Thursday, March 31, 2011

The God of Dogs and Ponies

“Why didn’t God just snap His fingers and…”

YouTube isn’t the first place I’ve seen this whine, but I was reminded of it lately when some of the fundy atheists there were using it to suggest that God could have eg, stopped the whole incident in 2 Kings 2:23-5 by poofing some hair back on Elisha’s head to stop the “bald head” taunting.


Now that’s a brilliant argument. Let’s see….


“Bald head! Bald head! Bald – “


POOF!


“Uh…big nose! Big nose! Big – “


POOF!

“Rats! Uh – Balloon ears! Balloon ears! Balloon – “

By the time this is over Elisha will look like a cross between Jack LaLanne and a Greek marble statue, with the intellect of Einstein and the personal charisma of Kennedy. Then they’ll make fun of him for being so different from everyone else.
Another one of these wackos suggested that God should have “teleported” the youths away so they would no longer bother Elisha.

Gee, where to? Suppose they start bothering someone in the new place they go? If they’re bad enough, they’ll end up with a rewarding world tour.


It’s amazing that these wackos are so childish that they think this represents some kind of real solution to problems. God as a constant fixer-upper is the contrivance of a lazy and ignorant generation that thinks the whole purpose of being omnipotent is to be able to create rational beings and then entertain them.
In the times I have seen this whine abused, the following never occurs to anyone: It’s a terrifying hypocrisy. They want God to interfere like this, but then they freely commit sin – which suggests they don’t want God to interfere. In other words, they only want God when He can act as their personal errand jockey: When something offends them, or when they want something, or when they’re in pain. That’s some gratitude – and they expect God to do favors for them?

Not only that, these whiners aren’t doing all THEY can right now to fix the problems they think God should be taking care of. It doesn’t matter that they’re not omnipotent – they have some power and ability, and there are things they could be doing right now to help victims in Japan, or orphans in Brazil, or even vagrants in their own town. But unless their lives are oriented towards such help 24/7 – if they watch any TV, or play any Xbox, or drive a car that consumes too much gas – they’re hypocrites, and as evil as they think God is for not stepping in all the time to fix our mistakes and problems.


In reality, nothing obliges omnipotence to provide a dog and pony show. The Pharisees needed no sign in the sky. They had the tools and the knowledge they needed already. God gave us brains and hands and good sense and talents to use. Asking Him to “do more” is simply childish rot. Suggesting that He could have just “snapped His fingers” to stop trouble is simply a na├»ve take on human nature and a narrow refusal to consider long-term consequences of actions.


As my beloved Mrs H says, they’d better be careful what they ask for – God might decide that “poofing” YOU is the best answer.

And I don’t mean into Jack LaLanne.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tube Boobs 4

Yes, YouTube provides a lot of grist for me these days. To begin, the Christian Research Journal just published an article of mine on the effects of the Internet on thinking, and I included in it a section of YT as an unreliable information source. I don’t think one of my opponents there will be happy with this piece of fame I gave him:

...YouTube provides opportunities for the everyday critic of Christianity to air his or her grievances. One YouTube user who designates himself “NonStampCollector” is typical of the genre. He has produced dozens of crudely animated and crudely argued films critical of Christianity, some of which have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
And on that note, here’s some more news. One of the other nobodies there, who goes by “HonestTechnoAtheist” (HTA) produced a “response” to one of my vids, and it very much exemplifies the heart of YT. I won’t link, because his drones are littering the comments with profanity, but here’s how it goes down:

All the guy did was fix his peeper-camera on the screen of his computer while he played MY video, and paused it to make comments off screen.


Yes, if you thought NoSCo’s production values were horrid – with his stick figures that talk without moving mouths – that’s not as bad as it can get.

Sure, there are a lot of folks on YT (including Christians) who produce dull vids that are just “talking heads” of themselves yammering into the camera. But that’s still way better than what HTA had to offer. Bad enough that all he did was set his camera on the screen and crib MY production all through. But there’s also a strong hissing sound all through his vid, as though someone is letting the air out of the tire of an 18-wheeler. He’s also inarticulate and mumbling about a third of the time, with such classic riposte as, “science has totally disproven the Bible,” and he admitted in comments that he didn’t have a script; he just wound it up and let it go, reader-response style.

Then, about 12 minutes in, a dog starts barking somewhere in the background, and I think I may have even heard a cat meowing. All we need now is chickens, goats, and pigs to complete the picture.
Which illustrates one point for today:

Okay, fessing up: I’m not a professional film maker myself. But I’d be ashamed to post something like that item by HTA even if the arguments were 100% sound. (And no, those he offers are sorry as well – mostly whining that God could just stop evil by “poofing” it out of existence, “snapping His fingers,” etc). And I do try to make my vids as professional as possible. I have experts I consult with frequently on production matters, and they ARE pros.


Of course, everyday shmoes like HTA may not have a clue how to use film software or how to make a product that is at least visually interesting and competently produced. And if they don’t, they need to pull the plug on their YT account, because they are shaming the very foundations of art and production. As I say imply in the CRJ article, all this democracy is becoming a little too egalitarian, as it allows people like HTA and NoSCo with no talent at all and even less intelligence to air their ignorance for the equally ignorant to be deceived by.

That won't happen, though. So many of these low-producers grew up as kids being told they were special, and that anything they did was wonderful, so that you couldn’t possibly shame them into doing a better job even if they could. As it is, I was proud to link to HTA's response from my vid, because any judicious, intelligent viewer (which is who I am after – however rare such a bird is) would see that not very much care or thought was put into HTA’s response – and if he can’t care enough to do more than crib screenshots and mumble while his pets gambol about the place, he sure can’t be perceived as someone who gave careful thought to the problem of evil.


I may do a reply vid – later. It’s hard to say if one is needed; as bad as it is, it practically refutes itself.


What else? Oh yes – I’ve encountered a new idiocy on YT, in which the atheist buffoons there yowl that when I delete their profane comments, or otherwise enforce my channel rules, I am engaging in “censorship” and stopping “free speech”. Clearly no one told these budding legal scholars that the First Amendment specifies that Congress shall make no law abridging free speech. Last I checked, I hadn’t been elected to Congress – and there are plenty of legal precedents showing that private entities can freely censor and restrict speech within their own boundaries (eg, your online forum can ban people and delete messages). YT itself enables channel moderators to “censor,” so they clearly know where the law stands even if these junior Perry Masons don’t.

So it goes, another journal entry of my journey into the wastel – er, I mean “waistland” that is YT. We’ll keep plugging and see if a revolution happens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Posting Schedule

It's come time for me to start more serious work on the next Building Blocks book, so starting next week the Forge will be moving to a slightly less frequent posting schedule of Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (or on a weekend day). The Ticker blog will also go to a similarly reduced schedule. I'll return to a daily posting routine when there's not a book being constructed -- which means probably in over a year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Simple Life?

In an exchange with someone who holds a heretical position, a remark was made by this person that we should be able to express certain ideas from the Bible in simple forms. There’s plenty of problems with that idea. One is that the Bible was written in a high context society, so the more you simplify the ideas, the more likely you are to exclude something important to understanding it. But that’s not the main point I want to make today. Rather, I want to get to the heart of a base assumption that the commenter has, and it is one shared by many Christians.
Contrarily, let me put it in a simple way. Jesus promised that if we lived the Christian life, we could expect to be reviled and persecuted. He didn’t say the Christian life was easy; his yoke was easy compared to the law, but in terms of living, he warned us to expect hardships.

If this is the case – if living the Christian life was not going to be simple – then why do people like that commenter think that it will be a simple thing to grasp and explain Christianity in a full-orbed way intellectually?


Obviously this does not mean that every Christian must be an intellectual. What it does mean is that if you will be a teacher – a Paul, a Matthew, or even a Luke – there’s no reason to expect simplicity or ease in becoming proficient at Christian teachings and doctrine. It should not shock us that persons like those three, who exemplified the most educated people of their day (as few as there were of those), also gave us the texts of the NT that are richest in doctrine. John is the only possible exception – but it’s pretty clear from his work that he was also fairly educated (especially in Jewish religious contexts) by the time he wrote them.

The demand for simplicity in exposition seems to me little more than a profession of laziness. Cults will arise at times because someone unwilling to face their inability to comprehend complex doctrines wants something ”simpler” – and people will join cults for the same reason. But again, Jesus didn’t offer any promises about simple doctrine.
You may say, “Well, he condemned the Judaism of his day with its complex sets of laws.” That’s not the same thing. For one, there was plenty of complex theology he did NOT reject (the precursor theology for the Trinity, in the Jewish wisdom tradition, for example). For another, he did not reject the OT, and that still had 613 laws, which would be rated as “complex” by any simple-minded person. Jesus’ objections were rooted in the use of the law and its oral supplements as a tool of oppression of the poor by the elite – not in their complexity.

In reality, the commenter’s claims about simpleness are merely an expression of his own simpleness – and of the penchant for modern Christians (and society at large) to want to be lazy and get their answers in a can. It’s also a good mechanism for false teachers to control and muzzle their flock (and critics). But it’s not the faith that Jesus taught by any means.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

John is Not Great, Just Grating

Just a brief note today, since I had a lot of USDA work to do. Nick Peters pointed me to an announcement of a new John Loftus whinefest, Christianity is Not Great. Don’t blame John for the unoriginal title, necessarily – chances are Prometheus Books chose it. In that they’re just reflecting John’s penchant for recycling the reused incessantly.

Naturally I’ll see if it is worth a rebuttal, though given the overall topics, it may be mostly guests I have to recruit for writing. There’s a few things within my scope, like the Inquisition and slavery. John himself is doing a chapter on witch hunts, and based on his performance on that subject in the past (TWeb and elsewhere) it’ll be like John MacEnroe on good tennis manners.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TektonTV Behind the Scenes: Part 1

Time for a little fun. I’ve decided to do a series that is more of a “behind the scenes” sort of thing in which I explain how the vids on TektonTV come to pass. We’ll be looking at some of the techniques I use for art and production in particular. When I first signed on to YouTube late last year, I had some basic knowledge of how the pros did animation, but no clear idea how to implement those ideas at this level of production. Now, with some help from a reader who is a pro, and also with some trial and error, I’ve come up with ways to do things that are faster and more efficient than the “bad old days” of October 2010. How times change (heh heh).

Let’s start with this still, which is from the opening scene of my vid Elisha and the Two Bears.

My idea here was that I wanted a moving tableau at the end of which “old Elisha” would let out a grouchy roar. The tableau itself involved some work that may be good for another post in itself. What I’ll discuss here today is how I got Elisha to do that roar.

This is the first stage of the process:

Um – yeah, you’re asking; where’s his eyes, mouth and beard? That’s part of the trick. In planning stage I knew those were the parts that would move when Elisha let loose with his roar. So, the trick is that all moving parts are drawn separately – in their various stages of movement. So for this, I drew two sets of eyes (one half open, the other fully open), three mouths (one closed, one partly open, one fully open) and one beard – with two extensions, one for each open-mouth position.

You’ll notice there’s no background either. That’s also drawn separately; what I do here is draw objects separately, then surround them with transparency, and layer them over each other. Layer 1 to start: Background. Layer 2: Eyeless, mouthless, beardless Elisha. Layer 3: The eyes, mouth and beard on their various positions.

If you already do graphic arts or are a pro yourself, I’m sure this is all kiddie stuff to you; and in a way it is. This is the sort of animation that was done for shows like the Flintstones too. They frequently didn’t redraw the whole character – all they did was redrew the mouth or eyes or whatever part moved. (You could sometimes see they erred by using a slightly different color tone of paint, so Fred’s mouth would be a lighter shade than the flesh around his mouth.)

Primitive, yes. But it does turn out pretty sophisticated for YouTube. (Except that some people have a computer program do the mouth movements for them. I consider that cheating.)


I’ll pick a few more interesting examples as this series progresses; or, if there’s some scene you want a “how to” on, let me know with a comment.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tube Boobs 3

I continue to be curious about what can be revealed by stats on YouTube. Here’s another revelation.

One of the fundy atheists there boasted that atheists are strong on YouTube. Hmm, yes, I can see that they would be strong in a venue where pictures were the main form of communication. But I wondered how true that was, so I checked some things out.

To give a frame of reference for this, a popular entertainment YT channel – for Britney Spears – had 90,228 subscribers as of late last week. We can use that as a fair measure of popularity for other channels.

Two fundy atheist channels I have dealt with have this number of subscribers each:

ProfMTH: 22,853

NonStampCollector: 40,465

In contrast, what’s the best for Christian apologetics channels there? It’s not heartening:

Josh McDowell’s channel: 1344 subscribers

William Lane Craig video archive: 6033
James White: 8307
Discovery Institute: 1007
Carm.org: 3515

Notice the difference?


I asked around to see if I was missing anyone, and was pointed to a list which indicated that the largest number of subbers to any channel that could be called “Christian apologetics” belonged to a fellow styled “Venomfangx”. He has 29597 subscribers, but this is apparently in good measure due to voyeurism, as it seems he has done some rather crazy stuff in the past.


The “why” behind these numbers is not clear. It seems unlikely that it is because Christians aren’t on YT at all; though it is interesting that various Christian celebrities (like Michael W. Smith) also have channels with very few subbers. (Although, they have very little on their channels, too.) Are we just not putting enough of anything up there? Is our stuff just not as interesting or well-presented? Or is it just above the heads of all those fundy atheists? Or are they just ignoring it, as they are wont to do?


In this case the stats aren’t good enough to say. But one thing is for sure: They do mean we’re failing to do what we need to do to evangelize this wasteland.


Excuse me. I meant “waistland” – better spell it the way YTers do so they understand.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Introverts and the Church, Part 3

Here’s our final installment on introverts and the church, with the reader’s question/observation:

Assuming that introversion is a universal trait, what would be the difference between an individualistic introvert and a collectivistic one? I'm not tremendously interested in being a selfish “hyper-individualist”, but I'm not sure where “hardcore introversion” ends and that begins, or if that's even the right way to think about the matter. For what it's worth, I've an inkling that introversion is a personality function and individualism/collectivism is a value that determines who a person functions for, so to speak.

That is indeed correct! Too often I find that those who are introverted are regarded as “selfish” for not sharing their time – for socializing, mind you, not social service. (That the extrovert is being “selfish” by goading the introvert into socializing isn’t thought of as often – because they assume that their socialization values as extroverts are universal.)

Socialization and social service, however, are not the same thing. Those who serve “behind the scenes” in any working environment make their own contribution. We may not see the night janitor who works alone to clean our offices, but we sure would miss him or her if they didn’t show. And they are probably introverts! So likewise, our behind the scenes ministry people serve the Body of Christ just as equitably as do the people who take a seat in the public eye.

We’d like to thank our reader for some excellent questions, and for inspiring this series.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Top Turkey

We interrupt the series on introverts for an update on a previous post. Not surprisingly, John Loftus The Christian Delusion won Best Atheist Book of 2010, rising to the cream at the top of the septic – I mean, skeptic tank, despite containing no new arguments. (That’s Austin Cline of about.com, claiming it does have new arguments, notwithstanding – it’s just that HE has never seen all of them himself before.)

John’s book won 43% of the vote, which is fairly hefty. Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape (subject of a current Ticker series by Nick Peters) came in second with 21%. Fitzgerald’s Nailed, a yawner of an exposition on the Christ myth and subject of a Ticker series by me, garnered 15%, which should be an embarrassment to intelligent Skeptics. Hitchens’ new book got 13%, and in a distant 5th with 6%, the one authored by he who is surely the most intelligent of the lot – Stephen Hawkins’ The Grand Design.

Sheesh. It would be like awards for Best Christian Book putting Josh McDowell on top and Ben Witherington on the bottom. Or Best TV Show, putting Jersey Shore on top and Masterpiece Theatre on the bottom. Or…

Well, admittedly, Hawking didn’t do himself proud at that, according to critics. But you get the idea. The Skeptics are no more impressed with their intelligentsia than most Christians. They only act like they are.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Introverts and the Church, Part 2

The next question from our reader on this subject:

Do you think introverts and extroverts were running around in the days of the early church? Or, hey, what about the entire package of the Myers-Briggs personality types? …You warn against reading our modern concepts of psychology into the Bible, what of this?

Technically, Myers-Briggs is a classification tool; it would probably be able to work in a very basic sense of defining people’s characteristics, but what would change is how those would be expressed in an agonistic society.

That said, I can’t think of any reason why the two basic categories of introversion and extroversion would not at least have existed. I do imagine the introvert found it harder to cope with the pressures of a collectivist society; it may well be that the church’s monastic movement gave them a refuge, and perhaps such people did their best to find ways to be alone, whether by tilling the fields or joining some religious order.


Of course, this opens up the question of whether introversion and extroversion are “stamped” on us from birth or whether they are trained into us. That’s certainly not a question I’m expert enough to settle; you can find all sorts of resources debating “nature vs nurture” whether online or in print (the latter, please), so it’s not settled out there either. But if “nurture” is it, then we’d have to ask if the sort of behaviors that “nurture” introversion and extroversion also existed in that period (or whether comparable behaviors did). I can’t imagine this not being the case.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introverts and the Church, Part 1

I’ve written a lot here about extroverts and introverts later, and a thoughtful reader has sent in some questions that I thought deserved some consideration as posts of their own.

Here’s the first two questions:


What's the introvert's real job in the church, if it's not to pretend to be an extrovert? And, I suppose putting the question a bit differently, does the patronage model shed any light on how an introvert is to serve God?
Good question.

First, in an agonistic society, people are used to “pretending” – putting on a public face. That included extroverts as well as introverts, so it would not be so much a problem outside our social paradigm; you would have been given a “how to” from birth. (Heck, even the INTJ personality – me – knows how to ham it up with a public persona. Just don’t try to hug me, please.)


So in a sense, not even the extroverts are being themselves in such situations. Everyone is using a polite persona so as to avoid offending others – at least in Bible times. Now? That’s another matter, but let’s give the initial answer to question 2 first.

Does the patronage model shed any light here? No, not in and of itself – though I expect a decent patron would assign you to work you do best. So for example, the introvert might get set out watching sheep, or toiling alone in the field, or on the positive side, might end up some sort of scholar. As members of the Body of Christ, we have God to assign us duties, and He surely would be seen as knowing best what we ought to do.


So for the introvert today, what is our job in the church? Well, there are plenty of talents and assignments that cohere with introversion – like being a scholar, or cooking food at a soup kitchen in the back room, or maintaining church grounds – or, just having a good job from which you can get a salary and contribute to other ministries. No one says your “ministry” has to be hands-on.


Again, good questions. We’ll have more again in this series.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Height of Fundy Atheist Intelligence

A fundy atheist left this comment on the March 4 entry “Tube Boobs,” which proves atheists not on YouTube can be exceptionally stupid, too (edited for language):

religion is b****it and is illustrated quite clearly not only by the "God of the Gaps" Neil De Grasse Tyson describes, but also by a thorough study of linguistics, as cultures that never came into contact with one another all show a tendency in the evolution of their language to personify abstract concepts over time. This evolution (retards hate this word) in documented thought by not only the great thinkers of the time but also of the common man as evidenced by etymology. Perhaps the most interesting part of your "faith" or whatever you want to call your b****it dogma is how etymology of certain words overlaps with additions to dogma.

Wow – let’s see now:


It has nothing to do with the subject of the post in question.

It makes broad, sweeping, vague, and unsupported statements.


It makes vague appeal to authority (“great thinkers”) without a lick of documentation (not including Tyson).


It wrongly defines “faith”.


It makes absolutely no sense in the conclusion: “etymology of certain words overlaps with additions to dogma” – that’s supposed to be coherent?

Yep. YouTube doesn’t cause morons – it just collects them in one place.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tube Boobs 2

Frequently, statistics reveal fascinating things. Today we’ll see that they reveal some fascinating things about the childish, uncritical mindset of fundy atheists – particularly those on YouTube.

Setup: Yesterday I took a statistical snapshot of three elements: My recent vid on Elisha and the bears; a fundy atheist’s response vid to it, and my detailed supplemental article on my vid, where I back up my arguments with more details.


The fundy atheist’s response to me gives most of my arguments short shrift. It barely mentions the detailed arguments and points in the supplement, but even gives the shorter versions of arguments in my vid minimal review in most cases. The atheist chooses instead to focus obsessively on arguing that Elisha sent bears after “little children” and the damage that bears would cause. Other arguments he simply waves off with posturing and mockery. To sum it up, he doesn’t engage the bulk of the time.


That’s bad enough in terms of reflecting the intellectual horsepower of this bunch, but now let’s check those stats.


As of yesterday at a certain time, the atheist’s vid had been up for about a week and had received 4438 views.
In contrast, my vid, which had been up for about three weeks, had only 1217 – and a good chunk of those were from the earlier 2 week period.

Hmmm. Yes, you can see where this is going, but wait.


As of yesterday, my detailed supplement article had received only 116 visits – and only 17 of those had been since the fundy atheist had put up his response.


Rat smell? You bet.


In light of this, it’s fairly hilarious to see the atheist’s groupies on about how badly he supposedly beat me up, especially since some of the comments they make offer points I responded to specifically in the video and supplement, and the vast majority just follow the atheist nose to tail in whining about how mean Yahweh is and don’t engage any of my detailed points. Based on these stats, most of them haven’t seen my arguments – just the bowdlerized sample the fundy atheist chose to show them.


The irony is greater inasmuch as this fundy atheist is a former groupie himself – of Farrell Till. Yes, Till, he who whined incessantly about wanting me to link to his pathetic articles, so that (he supposed) my readers would click on over and see his devastating rejoinders , and thereby be immediately deconverted. Oddly enough, though, these stats show that the fundy atheist crowd doesn’t exhibit the sort of inquisitiveness or open-mindedness they expect of Christians with respect to their work.
They’re fundies all right – they sure do have hypocrisy down the way fundies often do.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Deludo Department, Part 2

So, let’s now look at John’s last 5 signs of delusion and see how I rate…

6) Lies in order to defend one's faith. There are plenty of examples of this, from faking stories about finding Noah's Ark, to fudging the truth when there is no reasonable response, to making up personal healing stories, to claiming a conversion from a position of intellectual atheism (versus a practical atheism) to Evangelical Christianity like Lee Strobel and David Wood, to personal and unjustified attacks on anyone who questions one's faith in order to poison the well against them, to debate tactics like the ones used by Bill Craig and Dinesh D'Souza who as debaters, just like boxers in a ring, are out to win the debate no matter what must be said in order to win it. These are liars for Jesus to various degrees. If you have to lie to defend your faith then you need help.

Wow. Talk about irony. As Nick Peters, has noted, never mind that Loftus provides no evidence that Strobel and the rest are lying; this is like Hugh Hefner speaking against sex outside of marriage. Never mind also whether the “attacks” reflect the truth – clearly Loftus just wants to place questions about his own moral character off limits, because he knows that if he doesn’t, it will raise suspicions any time he says to someone, “Trust me. I know better than these guys.”

In any event, one online fundy atheist who tried his best to pin lies on me could come up with no more than seven weak examples over a dozen years – and they all stank. (Link below.) So on that one, I pass again.

7) Preaches to people who think differently rather than rationally engaging them. I am constantly amazed, bewildered, frustrated, and bored with the kind of responses I see from believers who comment here at DC. They come here preaching. They pontificate. They quote mine from the Bible. They even say we're going to hell with glee. Many of them merely mouth the words of the creeds and affirm what they believe, rather than actually engaging us with a rational discussion about the basis for believing in the first place. They come here preaching to us from an ancient superstitious set of texts rather than showing us why we should believe them in the first place.

As Nick points out, Loftus “preaches” all the time. His blog and his comments there have a notable lack of rational exchange. This is just Loftus paying lip service to the idea as a way of trying to get himself into more respectable circles. As Nick says, “when he can't win that way, he'll violate it immediately.”
But anyway, I pass again. In fact one other fundy atheist once remarked he was surprised that I didn’t do this. Score.

8) Claims he or she does not need evidence to believe. Take notice Alvin Plantinga and Bill Craig! This is utterly delusional thinking especially when we consider all of the things they must take as properly basic beliefs coming from the witness of the Holy Spirit. As someone said, "what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Anyone who claims his or her faith does not need evidence, even if true, ought to take a reality check.

Well, that sure isn’t me. I place evidence front and center – and regard evidence as central to faith.

9) Must be convinced that his or her faith is impossible before seeing it as improbable. Time after time believers will claim I have not proved that their faith is impossible, and so lacking this kind of proof they still claim to have a reason to believe. However, we're always talking about probabilities. So even if it's still possible to believe in light of a number of problems for faith, it's still an improbable faith and that should be good enough.

I don’t do this either. Nuff said.

10) Must denigrate the sciences in order to have faith. This is what I see time after time. Believers denigrate the sciences in a number of ways in order to believe. That's because faith demands it. Some believers don't even know what I'm talking about. Since science tells us prayer doesn't work then it doesn't work. It tells us the universe is 13.7 billion years old. It tells us we evolved. It tells us there was no Israelite Exodus from Egypt. It tells us the Nativity stories in the Gospels could not be true. It tells us virgins do not have babies. It tells us that dead people do not bodily rise from the grave. Christians must denigrate science in order to believe. Science or Faith? Science has a track record. Faith flies planes into buildings. Science all the way, hands down. End of story.

I have never denigrated the sciences because I don’t discuss them. But I have told Loftus repeatedly that his views on prayer are misguided, and corrected him repeatedly on why science and miracles are not at odds. He just doesn’tlet it stick. Nick summed it up well:

Actually, science doesn't tell us anything. Scientists using science do. Science cannot also tell us that historical events of a miraculous nature did not happen. My question is always the same to these types. When did scientists discover that it takes sex between a man and a woman to make a baby? How was it discovered? Who discovered it? When did they discover that dead people don't naturally come back to life?

Note also at the end that Loftus just rips off of Dawkins who said science flies us to the moon and religion flies planes into buildings. Never mind as Copan said that those religionists are just dancing to their DNA per what Dawkins said. Also, who gave the planes to fly into the buildings? Was it not scientists? Was it not science that was responsible for the experiments on Jews in World War 2? Did science give us the desire to build hospitals, teach literacy, and care for the poor? It certainly improved our methods to do so, but it did not give the desire or imperative. It can't. Of course, to Loftus, this is bashing science. It's bashing science if you say there is truth outside of science. Keep in mind DJ has no credentials in science. Then why is he suddenly saying this? Because he's just following the lead of Keith Parsons and the new atheists.

So there you have it – I’m 0 for 10 in the Delusion Department. Oh well – guess that means John will have to pretend to ignore the hard data arguments again, instead of resorting to another accusatory genetic fallacy.

Link

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Deludo Department, Part 1

Dr. John Loftus, psychologist, has helpfully provided us with what he thinks are the “ten marks (or characteristics) of a deluded person.” He advises us to “consider from this checklist how many of them apply to you. “

Oh dear. Well, with an authority like John recommending this, how can I refuse and thereby risk endangering my psychological health? We’ll do this in two parts, five at a time.


Was born and raised into his or her religious faith. Just taking the odds at face value this is non-controversial and undeniable given the number of religions propagated around the globe and adhered to with utter and complete confidence as the one true faith.


YAWN. It’s the boring old genetic fallacy again. But anyway, I pass: I wasn’t born or raised into Christianity. I was taught (by both the example of Christians I knew, and what circumstances I was raised in) to regard it as intolerant and worthy of scorn, if anything.

As an adult never adopts nor cultivates the adult attitude of doubt. All adults must revisit the religious faith taught to them by their parents since #1 above is undeniably true. That means they must doubt. Doubt is the adult attitude.

OK, well…since I didn’t end up with the faith I was taught…I pass. BTW, does this include kids with atheist parents?


Never reads widely or is exposed to other points of view in the media. I'm talking about non-fiction works about the sciences, different cultures, different faiths, and those written by skeptics or non-believers. To escape from being deluded, believers should read books that are written by people within different cultures and faith communities, and watch programs on the History Channel, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, 60 Minutes, Dateline, and yes, YouTube.

Oh, please. I’ve read more material of this sort than John and 99.5% of all atheists out there. You can also tell that John has pretty low standards – the shows and channels he lists are primarily good for entertainment, not scholarship. He probably thinks Mythbusters is scholarly.

In contrast, I’m reading stuff by people with doctorates, which is the sort of stuff John never picks up unless he thinks he can drag something useful for atheism out of it.


Does not travel widely including travel into different cultures. A deluded person only experiences a small slice of the pie. One must experience the world to see how others live. The more the better. Such a person basically stays within the social confines of like-minded religious people. The Amish are the extreme examples of this. Many believers only have believing friends. Even if believers cannot travel the world they can still step outside their social grouping to meet other people who think differently. Most believers do not trust people of different faiths or non-believers. Seek them out. Attend a freethinker's group meeting. Get to know them. Become friends with them.

Yeah, OK, John. Thanks for the bigoted dismissal of introverts there. I don’t guess I’d qualify on this one since I don’t have a “social grouping” now other than the online community – and since that includes plenty of people who think differently, including atheists, that means I don’t qualify for a delusion button.


For the record, John’s arguments don’t get any better just because you’re friends with him. It may lead you to ignore his (and their) faults, though, which is precisely what he needs to happen.


Never studies deeply into the nature of his or her adopted faith. The more you know the less you believe, the less confident you become, and the more you doubt.


? – Oh…kay. Like I said, I’ve studied this stuff deeply – way deeper than John or any of his atheist friends. I might not match on particular topics with some, like Joseph Hoffmann, but in terms of a broad knowledge base, there isn’t an atheist I can think of who has shown broader knowledge.

So. I’m 0 for 5 so far in the Deludo Department. We’ll see how I finish up tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Back Tomorrow

No jury service...but the duty period left me behind schedule and very tired (we had to get up at 5 AM yesterday). The Ticker and Forge blogs will return tomorrow.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Duly Jurred

Hello everyone...from the "pool room" at the Orange County FL courthouse, where 4 rounds of calling have passed and I'm still not one of the people heading upstairs to a courtroom. Will I be? Sure hope not. They said there are at least 9 more judges waiting for cases today, though. We just have to wait until their Majesties suffer us to be called.

On the bright side, the opening orientation this time didn't feature some extroverted nut of a courthouse worker suggesting we could get to know new people, exchange recipes, etc.

PLEASE. Some of us are not like you, okay?

I'll post an update tomorrow on what's happened. See ya then. (No, no picture today...these computers are so old I'm scared to open a new browser window.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time to Waste My Time

Yep. I got tagged for jury duty Monday. I should be able to post from their Net lounge to give news on whether I go from Stage 1 (waiting in a large room for His Majesty to call us up to the courtroom) to Stage 2 (waiting in the courtroom for a bunch of attorneys to ask me a bunch of dumb questions). After that I'll be down the black hole, if I get that far.

The Forge (and Ticker) will not have any new posts of substance until I can assess how much of my time has been wasted and am able to catch up on work. We shall see.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tube Boobs

As I have reported on TWeb lately, I’ve discovered an amazing thing: Many atheists on YouTube are exceptionally stupid.

No, I’m not exaggerating. I had a pretty good sample after one of them drew notice to, and responded to, one of my vids, and his troll collection bounded on over to mine to pick their nostrils in the forum.


These guys are pretty amazing. They’ve invented entirely new spellings for common words: “hypocracy,” “courtious,” “waist” (as in, “don’t waist my time”), and so on. They’re also dense as bricks on just about everything else. Here’s what one poor soul did, commenting on the fact that I was proposing a reading of the text that was disagreed on by the vast majority of translations:


Your research must be ground breaking if you are going to overthrow hundreds of combined years of textual reviews.

Indeed so. But a moment later, this same poor, benighted soul said:


Forget the "Golden Rule"? Jesus saw the value of being nice even when others weren't; though he co-opted that rule from Buddhism. Perhaps you haven't read your bible well enough....tough principle to miss.

Uh, wait.


On the one hand, I'm told, "Your research must be ground breaking if you are going to overthrow hundreds of combined years of textual reviews."


Then on the other hand, this fruitcake belts out, "[Jesus] co-opted that rule from Buddhism," a stance that would make nearly all NT scholars wet their pants with laughter.


Funny – I guess you’re only allowed to be a “freethinker” when you disagree with the other point of view.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Loftus Particle

Sent to me by a reader. I have to agree, that's one dense particle.

Link

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Trinity Doofus

Nick Peters sent me a copy of a comment he got on his blog which is ironically funny just now as I complete my TektonTV video on the Trinity (the star of that vid is pictured to the left – call that a promo). This doofus who commented is apparently a bit of a mystic who is into Hinduism, and thinks that there are trinities in other religions too.

Well, no, there aren’t – not that I have yet found. But for fun, when I release the vid tomorrow, come back and compare what the doofus wrote to these lines straight from the film. Ironic indeed.


Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles of Buddhism speak of Trikaya,
or three bodies: Nirmanakaya is the Buddha in human form, Sambhogakaya is celestial Buddha and Dharmakaya is the formless essence, or Buddha-nature. The Theravada primarily addresses the historic Buddha.

“No, I’m sorry. That’s the modalist heresy! NEXT!”

The “Three Jewels” are the Buddha, the dharma (his teachings) and the sangha (the community of monks and nuns).


“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”


Christianity has its Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit referring to God, Jesus Christ and their spiritual bond of unity (unlike the Nicene Creed).

No line here, but this one’s a patent misunderstanding. The Trinity fits right in with the Nicene Creed (link below).


In Christian mysticism, the three ways of the spiritual life are the purgative in being purified from sin, the illuminative in true understanding of created things, and the unitive in which the soul unites with God by love.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”

Hinduism’s trimurti are the threefold activities of Brahman: in Brahma as creator, in Vishnu as sustainer and in Shiva as destroyer.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”


Saccidananda are the triune attributes or essence of Brahman:
sat, being, cit, consciousness and ananda, bliss.

That actually comes closest of all – except it’s a quadrinity, not a Trinity. Didn’t do that one in the film because I don’t know of any heretics who make that mistake. But even then, none of the attributes are persons.


The three major schools of yoga are bhakti, devotion, and jnana, knowledge and karma, the way of selfless action.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”


In Islam, nafs is the ego-soul, qalb is heart and ruh is spirit.

Might qualify as a quadrinity again, depending on the anthropology they use – if they were all persons.

In the Kabbalah of Judaism, sefirot – sparks from the divine – have three fulcrums to balance the horizontal levels of the Tree of Life: Da`at (a pseudo-sefirot) is knowledge combining understanding and wisdom; Tiferet is beauty, the midpoint of judgment and loving kindness; Yesod is the foundation for empathy and endurance. They also vertically connect, through the supreme crown, the infinite and transcendent Ein Sof with its kingdom in the immanent Shekhinah.

That wasn’t quite coherent – but it sounds like another trio.


Enjoy the new vid – it could be up today or tomorrow; I’ll post a link here when it is up. Bottom line for now though is that there’s a pile of ignorance about this doctrine – and I think this wacko may be responsible for about a third of it.


Link


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Extrovert World

This past weekend, my beloved Mrs H and I went to a barbershop for me to get a haircut, and it struck home again just how much of our society is now attuned to, and ruled by, extroverts. The second we got in the door, the entire staff of the shop turned and chorused,

“Welcome to BazookaClips!”

No, that’s not the real name of course. But it was such a turn that it should have been. If we hadn’t had a real good coupon we probably would have left.

Various other businesses are doing this, too, I’ve noted. I’m assuming (I can’t see why else it would be done) that it has something to do with making the consumer feel at home. I suppose that makes sense as long as the consumer is shallow enough that they don’t notice that the greeting is frequently given with a glassy-eyed glance, and in a monotone that is usually reserved for the recitation of a Biblical genealogy.

Oh sure. Some of the “welcomers” are extroverts, too, and probably enjoy it. They’re the sorts who would be happy to meet a bug on the wall. But why is it assumed that greeting practices like these will be universally welcomed? Probably because as I said in an earlier post, extroverts are running the show – and the introverts figure there’s no sense in speaking up. And since they stay quiet, no one ever learns that some find the practice uncomfortable, shallow, or even objectionable.

I will speak up, though, the next time it happens where I’m the only one affected. Voicing an objection to the folks at BazookaClips isn’t what I have in mind; they’re under orders from someone higher, so it isn’t fair to object to them. They’re just doing their job. But in a meeting with a pastoral leader some months ago, the fellow on the other side was using my name something like twice a sentence, clearly following some business advice written by hardcore extroverts. If I get one of those meetings again, I’ll stop them and say:

“Look, I understand repeating my name all the time is some sort of relational practice you’ve picked up for business, but would you mind not doing that? It creeps me out.”

Why should we introverts stay quiet when the babblers invade our sphere so, you know – invasively?


I’ll probably get a blank stare after that. There are too many signs that the extros have taken over and don’t get it -- it's sort of like the way fundy atheists assume the values of the modern world held in the Bible's times. The other day I was put on hold, and instead of music or silence – either of which I would have far preferred – I got an extended recording of a man saying, “While we have you on hold, let me tell you about this product we have…”

No. Let’s not pretend this is a conversation, shall we?

It’s so bad though that Mrs H’s mother used to have a microwave oven that, when it was through cooking, would flash a message on its timer: ENJOY YOUR MEAL.

What? Are we so lonely out there that we want our machines to wish us culinary blessings?

It sure is funny. We hear so much about how people are lonely and hurting, and how Jesus (your good buddy) can help you with that. With the way we’re anthropomorphizing even microwaves, it’s little wonder Buddy Jesus is the main way churches try to get converts these days.

Take a clue from this introvert: It’s better to look for real, depth relationships – in the right places.