Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – claims, evidence and research when debating a literalist Christian

Here on WordPress, you can search for blog posts on a certain subject by using keywords. As a blogger, you can set keywords yourself (you can see them at the bottom of this post) and I also think that the system also finds them to be able to bring back search results. I have a search set up to bring up posts that reference atheists and atheism. Most of these are from atheists, but about a third of them are by theists, usually Christians. Of these, in my experience about 90% of them do their best to try to convert atheists and to disparage them, often repeating false claims, making baseless claims without evidence and making some very poor arguments. The internet is certainly full of such nonsense, from conspiracy theorists, holocaust deniers, xenophobic twits, etc.

Since I do not like to allow such things to remain unaddressed, and don’t have an infinite amount of time, I occasionally pick one and ask questions about their post. In some cases, there are no comments allowed, so I ask questions through mail form. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes I don’t.  One of the other respondents is here, where again Pascal’s Wager is being touted.

Those readers who have been with me awhile may want to find other things to read since some of this may be repetitive for them. The bit below isn’t as biting as my writings usually are since I was behaving.

I recently found a post on a Christian pastor’s website that can be distilled down to: Richard Dawkins should believe in my god because there he says that there is a probability that this god exists and any possibility should be taken. Most will recognize this as a variant as Pascal’s Wager. I asked him this question about his assertion: “If your argument is valid (that Dawkins should worship a god since he says that there is a small probability of one), why do you not believe in other gods and live your life as if they aren’t there?”

We started off having a pleasant discussion, with him complimenting the question but it quickly turned south when he declared that nothing would change his mind and that he was not going to participate anymore, that how dare I explain what a circular argument is to someone who has taken years to get a philosophy degree, accusations that I was attempting to humiliate him, that I didn’t respect his religion, and told me that he wished me good luck because, as an atheist, I’d need it. Unfortunately, this is how more than a few of these interactions go; rather than answers, I get threats.

I informed him that I was going to use my correspondence to him as a basis for a blog post and asked if he would allow me to post his side of the correspondence to make sure everyone could see his side. I wasn’t too surprised that he refused, despite no reason given. So, I will use what I wrote in reply to address the general arguments that have been offered by various Christians in the past here and on the . No need to let research and writing go to waste.

Argument 1: I believe in only one god and the others don’t exist. I know that this is true because their claims are contradictory. The claims of other religions are untrue because there is no evidence to support them. I know this as a certainty; there is no probability of another god. It’s illogical not to believe in my god because there is a low possibility of it existing.    

The problem with this claim is that it needs evidence to support the claim that the theist’s god exists and no others do. The bible is offered as evidence, but what most theists don’t acknowledge is that the bible is the claim, not the evidence. The bible makes the claim that the god exists and the events therein are true; it cannot be used as evidence for the very claims it makes.   Dawkins, in the discussion of his seven point scale, admits that there may be some low probability of a god when he scores himself at 6.9, but there is the same probability for the existence of fairies. We can’t be absolutely sure that *some* god doesn’t exist. In that the theist’s argument depends on this probability, their claim that they know a certainty about other gods doesn’t work. Continue reading

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What the Boss Likes – update on the remodel, random things I’ve enjoyed

The kitchen is finished all but for the painting. Since this was nice fresh drywall, I had to give it two coats of sealer/primer and now am *finally* getting the color layer on, a lavender called “garden fairy” (I want a job naming colors). I’m doing a high gloss finish since it’s a kitchen and we’ve had splatters appear on our 9 foot ceilings by evidently some spaghetti sauce trying to hit escape velocity (like this steel plate may or may not have done). Now for two hours of waiting to see how it looks on one wall before continuing.

Right now, I’m making some pasta puttanesca, resting my very sore body (using all sorts of muscles I don’t usually use) and unfortunately just crushed a chili pepper for it in my fingers and touched my nose. Whee.

Now onto the random bits.

We had a bottle of Evolucio Blaufrankisch from Hungary. Very good red wine with a very cherry taste. Also had a bottle of Primal Roots California Red Blend. This doesn’t have any cabernet sauvignon, so it is light on the tannins.

Baked some triple cream brie.  Very good with cherry preserves, roast beef (a leftover) and fig and olive relish from Tait Farms.  All with baguette like bread.

I watched Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. This is a Dreamworks animated film from the early 2000s. Though it is not a “real” Sinbad movie (those are the ones from the 60’s-70’s with Harryhausen stop motion animation), it was good. A strong female character, a good villain and fun dialogue, some of which may generate uncomfortable questions from children to their parents. A good adventure flick.

Also watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Just beautiful and a good story. nothing particularly new but are there really any “new” stories?   I also loved Besson’s The Fifth Element.

I got a copy of What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. for Christmas This is by the fellow who does the XKCD webcomic. I chortled over it as I was reading it and had a great bit of fun learning new facts, like exactly how amanita mushroom toxin works. You can see what if questions and answers on the website if you follow the “what if” up in the left corner or here: https://what-if.xkcd.com/

The weather has been colder and snowier than usual (we’re getting a touch of the nasty noreaster coming up the coast of the US), at least usual for the overly warm winters we’ve had recently. I have a pair of Carolina wrens as visitors and have given them a stick of butter to peck at, as well as some bread and cat food.   Two years ago, we had a nest of them in a roll of carpet I had put out to dispose of. They are notorious for putting nests in silly places, and this was right outside of our kitchen door too. We went out once without paying attention and there was a sudden explosion of fledglings. We tried to catch them and put them back but they took off under the hostas, never to be seen again. No idea if the little critters survived. We never saw this species before until that incident two years ago.

Well, that’s about it. Next post will be about a recent discussion I’ve had with a theist and some information about how facts and evidence work in supporting claims. Fair warning, if you don’t want to see my unvarnished opinions on politics and religion, avoid blog post starting with “Not So Polite Conversation”.

What the Boss Likes (kinda) and From the Bar – the great kitchen remodel continues and some beers

We are a week into the Great Kitchen Remodel of 2017. The kitchen (and the small bathroom just off it) has been gutted to the studs. One of the guys doing the work (and they are really talented) said plaintively  “Why did you use so MANY nails mr. guy from the early 20th century!) This was mostly in plaster and lathe, and as the project manager has said, just about every other known wall material. The folks who made this house sure did get creative with reusing materials.

In case you are terribly curious on what an ugly worn out kitchen looks like (and our long ago attempts to make it nicer), and what it looks like gutted, feast your eyes. Since my spouse and I grew up on farms, we find the gutted room rather comforting with all of the old and dark rough wood.

We are, of course, living on sandwiches, microwave meals, and take out. Happily, the contractors were able to move our fridge and plug it in again so at least we have that. Along with some Chinese food, we got a mixed six-pack to try.

River Horse Belgian Freeze – I got this because it had a hippo on it, and they fascinate me with just how cranky and deadly they are. It’s a good starter Belgium ale, not too sweet and not too high in alcohol. I’m of course one of those who likes the Rochefort and Delierium Tremens ales.

Innis & Gunn Original – This is from Scotland, an oak aged scotch ale. Very complex and a bit sweet, you’d not want too many of them in a sitting but definitely worth getting one.

Full Pint Festivus – a nice and tasty brown ale, which I’m always fond of.

Thomas Creek Brewery Banana Split Chocolate Stout – a brewery out of South Carolina, this is a stout that has been brewed with dried bananas. Very good, but not exactly a banana split, which I associate with having many more confused flavors. Good banana flavor. A great beer for the colder months. Reminds me of a dopplebock with a hit of the banana phenols.

Saucony Creek Maple Mistress – one of the few spiced beers that I could actually tastes the spices. This has a very nice hit of nutmeg and it came through very clearly when I was eating my crab Rangoon.

DuClaw Sweet Baby Java – this is a riff on the Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut butter beer which tastes like a Mr. Goodbar (a Hershey’s product of chocolate and peanuts). Good but not appreciably different from the original.

That’s all!  Three more weeks to go!

(fair warning to anyone who has happened here and might wish to follow the blog. It often has my entirely unvarnished political and cultural opinions on it. If you don’t want to read those, avoid anything titled “not so polite dinner conversation”. )

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the twit of the year

Perhaps, if you aren’t from the US, you haven’t see our ignorant and arrogant president making a fool of himself again, with trying to claim that Time magazine wanted him on the cover but he declined.  Since Donnie Trump has lied before, we can be pretty sure this is a lie too, and we do know that he had fake time covers in his properties to support his ego.  Here’s one that is more appropriate for that complete idiot.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna

I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion.  It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend.  For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.

Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion.  This is the most recent.  The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.

He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”

Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”.   It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms.   It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it.  It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.

It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans.  It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.

Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a momentary creator and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.”   Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”

Really?  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love.  In this world, shown by this god.  Hmmm.  I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa?  I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children.   I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.

We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it.  I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete.  “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”.  and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination.   In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural.   Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you.  They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.

Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him.  What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants.  He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”.  Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes?   And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines?  He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea.  The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet.  He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes.   It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything.  It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way.  Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous.  As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.

Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.”  So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas?  How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head?  Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound?  How about a good part of a family?  How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire? Continue reading

What the Boss Likes – a random assortment of things

Haven’t had much of an urge to write a blog post lately. Work has become a real pain since I have a new boss who doesn’t know anything about the job and who hates using computers. Of course, that’s all we use and trying to get new boss to do anything is damn near impossible.

But if that’s the worst of my problems, I’m not doing bad.

We watched the movie Logan last night, the last of the trilogy about Wolverine.   I’ve been a fan of the X-Men for a long time, first picking up the comic book around the time of the Phoenix saga. I always loved the interplay between Logan and Kurt aka Nightcrawler. The movie was very good, extremely violent (you see exactly what does happen when someone gets three adamantium claws through their head) and I have to say that I just loved Laura, having spent a decent part of my growing up wanting to be Wolverine.

This weekend we also got a pair of new appliances (General Electric) for the kitchen, in preparation for the Great Kitchen Remodel of 2017. We have an old house, circa early 20th c, and the kitchen is simply worn out. The month of December will be the gutting (yay, plaster and lath) and rebuilding of the kitchen. The new fridge is a split door up top and the freezer on the bottom. My tall spouse very much likes that set up. The stove is gas, and has a griddle in the center and I finally got a broiler again. They are stainless steel since our kitchen is very dark and we need some light bouncing around.

Finally got a chance to try Apothic’s Inferno, a red blend that’s been aged in bourbon casks. It has a very nice mellowness from the oak. They are very manipulated wines and I like them a lot. I saw out on their website that they now have a bubbly. I’ll have to try that soon.

That’s about it. I’m busy looking for a new job and just waiting until the chaos of construction is unleashed.

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a couple of videos you should watch, the first is NSFW

These videos show just how ridiculous the evangelical Christian position is on birth control and also how ridiculous the evangelical Christian attitude is toward the controversy over kneeling during the US national anthem and how many false claims have been made about that by them.

An excellent spoof of a Viagra ad, pointing out the hypocrisy of those who have no problem with employers paying for medicine to for men to get an erection but have plenty of problem women getting equal treatment.

Getting hard is easy.  Getting birth control is not.

 

A video why Colin Kaepernick took a knee and why this is respectful towards veterans since a veteran suggested it.