A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

Something is Rotten in the Garden of Eden


Any claim which is built on multiple absolutes makes itself vulnerable to logical contradictions. This is seen as clearly in the Problem of Evil as anywhere else. The Christian god is presented as omnipotent, omniscient and omni-benevolent, and yet we live in a world which is plagued with evil and suffering. Ironically, this anomaly was recognised by Epicurus, over 200 years before Christ is alleged to have existed.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

This logical contradiction is irreconcilable, but Christian theologians do attempt some intellectual gymnastics in their efforts to rationalise it. One such effort, expounded by St Paul, is the fallen creation.

The argument goes, roughly, that the Garden of Eden was perfect in the absolute sense when God created it. But, when the Devil tempted Eve and she, and Adam ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God threw them out of the Garden of Eden and condemned them to a life of work and pain, thus, the world was perfect no more.

This apologetic is not logically coherent for a number of reasons. First, we can clearly show that the Garden of Eden was not perfect at any stage. Again, this is demonstrable in more than one way.

The garden contained the serpent, usually seen as the Devil, who was evil enough to tempt Eve. Had God made the Garden of Eden without the serpent, it would have been better, therefore, the actual Garden of Eden God created could not have been perfect.

Eve was susceptible to temptation. Again, a Garden of Eden where Eve had the strength of character not to be tempted by anyone to disobey God’s instructions, would have been a better Garden of Eden than the one God actually created.

This principle further extends to Adam, who allowed himself to be persuaded by Eve to eat the fruit. A Garden of Eden where the serpent existed and managed to tempt Eve would not have been perfect either, but it would have been better than the one God created.

Second, the fruit Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If Adam and Eve didn’t know the difference between good and evil, and the only way they could find out was to eat the fruit which God had forbidden them to eat, than how would Eve know that it was wrong to disobey God’s order? How could God punish Adam and Eve for disobeying him, when he had not given them the means of understanding that it would be wrong to disobey him? This is hardly the behaviour of a just and loving god.

Third, a necessary criterion to be met for anything that is perfect in an absolute sense, is that it must remain perfect for ever. This is simply because if, say, the Garden of Eden would only be perfect for one day, than any other Garden of Eden that remained perfect for one day and one more minute would be a better Garden of Eden. Nothing can be perfect if we can easily conceive of a way in which it could be improved.

One apologetic response to all this, is to claim that all of God’s work is perfect, but it is the work of the Devil that brings evil into it. As this document describes St Paul’s views,

A basic presupposition of St. Paul‘s thought is that althought the world was created by God and as such is good, yet now there rules in it the power of Satan. The devil, however, is by no means absolute, since God has never abandoned His creation.

Once more, this is not logically sound. Yet again, we can easily see that a world that was not vulnerable to manipulation, neither by the devil nor anyone else, would be a better world than that which we see, and therefore the world that we see can not be, nor was it ever, perfect.

We can also see that the Devil can only have been created by God himself. Although Christians do not believe that God created the Devil as an evil being, and that the angel Lucifer became jealous in Heaven, we can, yet again, show logical inconsistency in this defence.

God is presented as all powerful and all knowing. Such a being would, therefore, at the point of creation, know every single thing that would ever happen for all of eternity. As an all powerful being, he would only create the world in such a way that everything would happen exactly as he wanted. (This is why an all powerful, all seeing god is not compatible with a belief in human free will. If God knew at the point of creation exactly what decisions we would make, then they are not our decisions, they are his, and therefore we do not have free will.) If God were all seeing and all powerful, he would have known all along that Eve would pick the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and share it with Adam. Why would he create a world knowing that something was going to go wrong, and then punish the people he created for the mistake?

God is portrayed as a perfect being, and yet the world we see around us is not perfect, just as the Garden of Eden was not perfect. If God’s creation is not perfect, then it must follow that God is not perfect. Christian apologists continue to work very hard to create the illusion of coherence, but no such hard labour is necessary for the atheist. The world we see around us is entirely in keeping with what we would expect to see if no such perfect being existed.

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102 Responses to “Something is Rotten in the Garden of Eden”

  1. Excellent stuff. I’m constantly astounded by the MacGuffins that theists construct to try and put a coherent frame to their otherwise controvertible presuppositions.

    I also find it amazing at how tenacious they are when they discover what they think are unarguable “explanations” that not only don’t explain anything, but are also just as full of logical, epistemological and evidential holes as that that they purport to explain.

  2. tobe:

    Nicely reasoned, but for whom? The religionists are not swayed by reason. They’ve proven time and time again, that logical coherence is not relevant to their faith.

    On the other hand, I agree with everything you say. So bravo from me. Sign me up for atheism.

  3. @ Nullifidian

    I also find it amazing at how tenacious they are when they discover what they think are unarguable “explanations” that not only don’t explain anything, but are also just as full of logical, epistemological and evidential holes as that that they purport to explain.

    Good point. It’s like they just keep digging themselves in deeper.

    @ The Exterminator

    They’ve proven time and time again, that logical coherence is not relevant to their faith.

    Alas, you’re right in most cases. But where Christians claim to have reason on their side, we need to fight the battle, futile though it may often seem.

    On the other hand, I agree with everything you say. So bravo from me.

    Thanks. 🙂

  4. Nice article, great title. 🙂

    You’ve hit the nail on the head about all the troubles coming from the absolutes. As a flippant aside, if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then what does that make god?

  5. Some nice information there.

  6. I’ll be the token Christian that everyone can mock on this one.

    The problem that Christians have with some of what you have written, is the assumption that is made about what perfection is, what evil is, and what the abilities of Adam and Eve were.

    In the Genesis account, God had clearly warned Adam and Eve about the tree and the consequences. Not having eaten it did not mean that they were unable to reason.

    Here’s a worldly example. One can know about sex and how it works and what it is all for. However, one doesn’t know what it is really like until you have actually had it. Once the sex has been had, you can’t rewind yourself to a pre-sex mindset. It’s there. You fully know how it feels. You have been changed in some small way.

    When Genesis is referring to the knowledge of Good and Evil, it is referring to that same sort of knowledge. The knowledge of doing something wrong. If you have ever lied to or betrayed someone; if you have ever stolen something; you quickly learn the power of regret and the inability to take back what you did. You probably knew it was wrong before you did it, but that is not the same type of knowledge as knowing what it is like to have done it.

    “If God knew at the point of creation exactly what decisions we would make, then they are not our decisions, they are his, and therefore we do not have free will.”

    Knowing about something and causing something are two different things. I can know what my child is going to do in certain situations, and even want him to do the opposite, but that is not the same as causing his decision.

  7. Liza said: “Here’s a worldly example. One can know about sex and how it works and what it is all for. However, one doesn’t know what it is really like until you have actually had it. Once the sex has been had, you can’t rewind yourself to a pre-sex mindset. It’s there. You fully know how it feels. You have been changed in some small way”

    Liza, you have just shot yourself in the foot with this example. The analogy you’ve used doesn’t work, because for it to be valid, a person would have to not even know what sex was!

    You have distorted your analogy to suit your argument but your analogy is fallacious. Consider this: explaining the consequences of sex to someone who DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SEX WAS! Now do you see your error?

    The point Tobe38 made is that Adam and Eve didn’t know what right and wrong / good and bad, were! To to say to them “do this or don’t do this, because it’s good and bad” would be like saying “do this or don’t do this because it’s zogblag and xulthus.” – meaningless.

    Liza said: “You probably knew it was wrong before you did it, but that is not the same type of knowledge as knowing what it is like to have done it.”

    Wrong, for the reasons given above. If you didn’t know what wrong was, you wouldn’t know! We are taking about Adam and Eve’s consciences as tabala rasa – blank slates.

    Liza said: “Knowing about something and causing something are two different things. I can know what my child is going to do in certain situations, and even want him to do the opposite, but that is not the same as causing his decision.”

    Really? So if you knew your child was going to cross a road blindfolded, you’d let him?

    Again, your analogy is flawed: for it to work, you would have to blindfold your child and set him across a road, and if he gets hit by a car, well, it’s his own fault or the driver’s!

    This is exactly the sort of apologetic that theists give, (no offence at all Liza), but it falls apart when you actually think about it in the real world. No parent WOULD EVER allow their child to experience evil and harm willingly, and certainly not death. A parent would risk their own lives to save their child’s. Well, any LOVING parent anyway. Perhaps your analogies tell you more about your god than you realise…

  8. Your analogy is the one that doesn’t work. You assume that Adam and Eve were unthinking animals, not as have any sort of reason. Reason is not the same as knowing good and evil.

    God had a conversation with them about this tree. He didn’t send them out “blindfolded” , to use your own analogy. We see Eve at the tree thinking things over with the serpent. SHe doesn’t immediately say,”Oh, OK. SO I should eat the fruit .”

    A better example would be to say to your child,” I have to go inside to get something. While I am getting it, stay in the front yard. DO NOT cross the road. A car might come by and hurt you.”
    A child can perfectly obey that without really understanding every implication and detail about what might happen. Children don’t “know” how the consequences of their actions might play out in detail. They can understand instructions, but often they have a sense of immortality about them. That”s why they do sometimes ridiculously risky things. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some inkling that “this is probably not a good idea.”

    The sex ananlogy does work. We use it all the time. When we tell children about sex, biology, and the consequences of unprotected sex, they have a head knowledge of what sex is, but they don’t really “know” what sex is until they have had it. The first type of knowledge is cursory and mechanical. The second is an experiential type of knowledge.

    ” No parent WOULD EVER allow their child to experience evil and harm willingly, and certainly not death. A parent would risk their own lives to save their child’s. Well, any LOVING parent anyway. Perhaps your analogies tell you more about your god than you realise…”

    Well, that’s the kicker isn’t it? The question is, ” Are God’s goals and views the same as an individual’s goals and views?”

    There seems to be this sense that if God were going to create something, that He would do it exactly the way we think He should.

  9. Liza said: “Your analogy is the one that doesn’t work. You assume that Adam and Eve were unthinking animals, not as have any sort of reason. Reason is not the same as knowing good and evil.”

    No it’s not, which is exactly my point. Reason might be “what shall I have for lunch today?” or “what is 5+5?” or “what is the point of life?”

    There are things we can reason about and those we can’t. For instance, humans can’t reason how long it would take us to fly next door because we can’t fly; we have no KNOWLEDGE of flying. In fact, imagine if the concept of flying was alien to us. We’d still be able to reason about walking and running, but flying would be a meaningless word. This is the point you fail to understand.

    Liza said: “God had a conversation with them about this tree. He didn’t send them out “blindfolded”, to use your own analogy. We see Eve at the tree thinking things over with the serpent. She doesn’t immediately say,”Oh, OK. SO I should eat the fruit .”

    The bible doesn’t clarify anything of the sort. The serpent contradicted what god said and Eve listened to the serpent (who incidentally told the truth). The bible doesn’t say she gave it much thought either way.

    Without the means to determine right from wrong (which is exactly what the tree gave the power of) her decision would be meaningless from a moral point of view.

    Liza said: “A better example would be to say to your child,” I have to go inside to get something. While I am getting it, stay in the front yard. DO NOT cross the road. A car might come by and hurt you.”

    Again, you colour your analogies to make them favourable to your case, but they are flawed. This is not analogous to the Garden of Eden. For it to be appropriate, you wouldn’t actually have to go and get something, for a start you’d be god and can do whatever you want. You could take your child with you, or make it impossible for it to leave the front yard (padlock maybe?!). You could also prevent any cars crossing the road during that time. Remember, with god anything is possible, so your analogies must reflect this!

    Liza said: “A child can perfectly obey that without really understanding every implication and detail about what might happen. Children don’t “know” how the consequences of their actions might play out in detail. They can understand instructions, but often they have a sense of immortality about them. That’s why they do sometimes ridiculously risky things. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some inkling that “this is probably not a good idea.”

    Sorry Liza, you are still failing to get the point. Your arguments beg the question. You are assuming what you should be trying to prove! The very point is that Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil. It’s as simple as that. You cannot compare Adam and Eve to things THAT WE KNOW DO HAVE this knowledge, because then you’re just trying to win the case by default; e.g.: ‘Adam and Eve were like kids, and kids know right and wrong, therefore Adam and Eve did’. It’s circular reasoning, which is the flaw with all your analogies so far. The point is that Adam and Even didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil. They could not reason about what they did not understand.

    Liza said: “The sex ananlogy does work. We use it all the time. When we tell children about sex, biology, and the consequences of unprotected sex, they have a head knowledge of what sex is, but they don’t really “know” what sex is until they have had it. The first type of knowledge is cursory and mechanical. The second is an experiential type of knowledge.”

    Again, you are missing the point and colouring your examples. What I said is: imagine a world where we DIDN’T KNOW what sex was! Imagine aliens didn’t have sex, they had splurgeplook, and aliens really ilkram splurgeplook. Now what if I tell you that whatever you do on the alien world, you must NEVER ilkram splurgeplook! You wouldn’t know what I meant, and you wouldn’t even know what to avoid!

    It’s the same here.

    Besides, the bible contradicts you. Adam and Eve at first were sinless because they had not committed the action of sin. But the bible says more than that: it doesn’t say they didn’t have the experiential type of knowledge, which is obvious, since they hadn’t sinned. It says they had no knowledge of good and evil, in the cursory and mechanical way.

    Liza said:

    I said:” No parent WOULD EVER allow their child to experience evil and harm willingly, and certainly not death. A parent would risk their own lives to save their child’s. Well, any LOVING parent anyway. Perhaps your analogies tell you more about your god than you realise…”

    Well, that’s the kicker isn’t it? The question is, ” Are God’s goals and views the same as an individual’s goals and views?”

    There seems to be this sense that if God were going to create something, that He would do it exactly the way we think He should.

    If god is going to be perfect and fair, then he should be AT LEAST as good and fair as a human would be.

    Letting a child die when you can avoid it is not the action a loving parent would take ever. If you are talking about a parent that does, you aren’t talking about love. You cannot cloak it in mystery or some higher purpose, otherwise the words love and justice have no meaning. You might just as well say, ‘god can do whatever he wants, and it doesn’t matter if he is loving or not’. BUT, you DO SAY that god is loving, which means that WE CAN analyse his actions and see if he really is or not!

    If you take all the meaning out of god’s actions and say that we can never judge him based on our opinions, you basically make god inscrutable and no human opinion of him, whether good or bad has any meaning. In other words, god could be anything, even pure evil.

  10. Your argument hinges on the assumption that knowing right and wrong is the same as having the knowledge of Good vs. Evil.

    As “fair” as a human being.

    There are times that my children think that I am unfair. They lose a privilege, are grounded, or have some sort of punishment. In that instant, and in their own understanding, I am mean, unfair, unkind, without compassion. That is their childlike perspective. They have no true understanding of why I might freak out that they went into a neighbor’s house without my permission. They don’t really understand all of what could happen in a house full of people they don’t know. I can say “bad things” can happen to children who get lost or follow a stranger home. But, there is no way to communicate the devastating, horrible possibilities that might occur. The very explicit communication needed to make them fully fearful of such a situation would, in itself, be traumatizing to thier innocent minds.

    At the same time, that does not mean that my children wouldn’t know that such a choice was “wrong.”

    “If god is going to be perfect and fair, then he should be AT LEAST as good and fair as a human would be.”

    Here’s the thing. If there is a God, why do we assume that He is going to be exactly like us? Isn’t that how the Greeks viewed their gods? The gods were really humans with super-powers. Zeus was a lusty sex addict. Hera was the jealous wife. Diana was the strong huntress..etc.

    If there is a God and He is unique, why do we think that we would be able to explain him in simply human and finite terms? We would be able to capture glimpses here and there and do our best to comprehend Him, but how do you describe the infinite in only finite terms. Any analogy will lack a certain correspondence.

    “It says they had no knowledge of good and evil, in the cursory and mechanical way.”

    In your interpretation, when God says to them,”You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”(Genesis 2:17) you are assuming that Adam has no understanding of what God just said. So, we are supposed to believe that God created a stupid man, incapable of understanding a simple directive, and put him in charge of the whole earth?

    “You could take your child with you, or make it impossible for it to leave the front yard (padlock maybe?!). You could also prevent any cars crossing the road during that time. Remember, with god anything is possible, so your analogies must reflect this!”

    Yes, I could do that. Yes, God could also do that. However, that wouldn’t be free will would it? Free will can’t exist without the possibility of a bad outcome. Something can’t be independent and then only be allowed to make approved choices. If God intervenes and says,”No, you can’t do that. No you can’t do that either. You most certainly won’t be allowed to do that!”—then where is the free will?

  11. Liza said: “Your argument hinges on the assumption that knowing right and wrong is the same as having the knowledge of Good vs. Evil.”

    It is. These word games are typical when theists try to reconcile contradictions with their holy book. You are equivocating Liza.

    Liza: “There are times that my children think that I am unfair. They lose a privilege, are grounded, or have some sort of punishment. In that instant, and in their own understanding, I am mean, unfair, unkind, without compassion. That is their childlike perspective. They have no true understanding of why I might freak out that they went into a neighbor’s house without my permission. They don’t really understand all of what could happen in a house full of people they don’t know. I can say “bad things” can happen to children who get lost or follow a stranger home. But, there is no way to communicate the devastating, horrible possibilities that might occur. The very explicit communication needed to make them fully fearful of such a situation would, in itself, be traumatizing to their innocent minds.”

    What you are basically saying is that humans are like children and we can’t know the mind of god. So if he does “bad”, then it just looks that way. In other words, you assume god is good to begin with, and twist any interpretation to fit this belief. But this is a contradiction because you say god is not understandable by humans – when he does something that appears wrong! How convenient!

    You want it all your own way, but your reasoning is circular, as is your analogy. You are a loving parent Liza I’m sure, but you cannot compare god to yourself because then you assume god is like you. BUT THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE TRYING TO PROVE! You cannot just assume it.

    If we cannot say god is bad, then we cannot say that god is bad good either.

    Liza said: “At the same time, that does not mean that my children wouldn’t know that such a choice was “wrong.””

    But IT WOULD! You keep missing the point: if you’re children didn’t know what wrong was, then they wouldn’t know if their choices were wrong.

    You seem to think right and wrong are some magic qualities that everyone has a sense of anyway. But the bible disagrees with you! The bible says that the first humans DID NOT HAVE this knowledge. You must understand this.

    Liza said: “Here’s the thing. If there is a God, why do we assume that He is going to be exactly like us? Isn’t that how the Greeks viewed their gods? The gods were really humans with super-powers. Zeus was a lusty sex addict. Hera was the jealous wife. Diana was the strong huntress..etc.”

    Using the greek gods is actually a good idea, because ALL gods are just inventions of humans. Humans create gods in THEIR image, not the other way around. The god of the bible has all the character flaws of the Greek and Roman gods.

    Liza said: “If there is a God and He is unique, why do we think that we would be able to explain him in simply human and finite terms? We would be able to capture glimpses here and there and do our best to comprehend Him, but how do you describe the infinite in only finite terms. Any analogy will lack a certain correspondence.”

    This is a problem for you more than me. You are the one claiming to understand god! You cannot claim to understand god when he does something good, but when he does something bad say “oh well obviously we can’t understand him”. This is extremely biased and one-sided.

    Like I keep saying: if you cannot decide that god is good, you can decide that he is bad. It swings both ways.

    If you want your god to be beyond human understanding, than anything goes. It makes no point to even pretend to know anything about him anymore.

    Liza said: “In your interpretation, when God says to them,”You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”(Genesis 2:17) you are assuming that Adam has no understanding of what God just said. So, we are supposed to believe that God created a stupid man, incapable of understanding a simple directive, and put him in charge of the whole earth?”

    I have already covered this Liza, and you keep missing the point and repeating yourself. Adam could understand! Adam could reason! Adam could think!

    Adam understood the command “do not eat from the tree.”

    He knew that disobeying god was “wrong” – but here’s the kicker: the word wrong had no meaning. Adam was like “oh ok eating from the tree is wrong. So what? Why shouldn’t I do it? What does it mean to be wrong? Was is it “good” to do right, and “bad” to do wrong?”

    Wrong might as well have been “zorgblough”.

    Do you see the problem? One cannot even talk of moral benefits of making a decision if one does not understand morality – the difference between right and wrong. But this is exactly the knowledge that Adam lacked.

    He was not stupid. Just as he couldn’t understand quantum physics so he couldn’t understand good and evil!

    Liza said: “Yes, I could do that. Yes, God could also do that. However, that wouldn’t be free will would it? Free will can’t exist without the possibility of a bad outcome. Something can’t be independent and then only be allowed to make approved choices. If God intervenes and says,”No, you can’t do that. No you can’t do that either. You most certainly won’t be allowed to do that!”—then where is the free will?”

    Tobe38 has already covered this in the article itself! You should go back and re-read it.

  12. I rather enjoyed reading those comments. 🙂

    I apologise if this was stated and I missed in the mire of the above (not that it was a bad mire, but there was a lot to get through), but I wanted to drag people back to the idea that god didn’t “make” Adam and Eve do what they did.

    Liza said:
    “Knowing about something and causing something are two different things. I can know what my child is going to do in certain situations, and even want him to do the opposite, but that is not the same as causing his decision.”

    Well, of course, it’s not the same in *your* case, but you’re not being a god character here. If I make a robot that acts in accordance with a program, and that program takes certain inputs and generates certain actions as outputs then I would say that my writing of the program and my allowing the robot to experience inputs makes me responsible for what it does. So if it goes off killing, then that is my fault.

    You might retort, “But you didn’t make it kill” or “But you might not have known what all the responses were going to be, or what all the possible inputs were”. And you would be right. Right about Me, that is. But, thankfully for this thought experiment, god does not have those disadvantages. God is presumed to have infinite knowledge, so he does know what all the inputs are and what the responses will be, but he still goes off and switches the damn robot on, and sits there knowing it will go off and kill.

    And if that isn’t what one means by making someone do something, then I think one is just playing word games.

  13. I’m going to take the Xian side of this argument and insert something. What if we change the term “morality” to “obedience”?
    Does that clarify anything?
    It seems that Adam and Eve had enough information to obey, regardless of whether they understood the implications of moral choice. The Bible, being a rather primitive book, doesn’t emphasize morality the way we understand it; it emphasizes OBEDIENCE-faith gets emphasized later because it’s a necessary precursor to obedience.
    I would say that you don’t need a conscience to obey, just the ability to compare your intended actions against a direct order, i.e. logic. In fact, a conscience can just get in the way! They were “innocent”, not stupid.

  14. I apologize if that was redundant. I notice I missed a couple of posts.

  15. touchy touchy..

    You say that I make the assumption that God is good. Perhaps that is correct. However, your arguments make the assumption that He is not…that He is some sort of trickster trying to entrap Adam and Eve.

    your logic is as circular as mine.

    “You are a loving parent Liza I’m sure, but you cannot compare god to yourself because then you assume god is like you. BUT THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE TRYING TO PROVE! You cannot just assume it.”

    Christianity’s view of God is a mix of the sovreign Creator of the Universe and the personal God as incarnated in Jesus. I am comfortable with the idea that certain aspects of God correspond with our conception of “human” personality, but also recognize that God is more than just a human with lots of cool powers.

    I would never try to prove God is like me. What a poor God that would be!

    “You are the one claiming to understand god! ”

    I make no claim to fully comprehending Him. I see and understand fragments, but I would never claim to know His every thought and motivation.

    “He knew that disobeying god was “wrong” – but here’s the kicker: the word wrong had no meaning. Adam was like “oh ok eating from the tree is wrong. So what? Why shouldn’t I do it? What does it mean to be wrong? Was is it “good” to do right, and “bad” to do wrong?”

    That is not what Genesis actually says. That may be your interpretation of it, but you will not find actual text to back this argument up.

    I will stick with the sex analogy. When you have had it once, you would like it again. Adam was created without an internal urge to sin. That is why it takes the serpent has to talk him and Eve into it. On their own, they seemed to be just fine not bothering the tree. After eating the fruit, they now have, within themselves, the urge to do wrong. That is what original sin is. No longer is there a need for a serpent to tempt us to evil. WE now possess that power within ourselves. That is what the fruit represented–internalized evil and temptation.

    “Tobe38 has already covered this in the article itself! You should go back and re-read it.”

    Yes and I replied to it in my first comment.

    He said: (This is why an all powerful, all seeing god is not compatible with a belief in human free will. If God knew at the point of creation exactly what decisions we would make, then they are not our decisions, they are his, and therefore we do not have free will.)

    I said: Knowing about choices and causing choices are two very different things. Tobe38’s statement is based on the assumption that if God knew about our choices, then He must have made us choose them. I think it’s a non-sequitur.

    I think the problem with the post and comments about it is that Tobe38 is trying to use a Biblical story to prove the falseness of God. Now how can we engage in such a discussion without looking into the text itself and examining the theology associated with it? You are arguing with me about what the Bible has to say and what it means, but your interpretations are based on your assumptions that it is all a load of bunk in the first place. If you want to say that Christian beliefs are illogical and incoherent, then you have to be able to have an understanding about the theology that this story is a part of. In the Bible and in Christian belief, God is portrayed as being “good.” You can’t use the text to try and prove that He isn’t, because the belief is based on the text. You can say that you don’t believe the text and think it is all fairy stories, but then why even refer to it. It weakens your argument.

  16. evanescent,
    As usual you guys continue to misquote and redirect the meaning of the scriptures as your statement below;
    “You seem to think right and wrong are some magic qualities that everyone has a sense of anyway. But the bible disagrees with you! The bible says that the first humans DID NOT HAVE this knowledge. You must understand this.”

    Where do you get the idea that the first humans did not know right from wrong? When challenged by the serpent, Eve knew that what the serpent was saying was wrong and she repeated back to him what God had said. You see, she knew it was wrong and did it anyway. What she didn’t know was that there was shame (the awareness of their nakedness) attached to it – but she, (like you and me) know what is right and wrong.

    Also, and it is always missing in atheist arguments, what is evil? Can you name me an evil? Can I go see the evil? Can I touch it with my hands? Can I test it in the lab, can I reproduce it?
    You continually throw out all these claims blaming God (if there was a God) for evil but I have never seen it – help me please!

  17. Actually, we atheists aren’t the ones who believe in “evil” in a reification kind of way, that’d be the theists doing that. We think that “evil” is an adjective that describes people and actions. It’s theists who believe that there is an embodiment of evil, called Satan (the Devil, or whatever).

    The thing that has bothered me about the Genesis/snake/tree story is the bit about being naked and finding that it was shameful. If there is something objectively bad about being naked, why would God have created them that way?

  18. Liza said:

    Knowing about something and causing something are two different things. I can know what my child is going to do in certain situations, and even want him to do the opposite, but that is not the same as causing his decision.

    You “knowing” what your child is going to do is not the same as God knowing what we are going to do. You don’t actually know what your child is going to do. You may be extremely sure, and you probably turn out right nearly all of the time, but you don’t actually know for a fact what he is going to do. You cannot be absolutely certain.

    The same cannot be said for God. If he is all powerful and all knowing, then he made us knowing every single decision we would ever take. If he has predetermined our actions, then we are not acting freely. In order to have free choice, or to make a decision, you must be in a position of power. There has to be an element of uncertainty for everyone else. In order for us to truly be in a position to make our own decisions, God would have to not know what that decision would be. Which would mean he wasn’t omniscient.

    If God is all powerful and all knowing, then we have no free will. We may feel like we do, we may truly believe we are making independent choices, but that is not the same thing. If God is all powerful and all knowing, then free will is merely an illusion. We are simply robots, behaving exactly as we have been programmed to do.

    The point I was trying to make, was that if God was all powerful and all knowing, then he made Eve, not just knowing that she would take the fruit and eat it, but intending her to. How else do you explain it? If God is perfect, and he made everything just the way he wanted, how could anything ever happen that he didn’t intend? How could one of his lowly creations disobey him if he hadn’t foreseen and created her to do exactly that?

  19. Polly,
    How can you make this statement? “The Bible, being a rather primitive book,”

    Are we speaking of the same Bible? the one that says;
    1.) that the earth is round (when secular man thought it flat)
    2.) that the earth is suspended in space (when secular man thought it carried on the back of a turtle.)
    3.) that the stars cannot be counted (when old time scientists used to give exact numbers of stars in the sky)
    4.) that the earth is perfectly balanced between land mass and water.
    5.) that describes the science of hydrology exactly addressing evaporation.
    6.) that man’s life source is in the blood (when science was using leeches to bleed people.)
    7.) that spoke about wind currents when science knew nothing of them.
    8.) that speaks about the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (When God was finished creating, nothing else is created)
    8.) that speaks about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (the law of increasing disorder)
    9.) the Book that in the very first verse covers all of the basics of existence (time – space – energy – and matter)

    Again, I don’t mind that atheists do not believe (and I do mean that – it does not offend me at all) however, if you are going to attack the Bible, you had better know what you are talking about.

    The Bible is not a science book, but where is does speak of the things of science, it is always correct and far from primitive.

  20. Nothing the Bible gets right reqwuired divine revelation. It gets several things wrong. The appearance of species are not in the correct order, the global flood is an impossibility, the nature of the cosmos, it claims the sun stood still, and more.

    1)They thought it was a circle not a sphere. And the Greeks knew the Earth was round, too.

    2)The Earth is claimed to have foundations

    3)Those same stars were thought to be wedged into a solid dome sky.

    4) I don’t know where in the Bible it says that, nor even what “balanced” means.

    5)The Noah’s ark story shows an astounding lack of understanding regarding evaporation and precipitation.

    6) Simple observation would have yielded this “insight.”

    7)Sailors have USED the winds since there have been sea-farring vessels.

    8)THere are planets and stars forming right now.

    9)God creating the heavens and the Earth is certainly general enough to cover everything. That’s not a stretch.

    However, that wasn’t my point. My point was about morality vs. obedience. The modern concept of morality is different from the primitive list of Do’s and Don’t’s.

  21. Tobe38,

    I understood what you wrote the first time.

    I simply disagree with your conclusions and think that they are based on assumption about what God intends and doesn’t intend.

    How can you assume to know what He intended? Observing the actions or words of a person does not always signify the mind and intention of that person. It’s like eavesdroppping on a conversation without knowing who you’re listening to.

    If you hear: “He get’s off at 8:00. That’s when we’ll get him.” the intention behind the words could be a million things. It could be a hit man planning an assassination. It could be a friend planning to pick someone up from work. It could be a papparzzi planning to get a picture of Tom Cruise.

    “The point I was trying to make, was that if God was all powerful and all knowing, then he made Eve, not just knowing that she would take the fruit and eat it, but intending her to. How else do you explain it? If God is perfect, and he made everything just the way he wanted, how could anything ever happen that he didn’t intend? How could one of his lowly creations disobey him if he hadn’t foreseen and created her to do exactly that?”

    There are many alternative ways to explain it. The problem isn’t that it can’t be explained differently, but that you don’t like the other explanations.

    Geno and Polly:

    The Bible is not meant to be a descriptive manual for every aspect of creation. It is a narrative of God’s interaction with this spoecific planet and humans. God used imagery and illustrations that made sense to those with whom He was communicating. That’s why Jesus used so many parables. They were meant to convey spiritual truths through common forms. They were farmers and shepherds, so Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven in those terms.

    I mean really…Are we supposed to believe that 2 or 3 chapters of Genesis could convey all the complexities of the created Universe? The point of Genesis is that He made it, not how exactly he formed gravity, DNA, and electromagnetic force. We shouldn’t try to make the Bible do more than it was originally meant to do.

  22. OY Vey. Listen. I don’t care about that (right now).
    What did y’all think of the POINT of my original post? Does it help? Do you agree? disagree? don’t care? That’s OK, too.

    Morality, the way we see it now, just doesn’t seem to be the focus of the OT. Back then it was contractual – you do this and I’ll do this. I think this makes sense of the whole story because knowledge of good and evil isn’t required, just logic and willingness to obey.
    It’s like when Judah and Levi (I think) massacred the Schechemites. Jacob’s response isn’t “Gee, that wasn’t a proportionate response now kids…”
    LOL! No, it was “Now, I’m a stench to them.” It was all pragmatic back then. Philosophizing about right and wrong didn’t really play into the thinking at that point. I can think of many other passages that support this view from Noah to Abraham to Moses and Mt. Ebal and that other mountain – Life or Death is equated with obedience and disobedience. Anyway, I’ve gone on for far too long, now.

  23. @ Liza

    There are many alternative ways to explain it. The problem isn’t that it can’t be explained differently, but that you don’t like the other explanations.

    Well, I certainly don’t like explanations that aren’t logically sound.

    You haven’t dealt with what I’ve said. If God were all powerful and all knowing, then everything that ever happened would be exactly as he intended. If anything ever happened that God didn’t intend to happen, then he couldn’t be all powerful and all knowing. If he were all powerful and all knowing, then he could only create the universe how he intended it to be, with every event unfolding as he planned it. The two positions logically contradict each other, you can’t have it both ways.

    The question for you to answer is: If God had the power to create the universe exactly as he wanted down to every last detail, and had the knowledge to forsee everything that would ever happen and therefore the power to create the universe so that everything happened as he intended, then how could he create it any other way?

  24. As for Tobe’s original post, I thought it was spot on. And any theist with an ounce of brains and reason has to admit that their god is not perfect. Perfection is such an intellectual quandary, and there’s really no avoiding it. But they will never admit that, because if they did, their whole religion would dissipate around them. Who would worship an imperfect god?

    As for the whole Garden of Eden thing, clearly it’s metaphorical writing at its worst. I think the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is just another euphemism for SEX. All this prancing around in the outdoors without clothing, then having to wear fig leaves, getting embarrassed as a punishment for eating the “apple”. C’mon. Do you think Adam and Eve were doing it before partaking of this knowledge?

    You know what the writers of Genesis had on their minds when they were writing it.

  25. Not to mention the SNAKE!

  26. As I said over on the previous Dawkins thread, he is the king of setting up the straw man and you all follow him like blind sheep.

    Where do we find this perfection you keep talking about that God does not live up too? After creation, God said that everything was good. Which means it was made just the way he wanted it. Now, where do we think things went wrong? You all keep implying that something happened that God had not planned for. Can you tell me what it is? I don’t see it!

    Tell me again why you think God’s creation shouldn’t contain “evil”? It is all there is His completeness and the Bible speaks openly of it.

    Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    The translation of the Hebrew word RA is as follows;
    ra`, Hebrew 7451, Strong’s
    ra`, rah; from Hebrew 7489 (ra`a`); bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral) :- adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([-favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, × great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st), wretchedness, wrong. [Incling feminine ra`ah; as adjective or noun.]

    So, where do you go with this argument? My objection to the atheist position is that you argue things that you don’t know – I don’t ask you to accept them, but I do ask that you know what it is you are arguing about and state it properly.

  27. Here here Polly, and John P, and Tobe. I also think I’ve made some good points myself. I also don’t think they’ve been adequately addressed. There isn’t much point me saying much more at the moment because what Tobe’s original article and my points haven’t been addressed.

    It seems that theists have a mindset of belief, (obviously), and filter the bible through the certainty that it cannot be wrong.

    I used to do the same because I used to be a theist, so no one can level the accusation of thinking cynically about Genesis, because I took that all literally.

    I invite any theists reading this, who are honest and intelligent enough to question themselves, to read Genesis as a historic book, or pretend it was actually the Koran or something, and see how it comes across to you then…

  28. Tobe you miss the point.

    “If he were all powerful and all knowing, then he could only
    create the universe how he intended it to be, with every event unfolding as he planned it.”….says who?

    If God is all-powerful, and he wishes to suspend his power in certain circumstances, or even to share a small aspect of it such as free will, in order to accomplish a larger goal, than how can we say free will negates his power or his intent?

    It seems as if God must only exist and behave in a completely linear, black and white defintion in your argument.

    There are theories in physics that propose that there may be up to 11 dimensions. That is not linear and certainly incomprehensible to my mind, and yet is proposed by some very learned scientists.

    Does the universe and matter always exist in such a definable way? What about dark matter? Black Holes? Sub-atomic particles that seem to travel through space inexplicably–teleporting from one observed area to another.

    We can’t even begin to understand some of these things yet, but some seem to be so sure about the very nature of God and the ability to enumerate the ways in which He should behave. It’s laughable.

  29. Geno, best to leave the patronising attitude for those who don’t know they’re talking about. You might just find that only do most atheists actually know what you’re talking about, but might know it better than you.

    Sure I’ve read the bible many times, and you might know the original translation better than me, but if I point out just one contradiction in your book, that blows it all to pieces doesn’t it, and your god becomes a fairy tale like all the others YOU don’t believe in, (and for the same reason I don’t believe in YOURS).

    Geno said: “Where do we find this perfection you keep talking about that God does not live up too?”

    The world is imperfect. God created the world. Therefore god created imperfection. Even if God created a perfect world, it became imperfect. If something becomes imperfect it couldn’t have been perfect to begin with; perfect means immutable, unchangeable, untaintable. You can’t equivocate your way out of that.

    Geno said: “After creation, God said that everything was good. Which means it was made just the way he wanted it.”

    So he wanted a lying snake deceiving his creatures? He wanted his creation docile and ignorant without knowledge for themselves? He wanted a world with suffering and evil.

    You see, you have the problem of mental gymnastics to explain this away in a world created by a perfect all-loving all-powerful being. Atheists don’t have that problem. The world makes PERFECT sense to atheists just as it is, without a god.

    Geno said: “Now, where do we think things went wrong? You all keep implying that something happened that God had not planned for. Can you tell me what it is? I don’t see it!”

    Thanks. You’ve neatly conceded the point on behalf of all theists. God foresaw the results of his creation. He knowingly and willingly created an imperfect world where evil was possible, tricked his ignorant creatures in disobeying him, and then punished every innocent descendant of human kind FOREVER for the actions of two people. He foresaw himself needing to come to earth, to sacrifice himself to himself, to appease himself, for the crimes of mankind, that he himself tricked them into making. It makes no sense. But you’re saying he saw all this coming? Your god’s a fool then. Give me omnipotence and omniscience and I could do a better job.

    There is an alternative: genesis is a creation myth like any other, written by primitive bronze age humans who thought the rain fell through windows in the sky and the earth had 4 corners and was supported on pedestals. It is full of contradictions and glaring natural faux pas, but does give us an interesting glimpse into early human beliefs. Unfortunately, in 2007, some humans want to return to these ways.

  30. Liza said: “We can’t even begin to understand some of these things yet, but some seem to be so sure about the very nature of God and the ability to enumerate the ways in which He should behave. It’s laughable.”

    Liza, this is what we can IRONY. You are the one making explanations for god and justifying all his actions. Who are you to speak for God? Aren’t you the one claiming to know the mind of God?

    Or, are you just saying “GOD IS GOOD”, and la la la I’m not listening whenever anyone raises an objection. You cannot escape from your belief of god, so you are blinded to alternative reason.

    I am NOT pre-judging the bible. I look at god’s actions in the book and ask myself, is what a loving person would do? No.

    So if you want to take my ability to examine god’s behaviour away, fine, but then I will take yours away and we can say nothing at all about him.

  31. evanescent,
    your post at 9:12 is useless. I will now counter your claim. I was you for the first 32 yrs of my life. I looked at everything the way you do now. But I turned after reviewing the evidence and have been an intelligent Christian for the past 26 yrs.
    So, should I now invite you to review your previous religious roots? What was your point?

  32. Hi Geno,

    you weren’t me.

    I was indoctrinated into a belief system from birth and used logic, reason, and critical thinking to escape it and think for myself.

    I don’t believe you were ever an atheist in the sense I am now. You might not have believed in god, but you were not who I am now.

    And if you were, you rejected logic and reason, rationality and common sense when you put FAITH into a book written by primitive humans, for whatever reason. I’m sure it feels very real to you though.

    But I lack belief because there no evidence. You have belief in spite of no evidence! That’s the point I was making. I have nothing to defend. You have everything to defend.

    I hope I clarified the point.

  33. evanescent,

    evanescent said – “The world is imperfect. God created the world. Therefore god created imperfection.”

    How do you know that the world is imperfect? Explain why you get to be the judge of what God’s creation was suppose to be? You know, it must be a heavy load to be the one person on this planet who gets to define truth and understand perfection.

    Speaking of determining things, where did you get this definition? “perfect means immutable, unchangeable, untaintable.”

    Again, this is the 21st century technique being used today by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in their debates – make up claims and redefine terms. You are right, if that were the definition of perfection, I would not be able to refute your claim – but it’s not and you made it up.

  34. evanescent,

    “I was indoctrinated into a belief system from birth and used logic, reason, and critical thinking to escape it and think for myself.”
    That is my story also only the belief system that I was born into was radical atheism. My parents used to shout out the front window at people on their way to church on Sunday mornings. All these years later, I am still the only Christian from my family. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers all rallied to the anti god theme.

    But I did use logic, reason, and critical thinking to escape it and think for myself just as you said. See, you don’t have the corner on this. But you know, I did turn to the evidence.

  35. Geno said: “How do you know that the world is imperfect? Explain why you get to be the judge of what God’s creation was suppose to be? You know, it must be a heavy load to be the one person on this planet who gets to define truth and understand perfection.”

    This is a red herring and a strawman. For someone who’s been doing this for so long Geno you really should get your cogent argument hat on more often.

    First of all, I don’t believe in the “god” in the bible. I read a book like many others and judge it. I won’t dismiss it, but I won’t put blind faith in it like you do either. Otherwise I could demand you read the Koran assuming it is the word of God. Are you up for it?

    How do I get to decide what is good or not? Well, according to you, GOD GAVE ME THAT ABILITY! I have the ability to judge good from bad, and I can see the flaws in a design.

    I might not be anything special, but if god can’t do as well as I can, then he isn’t worthy of the name.

    You’re going to say, “who are you to judge god?”, and just like Liza you don’t get it: if I cannot judge god, then neither can you! Which means you cannot call him good if I cannot call him bad! It swings both ways; do you really want to go down that route?!

    Geno siad: “Speaking of determining things, where did you get this definition? “perfect means immutable, unchangeable, untaintable.””

    It is the only definition of “god” that makes sense.

    Geno said: “Again, this is the 21st century technique being used today by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in their debates – make up claims and redefine terms. You are right, if that were the definition of perfection, I would not be able to refute your claim – but it’s not and you made it up.”

    Wrong. It used a definition that contradicts your worldview, so, you’re going to ignore it. Nice tactic.

    You are the one defining words to suit your likes. You want perfect to mean all the good lovely things of god, but not limit him or compromise him in any way. In other words, you want your god to be whatever you want him to be. Isn’t that convenient? We have another way of describing these beings: made-up.

    You want a god you can judge and say “yes, he is good!” but at the same time not be able to say “hang on, no he isn’t good!”

    You want it all your own way because your belief system warps your logic. Try arguing without first assuming you’re correct.

  36. @ Geno

    evanescent,
    your post at 9:12 is useless. I will now counter your claim. I was you for the first 32 yrs of my life.

    In a recent debate at the Blue Linchpin you said that you were me for the first 32 years of your life! Were you me, and Evanescent? Does that mean that Evanescent and I are the same person?! How many other people were you for the first 32 years of your life, and are they the same person as me (and Evanescent) too?!

  37. Geno said: “But I did use logic, reason, and critical thinking to escape it and think for myself just as you said. See, you don’t have the corner on this. But you know, I did turn to the evidence.”

    Yes I do, because the evidence is not on your side. There is no evidence for god.

    The argument from design, the argument from morality, the argument from the bible, the cosmological argument, the transcendental argument, pascal’s wager etc etc… do you have something new?

    They’ve all been refuted. How can you possibly say you have evidence, or have you done what no theist has ever been able to do, and logically prove the existence of god? History awaits!

  38. And there was me thinking this was a boring post on an obvious hole in Christian theology. Looks like there are still plenty of people who need to hear it!

    Geno, let me try to follow your reasoning here.

    After creation, God said that everything was good. Which means it was made just the way he wanted it. Now, where do we think things went wrong?

    As far as I can tell, this statement only makes sense if you define goodness to be whatever God wants. From there, given that whatever happens is what God wanted to happen, it follows that everything that happens is good. Have I understood you?

  39. tobe38,
    That’s right, you all are the same and don’t have original thoughts (said with a smiley face). I played off of evanescent’s comment above – “I used to do the same because I used to be a theist, so no one can level the accusation of thinking cynically about Genesis, because I took that all literally.” As if that meant something – since he has been where we are and is now enlightened.

    BTW, did you look at my comment on the Dawkins – McGrath thread?

  40. Lynet – yes!

  41. So Satan is good then? Cool. Thanks for clarifying.

  42. Geno,

    Would you say that the conclusion “everything that happens is good” still holds today? Is it true that everything that I do must be good, because nothing can happen that God doesn’t want, and the definition of goodness is “whatever God wants”?

  43. Geno said: “so no one can level the accusation of thinking cynically about Genesis, because I took that all literally.” As if that meant something – since he has been where we are and is now enlightened.”

    I was more responding to your quasi-arrogance about us not knowing what we’re talking about. But I know what I’m talking about now, and I know what you’re talking about because I used to believe, that’s the point I was making.

    Geno said: “That’s right, you all are the same and don’t have original thoughts”

    I guess if we didn’t have to keep refuting the same old arguments… lol (said with a smiley face of course!)

  44. evanescent,
    all of those arguments you listed have not been refuted at all. Atheist’s have made their case but have not refuted.

    But here is just a small part of my evidences for a God (not naming one in particular here.) Why is the thought of God universal? You cannot name a society or culture that has not had the notion of a God (whether good or bad, voodoo or whatever) Why is that?

    Tobe38 tried telling me on another blog site that our brains are capable of evolving morals, perhaps we evolved with God since he was there from the beginning.

    Back in 1 hour – gotta pay the bills

  45. Lynet,
    Real quick. No, not everything I do is “good”, but everything that happens gets used for god’s purpose.
    Read Romans 8:28 – not all things are good but all things will be used by god for good. Read it and see what it says.

  46. Geno said: “All of those arguments you listed have not been refuted at all. Atheist’s have made their case but have not refuted.”

    Ok, name ONE argument for god and I will refute it for you here and now. In fact, I’ll refute them all for you, on the basis of logic. And if I’m wrong, you will have to show me LOGICALLY, without circular reasoning why and how.

    Geno said: “But here is just a small part of my evidences for a God (not naming one in particular here.) Why is the thought of God universal? You cannot name a society or culture that has not had the notion of a God (whether good or bad, voodoo or whatever) Why is that?”

    Seriously?! Oh my god Geno! If this is the sort of argument you’re going to come up with I will have no trouble destroying your “evidence”.

    So, you’re saying that the fact that virtually all human societies have had a belief in god(s), that proves that god exists? Is that your argument?

    Since when does belief of X constitute proof of X??

    Ok how about this: all societies have always believed in ghosts. Does this prove ghosts exist?

    An even better example: all societies in their past used god(s) to explain the natural world they didn’t understand. It’s easy to see that humans create gods and they get replaced as civilisations get replaced. .e.g: thor, zeus, aries, neptune, yahweh, allah, vishnu etc… what is your point?

    It’s also a fact that every time humans used god to explain something, science came right along and REALLY explained how it worked.

    The fact that humans in the past have invented god(s) proves to me the human desire to explain things, and how we think magically.

    It proves nothing else.

    That actually is one of the poorest arguments for god (and that’s saying something!) there is.

    Geno said: “Tobe38 tried telling me on another blog site that our brains are capable of evolving morals, perhaps we evolved with God since he was there from the beginning.”

    More than likely our brains evolved a conscience due to natural selection favouring humans that could better co-exist with other people, which necessitated empathy and compassion. As usual, evolution explains everything brilliantly, without recourse to creatures in the sky.

  47. But here is just a small part of my evidences for a God (not naming one in particular here.) Why is the thought of God universal? You cannot name a society or culture that has not had the notion of a God (whether good or bad, voodoo or whatever) Why is that?

    You’re right that that can only be a small part of any reasonable evidence for God — despite the fact that the story arises everywhere, no-one can agree on any details, whether it be number of Gods, the characteristics of the supposed God[s], or what said God[s] require of us. Personally, the fact that your argument seems to be as good an argument for polytheism as monotheism is enough to make me doubt its usefulness on its own.

    This argument begs to be taken further. Although we use the same word ‘god’ to refer to polytheistic gods and monotheistic gods, is it really true that the notions are similar enough to point to the same real entity or entities behind both ideas? I would say not.

  48. Hey Geno. Can you point me to some really substantial evidence for the existence of God, independent of the Bible? I want proof, now, evidence that would hold up in court, that sort of thing. Not some interpretation of the Bible.

    Perhaps the Bible is enough for you, but I need something other than a book allegedly written, or at least “inspired”, by the supernatural entity that is trying to prove the truth of his own existence.

  49. Let me see if I can answer these in order

    evanescent – You disappoint me. You said that if I gave you my evidence that you would disprove it. Now, I must admit that you did a nice job of mocking me, but I failed to see you disprove it. (remember, disprove has a meaning) – so show me your stuff.

    Also, you seem to be making a case for the fact that we have evolved into nonsense believing creatures – “The fact that humans in the past have invented god(s) proves to me the human desire to explain things, and how we think magically.” If that’s the case, perhaps we are “de evolving” creatures.

    Lynet – that’s the point. There is no discussion to develop. It is a simple case of there either is a god or there isn’t. I only need a small piece of evidence to prove god (good, evil, one or a thousand) to show that atheism is false. I don’t have to make a case for a Christian god at this point.
    It seems that our buddy evanescent thinks that we just evolved into a nonsense thinking species who invents gods.

    Spanish Inquisitor – I have never used the bible to prove God. The Bible itself doesn’t use itself to prove God. It starts out, “In the beginning, God…” It assumes the ever existing God.
    I have played this game long enough to know that whatever evidence I bring to you that you will reject out of hand. I don’t even get involved like that. My point in addressing the Atheist community is to keep you guys honest. If you are going to rail against Christians and the Christian scriptures I want to hold you to making correct statements, not misquoting and not redefining terms.

  50. Geno said: “evanescent – You disappoint me. You said that if I gave you my evidence that you would disprove it. Now, I must admit that you did a nice job of mocking me, but I failed to see you disprove it. (remember, disprove has a meaning) – so show me your stuff.”

    I didn’t mock you, although perhaps I was a tiny bit sarcastic, but you deserved it.

    I disproved your argument. Please provide another.

    Geno said: “Also, you seem to be making a case for the fact that we have evolved into nonsense believing creatures – “The fact that humans in the past have invented god(s) proves to me the human desire to explain things, and how we think magically.” If that’s the case, perhaps we are “de evolving” creatures.”

    Do you actually read what I write, or do you pick out words that you can refute and then attack the strawman??

    Humans think magically – it is a human tendency. One which evolution explains perfectly, as you would expect. Fortunately, we also have intelligence and critical thinking skills to examine the real world, otherwise we’d just be like animals.

    In a very real sense, evolution has gifted us in many ways, but the vestigial magical thinking necessary for evolution has drawbacks in the real world.

    So there, the ubiquity of belief is nicely explained and proves nothing about god. In fact, I think the ubiquity of belief is actually a very good argument against god(s)! Especially self-contradictory ones like yours.

  51. evanescent,
    I read everything that you write with great care. Show me where you disproved my evidence for god. You used an example that all societies believed in ghosts. But to make that work, you must first disprove ghosts, then move on to my arguments. So, are you prepared to first disprove that their is such a thing as ghosts? I see you digging a deeper hole.

    Why do people need to explain things magically. Why weren’t we developed with the sense to know the truth? How did mankind all over the world come to the “god conclusion” universally if there was nothing there?

    Just my thoughts to the man who defines “perfect”.

  52. Lynet – that’s the point. There is no discussion to develop. It is a simple case of there either is a god or there isn’t. I only need a small piece of evidence to prove god (good, evil, one or a thousand) to show that atheism is false. I don’t have to make a case for a Christian god at this point.

    Geno, I notice you didn’t address my second point, which argued that in fact you don’t have evidence to prove the existence of god or gods, because polytheistic gods are so unlike monotheistic gods that the fact that some people believe in one cannot be taken as evidence for the other.

    I might add that the only way in which I consider the argument from widespread belief in God to have any merit at all is if you are trying to argue that such widespread belief arises from common experience of a God, or some other sort of common evidence that we are all reacting to. In order to make a truly cogent argument you would have to make some sort of a case for what sort of evidence this is, and it would then be that evidence that was the actual argument. So, for example, you might argue that we all experience God in some subjective sense. In which case, my polytheism/monotheism objection argues that the ‘subjective experiences’ implied by monotheism and polytheism are so different that it is difficult to see why we would expect them to be evidence of the same thing. If, however, they are each evidence for separate (incompatible) things then that casts serious doubt on the worth of such subjective evidence as a whole.

  53. Lynet,
    Not so. My concern is to show that atheism is not valid and in fact is a lie. So what does it matter what god I prove. Even if I proved Zeus to be a god that would prove atheism false.
    At this point, I am not particular. In other areas I would be working much harder to prove the Christian Go. But here, that is not required.

  54. It doesn’t matter. Go ahead. Pick any god. Prove it exists. We’ll wait.

  55. Geno,

    I see I have not explained myself clearly. My point is that any argument that purports to prove both polytheism and monotheism is necessarily false, since it leads to a contradiction (polytheism and monotheism cannot both be correct).

  56. Interesting discussion you have going on here Tobe! 🙂 Mind if I add my own 2p?

    Geno wrote:

    Not so. My concern is to show that atheism is not valid and in fact is a lie. So what does it matter what god I prove. Even if I proved Zeus to be a god that would prove atheism false.

    Of course, if you “prove” any god (e.g. Zeus as in your example) then you would prove atheism to be a mistake, I’d concede such a point unequivocally, and I’m sure others here would do the same. However, unless you also prove that the god you will prove is also the exact same god that you believe in, you most certainly won’t be doing your own position any favours. In fact, proving Zeus would prove that the god you believe in (the one and only) is most certainly not.

    At this point, I am not particular. In other areas I would be working much harder to prove the Christian Go. But here, that is not required.

    I find this a rather bizarre position for one who bases their life on the “truth” of christianity: you believe in your god as the singular creator of all and sundry, yet you’re quite happy to prove that other gods exist? Amazing.

    But it does beg the question as to why not prove your chosen god? If the evidence is so apparent, then you should have no problem in proving your god to the satisfaction of readers here. In fact, you claim to have had such proof already (30-odd years ago, IIRC) so I add my voice to the call of “bring it”.

    Of course, none of this changes the fact that you haven’t yet provided any evidence of any gods, least of all the christian concept of such.

    (For clarification, the I’m using the word “proof” here in the colloquial sense it has been used here, not the philosophical epistemic sense.)

  57. wow..

    last time I checked the comments were 21 or 22.

    You all have been busy.

  58. Sorry gang, but the ball is still in evanescent’s court. His challenge to me was to give him “evidence” for God’s existence and he would “disprove it.”

    I gave him the evidence of the universal belief in god(s). He mocked and twisted and redefined, but nowhere did I see where he “disproved” the idea that the fact that all peoples of all time have had some type of belief in god. Surely we would see somewhere in the world where this concept has not touched.

    I show evidences. You can’t prove anything. I asked one of you great evolution scholars yesterday to “prove” that man and monkeys descended from a common ancestor (as seems to be todays view of mankind) by only giving me 2 proofs – the name of the common ancestor and the time period that such ancestor lived. But I only hear about the “facts” are beyond doubt.

    So, the ball seems to be in your court – by your own challenge – “disprove” my evidence.

    BTW, what does IIRC mean? I’ve seen it a couple of times here.

  59. I don’t believe in any gods, and I never have. That alone falsifies your “universal belief” hypothesis. Besides, the universal belief hypothesis could only count as evidence of universal belief, not of what the belief is about. It would also only work if the various beliefs were even vaguely consistent, which they are not.

    I can’t answer the evolution question, as I’m not an evolutionary biologist (and neither do I don’t play one on TV). What that has to do with the existence of gods anyway? Are you suggesting that, if evolution was falsified tomorrow, that would prove gods?

    Sorry, but no dice.

    IIRC – if I remember correctly (or ‘read’ in this case).

  60. FFS, my typing is appalling today. “and neither do I play one on TV” to the magic comment fixer 🙂

  61. Geno said: “Sorry gang, but the ball is still in evanescent’s court. His challenge to me was to give him “evidence” for God’s existence and he would “disprove it.””

    Oh, you’re still here.

    Geno said: “I gave him the evidence of the universal belief in god(s). He mocked and twisted and redefined, but nowhere did I see where he “disproved” the idea that the fact that all peoples of all time have had some type of belief in god. Surely we would see somewhere in the world where this concept has not touched.”

    Oh dear. Do you actually listen to yourself as you type, or do you kinda fade in and out? Are you being serious?

    Ok I will say it one more time, (use your finger to follow along if it helps): universal belief of god is not proof of god.

    In other words: belief in X is not proof of X.

    There you go. I’ve done it. I’ve disproved your argument.

    Don’t even bother coming back on this because you will just embarrass yourself. Seriously, I’ve very rarely seen many theists use this argument because even they can see it as fallacious.

    Geno: “I show evidences. You can’t prove anything. I asked one of you great evolution scholars yesterday to “prove” that man and monkeys descended from a common ancestor (as seems to be todays view of mankind) by only giving me 2 proofs – the name of the common ancestor and the time period that such ancestor lived. But I only hear about the “facts” are beyond doubt.”

    You haven’t showed anything or proved anything. I was half expecting the teleological argument or something that I could get my teeth into. But your “argument” took me one sentence to refute.

    As for evolution, I’m not going to do your homework for you. Go to http://www.talkorigins.org and learn for yourself. Disbelieving in evolution is like disbelieving in gravity, and I will show your requests just as much respect as I would if you were asking me to prove gravity.

    Geno: “So, the ball seems to be in your court – by your own challenge – “disprove” my evidence.”

    Already done.

    No, seriously I have. I invite anyone here, theist or atheist alike, to disagree with me:

    Belief in X does not equal proof of X.

    Done. Your argument is refuted.

    Next please. 🙂

  62. evanescent,
    Well I guess that if you can’t or won’t answer my questions you just feel free to dismiss me and tell me not to bring the subject up again and that you wish that I would leave.

    You guys keep giving me links to other web sites (a problem I discussed in the past with tobe38 elsewhere) Can’t you guys lay out your own case for what you believe?

    I looked at the web site and I couldn’t find anything saying who our common ancestor is – therefore it must be a legend – you “believe” we come from a common ancestor but you really don’t know. Therefore to quote you “Belief in X does not equal proof of X.”
    See how infantile your replies sound when turned on you?

    As to what arguments I present, you already dismissed them earlier before you asked me to present them (but you showed no refutation.)

    You said “The argument from design, the argument from morality, the argument from the bible, the cosmological argument, the transcendental argument, pascal’s wager etc etc… do you have something new? They’ve all been refuted. ” But you offer nothing other than your assertion.

    But I guess that this is not a place for dissenting views, it must just be a place for you guys to pat each other on the back and say “boy are we smart”

  63. Geno said:
    “Well I guess that if you can’t or won’t answer my questions you just feel free to dismiss me and tell me not to bring the subject up again and that you wish that I would leave.”

    Geno, please read this very carefully: I have already answered all your questions. Your argument was refuted.

    I don’t want you to leave and I am happy to argue with you, but you must present something of substance.

    You just keep coming back with vacuous statements that suggest you just aren’t listening to what people are saying.

    Geno said:
    “You guys keep giving me links to other web sites (a problem I discussed in the past with tobe38 elsewhere) Can’t you guys lay out your own case for what you believe?”

    Yes. But here is not the place to reproduce and write entire essays on things that you can easily research yourself. Why should I explain to you an entire subject such as evolution when all you have to do is click a link?; it’s just more efficient!

    Geno said:
    “I looked at the web site and I couldn’t find anything saying who our common ancestor is – therefore it must be a legend – you “believe” we come from a common ancestor but you really don’t know. Therefore to quote you “Belief in X does not equal proof of X.”
    See how infantile your replies sound when turned on you?”

    Zzzzz. This is what I’m talking about. There is nothing of content here to address Geno.

    Geno said:
    “As to what arguments I present, you already dismissed them earlier before you asked me to present them (but you showed no refutation.)
    You said “The argument from design, the argument from morality, the argument from the bible, the cosmological argument, the transcendental argument, pascal’s wager etc etc… do you have something new? They’ve all been refuted. ” But you offer nothing other than your assertion.”

    No. They have all been refuted. I could refute them all, but we’re talking about entire arguments. Do we want to refute them all here and now in Tobe’s blog??

    You have shown a complete lack of understanding when it comes to logical argumentation, so methinks I might just be wasting my time.

    I said to you: if you present your argument, I will refute it. So far you’ve presented one, and I refuted it.

    BUT, there is a better way. Here is a link to all the arguments for God, and why they are all wrong. I could have written them all myself, and I don’t need to link to others to explain things for me; this is just quicker and easier:

    http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/unmovedmover.html

    Here’s an idea: read this entire article. Please. If you disagree with it, explain why.

    Alternatively, we can do it the long way: present another argument for god and I will refute it myself for you.

    Geno said:
    “But I guess that this is not a place for dissenting views, it must just be a place for you guys to pat each other on the back and say “boy are we smart”

    Well, I can see that you might think that, but I don’t agree.

    I am willing to debate with anyone and I welcome your comments. The problem is, your arguments so far have been illogical, and when someone points this out to you, you don’t get it! This can be exasperating at times I’ll admit.

  64. evanescent,
    You must be very simple. Do you really think that I have not already read these. These are not refutations, this are one person’s opinions of the arguments. They are a one sided debate with no offer for the other party to challenge “ebon’s” position. So, it’s opinion at best and it is based on “ebon’s” interpretation of what was being said (so, if he misstates the Aquinas positions, then the response will be skewed.)

    But I will offer you the same

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/existence.html

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/debates.html

  65. They are refutations.

    None of the arguments on these links PROVE anything, any many of them are just fallacious.

    Let’s just take one: the argument from design. This was debunked over a century ago.

    The argument from design is based on circular reason. It begs the question. It has to assume design in order to prove it. In other words, it says: “the universe is very complex. Complexity equals design, therefore there is a designer.”

    However, complexity does not equal design. This is the point that creationists miss. You can only assume this, but not argue for it. You cannot give an example of a created design that we can compare our universe to and say “yes, this was also created.”

    The universe exhibits something that we can order. You attribute this order to a designer. Based on what? Order is a pattern we observe in the universe, so to say that the universe is based on order, is to say the universe is based on the universe! But however the universe looked, we would observe some “order”, so this proves nothing.

    Ultimately though, the argument from design contradicts the idea of god. Because if complexity and order equal design, then surely god being the most complex and ordered thing of all, MUST have also been designed!

    And no, you cannot say “oh well God doesn’t need a designer because he’s God!” All you’ve done is define god into existence. It’s like saying “imagine a being that has always existed.” Well yes, we might imagine such a being, but that’s just making stuff up. It proves nothing.

    Besides, EVEN IF there was a god, the poor “design” in nature points to a very poor designer. Also, the creation myths blatantly contradict what we know about evolution. So, EVEN IF there was a god, it wouldn’t be the one you worship!

    What argument would you like to consider next?

    (Notice what I did: I took an argument for god, read it, examined it, pointed out where it was wrong, and refuted it. I did this without circular reasoning or faith.)

  66. evanescent,
    Well, obviously you don’t read the links I post as I don’t read yours. Let’s check some of this out.

    1.) “Let’s just take one: the argument from design. This was debunked over a century ago.” – by whom?
    2.) “The universe exhibits something that we can order. You attribute this order to a designer. Based on what?” – based on the fact that nowhere else do we see order in our existence that was not planned. If properly designed, when I turned the key in my car it runs according to plan. When I press certain keys on my keyboard I write in a brilliant fashion. We see it all around us even to the point that I can tell you when sunrise will occur tomorrow (now I could have said “when the earth’s rotation will reach a certain point that the sun will become visable).
    3.) “And no, you cannot say “oh well God doesn’t need a designer because he’s God!” – don’t debate me then tell me what I can or cannot say. Again this is the same as your making up your own definitions for words. As long as you are going to frame everything in advance, you only show how closed your mind is in advance to learning anything.
    4.) “Besides, EVEN IF there was a god, the poor “design” in nature points to a very poor designer.” – so what is so poor about the design of the universe? This I have to hear. You, in probably less than 50 years have been able to observe, evaluate and pass judgment on the quality of the design and functionality of the universe? Give me a break, talk about assuming things with no evidence. I think that that is a much greater claim than my assessment about the need for god.
    5.) “(Notice what I did: I took an argument for god, read it, examined it, pointed out where it was wrong, and refuted it. I did this without circular reasoning or faith.) – HA!, that’s exactly what you did. Your circular reasoning was based on God can’t be true therefore any argument for God’s existence must be false all the way to the point mentioned above that you have the chutzpa to say that you are in a position to evaluate the “quality” of the universe’s design.

    I think you failed to refute it – but thanks for your opinion.

  67. Anyone got any barrels? Here, fishy fishy fishy….. BANG!

    Geno said:”1.) “Let’s just take one: the argument from design. This was debunked over a century ago.” – by whom?

    Zzzz.

    Geno said: “2.) “The universe exhibits something that we can order. You attribute this order to a designer. Based on what?” – based on the fact that nowhere else do we see order in our existence that was not planned. If properly designed, when I turned the key in my car it runs according to plan. When I press certain keys on my keyboard I write in a brilliant fashion. We see it all around us even to the point that I can tell you when sunrise will occur tomorrow (now I could have said “when the earth’s rotation will reach a certain point that the sun will become visable).”

    This is circular reasoning. By comparing the very thing in question, the universe, to something that WE KNOW was designed, like a car, you are saying, “see the universe is LIKE something that was designed, therefore it was designed!”

    Circular reasoning. The argument begs the question. You do not have anything to compare the universe to, aside from the universe itself!

    There is a marked difference between natural mechanisms and the artifices of man.

    When you compare them, you ASSUME the point you should be trying to prove, that is, that the universe was designed. But really you haven’t proved anything. It comes down to the same old flawed thinking: the universe LOOKS designed, therefore it was. Well, actually the universe DOESN’T look designed, so I could just as easily say it wasn’t. But neither of us has proved anything there.

    Geno said: “3.) “And no, you cannot say “oh well God doesn’t need a designer because he’s God!” – don’t debate me then tell me what I can or cannot say. Again this is the same as your making up your own definitions for words. As long as you are going to frame everything in advance, you only show how closed your mind is in advance to learning anything.”

    What?! Oh do grow up.

    Ok let me use an example to illustrate why you cannot define god the way you want:

    I believe in Zorg. Zorg directly states that god has NOT always existed!

    What is Zorg? Who cares? It’s my definition, and it means whatever I want it to mean.

    This is the same as you saying “god has always existed”. Well, if god has always existed, then I could just say the universe has always existed and be done with it. Why invent god?

    No, the notion of an uncaused god contradicts your very premise, that complexity requires a design.

    Geno said: “4.) “Besides, EVEN IF there was a god, the poor “design” in nature points to a very poor designer.” – so what is so poor about the design of the universe? This I have to hear. You, in probably less than 50 years have been able to observe, evaluate and pass judgment on the quality of the design and functionality of the universe? Give me a break, talk about assuming things with no evidence. I think that that is a much greater claim than my assessment about the need for god.”

    Haha, ok. Poor design? Let’s see: tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis. A universe “made” for humans – hmmm that’s like making an entire planet just for some atoms to live. A planet “designed” for man? We can’t live on 85% of its surface! Poor design? Babies born without brains; blindness, disease, viruses, death, suffering. Poor design? whales with hind limbs, humans with tail bones and appendices; vestigial muscles in our feet that we don’t use anymore because we EVOLVED from creatures that DID use them. The blind spot in the eye. Bone and muscular problems from human bipedalism; evolution explains them perfectly, design does not. Shall I go on?

    There are too many design flaws with this universe to mention. Fortunately, those of us who don’t believe in children’s tales can explain them perfectly by an unplanned uncaring universe which we evolved in.

    Geno said: “5.) “(Notice what I did: I took an argument for god, read it, examined it, pointed out where it was wrong, and refuted it. I did this without circular reasoning or faith.) – HA!, that’s exactly what you did. Your circular reasoning was based on God can’t be true therefore any argument for God’s existence must be false all the way to the point mentioned above that you have the chutzpa to say that you are in a position to evaluate the “quality” of the universe’s design.”

    I am in the position to evaluate the universe. Aren’t YOU in a position to do so?? Aren’t you evaluating the universe when you say “wow look at how pretty the earth and the creatures on it are! How complex and amazing they are!”

    Well yes, you’re right, the earth is very beautiful and life is fantastic. But the earth is also a very cruel and ruthless place, and to pinpoint its beauty and complexity as proof of your Invisible Friend whilst ignoring the horror and bad “design” in the world is conceit and ignorance of the highest order!

    It is NOT my job to prove god doesn’t exist. I WILL disprove your arguments for god. But the burden of proof is on YOU. You are the one making the extraordinary claim that an invisible being made a flat earth supported by 4 pillars, made a vault of water in the sky, then made the sun and stars in there too. Made all the animals and humans in 6 days, (this is in all the bible by the way) and then re-structured the ENTIRE world so it would as though none of it was true. You believe this stuff, really??

    Seriously my friend, the argument from design is gone. Let it be.

    I have made all my counter-arguments. You tried to reply and failed. I replied to your replies and showed where you were wrong.

    I cannot possibly see how you can save your argument now, but I’m sure you’ll have a go.

    Why don’t we just forget all this, and you PICK YOUR BEST argument for god, and instead of just refuting them all, I’ll refute that one and we’ll call it a victory?

  68. 1.) “Let’s just take one: the argument from design. This was debunked over a century ago.” – by whom?

    By Darwin. Sigh. It’s at this point, realising that you’re a creationist, that I start to be aware that the amount of learning you have to do is more than any of us can give you here. Natural selection is a very simple and powerful idea, and there are plenty of good expositions out there. If you want to read one written by a theist, there are plenty of possibilities written by, say, Kenneth Miller or Francis Collins. Ken Miller has a speech against ‘intelligent design’ here on YouTube, although you sound like a Young Earth Creationist, so it may not be specifically aimed at you. I’m afraid a lot of people consider Young Earth Creationism to be too ridiculous to be worth debating. However, I can second evanescent’s recommendation of http://www.talkorigins.org , which is pretty comprehensive, and includes information on how we know the age of the Earth, etc — see this page:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-youngearth.html

  69. evanescent.

    Zzzz. = the totality of your replies. It was you who made the statement that it was refuted over a century ago. I just asked by whom. Since you do not know, you have made a false claim. I used to be a nice guy, but I think we call that a lie!

    You said – “Ok let me use an example to illustrate why you cannot define god the way you want:” – you hadn’t even heard what I was going to say when you pre-empted my thoughts and made the statement telling me what I can and cannot say (““And no, you cannot say “oh well God doesn’t need a designer because he’s God!”.) Where I come from, someone using that tactic is called a bulldozer or a bully.

    Well I could go on but to no avail. Your omniscience about the whole universe is overwhelming! Perhaps if I asked this – What evidence for God would you accept? (I have a feeling that you wouldn’t accept any evidence) – it’s like the O.J. Simpson trial, evidences by the truck load were presented before a jury who said, that’s not real evidence.

    But you know to be fair, you haven’t answered my question about evidence (other that to flood me with web sites and 1,000s of pages.) Who is the common ancestor we descended from and from which time period was he roaming the earth. Remember, you made the claim that evolution was just as much fact and provable as gravity. It’s a simple request and I have an economic interest. My grandkids keep bring home books that I have to pay for that say “monkeys and man have descended from a common ancestor.” But when I ask who is this ancestor I get one of 2 answers “we don’t know” or “he hasn’t been discovered yet.” – talk about blind faith! I want my money back.

  70. The question about evolution and our common ancestor was not directed at me. That is between you and other people.

    We are talking about arguments for god. If you want to talk about evolution we can do that another time, but I think you should listen to what other people you are currently arguing with have to say.

    Geno, you have ignored everything I have said. I have refuted your argument from design, you have came back with nothing of substance. You dance around the issue, pretending to strike, then when answered you run off and approach from another angle, pretending that nothing has ever happened!

    Geno said: “Your omniscience about the whole universe is overwhelming!”

    Blah blah blah. This is a red herring, again. It totally ignores my evidence of bad “design” that you asked for. Since you cannot answer what I said, you pretend that I haven’t really said it and come up with something like this.

    Geno said: “Where I come from, someone using that tactic is called a bulldozer or a bully.”

    Again, red-herring. What does this have to do with my argument?? Can’t you address what I said and not HOW I said it?

    You equivocate, you dodge, you use circular reason. You don’t understand logical fallacies. You present arguments, I refute them, clearly and transparently, and explain every step to you, yet you stick your fingers in your ears and shout “la la la I’m not listening.”

    Why don’t you explain to me the bad “design” in nature. Or better yet like I offered before, pick YOUR BEST argument for god and I will refute it.

    Otherwise there is nothing more to say. You are totally blinded by your belief system. There is no difference between you and a fundamentalist Muslim, except the name of your “god”.

    One last example of you not listening to anyone:

    Geno said: “But when I ask who is this ancestor I get one of 2 answers “we don’t know” or “he hasn’t been discovered yet.” – talk about blind faith!””

    If you would have listened to what Tobe said on your McGrath debate, the difference is evidence. Evolution has evidence. Faith is belief WITHOUT evidence. You’ve been told this. Yet you just recite the same old rubbish as though it never happened!

    I’m going out now, I will reply later or tomorrow. Regards.

  71. Lynet ,
    Sorry young lady, but I have not once mentioned that I am a creationist. You are making assumptions. I will say that I was an atheistic materialist of 1st order for 32 yrs of my life. I am trained in the sciences and I am currently a professor of chemistry at a fairly large public university.

    With that being said, I can see nothing that discounts the fact that a god can exist.

    But I will ask you like I have asked the others, do you ever form your own opinions or do you continually run to see what others think and then link to them?

    As to your claim that the web site tells us “how we know the age of the Earth, etc” – that’s a curious statement. When I was in high school the earth was 10 million yrs old. When my kids were in high school it was 30 million yrs old – now that my grandkids are in high school, it is 40 million yrs old. So can you clarify for me just “how it is that we know the age of the earth?”
    (let me guarantee you, my kids and I did not go to school 20 million yrs apart!)

  72. This comment thread is like a train wreck.

    I. just. can’t. look. away.

    *sigh*

    This is what it always turns into, isn’t it?

    If Geno and Evanescent weren’t on opposite sides of the issue, I would think they were they same person.

    ….both equally determined to try and humiliate the other with their obviously superior reasoning skills.

    I really am expecting someone to bring out a ruler to measure who’s go the biggest organ at this point.

  73. I mean “got”

  74. evanescent,
    Your argument for bad design is awful. Tornadoes aren’t bad, hurricanes aren’t bad, tsunamis aren’t bad. There are 100s of tornadoes and hurricanes that do much good in this world and never affect people. Mankind benefits greatly from these. Only when people get in the way is it a problem.
    If people choose to live below sea level in hurricane areas, why is that a God design problem? What do you say to people who live at the base if a volcano?
    Babies aren’t designed to be born without brains, but if people smoke, do drugs, live in hazardous area (I don’t know why we evolved to damage ourselves) then the possibility is there that babies are born without brains (they become atheists).

    But I don’t demean your argument with zzzz, or blah, blah, blah. I am too much of a gentleman.

  75. @ Geno

    When I was in high school the earth was 10 million yrs old. When my kids were in high school it was 30 million yrs old – now that my grandkids are in high school, it is 40 million yrs old. So can you clarify for me just “how it is that we know the age of the earth?”
    (let me guarantee you, my kids and I did not go to school 20 million yrs apart!)

    I’m reading all of your comments with a constant sense of de ja vu: I’m sure I’ve answered these comments before, in another life, or maybe just on another blog.

    Science never lays claim to absolute certainty. It reaches the most reasonable conclusion based on all the available evidence at any one given time. When new evidence comes to light, our theories can be updated or replaced if necessary. It is a corrective procedure. It has the flexibility and humilty to allow progress. All this is in stark contrast with religion.

    Your argument for bad design is awful. Tornadoes aren’t bad, hurricanes aren’t bad, tsunamis aren’t bad. There are 100s of tornadoes and hurricanes that do much good in this world and never affect people. Mankind benefits greatly from these. Only when people get in the way is it a problem.
    If people choose to live below sea level in hurricane areas, why is that a God design problem? What do you say to people who live at the base if a volcano?
    Babies aren’t designed to be born without brains, but if people smoke, do drugs, live in hazardous area (I don’t know why we evolved to damage ourselves) then the possibility is there that babies are born without brains (they become atheists).

    I notice that you didn’t respond to this part of Evanescent’s comment:

    whales with hind limbs, humans with tail bones and appendices; vestigial muscles in our feet that we don’t use anymore because we EVOLVED from creatures that DID use them. The blind spot in the eye. Bone and muscular problems from human bipedalism; evolution explains them perfectly, design does not. Shall I go on?

    Can we take it that you concede on these points?

    Perhaps if I asked this – What evidence for God would you accept?

    Another link for your collection, from Ebon Musings. This standard of evidence would do for me too.

  76. The link didn’t work for some reason, I’ll try again.

  77. ok Geno, I am going to jump into this a little. You two are arguing a lot of points but there are a couple you bring up I have serious problems with.

    I gave him the evidence of the universal belief in god(s).

    You are a professor at a major university and yet you claim this is evidence??? You’re kidding right? Thousands of years ago the majority thought the earth was the center of the universe. Did that make them right? That’s as bad as the Kirk Cameron debate on last month with his new “evidence.”

    With that being said, I can see nothing that discounts the fact that a god can exist.

    I have noticed how say “a god,” meaning you yourself must have doubts about God in the Bible. My problem has always been the Bible, and that it has too many things wrong for it to be true. And to me (and many others) it is either true or it isn’t. You can’t say the Bible is God’s word but then say, well, the Noah story probably didn’t happen, but the Jesus’ resurrection, that part is true. Then you are picking and choosing what you want to make the Bible and the Gospels fit to one’s agenda.

    And back to your earlier point, the majority believe in a god, yet only 1/3 of the world now is Christian. If you were born in China would you be having these debates against anti-Buddhists? Is God going to damn all of the Buddhists and Islamists just because of where they were born or how they live?

    Lastly, without getting to involved in the evolution debate, consider this. All credible scientists say evolution is a fact. It is not a theory. You want the missing link, it isn’t that hard. We have found fossils of neanderthals and cro-magnums, two different species, and most believe the cro-magnums eliminated the neanderthals and evolved into humans. So were Adam and Eve Cro-magnums since they eventually became humans? They then had their offspring make sure they offed the Neanderthals so their “creation story” couldn’t get out? Why doesn’t the Bible talk about these other almost made in God’s image humanoids that were created. Maybe the flood got ’em , yeah that’s it.

    ok I guess I did get involved in the evolution debate.

  78. tobe38,
    Again you miss the point. Lynet made the claim that the web site that you guys have been touting all day tells us how to know the age of the earth. I called her on it and now you are saying that we can’t know the age of the earth. (in fact, you imply that we can’t know anything scientifically, we can only have “faith” in the current information.)
    As Norman Geisler said in his book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

    So you are going to expound all of these “facts” (evolution is as factual as gravity), but when I question the “facts” you tell me “we really don’t know, because tomorrow it may change.” Good stuff!

    So, as of today, who is the common ancestor that we descended from? I won’t hold you to that answer for more than 24 hours as it may change.

  79. @ Geno

    Incredible. I say,

    It reaches the most reasonable conclusion based on all the available evidence at any one given time. When new evidence comes to light, our theories can be updated or replaced if necessary.

    And you hear,

    in fact, you imply that we can’t know anything scientifically, we can only have “faith” in the current information

    How is what I described faith? Faith is belief without evidence. What I described is the exact, diametric opposite of faith. When the evidence is on your side, when countless tests have been passed you have every right to refer to your theories as “knowledge”. But unlike religion, science doesn’t have the arrogance to say “it’s impossible that we will ever be proved wrong”.

    So, as of today, who is the common ancestor that we descended from?

    Do your own research. Here is a pretty good overview of the common ancestors humans and other primates share. It took me a matter of seconds to find. Go and do your own reading, and find out what evolution really is, instead of looking for refutations of your own concepts of it. Start at The Evolution Pages on Ebon Musings.

  80. crago,
    You make some terrible logical errors. Whether I am a Christian or not is not the issue. I am arguing the point that god is possible against a backdrop of everyone else here discounting the possibility.

    You would have to go back to early yesterday to understand why I used as evidence the universality of god. evanescent dictated to me what I could use and couldn’t use. He gave me a list that he said were refuted. Well I can’t argue the points that he has already made up his mind on. He was not looking for discussion, he was looking for a fight.
    Now to your comment, I didn’t say a majority of people believed in god. I said that all cultures and societies for all time have had a belief in god. (I don’t need to define which god, just the fact that it is universal.

    Now to your you biggest blunder “All credible scientists say evolution is a fact.” You define “credible” as those who agree with you. No, not all credible scientist believe that. Just those who are afraid of having their funding cut!

  81. Just to take one of Geno’s points. He (I’m presuming you’re a ‘he’) wrote: 2.) “The universe exhibits something that we can order. You attribute this order to a designer. Based on what?” – based on the fact that nowhere else do we see order in our existence that was not planned. If properly designed, when I turned the key in my car it runs according to plan. When I press certain keys on my keyboard I write in a brilliant fashion. We see it all around us even to the point that I can tell you when sunrise will occur tomorrow (now I could have said “when the earth’s rotation will reach a certain point that the sun will become visable).

    See, what you did there was to take an example of human design: you didn’t provide an example of deistic design, which might have supported your claim. The sun example is spurious unless you’re willing to argue that the inverse square law was “designed”. Are you willing to do that? I’d be rather interested in any explanation of that that you have.

    Please provide an example of something not created by humans (or any other terrestrial animal for that matter) that you believe was designed supernaturally. Then please provide evidence or a coherent argument as to how it was designed and manufactured, and if at all possible, the reason for it being designed and manufactured in that fashion, and reasoning as to why that design is the best possible design for your object of choice. And please, for the sake of completeness, posit some ways in which your hypothesis could be falsified. Being an academic, I’m sure you know how this works.

    What do you say to people who live at the base if a volcano?

    “Nice fertile crops you have there, but do you realise that there’s a risk that you might be endangering yourself by living so close to a big fuckoff mountain that may explode at any time? Oh, you do…? Well, on your head be it.”

    Really, I’m not sure where you were going with that…

    But I don’t demean your argument with zzzz, or blah, blah, blah. I am too much of a gentleman.

    Perhaps, but you’re not above the odd low-flying (and ridiculous) pseudo-insult. Babies may not be “designed” to be born without brains, but it still happens. Nice “design”.

  82. Cragar: it’s Cro-Magnon. Just FYI.

  83. @ Geno

    I am arguing the point that god is possible against a backdrop of everyone else here discounting the possibility.

    Who here has discounted the possibility of God? Nobody has said that, we all accept the possibility. We just demand evidence, which you are yet to provide. The fact that “all cultures and societies for all time have had a belief in god” is not evidence of anything, other than that God exists as a concept. It says nothing about his status in reality.

    Now to your you biggest blunder “All credible scientists say evolution is a fact.” You define “credible” as those who agree with you. No, not all credible scientist believe that. Just those who are afraid of having their funding cut!

    Show me a scientist who doesn’t believe in evolution and isn’t a Christian (or belief in a religion with a creation myth). There is no debate over the validity of evolution in the scientific community. There is no war, it was won by evolution over 100 years ago. All credible scientists, (that’s the ones who actually practice science) accept evolution as a fact. The only “scientists” who don’t, are the ones with a religious agenda. Show me an exception.

  84. tobe,
    how is it “evidence” if it is disproved the next day? If you look back do you see evidence for a 10 million yrs old earth? or do you see a bunch of incorrect “facts” and conclusions since the age is now 40 million?

    So today, you are taking the “evidences” for a 40 million yr old earth by faith probably expecting it to change to 60 million yrs.

    Look at Carl Sagan – totally on faith with no evidence (zero, nada, nothing) he was trying to communicate with other beings in the universe.

    All you have are changing “facts” – but if they change, they were never facts.

  85. see, again you “poison the well”
    or belief in a religion with a creation myth. (myth being the poisoning word)

    Every Christian scientist I know, believes in evolution – micro evolution – changes within a species.

  86. @ Geno

    how is it “evidence” if it is disproved the next day? If you look back do you see evidence for a 10 million yrs old earth? or do you see a bunch of incorrect “facts” and conclusions since the age is now 40 million?

    Did I dream it or did you say something about being a professor of chemistry? Do you understand what evidence is? We are not talking about conclusive proof, like you would have in a maths equation. If we have a murder trial, there may be a video showing the suspect killing the victim. That is evidence and may lead to a conviction. In an appeal 2 years later, it may be shown that the video was artificially edited, but it wasn’t detectable with technology at the time of the trial. That is new evidence coming to light, and the verdict would be overturned. But that doesn’t mean the jury was wrong at the time of the trial. They worked with the best evidence that had at the time. Science works in the same way. We can’t account for evidence we don’t have, we can only work with what we’ve got. We can never know that we’ve got all the evidence, so we have to draw conclusions on what we’ve got, otherwise we really would never know anything. Could our evidence be disproved tomorrow? Maybe. But the more evidence you have, the less likely that is to happen. When you have as much evidence for something as we have for evolution, we have every right to be confident in the evidence and call evolution fact and knowledge.

  87. You make some terrible logical errors. Whether I am a Christian or not is not the issue.

    Geno, I know that, it was easy to tell by the way you worded everything. The problem you have is that most athiests, at least all of the ones I know and the ones I have now found on the internet, base their atheist beliefs because they know the Bible cannot be true. If there was another god (and their are sights discounting the other religions also) with his own book and we could verify the information I for one would gladly welcome him. The Bible has too many things wrong, and the evidence is evolution. That’s why most of us believe what we believe. As tobe said, the only scientists that don’t believe in evolution are trying to get it to fit their agenda. Most scientists 100-200 years ago were creationists. Now most are evolutionists. Evolution has only been around a couple of hundred years. Creationists a couple of thousand (really more with the other gods). It’s going to take awhile for the conversion.

    I notice how I give you evidence that you have been so longing for and you just sidestep it.

    nullifidian: sorry, I was typing from memory and all this internet fighting must have got me thinking about guns 😉

  88. Geno wrote: So you are going to expound all of these “facts” (evolution is as factual as gravity), but when I question the “facts” you tell me “we really don’t know, because tomorrow it may change.” Good stuff!

    The fact of evolution (common descent) is as factual as anything can be when backed up by enough evidence (in this case, DNA, fossil record, phylogenies, etc.). To be honest, I have no idea why creationists give Darwin such a hard time, when he only came up with the theory of natural selection to explain it.

    And, even if natural selection was completely and utterly debunked tomorrow, it still wouldn’t do anything to alter the fact of common descent. Do you really think that your co-academics came up with this stuff out of whole cloth just to piss priests off?

    Perhaps the creationists should be giving those involved with bioinformatics or phylogenetic systematics grief – at least they’d be annoying the right people.

  89. @ Geno

    see, again you “poison the well”
    or belief in a religion with a creation myth. (myth being the poisoning word)

    Every Christian scientist I know, believes in evolution – micro evolution – changes within a species.

    I wasn’t poisoning the well, I was simply accounting for the fact that Christianity is not the only religion with creation stories. Until they have evidence, myths is exactly what they are.

    You haven’t given me what I asked for, a scientist who doesn’t believe in evolution and isn’t religious. I’d love to meet him.

  90. I have no idea where Geno’s getting this 10/30/40/60 million year earth from. Last I heard, the consensus was that it’s about 4.5 thousand million years old. Perhaps he’s reading the latest literature from the Discovery Institute.

    It seems odd that a working scientist doesn’t “get” the idea of improving hypotheses based on new evidence.

  91. Geno wrote: Every Christian scientist I know, believes in evolution – micro evolution – changes within a species.

    Great, now we’re getting somewhere. Perhaps some of these christian scientists might like to take a look at ring species. I’m sure you have access to PubMed.

  92. I’m signing off for the night, I’ll check back in in the morning.

  93. Cragar wrote: sorry, I was typing from memory and all this internet fighting must have got me thinking about guns

    LOL 🙂

  94. Well, Geno, you questioned whether the argument that “everything complicated must have had a creator” had been refuted, so I assumed you didn’t consider Darwin’s explanation for how complexity can arise of itself given self-replicating systems and the right conditions to be valid. In your own words:

    “The universe exhibits something that we can order. You attribute this order to a designer. Based on what?” – based on the fact that nowhere else do we see order in our existence that was not planned.

    My conclusion that you were a creationist was hardly a big jump. Perhaps you could clarify your position? If you’re not a YEC, well done, and I apologise for insulting you by thinking you might have been one.

    Also, allow me to correct my small misspeak. Agreed, we cannot be sure that talkorigins says “how we know the age of the Earth”; what it gives is the evidence we have that the Earth is a certain age. I might note that the variations in estimates that you give are still all of the same order of magnitude (which is well beyond 6000!). The sensible thing to do would be to figure out some sort of margin of error for those estimates, I’d say, based on how they were figured out.

    I will say that I was an atheistic materialist of 1st order for 32 yrs of my life. I am trained in the sciences and I am currently a professor of chemistry at a fairly large public university.

    Well, at least I shouldn’t have to explain the scientific method to you, then! But I find it hard to believe a professor of science would interpret Tobe’s perfectly standard explanation of the scientific method to mean the following:

    you imply that we can’t know anything scientifically, we can only have “faith” in the current information.

    Tobe implied very strongly that we can have evidence for one idea over another, rather than picking something and holding to it by faith no matter what the evidence.

  95. to all,
    There are things that we can prove. I can tell you what time tomorrow we each will see the sunrise in our own particular part of the world. I can assure you that I will be 100% correct 100% of the time.

    In chemistry, there are certain things that are settled and will not change and there are somethings that we are quite sure of and others we are working on. But that is the way we state them.

    Why is it with evolution, nothing is set, but everything is proven? I don’t get it. Why can’t you just say that you are working at it but still guessing? (Unless you are just trying to justify a worldview!)

    So, back to the descent of man, are you (tobe38) telling me that we descended from several types of primates – now that would be magical. Come on, I have to take my wife out to dinner for her birthday – I would love to be able to tell her on this day of her birth which primate she came from – surely you know but are just keeping it from me!

  96. I’m also signing off for the night; I came back to check how the discussion has gone. Very well, by the looks of it.

    I want to address one thing that Geno said, because I think it’s unfair:

    Geno said:
    “Well I can’t argue the points that he has already made up his mind on. He was not looking for discussion, he was looking for a fight.”

    This is absolute bullshit. No offence. Nothing personal. There is zero content here. It’s just yet another way to avoid the real issue. Yet another red herring.

    I haven’t made my mind up on anything. You seem to equate demanding evidence as being stubborn.

    Looking for a fight, not a discussion… what kind of rhetorical sophistry is that?! Meaningless. Even if it was true, which it isn’t, how does that address anything I said?

    You’ve yet to provide another argument for god. You’ve yet to address the flaws in design. You’ve yet to point out where I am going wrong with my debunk of the Argument from Design. Why do whales have hind limbs??

    Other people, especially Tobe and Nullifidian have explained evolution and even clarified my posts to you, whilst I’ve been away, and you just pretend that nothing has been said.

    I want to make clear that I’m not being aggressive. I just want an honest intellectual reasonable discussion, but you have gone out of your way to accuse me of things (like bullying and looking for a fight), whilst missing everything I’ve said. This I take exception to.

  97. Geno wrote:

    There are things that we can prove. I can tell you what time tomorrow we each will see the sunrise in our own particular part of the world. I can assure you that I will be 100% correct 100% of the time.

    Sorry, but no. If your god (or any other god that happens to will it) wanted to change the laws of physics tomorrow, stop the earth rotating for a while (it’s been done before to aid a killing spree, apparently) then it would be perfectly able to, and that would put the lie to your “100%”s.

    The fact is, if you use an omnipotent god to explain anything, the whole paradigm of science to reveal any degree of knowledge about anything goes out of the window, because nobody can be sure of anything to any degree – your god could turn around and do whatever it liked at any time, falsifying predictions, faking results (from what their natural expectations might be), biasing results (to lend credence to a hypothesis that wouldn’t apply if the outcomes were let alone), and so forth.

    In chemistry, there are certain things that are settled

    They’re settled now, but what’s to say that your god won’t get bored and change these things tomorrow. Even something that might appear small like changing the mass of an elementary particle by a fraction of a quadrillionth of a percentage would instantly make the entire universe a very different place. If you say that something like this is possible, then you can have no level of certainty at all.

  98. Geno said: “Why is it with evolution, nothing is set, but everything is proven? I don’t get it. Why can’t you just say that you are working at it but still guessing? (Unless you are just trying to justify a worldview!)”

    Evolution is proved. But there are of course details to work out.

    Did you know that we understand evolution better than gravity?? Did you know that?! But no one denies gravity because IT DOESN’T CONTRADICT THE BIBLE! All of a sudden evolution contradicts the bible, so it’s opposed.

    The theory of gravity is more likely to be replaced than evolution. Try that on for size! He he.

    Another example: a literal reading of the bible convinced theists centuries ago that the earth was the centre of the universe and the sun went around the earth. When Galileo disproved this, the church (many many years later) finally admitted it.

    Note: they didn’t admit that the bible was wrong. But they did admit that their interpretation of it was wrong.

    You seem unable to concede that your interpretation of the bible is wrong.

    The idea of a earth-centric universe is laughable to you now, but wasn’t to theists centuries ago. Well, your theory of creation is laughable now. The difference is, the populous of fundamentalist theists hasn’t rejected evolution YET.

    Perhaps the bible is the word of god. Perhaps your understanding of it is wrong?? Either way you cannot deny the facts.

    Geno said:
    “So, back to the descent of man, are you (tobe38) telling me that we descended from several types of primates – now that would be magical. Come on, I have to take my wife out to dinner for her birthday – I would love to be able to tell her on this day of her birth which primate she came from – surely you know but are just keeping it from me!”

    I’m going to assume this is just for comedy value, because if you knew anything about evolution you wouldn’t ask this question.

    Being a professor of chemistry is no mean feat. I loved chemistry. How you can be so intelligent and learned in one regard and totally deluded in another is baffling.

  99. Wow! I go away for a day, and the comments double.

    This whole argument looks like the same old, same old. When it comes to evolution, theists (especially Christians) start with the proposition that it is wrong, because it contradicts the Bible, then looks for holes to “prove” they’re right. Atheists (scientists) start from the proposition that it is wrong until evidence proves it is right. Two diametrically opposing paths, though they start from the say place.

    Here’s Geno’s argument in a nutshell. And here’s his process.

  100. Apeaking of Evolution v. Creationism, here’s a laughable blog. Looks like an arm of The Discovery Institute.

  101. I really have nothing to say here. I just wanted to be the 100th comment. 😛

    Gotta be a record, or something.

  102. HA! I specifically resisted the temptation to do that just in case Tobe wanted it to happen “naturally.”
    Yeah, I think it counts as a milestone.


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