Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Even the professionals have little to work with

crossedIn the discussions with various theists that I’ve been having, I’ve seen the argument from authority, which claims if someone is “smart” and believes in “x”, then that makes “x” true.  This is similar to another common claim by theists called “Sophisticated Theologytm” (I think Dr. Coyne over on Why Evolution is True might have coined this term, but not sure).  The argument behind that is the theist in question will claim that atheists shouldn’t debate with the average theist because they don’t “really understand” but a certain theologian simply must have better arguments. The usual ones that are claimed are C.S. Lewis; if one is a Roman Catholic, the Church Fathers, or G.K. Chesterton; American evangelicals go to William Lane Craig, or Pat Robertson or Billy Graham; liberal Christians like Crossan and Spong, etc.  I thought I’d take the time to show that these theologians can be just as wrong as those supposedly not as well “blessed”.

I grew up when one of these, Billy Graham, was “the” pastor on TV (a earlier post about him is here.).  He has done some good things, like working for integration. He’s also done some despicable things like his anti-semitism (he has since claimed he did not mean such things)  when being Nixon’s “spiritial advisor” and worked against Kennedy because he was Catholic. I guess if you believe in the same version of the same religion, it’s easier to like someone. However, that did change when, after calling Mormonism a cult, he decided that a cultist, Romney, was now okay since he opposed Obama.  That could indeed be his son and not him, since Billy isn’t granting interviews anymore and Frank claims to speak for him. Of course, some Christians are sure he’s the anti-christ.  More of that good Christian agreement and love there.

In my local paper, we have a column that’s from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  It’s a question/answer type column, addressed to “Dr. Graham”.  Since neither appear to have doctoral degrees, I’m not sure where this comes from, unless it’s something like Stephen Colbert’s honorary DFA.  The question this week is from an “F.R” who asks “is it true that the god of the OT is different from the god of the NT?”  and goes onto say that he’s heard “people” say that this god of the bible was angry and cruel in the OT but kind and loving in the NT. 

The following is the response in italics.  I’ll address it from my particular atheist point of view.

DEAR F.R.: No, it isn’t true; God is the same from one end of the Bible to the other. His character is unchanging, his love is unchanging, his purity is unchanging — and his plan for the human race is unchanging. The Bible says, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

This can be a very interesting question to answer, and it does make Christians squirm.  The God of the Bible *can* be claimed to be unchanging.  This is how I would go about it.  God is wrathful and ignorant in the OT. He is very little different from the gods of other Bronze Age societies, essentially only a power fantasy for any human.  There is no wisdom that is beyond humanity, control or awareness of the world.  He is also the same in the NT.  We still have a god that demands obedience and advocates violence.  We see no love, not even as defined in the bible (occasionally “love” is translsated as “charity” but most Christians know it as “love”) in 1 Corinthians 13.  The Christian god has none of those qualities: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.” 

from atheistmemebase
from atheistmemebase

I suppose one could say that this god’s love is unchanging because it never existed in the first place.  This god has been just as unloving as always, demanding obedience is not love. Anyone who has an abusive parent knows this.  Believers are to hate their families if they do not believe per Jesus; and it is the word hate, there is no qualifier to it in context at all. Paul changes this to allow for marriages to remain intact. If one is to believe that parables describe Jesus or God like in the stories about talents or minas, one is to kill those who do not accept worshipping this god.  We also have Paul declaring tht those who do not worship his god deserving death.  Then in Revelation, the figurative gloves come off and anyone who doesn’t worship this god is killed, and depending on the Christian, is either destroyed or condemned to eternal torture.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Even the professionals have little to work with”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear theist, part 4 Suprise!

This post brought to you by the number 4four

Caroline, I’m taking this to a full blog post rather than just adding on comments, since the formatting is much better here and I can put in links.  I’m also not worrying about what you might think the “tone” is.  I’m writing if I’m talking to you.  This is the blog post that ate the world. It will seem repetitive. It’s meant to be.

Your apology may indeed be sincere. I can understand being angry, but typing is one of those things that isn’t quite as knee-jerk as a discussion.  You also seem to be trying to claim I have an angry and hostile tone so you can excuse yours.  Again, no, I am not angry nor am I hostile.  You have either projected that or you wish me to be some atheist strawman that I am not.  

Tit-for-tat type of exchanges aren’t innately bad, Caroline.  But they can be crazy long and I didn’t want to clog Duck’s blog comments with doing my post that way.  You seem to wish to blame me for answering your post.  Is that not what you intended? (I guess not lower down which is edifying)  Or did you think you had arguments that no atheist could address so you were “safe” in posting them?  As for you thinking things through as much as possible, I will assume that means you have little time to think things through or research them since your arguments have been very weak.  And, as I said last night, you got into this knowing you had restrictions on your time.  Mentioning them now seems to be only a convenient excuse.  

Caroline, you are the person you have portrayed yourself in the posts.  If this is not the way you want to be portrayed, it is not me you should be addressing, it is yourself.  I’ve allowed your voice to represent you completely. You have made claims about others that are untrue, you appear to have assumed you had unassailable arguments and did not even do the most basic research to see if they were so, and you have claimed you are right and others are wrong with no evidence. That does not show respect, that shows that you make poor assumptions and were arrogant enough to act on them.   You may be smart, but as I have pointed out, being smart doesn’t make your god, or any gods, exist. That is probably one of the best examples that you don’t always think things through as well as you might assume you have.    I have shown where you have attempted to misrepresent me, Caroline. You can re-read my posts to see those comments.  You mention “real evidence”.  I’m still waiting for that.  If you want to know a bit more about my background, you can go here.  This was written for a friend who wanted to help his mother understand who atheists are since he had just “come out”.  It’s a tiny bit dated, I’m 46 now. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear theist, part 4 Suprise!”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear Theist, part 3

3 billiard ballThis will likely be the last of this mini-series of interactions with a Christian, as you will see from Caroline’s post.    Her post ends with a typical Christian comment.  This isn’t a rare occurence, for a Christian to be rather nasty and then reconsider.  She did apologize, and you may visit her blog to see.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear Theist, part 3”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear Theist, part 2

Generally, I wouldn’t go to the bother of this, but Caroline is a good example of theist that atheist often encounter.  Her posts cover most attitudes and claims the Christian who thinks that they are an excellent defender of the faith.  My first post addressing Caroline’s questions to atheists is here.

I have been able to have some comments posted on Caroline’s blog and for that I thank her a lot. She has proven herself to be less of a coward than I might have thought.  I will reserve judgement for the rest of that determination when I see if she will answer questions put to here.  This comment is one that I posted before her reply to me in italics below:  “It [pascal’s wager] is quite lame. It assumes that you have the right god. Caroline, please do tell us how you know the right god is yours.For someone who has a post of questions, I see my answers are rather scary, yes?”  Again, from her response, we see that she seems to be reluctant to answer questions posed to her.   

My, my…somebody’s itchin’ to get into it. Which is exactly why I have chosen not to approve your comments. It seems apparent to me that you are not interested in a debate but a fight instead, and I want my blog to be nonviolent. You’re not seeking the truth but looking for opportunities to ridicule.

Reasonable people can debate the existence of God without any of that. If you’d like to try respect and consideration, I will engage you. Please begin with an explanation of how you can get something from nothing.

Caroline,

You reply and then I see that my post is still not up.  Happily, I took the precaution to put it on my own blog.  For you to try to claim that I’m not interested in debate, you have gone above and beyond to refuse it.  You want to ask questions but when someone answers and the answers are not to your liking, you try to hide them.  You really couldn’t prove my point better, Caroline. You are not looking for an honest answer from an atheist that you could consider and rebut.  You simply want a soapbox, where you ignore how your claims are wrong.  I do also like how you have decided that you are psychic!  I am sorry, Caroline, but I am indeed looking for the truth, but I also look to educate Christians who make claims that are not true.  I am not looking to ridicule, so your claims about me are *lies* about me.  That’s false witnessing.  But in case you do want to point out just where you thought I was ridiculing you, I invite you to do so on my copy of my post to your blog if you don’t want to here.   I invite you to do so since I don’t always want to be ridiculing Christians.  I have taken great pleasure in ridiculing Christians and I will continue to do so, however, my post to you wasn’t ridicule at all, Caroline.  I answered *your* questions, Caroline. I pointed out how they are wrong in their assumptions.  You supposedly wanted this by posting what you did.  I hope you stick by that. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear Theist, part 2”

What the Boss Likes – Random things

Stuff I think more people should know about…..

Reproductions of historical house bits that aren’t mind-numbingly expensive (I just left it on the Art Deco since that’s my favorite): http://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/Art-Deco  

Articles on how to be “manly” but works for men or women, basically how to be an expert human being. Hot Cocoa for everyone: http://artofmanliness.com/2012/12/17/the-surprisingly-manly-history-of-hot-cocoa/  

Awesome steampunk/dieselpunk/fantasy webcomic: http://www.ineffableaether.com/

A bazillion atheist-themed graphics: http://www.atheistmemebase.com/  and a few of my favorites:

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/10/02/the-christians-bible-is-a-drug-store/

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/10/01/god-give-daddy-strength/

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/09/02/the-bible-does-not-say-stop-gay-marriage/

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/08/27/the-neutral-position/

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/05/26/deserve-to-be-intensely-disliked/

http://www.atheistmemebase.com/2012/06/29/healing-amputees/

Lovely historical costuming blog: http://mantuadiary.blogspot.com/  

Excellent perfumes and scents: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab   Just got a few of the RPG line ones in the imp ear size.  Favorite so far is a blend of Ranger (foresty) and Orc (leathery).  I find the descriptions very accurate.  The Bow and Crown of Conquest  in the Sin and Salvation line is also good, especially for a man. (you’ll have to scroll down a bit).

George Takei reading “50 Shades of Gray” – oh so definitely not safe for work but damn funny.  

Bits of weirdness:

Lamed Vav

Pumapunku

Catatumbo Lightning

And educational but weird: XKCD’s What if?: Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday

From the Bar and Kitchen – Boeuf Bourguinon, Turnovers and a bad movie

grinchI love that first weekend after the winter holidays are over. No expectations, just a chance to really relax after a month and a half of dread.  I’ve always been uncomfortable around people and that’s all the holidays signify for me, being around people, many of whom I don’t like to begin with and trying to pick out presents for people.

This weekend, it was again good food, good drink, music and the requisite schlocky movie.  I had a craving for beef in wine sauce aka boeuf Bourguignon.  A quick internet search and I got basically Julia  Child’s recipe from Macheesmo’s website.   So off to the supermarket and liquor store we go.  Found a cheap flat of beef chuck mock tender steaks.  These are from the chuck (shoulder) of the cow. They are not particularly tender, so I’m assuming that the name is from them looking a bit like a tenderloin, aka filet mignon. 1 26273 They have a band of silverskin (connective tissue) around them and this needs to be removed entirely. It will never soften. Got the carrots and onions, etc.  Didn’t feel like getting the pearl onions and I have yet to be able to taste the difference between shallots and regular ol’ yellow onions, so that’s what I used.   

Then to the liquor store.  Thanks to my husband now being employed again, we have a bit more cash to play around with.  I got a bottle of my stand-by brandy, E&J VS, which does me fine for drinking and for this recipe.  My husband picked up a bottle of Crown Royal Maple, which is very good.  CR is a bit of a sweet whisky to start with, and I thought the maple would be cloying but it’s not.  A very smooth drink and mixes nicely with egg nog. My husband calls it “breakfast whisky”.  He also has a weakness for the bags that CR comes in.  Blame a lifetime playing Dungeons & Dragons.  Where else are you going to put your dice? 😀

We also picked up two bottles of pinot noir, one to cook with and one to drink.  We decided to use the Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir to cook with.  That may have been a mistake.  This wine, though good, isn’t terribly complex or strong in its flavor.  I did very much like its “green” cork and it’d be nice to see more bottles using this type of closure. The second bottle, Gnarly Head’s Pinot Noir, was far more complex and assertive.  Since I like the wine flavor in my beef burgundy to be obvious, I think it would have been the better choice. The Gnarly Head was three dollars more than the Pepperwood.

The beef does take a while to make as Macheesmo’s website indicates.  We had it over egg noodles and I made bread.  I used my usual “artisan bread in 5 minutes a day” recipe.  I was in a hurry so I didn’t let the dough chill.  You really should do that.  My dough was an insane tar-baby, latching onto anything it could in the kitchen but I finally wrestled it into submission.  And then proceeded to clean the dough off the sink, the flour sack, the mixer, a cat ……..

Dinner was accompanied by listening to some of our favorite music like Blackmore’s Night, Tempest, Within Temptation, our own mix CD of a lot of Jim Steinman’s music (the fellow who did most of Meatloaf’s music and a lot of power ballads from the 80s), etc.

Next day, busy again.  More puff pastry for cherry turnovers. Very puffed, though the cherry goo squirted out everywhere. Need to work on that.  Savory toasted cheese, aka cheesy goo, was made per husban’s request to go with the leftover bread.  A couple of Gennys, and watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000’s episode with “The Beast of Yucca Flats” rounded out the weekend (arguably worse than “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and you can actually watch it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRhGW53eoxY )

Tasty and relaxing.  Hope you had a good weekend too!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear theist, you need to up your game.

Following some links, I found this: http://areasonablefaithdotme.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/dear-atheist/ 

Cute little guy isn't he? Microsoft clip art.
Cute little guy isn’t he?
Microsoft clip art.

I’ve commented on it but since many Christians will not allow comments that address their claims to appear on their blogs (so much for the discussion they claim they want), I figured that I’d reproduce Caroline’s entire post here and my response.  She uses a lot of the typical Christian claims that fail badly.  News flash, she has responded.  Thank you, Caroline.   

Why do you not believe? Why do you allow your senses to rule instead of your sense? Your eyes don’t see God, your ears don’t hear him, nor would your outstretched fingers find his form. But if God doesn’t exist, how is it that you do? If God doesn’t exist, why is there something rather than nothing?

Why do you not believe? You clamor for justice and robe yourself in rights. But your appeals for fairness and freedom carry no weight without a transcendent standard. Who are you to tell me what’s right and wrong? Are you my judge? Are you my god?

Why do you not believe? You gaze out into the night sky and your immaterial thoughts carry you deep into space. You reason an endless expanse and discern a limited comprehension. Is it not reasonable to conclude that a limitless being exists who knows something you can’t?

God is horrid, you say, if he even exists. Just look at what his supposed Word says. He’s capricious and cruel, sadistic and sullen. Are you his judge? Do you really believe a creature who can’t even explain his own existence, much less create another like him, who is beset with badness, imperfect in piety, negligible in knowledge, can call to account the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Maker of all that is? Can expect to fully comprehend his ways?

And what’s that about anyway? How can you argue against God’s character and actions if you don’t even believe he exists? You fashion an image of what God would look like if you were him, and then cast off as unbecoming or unreal (one or the other…it can’t be both) a God that doesn’t line up with your image, in essence declaring yourself god by decreeing everyone else an imposter. You elevate the scientific method as the supreme diviner of truth, but skip over the observation of evidence and go right to the conclusion based on your biased preconceptions and your materialistic worldview that precludes any consideration of the supernatural.

Dear atheist…what if you’re wrong? What if it’s true that the God of the Bible does exist and your sin will separate you from him and happiness forever if you never receive his provision for your salvation? What if he is standing ready right now to forgive your sins and seal you for redemption if you will only turn to him and believe?

What if you never believe?

**************************************

Wow, Caroline. I found you on Mike’s blog and followed your link to your post that seemed to be in answer to atheist’ questions about your claims.

I would advise you to read some more atheist books and blogs.  Your post uses some of the weakest excuses of theists.  Let me demonstrate.  

I could write your first paragraph easily and be of any other religion since most, if not all religions make the same claims:  Why don’t you believe in say, Tezcatlipoca?  Why do you allow your senses to rule instead of your sense? Your eyes don’t see Tezcatlipoca, your ears don’t hear him, nor would your outstretched fingers find his form. But if Tezcatlipoca doesn’t exist, how is it that you do? If Tezcatlipoca doesn’t exist, why is there something rather than nothing? Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Dear theist, you need to up your game.”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Billboards and Fruits

The deacon over on Alethian Worldview has a nice competition.  Come up with a billboard for letting people know being an atheist is fine.  As he has already noted, some boards are fine, some are nothing special and some are pretty atrocious.

My entry (the crowd image is something I found on the ‘net with no source used many places): good-without-gods-billboard

I have often heard from Christians that they somehow magically know who the TrueChristianstm are.  We get the whole “fruits of their labor” nonsense thrown at us.  The idea of fruits of one’s labor starts in Genesis where Cain and Able are going along, having no trouble and then God starts playing favorites for no discernable reason (why would an omnipotent being care for plants over meat?). We have the term “fruits of their labor” appear in Psalm 109 where the plaintant is asking God to hurt people (and their children incidentally) for not agreeing with him and in Psalm 128.  And finally, in Matthew 7, we have a lot of the aphorisms purportedly spoken by JC himself.  These are the ones that always give Christians discomfort if pointed out in their entirety, and not the comfortable cherry picked versions that pastors give them. 

In this chapter, we have JC saying that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit.  In the context of the bible, this would mean that those who believe like him are “good” and those who don’t are “bad” and are to be damned to hell and/or destruction “into the fire”.  Someone who doesn’t believe like Christians, per these verses, can do *nothing* good.  I’ve asked Christians about this point blank, “Does this mean you think non-Christians can’t be decent human beings?”  Of course, considering the evidence, they nearly always insist that of course non-Christians can.  However, many of them caveat it by saying that anyone but them does humane, decent things for only “selfish” reasons, that we don’t do it freely out of some magical “love”.  It’s the only way that they can claim that there is a difference.  However, it seems like doing anything go avoid being destroyed is pretty darn selfish too! I can understand them though. I’d probably look into making sure I bore fruit of any kind if I believed in a being that was so petulant, that it destroyed a fig tree for being a fig tree and not bearing fruit out of season.  If fig trees are metaphorically humans , one wonders how many humans this being destroyed because it wasn’t willing to make the effort to let the humans know it exists aka be in season.

But back on topic… One would think that perhaps by what they professed or where you might find them on a “sabbath” could help Christians (and the rest of us) determine which were the TrueChristianstm and which weren’t.  When you Google “does one have to go to church to be a Christian?”  There is no consensus and indeed Christians cannot agree when this sabbath is.  When you Google “what does a Christian believe” it gets even worse, with some of the more hilarious rhetoric spewed by believers at each other.  All of this demonstrates that Christians cannot know anyone by their fruits, unless they are only looking for fruits that only agree with them, and that’s not necessarily being what humans think of as good.