on. I assure you, many creationists are just as deluded about the status of the leg they're standing on when they debate biologists as you are when you -- well, fill in the rest.

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  104. How amusing, especially since the *only* arguments *for* atheism are philosophical arguments!

    No, the only philosophical arguments for atheism are philosophical arguments. Atheism is the default position whether you like it or not and doesn't need philosophical arguments. We don't have or need philosophical arguments that there isn't a black hole between the Earth and Venus or that cthulhlu doesn't exist under the sea, observations and most importantly, non-observations tell us this.

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  105. Bottom line, show us direct observational evidence for a deity, no, wait, your chosen deity, and then we can talk.

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  106. "Finally, you should realize that science versus religion is two lines of metaphysical discourse fighting."

    It's not "science versus religion," but naturalism versus theism. That's not semantics; there's a huge difference there. First, science is perfectly compatible with theism, so the 'science versus' is not accurate. Second, naturalism *is not* supported by *any* scientific discovery, or by the set of all scientific discoveries, so the two are quite distinct. Third, for reasons one and, especially, two, naturalism cannot latch onto the cachet that science has today, so characterizing the debate as 'science versus religion' is not only inaccurate, but also attempts to load the dice in favor of naturalism.

    "I am probably behind times but I have never heard of the proof that the idea that God is dead has ever been addressed and over come by the supposed philosophers of today."

    Well, there's no one 'proof,' but there is a lot of work that you can look into. Some of the more prominent atheistic philosophers of religion are Graham Oppy, Michael Martin, Quentin Smith, Walter Sinnot Armstrong, Louise Antony, Julian Baggini, Elliot Sober, Keith Parsons, Michael Ruse, Don Cuppitt, Michael Tooley, Kai Nielsen, Robert Pennock, William Rowe, and many more.

    "Atheism is the default position whether you like it or not and doesn't need philosophical arguments."

    Ryan, this is very simple: Either you're an atheist for a reason, or you're not. If you're not an atheist for a reason, then you're position is non-rational and not worth discussing. If you are an atheist for a reason -- and this is the only sort of atheism worth discussing -- then you *must* believe that your reason(s) support your atheism. If so, those reasons *must* be philosophical. Why? You can't get something into your conclusion if it's not somewhere in your premises. That's a basic principle of logic. Now if you want to claim to be an atheist on, say, scientific grounds, then you're in the difficult position of supporting a conclusion about god without a single premise that mentions god. When you work it all out, your reasons *must* be philosophical.

    "show us direct observational evidence for a deity, no, wait, your chosen deity, and then we can talk."

    We've been through this before: you can't even tell me what you take the necessary and sufficient conditions of evidence to be (a philosophical question, mind you); how, then, can you pretend to be taking part in a serious discussion about evidence? I guarantee you that if you try to develop an analysis of the term, one of two things will happen: (1) it will allow for evidence for god's existence, or (2) it will exclude a good chunk of what we all take to count as evidence in the various sciences and in our everyday lives.

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  107. Eric, you say, "It's not "science versus religion," but naturalism versus theism."

    "I don’t think scientific standards of proof should be something for Christians to aspire to. We should aspire to something stronger. And the fact is that the Christian apologetic tradition does contain many very strong arguments.” - Alexander Pruss.

    So, I think that you're just being a bit 'snobbish' here, defining away 'what the argument is', to suit yourself, when others seem to be very willing to argue from a different perspective than yourself.

    It's just a 'thing' I've noticed with your style of debate here.

    I'm not calling you a snob, don't get me wrong here. I'm just saying that you tend to assume that anything that can possibly be 'wrong' is assumed to be 'wrong' by you and you jump on it. Sometimes a little too quickly.

    It's as if you assume that when someone is talking to you, they're automatically in your classroom now, with you playing the lecturer role, and are, by definition now playing by your rules.

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  108. No, Ryan, it's not a dodge. For example, I can provide two pieces of observational evidence right now: any particular change you observe, or any particular object you observe. Either one provides direct observational evidence for the existence of god. However, *as is the case with all evidence*, it must be interpreted, and *all* evidence is interpreted with some combination of theoretical principles and logical precommitments. So, if we take any particular instance of change (observational evidence), analyze what all change must involve (theoretical principles) and rigorously work out what that entails (logic), we see that god must exist. That's just one example.

    I've found that too many atheists who ask for "direct observational evidence" that god exists have no idea what they're talking about. Just ask yourself what the direct observational evidence that bottom quarks exist is: it's apparently banal observations coupled with complex mathematical and physical theories worked out relentlessly with rigorous logic.

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  109. it's apparently banal observations coupled with complex mathematical and physical theories worked out relentlessly with rigorous logic.

    You sully yourself you you compare apologetics with real science.

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  110. "So, I think that you're just being a bit 'snobbish' here, defining away 'what the argument is', to suit yourself, when others seem to be very willing to argue from a different perspective than yourself."

    No, you just failed to think for a moment about what Pruss actually said. He was talking about *epistemic standards* (standards of proof), not about *metaphysical views* (science versus religion, as you would want it put).

    But more importantly, are you claiming that 'science' constitutes a metaphysical position?

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  111. "You sully yourself you you compare apologetics with real science."

    You sully yourself when you take an example used to clarify what 'direct observational evidence' really is to be comparing apologetics and 'real' science. And you sully yourself when you choose on purely rhetorical grounds to use the loaded term 'apologetics' in place of 'philosophy.'

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  112. "Eric, you are an apologist."

    In the strict sense of the term, yes, I am; so are you. And so are we all. But if we're all apologists, what's your point?

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  113. I'm actually not defending anything. You only have to defend positive claims.

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  114. Good god, I hope you guys caught some of the State of the Union. The look on Boner's face... was in the main, hysterical.

    Obama made some good points.

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  115. "But if we're all apologists, what's your point?"

    I think Ryan wanted to apologize.

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  116. "How amusing, especially since the *only* arguments *for* atheism are philosophical arguments!"

    Since when did, "There are no gods, not even one.", need any backing at all?

    Atheism, as many theists love to point out, is a negative position.

    Now, Matt did respond, when I asked him if atheism was a properly basic belief requiring no evidence, much like theists are willing to accept about God, that that was simply a caricature!

    When Matt proposed that Ancient Near Easterns were prone to speak(or write) in hyperbole, and gave evidence, I proposed that the entire idea of, "God commanding..", this, and, "God said..", that, is likely hyperbole too!!

    His response, "Charicature!", not because it's a bad argument, it's HIS argument. It's just not the argument he wants to see.

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  117. "I'm actually not defending anything. You only have to defend positive claims."

    Bullshit (in the Frankfurtian sense of the term). You're minimally defending the claim that atheism is the default position. You're minimally defending the claim that there are no good reasons to be a theist. Hence, you're minimally defending the claim that atheism is more rational then theism. You can't avoid making claims, and hence the obligation to defend claims. (Even your skepticism rests on a host of claims.)

    You're an apologist, plain and simple.

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  118. "No, you just failed to think for a moment about what Pruss actually said."

    No, Eric, no I didn't 'fail to think' Eric.

    " He was talking about *epistemic standards* (standards of proof), not about *metaphysical views* (science versus religion, as you would want it put)."

    And what else WOULD a bloody philosopher talk to us about science?

    Stop it! You're giving me a headache!

    He mentioned physics, he mentioned the Big Bang Theory and Quantum Mechanics as if they are carved in stone, as if they are equivalent to some Creationist literalist hypothesis with physicists on opposite sides of the class pelting each other with spitballs.

    Matt and Pruss qua logicians paint a picture of BB completely opposing QM seemingly forgetting that theologians are not exactly holding hands over which god the Fine-tuning Argument, any Cosmological Argument or the Intelligent Design Argument is pointing to.

    Of course Pruss is talking 'philosophically', he's a philosopher!

    I'm talking about your propensity to declare everyone wrong all the time and you seem to be taking this as encouragement!

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  119. He mentioned physics, he mentioned the Big Bang Theory and Quantum Mechanics as if they are carved in stone...

    Drives me nuts when people talk about the "singularity" as if it's anything more than math failing.

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  120. Well, there's no one 'proof,' but there is a lot of work that you can look into. Some of the more prominent atheistic philosophers of religion are Graham Oppy, Michael Martin, Quentin Smith, Walter Sinnot Armstrong, Louise Antony, Julian Baggini, Elliot Sober, Keith Parsons, Michael Ruse, Don Cuppitt, Michael Tooley, Kai Nielsen, Robert Pennock, William Rowe, and many more.


    So much for your argument that the philosophers of today are searching out the truth as you so brazenly stated.

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  121. If theism is to make a claim to empirical truth then it requires physical evidence. Theism has no such evidence.

    It cannot bear up under scientific scrutiny.

    Naturalism is an epithet used to label a lack of belief in theism. I'm sure it was hurled at a deist or two before becoming exclusive to modern atheists.

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  122. "And you sully yourself when you choose on purely rhetorical grounds to use the loaded term 'apologetics' in place of 'philosophy.'"

    So you've never been guilty of conflating the two? Of course you have been. Now how about on this blog?

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  123. "We've been through this before: you can't even tell me what you take the necessary and sufficient conditions of evidence to be..."

    Something that has been or is based in matter AND at least one of the multitude of processes in which matter takes part.

    But I'd rather know what your definition of evidence is.

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  124. Eric cannot produce his god.

    Why not, Eric?

    If he's real, there has to be a way.

    You're the one that needs to pay attention to atheists, not the other way around. Your arguments suck out the IQ points from eager minds. Your arguments are a computer virus for brains, moreso than any other type of argumentation. Because your arguments can even fool a relatively smart person, provided of course that they have that god-shaped hole in their hearts. It sucks them right in, people that wouldn't be fooled by the much more remedial arguments from the fundamentalists.

    So pay attention, apologist.

    The very best a rational person can do is to be an agnostic. This is simple logic, IF you take away all your silly religious and dogmatic prejudices that you insist on filtering your reality through for whatever reason.

    You are merely a believer, no matter how much you think yourself logical. Pure logic (unprejudiced) based onobserving WHAT IS, (not religious rumors and stories) does NOT lead to a belief in a divinity; it leads to agnosticism and even extreme doubt.

    So, what's your problem? Just can't fucking SEE reality, huh? Your god-colored glasses need to come off.

    Btw, a pure believer, who doesn't attempt to rationalize it, gets more respect from me, than a man that produces huge edifices of pseudologic, all based ultimately on FAITH.

    And FAITH is just another word for believing in things, in spite of whatever EVIDENCE is lying around. It is literally a synonym for voluntary ignorance.

    So, proud of that, apologist?

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  125. And incidentally, I learn A LOT from you, Eric.
    All the time.

    All of it unfortunately about erudite duplicity.

    Why, I had no idea how sophisticated the better christian liars were!

    See, learning from others often means first listening to their words, but then determining whether they are full of shit or not, and why. This is where the scientific method comes in handy. (Beats the religious method every single time!)

    Once that determination is made with a high level of confidence, one can then pay more attention to the other aspects of the person, such as their techniques with which they deceive.

    Heck, I hope you always post here. I learn volumes every time.

    And btw, as a part of my own internal monitering system, I am constantly checking myself on whether I am right about you being full of shit.

    Yep. Right again. Darn it.

    I actually wish you'd surprise me someday. Pretty please?

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  126. We suck. Sad.

    We are, as a country, a self-centered narcisistic lot with delusions of grandeur. We seem to have come to the unspoken concensus that believing we are NUMBER ONE, is somehow indistinguishable from actually being number one
    +++++++++++

    Congratulations, Brian, for speaking the truth here.

    Never thought I'd ever hear this from an atheist. ---that self-centeredness and narcissim being traits that hurt us.

    Your article proves why it's a shame our country's sliding ever more swiftly toward atheism/atheistic values every day...
    ++++++

    Harvey, for all that you define, you put into the Light what lurks beneath: your own thoughts and values.

    Hi, Mike and Eric!

    MI

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  127. As for feeding etc. Don't forget that it's been decades now where the govt has been paying farmers to shut down their farms.

    Jobs are down. It's all being manipulated for people like you to shout help me dear gov't!

    Don't worry, the jobs'll come back up (manufactured, just like the crisis) just in time for your vote.

    Gee, you ARE voting for Obama and the Dems again, right?

    Oh, well....main thing is that we as a people learn to plant our own food and band together in our local neighborhoods to take care of one another and to look in on one another. It's crucial for survival.

    But, perhaps, these practical solutions are too Godly or too Christian for you guys....???

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  128. And, reading on to the end: I honestly am sooooo very taken aback that NOW you're worried about the vanishing middle class?
    Are you watching Glenn Beck??
    Are you not, now, all of a sudden wanting the socialism you all so dearly cherish? You're ACTUALLY understanding that with Dems/Obama leading this country with big gov't really does mean a few of (them) elites with the rest of us living in the poverty of the likes of the days of the French Revolution?

    Oh, good God, please don't tell me you all aren't planning revolution in the streets?!
    Will that really help the situation?


    Also, which one of you hasn't come to the conclusion that China basically owns us and that we'll be under their rule and way of life in the not so far off future?
    Can you not see it?


    Could this REALLY be an *awakening* ?

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  129. Could this REALLY be an *awakening* ?

    It is an awakening all right, people are starting to realize we have a very good president.

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  130. Rather than get pulled into another cycle of what is essentially responding to a more sophisticated version of the school yard tactic "I know you are, but what am I?, I'll share what I think is the best rendition of actual science I've ever seen on TV.

    The "Galileo was Right" episode from the series "From the Earth to the Moon". It showed how a geologist educated the astronauts to see the lunar surface from the perspective of science. And the wonderful results that were obtained. I think that more than any other segment on TV this one showed the difference between science and everything else.

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  131. MI:

    "Harvey, for all that you define, you put into the Light what lurks beneath your own thoughts and values."

    Needless to say, whatever any of us may post should (often) reveal what our thoughts and values may be on the subject in question. If your implication is that my posts somehow reveal some degree of uncertainty on my part with regard to the "big queationa" of this life and any possible afterlife, this observation is patently true and I have expressed it in no uncertain terms in the past on this very thread. No "lurking" here! It might be "Christian" of you to better enlighten me/us what you are trying to say with a comment like this one.

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  132. I seeem to have trouble distinguishing the "a" from the "s" key.

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  133. Congratulations, Brian, for speaking the truth here.

    Never thought I'd ever hear this from an atheist. ---that self-centeredness and narcissim being traits that hurt us.

    Your article proves why it's a shame our country's sliding ever more swiftly toward atheism/atheistic values every day...
    ++++++
    But, but... MI....

    The believers, the religious people, ARE THE NARCISSISTS. Can't you even see that?
    It's because they are only used to believing in things, not actually thinking them over. They just BELIEVE the usa is NUMBER ONE! They can't see that their apathy is the very root cause of the problem, that we're not number one anymore, and we haven't been for some time now. We're sliding fast here, and you silly believers on the reptile, er, republican side, are the ones that are pushing the sled down the hill!

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  134. You're ACTUALLY understanding that with Dems/Obama leading this country with big gov't really does mean a few of (them) elites with the rest of us living in the poverty of the likes of the days of the French Revolution?
    ------------
    You people are evilly retarded. Seriously.

    It's your side, the republicans, that are creating an overclass here, and tossing the rest of the country into the shitter. They just don't give a fuck. Like you don't give a fuck that you're voting against your own interests due to your being blinded by your silly beliefs and the extreme level of gullibility they create in you. The middle class is vanishing, thanks to you idiots. Thanks a lot.

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  135. The type of person that cannot ever seriously question their religion, is the type of person that cannot seriously question this country, and also cannot seriously question themselves. It's a simple thing to understand here. And we need to seriously question this country now, if we ever did. We're losing ground fast, while you sad, sorry lot of believers are convinced we're gaining it. For you, everything is all wishful thinking. Magical thinking, actually. If you say we're number one, you believe it. No need then to actually fucking check, huh? To see if we are or not?

    Sad.

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  136. "He mentioned physics, he mentioned the Big Bang Theory and Quantum Mechanics as if they are carved in stone"

    Carved in stone?! Again, you've patently misread Pruss, for he said *precisely* the opposite! How could he say they're carved in stone if his whole point was that both (taken as a whole) *cannot* be right? That was his point: science will provisionally accept incompatible theories! Now we all know that they're working on ways to reconcile the two, but that's not the point. You must reread (perhaps read over and over) Pruss's quote, for you patently do not understand what he's saying.

    "So much for your argument that the philosophers of today are searching out the truth as you so brazenly stated."

    What in the world is that supposed to mean?

    "If theism is to make a claim to empirical truth then it requires physical evidence. Theism has no such evidence."

    What "claim to empirical truth" do you take theists to be making, and what "physical evidence," *in principle* even, could support it?

    "It cannot bear up under scientific scrutiny."

    Again, show me one scientific argument that contains god in either its premises or its conclusion. If you cannot -- and you know that you cannot -- then what you're saying is false (one one reading of the ambiguous phrase, "cannot bear up under scientific scrutiny").

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  137. "So you've never been guilty of conflating the two? Of course you have been. Now how about on this blog?"

    My response to Ryan implied (rather obviously) a distinction along the following lines:

    (1) apologist (common internet atheist usage): one who is committed to defending the Christian faith in the face of contrary evidence using all manner of sophistry, debate tricks and rhetoric.

    (2) apologist: one who defends a claim.

    Yes, we're all apologists in the second sense, but that's not the sense in which it's commonly used and understood in these discussions. Rather, (1) is. So no, I did not conflate the two -- indeed, I did precisely the opposite by implying that distinction. An apologist in the first sense, however clever and learned, is *not* a philosopher (From a recent Maverick Philosopher blog: To philosophize without dogma is like sewing without a knot at the end of the thread. But to philosophize with dogma is not to philosophize at all). But a philosopher -- indeed, anyone -- can be an apologist in the second sense.

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  138. "Something that has been or is based in matter AND at least one of the multitude of processes in which matter takes part.
    But I'd rather know what your definition of evidence is."

    Harry, I don't want you to accuse me of making a lot out of semantics, or of playing the 'teacher' role, but since I know that you're studying philosophy, I have to make a few important points.

    First, you asked for my *definition* in response to my request for an *analysis*. This is extremely important: definitions of a concept and analyses of a concept are very different animals in philosophy. A definition merely explains how a term is used in a general sense:

    evidence =df A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment

    That's an adequate *definition* of evidence. But it's not in any sense an adequate *analysis* of evidence.

    Second, your answer could be categorized as neither a definition nor an analysis! At best, you've posited a *necessary* condition of evidence, but a necessary condition does not itself constitute either a definition or an analysis.

    For example, let's say we're asking for evidence that S committed the murder, and I ask you what would count as evidence in this case. You say, "My definition of evidence is something based in matter or some material process." Well, the planet Neptune is based in matter and material processes, so it perfectly satisfies the conditions you've laid out, but it's obviously not evidence! (Again, I'm not being pedantic here, as you'll discover as your studies progress.) If you say that your response was an analysis of the term, it would fail for similar reasons.

    Third, even if you add conditions to your definition/analysis to shore it up, the phrase, "based in matter and material processes" is unclear. Must it actually *be* material, or involved in some material process? How does identity of this sort differ from 'being based in,' if at all? And so on.

    "But I'd rather know what your definition of evidence is."

    Here's my definition and my analysis:

    evidence =df A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

    E is evidence for a proposition P iff P is more plausibly true if E obtains than it would be given not-E.

    The plausibility of the truth of a proposition given any datum we may propose as evidence for it will always depend on our epistemic constraints, so evidence is, necessarily, evaluated in some epistemic context.

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  139. "The very best a rational person can do is to be an agnostic. This is simple logic, IF you take away all your silly religious and dogmatic prejudices that you insist on filtering your reality through for whatever reason."

    If it's simple logic, then lay out the argument for me so we can evaluate it.

    "And FAITH is just another word for believing in things, in spite of whatever EVIDENCE is lying around."

    Please, inform me. What evidence is there that I'm missing that undercuts my beliefs? (As I've pointed out before, that's *not* what faith is. It;s frustrating that you insist on perpetuating such falsehoods in spite of having been corrected numerous times. You are what you accuse me of being!)

    "This is where the scientific method comes in handy. (Beats the religious method every single time!)"

    What specific scientific discoveries undercut my beliefs?

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  140. No thanks, I'll let others here argue with you. You are not a fair player in an argument, and I can't abide people who cheat.

    I'll simply re-state the obvious. You cannot produce any evidence 'pro' your god, and ALL of the evidence out there that we can find definitely does NOT point to your deity nor indicate that any deity is required here. Even if the evidence suggested a deity MIGHT be present, your god is so specific and riddled with silly human superstitious dogma that there is NO CHANCE that your version could be the correct one, (were it indicated that one existed.)(which is not indicated.)
    And I said that I employ the scientific method when analysing the data you present to me. Not that I rely on a scientific finding in the specific. Pay closer attention to words. You're too used to twisting them to suit you.

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  141. And I said that I employ the scientific method when analysing the data you present to me.
    ---
    By this I mean ALL the data you present, including not merely your arguments but more importantly your lies concealed within them, and their complexity. It's fascinating, like a poisonous reptile is fascinating.

    Now run along...

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  142. What specific scientific discoveries undercut my beliefs?
    ---------------
    Science. All of it.

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  143. Eric,
    "So much for your argument that the philosophers of today are searching out the truth as you so brazenly stated."

    What in the world is that supposed to mean?

    To clarify, I asked what argument you used to get past the statement that God was dead. Instead of answering the question, you put forth what books I could read. You missed the whole idea I put forth, intentionally, because you have no answer or you don't want to spend your time answering the question. I think before philosophy can go forward on the question of God, it must first show that God is not dead. Of course if you cannot answer that question, what you are doing is side stepping the question by ignoring what you cannot deal with, and going forward knowing that without overcoming a real question leaves all following arguments hollow, and useless. Let me add, I apologize for even asking you a question as you told me long ago you could/would not deal with me because I cannot state my position at the level of a highly educated (formal education that is) person, simply because I am not. That leaves me with wondering if you are so arrogant that you refused or if you have educated yourself out of touch with uneducated people such as me, and cannot relate any longer. I am curious as to what you think your type of thinking will lead to,and what value it has other than your own intellectual pleasure.

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  144. "What "claim to empirical truth" do you take theists to be making, and what "physical evidence," *in principle* even, could support it?"

    What is theism Eric?

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  145. Eric said and Brian replied: What specific scientific discoveries undercut my beliefs?
    ---------------
    Science. All of it.


    I would say nothing undermines his claims when he has his deist hat on, but really, he's a catholic, so I'm pretty sure when that hat's on, he can't deny that it's possible to show empirically that crackers do not turn into the flesh of a 1st century Palestinian and that someone cannot be fully human with a father's DNA.

    But he never wears the catholic hat around here.

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  146. "So, if we take any particular instance of change (observational evidence), analyze what all change must involve (theoretical principles) and rigorously work out what that entails (logic), we see that god must exist. That's just one example."

    You're trying to use the term 'theoretical principles' as broadly as possible in order to allow for your bullshit claim that observable change and observable objects are evidence for a THEISTIC DEITY. Those only go back to deism if one is indeed choosing a divine path. You have NEVER answered with rationality or logic how you get from deism to theism.

    -Every single atheist on this blog knows that deism is a LOGICAL conclusion to answering the problem of "infinite causes." But it's NOT the only one!

    If you were honest enough to say, "Fucked if I know anything about the cause of the universe, I just think it's a being." The only person who would keep messing with you would probably be pboy. Shit Jerry's spiritual but he's HONEST about it. NOT a douchebag.-

    Actually Eric, I don't want to read your evasive non-commital crap. Give me a link to a journal article that explains your leap from deism to theism and I'll read that.

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  147. "I would say nothing undermines his claims when he has his deist hat on..."

    YES! YES! YES!

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  148. Should be "without a father's DNA".

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  149. "To clarify, I asked what argument you used to get past the statement that God was dead. Instead of answering the question, you put forth what books I could read. You missed the whole idea I put forth, intentionally, because you have no answer or you don't want to spend your time answering the question."

    Jerry, I misunderstood you. I thought you were asking how philosophy can be used to defend atheism, so I listed a number of well known atheistic philosophers who defend atheism very powerfully in their works.

    Now I do have an answer to your question as you've clarified it for me. But I do need to address some of what you said first.

    The statement, "god is dead" can, like any other mere statement, be dismissed without argument. I'm not interested in statements, but in arguments. Now all of the main arguments for atheism -- the argument from evil, the argument from divine hiddenness, the argument from the incoherence of divine attributes, the argument from the explanatory superfluity
    of god, etc. -- have been addressed in so many ways by so many people that it would be impossible to sum them up in a extemporaneous blog post. But that's because they've been formulated in so many ways (in many of their modern incarnations buy the atheistic philosophers I referred you to in my last post). I concluded, *while I was still an atheist*, that none of these arguments succeed in either establishing or justifying atheism.

    So, an important step for me was coming to see that none of the arguments for atheism work. Of course, this doesn't mean that god exists, but it does mean that if the rebutting defeaters for god's existence fail, then theism is minimally a logical possibility.

    Now many of you accuse me of suspending my belief from the bare thread of logical possibility. False. Logical possibility is obviously a necessary condition, but it's not sufficient. At this point, I moved from atheism to agnosticism. So how did I go beyond logical possibility? This, I take it, is what you're asking. (continued)

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  150. It's a difficult question, since no one argument absolutely knocked my socks off. Rather, the case for theism is a cumulative case, and each argument contributes to that case by supplying its own piece. For example, Aquinas's first way, properly understood, showed me that something very like the god of classical theism must exist, while arguments from intentionality showed me that materialism/physicalism about the mind/self cannot be true, and that some form of dualism must obtain. Indeed, I would say that those two arguments were key in moving me from agnosticism to a theistic worldview, which is to say they go me "past the statement that god is dead."

    Does that help?

    "Let me add, I apologize for even asking you a question as you told me long ago you could/would not deal with me because I cannot state my position at the level of a highly educated (formal education that is) person, simply because I am not. That leaves me with wondering if you are so arrogant that you refused or if you have educated yourself out of touch with uneducated people such as me, and cannot relate any longer. I am curious as to what you think your type of thinking will lead to,and what value it has other than your own intellectual pleasure."

    If I said anything like that in the past, I apologize. But I know that I only say things like that when provoked. That doesn't justify my saying it, but it does put your comment in context. My displays of arrogance generally only follow upon the insults of others. Just look at this thread: I've been called a liar, a dogmatist, and a poisoner of minds (and that's just off the top of my head).

    What do I hope to achieve? As I've said many times, my only goal in these discussions is to show that one can rationally believe in god. I'm not trying to prove that god exists, or that atheism is false, or anything like that. Once you see that one can believe rationally, you will at least be *free* to believe, in the sense that your prejudices won't hold you back, as they once held me back, when I thought belief in god = Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts. In short, my goal is minimally to make you a better informed atheist/agnostic/skeptic. That's not so bad, is it?

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  151. "What is theism Eric?"

    Harry, let's approach this from the other end. Do you agree that deism typically denotes the belief in a god who somehow created the universe -- knocked down the first domino, got the ball rolling, etc. -- but who is not actively involved with it in any sense whatsoever?

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  152. In short, my goal is minimally to make you a better informed atheist/agnostic/skeptic. That's not so bad, is it?

    Wow, that reminds me so much of mentally ill Peter the Atheist...

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  153. "For example, Aquinas's first way, properly understood, showed me that something very like the god of classical theism must exist..."

    So I'm assuming an improper understanding would be disagreement with the argument itself or that it doesn't lead to a, much less the, theistic deity.

    Cute.

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  154. "Yes, Eric."

    Harry, okay. Now the god I've argued for -- the god of classical theism -- does, as the arguments conclude, act *continuously*, at each and every moment, to sustain everything that exists. This alone refutes the claim that I'm arguing for a deistic conception of god, as we've agreed to understand the term: "the belief in a god who somehow created the universe -- knocked down the first domino, got the ball rolling, etc. -- but who is not actively involved with it in any sense whatsoever." Sustaining the entire universe in existence at each moment cannot be characterized as "not being actively involved with the universe in any sense whatsoever." It's actually as active as a god can be.

    Parents in some sense 'create' a child, but both parents could die immediately after the child is born without affecting the existence of the child. And if the parents live to raise the child, they certainly take an active part in the child's life, but they don't literally give the child its being from moment to moment. Now imagine if parents not only created a child, but sustained the very being of a child in existence at each moment. Such parents would be much more 'actively involved' in the child's life than parents as we know them -- even if the child was completely unaware of their existence. Now that's an analogy, and like all analogies it has its limits, but I think it suffices to make my point. The god I'm arguing for is not a deistic god.

    But there's much more to it than that. I could go on to explain how, by way of the convertibility of the transcendentals, we can know that this being must be goodness itself, or how the principle of proportionate causality supports the same conclusion. Or about how the impossibility of positing an eternal and impersonal condition of the existence of a temporally finite universe implies that god is personal. And so on.

    Anyway, you may not think that these arguments work, but that's not what we're discussing. You said that the god I've argued for is deistic, but I think it's clear that, whether my arguments are good or not, the god of classical theism that I argue for is theistic.

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  155. "while arguments from intentionality showed me that materialism/physicalism about the mind/self cannot be true, and that some form of dualism must obtain."

    Wow. Why?

    And, and, and, limited choice much? How about a form of quad or quint-alism :-P

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  156. It's actually as active as a god can be.

    How in the wide wide world of sports could you possibly know the maximum level that a god could be engaged with it's creation?

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  157. "So I'm assuming an improper understanding would be disagreement with the argument itself or that it doesn't lead to a, much less the, theistic deity."

    No, not at all. An improper understanding would be, for example, reading a post-Humean account of causation into Aquinas -- an all too common mistake. Basically, improper understandings all come down to a lack of a solid foundation in Aristotle's work. If you don't understand basic Aristotelian metaphysical categories like act and potency, or form and matter, or the four causes, or essence and existence, you cannot begin to understand Aquinas (cf. Dawkins's embarrassing treatment of Aquinas's arguments in TGD). Too many people see a word like 'cause' or 'matter' or 'movement' in Aquinas and read it according to its contemporary acceptation, which of course makes the argument seem ridiculous. (I'm reminded of the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet says, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" Many people take her to be asking where Romeo is, which is silly given the context -- he's right there -- but is perfectly sensible when you remember that Elizabethan English differs from modern English, and then understand that she's basically asking, "Why are you, the man I've fallen in love with, Romeo?")

    Now let me preempt the obvious retort: Aquinas *does not* rely on Aristotle's demonstrably false *scientific* ideas, but on his *metaphysical* ideas. Again, anyone who can't distinguish modern science from metaphysics will never understand Aquinas.

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  158. "If I said anything like that in the past, I apologize. But I know that I only say things like that when provoked. "

    I apologize. But it's your fault.

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  159. "How in the wide wide world of sports could you possibly know the maximum level that a god could be engaged with it's creation?"

    Ryan, excellent point. I should've said, it's as active as I can imagine a god being in the universe. You're right, there's no way I could *know* something like that. Thanks for the correction.

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  160. "I apologize. But it's your fault."

    No, as I said I wanted to put it in its proper context. It's not as if I give someone an attitude for no reason. I think my record on this blog alone speaks for itself: I try to be respectful of others and to stay out of the insult game. But I'm a weak human being, so I find it hard to control myself when provoked -- and again, the record of this blog alone will show that I'm provoked quite a bit. (I've taken much, much worse, however; for example, in the past I've gone where few theists dare to go: Pharyngula. I get the nastiest insults from the first comment, but some of the smarter commenters make up for it.)

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  161. reading a post-Humean account of causation into Aquinas -- an all too common mistake.

    yes, because it would be wrong to hold a 13th century argument against 18th century ideas...

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  162. Also, Eric, has it occurred to you that Aristotle's metaphysics has not been demonstrated to be false because metaphysics in general is unfalsifiable?

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  163. In short, my goal is minimally to make you a better informed atheist/agnostic/skeptic.
    --------------
    The more informed we get, the more sure we are that you sir, are so wrong it's comical.

    But hey, no skin off my nose. Do continue, sir...

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  164. "yes, because it would be wrong to hold a 13th century argument against 18th century ideas..."

    Didn't you read my 'Romeo and Juliet' example? The point is that the terms have different meanings. For example, Aristotle's conception of the term 'cause' is much more inclusive than the modern conception. Take the typically used (and vastly oversimolified) illustration: the causes (in the Aristotelian sense) of a statue. The statue's efficient cause is primarily what we mean by the term 'cause' today: the activity of the sculpture. The statue's material cause is, say, marble. The statue's formal cause can be roughly said to be its shape (though technically it's not -- it's its substantial form, or essence, but 'shape' will do for now). And the statue's final cause is its end or what its 'for' (though the 'for' in this sense need not be conscious): in the case of our statue, say to portray Socrates.

    Now obviously, Aristotle (and hence Aquinas) is using the term 'cause' much more broadly than we would today. This isn't a case of comparing our modern usage with Aristotle's -- it's as manifestly silly to complain that the statue's marble isn't really a cause in this context as it is to complain that 'wherefore' doesn't mean 'why' in "Romeo and Juliet" -- but of making sure we understand what Aristotle means. (Incidentally, when you ignore final, formal and material causes and attempt to reduce all causation to a weak form of efficient causation, you end up with all sorts of paradoxes, from whether there is any such thing as causation at all to all sorts of problems of induction. Perhaps this is a sign that we moderns have gotten something wrong?)

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  165. "Also, Eric, has it occurred to you that Aristotle's metaphysics has not been demonstrated to be false because metaphysics in general is unfalsifiable?"

    Nonsense. Take any metaphysical position and show that it's incoherent and you've falsified it.

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  166. The statue's efficient cause is primarily what we mean by the term 'cause' today: the activity of the *sculptor.

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  167. This Friday is St. Thomas Aquinas's feast day. Celebrate by purchasing and reading Feser's "Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide" and you'll be many steps ahead of most of the atheists who post on the internet.

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  168. Nonsense. Take any metaphysical position and show that it's incoherent and you've falsified it.
    ----------
    However in the real world all you've got is a bunch of 'coherent' philosophy all based upon the ASSumption of a first cause, prime mover etc. You start from theism, and then try to prove your points, just like legions of christian 'philosophers'* before you. We started from NO assumptions, but you sir, did not. Or rather, do not.
    (*For 'philosophers' one should actually read 'apologists' in your first sense there)

    Plus, since your seemingly coherent line of reasoning leads to a deity, and even more, specifically YOUR version of one, it is by that fact, rendered incoherent. Because if it leads to nonsense, it's nonsense itself, no matter how pretty the words are.

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  169. This Friday is St. Thomas Aquinas's feast day.
    ------------
    And we should give a fuck why exactly?

    Just saying... he was an evil old liar, so maybe the proper feast should be a large irregular BM or something.

    (He probably 'feasted' on little boys anyhow... You know catholics....)

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  170. "However in the real world all you've got is a bunch of 'coherent' philosophy all based upon the ASSumption of a first cause, prime mover etc."

    It's not an assumption, but a conclusion.

    "You start from theism, and then try to prove your points, just like legions of christian 'philosophers'* before you."

    See above.

    "We started from NO assumptions, but you sir, did not. Or rather, do not."

    How in the world do you manage that? No assumptions? Harry, come on -- please tell Brian how absurd this is.

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  171. Ironically, I'm starting Strayer's "The Albigensian Crusades" on Friday. Probably gives one a more accurate picture of the reality of 13th century catholism than reading some guys take on a monk's philosophy paper...

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  172. Holy Crap!

    I'm gone for a day or two and the thing freeekin' explodes!

    What's up, Eric? Too horrible in here to look away?

    :o)

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  173. Hi, Ed.

    "Too horrible in here to look away?"

    You said it, I didn't. ;)

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  174. I'm gonna fix myself a X-Large screwdriver and a bag of popcorn and watch for a while, if y'all don't mind... Too much catching up to do if I wanted to jump into the fray...

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  175. "Either you're an atheist for a reason, or you're not. If you're not an atheist for a reason, then you're position is non-rational not worth discussing." - Eric


    Ok, Eric, I'l take your bait.

    Define reason.
    Ryan states, quite well, atheism is the default system. Does this rise to the level of reason?

    What reason has God?
    Did he not say to Moses, "I am he who is"?
    It kinda looks like God is describing himself as not needing a reason.

    Things, sometimes, simply are. Atheism, for me, is one such thing. I don't need science to tell me I don't need atheist philosophers to explain it to me.

    I simply am.
    Still, awfully magnamimous of you to dismiss any position that does not coincide with your own.

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  176. Brian said.

    I just find it interesting that we have here the atheist sticking up for the fact that Jesus was supposed to be a nice guy, and a christian claiming that it wasn't that way at all...
    ----------------
    I don’t recall saying Jesus was not a nice guy… Once again you have missed the unobvious. The point I was making was Jesus referred to His disciples as brothers and sisters and If you are not His disciple then we are not considered brother and sister in the Biblical Christian sense of the teaching….However I did say we were brother and sister in Adam… maybe I should of used the term” human race“… I don’t know ,do you get it now?

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  177. Jerry said,

    The truth is you do worship the bible, that is what is leading you astray. Years ago I became aware of what is known as blaming the victim. You are a victim of your own silly, self defeating indulgence in the antiquated thinking of our forefathers.
    January 22, 2011 6:36 PM

    ---------------------------
    Sorry for the delayed response But I got busy with other things.

    Please provide some examples of my antiquated thinking of our forefathers, in parallel to today’s modern thinking people. Yourself included.

    Please spare me on the antiquated creation doctrine, verses the MODERN evolution theory. That theory has not been proven yet.
    Yeah I know, there is overwhelming evidence that suggest evolution , yet circumstantial at best.

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  178. However I did say we were brother and sister in Adam… maybe I should of used the term” human race“… I don’t know ,do you get it now?
    -------------
    So, which did Jesus mean when he referred to loving your brothers and sisters... And what did he mean by 'neighbors?' Christian neighbors, just the people living in the immediate vicinity, or a broader, 'brethren of adam' sense?

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  179. So Eric, you've concluded that there is a god, and also that said god is yaweh, of the OT.

    What evidence do you have?

    Aquinas? Not evidence.

    Other apologists? No evidence.

    Ya got nuthin, bro. Nothing except hopes and dreams and really old stories.

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  180. I think this bears reading, ESPECIALLY by my religious friends...

    Conservative Christians divorce more, study says

    Doesn't surprise me in the least.

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  181. Hey, this guy disagrees with me. Says that christians have great sex within the sanctity of marriage. Sounds pretty good, I must admit...

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  182. verses the MODERN evolution theory. That theory has not been proven yet.
    ----------------
    It has been proven to work, and it has been proven as much as say, gravity has been. So test the theory of gravity... Go on...

    Didja jump off a bridge yet? No?

    Ahh, you've got no faith.

    Hey, your misunderstanding of evolution has to be on purpose, since nobody's really that ignorant (no, I refuse to believe it!) so why should I argue? We've all spent our breath (fingers?) telling you the difference between the word as used in science and as used in common everyday american english. You have to TRY to be that ignorant to not get it yet, you have to *refuse* to get it, and you must have your reasons.
    And of course, I know what they are.

    Hey, mike, eric, what the heck, have a good night.

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  183. Brian,

    I think Mike genuinely doesn't know.

    We can talk about theory all we want, but the information conveyed has two challenges, first extant emotional needs for religion, secondly the fact that evolution is not explained well by talking heads, a lot of popular blogs, mags, newspapers or public schools.

    Basically the fuckin stupid douchebaggy media.

    They constantly haul back to Darwin's conception of the theory when talking about it, do not explain why it was so revolutionary in the first place, except that it was anti-religion and then have the audacity to publish lobotomized synopses of scientific results informed by evolutionary theory!!

    So what does Mike know? He knows that what he sees of the scientific community is someone constantly saying about new discoveries, "Yes we did know everything, but now we really know everything." And that something is always, "Billions or millions of years old."

    And the idiotic media does nothing to qualify this apparent chutzpah. Apparent chutzpah. The reason for the reasoning is left in the dust. I'm tellin ya they don't give two shits about the truth. "Billions of years. Darwin. We used to know everything but now we really do." That's it.

    In Mike's mind, and understandably so, is an emperor with no clothes who wants to accuse him of wearing none as well.

    Fuck theory. If he wants to debate (which on the main he doesn't) we should start with the basics... the real basics. Schools sure as shit don't. The media won't and religion can't.

    Critical thinking.

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  184. Hey, this guy disagrees with me. Says that christians have great sex within the sanctity of marriage. Sounds pretty good, I must admit...

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Beautiful and satisfying and Sacred intimacy.

    Yes...it is pretty good!
    In fact, it's Awesome... ;~)

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  185. Harry, if you *f* theory, you've got nothing left.






    Btw: who on here's ever been divorced?


    I haven't.
    (I've been with my husband for over 28 blissful and satisfying years). First and only.

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  186. We abstained for over year until I got my ring.

    And, to this day, we're the best of friends. The wonderful intimacy is the icing on the cake.

    It's do-able, Brian. My story is only one of many out there.

    Problem is - our narcissitic society promotes the animalistic tendencies over those of True Love.

    Ya know?

    It takes two to make a strong partnership -- and it really takes a strong Faith in order to ACTUALLY live it.

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  187. Hi MI, Glad to see you are still here in bazaro blog.

    My wife and I have been married for over thirty years. Never been divorced.

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  188. Harry - you are spot on - modern science is so vast that the cursory tidbits that the media circulate are often of no help if not outright harmful. Critical thinking is the only hope we have. Instilling it in school and at home is the only thing that would make America as exceptional as it seems to think it is.

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  189. Mike; read this and this. Both books do a good job of explaining what we know and how we know it concerning two unrelated subjects you often conflate.

    For evolution, if you want something from a more “friendly” source, read something by Francis Collins, he’s not in your sect, but he is an evangelical Christian.

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  190. I concure, critical thinking is key and two books are not going to penetrate decades of religious shallack.

    So the question is, how does someone in their 40s or 50s (Mike?) learn critical thinking?

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