Sunday, September 4, 2011

Atheism is never having to say you're sorry

Commentor oleg's got his panties in a bunch:


1. You [must] apologize for calling me a thug. Which I am not.


Actually, I didn't single him out as a thug. I called all atheists thugs, at least the ones who censor, intimidate, etc. Seems pretty obvious.

If oleg believes in freedom of speech, and abhors atheists' efforts to censor criticism of their creation myth (Darwin's theory) in public schools, and abhors atheists' censorship of public prayer at high school graduation ceremonies and censorship of any expression of religious belief in a public forum (they only seem to censor expressions of Christianity), I'll be delighted to walk back my assertion that he is a thug. Oddly, I haven't heard oleg express committment to these rudimentary defenses of freedom. If I've missed them, he should let me know.

Amusingly, oleg (inadvertently of course) brings up another matter in which atheists are worthy of ridicule. I've written a recent post on determinism and free will, and it's a chortle to apply atheist arguments to oleg's pout.

Atheism, in modern form, is essentially philosophical naturalism, which is  a viewpoint nearly always accompanied by determinism.

Determinism is the view that we have no libertarian free will. All of our "choices" are illusory. We are material bodies in a material universe. Our acts are all determined by our material history-- laws of nature, chance events, etc. We have no genuine freedom.

Of course, oleg's request for an apology presumes two things:

1) I could have chosen not to call oleg a thug. But atheism/determinism denies that I had a libertarian choice.

2) I could choose to apologize. But I have no choice to do so. I'm determined by material processes. Que sera, sera.

Of course, nobody really believes that crap. Not even atheists. But it's part of the liturgy. Until someone calls you a name.

Atheists have three consistent characteristics:

1)  Philosophical stupidity, to the point of ceaseless self-refutation.

2)  Inveterate propensity to the use of censorship and force.

3)  Oleaginous sense of victimhood. Which is odd for an ideological cult whose only unique contributions to human affairs have been the Reign of Terror, the Gulag, the Killing Fields, and the governing institutions of North Korea.

People have been so mean to atheists!

But heck, oleg, I can't apologize to you. For anything. How can a chemistry set apologize to a meat robot? Can litmus paper apologize for turning blue? Can baking soda apologize to vinegar for making a salt ('I'm sorry.... that was so base of me')?

And atheists assert that there is no objective moral law with a Source independent of man. Morality is merely subjective opinion, you say. To what objective standard of morality would I appeal in my apology?

And how can I apologize if I have no free will? Everything I do is caused by laws of physics. I can't choose to apologize, any more than I chose to call you a thug. Free will is an illusion.

Which all works out well for atheists, in the larger sense. If atheists had to apologize for atheism, they would do nothing but apologize. Merely apologizing for Dawkins' chapter on the cosmological argument in the God Delusion would take centuries. '...forgive me for mangling logic...'. That's why atheists don't have confessionals.

Can you imagine apologizing for Stalin?

But don't trouble yourself, oleg, with apologies for state atheism or apologies for atheism's mangling of philosophy and ethics. Your own ideology insulates you from accountability.

Atheism is never having to say you're sorry.

105 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Absolute piffle, as usual.

    Evolutionary biology has absolutely nothing to do with a creation myth. The origin of the Universe is Big Bang cosmology. The origin of life is abiogenesis.

    America was established with the principle of freedom of religion. This was done to ensure the rights of not only non-believers but also members of other religions and minority Christian faiths.

    Free will means that people's actions are strongly influenced by factors not consciously apparent to the person; genetics, upbringing, etc. But it doesn't mean that the person can't stop before carrying out an action. Mel Gibson is a hero of the Christian Right with his production of 'the Passion'. Did his actions abusing a policewoman when pulled over driving his car intoxicated reflect his true beliefs and free will? He expressed regret for his actions when sober. Were these statements true, or just self-serving? I suspect that he really does have his deplorable attitudes but that most of time he manages to avoid expressing them.

    I would never think of swearing at someone, mainly because it might invite aggression back.

    Ethical standards are objective. They're decreed by the society I live in, and I can see that they are useful and necessary to obey. Laws against stealing don't require the added force of devine command. And as I have noted before, the Bible contains hundreds, over 600, separate commandments, most of which are ignored in Christian countries, including the ones about not working on the Sabbath and not covetting your neighbour's ass.

    As an atheist, I deplore the actions of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, as being examples of Communist dictators. I also deplore the actions of Pope Pius XII for not protesting against the actions of Hitler and for not doing anything to prevent the deportation of thousands of Roman Jews to the death camps in 1944, despite the fact that the 3 top-ranking Germans in Rome were protesting against the deportation.

    I don't have to apologize for Richard Dawkins' 'the God Delusion'. He was absolutely correct!

    By the way, have you got around to reading the paper on evolutionary psychology yet, instead of commenting on a review of it ...

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  2. I am sorry.
    I am very sorry that ADULTS actually consider Atheism a sensible and reasonable approach to reality.
    I am sorry that so many half educated idiots (of the Nerdy variety)think that Atheism and it's Oracles (like Tricky Dick Dawkins) are a good way to 'look smart' or 'cool'.
    I am sorry that the Atheist / materialist bent has DESTROYED many modern attempts at SciFi and fantasy literature and film.
    I am sorry that Atheists are such THUGS and BULLIES in the academic and political spheres.
    I am sorry the Atheist lobby can take no criticism and handle NO introspection.
    I am sorry that these poor monist materialists can only envision a tiny slice of reality.
    I am REALLY sorry that humanity and the rest of creation must endure the ceaseless cries for material and technical 'progress' that result in their being reduced to statistics; often 'subjects' and 'prophet margins' and eventually their horrific deaths.
    But do I need to apologize for such things?
    I suppose to an extent I do have to, having stood by and allowed it to happen and continue.
    I have tried to counter the chaos, nihilism, and futility but have only partially succeeded.
    But to WHOM do I say sorry for the evils (sin?) of my fellow men, and of my own? Who can forgive all this infidelity, violence, and greed?
    I know JUST the guy!
    A Blessed and peaceful Sabbath to you all, and all of your families.

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  3. Michael Egnor wasn't able to come up with a definitive case of supernatural causation for ANYTHING.

    Virgin births, elephant gods, angels, demons, human and animal sacrifices, a boat carrying every species, the trinity - the list is endless.

    Atheism means never having to make up nonsense.

    Seriously, Michael - it's ok. We know that your cognitive dissonance powers your blogging. We know that deep down, in your heart, you can't reconcile your scientific training with concepts like virgin births and transubstantiation.

    Just like the hyper-conservative moralists who seem to so often get caught with the wrong girl (or boy), we know what powers your frustration. It is quite obvious that your blogging is first and foremost to convince yourself. Why else would you so often stray from logic and spend so much time and effort on your rants?

    If you ever want to give up the internal battles and embrace intellectual honesty, you'll have my complete support.

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  4. Quite ironic post for someone who by his own free will joined perhaps the largest criminal organization in the world. I'm talking about the RCC of course, run by a capo di tutti capi who is unrivaled in thuggery.

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  5. Hey, guys, Egnor is just defending freedom -- the freedom to distort and mischaracterize his opponents' arguments, the freedom to ignore the many times his own arguments have been decisively refuted, the freedom to engage in baseless slander and misdirection, the freedom to force (literal!) creation myths into science classrooms...

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  6. Michael,

    I am convinced that the time wasted to write this senile post could have been spent more productively. Take, for example, this:

    And how can I apologize if I have no free will? Everything I do is caused by laws of physics. I can't choose to apologize, any more than I chose to call you a thug. Free will is an illusion.

    Weren't you recently informed (here,here,and here) that we don't think that biology is reducible to physics?

    You know that no one believes this crap. You say that no one believes this crap. Why on Earth do you then bother to fight it? In order to show that theism is superior to a caricature of atheism no one adheres to? Congratulations, you've managed to do that!

    Let me give you a reciprocal example that even a conservative Catholic neurosurgeon might understand. I read this story about a bearded dude in the sky who was such an incompetent bungler that he had to wipe out his own creation and start from scratch. And who was so spiteful that he killed not just the humans but also nearly all of the mammals and birds who had done nothing to deserve such punishment. (And for some reason he chose a clumsy method that spared the fishes and the aquatic mammals. Was that an oversight?) And the story is likely bogus because there is not enough water in the world to cover the highest mountains and there is no evidence of a recent universal genetic bottleneck. Take that, theists!

    Of course, few people are biblical literalists, so my ridicule would hardly be offensive to anyone.

    This is what your attempts to topple atheism look like, Michael. You concoct a version of atheism no one takes seriously, even yourself, now or in you recent atheist past. Then you eviscerate it. Wow! Attaboy! I am now totally convinced that atheism is intellectual poison. (Umm, scratch that. It's not poison, it's just incoherent.)

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  7. At the end of the day, one can't help but wonder why you are doing this. You clearly aren't doing it to win converts (haven't seen any). I hope you're not doing it to attract girls (not working, either). Perhaps you are doing it for your own sake? Is this some sort of therapy meant to prevent yourself from slipping back into unbelief?

    If that's the case, perhaps you should do it in private and not make a spectacle of yourself.

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  8. I think Mr. Egnor needs to look up the definition of the word "atheist."

    If he wants to argue with radical philosophical determinism, he should find some radical philosophical determinists to wrangle with.

    If he wants to attack secularism in government, he should perhaps recall that American secularism arose from conflicts between religious faiths, not an imagine atheist agenda.

    And if he really truly wants to argue with atheists, he should present a coherent argument for the existence of a god or gods.

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  9. “Determinism is the view that we have no libertarian free will. All of our "choices" are illusory. We are material bodies in a material universe. Our acts are all determined by our material history-- laws of nature, chance events, etc. We have no genuine freedom.”

    You’re suggesting that for “genuine freedom” there must exist a component of the mind independent of the substratum of the brain. What is your evidence? It must be compelling if you think you’re justified in calling those that disagree with you “stupid”.

    The closest thing I see to an argument is that litmus paper can’t apologize, and it’s purely chemical in nature, therefore our ability to apologize must entail some sort of soul as the seat of free will.

    “And how can I apologize if I have no free will?”

    You just do it without regard or awareness of the changing patterns of neural activity that underpin your thoughts.

    “People have been so mean to atheists!”

    None more so than you. Your anti-atheists screeds differ little in substance from those found on the most radical Islamist websites; they are indeed your philosophical brethren when it comes to atheists. You would rightfully be considered a bigot if you reserved your vitriol for Jews or Blacks, but Atheists are apparently still fair game.

    -KW

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  10. Rick Drones on:
    "Virgin births, elephant gods, angels, demons, human and animal sacrifices, a boat carrying every species, the trinity - the list is endless."
    Yada yada. I suppose that was intended to offend somehow?
    RickK, The universe is a weird and wonderful place. Humans are inventive, colourful, and diverse creature. Funny how you folks can accept change in a finch beak, but not in a metaphysical sense. You may want to look into those myths and legends a bit more before you dismiss them entirely.

    Oleg states:
    "Weren't you recently informed (here,here,and here) that we don't think that biology is reducible to physics? "
    You have to give Oleg his due: He is a funny guy to read. Always has me smiling. As we see here, he admits to being a fan of Behe's argument. Could it be that Oleg's ideological dam is about to burst? First he concedes this...what next? Teleology? Objective morality?

    Sharry wrote:
    "And if he really truly wants to argue with atheists, he should present a coherent argument for the existence of a god or gods."
    Here we see the monism in full flare. We must PROVE purpose, morality, design, super-nature, and the mind / soul to the DENIER.
    No, Sharry - the proof is YOURS to make. History, philosophy, ethics, morality, theology, epistemology, the VAST majority of all scientists to ever draw breath, art, language, physics, and experiential observation ALL back the -Theist position. YOU must prove material causation of all these things, or be satisfied with your position as one of that is of FAITH and belief. Of course, In a subjectively moral world, with relative perspectives and world-views that makes you and your ideas just another 'superstition'.
    You know? The mind numbingly banal one about the pond scum and selfish baboon, as opposed to the exciting ancient ones about a kindly 'Elephant God' or the 'Virgin Birth', as noted by your fellow traveller RickK above.
    You need to prove you're not just pretentious over grown kids who make out a series of observations on nature give you the right to OWN 'science' and inquiry. God, the universe, and religion does NOT need to prove itself to you - they all evidently exist without your consent.

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  11. @crusadeREX: "Here we see the monism in full flare. We must PROVE purpose, morality, design, super-nature, and the mind / soul to the DENIER."

    I didn't ask for proof. I asked for a coherent argument.

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  12. @egnor: "And how can I apologize if I have no free will?"

    Suppose I'm an atheist troubled by the question of free will. Can I turn to religion for help?

    Of course I can!

    I can become a Quaker and learn that I have free will.

    Or I can become a hardcore Calvinist and learn that I don't.

    Or I can join any mainstream Christian sect and learn that I have free will and that although an omniscient God knows in advance what choice I'll make in every circumstance that doesn't constitute predestination because, uh....

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  13. Sharry and oleg and RickK:

    crusadeRex makes an excellent point. The universe is an astonishing place. Existence is full of what seems to be magic and mystery.

    No person has a complete understanding of it all. Not even close.

    We all must settle for partial understandings. We all face the same questions.

    We Christians find the Christian explanation to fit reality. As Chesterton said, 'Christianity is the key to which life is the lock'.

    Our problem with atheism is that it explains nothing. Nothing. We understand that aspects of our faith are not always easy to accept. The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Miracles, etc. No one, not even the most devout Christian, says 'oh sure, that's obvious'.

    We find 'shit happened' much harder to accept. It is not a key for any lock.

    The Christian understanding has deep beauty and provides deep insight, and many of us have personal experiences that transcend ordinary life that have led us to believe (I have had such an experience).

    I cannot be an atheist because atheism, of all beliefs, is the most stupid.

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  14. As an atheist, Mr. Egnor, I'm open to persuasion. Commanding me to believe is a non-starter; deriding atheism as "stupid" is, pardon me, stupid; but please feel free to persuade me.

    But an argument, to be persuasive, must not contradict reality, must be evidence-based, must not assume knowledge not actually present, must not appeal to "faith," must not contradict itself, and must be logically coherent.

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  15. “I cannot be an atheist because atheism, of all beliefs, is the most stupid.”

    So by your own admission, you find Islam, Scientology, ghost, and alien abductions, more credible than atheism. My what a mighty intellect you possess

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  16. @sharry:

    [As an atheist, Mr. Egnor, I'm open to persuasion.]

    Good. We all need to be open to better ideas.

    [Commanding me to believe is a non-starter; deriding atheism as "stupid" is, pardon me, stupid; but please feel free to persuade me.]

    No one is commanding you to do anything. And believing that the world exists for no reason is stupid, in my view. It's stupid not because it contrary to evidence, but because it is ultimately a denial of reason or science of any sort. If everything needs no reason, nothing needs a reason.

    [But an argument, to be persuasive, must not contradict reality,]

    Materialism and determinism, which are generally viewpoints held along with atheism, obviously contradict reality. Free will is obviously real, and there are many immaterial things (beliefs, reasons, feelings, universals).

    [must be evidence-based,]

    Do you really base everything you believe on "evidence", in the sense of data? What is your p value?

    [must not assume knowledge not actually present,]

    So you will only believe things for which we have full knowledge? You must then believe nothing, for we have full knowledge of nothing. We all have faith. Life is not possible without it.

    [must not appeal to "faith,"]

    How do you know that your body needs insulin? Have you ever done the experiments yourself to prove it, or do you just accept it based on faith in doctors? How do you know that Pluto exists? Have you seen it with your own eyes? Or do you have faith? How do you know that atoms exist? Have you seen one? Pictures don't count-- you need to have faith that the photos are genuine?

    [must not contradict itself]

    If the universe needs no cause, why does anything need a cause? Why not scrap science and just say "it comes from nothing".

    [and must be logically coherent.]

    What is logic? It's not material.

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  17. @anon:

    [So by your own admission, you find Islam, Scientology, ghost, and alien abductions, more credible than atheism. My what a mighty intellect you possess]

    Yep. Philosophical naturalism (which is what modern atheism is) is the dumbest viewpoint, no competition.

    Scientologists are nuts and crooks, there's no evidence for aliens, I don't know about ghosts, and I think that Islam is a very dangerous and mistaken monotheism.

    But atheists are the dumbest, because they assert that there is no cause for the universe.

    Scientologists are wrong on facts. Atheists are wrong on logic. Wrong on logic is dumber.

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  18. Is that what atheists believe?

    1) The universe created itself.
    2) There is no reason or purpose to the universe, it's just there.
    3) Life is a random event and an accident.
    4) Life is wholly and only dependant on physics and chemistry.
    5) Life evolved from simple to complex by chance and the need to survive.
    6) The need to survive is the most basic law of nature for the living.
    7) There is no meaning or purpose to life, it's just there.
    8) Intelligence, consciousness and self-awareness are illusions and caused uniquely by matter and energy in the brain.
    9) Life must be enjoyed to the fullest because that's all we'll get.
    10) Humans can decide by themselves how to enjoy this life, i.e. they can design their own morality.

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  19. The standards I listed for a persuasive argument are merely the ones I would use in any circumstance, not just a theological debate.

    If, for instance, I was in the market for a car, I would be willing to listen to the salesman's pitch for some particular brand or model -- and perhaps accept it -- but I would be reasonably unconvinced if his argument:

    1) contradicted reality ("That's not a dent, it's a design feature...")

    2) was not evidence-based ("Disregard the mileage numbers; it has great gas economy...")

    3) assumed knowledge not actually present ("It's sure to win a Car & Driver award...")

    4) appealed to faith ("Take my word for it...")

    5) contradicted itself ("The car is blue. That is, it's green. Also blue."); or

    6) was logically incoherent ("New, used, what's the difference?")

    Is that unreasonable? Would my objections require a defense of philosophical materialism? And why should I relax those standards when the question concerns religion?

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  20. @Pepe: "Is that what atheists believe?"

    No.

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  21. @Sharry

    No

    Can you elaborate a bit on each point and tell us what you do believe?

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  22. @Pepe: "Can you elaborate a bit...?"

    What atheists believe is that there is no God.

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  23. @sharry:

    [What atheists believe is that there is no God.]

    What atheists believe is that there is no reason for the universe.

    That is ultimately a denial of all reason. It's the dumbest belief, because it removes the rational ground from belief.

    There must be a ground for reason. 'Shit happened' is no ground.

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  24. @egnor: "'Shit happened' is no ground."

    And bare assertion is no argument.

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  25. @Sharry
    What atheists believe is that there is no God.

    That's by definition, obviously! But what about the rest?
    If you’re open to persuasion we need to know at what level to start…

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  26. @sharry:

    [And bare assertion is no argument.]

    Atheists don't have arguments, because they assert that everything can just happen, without reason.

    You just have chemistry. Try to phrase your arguments in a way consistent with atheism-- as chemical reactions, that is.

    You've already asserted (by being an atheist) that no-thing has a reason.

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  27. Pepe, as impressed as you may be with me, I can't speak on behalf of all atheists (on the questions you raise) any more than you can speak on behalf of all theists (or even all Christians).

    Begin by persuading me that God exists.

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  28. @egnor: "You've already asserted (by being an atheist) that no-thing has a reason."

    You're drawing an unwarranted (and garbled) inference, perhaps in the hope of avoiding a discussion of the existence of god.

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  29. @sharry
    Begin by persuading me that God exists.

    For that, you need to address the 10 points I made earlier. If you decline, it will be a proof that you’re not as open-minded as you say and don’t want us to try to persuade you.
    That’s fine with me, but please me honest about it.

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  30. @pepe: "you need to address the 10 points I made earlier"

    Honestly, why? To take an example at random --

    "6) The need to survive is the most basic law of nature for the living" --

    How does my answer to that question bear on the existence of god? How would I even determine what constitutes "the most basic law of nature for the living?" Basic in what sense? This is incoherent.

    @pepe: "If you decline, it will be a proof that you’re not as open-minded as you say and don’t want us to try to persuade you."

    Nice try, but you don't get off the hook that easily. How may I know that god exists?

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  31. @sharry
    How may I know that god exists?

    That may come as a surprise to you, but the existence of God can be logically deduced. Fortunately, the hard work as already been done, mainly by Aquinas. Dr. Egnor has a wonderful post regarding the subject and I invite you to read it with an open mind.

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  32. @pepe: "the existence of God can be logically deduced. Fortunately, the hard work as already been done, mainly by Aquinas. Dr. Egnor has a wonderful post regarding the subject and I invite you to read it with an open mind."

    Having read Aquinas, I'm not sure I need Mr. Egnor's gloss on the matter.

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  33. @sharry
    Having read Aquinas...

    Did you understand what Aquinas wrote? If you did, then you know God exists. If not, tell us what’s no clear to you.

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  34. @pepe: "Did you understand what Aquinas wrote? If you did, then you know God exists."

    Quod non erat demonstandum, I'm afraid. Without poring over my old books, I can only say that I found Aquinas unconvincing.

    And "go argue with Aquinas" is no more successful an argument than a libertarian's "go argue with Ayn Rand" or a communist's "go argue with Karl Marx."

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  35. @sharry:

    [How may I know that god exists?]

    By understanding that the assertion that He doesn't exist is self-refuting.

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  36. @egnor: "By understanding that the assertion that He doesn't exist is self-refuting."

    Mm? How so?

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  37. @sharry
    ...go argue with...

    So, reading about the theory of relativity is like arguing with Einstein.

    You have made up your own mind and obviously don't believe in audi alteram partem.

    (It's lunch time...)

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  38. Pepe,

    So you're saying that before Aquinas published his "proof" that god must exist, there was no good reason for believing in god?

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  39. @pep: "You have made up your own mind and obviously don't believe in audi alteram partem."

    If "go read Aquinas" constitutes an acceptable case of audi alteram partem, perhaps all I need say is "go read Dawkins" or "go read Hitchens". Obviously, it doesn't settle the matter.

    But as an excuse for a lunch break it works fine. (Smile.)

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  40. @troy
    So you're saying that before Aquinas published his "proof" that god must exist, there was no good reason for believing in god?

    Aquinas demonstrated that the existence of God can be deduced by logic.

    What you're saying is equivalent to saying that before Newton, gravity did not exist.

    @sharry

    I have read Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett...

    These guys hate religion and confuse religion with the existence of God, somehow dumping the baby with the bath water.

    Do atheists have a problem with logic? I cannot for the life of me understand the way they think.

    (My wife is REALLY calling me for lunch…)

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  41. @pepe: "Aquinas demonstrated that the existence of God can be deduced by logic."

    In fact he did not. (Yes, I cracked that old book.) He made a series of first-cause and prime-mover arguments that are clearly open to exception on any number of grounds. He also makes the (perhaps excusable in his historical context) assumption that nature is ordered by the direction of "some superior agent," not demonstrated, which renders his argument more than a little circular. (Or to use Mr. Egnor's preferred word, tautological.)

    But these claims and counter-claims are old and neither you nor I will settle them. I honestly believe they fail as arguments for existence of a "prime mover," nor does it follow that a "prime mover," if such a thing did exist, would be equivalent to the Christian god.

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  42. @pepe: "These guys hate religion and confuse religion with the existence of God, somehow dumping the baby with the bath water."

    Okay, I'll bite -- is it religion they should have dumped, or the existence of god?

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  43. @sharry
    In fact he did not...
    Yep! Atheists really do have a problem with logic.

    ...these claims and counter-claims are old...
    So are the Arabic numerals but you use them daily. Logic is eternal and does not age.

    ...prime mover, if such a thing did exist...
    The Prime Mover argument is crystal clear to me, as clear as 2+2=4. I don't know why you cannot understand it.

    ...equivalent to the Christian god.
    You have to graduate in logic before we can come to Revelation, sorry.

    From what logic I can understand from atheists, they reject God because they reject religion and they reject religion because of the sins some religious persons. In logic this is called a category error.

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  44. 1) The universe created itself.

    Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? One thing’s for sure, there are a host of multiverse theories out-there that are a direct result of extrapolations of known physics, most if not all of which can explain the state of our universe with anthropic reasoning.

    2) There is no reason or purpose to the universe, it's just there.

    I don’t see any evidence for reason or purpose, nor do I see how assuming reason or purpose would in anyway help us in our pursuit of knowledge.

    3) Life is a random event and an accident.

    Not at all. Although there are competing theories of abiogenesis, they are all well within the domain of chemistry. Once a simple self replicating molecule or system of molecules subject to the forces of natural selection is established, all that is necessary to spawn the diversity of life you see around you is a relatively stable environment and time.

    There are no accidents here any more than a whole bunch of hydrogen atoms came together and accidentally formed the sun. There are only well understood physical principles of chemistry and evolution.

    4) Life is wholly and only dependant on physics and chemistry.

    Yes

    5) Life evolved from simple to complex by chance and the need to survive.

    When you say “by chance” or “by accident” you’re in denial of the underlying premise of natural selection. Mutation, copying errors, lateral gene transfer, these are all well understood aspects of the “chance” element of natural selection. Both mutation rates and the frequency of gene coping errors can be measured and explained, and lateral gene transfer is becoming better understood every day. The other half of evolutionary theory, natural selection, takes these chance occurrences and select specific ones for replication and incorporation into the genome. The propagation of genetic changes that increase fitness is decidedly not random.

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  45. 6) The need to survive is the most basic law of nature for the living.

    No, not really, the ubiquity of death in the natural world shows that need to survive isn’t the most basic law. Even with the removal of the threats of accidental death and being eaten, virtually all organisms succumb to old age. Many creatures seem to be programmed to die shortly after mating. The most basic law of the living seems to be to leave a robust genome capable of evolving to meat new environmental challenges.

    7) There is no meaning or purpose to life, it's just there

    More or less, Most of the atheists I know find meaning in there children (as evolution would predict). Others find meaning in other ways, and I wouldn‘t presume to speak for them. Still, even if you believe there is absolutely no purpose in life beyond being another attempt a gene replication, it doesn’t make life any less worth living.

    What’s the purpose of your life? To glorify God in the hopes of avoiding torture and spending an eternity in a spa?

    8) Intelligence, consciousness and self-awareness are illusions and caused uniquely by matter and energy in the brain.

    I believe that Intelligence, consciousness and self-awareness are indeed caused uniquely by matter and energy in the brain, but I wouldn’t call them illusions. From my perspective (and I suspect yours as well) they are as real, perhaps more real, than anything else that I can perceive.

    9) Life must be enjoyed to the fullest because that's all we'll get.

    Yes. As long as your enjoyment isn’t to the detriment of others, why not? I say that knowing full well that sacrificing to help others is perhaps the single most important thing you can do for your own happiness and fulfillment.

    10) Humans can decide by themselves how to enjoy this life, i.e. they can design their own morality.

    Yes. We should be in a constant state of dialog about morality. Morality needs to evolve and change to accommodate new circumstances and new information. A rigid moral code is antithetical to the idea of greater liberty and justice. It’s moral flexibility that has allowed about half of the Ten Commandments to be declared unconstitutional resulting in far greater freedom and liberty than if we where forced to live under those archaic moral guidelines.

    Of course these are simply my opinions. I am not speaking for anyone else.

    -KW

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  46. @pepe: "they reject God because they reject religion and they reject religion because of the sins some religious persons. In logic this is called a category error."

    Certainly it would be wrong to mistake the crimes of individual clergymen for an indictment of their beliefs. Though it does call into question their individual claims of moral discernment.

    @pepe: "The Prime Mover argument is crystal clear to me, as clear as 2+2=4. I don't know why you cannot understand it"

    I think I do understand it. I simply don't find it convincing. Sorry, but I don't. We can discuss it if you like.

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  47. Hi Dr. Egnor,

    This is off topic and a bit out of the blue but I work as a statistician at a med school (I've mentioned it before -- don't know if you noticed) and I was wondering if you would be interested in giving a presentation at one of our clinical research fora, provided we could fly you here and accommodate you. (I'd have to ask the head of my division, as I don't know anything about that.) If you are willing to give a talk you can email me at r1obrien at math dot ucsd dot edu. (That's where I obtained my advanced degree, not where I currently work. If you decide to email me I'll reveal where I work then.)

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  48. Dr Egnor, I really think you go a bit too harsh on atheists... I mean, okay, atheism was related tosome terrible shit. But each person has take on Atheism or Theism.

    I realised that atheism and theism at a certain point can connect to all sort of ideas, and that sometimes people chose to believe or not in God or gods, basely mainly on other philosophies.

    I mean... you never gonna really hit them by hitting atheism... seriously. I bet every single one of the atheists here has at least more princicples than just Gos is NOT, or there is no such thing as Gods, or no higher forces or whatever.

    Nahhhh .... just look carefully and you will see... people often allow there most important philosophy to show up every now and then, and most of the time... actually I have never seen as atheist that guided his life only through God doesn't exist. Often I saw in other people, other philosophies that could corroborate with atheism but was not atheism as a whole.

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  49. Robert:

    Thank you. I'll email you shortly.

    Edward:

    You make some very good points, and I know that I get a bit carried away at times. I believe that atheism has to be challenged. Atheists have assumed the mantle of science and reason, and I believe that a very strong case can be made that atheism provides the least ground for science and reason.

    I engage in a bit of hyperbole at times (very rarely!), but it is a topic that we need to address, and this gets the discussion going.

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  50. @KW
    Thank you for giving me your opinion on the 10 points I raised. I see I was not too far from the bull’s-eye on my understanding the beliefs of atheists.

    It is clear from reading you that you consider science as your ultimate reference. I also notice that you base your beliefs on a lot of interpretation of what science shows us, i.e. multiverses theory, denial of design and purpose, making natural selection the ultimate source of biodiversity… etc.

    That’s all fine with me and I respect, even though I don’t share, your opinion.

    But there is one affirmation that I need to correct: you said …glorify God in the hopes of avoiding torture and spending an eternity in a spa…. If this is what you were thought about God, you were seriously misled and I apologize for this, which is a sin committed by too many religious persons.

    You say that we must find purpose for this life in our children; I know that your children are what you cherish the most. The difference between you and me is that I know I am the child, as you are, of a loving God and that you and me are what He cherish the most.

    At the end, when all is said and done, nobody dies an atheist.

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  51. Egnor: You just have chemistry. Try to phrase your arguments in a way consistent with atheism-- as chemical reactions, that is.

    Michael, if after reading this comment of mine you still insist that all we have is chemistry then I can only conclude one thing. You, sir, are a dork. A complete, certified idiot. There is no other explanation here. My condolences to your colleagues and family.

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  52. @sherry
    I think I do understand it. I simply don't find it convincing

    I cannot be more lucid, logical and convincing than Aquinas was. Sorry. I do hope that some day you will be convinced as I was one day.

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  53. @oleg
    ...You, sir, are a dork. A complete, certified idiot...

    oleg, you're in need of psy help. You must REALLY consult about this coprolalia of yours!

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  54. @oleg:

    How does free will occur from an atheist perspective?

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  55. Sorry, Mike, but these things are clearly above your head. Go to the beach, fly a kite, and don't worry about atheists. Enjoy life!

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  56. @pepe: "I cannot be more lucid, logical and convincing than Aquinas was. Sorry. I do hope that some day you will be convinced as I was one day."

    I do have some respect for Aquinas's argument, pepe. It's a theory of common descent (like evolution) -- it suggests that all proximate causes are descended from a first cause. Nothing intrinsically irrational about that. These days (post-Heisenberg) we would have to be more nuanced about "causation", but give Aquinas the credit due. Big bang theory also extrapolates backward from the present, on the assumption that an expanding, cooling universe must have begun in a hotter, denser state.

    But it simply isn't an argument for the existence of god. It's purely an argument for the existence of the Primum Mobile. It says nothing at all about the nature of the Primum Mobile. Any questions you might raise about the Big Bang ("where did that come from?") apply equally to Aquinas's Primum Mobile. It's an interesting and in some ways prescient argument. But, alas, it's not actually a religious argument.

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  57. Dr Egnor, Personally I don't feel threatned per se about atheism and/or atheists themselves.

    Dunno if it because our stances about society are wildly different but overall, I gotta say that Oleg has a good point. Don't waste your time with the atheists... and I would add: Be a smart player, raving and ranting at them is worthless... internet atheists and Actvist atheists do that all the time, and look how awesome they are.... it means they are NOT.

    You gonna go down the same drain as they did or are doing.

    And about science... I really think it is to expect Passion for Science being so big among atheists. I mean, the great majority of atheists from 150 years from now, defended the idea that Science=Evidence of Atheism.

    I mean, c'mon, Western Atheism ( Materialism, Naturalism, Secular Humanism, Niihilism, Objectivism and others ), all they got is a priori rejection of anything that is religion related, and Religion as the estereotyped version in their heads unfortunately.

    Ask how many of the atheists you meet that have seriously considered any kind of Religious related view of reality. I bet 10% of them would have a good answer. Shit, ask anyone... even religous people sometimes or many times care very little about religion.

    So I mean... Many of Western Atheism ideas are really just secularist ideas. And the rejection of something that unfortunately they have no desire to understand nor to cope with it.

    Yeah society sucks in this point.

    * Oleg, you are one to talk man... I have seen that you post on many of the ID related people blogs XD, you should relax too ya know, just listen to your advice! ;) *

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  58. @Edward: "I mean, the great majority of atheists from 150 years from now, defended the idea that Science=Evidence of Atheism."

    Wow, you know the opinion of atheists 150 years from now? Dude! You're, like, totally a time-traveler!

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  59. @bachfiend:

    [America was established with the principle of freedom of religion. This was done to ensure the rights of not only non-believers but also members of other religions and minority Christian faiths.]

    Ever read the Declaration? All rights derive from our Creator.

    [Free will means that people's actions are strongly influenced by factors not consciously apparent to the person; genetics, upbringing, etc.}

    Free will means free agency. Atheism has no explanation for it.

    [Ethical standards are objective. They're decreed by the society]

    Decree by people is subjective. Objective means decree by other than man.

    [I also deplore the actions of Pope Pius XII for not protesting against the actions of Hitler and for not doing anything to prevent the deportation of thousands of Roman Jews to the death camps in 1944, despite the fact that the 3 top-ranking Germans in Rome were protesting against the deportation.]

    You slander a very good and brave man. I'll post on this. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    [I don't have to apologize for Richard Dawkins' 'the God Delusion'. He was absolutely correct!]

    (laughing)

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  60. @Edward:

    [Dr Egnor, Personally I don't feel threatned per se about atheism and/or atheists themselves... Oleg has a good point. Don't waste your time with the atheists...]

    You may not be threatened by them. Many people are threatened.

    If atheists encouraged me to continue, I'd reassess my blogging.

    When they ask me to stop, I know that I'm scoring hits.

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  61. Wow, you know the opinion of atheists 150 years from now? Dude! You're, like, totally a time-traveler!

    _______________________________________________

    Orrrrrrr, I have read what famous atheists have said in the past and listened to what atheists have said now and come to the conclusion that it haven't changed allll that much. That is all really. I thought it was easy to understand what I did O_O.


    By the way .... aren't you the one who said religion was bad and yada yada.... wow if I use the same logic to your arguments, you ALSO ARE LIKE TOTALLY A TIME TRAVELLER to know what every religious person did and condem their actions.

    Sharry do you have something really good to say to me ... ??? huh ??? Or this is just you going a bit insane from what I just said?

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  62. hahaahahaha ... Dr Egnor that is sort of funny way to put things really.

    I would continue the conversion ... but here is a bad place to do it XD really. I mean with so many emotions flying around.

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  63. @Sharry

    Oh I see what you interpreted after reading the post again.

    Yeah I wrote it wrong... my bad, I should have explcitly said that it was the many famous atheists, and not the majority.

    I failed my bad.

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  64. Egnor: If atheists encouraged me to continue, I'd reassess my blogging.

    When they ask me to stop, I know that I'm scoring hits.


    Here I said: "I wholeheartedly support Michael Egnor's academic freedom to write silly things on his blog."

    Hope this helps!

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  65. @oleg:

    ["I wholeheartedly support Michael Egnor's academic freedom to write silly things on his blog."]

    Thanks, oleg. Now I really have to rethink things...

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  66. Michael,

    If I slandered Pope Pius XII, then let him sue me, it should be easy, since Pope John Paul II made him a saint. I should apologize when I stated that he did nothing to protest against the deportation of Italian Jews to the death camps in 1944. That happened in 1943. 1944 was the year he did little to save the 500,000 Hungarian Jews who were similarly killed despite pleas from FDR to issue a statement.

    After the war he went on to refuse to recognize the state of Israel, so his anti-Jewish prejudice remained constant, before, during and after the war, and his autocratic rule towards the end of his reign was described by an American Jesuit as being Stalinist.

    OK, the declaration of independence makes reference to a Creator. It doesn't specify which one it was, for all we know the god meant could have been Zeus. It's of no more significance than Darwin putting a reference to the Creator in the famous last sentence in 'On the Origin of Species' 2nd edition onwards.

    Ethical standards as set down by humans is just as objective as Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Stating by fiat that they're subjective is rubbish.

    If you don't like 'the God Delusion', fine, that's a matter of personal preference. Your laughing reminds of the joke about an after dinner speaker being approached by a man afterwards and being told 'You weren't very good'. The MC immediately intervened saying 'Don't take any notice of him. He's an absolute idiot. He just repeats everything he hears other people say'.

    The amazing thing about TGD is how incredibly derivative it is, albeit nicely packaged. There's nothing in the book not expressed better than any other book, in theology for example in the books of Bart Ehrman's.

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  67. @Edward,
    What an about-face! Are you sure you're not a political sciences or law major? A 'bit harsh'? Mike's a gentleman.
    Have you read their posts? Visited their blogs? Read their comments on THIS ONE, to YOU?
    I have always enjoyed your comments, but if you feel the Atheists are too excitable - then so be it. But for goodness sake, don't blame it on the Doctor!

    @Bach,
    I agree on Dawkins. Poorly written. I just finished his latest rag last week. What a snoozer. I want my three hours back! Lizard heads? Come on.
    There is MUCH better Atheist/Materialist stuff out there in terms of readability (not logic).

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  68. @bachfiend:

    [If I slandered Pope Pius XII, then let him sue me, it should be easy, since Pope John Paul II made him a saint. I should apologize when I stated that he did nothing to protest against the deportation of Italian Jews to the death camps in 1944. That happened in 1943. 1944 was the year he did little to save the 500,000 Hungarian Jews who were similarly killed despite pleas from FDR to issue a statement.]

    As I said, the attacks on Pius XII are raw slander. He was a courageous opponent of Nazism, and the Catholic Church was recognized during the war and after it as the first large organization to speak out against Nazism. He was lauded by Jews after the war for his integrity and courage in the fight against the Nazi. He saved at least 700,000 Jews in Italy

    There is evidence that the Soviets had a campaign of disinformation in the 1960's called 'seat 12', which was focused on slandering Pius and the Church on the pretense that they were Nazi collaborators. The Play "The Deputy" was part of that effort.

    Also, Pius is not Sainted, but Blessed, which is the step before it. I hope he is declared sainted, which is an appropriate honor for this holy and brave man.

    Shame on you.

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  69. What the hell?

    Is this article supposed to be a joke? Because it's so stupid it's ridiculous.

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  70. *sigh* Nazis Nazis Nazis.

    The people manning the fences at the camps, operating the trains bound for Poland, or packing people into the Vélodrome d'Hiver were all raised Christian.

    This argument about Christians or atheists doing more damage is nonsense. Hitler used the evil in people's hearts, he didn't create it. And church attendance was clearly not a factor in determining who acted on that evil and who didn't. Some people use existing religions as tools for good or ill. Some leaders use the power of religion to create their own divinity, like the nationwide cult in North Korea. And some attempt to destroy religious institutions as a means of consolidating power. It's all the same - people are capable of great good and great evil, and religion can be a useful tool for either.

    Remember, the greatest act of genocide in human mythology is presented in picture books and taught to Christian children in Sunday school.

    Sure, religion leads to more UNIFORM behavior. But its claim to prompting "better" behavior is tenuous at best - unless you're looking at Jains or other "peace at all costs" religions.

    Michael, you said: "atheism doesn't explain anything". Yet your mythology doesn't explain anything either. Really, what's the difference between your creation myth and that of the Navajo? Does Pele explain volcanoes? Does Yahweh? Or does a religion-free, secular investigation of evidence lead to an explanation of volcanoes?

    One religion is as good or bad as another - it fills the human need for a narrative. A slight shift in political, economic or geologic history and nobody would ever have heard of Jesus. But humans would still have a religion, and odds are it would be polytheistic just like Hinduism or Catholicism.

    Atheism says "if they're all equally right, they're all equally wrong - let's just learn what we can, go with what we know, and be willing to say 'I don't know' for the rest". That is an approach that leads to REAL explanations, not fabricated stories that wither and crumble with each passing year as humanity learns more about how the world actually works.

    So in the end, your title is precisely backward. If an secularist finds we're wrong about something, we're allowed to say "sorry", change our minds and move on. That's why religion, not atheism, needs a branch of study called "apologetics" to generate a vast set of rationalizations all to avoid the heresy of saying "oops, we were wrong about that."

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  71. Richard Dawkins' treatment of the classical arguments for God was absolutely imbecilic; he was clearly out of his league. As for Ehrman, I like some of his earlier work but his popular books are full of anemic arguments and sensationalist codswallop. (It is therefore risible that loser Barbara Forrest makes recourse to them in her hit piece on Beckwith in Synthese, which was so awful it elicited a disclaimer from the Editors-in-Chief.) The worst atheists tend to be former fundamentalists. That is the case with Ehrman as well as that noxious mediocrity Hector Avalos, who harried Guillermo Gonzalez.

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  72. @crusadeRex: "But to WHOM do I say sorry for the evils (sin?) of my fellow men, and of my own? Who can forgive all this infidelity, violence, and greed?
    I know JUST the guy!"

    This kills me. Hey! do anything you want! Just get on your knees and 'beg forgiveness' to an invisible man.
    There. All better. Go back to doing bad things, you can just lather, rinse repeat.

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  73. @crusade

    I don't blam Doctor Egnor, really... I don't think he started the fire or something like that.

    I just think there other ways to solve this feud ;). I mean seriously, what other effect have we seen from their side but anger, misinterpretation, hatred... I mean every now and then someone really cool shows up, but that is it.



    I have seen their sites... I will never see those sites again XD. that is all I have to say.

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  74. Atheism says "if they're all equally right, they're all equally wrong - let's just learn what we can, go with what we know, and be willing to say 'I don't know' for the rest". That is an approach that leads to REAL explanations, not fabricated stories that wither and crumble with each passing year as humanity learns more about how the world actually works.

    ____________________________________________

    That is agnosticism...

    funny, let me guess you of course take that every religion only speaks of literal stories ... But do they really ???

    because I know very little about religion and I admit it... but I know many of the stories are not literal... to someone that is preaching this whole skepticism chant you are not even close to your own idea of atheism, which happens to be agnosticism.


    without saying that religion is not Science... dude seriously? Religion is much more a ontological take on the world, where HUmans fit, what is the purpose of things, metaphysics.

    Science is about Epystemology. It is much more close to how you gain knowlegde, how you find new laws, new models. Wow they are absolutely different. Using the narratives of a religion as a way to connect it to science and somehow refute it is just very POOR understanding of religion.


    Look RickK, if you think of Science as your religion ... great man! but Religion os not necessarily meant to be pragmatic in terms of creating experiments, or creating usable laws and stuff like that.

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  75. bachfiend said...

    Absolute piffle, as usual.

    As usual, this applies to your own nonsensical evaluations.

    "Evolutionary biology has absolutely nothing to do with a creation myth..."

    Yet another lie atheists love using. Allows them to escape and shirk having to explain what their world-view can never explain.

    "America was established with the principle of freedom of religion. This was done to ensure the rights of..."

    1. Irrelevant
    2. Rights? Under atheism there is no such thing seeing all is permitted. Rights are another evolutionary illusion along with morality itself.

    "Free will means ..etc. But it doesn't mean that the person can't stop ...."

    Free will does not exist in atheism.
    Why are 99% of the atheists posting here (& everywhere on the web), so utterly ignorant of the logical implications of their own inane world-view?

    Please ignoramus atheists, if you must infest the web with your vain screed, get informed of what atheism means.

    "Mel Gibson ..."

    Irrelevant

    "I would never think of swearing at someone, mainly because it might invite aggression.."

    Why? You would swear if you didn't fear the consequences?

    "Ethical standards are objective."

    Not under atheism. Not by any means.

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. ...
    3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.
    -William B. Provine, professor of biology, Cornell

    Provine is merely stating the logical conclusions one MUST come to, if atheism is true.

    They're decreed by the society ... I can see that they are useful and necessary...

    So if the laws of your society were "you shall kill jews", "you shall murder your enemies", etc you would still see them as useful and necessary?

    "Laws against stealing don't require the added force of devine command."

    You're wrong even on this, for you are assuming the right to private property. Where does such a right come from?
    Certainly not from philosophical naturalism! Certainly not from survival of the fittest.

    There is "no ultimate foundation for ethics" in atheism -only utilitarianism, but that's entirely subjective and entirely relative.

    "And as I have noted before, the Bible contains hundreds, over 600, separate commandments, most of which are ignored ..."


    And this is relevant how exactly?

    Moreover this displays your utter ignorance not only of what Christianity is, but also of what Judaism is.

    "As an atheist, I deplore the actions of Stalin ..."

    Why? What foundations lead to to deplore any actions whatsoever?

    You don't wish to admit it, but here you are assuming the very transcendent moral law that atheists must deny!!

    How is it that atheists never see this?

    "I also deplore the actions of Pope Pius XII for ..."

    And? Foundations man, foundations. You have none.

    "I don't have to apologize for Dawkins God Delusion'. He was absolutely correct!"

    OMG! One must be utterly ignorant of the whole body of philosophical theism to say such an incredibly stupid thing. Dawkins et al. acutely reveal their utter ignorance of such everywhere in all their mendacious books.
    None of them reveal the slightest notion of knowing that they've merely resurrected the positivism that was declared dead & buried by REAL atheist philosophers in the late 50's.

    Obviously you're even more ignorant of such than they, seeing you've swallowed such salient long ago refuted codswallop so easily.

    Sheesh, it doesn't get much worse than this amongst ignoramus atheist web forum/blog squatters.

    You may join the ranks with Oleg, and a few hundred others I could name, in the willfully ignorant hordes of atheist ill thinkers.

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  76. Gary H. wrote: Why are 99% of the atheists posting here (& everywhere on the web), so utterly ignorant of the logical implications of their own inane world-view?

    Here is a clue, Gary. If 99% of atheists don't agree with what you think they think, perhaps your model of atheist thought is wrong.

    You may join the ranks with Oleg, and a few hundred others I could name, in the willfully ignorant hordes of atheist ill thinkers.

    We love you, too, Gary.

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  77. Michael,

    I agree that Pope Pius XII should be made a saint if he managed to save 700,000 Italian Jews. That is a miracle, because before World War II, the Italian Jewish population was about 40,000.

    30,000 of the Italian Jews managed to survive because Mussolini's attitude to the Jews was more benign than Hitler's (he wasn't demonizing the Jews to the population for years). The situation for Italian Jews only turned sour in 1943 when the Germans occupied Italy after the Italian capitulation. Many of the Italian Jews were saved due to protection by the Italian people (similar to what happened in Denmark). OK, many Italian Jews gained sanctuary in Italian monasteries (probably more due to the basic humanity of the abbots than a direction from the Pope).

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  78. @bachfiend:

    I stand corrected about the number of Jews in Italy.

    The 700,000 Jews were the total Jews under Nazi control that Pius and the Church saved:

    "In his meticulously researched and comprehensive 1967 book, Three Popes and the Jews, the Israeli historian and diplomat Pinchas Lapide, who had served as the Israeli Counsel General in Milan, and had spoken with many Italian Jewish Holocaust survivors who owed their life to Pius, provided the empirical basis for their gratitude, concluding that Pius XII "was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands." To this day, the Lapide volume remains the definitive work, by a Jewish scholar, on the subject."
    (cited here http://www.catholicleague.org/pius/dalinframe.htm)

    Your allegations are slander.

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  79. Michael,

    You're citing a 1967 book based on hearsay evidence from Jewish survivors regarding who was responsible for saving them. I think that any Jews finding sanctuary in Catholic monasteries owed their survival more to the basic humanity of the abbots than the Pope.

    What about the 1999 International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission, set up to look at the Vatican's response to the Holocaust. It was disbanded because the Vatican refused to allow access to the Vatican archives dealing with the period after 1923.

    Why didn't the Pope excommunicate Hitler, Himmler, Bormann, and the other high ranking Catholics in the German government? Many previous Popes showed little reluctance to excommunicate rulers (often multiple times) for derilictions of much more minor kind, even at the risk of being kidnapped or being banished to Avignon. Or even having the rulers elect antipopes to replace them.

    Also quoting a review of Lapide's book by the Catholic League isn't exactly a glowing endorsement. I take more notice of positive reviews by foes than friends.

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  80. @bachfiend:

    [Why didn't the Pope excommunicate Hitler, Himmler, Bormann, and the other high ranking Catholics in the German government?]

    They were already excommunicated by their acts. No Nazi was in communion with the Church. No one in a state of moral sin can take communion. If they do so, that is an additional sin.

    The question is: was it prudent for Pius to make the state of excommunication public by declaring what was already a fact.

    Public excommunication is generally only done against heretics or priests who have violated serious cannon laws, and it is done to announce to the public that the heresy is not sanctioned by the Church. There are many killers, rapists, etc who are Catholics and whose excommunication by their acts is not declared formally.

    If you kill an innocent, you are going to hell, with or with a letter from the Pope.

    The problem Pius faced is that he was involved quite literally in hostage negotiation. Hitler had tens of millions of Catholics under his power, as well as millions of Jews, and Pius's judgement was that public announcement of the FACT that Hitler was not in communication with the Church could quite likely lead to reprisals against millions of innocent people.

    Pius rode the fine line between condemnation of Nazi (which he did a lot) and incitement of Nazi's to kill even more of the millions of innocent people under Hitler's control.

    If you are ever held hostage by terrorists, bachfiend, you can recommend to the hostage negotiators do all they can to pointlessly inflame and enrage your captors.

    Pius didn't think that was a good idea. Unlike you, he was a man of deep conscience and integrity who had to consider the lives of millions of innocent people.

    He chose to act prudently, rather than insulate himself from atheists who would slander him 60 years later.

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  81. Michael,

    So the Brazilian doctors who performed an abortion on the 9 year old girl raped by her step father and carrying twins were heretics or priests? Admittedly, the Brazilian bishops backed down, admittedly after worldwide protest.

    Hitler and the other high ranking Catholics in his regime fit perfectly the definition of 'heretics', so by your argument they should have been excommunicated.

    And excommunication would have had an enormous effect on the German population. The Nazis weren't immune to public pressure. The only significant component of German Jews to survive the Holocaust were those married to German Christians. Whenever they were threatened with 'deportation' their spouses demonstrated and the regime backed down.

    Victor Klemperer for example managed to survive for this reason, although he was also rescued by the British/American bombing of Dresden on 13/14 February, 1945, after which he happily lost his yellow star and became an Aryan.

    Pope Pius' public announcements were mealy mouthed and lacking substance.

    Not being in communion with the church is different to being excommunicated. Communion requires confessing sins and gaining absolution. You can be outside of communion but not excommunicated, which requires an active decision by the church.

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  82. @bachfiend:

    You haven't addressed the obvious situation Pius faced. Hitler had tens of millions of Catholics under his control.

    Pius had to weigh condemnation of Nazis and protection of innocents. He made good and prudent decisions, and probably saved many lives by not recklessly inflaming thugs already engaged in mass murder.

    Try to focus your hatred of Catholics on other targets.

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  83. Michael,

    Hitler didn't have tens of millions of Catholics under his control. He had indirect control over tens of millions of Germans, most of whom were Christian and many were Catholic.

    How would excommunication of Hitler have worsened the situation for the tens of millions of German Catholics? Arguably, it would have improved their position if it had provoked a revolt against Hitler's regime.

    And no, I don't hate Catholics. I merely stated in my first comment that I deplored the actions of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Pope Pius XII. There's a lot of other things I deplore, such as the Christian Kaiser Wilhelm II's action in having Lenin transported across German territory in a sealed train in 1917 to create lethal harm to his cousin, the Tsar.

    I don't even hate you. I just deplore your misuse of your undoubted intelligence to come up with such bogus arguments.

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  84. @bachfiend:

    Pius XII and the Church were almost universally lauded for their firm and prudent resistance to the Nazis until the mid 1960's, when a deliberate campaign to slander him and the Church was organized by the Soviets (seat 12 was the codename for the operation).

    This is just hatred of Catholics.

    If you have coherent critiques of Catholic theology, etc, I'm happy to discuss.

    But recycling cold war Soviet slanders against a courageous and decent man is repulsive.

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  85. Michael,

    No, you're wrong. Pope Pius XII was criticized for his inaction during WWII by many, including high clerics in other Christian churches, who informed the Vatican of the atrocities being committed. An American envoy was sent to the Vatican by President Roosevelt asking him to condemn the war crimes being committed by the Germans. The Pope refused. His inaction is best explained by his anticommunist sentiments, regarding the Nazis as being a lesser evil, and the Jews a small price to pay.

    And no, it's not hatred of Catholics. All history needs to be revisited and reexamined. Richard Evan's wrote a book 'Lying for Hitler' examining David Irving's 'histories' and Holocaust denial, in which he noted that all historians are potential revisionists. If they want to publish something on history, then they need to find something new, a new interpretation of historical events for example. Reexamination of Pope Pius' actions during the war is just one example of this.

    Questions about his actions could have been settled if the Vatican had allowed access to the Vatican archives dealing with events after 1923.

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  86. oleg said...

    "Here is a clue, Gary. If 99% of atheists don't agree with what you think they think, perhaps your model of atheist thought is wrong."

    Fail. Miserably FAIL.

    1. It's not my problem and it's not what I think Ole. Its simply a fact that too many of you ignorant atheists don't have a clue on the logical conclusions of your own position.

    2. It's what atheists far smarter than you think because they went to roots of their atheism and realized what it MUST mean, if true.

    3. This means that either you are too lazy to think atheism through to the same necessary conclusions or you are intellectually incapable of doing so. Which is it?

    HINT: Following the laws of logic, you have NO CHOICE on accepting those conclusions. No more than on whether 1+1 = 2 or not.

    Amazing you still don't get this!
    But not surprising.

    "We love you, too, Gary."

    In the words of a famous soul singer, "What's love got to do with it?"

    Keep trying Oleg, keep trying and may God open your currently fully shut mind to truth.

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  87. ...and the governing institutions of North Korea.

    You like to trot this out as an "example" of an atheistic regime, but since Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il are both deified by the regime, that seems to be a counterfactual claim. You may not agree with their religious claims, but claiming the leader of your nation is a god descended to Earth means you are not an "atheistic" regime. It means you are just another religious regime.

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  88. @anon:

    Communism is fundamentally an atheist ideology. Not all atheists are communists, obviously, but essentailly all communists are atheists. Marx was quite explicit about the atheist foundation of communism. Communist regimes have invariably supressed Christianity, usually violently.

    Because all communist regimes are batshit, many have developed a cult around a leader. Sometimes that cultism in some vague way deifies the leader. That does not mean that communism isn't atheist. It means that communism is so crazy that it becomes an ideological free-for all, a worship of secular power.

    Communism is the only expression of state atheism in history (excepting the brief Cult of Reason in France). Atheists cannot be taken as serious political thinkers until they come to grips with the reality of atheism-in-power, which is Communism.

    Why does your ideology always produce totalitarian government?

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  89. Communism is fundamentally an atheist ideology. Not all atheists are communists, obviously, but essentailly all communists are atheists.

    So basically you've got nothing other than assertions. North Korean dogma doesn't "vaguely" deify Kim Jung-Il. It explicitly does so - they claim among other things, that a new star appeared in the sky when he was born, that a swallow predicted his birth, that he can control the weather with his thoughts, and so on. He is not defied in some vague way, but in a very explicit way. Like with so many things you assert, the evidence is counter to your claims on this.

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  90. @anon:

    "...that he can control the weather with his thoughts,"

    Climate alarmists think that we can control the weather with our emissions.

    What is it about materialist nuts...

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  91. @Mike Egnor
    What an idiotic comparison.

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  92. @anon:

    Years ago, if you went to a psychiatrist and said "my car is changing the weather", you'd be locked up.

    Nowadays, Al Gore says it, and he makes hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon credit schemes.

    Now THAT'S idiotic.

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  93. Egnor: Climate alarmists think that we can control the weather with our emissions.

    Two errors in one sentence.

    1. Affect, rather than control.
    2. Climate, rather than weather.

    And on substance, there is nothing crazy about the idea that an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide makes the atmosphere less transparent to the infrared radiation, which carries heat into space. This reduces the outflow of energy, tipping the balance to warmer temperatures on average. You can argue about the quantitative side, but the waring effect of CO2 emissions is not a figment of imagination.

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  94. @oleg:

    I understand all that. However, the fervent belief that we control the weather/climate is odd, if one takes the broader perspective.

    Perhaps it's true, but until the past couple of decades, it was a view only expressed in psych wards.

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  95. Egnor: Perhaps it's true, but until the past couple of decades, it was a view only expressed in psych wards.

    You could say the same thing about heliocentrism at some point.

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  96. @oleg:

    Are you saying that Copernicus hid data, evaded FOIA requests, and did tricks to hide the decline of the... epicycles?

    Naah..

    My how science has changed in a few centuries, from courageous men of genius to cowardly frauds addicted to grants and fame.

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  97. "Years ago, if you went to a psychiatrist and said "my car is changing the weather", you'd be locked up.

    Nowadays, Al Gore says it, and he makes hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon credit schemes."

    Oh, look, a straw man.

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  98. Michael,

    There are some nice parallels with how scientists were treated by the religious conservatives.

    "There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth." (Martin Luther on Copernicus)

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  99. @oleg:

    Why would you assume that a Catholic would rush to the defense of Martin Luther?

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  100. I wouldn't assume it's defensible, period.

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  101. @oleg:

    [There are some nice parallels with how scientists were treated by the religious conservatives.]

    The vast majority of enlightenment scientists were religious conservatives, oleg.

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  102. Everybody back then was a religious conservative by today's standards.

    The ironic thing, though, is that scientists of the age of Enlightenment had the good sense to ditch Aristotle and scholasticism and rely on the scientific method instead.

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  103. @oleg:

    [Everybody back then was a religious conservative by today's standards.]

    Not exactly. Many historians argue that actual religiosity (Mass attendance, etc) were no better and perhaps even worse than today. Obviously religion in the public square was more ubiquitous.

    Rodney Stark has pointed out that enlightenment scientists were uncommonly religious, much more than the average person of their time.

    You keep trying to evade it, but Christianity is tied deeply to the rise of science.

    And again, what were the contributions made by atheists and atheism to science in the enlightenment?

    [The ironic thing, though, is that scientists of the age of Enlightenment had the good sense to ditch Aristotle and scholasticism and rely on the scientific method instead.]

    There is no contradiction between the scientific method and scholasticism. The scientific method is the study of material and truncated efficient cause, using empirical confirmation. These ideas arose from the scholastic environment. The first real experimental scientists were Albert Magnus and Roger Bacon, good scholastics/Aristotelians both, and the beginning of modern science can be traced directly to the High Middle Ages (12th and 13th century), which was the pinnacle of scholasticism.

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  104. I don't quite agree. Bacon certainly was a big enthusiast of the empirical scientific method. However, he was definitely not its originator. He drew on the works of his contemporaries and predecessors. For instance, his work in optics borrowed heavily from Ptolemy and from Islamic scientists. Likewise, he learned astronomy from the ancient Greeks. As Kuhn notes, it is universally hard to pinpoint the exact moment of a scientific revolution and ascribe authorship. Bacon was one of many.

    Albert was not a scientist at all. His knowledge of chemistry was mostly from reading Aristotle. Many scientific works ascribed to him were not actually his.

    In any event, science started out as philosophy of nature and gradually distanced itself from its parent. It has never looked back.

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