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Hitchens - Reasons to Doubt Theism


Thanks to Josh for the link.

 

Comments

The appendix isn't a vestigial organ; its purpose is to reboot the digestive tract in the event of a severe bout of diarhea or cholera.

http://discovermagazine.com/2008/jan/function-of-appendix-explained

Anyone knows which talk this is taken from? I'd like to hear it all.

I do believe its a series of talks edited together.

Great talk. It really sounds like Hitchens is making a concerted effort to come across as more diplomatic, taking a leaf out of Dawkins' book in a way.

so this is what the great western secular intellectual tradition- the tradition of spinoza, hume,kant etc.- has come down to? a poorly edited bunch of patently false, disingenuous "humorous" soundbites, narrated by a well educated man willing to ignore his own education for adulation and acceptance by the masses of "atheism fans", who themselves have heard it all before and lap it up not because it's true but because it makes them feel better about themselves? so shallow. it's not even good comedy, because good comedy isn't that shallow, and contains much more truth. an embarrasment.

No, this is a sometimes humorous series of jabs at "the man". In fact, in the 2 - 3 minute area, he sounded somewhat Carlinesque.

Since it wasn't "true", can you respond to Hitchens's claim that Judeo-Christian religion requires one to believe that for the first 95% of the Homo Sapiens' existence, God didn't give a shit?

oh, that's easy, it's the most obvious one. according to the biblical narrative/tradition itself, which is presumably what hitchens is criticising, god's involvement with man began with the very first one (adam), continued thru 10 generations to noah, then through another 10 generations to abraham. since believers, however they feel about evolution, don't consider fossil primates to be "man", and since the length of "generations" is somewhat hazy, and since they (even christians and muslims) have traditions that "fill in the gaps" of god's involvement with humans, they believe firmly that god has been involved with humans since the very beginning. the fact that his "involvement" was almost always with one man and his relatives is another matter.(almost) everyone else was invited to join the "family group", or at least to play ball.

what hitchens is trying so clumsily to say is "IF we define man as 100,000 years old (or whatever), what was god's relationship like with those who PRECEDED adam?". this too is dealt with in the mystical traditions but i hope i've made my point. religious people do not believe, as he claims, that man was "unattended to" until "3000 years ago". that would be silly. :) his real point, and most of yours (sorry) is that you don't like the "attention". fair enough.

what hitchens is trying so clumsily to say is "IF we define man as 100,000 years old (or whatever), what was god's relationship like with those who PRECEDED adam?". this too is dealt with in the mystical traditions but i hope i've made my point. religious people do not believe, as he claims, that man was "unattended to" until "3000 years ago". that would be silly.

I don't think that's his real point. What I think he's trying to say is what we're also trying to say: 'It just isn't so, it just doesn't make any sense. The whole story is silly.'

religious people do not believe, as he claims, that man was "unattended to" until "3000 years ago".

Its as we have discussed before, that god seems to have little knowledge of the past or the future in the holy books. Did he simply fail to mention all the pre-adam and post jesus knowledge he had?

It's silly?

so let me get this straight- you're objecting to the fact that the bible doesn't contain all knowledge of the past and future in it? and you don't admit that i'm right about hitchens blatant strawman here? he's flat out claiming that religious people MUST believe something that, in fact, none of them believe- even the most objectionable ignorant fundamentalists. and why do you claim the bible must explain all scientific/historical mysteries in language understandable to, say, you?

I corrected you elsewhere.

Must = Are compelled to.

And I don't need all knowledge of all time.

Just some hint of knowledge of times besides the present.

excuse me a moment: i can't believe how dense you're being. i understand what he meant by "must". i explained how this is the very opposite of the reality. religious people MUST NOT believe that god popped into the picture 3000 years ago as hitchens claims here. period.

if you want to say hitchens made an honest mistake, and actually meant 6000 years, i would say: religious people (jews, christians and muslims, who he is referring to here) certainly do not have to believe that the earth is 6000 years old. the fact that some really obnoxiously loudmouthed ones do is irrelevant to the argument he is making. who was this "bishop usher" anyway? :)

or even better, see below : what you call human is the issue. there's no reason to believe according to the sources that god had no relationship with proto-humans. he has a relationship with "every blade of grass" dontcha know.

totally being devil's advocate now, but you know im right. hitchens blew it. and not only here.

100,000 years is a rough figure for humans as a species. If you want to talk proto-humans. That's millions of years of evolving. 5-7 million since our common ancestor with chimps. A number of great ape, human like species went extinct.

I think Hitchens is saying that 3k years ago "god" stepped in to tell people to be moral and before that really didn't address many people, while other "gods" told people how to act.

but whether you are talking 97,000 years or 94,000 years. The god of the old testament left little clue that he knew humans existed for very long.

it's totally ridiculous to argue about a non-existent god's ignorance based on what she DIDN'T put in the bible. you should hear yourself.

I corrected you elsewhere.

Must = Are compelled to.

And I don't need all knowledge of all time.

Just some hint of knowledge of times besides the present.

he sounded somewhat Carlinesque.

if only.

Um... it's a youtube video. Not typically known for being well-edited, nor the pinnacle of any "great traditions," let alone the "western secular intellectual" one.

Do you automatically expect to see well-edited and well-presented philosophical ideas every time you see a youtube video? If so, I think you've set yourself up for a life of disappointment.

Your claim that what he said was patently false is also patently false. Point to some specific examples (apart from the appendix).

How is it false that the vast majority of life that ever existed is now extinct?

I think you've set yourself up for a life of disappointment.

you may be right about that.

i guess i just assumed from the subject matter, style and the "tip to josh" that this was a project of josh timonen, a video editor of no small skill in my estimation, and i thought it was beneath him, and the dawkins organization he works for. hence my disappointment.

as far as the parts that are patently false, i'm sure hitchens doesn't make any mistakes regarding science or extinction issues. he does make many, creating ridiculous strawmen along the way, regarding what theists "must" believe. see above for one of them.

Well, I doubt he's saying that theists actually believe what he's saying. He's really saying they gloss over these details and avoid dealing with them.

The idea that "God's Plan" involves the extinction of billions of forms of life, and that God is profoundly interested in the activities of a single speck of rock amidst an enormous universe. These ideas are quite self-centered, you might say pandering to humans.

I've no doubt that theists are capable of "stretching" the language of their respective Holy Book(s) to account for discrepancies with reality. I doubt any atheist doubts that.

But at a minimum, the entire "before man" period of monotheistic religion tends to be pretty sketchy, and this was what Hitchens did get at. God is supposedly a all-powerful being who couldn't see any other way to create humans than to wait billions of years and destroy the vast majority of all life ever.

Is it a strawman to say that's what a logical interpretation suggest?

if you're trying to say that god is, according to modern "ethical" standards of equality between individuals, peoples and even (hah) species, no that's not a strawman. it is the very heart of modern atheist movement thinking, they just won't admit it. it's impossible to refute. but if you just say "yes, and..." they don't have a rejoinder.

sorry, that god is an asshole by modern standards. i've addressed this here many times. so...?

Ah. I've seen you post here a long time, but I'm not sure whether you just play devil's advocate in a concerned attempt to strengthen our non-theistic arguments or whether you're genuinely theistic.

You are correct that arguing divine capriciousness doesn't get you very far in disproving the very idea of a God, only in showing a discrepancy between what is commonly stated by theists and reality.

I wasn't arguing for the "God's a jerk" line, more the "God really sucks at his job, you know, for being an all-powerful being." Which is a stronger discrepancy with the idea of an all-powerful entity shaping reality... into the way reality would work without a deity.

The core of your frustration with the argument seems to be that modern atheists aren't arguing against YOUR arguments, but instead the most common beliefs (God is good).

Since atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, you can't really argue it to a certainty. What you can do is dismantle theistic arguments. But you can't prove a negative.

The best we can say is that there's no good evidence to support the presence or actions of any divine entity anywhere at any time in our history, yet there is evidence to support that humans make shit up. There is also evidence to support the idea that humans believe whatever other humans tell them. I posit that by these powers combined, we have Captain Religion.

God really sucks at his job, you know, for being an all-powerful being."

yeah, hitchens mentions this too and it really is a good comedic point, but as far as truth goes, the judgement of good vs bad "godly job performance" is, again, a modern affectation, based on concepts of equality and morality that have, for better or worse evolved intellectually from religious thinking. nobody is running around accusing evolution of being wasteful or biased or hard hearted, or even (usually) inefficiant.

are you sure you're not really sam harris? whatever, i wish there were more reasonable people like you around.

oh yeah, the engineering issues- appendix, bad teeth, birth defects, etc. easily dealt with by pointing out how humans acting in concert and good faith :) as, indeed, god commands can deal quite handily with these issues. this is just as true for atheists as everyone else, of course.

"concepts of equality and morality that have, for better or worse evolved intellectually from religious thinking."

I'd say that concepts of equality and morality have, for better or worse, evolved intellectually then were stored within religious thinking.

I doubt he's saying that theists actually believe what he's saying.

watch it again. he's saying they MUST believe it.

"Must", meanining that they "are compelled to".

i think my real disappointment is that the secualar rationalists of today are such tiny, tiny people compared to the giants in their history, and the same can be said for the theists. oh well.

You keep saying this ... and yet, for all the shallow arguments that modern atheists are offering up, it seems to me that modern theists are unable to draw upon the "wisdom of the ages" very well to refute the modern theists' brutish arguments. Hitchens and Dawkins keep saying that they really aren't interseted in being pulled into the arcana of religious thought, because they haven't yet seen any decent support for the proposition that anything like the God of the Bible exists in the first place - repeating, of course, PZ Myers response that we really don't care to parry with fashion and fabric experts who want to discuss the fine stitching in the emperors cloches.

As the poor intellectual quality of the modern types in both atheism and theism, I see that as a very good thing. To me, it means that humanity's best minds are going nowhere near nowheresville - the monastaries. They've moved on to music, mathematics, science, etc ... where there is something useful and interesting to accomplish.

no love for christianity here, no worries. but i do have a certain respect for the monastic tradition (except for that celibacy stuff) and if you think music, mathematics, science, etc. weren't cherished and furthered, even saved from extinction in that atmosphere, well, i understand- you're a scientist, not a historian. gregor mendel, anyone? think he might have come up with his crazy ideas if he were a welder- or even a university professer of the time? show some respect, knave. :)

Yes, I know - the monks were good archivists. But if they'd really respected good mathematics, calculus wouldn't have had to wait for Newton/Leibniz, I guess in a pinch any old papyrus will have to do.

most excellent, sir, cheers, hugs and kisses, etc. but not an example (i hope) of what usually happened to ancient fragments of wisdom in the monestaries. the exception proves the rule, etc, tho i expect over 1000 years or so there were plenty of exceptions such as this.

that is a really fucking good one, though, and i didn't know about it. maybe you're a better historian than i, and thanks for the tip.

he also blows it historically imo (which is supposedly his area) by claiming that the ancient semites were illiterate, and exhibited more beastly behaviour than the chinese of the same time, who were of course very "cultured" and "advanced", yet had their own ridiculous gods, religions and superstitions and killed and enslaved the fuck out of their own people, to say nothing of their ethnocentrism and xenophobia in which they were second to none. if he's talking about religious/nationalistic oppression, which i think he is, he should have another look at the ancient chinese.

That's a better point. Literacy existed for some Semites and the ancient Chinese weren't that great either. I wouldn't say the Chinese had "ethnocentrism and xenophobia second to none" though, you're going hyperbolic there.

you're going hyperbolic there.

not in the slightest- not that i don't love hyperbole as much as the next guy. the chinese are (in)famous historically and even today for their ethnocentricity and xenophobia. characteristics of all national groups, of course, but elevated to an art form- dare i say a religion- by the chinese.

I think that over the course of human history, we've had some pretty glaring examples of xenophobia. Keeping in mind that China has spanned thousands of years and has great cultural diversity due to the size and spread of its population, "second to none" is a tough sell to make, especially if you consider the claim for an extended period of history.

China has changed significantly over time, and has adopted many outside cultural influences over its time, as much as it has tried to suppress them.

I'd think that some particularly conquest-oriented cultures were a little more xenophobic than ancient China always was.

i really don't want to do a point by point, and you really don't want to hear one, either. you've all heard it all before (i'm not a newcomer here, you know) and i just keep asking myself, why do you keep spinning the same shallow records when there is a wealth of truly great anti-theist material out there, almost all of it by men long dead? oh....

sam harris was the "white stripes" of the new atheists. (honoring tradition with interesting new twists.) whatever happened to him? a financial disagreement with the mighty dawkins organization? dawkins and timonen (and many of you) act like you're the first people in history to notice discrepancies in the bible, and in the behaviour of religious people. SHALLOW!

If you feel we are lacking in our atheist education and wish to bring out the classics (as your evident nostalgia demands you do), then feel free to post it and enlighten us.

I would like to note that pointing out discrepancies in the bible, and acting like we're the first to point out discrepancies in the bible are two different things, which you may be confusing.

This is a blog, primarily for atheists (I would assume), and entertainment does tend to have a higher order here than just philosophical arguments about whether theism is justified. Most of us have already come to the conclusion that it is not. I don't visit this site for self-vindication, I visit for entertaining blurbs and information relevant to my interest and worldview. Sorry for being so shallow, but this is a blog, not a philosophy class.

Again I point out, if you wish to discuss philosophy, feel free, but your general expectations seem to be unreasonably high in my opinion.

I think you just need to be able to tune your antennas to his frequency. Something some of us still are struggling with.

your general expectations seem to be unreasonably high in my opinion.

well, i don't know what to say about that, except that my expectations have to do with my general liking and respect for norm and his commenters. speaking of which i haven't seen you before, welcome!

Well, that's fair enough. Still, liking and intellectual respect doesn't mean that a video of Hitchens saying stuff must be the crux of all modern atheist thought. And that's what your expectation seemed to be.

Thanks for the welcome. I'm a long-time lurker, very rare poster. Just feeling in an argumentative mood tonight :)

liking and intellectual respect doesn't mean that a video of Hitchens saying stuff must be the crux of all modern atheist thought.

no, of course not. but i've seen it presented this way, over and over for years, on this site and many others. there's money in them thar hills, and money is the enemy of scholarship- something today's "scholars" conveniently ignore and, in fact, dispute. i just get a little tired of seeing it sometimes.

one more thing, as far as "the crux of modern atheist thought" is concerned: the whole point of editing a video like this is to take the best (and funniest) points from a series of lectures and talks running into many hours worth and condense them into, yes, the "crux of modern atheist thought" (as per hitchens, anyway). they keep narrowing it down, and narrowing it down, until it will eventually fit on a t-shirt which can be marketed like the image of che guevera, and movies can be made about it, and websites can be dedicated to it...oops, that's all already happened. yes, hamhanded or not, this video was someones attempt to distill "modern atheist thought" into a short video clip. every single point in it has been gone over multiple (and by multiple i mean hundreds, if you include the comments, including my own) times on this site. and yet, red7 still finds something to like about it, and norm thought it worthy of a post. well, maybe it is worthy of a post- but only so we can have this discussion. have the modern atheists run out of ideas? and why are they still using ideas that are so easily refuted by a relative ignormous such as myself?

have heard it all before and lap it up not because it's true but because it makes them feel better about themselves?

Isn't this your whole raison d'être, Becker?

not sure what you mean. if you mean that i too am guilty of listening to the same things over and over because they make me feel better about myself, that's true of music but not study issues. i don't read spinoza over and over because i think he's brilliant, or wear spinoza t-shirts or make spinoza videos and don't get me wrong, i'm not trying to tell you guys to do that either. i'm saying be like the white stripes- realize you didn't spring fully formed from zeus's forehead, that you're part of an intellectual tradition, that you find yourselves in the middle of an argument that's been going on for thousands of years- but do your own thing, too. and if this means making videos, fine. but make them count, don't give up a sense of context for some cheap laughs and website hits.

oh boy you are good. um, i used to drink a lot. uh, i'm totally schizphrenic, forgot to take my meds that day. ok i'm busted.

as to the issue: ok, yes it is about fun. but fun is about quality. skateboarding is fun, but you don't want to be watching some kid on his first run falling down, over and over, and claiming that he's the first and greatest skateboarder ever.

also, to norm's credit: at least, as you can see from this thread, norm is willing to go back as far as bertrand russel- a surfer of well deserved reputation who DIDN'T MAKE STUPID VIDEOS.

fun is "only" the car. truth is the gas. gas can be used for lots of things besides cars. cars only run on one thing. so far. mostly.

C'est n'importe quoi

Somehow I did have a hunch alcohol or drugs would come up.

what hitchens is trying so clumsily to say is "IF we define man as 100,000 years old (or whatever), what was god's relationship like with those who PRECEDED adam?". this too is dealt with in the mystical traditions but i hope i've made my point. religious people do not believe, as he claims, that man was "unattended to" until "3000 years ago". that would be silly. :) his real point, and most of yours (sorry) is that you don't like the "attention". fair enough.

Early man, such as the cro-magnon lived in caves. There's no 'if' about that. So Adam would have to have been a caveman. Seen from this perspective, the Genesis story is ridiculous.

Even earlier archaic humans, such as Homo Sapiens Idaltu, are considered humans, and they lived 160,000 years ago.

Early man was primitive and wouldn't have gone around naming cattle which didn't even exist back then.

So what do religious people believe? In what way do the wondrous mystical traditions explain away early man?

Theology = Equivocation

hi joann. sorry i missed you last night. i don't see any need to "explain away" early man. some religious people do, i guess.

re: mysticism- " maybe there's a god above

but all i ever learned from love

was how to shoot somebody that outdrew you."

:)

i don't see any need to "explain away"

Hi jonathan Well, that explains it all then. It's all about faith and wanting to believe.

no, i'ts about the fact that the bible doesn't ADDRESS the issue of primitave man. the bible is allowed, just as you are, to decide what it calls human. and what it calls human is apparently from something around the dawn of civilization as WE know it- cities, writing, etc. the story of adam is obviously allegorical and it's still an amazingly good allegory, covering the pre-city/agriculture period in a way we're still talking about today, as annoying as that may be for you. for me, i know plenty of people alive today with fully formed brains and everything that i still wouldn't call "human".

the bible is allowed, just as you are, to decide what it calls human

Indeed, the bible is free to make up what is or what isn't a human. Early humans were humans. That's not my opinion, that's a fact. If believers prefer to believe that early humans weren't humans, that's pretty much a conversation stopper right there. If something doesn't make sense, then it's, of course, allegorical, and, of course, the so-called theologians are free to interpret these allegories any ole way that they want to. It's just a game. None of it makes sense. It just serves as a way to make believers feel better.

I can hardly understand how anyone could think that the people who drew this were not humans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNogdpHeuiE

i prefer these guys- matter of taste.

How very Syngas of you to respond in such a manner. ;)

full disclosure- buddy of mine (ultra-orthodox) stopped by while i was looking at your picture. i spent 30 seconds explaining the issue to him and he said "do a youtube search on eleplhant painting". before he came by i was gonna send you the chimp. :)

btw, joann, i don't want to be disingenuous here. for the record- i too am totally blown away by ancient cave paintings (altamira, etc.) in a big way.

Early humans were humans. That's not my opinion, that's a fact.

C'est n'importe quoi

a ridiculous tautology. i'm surprised at you, joann.

...and the reason we love JB is that he's such an artful equivocator.

the bible is allowed, just as you are, to decide what it calls human.

Flirting with relativism, I see.

flirting? i'm in a full on hot 'n heavy relationship, for many many years.

Maybe I missed it then. Have you explained yet how you think judaism is any better than ANY other ideology?

yes. in short, judaism requires the questioning of authority, starting with god. i'm talking about the ultra-orthodox on down.

Well, its a good first step. The difficult thing to understand is the tenacity with which you avoid the obvious conclusion of the questioning process: we invented the "authority" in the first place.

i'm not avoiding it, hitchens is. he isn't talking about whether there's a god or not, he's talking about why it's stupid to believe in this particular one, and doing a rather bad job of it as well.

but "better" wouldn't be my description of choice. "undeserving of atheist abuse" would be more accurate.

Lemme see if I’ve got this straight:

Hitchens says “untrue” things when he says believers in ‘the book’ must believe that God took no interest in early man. It is untrue because the authors of ‘the book’ are free to define the point at which early ‘man’ was in fact a [hu]man at all. Well, I'm putting words in Hitchens’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure he would ask, “So, on the basis of what evidence do believers justifiy what appears to me to be an entirely artificial distinction between ‘proto-man’ (pre-Adam) and ‘man’, because it looks to me like the only distinction between proto-humans and humans is that the guys calling themselves ‘human’ invented the so-called “God” who, quite conveniently, suddenly took such an interest in them.”

Describing Hitchens’s position as untrue (still assuming he’d say what I said he’d say) seems like an absolutist characterization, especially from a hot 'n heavy relativist.

Hitchens says “untrue” things when he says believers in ‘the book’ must believe that God took no interest in early man.

no. you're conflating proto-sapiens with humanity before 3000 years ago. or 6000 years ago. but even in the unlikely event that what he meant is what you say, yes, he's still wrong. again: religious believers MUST believe that god was involved with humanity- and everything else- from creation. you guys want to argue about numbers, go right ahead. no matter how old the earth or man or the universe is a believer MUST believe in god's involvement from the beginning. the exact opposite of what hitches says.

on the basis of what evidence do believers justifiy what appears to me to be an entirely artificial distinction...

like i said: civilization. cities. writing. agriculture. (i hypothesize of course). not artificial at all. the bibles definition of human, in other words, has not a damn thing to do with biological evolution. neither does mine. neither did voltaires. THIS is darwins lapdogs' artificial construction, aided by religious ignoramouses. and there is no reason for a believer OR a skeptic to assume god had no involvement with his creation before "man"- rather the exact opposite as stated clearly in the text. are you people daft? hitchens didn't even pull this out of his ass, he pulled it out of (ahem, excuse me) the devil's ass! it's a lie, pure and simple, easily disproven by a kindergarden teacher as i said above. and you continue to defend it. the mind boggles.

the guys calling themselves ‘human’ invented the so-called “God” who, quite conveniently, suddenly took such an interest in them.”

and which guys were those? the one guy in every generation who "carried forth the sacred tradition?" and if so, so what? at least it's a good question, but you needed a LOT of help getting there. you're a disappointment to me, all of you. sniff. :)

i think you guys are saying "why didn't god bestow the delights of the bible on australopithecus?"- except you consider the bible to be anything but a delight. and yet you seem very concerned about australopithecus's status as a "hooman". i mean, really, what ARE you trying to get at? who are you worried about? shouldn't it be US? isn't that what the conversation between theists and anti-theists should be about? i think you value australopithicus so very much because his fossilized skull makes a fine missile to throw at the pompous bishops or whatever. which is cute, and understandable, but hardly mature.

and you know how important maturity is to me. :)

You never did offer up your explanation for why this miraculous god didn't bestow his blessing on Cro-Magnon and other early modern humans. Atheists are curious about how religious apologists manage to explain this away... Oh, but, you already said that you feel no need to explain it, although you spend a lot of time explaining other things..

C'est n'importe quoi

You never did offer up your explanation for why this miraculous god didn't bestow his blessing on Cro-Magnon and other early modern humans

no, because i don't know if that's the case. i did point out that i think it's a stupid thing to wonder about, the kind of thing that People United For the Rights of Things that No Longer Exist would worry about.

in any case, as i pointed out already, you don't have any particular reverence for god's blessing- in fact you think it's a curse. so i'm not clear- are you trying to be nice or mean to these long dead animals?

:)

i mean- i just gotta say this- you guys like to talk about how god doesn't exist. but if you're looking for a handy, obvious example of something that doesn't exist, it's a cro-magnon man. :)

it's totally ridiculous to argue about a non-existent god's ignorance based on what she DIDN'T put in the bible. you should hear yourself.

Indeed.

Who is this? Becker did you get some shrooms for the weekend?

had to replace the booze with something. :)

i'd like to address the ridiculous idea (held by, i suppose, some religious people, and apparently all atheists) that the purpose of the bible was to introduce morality into a world that previously had no concept of it.

in the bible, god's reasons for the destruction of most of humanity at the time of noah are clearly stated. i can't remember how the king james translates it but in hebrew it's because "the earth was full of 'hamas'".

the ancient commentaries (which in any case are the main/only source of the various translations) mention 3 or 4 possibilities as to what this word means. one is "theft" and one is "violent theft".later jewish law makes a distinction between mugging and sneaking into someone's house in the dead of night- a distinction that seems perfectly reasonable to me, btw, and is echoed in modern law.

anyway: it's clear that according to the bible itself theft was a no-no for humans long before the giving of the torah. no intelligent person could use the bible to prove that, without the 10 commandments, mankind just wouldn't know the difference between right and wrong. i'm guessing that some people do, maybe what they mean is the codification of the taboo, or something- i really don't know. but this idea is a strawman propagated by anti-religious people and their willing cohorts, ignorant religious people. it's not a matter of fundamentalism. it's a matter of simple ignorance. and yet these are the people the anti-theists choose to engage. and rather than disabuse them of their ignorance about religion, they choose to attempt to disabuse them of their ignorance of science! and so the stupid argument continues thru the ages. it's really remarkable to watch from the outside, and painful, and funny...i have to say "entertaining", except when they get to the point of actually killing each other.

Maybe this conversation would work if we all sat around imbibiing the same substances in the same place at the same time. This 'blog thing' is too inefficient for me for it to work with you right now, JB. How did Adam - the naked first human in a garden or however we're to interpret what that guy really means - get conflated with writing, agriculture, and cities? I'm lost and I don't have time for the rest of this weekend to get found.

adam was the primeval father of the city people. his progeny got into ciy building right quick (see tower of babel). i don't know at which point the allegory becomes history- certainly by abraham if you ask me- but that shouldn't really be important to this discussion. the point is pre-civilization man is dealt with in a very few pages, at the beginning of genesis, and those pages are allegorical, open to very, very many, mucho grande interpretations. the farther foward in biblical history you get, the less room for allegorical interpretation, basically. and intelligent religious people( yes they exist) know this. and have known it for thousands of years, and have made no secret of it. so the religious ignoramouses have no one to blame but themselves for their ignorance, and the modern atheists no one to blame but themselves for their own retardation, having chosen to engage morons in discussion and thereby becoming morons themselves. the intellectual giants who first started talking about atheism were smart enough to engage with the princes and not the knaves, and are therefore princes themselves. the modern atheists...well, you get the picture.

a ridiculous tautology

So you don't believe that Cro-magnons were human? hmmmm..

i don't know at which point the allegory becomes history-

lol You can just make it up as you go along. A rather useless endeavor I would think.

you're an artist- and you think making it up as you go along is a "useless endeavor"? you must not be much of an artist.

as i say, the switch from obvious allegory to (intended) history is hard to pin down exactly, but more or less- we're talking about a few pages here after all- it's not impossible. i just don't want to argue about exactly when it happened with you guys because, frankly, you're just not familiar with the source material. i have other people i discuss these things with. so fucking there.

you're an artist- and you think making it up as you go along is a "useless endeavor"? you must not be much of an artist.

This comparison makes no sense at all. Making up history has nothing to do with art. But then you knew that, didn't you. I think with you that it's more a matter of argument for argument's sake.

i have other people i discuss these things with. so fucking there.

You're right about this. In order for me to discuss this any further, I'd have to get entangled in the theology of all of this, which I would find a waste of time since my definition of theology is that it is a system for attempting to explain all of the nonsense one finds in religious texts. I'll leave that to you since you seem to enjoy it so much.

There is no reasonable way to discuss a subject when the argumentation has to with little more than speculation.

Making up history has nothing to do with art.

look, you may be a fine artist, but you have no historical understanding of your craft- or the bible. so what's your problem, exactly? that modern religious people don't recognize religion as art, and instead claim it has political import? welcome to the world of scholarship. you have a lot of catching up to do.

So you don't believe that Cro-magnons were human? hmmmm..

if i met one i'd be able to tell you in about 10 seconds- same with modern people. i'm talented that way, i get it from my mom. :)

you know what? this is totally pearls before swine. there isn't a one of you who's going to actually address what i'm saying (there's a few exceptions but they're not "into it" right now) and not a one of you who will just admit that hitchens (who i think is very smart and entertaining) is completely full of horseshit here, even though i've proved it like 10 times at this thread. unfortunately for you all, i actually LIKE writing this stuff- it takes my mind off my REAL worries, which i don't wish on any of you. in other words, i have LOTS of patience, bring it on, you pipsqueaks- or not, i don't care.

I'd say it's more a matter of swine before pearls. :)

Sorry, but you haven't proved anything other than the fact that religious apologists don't believe that early humans were actually humans. Since you refuse to concede this point, then that stops any further analysis of the topic.

joann, your flagrant and embarrasing use of the word "believe" is, uh, flagrant and embarassing.

i have indeed proved (and anyone can check my sources) that hitchins is full of shit when he says religious people must believe that god suddenly appeared in human history 3000 years ago with a moral code. (it's really 3500, but who's counting?). also his description of the ancient semites as illiterate and more "beastly" than other, more advanced cultures of the time is historically completely off the mark. and also, if i may say so, that modern "new atheists", if they were to be judged by this video (god forbid) would have to be called "completely out of what were kind of lame ideas in the first place".

Since you refuse to concede this point..

what do you mean "concede"? i was the one who MADE that point. your reading skills are slipping.

i'd like to address the ridiculous idea (held by, i suppose, some religious people, and apparently all atheists) that the purpose of the bible was to introduce morality into a world that previously had no concept of it.

Well, No. Religion, not the bible. The bible being the only writing the judeo-christian god has ever done.

And this isn't some fringe that we are embracing, this is the very large majority that we are constantly insulted by.

Religion as the source of morality is perhaps one of the most common arguments we face, so countering the morality of religion by attacking the "morality" in their holy texts is a very reasonable defense.

Religion as the source of morality is perhaps one of the most common arguments we face, so countering the morality of religion by attacking the "morality" in their holy texts is a very reasonable defense.

i totally understand that. but between you and me, can't we agree that there's a hella lot of misunderstanding going on here? like, on the level of how corporations misunderstand and misuse the spirit of american law to do terrible things? i hope you'll agree with this- it doesn't mean you have to throw out the constitution.

but between you and me, can't we agree that there's a hella lot of misunderstanding going on here?

Actually, I don't think its a misunderstanding. Its a differance of perspective.

To a religious person, Religion is the creation of a holy supernatural being and interpreted by a clergy to create the true religion.

To an Atheist, there is no god, and the ramblings of a small class of intelectual clergy is irrelevant. Religion in the eyes of a non-believer is what people believe in, not some idealized system that some think is the true religion.

In other words, people can't misinterperet religion, because, their belief is their religion. Folks that, say they believe the wrong thing have no more valid opinion than anyone else.

In other words, people can't misinterperet religion, because, their belief is their religion.

wrong. what you're talking about is some kind of new-agey approach common to both religious and non religious people. if your religion is text-based, like judaism, christianity and islam, you certainly can misinterpret your own religion. in fact it's very, very common and this is what i've been trying to say here. probably the muslims are the best at interpreting their own sacred text- because it really does say "kill all the unbelievers, now and for all time". so i don't deal with them too much. in their case i don't think theres anything to be done but battle them physically to a standstill. (because they're not totally stupid- they know when they're beat).

but for the christians who are giving you trouble in the u.s., you could be doing a lot better in showing them the errors of their ways, according to their own sacred texts.

for me, i'm against idol worship, which is why i like atheists. (and have a certain respect for muslims). but i'm aware everyone is guilty of this on some level. i like jimi hendrix a little too much, myself.

i didn't mean a misunderstanding between atheists and faithy-people. that goes without saying. i'm talking about religious people- specifically christians- who have no clue what their own bible says, or means, and yet want to control other people's behavior in it's name. like fat cat corporations who have no use for what the drafters of the constitution actually meant by their words and in fact actively work to undermine those intentions.

so yes, reed, no matter how you personally feel about the founding fathers and their vision of nationhood, if you want to fight a corporation on the grounds of constitutional law -and there are no other grounds- you had better take the constitution itself pretty seriously, and not waste time arguing with the p.r. men, or the little guys who make their livings off the corporation.

as far as the different viewpoints of atheists and faith-ites: if it were really true as you're always saying that the contents of the bible are irrelevant to you, i would certainly accept that as a legitimate ideological position (while pitying you for a major hole in your educations).

BUT: the truth is, many atheists (as far as i can tell) are more interested in theological debate than "actual" religious people.(as we see with this hitchens video). and since you guys are constantly sticking your noses in, saying stupid shit about a text you claim to not care about, i feel it is my sacred duty to lay on a bit of a thrashing sometimes.

That whole allegory vs history trick needs some fleshing out if only so future Scientologists will know when to claim that the Xenu story was just allegorical after all. Then they can get snippy and tell their detractors that they just so silly for engaging with fundy Scientologists.

touche, again. if the scientologists had a worldview as well-developed as the jews, and fought and argued over it for thousands of years, honing their reasoning skills to a fine point, i might take your point more seriously. but it's got enough truth in it that it's at least funny. maybe the dawkins machine should hire YOU.

I'm glad you didn't take my point too seriously! I think this part of your reply is important

...and fought and argued over it for thousands of years...

You gotta have time and you've gotta have martyrs before a cult/delusion/scam can make it as a big-time religion. My bet is that there will be no future Scientologists soon enough ... they score way low in the martyrdom column and they don't really have the common touch. But how about those Mormons - pretty impressive! Watch out - they're moving up on you guys!

"To a religious person, Religion is the creation of a holy supernatural being and interpreted by a clergy to create the true religion."

I thought that's what atheists believed.

How could religion be the creation of something that doesn't exist?

Ah, I get it now. So you're saying religious people believe they can create a supernatural being.

getting closer

i saw this in today's paper and thought it would be apropriate here. andyo actually tried to start a forum thread on this but i hadn't seen the movie at the time and couldn't respond. now i have and i think this article is pretty incisive.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1153982.html

from the article:

"Marshak represents other chapters - such as Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2 in the Book of Genesis - and additional chapters in the Pentateuch, the Prophets and Writings, which were harbingers of atheism, perhaps the first in Western culture. An approach akin to atheism always has been a part of Jewish culture, even in the pre-biblical period. Similarly, in traditional rabbinic literature, there are passages that express the views of the biblical-era atheistic school.

It is very hard to get into Marshak's office. His secretary does not allow anyone, especially adults, to enter the room where the important, skeptical and scholarly passages of early Jewish culture are stored. Marshak represents a Jewish tradition that primarily knows how to present doubts and raise questions. Naturally, he has heard about God; in fact, he even served as a rabbi, and then retired.

Nonetheless, this entity did not answer any substantive questions for him. Marshak does not believe this concept can treat any form of human distress. In the film, he speaks very little, and never seems to utter God's name."

what do you mean "concede"? i was the one who MADE that point. your reading skills are slipping.

You MADE the point that early humans WERE actually humans? I guess my reading skills really are slipping.

a misunderstanding of your words on my part, i apologize. i did make the point that biology/paleontolgy is perfectly free to define for itself what it means to be "human" (and good luck) and so is the bible.

jonathan said:

i mean- i just gotta say this- you guys like to talk about how god doesn't exist. but if you're looking for a handy, obvious example of something that doesn't exist, it's a cro-magnon man. :)

wow....

I'm glad you didn't take my point too seriously! I think this part of your reply is important

...and fought and argued over it for thousands of years...

You gotta have time and you've gotta have martyrs before a cult/delusion/scam can make it as a big-time religion. My bet is that there will be no future Scientologists soon enough ... they score way low in the martyrdom column and they don't really have the common touch. But how about those Mormons - pretty impressive! Watch out - they're moving up on you guys!

i haven't noticed any mormon martyrs lately.

if it were really true as you're always saying that the contents of the bible are irrelevant to you, i would certainly accept that as a legitimate ideological position (while pitying you for a major hole in your educations).

Irrelevant to the arguement about wether there is or isn't a god.

Somewhat relevant to my study of history, but only sligthtly since the contents are inaccurate and christians don't actually read the thing.

Hmmm... How many atheists do you reckon read On the Origin of Species?

Atheists, not a high percent.

Evelutionary biologists, probably close to 100%

As far as I know there isn't a big book of Atheism that we are all assigned to read in atheist sunday school.

There are probably a lot of physicists who've never actually read Maxwell's papers on electricity and magnetism or Newton's Principia for that matter, but very few who are unfamiliar with the content of modern counterparts like Goldstein's Classical Mechanics or Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics. Science doesn't have "holy books" that must be read in order for one to understand the science. Even if works like Origin of Species is historically compelling, biology has moved far beyond it.

Interesting. So you're saying it's possible to learn Darwin's theories without actually reading Darwin. I wonder if there are any other areas that could apply to.

even if works like Origin of Species is historically compelling, biology has moved far beyond it.

how convenient. :)

Progress can be like that

the contents are inaccurate

this could be interesting. got any examples of something "inaccurate" in the pentateuch, as opposed to "lacking convincing evidence" or "personally offensive to you"?

Come on becker, talking donkeys? Really?

just lacks convincing evidence. :( as a former donkey owner and appreciator, i can assure you they're much, much smarter than you think. i was saved many times from going into stupidly dangerous situations by the wisdom of the beast.

any animal lover will tell you that animals express themselves, often quite clearly. the jump from "expression" to "speech", in the context of an at least partly allegorical tale, is not so outlandish- that is, for someone who's actually trying to understand and not just wallow in easy scoffing.

the actual topic, more or less, of this thread is what makes a creature human. i can testify that it is NOT speech.

still, the rabbis weren't stupid. they turned this story into a whole mythological/mystical exception to the text- bilaam's donkey is one of ten things they list as having been created "before the first sabbath eve"- along with tongs, which are necessary to create tongs (in a smithy). ahem. sorry for rambling.

they turned this story into a whole mythological/mystical

Bing! That's how they made up god too.

this could be interesting. got any examples of something "inaccurate" in the pentateuch, as opposed to "lacking convincing evidence" or "personally offensive to you"?

It's not about convincing evidence, its about any varifiable sources.

Is there any record of the pharoh having an adopted son that lead off his slaves?

Records showing the death of every fist born son?

Records of Sodom burnig with gods wrath?

Of all the historically profound things that happen in the bibble is any confirmed by the records of the egyptian or roman empires?

It takes how long to walk from the red sea to jeruselem? A week?

Any evidence of a great flood?

Is the bush still burning somewhere? when did it go out?

There are events like super Nova's in the distant past that researchers find refence to in different parts of the world. God parts seas, shoots fire out of mountains, floods the world and burns towns to the ground and somehow folks within spitting distance can't seem to be found writing so much as a diary entry about it.

too many questions, slow down. but i will say that in terms of historical record the bible is the only one for many of the things you mention. the "red sea" is a debated geographical entity and in any case the text makes clear god turned the israelites around and kept them in the desert on purpose so all those with "slave mentality" would die off.

so....?

How about one story from a surviving soldier, whose army was extinguished by the Ark of the Covenant?

what? you're time travelling, whoa, lemme get my shrooms. be right with ya.

Don't tell the new testament folks you need a time machine to get first hand accounts. THey won't agree.

i meant you were moving foward in time to when the ark of the covenant existed- it didn't at the crossing of the sea of reeds. in terms of it's usefulness in battle, you'd have to move even farther forward. i'm happy to answer questions but you have to be specific.

It's not about convincing evidence, its about any varifiable sources.

please tell me, wtf is the dif? are you expecting that the ancient egyptians who were made to look like fools by the MIGHTY GOD OF ISRAEL should have put it down in a historical account for your edification? you must not have much of an idea of how "history" works.

THey might call him of scoundrals, slaves and whatever, but yes. I think they would mention supernatural acts and explain them through their own spiritual beliefs.

Them being so ashamed that they couldn't catch some escaping slaves that they get the entire kingdom of people to pretent like it the red rivers and parting sea happened seems like an insane undertaking and a stupid explanation.

THey might call him (the god of)..

Them being so ashamed that they couldn't catch some escaping slaves that they get the entire kingdom of people to pretent like it the red rivers and parting sea happened seems like an insane undertaking and a stupid explanation.

then you have no understanding of history, or psychology, or the relationship between the two. that's ok, i love you anyway. :)

I have been asked to pretend that history and psychology don't exist. It would embarrass a series of american presidents if they did.

re: the "red sea"- you should know this, red7. the actual translation of "yam suf" is "sea of REEDS." :)

jonathan said:

i did make the point that biology/paleontolgy is perfectly free to define for itself what it means to be "human" (and good luck) and so is the bible.

Are not Cro-Magnon anatomically identical to present-day humans? They painted fairly sophisticated paintings on the walls of those caves. So why would you choose to doubt that they are humans?

i'm not clear on cro-magnon (a scientifically antiquated term, i read recently) being anatomically identical with other humans. being anatomically "identical" (hah) is one silly way, i suppose, of defining "who it's worth talking about" (as opposed to WHAT it's worth talking about). the bible sees it differently as far as i can tell. and i think i'm right about the bible. as far as the beautiful and and varied skills of all animals, why, i'm in awe of all of them. including cro-magnon man. :) i'm happy to talk all day about the "what" of pre-historical culture. but as far as the "who", i don't know anything about this till people started writing, and even some time after. and neither do you. i'ts the "who" the bible is talking about, not the "what" so much. n'est pas?

The scientific definition of species, it the capacity of producing viable offspring. THis is why we call different Dogs "breeds" rather than "Species" since they can interbreed.

sweetie, i know i was only a bio major for 1 year (before moving on to ever more interesting things) but i am aware of the classic definition of species. i've even looked it up since then and found it is no longer quite so simple (how quickly science changes, my, my. bring me my drool bucket.) but thanks for the clarification, it's good enough for this discussion so far. maybe tim or erick will show up and fuck it up good and proper. :)

Did they cover when the soul entered the body in ght first year?

If the question is when does god intervene with individuals/species to give them the wisdom of his purpose and therefore a source for their morality. The question is bigger than when did humans become a distinct modern species, because clearly, god didn't help create any record of his interference for 95% of human history or make reference to it when he later wrote some books.

But what about the other hominids? Were some of the other ancient humanoid species sentient? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_(genus)

How much more perceptive do the dolphins need to be before god gives them a sitdown, explains morality and lets them know that the humans are designed in his image, and they should give up on ever evolving into anythng he would love?

clearly, god didn't help create any record of his interference for 95% of human history or make reference to it when he later wrote some books.

clearly,you are continuing to be very dense. she did create a record, and put it in genesis which i think counts as "a reference". as i have said, the allegorical tale of adam, which is covered in a very few pages in genesis, makes clear that god "interfered" (and how!) from mankinds beginning. that you and some creationist idiots want to argue about exactly where on our modern lineal calendar "mankind" starts and "proto-man" stops is very nice and interesting but again, the bible is allowed just like you to make that call, and makes the call at the beginning of civilization and written history. what happened with primeval man before that is simply unknown except to mystics and scientists, both of whom are trying to work it out and i wish them luck. but our "kind" according to the bible simply has nothing to do with species. is this so complicated?

How much more perceptive do the dolphins need to be before god gives them a sitdown, explains morality and lets them know that the humans are designed in his image, and they should give up on ever evolving into anythng he would love?

hey, the world's smallest violin plays a dirge. be nice if i heard someone talking that way about the jews- who are fully human by any definition last i checked.

(i loves me some dolphins.no reason whatsoever for you to assume god doesn't, too.)

They were anatomically different. Clearly created some art, and perhaps were the same species, as they are theorized to have possibly breed with other humans and lost their more distinctive brow ridges over time.

am i equivicating hard enough? i can't be sure.

(http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/cromagnon.html)[The Cro-Magnons lived in Europe between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are virtually identical to modern man, being tall and muscular and slightly more robust on average than most modern humans. They were skilled hunters, toolmakers and artists famous for the cave art at places such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira.]

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cro-Magnon)[Cro-Magnon 1 was discovered in a rock shelter at Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France. The type specimen from this find is Cro-Magnon 1, dated to about 28,000 years BP (before the present)[3] (27,680 ± 270 BP). The skeletons showed the same high forehead, upright posture and slender (gracile) skeleton as modern humans.

The condition and placement of the remains of Cro-Magnon 1, along with pieces of shell and animal tooth in what appear to have been pendants or necklaces raises the question whether they were buried intentionally.]

as homer simpson: mmm. gracile.

(a scientifically antiquated term, i read recently

I am perfectly aware that this term is considered antiquated. Still, it is a precise way to describe the humans who lived in this particular area of France. Furthermore, whether or not term is antiquated or not is of no consequense other than as a way for you to show off. ;)

a way for you to show off

i'll take what i can get.

clearly,you are continuing to be very dense. she did create a record, and put it in genesis which i think counts as "a reference". as i have said, the allegorical tale of adam, which is covered in a very few pages in genesis, makes clear that god "interfered" (and how!)

Isn't adam 6,000 years old?

according to jewish tradition, 5770 years. but that has nothing to do with the age of the earth or the other creatures on it at any time. i hope. you can't expect what the bible calls "adam" to necessarily conform with sciences ever changeing concept of the "first possible interbreeder with homo sapiens".

i mean, you can, and like you say your opponents in america do, but it's stupid.

oh, you're right, sorry. i mean that jewish tradition in this matter is hard or impossible to justify. i'ts not the only subject where this is the case, believe me. here's where you find out the nature and filthy depths of my heresy: i don't think jewish tradition is correct on every matter of what the torah means to say. this particular matter is a biggie and i should make it clear im not speaking for the jewish religion here. we differ on this point: i think the early allegorical part of genesis covers a lot more geographical time than they do. but i am not the only person in jewish religious thought to say this, far from it. i'm just in the minority, and since i'm still alive, this makes me officially a heretic. :) but well done on catching me at that. i know i usually try to stick with more or less mainstream jewish positions on matters relating to them and i usually succeed, i think. but in this case, considering the vast knowledge wastelands both on the side of science and on the side of those who struggle to make sense of genesis, i allow myself the freedom to speculate, and am confident that jewish tradition and religion allows me that freedom. they're just not gonna pay for my lawyer, see. :)

you are (and you've pointed it out many times) correct as always that what the atheists are fighting in america is not jonathan becker's understanding of religion, or judaism.,i sympathize. but i'm still right...

you can't expect what the bible calls "adam" to necessarily conform with sciences ever changeing concept of the "first possible interbreeder with homo sapiens".

Isn't it fair to expect the bible to be right? Assuming religios folk hold it up as a work to inform how to live ones life?

sure it's fair to expect the bible to be "right"- as long as you're talking about the same thing. i'm saying the bible's designation of "adam" is not a scientific/biological/anthropological term, but rather a designation of a particular "class". but you're wearing me down, well done. i've already come up with about 6 arguments against myself here- none of which you're stating with any clarity.

the simple part of my position, which i certainly didn't make up out of thin air but has been floating around for thousands of years. is that the early parts of the bible, as opposed the bulk of it, are almost purely allegorical and they can't be judged by the same "truth standards" that the rest of the text can. this position is shared by many jewish, christian and muslim theologians and pillars of their faiths. my particular version may be a bit heretical but it, too, is supported in many ancient sources of all 3 faiths. to tear apart society or make trouble in any way over the nitty gritty of these allegorical passages seems to me a great crime. i'm very sorry that so many are involved in it, and i've said too much myself.

is that the early parts of the bible, as opposed the bulk of it, are almost purely allegorical and they can't be judged by the same "truth standards" that the rest of the text can.

Yawn. If you can't meet the "truth Standards" of the latter parts of the holy text....

in any case the difference we're talking about is a few hundred years, or a few thousand- not tens of thousands or millions. nothing in terms of evolutionary time.

This thread is way too long.

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