John Gray on evangelical atheists

Supposing that few CP&S readers actually “take” the Guardian, I might tell you that very recently John Gray (b.1948), the political philosopher now retired from the London School of Economics, wrote an article there concerning our old friends, the “new atheists”, often referred to as “evangelical atheists”. Unavoidably, we know the type.

Rather than make any tedious comments of my own on the article, I will just set down below for you some quotable quotes that I think you will find more interesting and not entirely unappealing. Though an atheist himself, Professor Gray appears less than impressed by these modern-day crusading nullifidians and believes they are probably feeling more and more out of sorts these days.

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

There is no sign anywhere of religion fading away, but by no means all atheists have thought the disappearance of religion possible or desirable.

Many who are atheists in this sense (including myself) regard the evangelical atheism that has emerged over the past few decades with bemusement. Why make a fuss over an idea that has no sense for you? There are untold multitudes who have no interest in waging war on beliefs that mean nothing to them. Throughout history, many have been happy to live their lives without bothering about ultimate questions.

Campaigning atheism is a missionary enterprise, aiming to convert humankind to a particular version of unbelief; but not all atheists have been interested in propagating a new gospel, and some have been friendly to traditional faiths.

It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. (GC: obviously Professor Gray is not an attentive CP&S reader!) The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion.

In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values.

As society became ever more reliant on science, they had assumed, religion would inexorably decline. No doubt the process would be bumpy, and pockets of irrationality would linger on the margins of modern life; but religion would dwindle away as a factor in human conflict. The road would be long and winding. But the grand march of secular reason would continue, with more and more societies joining the modern west in marginalising religion. Someday, religious belief would be no more important than personal hobbies or ethnic cuisines.

The resurgence of religion is a worldwide development. Russian Orthodoxy is stronger than it has been for over a century, while China is the scene of a reawakening of its indigenous faiths and of underground movements that could make it the largest Christian country in the world by the end of this century. Despite tentative shifts in opinion that have been hailed as evidence it is becoming less pious, the US remains massively and pervasively religious.

For secular thinkers, the continuing vitality of religion calls into question the belief that history underpins their values.

Finally, dear kathleen, faithful CP&S stalwart, this one may re-ignite the recent CP&S culture wars:

The Hapsburg empire was based on rejecting the liberal principle of national self-determination; but – possibly for that very reason – it was more protective of minorities than most of the states that succeeded it. Protecting universal values without honouring what are now seen as core liberal ideals, these archaic imperial regimes were more civilised than a great many states that exist today.

Please read Professor Gray’s recent article here on the Guardian. It of course contains a lot more and much on atheism historically.

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442 Responses to John Gray on evangelical atheists

  1. Adrian Meades (in town) says:

    Oh, where to start?
    “In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values”
    The obvious connection is that all three are built upon evidence based reasoning.

  2. GC says:

    As you may have noticed in Gray’s article, Adrian, the atheistic Nietzsche (not someone who you hear much about these days from the mainstream Internet atheists) was not a great fan of rationalism (Greek rationalism, anyway). He thought it infected Christians and led then to liberalism – bad, he thought.

    As a classical scholar, he recognised that a mystical Greek faith in reason had shaped the cultural matrix from which modern liberalism emerged. Some ancient Stoics defended the ideal of a cosmopolitan society; but this was based in the belief that humans share in the Logos, an immortal principle of rationality that was later absorbed into the conception of God with which we are familiar. Nietzsche was clear that the chief sources of liberalism were in Jewish and Christian theism: that is why he was so bitterly hostile to these religions. He was an atheist in large part because he rejected liberal values.

  3. toadspittle says:

    “Why make a fuss over an idea that has no sense for you? “

    The idea of fanatical Muslims cutting people’s heads off over religion makes no sense to me. Should I not make a “fuss” about it?

    The idea that two men can marry each other makes no sense to many people, including some on CP&S.
    Should they, then, not make a “fuss” about it?
    The man is talking tripe.

  4. Adrian Meades says:

    Thanks GC, but I don’t see how that detracts from my point. So, I’ll move on:
    “Campaigning atheism is a missionary enterprise, aiming to convert humankind to a particular version of unbelief; but not all atheists have been interested in propagating a new gospel, and some have been friendly to traditional faiths.”
    I’m not sure who all these missionary atheists are, but this “particular version of unbelief” must refer to the desire for people to base their beliefs on reasoned evidence, rather than ‘faith’ and ancient folklore.

  5. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    I would be very grateful to hear what your evidence for atheism is (unless your philosophical beliefs lead you to conclude that lack of evidence for one position is evidence for an opposite position, in which case, what evidence underlies that philosophical position?); similarly, I am terribly keen to know what evidence supports liberal values, as Gray points out in his article, within our own lifetimes atheists believed that the most vile oppression was built on evidence based reasoning.

    If you’ll forgive me for pointing out the bleedin’ obvious, you should know who these “missionary atheists” are; after all, why else are you here?

    As to “faith” and “folklore”, what hard evidence do you base your own theological position on?

  6. toadspittle says:

    “Nietzsche was clear that the chief sources of liberalism were in Jewish and Christian theism: that is why he was so bitterly hostile to these religions. He was an atheist in large part because he rejected liberal values.”

    Nietzsche was hostile, basically, to Christianity because he believed all that forgiving, and cheek-turning, and bowing down to a kindly and loving father-figure God, and being ever so ‘umble and lowly, and doing everything the priests and the Church told you – fostered the slave mentality.
    …And also the sheep mentality.
    Call that Liberalism if you like.

    Can you call a man who proclaimed, “God is dead,” Atheistic?
    If you want, I suppose.
    Nietzsche doesn’t care. He’s dead, too.

  7. The Raven says:

    I am sure that the idea that bad people will do vile things if they are given licence to do so makes sense to you, Toad, so I’m not sure that the likes of “Jihadi John” is something that falls into Gray’s “why bother?” category.

    Likewise, the idea that human beings can be self-willed people who want to twist the world to make themselves more comfortable makes plenty of sense to anyone who believes that humanity is a fallen part of creation; again, outside of the “whatever” category.

    I think that you may be rather deliberately misreading Gray’s piece.

  8. toadspittle says:

    I don’t think so, Raven. But you might be right.
    However, It strikes me as being a bit bleeding ironic that a great many Christians* are all for vigorously spreading their “truths” to try and convert people, but when Atheists try the very same thing, piercing wails of execration are heard in the land.
    I regard Atheists as having much the same rigid mindset as believers, myself.
    Far too dogmatic about metaphysical topics of which we know nothing.
    For what that’s worth.

    *I read just yesterday that there are 1500 “Christian” religions in the USA alone.
    Catholicism is one, of course. (And an important one, at that.)
    Montaigne was wrong – men don’t “…make gods by the dozen,” – they make them by the thousand!

  9. Adrian Meades says:

    Dear The Raven,
    what is your evidence for not believing in (sorry about this) the Loch Ness Monster?

    “I am terribly keen to know what evidence supports liberal values”
    The evidence that tells us people don’t, in general, like to suffer. The evidence that being nice makes for a happier world. Stuff like that, I guess.

    “the most vile oppression was built on evidence based reasoning”
    Was this reasoning based on good, thorough, unbiased research?

    “you should know who these “missionary atheists” are; after all, why else are you here?”
    I enjoy, and am interested in discussions about supernatural beliefs.

    “As to “faith” and “folklore”, what hard evidence do you base your own theological position on?”
    I tend not to belief in things that sound very unlikely to be true, and vice versa.

  10. I tend not to belief in things that sound very unlikely to be true, and vice versa.

    Quid est veritas,
    si Deus non est?

    Praeterea, nihil est maius mente humana nisi Deus, ut dicit Augustinus. Sed veritas, ut probat Augustinus in Lib. Solil., est maior mente humana, quia non potest dici quod sit minor. Sic enim haberet mens humana de veritate iudicare, quod falsum est. Non enim de ea iudicat, sed secundum eam, sicut et iudex non iudicat de lege, sed secundum eam, ut idem dicit in Lib. de vera Relig. Similiter nec etiam dici potest quod sit ei aequalis, quia anima iudicat omnia secundum veritatem; non autem iudicat omnia secundum seipsam. Ergo veritas non est nisi Deus; et ita est tantum una veritas. (Thomas de Aquino)

  11. toadspittle says:

    I note too, Raven you refer to the Muslim loonies I cited, but make no mention of whether or not the Gay Marriage bashers should bother making a “fuss” about the “senseless” mockery of traditional values…end of civilised life on earth… incalculable consequences… world’s rapidly going to the demnition bow-wows ….blah, de blah, hem, hem…etc. etc.,

    “Fuss”? What “fuss”?

    Now you will do so, I’m sure. A simple oversight.

  12. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, you’ll hearing Christians crying “foul” over atheist evangelism mainly because of the stinking hypocrisy that they exhibit: their main complaint against Christians being our propensity to evangelise.

  13. The Raven says:

    Toad, I was addressing pretended marriages between persons of the same sex in my second paragraph.

  14. toadspittle says:

    Translation please, Habsburgh – The Italian of some of us on here is a bit rusty.
    And kindly remember this is a Traditional British blog.
    So we don’t take kindly to that foreign gobbledegook sort of lingo.
    Which might say something fearfully rude, for all we know.

  15. Adrian,
    must refer to the desire for people to base their beliefs on reasoned evidence, rather than ‘faith’ and ancient folklore.
    And if the reasoned evidence verifies the Ancient Faith, and lore of the ages past, what then is your own new faith built upon?

  16. toadspittle says:

    “Christians crying “foul” over atheist evangelism mainly because of the stinking hypocrisy that they exhibit: their main complaint against Christians being our propensity to evangelise.”

    Splendid, Raven. We clearly and entirely agree then – that Atheists are just as stinkingly hypocritical as Christians when it comes to "evangelising" their respective "dogmas."
    I'll buy that.

  17. Toad,
    What is Truth,
    if God is not?

    The rest is Aquinas.

  18. toadspittle says:

    Well Toad don’t know his Aquinas from his elbow.

    So, he’s off to his coffin full of native earth, before sunset.

  19. Adrian Meades says:

    HRM,
    as toad suggests, it would be more helpful if you wrote in English.

    “And if the reasoned evidence verifies the Ancient Faith, and lore of the ages past, what then is your own new faith built upon?”
    If the reasoned evidence verifies the claims, then it ceases to be faith and lore, to become factual – or ‘highly likely’ to be factual.

  20. If the reasoned evidence verifies the claims, then it ceases to be faith and lore, to become factual – or ‘highly likely’ to be factual.
    Yet cannot Faith be factual? Assume the future human race will live in caves, never to see the light of day. Assume that some scientific writings survived from the time men walked the earth in broad daylight. Assume a man living on the surface of earth transmits to the cave-dwellers scientific information regarding his life, the world around, the sun. The cave-dwellers who believed the writings and the man would be believing through faith, though the information would be factual. Those who did not believe would also rely on faith, faith in their own minds
    I’ll admit this analogy is not perfect; analogies seldom are. In any case, much of the belief in science is based on faith, though it be factual. That the earth goes round the sun is held to be a fact. It is a fact I believe on faith, for to all appearances the contrary seems true.

  21. Adrian Meades says:

    I suppose the cave dwellers would need evidence to support that the writing was coming from outside, and was not just a trick by one of their kind. They would make a decision on what seemed most likely to be true.

  22. They would make a decision on what seemed most likely to be true.
    Then once again I ask:

    What is Truth,
    if God is not?

  23. Adrian Meades says:

    I’m not sure that I understand that question, HRM

  24. If God is not Truth, what is truth? What does truth consist of? If we cannot say with certainty that God exists, can we say with certainty that anything exists? If everything evolves, than truth must evolve; yet truth by its nature is constant and cannot evolve. Therefore, if it is true that everything evolves, then there is no truth. Likewise, if God is truth, and it is true that God does not exist, than truth does not exist. If truth exists and God does not, what is truth?

  25. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    what is your evidence for not believing in (sorry about this) the Loch Ness Monster?

    And yes, Adrian, you should be sorry. Nessie has a number of stated attributes, which would render it detectable with the tools that we possess: we have surveyed every nook and cranny of the Loch and found nothing; there is neither evidence of a large predator living in the Loch, nor of a large herbivore.

    Now you tell me: what tools do we have that would allow us to test for the attributes of the God worshipped by Catholics?

    The evidence that tells us people don’t, in general, like to suffer. The evidence that being nice makes for a happier world. Stuff like that, I guess.

    The evidence tells us that people quite readily collaborate in their own misery. The evidence also tells us that people quite like to see others suffering. The evidence tells us that people thrive best in homogeneous societies and that the desire to drive out and expunge “the other” is a universal in human and animal societies. There is very little evidence to say that “being nice” makes for a happier world (in fact, there is plenty of evidence to say that “being nice” can make society as a whole pretty miserable).

    How does your “stuff like that” evidence anything other than the fact that your own presuppositions, having been brought up in a culture fashioned by Christian ethics, are those of the prevailing culture? (Which was another point of Gray’s).

    “the most vile oppression was built on evidence based reasoning”
    Was this reasoning based on good, thorough, unbiased research?

    No, but neither is your own.

    I enjoy, and am interested in discussions about supernatural beliefs.

    The other one has a small carillon attached to it.

    I tend not to belief in things that sound very unlikely to be true, and vice versa.

    I’m sorry that you don’t believe in quantum mechanics. Galileo’s failure to resolve the problem of the equant point made his heliocentric model sound very unlikely to be true at the time; would you have disbelieved him too?

  26. Adrian Meades says:

    Truth doesn’t evolve because it is just a name we give to the existence of reality. That’s why it is constant.

  27. Truth doesn’t evolve because it is just a name we give to the existence of reality. That’s why it is constant.
    If truth is just the name we give to the existence of reality, then does falsehood not existence? Is falsehood not real? And if reality is constantly evolving(i.e. changes its existence), does not truth evolve? If reality were to cease to be constant, would truth cease to exist? Does truth consist of no more than words, and is therefore a falsehood?

  28. Adrian Meades says:

    Dear The Raven,
    “Now you tell me: what tools do we have that would allow us to test for the attributes of the God worshipped by Catholics?”
    Likewise with ghosts, fairies, and Leprechauns. So then; what is your evidence for not believing in those?

    “there is plenty of evidence to say that “being nice” can make society as a whole pretty miserable”
    Is there really? I thought acting fairly and being charitable were Christian ethics?

    “No, but neither is your own.”
    Indeed, but this is what we aim for, isn’t it? We test and challenge ideas to see how the stand up to scrutiny.

    “The other one has a small carillon attached to it.”
    Why do you say that?

    “made his heliocentric model sound very unlikely to be true at the time; would you have disbelieved him too?”
    Yes, probably, but that wouldn’t make him wrong. I’m afraid it’s down to scientists to come up with the supporting evidence for their theories.

  29. Adrian Meades says:

    HRM,
    “And if reality is constantly evolving(i.e. changes its existence), does not truth evolve?”
    If I say that my dad is in the shed when he is not, this is not ‘true’. But if reality changes, and he goes into the shed, then; “my dad is in the shed” becomes ‘true’

  30. If I say that my dad is in the shed when he is not, this is not ‘true’. But if reality changes, and he goes into the shed, then; “my dad is in the shed” becomes ‘true’
    What makes one true and the other not? What standard do you hold reality to? Is it true because your father is in the shed, or is your father in the shed because it is true? How is truth constant if what is true changes with reality? Did not you lie when you said your father was in the shed when he was not, because he went to the shed later?

  31. Adrian Meades says:

    “How is truth constant if what is true changes with reality?”
    As I said before, ‘truth’ is just a name we give to the existence of a reality. It is applied to the state of how things are.

  32. To explain my own position:
    If Truth is Being and God is Being, then God is Truth, and if God is Truth, then God is true. If God is not true, God is not Truth and Truth is not Being if God is Being, and therefore there is no Truth. If God is not Being, than God is not Truth and therefore God is not true. But God by His very nature is Being, otherwise He would not be God. Therefore God is Being and therefore God is Truth and if God is Truth, God is true. If Truth is not being what is it? If Being is not True, what is it? If God is not Being, what is He?

  33. “How is truth constant if what is true changes with reality?”
    As I said before, ‘truth’ is just a name we give to the existence of a reality. It is applied to the state of how things are.

    If that is so, than Truth is not constant. And if Truth is not constant, it is not true. And if Truth is not true, it is not Truth.

  34. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    Likewise with ghosts, fairies, and Leprechauns. So then; what is your evidence for not believing in those?

    Translation: “look over there, a squirrel!” Surely you realise that you are indulging in a category error?

    Is there really? I thought acting fairly and being charitable were Christian ethics?

    Fair and charitable are not synonyms for “nice”, nor for “liberal”. And the meaning of the word “fair” is contingent on the opinions of the person using it.

    Indeed, but this is what we aim for, isn’t it? We test and challenge ideas to see how the stand up to scrutiny.

    Gray’s point (which concurs with my own observations) is that people rarely test or challenge the ideas that are given predominance in society from time to time. Many of the changes in social attitude that have come about over the last half century are the product of a small elite with a prominent platform shifting the groupthink.

    Yes, probably, but that wouldn’t make him wrong.

    No, but it does suggest a major methodological failing in your reasoning process.

  35. Adrian Meades says:

    If God is not being, then God’s ‘being’ is not true. But that would not affect the nature of truth.

  36. If God is not being, then God’s ‘being’ is not true.
    But God by His nature is Being, and Being is Truth, and Truth is true.
    But that would not affect the nature of truth.
    But what is the nature of Truth, if Truth is not Being, for God by His nature is Being and Being by its nature is Truth.

  37. johnhenrycn says:

    This excellent post has attracted a lot of attention in its short (so far) life span, even prompting a “like” from a new and welcome visitor from New Zealand, kelzbelzphotography; but could Tom Fisher please whisper a word in her shell-like about this being a non-smoking blog?

  38. Adrian Meades says:

    Dear The Raven,
    oh please don’t bring out ‘category error’! You asked me what my evidence is for not believing in God, and I say it is the same as your evidence for not believing in ghosts, fairies and leprechauns.

    “Fair and charitable are not synonyms for “nice”, nor for “liberal”. And the meaning of the word “fair” is contingent on the opinions of the person using it.”
    In my house live a dog and two cats who – regardless of not having read the Bible – all get on very well indeed. And until any one of them starts behaving in a ‘nasty’ way, I assume they’ll all be very happy together. But then that’s just my opinion.
    “There is very little evidence to say that “being nice” makes for a happier world”
    Really?

    “Gray’s point (which concurs with my own observations) is that people rarely test or challenge the ideas that are given predominance in society”
    But – unlike what happens in religion – that’s what we should be doing. That’s how science determines which course to follow.

    “it does suggest a major methodological failing in your reasoning process”
    As I said; it is the scientists who have to produce the convincing evidence. We are all coloured by the society in which we live, and our innate animal nature, of course.

  39. Adrian Meades says:

    “But God by His nature is Being”
    I’m sorry, but it must be clear to you that I see no compelling evidence to support this claim – and not for a lack of trying I should add.

  40. That’s how science determines which course to follow.
    What is your definition of science? Is Science a being which can determine? Has Science a will?

  41. “But God by His nature is Being”
    I’m sorry, but it must be clear to you that I see no compelling evidence to support this claim – and not for a lack of trying I should add.

    If God is not Being, then He is not God. If God is Being, then He is Truth.
    It is up to you to prove that there is not a God who is Being and therefore true.
    If God is God, He must exist and He must be true.

  42. johnhenrycn says:

    If the only things that exist are those we can see, touch, feel, taste, hear, then we wouldn’t and couldn’t have this “debate”, because the very act of thinking/knowing is none of those things.

  43. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    oh please don’t bring out ‘category error’!

    Why? You are committing it.

    Haven’t you understood that yet?

    And I’m not sure what point you are attempting to make by describing your domestic arrangements. Are you attempting to describe the virtues of enlightened despotism, the delights of anthropomorphism or your ability to project your own concepts on to animals?

    “There is very little evidence to say that “being nice” makes for a happier world”
    Really?

    Really.

    Perhaps you’d like to define “nice” and cite some studies into its effects.

    But – unlike what happens in religion – that’s what we should be doing. That’s how science determines which course to follow.

    Religion is profoundly counter-cultural, it challenges us to change ourselves; science has nothing to say about “which course to follow”. The most that science can tell us is what to eat and to wash our hands regularly, particularly after using the toilet and before meals (this is hyperbole: science is very useful for medicine and practical applications, but tells us nothing about how to behave or live).

    it is the scientists who have to produce the convincing evidence.

    No. A scientist’s role is to analyse the evidence, not “produce” it. And there are whole fields of study for which “science” is emphatically not the right tool for analysing the evidence.

  44. Tom Fisher says:

    Mary’s Fiat

  45. toadspittle says:

    “Likewise, if God is truth, and it is true that God does not exist, than truth does not exist.”

    You are vanishing up your own existential aperture, Habsburg. The weasel word here is “if.” If it is true that God does not exist – then there is at least one truth – the fact that there is no God.
    We might also examine the truth that water boils at 100 C., at sea level, whether God exists or not. And that two plus three equals five. You keep telling us “God is truth” – well, maybe He is. But where’s the evidence?
    I’m sure there are as many “true” things in the Atheist world as there are in the world of the “believer.” Just different ones.

  46. Adrian Meades says:

    Dear The Raven,
    You asked me what my evidence is for not believing in God.What is your evidence for not believing in ghosts, fairies and leprechauns?

  47. Adrian Meades says:

    We have good reason to believe that ‘thinking’ exists, wouldn’t you say?

  48. Tom Fisher says:

    We have good reason to believe that ‘thinking’ exists, wouldn’t you say?

    One might grudgingly acknowledge that there have been occasional instances of ‘thinking’ in human history. What of it?

  49. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    Fairies and Leprechauns, like Nessie, are posited as being material beings which have fixed ranges and environments: they could be found using the same tools as Nessie.

    Ghosts are also reportedly localised phenomena and the reports of ghosts often either have a proven material explanation or come from people in heightened emotional states (for example, my grandmother believed that the group around her brother’s deathbed had been joined by his ghost). Most of the instances that I am aware of fit into these two categories; I don’t disbelieve in ghosts, they’re just not an explanation that it would occur on me to draw upon.

    In each case we have claims about an entity that we have tools to verify. What tools do you believe that you can use to assert the non-existence of an attribute of God as described by the Catholic Faith?

  50. Adrian Meades says:

    Dear The Raven,
    liberal values are based on reasoning – however flawed that reasoning may be – without the input of irrational faith in ancient folklore, or unsupported superstitions, and notions of the ‘magical’.

    “In each case we have claims about an entity that we have tools to verify”
    What nonsense! Any believer in Fairies would tell you that they cannot be detected by equipment such as thermal imaging. They may say that only ‘certain people’ can see them, or such like.
    In which case, what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

    “What tools do you believe that you can use to assert the non-existence of an attribute of God as described by the Catholic Faith?”
    Back to the fairy comparison again, aren’t we? But I could use The Bible to make a judgement on whether God’s actions and characteristics, as presented, sound sufficiently credible for a perfect and all-powerful creator of the universe.

  51. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,
    What evidence can you advance to support your faith that liberal values are based on reasoning of any kind? What evidence is there that “liberal values” are anything but the outgrowth of the values pre-existent in this culture? If they are nothing more than an extension or development of Christian values, then they are the product of what you call “irrational faith in ancient folklore, or unsupported superstitions, and notions of the ‘magical’.”

    And, while we’re at it, what evidence can you advance that faith in religion is irrational?

    Any believer in Fairies would tell you that they cannot be detected by equipment such as thermal imaging.

    That’s the first that I’ve heard of it, Adrian, I’m afraid that I don’t find your testimony about the nature of fairies credible.

    I could use The Bible to make a judgement on whether God’s actions and characteristics, as presented, sound sufficiently credible for a perfect and all-powerful creator of the universe.

    I hadn’t realised that you were classing literary criticism as “science”. And I was very clear in specifying that You should address yourself to the God described by the Catholic Faith, not some confection of your own.

  52. Adrian Meades says:

    “That’s the first that I’ve heard of it, Adrian, I’m afraid that I don’t find your testimony about the nature of fairies credible”
    Then clearly you need to do a lot more reading up about contemporary fairy theology e.g.
    “understand that our world and the fairy world co-exist and share the same space. There are certain places where the veil that separates these dimensions can be pierced. It’s like knowing a hidden picture is on a page”
    So, if it is the case that fairies also cannot detected by tools, what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

  53. Adrian Meades says:

    “I hadn’t realised that you were classing literary criticism as “science”. And I was very clear in specifying that You should address yourself to the God described by the Catholic Faith, not some confection of your own.”
    You don’t class the accounts of The Bible as being evidence for the God described by the Catholic Faith?

  54. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian,

    Your description there sounds very much like the “many worlds” version of quantum theory, which I also find rather unconvincing. Presumably there is some cod-science underlying the description that you’ve give. Are you sure that you’re not citing a work of fiction?

  55. The Raven says:

    I’m pointing out to you that if you are going to cite the Bible you need to do so in the light of Catholic interpretation of the Bible.

  56. Adrian Meades says:

    That you find it unconvincing is interesting, but doesn’t answer the question:
    If it is the case that fairies also cannot detected by tools (as some people claim), what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

  57. Adrian Meades says:

    “I’m pointing out to you that if you are going to cite the Bible you need to do so in the light of Catholic interpretation of the Bible”
    In such a case I would certainly endeavour to do this. Is that OK?

  58. The Raven says:

    Go ahead. But you’ll need to give me references to the commentaries that you’re relying on.

  59. Adrian Meades says:

    Well, really I think the whole of God’s plan, which involves implementing Jesus as a saviour sounds insufficiently credible for a perfect and all-powerful creator of the universe.

    If it is the case that fairies also cannot detected by tools (as some people claim), what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

  60. The Raven says:

    If it is the case that fairies also cannot detected by tools (as some people claim), what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

    What people, Adrian?

    I’m afraid that you’re flogging a dead horse with this one. The only place that I’ve ever encountered people with any sort of belief in Fairies is in the Isle of Man, but the legend there was that there were definite physical beings located in a definite physical location (the Fairy Bridge): I don’t know whether your sources are writing in earnest or writing fabulous tales (or the extent that the two are overlapping, like with the odd people who call themselves Jedis and the like).

  61. The Raven says:

    Well, really I think the whole of God’s plan, which involves implementing Jesus as a saviour sounds insufficiently credible for a perfect and all-powerful creator of the universe.

    Adrian, that’s your own confection: you’re not taking into account the attributes that we credit God with.

    And since when did “it doesn’t seem likely” count as evidence?

  62. Adrian Meades says:

    “I’m afraid that you’re flogging a dead horse with this one”
    I have to flog it Raven, because you keep avoiding answering the question. If you did some research you would find out about people who believe that fairies exist and cannot be detected by tools. But for convenience I will claim that fairies exist and also cannot detected by tools. In which case, what is your evidence for not believing in fairies?

  63. The Raven says:

    Adrian, why would I want to rifle the internet to find such eccentric people? I imagine that their presentation would be highly likely to lead me to question their reliability or veracity.

    It’s your case, not mine, that atheists’ rejection of God is a reasoned position based on evidence. Please go ahead and make it.

  64. Adrian Meades says:

    OK. Try this:
    Millions of Muslims believe in the existence of Buraq, Allah’s winged horse. What is your evidence for not believing in Buraq?

  65. The Raven says:

    No dice, Adrian. Make your own case.

  66. Adrian Meades says:

    What an outstanding cop out, Raven! Top stuff!

  67. The Raven says:

    I’m not sure that it’s good form to praise yourself in that manner, Adrian: you’ve posited that an atheistic belief system is based on evidence; you’ve then tried to distract attention from your assertion by trying to get me to demonstrate a point that I haven’t made.

    The reasonableness or lack of reasonableness of my own opinions on the existence of a Mahometan legendary beast is not in point: the truth of your own assertion is in point.

    Retract or make your case.

  68. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    I wasn’t praising myself in any manner, but remarking with humour on your boldly evasive reply.

    You wrote “I would be very grateful to hear what your evidence for atheism is (unless your philosophical beliefs lead you to conclude that lack of evidence for one position is evidence for an opposite position, in which case, what evidence underlies that philosophical position?)”
    My reply to this was that I don’t believe in the Catholic God for the same reasons that you don’t believe – in this case – in Buraq the winged horse.

  69. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    That just doesn’t work as an argument. You have made a bold claim that an atheistic viewpoint is based on evidence and reason, I have made no similar claim about my own views about the beliefs of Mahometans.

    What do we know about Buraq? It gets about a line in the Koran, which doesn’t even identify it as a horse, or even as winged. What do we know about the provenance or origin of the Koranic text: next to nothing, it seems to be, at least in part, cobbled together out of pre-existing texts and, if we were to believe the traditional version of the story of its origins, it is the unwitnessed work of one man. Where do we get most of the detail about Buraq? From the Haditha. What do we know about the origin and provenance of the Hadiths in question? Nothing.

    The fact that the sole testimony to the Buraq is in a collection of questionable works which flatly contradicts the rather better evidence we have of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord doesn’t help.

    In summary, not only do I question the value of the report of the existence of the Buraq, I also have evidence that directly contradicts the person who allegedly made that report. I am not basing my scepticism on the absence of evidence for winged horses.

  70. Adrian Meades says:

    “I am not basing my scepticism on the absence of evidence for winged horses”
    So you would maintain that a flying winged horse is a viable propostion?

  71. The Raven says:

    I don’t have to entertain the question, Adrian, for the reasons already stated.

    Are you going to start setting out your own case any time soon?

  72. The Raven says:

    And, Adrian, we seem to have overlooked this little question:

    What evidence can you advance to support your faith that liberal values are based on reasoning of any kind?

    Any chance of an answer?

  73. Adrian Meades says:

    These points have already been addressed, haven’t they? Liberal values are based on reasoned evaluations, however flawed those evaluations may be.

    I do wonder if you ever try to to see these arguments from my point of view. For instance, your evidence for God existing is merely just your opinion; your feelings and thoughts that exist solely in your head. How is that ever going to mean much to me?
    You do say that the accounts of the New Testament provide a good source of evidence, but, for example, when pressed you change tack and tell me that the account of the ascension is merely allegorical.
    How can all this appear as compelling revelations to the likes of little old me?

  74. Adrian Meades says:

    And you yourself would have to admit that human beings have a propensity for believing in supernatural mumbo jumbo; from Muslims with their Jinns and winged horses, to New Agers and their auras and shakras, Australian aborigines’ dream-time creatures, woodland sprites, lucky charms, all manner of superstitions etc. etc. etc. throughout known history.
    So, from my point of view, can’t you see how it seems to me far more likely that you too have also been taken in by this same trait – and spend much your time thinking up ways to uphold your belief in it – than your unsupported supernatural beliefs are actually true?

  75. You are vanishing up your own existential aperture, Habsburg. The weasel word here is “if.” If it is true that God does not exist – then there is at least one truth – the fact that there is no God.
    We might also examine the truth that water boils at 100 C., at sea level, whether God exists or not. And that two plus three equals five. You keep telling us “God is truth” – well, maybe He is. But where’s the evidence?

    God by His nature is Being. Being is Truth. Truth is true. God who is Truth cannot be an Absence of Truth (i.e. Falsehood). If God who is Truth is not true, there is no Truth. These other truths you mention are only true in so far as they are ordered by the Truth, that is, ordered by God. If God does not exist, then nothing is true. The evidence is the definition of Truth, the Nature of God, and sound logical reasoning.

  76. Adrian,
    For instance, your evidence for God existing is merely just your opinion; your feelings and thoughts that exist solely in your head.
    I have given you the reasoned explain for the existence of God. My logic has not been disproved. And you have answered very few of my questions. Have you not read my reasoning? Can you refute it?
    And you yourself would have to admit that human beings have a propensity for believing in supernatural mumbo jumbo
    Human beings have a propensity for believing in the Truth or fragments of the Truth, half-forgotten memories of things beyond comprehension. Is it so difficult for you to believe that Humanity is right, if only in fragments, and you yourself are wrong? Science (whatever that may be in your mind) cannot prove these things, and yet be the same measure, cannot disprove them. Will you admit agnosticism (ignōrantia in Latin) in such things beyond the realm of science? Have you that humility?

  77. toadspittle says:

    “If God who is Truth is not true, there is no Truth. These other truths you mention are only true in so far as they are ordered by the Truth, that is, ordered by God. If God does not exist, then nothing is true. “
    I see. (I think, I do, anyway) Does that “mean” If there’s no God, everything, is “false”” – or if there’s no God, nothing exists at all?
    Either way it’s all utterly meaningless, and impossible to have a serious debate about.
    It just draws a line through everything.

    …And, if it is “true” – does it matter what sort of God must exist to make everything “true”?
    Will a Hindu one do? Or must it be a Catholic one?

    What you are saying, in another way, it seems to me – is “God made all things, and since all things exist, that proves God exists.” Well…

    Does anyone else on CP&S believe what Habsburg is saying here?

  78. toadspittle says:

    However, let’s get back to earth, and a bit of common sense here.

    To sum up, we are all agreed that Evangelical Atheists are just as likely to be as boring, tedious, and silly as any of the several thousand varieties of Evangelical Theist – and we will slam the door on any of them, quick as we can say, “Be off with you,” (or somewhat harsher words to that effect.).
    Right?
    (Naturally, we don’t have to do that to Evangelical Agnostics – because there’s no such beast.)

    End of “thread” – God willing.

  79. The Raven says:

    Dear Adrian

    These points have already been addressed, haven’t they? Liberal values are based on reasoned evaluations, however flawed those evaluations may be.

    That point has not been addressed: you have asserted it at least twice, but provided neither evidence nor argument to support that assertion (aside from your comments about “nice”, which seemed to peter out instead of coming to a conclusion). The points that you have made are little more than post-facto explanations of positions that were already reached.

    your evidence for God existing is merely just your opinion; your feelings and thoughts that exist solely in your head.

    But that isn’t true, Adrian. You yourself acknowledge that I point to the testimony of witnesses, which is usually taken as being evidence. Where my opinion comes into it is my weighing the value of that evidence.

    This conversation started with your own claim that atheism was based on evidence and reason, which you contrasted with naughty old theism which you said was irrational and based on fables. So far you have not made an argument supporting your own position, nor cited the evidence for it, which should, by your lights be readily to hand.

    Your swerves into Buraqs, djinns, fairies et al just make it look as though you are trying to shift the burden of supporting your views onto my shoulders.

    for example, when pressed you change tack and tell me that the account of the ascension is merely allegorical.

    I think that you need to go back and re-read the conversation, Adrian. The point that I was making was that you were insisting on something that is not present in the text.

  80. The Raven says:

    And you yourself would have to admit that human beings have a propensity for believing in supernatural mumbo jumbo

    Yes, they do.

    I class the belief that it is rational to conclude that there is no God in the same category of mumbo-jumbo as belief in horoscopes and tarot cards.

    In my opinion, the only rational position for a person to take who is not convinced by Catholicism is good, honest agnosticism.

  81. Tom Fisher says:

    Does anyone else on CP&S believe what Habsburg is saying here?

    This is such an interesting discussion, but I’ve taken on too much work to really participate. (And the thread is moving so fast!)

    Surely the concept of God as the ultimate ‘ground of being’ (to use a clumsy phase) which we find intellectualised in Aristotle, Plotinus, and late paganism, and experienced as revelation by Israel, and expressed so sublimely in Dante, and seen in the light of Christ so clearly by Aquinas, and believed in by someone as far from Christianity as Wittgenstein, is not quite in the same category as leprechauns — which are folkloric creatures in the world (or not) rather than fundamental to the nature of truth itself?*

    *That sentence completely got away on me, sorry if it’s incoherent, very busy!

  82. The Raven says:

    Tom, it made sense to me.

  83. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “I point to the testimony of witnesses, which is usually taken as being evidence”
    but you are selective in which parts of this testimony you believe to be true. You did dismiss the witness accounts of Jesus flying up in the sky to heaven, didn’t you?

  84. Adrian Meades says:

    HRM,
    “Human beings have a propensity for believing in the Truth or fragments of the Truth, half-forgotten memories of things beyond comprehension”
    but they actually tend to believe in falsehoods, don’t they?

  85. toadspittle says:

    It’s my experience, that people will believe anything – providing it’s stupid and unbelievable enough.
    …It’s what makes the world go round.

  86. The Raven says:

    There are no accounts of Jesus “flying”, Adrian. Go back to the text.

  87. johnhenrycn says:

    TR: “There are no accounts of Jesus flying.”
    Lk. 24:51 and Acts 1:9
    Just splitting hairs, I am; but you’re correct, and you’ve got 3 thumbs up to prove it😉

  88. toadspittle says:

    Why on earth should Toad have got (so far) three thumbs-down – for his comment at 12.48?
    Who could reasonably deny that?

    Still, 30,000 thumbs-down would be even nicer.

  89. Tom Fisher says:

    There are no accounts of Jesus “flying”

    Indeed, though there are a startling number of references to automobiles. As well as Mary’s Fiat we all recall that God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden in a Fury, David’s Triumph was heard throughout the land, and after the ascension the Apostles were all in one Accord

  90. johnhenrycn says:

    That’s quite enough TOM-foolery for one thread!

  91. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad, you may have garnered those negative responses at 12:48 due to its being a crude but recognizable paraphrase of something Chesterton said far better: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

    “Still, 30,000 thumbs-down would be even nicer.”

    At the last year-end round-up, had you not already acquired 100,000 “dislikes”?

  92. Adrian Meades says:

    Well we could get picky about the meaning of ‘fly’, Raven, but you did dismiss the witness accounts of Jesus rising up in the sky to heaven.

  93. The Raven says:

    No, Adrian, I dismissed your chosen interpretation of them.

  94. johnhenrycn says:

    To paraphrase and to clarify what I said above (05 March at 23:58): if the only things that can be said to exist are those perceived by our 5 senses (or however many senses have now been provisionally identified), then there is no empirical (i.e. material or physical) proof acceptable to an atheist that thinking exists or takes place, because – to quote and slightly paraphrase a recent article by the Rev. Peter Mullen:

    “The act of [thinking] is not itself material. Thinking involves logic, language and syntax, which are not material. ‘Consciousness’, which performs the act of thinking, is not material either.”

    …in response to which Adrian asks at 05:57 yesterday: “We have good reason to believe that ‘thinking’ exists, wouldn’t you say?”

    Adrian, you may have reasons for saying that you are capable of “thinking”, but can you prove that you’ve ever done so? Your so-called ‘thoughts’ may be – and from an atheist’s point of view probably are – nothing more than neuro-chemical events (pace Mullen’s piece) caused by what you had for breakfast today. An atheist cannot scientifically prove to his own satisfaction that he actually thinks or knows anything; and of course, the same goes for believers in God. In other words: there are some things – including thought and The Omnipotent Being – which cannot be scientifically proven to exist, but which nonetheless do.

    The concepts known as atheism and sophismsolipsism are the two sides of the lowest coin in the philosophical realm, wouldn’t you say?

  95. Adrian Meades says:

    “Adrian, you may have reasons for saying that you are capable of “thinking”, but can you prove that you’ve ever done so?”
    Yes I can, johnhenrycn. As you can see on this page, I’ve written a few of the down.

  96. Adrian Meades says:

    No Raven, you dismissed the account of Jesus going up into the sky.

  97. toadspittle says:

    Nobody can find a reference to Chesterton actually saying that, JH. Not that it matters – it;s the kind of thing he might well have said.
    …Nor is it true.
    Just because Dawkins or Fry, for example, don’t believe in God, it doesn’t mean they are more likely to believe in astrology, transubstantiation, phrenology, Jesus flying, demons, or fairies.

    Rather less likely, I’d suggest.
    Not that you will agree.

  98. toadspittle says:

    Didn’t know I’d acquired 100,000 “dislikes”
    Heartening. …But must try harder.

  99. johnhenrycn says:

    Adrian: Re: “thinking” – you say:“Yes I can [prove it]…As you can see on this page, I’ve written a few of them down.”

    Nothing you’ve said on this page is proof acceptable to an atheist/materialist that ‘thinking’ exists. Or to turn back on your goodself something you said at 23:52 yesterday: So, from my point of view, can’t you see how it seems far more likely that you have been taken in – and spend much your time ‘thinking’ of ways to uphold your unsupported belief in the existence of ‘thinking’?
    ___
    Discussions about God between persons having deeply held beliefs, on the one hand, and persons having shallow or no beliefs, on the other, are pointless, except to give a keen edge to our swords of belief, and I thank you for that, Adrian.

  100. Adrian Meades says:

    But johnhenrycn, I do have deeply held beliefs, and I’m certainly not shallow, so what the heck are you on about?
    If my thoughts written here are not proof of my thinking, how is it that you are reading them?

  101. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad says: “Just because Dawkins or Fry, for example, don’t believe in God, it doesn’t mean they are more likely to believe in astrology…”

    Nature abhors a vacuum, and no matter how hard Messrs. Dawkins and Fry may try, they are every bit as susceptible to absurd beliefs as you and your astrologist.

    The Groves of Academe and the cinematic world are stuffed with atheists holding the most fantastical opinions, pseudo-scientific and/or quasi-religious beliefs. But that’s something for another thread.

  102. johnhenrycn says:

    Adrian says: “…I do have deeply held beliefs, and I’m certainly not shallow, so what the heck are you on about?”

    No need to scramble up to your redoubt of moral indignation, Adrian. I did not say that you, as a person, are shallow. But I’d appreciate a refresher concerning one – or two – of your “deeply held beliefs”. Please don’t make me read this entire thread all over again to find them. Ta.

  103. Adrian Meades says:

    Perhaps you could be more specific and ask me a question, johnhenrycn?

  104. Brother Burrito says:

    Adrian, what is proof?

  105. Adrian Meades says:

    “the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact”

  106. Brother Burrito says:

    People of Faith have all the evidence they need interiorly that God really IS.

    That is what Faith is, an interior certainty, truth, fact. It is not a choice to receive this, but it is a choice to reject it.

    The bottom line is that theists and atheists live in different interior worlds, and the best that can be hoped for is to agree to disagree.

    Theists should always pray for atheists to be given a change of heart, conversion, by God.

  107. johnhenrycn says:

    Just so, Brother Burrito, and you can skip my next two paragraphs.

    Adrian says proof is evidence “that compels acceptance…of a truth or a fact.”

    Are there different standards of empirical proof, Adrian? Can some things be definitely true, others probably true, and still others possibly true, and therefore be – to that extent – beliefs reasonably held by some but not by others?

    Well, no matter. Believers in God don’t worry much about empirical proof, because we intuit His presence all ’round us. It’s a sixth sense sort of thing, and people not having it can’t understand:

    “[T]he whole created world images the divine Trinity…the mutual indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity is reflected in every area of human life, including perception, thought, language, sex, time, space, music, and imagination.”

    From a review of this book due for release on my birthday:
    http://www.amazon.com/Traces-Trinity-Signs-Creation-Experience/dp/1587433672/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425765509&sr=1-1&keywords=traces+of+the+trinity

  108. The Raven says:

    No, Adrian, I pointed out to you that the text said and says no such thing: it says:

    “And when he has said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight”

    “Και ταύτα ειπων βλεποντων αυτών επηρθη, και νεφελη υπελαβεν αυτόν από των οφθαλμών αυτών.”

  109. Adrian Meades says:

    BB says “People of Faith have all the evidence they need interiorly that God really IS. That is what Faith is, an interior certainty, truth, fact.” But this we know is certainly not the case, considering for instance how many different religions there are, and have been throughout history – and all those faithful of them. These feelings of authenticity, though compelling, are neverless generally misleading.

    “It’s a sixth sense sort of thing, and people not having it can’t understand” – I’ve also heard the same point made by ‘New Agers’

  110. Adrian Meades says:

    Yes Raven, and what comes next after that?

  111. johnhenrycn says:

    Adrian, for you to mention that Parade of Horribles known as New Agers is, I think, an example of what’s called an anecdotal fallacy, or perhaps a false analogy. Whichever, I’m tucking into dinner now. You’ve done well arguing your corner despite overwhelming odds. Pip pip!

  112. Brother Burrito says:

    Adrian, it can be difficult to discern the difference between Faith and other bases for forming a world-view, such as atheism. The best tool for this is “by their fruits know them”.

    What do you see as the fruits of atheism, in terms of human thought and behaviour?

  113. Adrian Meades says:

    johnhenrycn,
    how is it a false analogy? Do you doubt that these New Agers hold sincere beliefs? And what about the sincere beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Macumbans, Cherokees, Ancient Egyptians and Fijians? I’m sure that they would also claim to have a sixth sense sort of thing on ‘spiritual’ matters, no?

  114. Adrian Meades says:

    BB, you are conflating not believing in something with an ideology. I could likewise ask you “What do you see as the fruits of not believing in Wotan, in terms of human thought and behaviour?”

    But is there a marked difference in the behaviour of Catholics and non-catholics? And, if I was a believer in Wotan, and I believed that he wanted me to give half of my wages to the NSPCC (for example) and I followed his command, would that make Wotan any more real?

  115. Brother Burrito says:

    Adrian, you seem to have trouble giving a straight answer, as do I.

    Perhaps Q&A are limited in what they can reveal about the Truth?

  116. Tom Fisher says:

    I think we’re all using a debating tactic that works well in person, but falls down on a comment thread.

    Asking a short question with an anticipated reply …(Do you believe X? Yes? Well see how X commits you to Y? And surely Y is the same as Z, which you said you rejected?)… is fine if you get an immediate response (of the type hoped for). — But on a blog it leads to a meandering thread where people talk past each other and ignore each others questions (or respond with questions of our own).

    Adrian: I suggest you lay out your view on the rationality of theism in full, then let people respond. Your Socratic approach isn’t suitable to this format.

  117. Adrian Meades says:

    OK BB, I believe that the fruits of not believing in supernatural authority figures are that we spend more time considering a more realistic view of life. And irrational beliefs lead to irrational behaviours – the likes of which we constantly see in the news these days.

  118. toadspittle says:

    Whenever I see “Adrian Mead,” I always mentally add, “…aged fourteen and three quarters.” This is very unfair*, and I really think he is doing a terrific job here.

    JH is right, as usual @23.49. Adrian can’t possibly win, of course, against 2,000 years of accrued Catholic wisdom, plus the Anglican “bonus” wisdom of heretic C.S. Lewis.
    This lot know it all, between them. And they know they know it.

    Ask them why the world is in such a shocking mess, despite the coming of Christ, and they’ll answer you with something sensible and logical like, “God is Love.”

    But you carry right on – futilely nipping at their ankles, Adrian.
    …Fighting the Good Fight is the important thing. Not winning.

    “It’s a sixth sense sort of thing, and people not having it can’t understand” purrs JH.
    And there we have it in a nutshell – where it belongs. Non-Catholics are all mental and spiritual cripples. (Make that, “differently-abled.)
    If Adrian were to say something so ineffably smug, God would be well within His rights to strike him dead. Very likely.

    *Course it is…he’s Toad.

  119. a more realistic view of life. And irrational beliefs
    How can atheism be more realistic when it denies Truth (God)? And as to irrational beliefs, I have just written about 12 or so comments demonstrating rationally the existence of God.
    Once more for good measure: God by His nature is Being. God is not God if He is not being, and it is impossible for God not to be God if He is God. Truth by its definition is inseparable from Being. God therefore is Truth, and thus logically is true. As it is impossible for Truth to be an Absence of Truth (i.e. a Falsehood), therefore God is not an Absence of Truth, because God is Being, and therefore Truth, and thus is true.

  120. As to the Catholic Church being the only true religion founded by God (Who is proven rationally to exist and be true), that is another matter (though an equally important one).

  121. “What do you see as the fruits of not believing in Wotan, in terms of human thought and behaviour?”
    I would say we avoid Human Sacrifice.

  122. Proof: (n) the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact
    I reject that definition of proof, for the reason that the mind of an individual with free will is not compelled to accept any idea, even one that is true or factual. Nevertheless, Truth (God) and Reality (That which is ordered by God) exist outside the human mind, and need not be accepted by it to exist.

  123. Tom Fisher says:

    As to the Catholic Church being the only true religion founded by God (Who is proven rationally to exist and be true), that is another matter (though an equally important one).

    I think HRM reminds us of a very important distinction, and it often gets forgotten.

    Speaking personally, my belief in God is “intellectually prior” to my Catholicism. I was baptized at 4 weeks old, and I discovered God through the Church, but in the hypothetical event that I ceased to believe in Christian revelation I would still believe in God.

    Adrian seeks to conflate belief in God with belief in the many supernatural creatures that human culture has created over the centuries. I think that this is not a fair analogy.

    The word ‘God’ refers to the ultimate cause behind existence itself. Humanity cannot comprehend God, and science (valuable though it is) has nothing to say about God. If all human religions should prove to be nothing more than arrows fired at the sun, God would still be God.

    Joyful Papist used to say that becoming a Catholic began with recognising God, then Christ, then his Church. — But these are distinct stages. —

    Adrian: please forget (for now) whether the ascension counts as ‘flying’. Tell us more about why belief in God is irrational

  124. toadspittle says:

    “God (Who is proven rationally to exist and be true),”
    He is not proven to exist, nor can God ever be. Nor can God’s existence be disproven.
    To believe in a god of some sort is not irrational, any more than believing Beethoven to be a great composer is either rational, or irrational.
    Nor can that belief be “proved.”
    Believing we have an immortal soul – which is, in some fashion, detachable – is not irrational.
    It may be delusional, though.
    To designate whatever set the wheels of the universe in motion “God,” is not irrational. (Nor would calling it “X-Force,” be.) Tom says this above, in a fashion.

    All your “proofs” Habsburg, start with the assumption God exists: “God is X, therefore we can say Y.”
    But your wonderful and circular arguments are very funny, and Toad is a bit jealous.
    Making people laugh is supposed to be his job, you know. Your role is to be one of the “straight” men.
    Like Raven and HJ, and Co., – a gaggle of Wises to Toad’s Morcambe, in fact. So shape up.

  125. Adrian Meades says:

    Tom, I don’t consider the belief that a God may exist to be irrational. But I do think that the belief in the far fetched claims of religions to be irrational.
    The reason I am questioning Raven on the ascension is because he cites the accounts of the New Testament to be good evidence that his religion is ‘true’, but then completely reinterprets those of the ascension.

  126. The Raven says:

    Adrian

    You are mistaking your own particular interpretation of the passage for the meaning of the passage itself. You challenged me to quote the verses that follow Act 1:9:

    And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

    και ως ατενιζοντες ησαν εις τον ουρανον πορευομενου αυτου και ιδου ανδρες δυο παρειστηκεισαν αυτοις εν εσθησεσι λευκαις οι και ειπαν ανδρες γαλιλαιοι τι εστηκατε βλεποντες εις τον ουρανον ουτος ο ιησους ο αναλημφθεις αφ υμων εις τον ουρανον ουτως ελευσεται ον τροπον εθεασασθε αυτον πορευομενον εις τον ουρανον

    They don’t support your interpretation of the text any more than verse 9 does.

    As Tom says, your “ambush Socratic” method isn’t working particularly well. I think that, in part, this is because some of your questions are predicated on misinformed assumptions about Catholic Christianity.

  127. The Raven says:

    I believe that the fruits of not believing in supernatural authority figures are that we spend more time considering a more realistic view of life.

    Gray directly contends that this is not the case: atheistic thinking seems to merely embrace whatever the zeitgeist is doing and rebrand it “realistic” or “rational”.

    We have a liberal zeitgeist in the West, which is largely the product of the fusion of traditional Christian ethics with profoundly anti-rational “New Age” ideas coming out of the sixties and seventies; atheists have embraced the zeitgeist and are busily proclaiming its rationality.

    In China the zeitgeist is generated by the profoundly authoritarian and avowedly atheist regime that exists there, which they also argue is realistic and rational.

    And irrational beliefs lead to irrational behaviours – the likes of which we constantly see in the news these days.

    Irrational behaviour includes kindliness and charity to the weak and afflicted, Adrian, while rational behaviour can lead to human beings being treated as problems for which a final, rational solution must be sought.

  128. He is not proven to exist, nor can God ever be. Nor can God’s existence be disproven.
    That is contrary to the Catholic understanding of God. He can be proven to exist through reason: 47 The Church teaches that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty from his works, by the natural light of human reason(http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PD.HTM)
    All your “proofs” Habsburg, start with the assumption God exists
    All my proofs start by stating that God is Being by his nature. That is not an assumption of existence, however, as I have shown, existence follows logically from this first statement.

    P.S. I don’t consider the belief that a God may exist to be irrational.
    Adrian, “you’ve taken you first step into a larger world.” Watch yourself, or you might accidentally become Catholic.

  129. toadspittle says:

    “That is contrary to the Catholic understanding of God. He can be proven to exist through reason: 47 The Church teaches that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty from his works, by the natural light of human reason(http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PD.HTM)”</i.

    Indeed it is contrary, Habsburg – which is one of several reasons that Toad and Sir Anthony Kenny,* (who knows more of Aquinas than any living human) among others – are Agnostics these days. Though we might be wrong.

    *I recommend both, “The Path From Rome,”and, “What I Believe.” He also knows more about Wittgenstein than virtually anyone. (Except Ray Monk, maybe.)

  130. toadspittle says:

    “..this is because some of (Adrian’s) questions are predicated on misinformed assumptions about Catholic Christianity.”
    And Raven, and all on CP&S, will combine to put Adrian right. That’s what it’s all about.

    “…Irrational behaviour includes kindliness and charity to the weak and afflicted, “
    No it doesn’t.
    It is always rational to help the weak and afflicted. Because we might, each of us, end up that way ourselves. And then, being kind and charitable to others gives us pleasure, at least it does me. (The Social Contract is rational.)
    …Which is a good, and rational, feeling to have. Best feeling of all, thought Aristotle.
    Although a bit self-interestedly gratifying, maybe.
    I find myself wondering what sort of riot there’d be from the thumbs-down gang if I’d written what Raven did. Cripes, eh?.

    Does Burro think his job helping the weak and afflicted is “irrational”?
    Well, Burro – do you?

  131. which is one of several reasons that Toad and Sir Anthony Kenny,* (who knows more of Aquinas than any living human) among others – are Agnostics these days.
    Agnostic is only the Greek word for the Latin word Ignorant. (-Chesterton)

    Making people laugh is supposed to be his job, you know. Your role is to be one of the “straight” men.
    If you remember, my first comment on this blog was a joke.

  132. Tom Fisher says:

    Agnostic is only the Greek word for the Latin word Ignorant. (-Chesterton)

    Chesterton really did have a fatuous remark for every occasion!! Fr. Brown’s fine if you’re stuck in an airport though.

  133. toadspittle says:

    “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
    – Gray.
    Yes, indeed, we Agnostics are very ignorant, Habsburg. We cheerfully admit it. We don’t know anything much. And we certainly don’t “know” anything metaphysical.
    And we don’t pretend we do.
    Because…
    “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one.”
    – Voltaire.
    “Our knowledge can only be finite, but our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.”
    – Karl popper.

    “If you remember, my first comment on this blog was a joke.”</i.
    …As I'm in a benevolent mood right now, with Cheltenham this week, I will refrain from making the obvious comment.

  134. Toad,
    Someday you’ll wake up in Heaven, and scratch your head wondering whatever on Earth you did to deserve it.

  135. toadspittle says:

    A very kindly and comforting thought, Habsburg Restoration Movement.
    For which I thank you. Head-scratching time might not be too far off, either.
    My “life-style” so far has not been altogether conducive to longevity.
    Bit too liberal, on occasions.

    …And may I wish you every success with your movement.

  136. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “You are mistaking your own particular interpretation of the passage for the meaning of the passage itself”
    As I said, Jesus went up into the sky – according to the accounts – but you denied that this is what they tell us. Are you now backtracking? Why do you have to be so ambiguous?

    “We have a liberal zeitgeist in the West, which is largely the product of the fusion of traditional Christian ethics with profoundly anti-rational “New Age” ideas coming out of the sixties and seventies”
    Yes, it seems that too many modern liberals will cling on to ‘spiritual’ beliefs. However, your suggestion of ‘traditional Christian ethics’ being the source of coexistent human communities is clearly nonsense.

    “Irrational behaviour includes kindliness and charity to the weak and afflicted”
    Toad made some good comments on this above. Humans, like other mammals, have a natural tendency to empathise, and kindliness and helpfulness can reap all sorts of rewards for the psycho-normal human being.
    “while rational behaviour can lead to human beings being treated as problems for which a final, rational solution must be sought.”
    With the information we have available to us today, no rational person can conclude that individuals should be deemed worthy of abuse. simply because of the ‘race’ to which they belong.

  137. toadspittle says:

    “while rational behaviour can lead to human beings being treated as problems for which a final, rational solution must be sought.”

    The weasel word here, of course, is “can.” Rational behaviour need not necessarily do so.
    Rational behaviour can lead to all sorts of outcomes, but none of them, surely, can be irrational? Raven presumably thinks The Categorical Imperative is “irrational.” Interesting.
    Personally, I suspect that killing people who don’t fit into your “rational” plan is an irrational solution to an irrational problem.
    But, like everything else, it’s relative, and all depends on what each one of us means by “rational.”
    Were Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot rational?
    Raven clearly thinks so.

    He and I will just have to disagree for once, on this one.

  138. The Raven says:

    As I said, Jesus went up into the sky

    That isn’t what the text says, Adrian.

    Yes, it seems that too many modern liberals will cling on to ‘spiritual’ beliefs.

    That’s a shoddy piece of misreading, Adrian, my point was that the widening of Western ethics beyond the bounds set by traditional Christian ethics got most of its impetus from ideas about personal actualisation which were largely New Age in origin: there was nothing rational in this development; quite the contrary in fact.

    However, your suggestion of ‘traditional Christian ethics’ being the source of coexistent human communities is clearly nonsense.

    Then it’s just as well that I made no such suggestion. What I did say was that the conception of ethics in the West has its source in Christianity.

    Toad made some good comments on this above. Humans, like other mammals, have a natural tendency to empathise, and kindliness and helpfulness can reap all sorts of rewards for the psycho-normal human being.

    I’ll answer Toad here too: yes, treating the halt and the lame could be portrayed as rational if one is able to secure that you have created a culture that will result in the same consideration being shown for oneself, but more often our desires to look after the poor and the sick are motivated wholly by those irrational inherited attributes that you refer to, Adrian. And since when did acting on a natural tendency constitute, of itself, rational behaviour; after all humans and other higher primates have a natural tendency to commit genocide, steal and a number of other wicked, self-defeating behaviours.

    “while rational behaviour can lead to human beings being treated as problems for which a final, rational solution must be sought.”
    With the information we have available to us today, no rational person can conclude that individuals should be deemed worthy of abuse. simply because of the ‘race’ to which they belong.

    Who said anything about “race”, Adrian (although my use of words was intended to point to something that was originally lauded as a rational act)? People have claimed that it was rational to wipe out particular classes of people who stood in the way of social change, that it is rational to pretend that unborn human beings may be discarded as so much surgical waste if they are inconvenient, to cite just a couple of examples.

    And there is an awful weasel phrase in there, Adrian, “with the information we have available to us today…”, which implies that it would have been entirely rational to deem individuals worthy of abuse because of their race at a time when we had less information. The problem with your “rationality” is that it is wholly reliant on the information presently to hand: if the best information that you had to hand was the work of the racial “scientists” of the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, then it would be wholly irrational to treat persons of different races as equals., using the measures that you are advocating.

  139. Adrian Meades says:

    The Raven,
    “What I did say was that the conception of ethics in the West has its source in Christianity”
    Not the Greeks?

    “And since when did acting on a natural tendency constitute, of itself, rational behaviour”
    Well, ‘eating’ instantly comes to mind. Indeed, it often makes good sense to satisfy our innate, animal desires, but to remain in control of them, of course – and while we’re on this topic I’d add that in order to control them it helps to be aware of their real origins and functions.

    “The problem with your “rationality” is that it is wholly reliant on the information presently to hand: if the best information that you had to hand was the work of the racial “scientists” of the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, then it would be wholly irrational to treat persons of different races as equals., using the measures that you are advocating.”
    Exactly! Positive progress is what is good about being rational, rather than being stuck forever with the primitive attitudes of the holy Qur’an, for example.

    “And when he has said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight”
    “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”

    The text says that Jesus went up (the were outside, so ‘in the sky’ should be applicable?), and a cloud received him ( as nothing else is said about the cloud, it’s fair to assume that the cloud was reasonably high, isn’t it? – if I told you that, while out on a hilltop, I saw a cloud shaped like a fish, you would consider the same)
    If these accounts are really as obscure as you imply, then how can they be good evidence of anything?

  140. Brother Burrito says:

    I hope Toad (and Adrian) will “wake up in Heaven” soon, as my patience is wearing a tad thin!

    May they also live long and prosper, of course.

  141. Brother Burrito says:

    Re Toad 8/3/15 17:57

    Burrito definitely thinks helping the weak and afflicted is irrational sometimes, especially when his own health is poor, he is being overwhelmed by simultaneous bleeps and it is 3 or 4 am.

    Then it is that the threats of the GMC and losing my job urges me onwards and upwards😉

  142. toadspittle says:

    I think it’s rational to suggest that Burro is a very good man.
    He needs to be, on here.

    I also think it would be rational to get off the absorbing topic of a gravity-defying Jesus, and devote ourselves to considering replacing the altar rails, and to worrying which way round the priest faces.
    ….Important rational stuff like that.

  143. Brother Burrito says:

    I am old enough, just, to remember altar rails. I wish they would bring them back.

    How much simpler and more liturgically dignified it was then to receive Holy Communion.

    This rowdy queueing nowadays resembles the “nine items or less” queue at the local supermarket.

  144. geoffkiernan says:

    And I can remember when the sanctuary of the Church was considered the Holy of Holies. The altar rails were removed and with it went a sense of the sacred

  145. Brother Burrito says:

    Can anyone tell me why rood screens went out of fashion, or why the Jewish temple veil was never instituted in Catholic liturgy?

    I know that Mass can be celebrated on a battlefield or someone’s home, so such things are not essential, but in a permanent place of Worship, surely they would help to provide outward sign of hid Divinity.

  146. GC says:

    Brother B, my guess is the baroque came in and rood screens were seen as a bit ungroovy.

    There are a few at least in Catholic churches in England, aren’t there?

    St Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire

    St Birinus from the entrance

    St Birinus, Dorchester-on-Thames.

  147. GC says:

    Tom Fisher , March 8, 2015 at 19:00

    Agnostic is only the Greek word for the Latin word Ignorant. (-Chesterton)

    Chesterton really did have a fatuous remark for every occasion!! Fr. Brown’s fine if you’re stuck in an airport though.

    The World Wide Interweb seems to be agnostic on the subject of Chesterton ever saying that, Mr Fisher. It doesn’t sound like him to me.

    He did comment a bit on sceptics, but:

    http://www.chesterton.org/quotations-of-g-k-chesterton/#The%20Skeptic

    It is assumed that the sceptic has no bias; whereas he has a very obvious bias in favour of scepticism.

    Based on our everyday experience of certain characters here on CP&S, that seems fiendishly spot on.

  148. toadspittle says:

    “It is assumed* that the sceptic has no bias;”
    Well done, and many thanks, GC – you have found a first-rate, copper-bottomed, example of Big Fat Gil blarney.
    For a while now, I’ve been desultorily trying to find such a specimen without having to wade through too much of his often tedious output.
    Here’s how it goes. First, The Colossal Genius “assumes” something which has absolutely no basis in reality.
    Why should sceptics be unbiased? Who ever said they were – apart from Gilbert – of course? I’m a sceptic and I’m hugely biased. Nor am I alone.
    …And then he refutes it. “…whereas he has a very obvious bias in favour of scepticism.” Easy! And always gets a laugh. And why not? What do we expect a sceptic to have? A bias against it?
    “There – 900 words, Mr. Editor. Will that do? Good, I’m off to the pub.”

    *Weasel word here.

  149. GC says:

    I myself have just finished a glass of Chilean red.

    Mr Toad, may I suggest a more attentive reading of the quote?

  150. toadspittle says:

    Surely the quote means just what it says, GC? No more, no less.
    …Or is it “taken out of context”?
    Anyway, what do you think GKC meant, that you suggest I’ve missed? But I think I take your point. So I’ll try again…
    Is it because Gil blithely declares (totally unjustifiably) that people wrongly assume that sceptics have no bias? What people assume that? He doesn’t say, because he’s just made them up.
    Does he assume it, himself? No.
    Do I? No.
    Do you? No. ( At least I hope you don’t.)
    Does anybody?

    My point is that only an idiot would “assume” sceptics – or anybody, come to that – have no biases in the first place. And Chesterton has fabricated one of his straw men.
    Oh, well.
    …I’ll let it go.

    Chilean wines can be decent. We don’t need them here, of course.
    We have Toro. And Ribera de Duero.

  151. GC,
    The World Wide Interweb seems to be agnostic on the subject of Chesterton ever saying that, Mr Fisher. It doesn’t sound like him to me.
    It is presented here as part of a recreation of the Chesterton-Darrow Debate (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI4rpNrkfps). However, there is no official transcript of that event. Also, in Fancies vs. Fads; “America”, Chesterton describes agnosticism as “the ancient confession of ignorance.”

  152. P.S. The quote can be found at about 6:30 in the video.

  153. toadspittle says:

    ” “The sort of man who admires Italian art while despising Italian religion is a tourist and a cad.” – Roman Converts, Dublin Review, Jan-Mar. 1925″ – G.K.Chesterton.

    While it’s patently and undeniably true that all tourists are cads, (particularly Toad) we must ask ourselves exactly what “Italian Religion” consists of.
    If we went to Egypt – as tourists and cads, naturally, to admire Egyptian art – what then regarding Horus and Isis and all that lot?
    Surely this is drivel from Gil?

  154. toadspittle says:

    “Agnosticism – “the ancient confession of ignorance.” “
    No problem at all with that description of myself. Nor would Sir Anthony, I suspect.
    Except, possibly, that the actual term “Agnostic,” was coined by Huxley – as recently as 1869.

  155. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    Not the Greeks?

    We were culturally isolated from Greek ideas for the best part of six centuries after the fall of Rome and it was only after Aquinas “baptised” Aristotle that his ideas started to influence us again (hence the wide divergence between western ethical norms and those of the ancient Greeks).

    Well, ‘eating’ instantly comes to mind.

    “Eating” hardly represents an ethical choice, Adrian.

    …in order to control them it helps to be aware of their real origins and functions.

    So you baldly assert. In what way can an understanding of theories about behavioural evolution help someone to control their impulses?

    Positive progress is what is good about being rational, rather than being stuck forever with the primitive attitudes of the holy Qur’an, for example.

    And what about “negative progress”? The vile racism that afflicted the British in nineteenth century India was based on the “rational” thought of the enlightenment; before the 1780s the attitude to Indians was simply to treat them in the same way that we dealt with other Europeans (admittedly not a particularly high standard). In the same way, our lovely modern progressive thought gives license to the murder of the unborn. And I think that you will find that Salafism, which is the forebear of modern Moslem barbarity and which is busy making lives miserable, is the outgrowth of that same, Nineteenth century rationalism that you seem so proud of: Islamism is a profoundly “progressive” phenomenon.

    The text says that Jesus went up (the were outside, so ‘in the sky’ should be applicable?)

    No, Adrian, the text says “he was raised up”. “Sky” is something that you are adding to the text.

    and a cloud received him ( as nothing else is said about the cloud, it’s fair to assume that the cloud was reasonably high, isn’t it? – if I told you that, while out on a hilltop, I saw a cloud shaped like a fish, you would consider the same)

    They were on the top of Mount Olivet, Adrian, nearly 1,000m up: there is no need to assume anything about the cloud being higher up; again, this is something that you are adding to the text.

    If these accounts are really as obscure as you imply, then how can they be good evidence of anything?

    There is nothing obscure in the text, it just doesn’t say what you want it to say.

  156. Tom Fisher says:

    You’re being a tad unfair Raven. The text can be read as Adrian, and many people over the centuries did🙂

  157. The Raven says:

    Tom

    Adrian’s interpretation of the passage is heavily influenced by imagery like the illumination that you link to (he, himself linked to a rather charming icon of the ascension last time we had the conversation), but the illumination, like the icon, is intended to put into images the truth of Our Lord leaving the Apostles to go to the metaphorically higher realm of heaven. Adrian wants to make an argument based on the text, therefore he’s got to stick to the text instead of artistic cliches about the text.

  158. Adrian Meades says:

    Yes Tom, everyone appears to read the text as I do, apart from Raven.

    The top of ‘Mount Olivet’ is nearly 850m above sea level, but the surrounding landscape is pretty high too, which gives it the appearance of no more than that of a big, round hill.

    Raven, as I have mentioned before, the existence of the firmament was a widely held belief at the time of Jesus, so the writers of the accounts were hardly likely to use an analogy of ‘rising up’ from a mountain, and clouds to describe the event of Jesus entering into heaven. Therefore, claiming the accounts of the ascension as analogy is simply futile.

  159. Brother Burrito says:

    The Ascension of the Resurrected Lord Jesus refers to His rising to the Throne above all space and time.

    There He is obscured from us by the “cloud of unknowing” which the Catholic mystics refer to.

    The duty of all Christians is to penetrate that cloud with our arrows of desire for union with Him.

    It is sad this basic mission statement is not more clearly and strongly taught by our pastors.

  160. Tom Fisher says:

    Yes Tom, everyone appears to read the text as I do, apart from Raven.

    Not so Adrian, I read the text just as Raven does. I simply recognise that yours is a possible, though naive reading.

  161. The Raven says:

    Adrian, who claims that the account of the ascension is analogy? I’m trying to point out to you what the text itself says.

    As you say, there was belief in a firmament, which had taken on a wide variety of meanings even by the time of Our Lord, the most popular meaning being the place of the fixed stars; I don’t know how large the conception of the firmament was at the time, but I have seen estimates of 98 million miles given in late antique sources.

    But I don’t see the connexion that you’re trying to make, to be honest: we have a number of instances in the NT, like the Baptism of Our Lord or the transfiguration, where heaven opens without any suggestion that there is any great distance between heaven and the physical location of the human participants in the action.

    Perhaps your line of questioning better reflects your own beliefs about the content of the text than the actual words on the page?

  162. Adrian Meades says:

    “Not so Adrian, I read the text just as Raven does”
    Which is what exactly, Tom?

    “I’m trying to point out to you what the text itself says”
    Which is what exactly, The Raven?

    To claim that they would they have intentionally made their accounts so misleading and vague is clearly a nonsense.

  163. toadspittle says:

    Pinheads dancing on an angel.

  164. toadspittle says:

    …Well that’s that, then.
    God has spoken.

  165. The Raven says:

    There is nothing vague in the text, Adrian, you just have a fixed pre-determined idea about what you want the text to say and then seem to be struggling with the fact that it says something different.

    I am rather surprised at your struggles with the text: the language is not particularly obscure.

  166. The Raven says:

    It feels more like atheists dancing on a pinhead, Toad.

  167. Adrian Meades says:

    “I’m trying to point out to you what the text itself says”
    Which is what exactly, The Raven?

  168. Adrian Meades says:

    The Raven,
    “In what way can an understanding of theories about behavioural evolution help someone to control their impulses?”
    An awareness of the function and workings of envy, for example, makes it far easier to recognise its influence on our thoughts and behaviour. In this way we are far more capable to dismiss the effects of this highly destructive, instinctive animal trait – to become more rational human beings.

  169. The Raven says:

    An awareness of the function and workings of envy, for example, makes it far easier to recognise its influence on our thoughts and behaviour.

    Adrian, that is tosh: having self-knowledge and being fully aware of our own actions and motivations is not dependent on knowledge of frankly unscientific speculations about the evolutionary origins of emotional states.

  170. The Raven says:

    And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight.

  171. Adrian Meades says:

    “Adrian, that is tosh: having self-knowledge and being fully aware of our own actions and motivations is not dependent on knowledge of frankly unscientific speculations about the evolutionary origins of emotional states.”
    OK, perhaps it is best to ignore progress into the understanding of how our minds work, and just believe “we know best”?

  172. Adrian Meades says:

    “And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight”
    From what you understand of this text, how high (roughly) do you believe Jesus went before the cloud received him?

  173. The Raven says:

    Progress into understanding how our minds work does not improve emotional maturity, Adrian. Either a person is aware of themselves or they aren’t, no amount of speculation about evolutionary origins of emotions is going to change that.

  174. toadspittle says:

    “…Either a person is aware of themselves or they aren’t,”

    A great many people – or so I suspect – believe they are “aware” of themselves, when they aren’t at all.
    Maybe even Raven and Toad.
    …As neither of us (nor anyone else) has any means of knowing whether we are accurately “aware” of ourselves or not.
    And, occasionally, a person is “aware” that God wants him/her to go and kill unbelievers.
    …So they do.
    And who’s to say they are wrong?

  175. Adrian Meades says:

    “Either a person is aware of themselves or they aren’t”
    I find it very difficult to accept that this is what you believe, Raven.

    “And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight”
    Sorry, what part have I missed? I don’t see what you are reading from this that I am not. How can you tell how high Jesus was raised, when I cannot?

  176. progress into the understanding of how our minds work
    Which way are you progressing?
    *sarcasm alert*(courtesy of my brother)
    Progress:
    It’s the Journey that matters, Not the destination.

  177. GC says:

    Hapsburg Restoration Movement, March 9, 2015 at 16:56

    GC,
    The World Wide Interweb seems to be agnostic on the subject of Chesterton ever saying that, Mr Fisher. It doesn’t sound like him to me.
    It is presented here as part of a recreation of the Chesterton-Darrow Debate.

    Thanks, HRM, Google (even Google Scholar) didn’t show any evidence of the Chesterton quote except on a Catholic forum where a poster only half remembered it.

    The youtube video was fun, wasn’t it, though it made the famed atheist lawyer look like a real charlie. There’s a video of Chesterton too on youtube. I dare not put it up here lest Toad develop an extremely severe rash and scratch himself away into oblivion.

  178. toadspittle says:

    “There’s a video of Chesterton too on youtube. I dare not put it up here lest Toad develop an extremely severe rash and scratch himself away into oblivion.”
    Put it up anyway, GC.
    Damn the torpedos! Full scratch ahead! (Is your current problem something to do with a skin rash, then, GC?) If so, I’m sympathetic. Maybe an allergy to rice? It can happen.)
    …And dream on.
    Toad is actually rather fond of the fat old fraud GKC.
    …As he is with the skinny old fraud, GBS.

    I’d be very interested to see The Colossal Gilbertissimo in the “flesh,” as it were.
    I’ve heard he had little reedy voice issuing from his vast frame.
    Is that so?
    We shall see. We hope.

  179. The Raven says:

    Sloppy wording on my part, mea culpa.

    I mean “self-aware” in the demotic sense of being alive to one’s own emotions, motives and manner of expression, rather in the rarified sense of “I am aware of my own existence”.

    For an individual, it would be useful to know that they do action “X” because of their sense of envy; being conversant with a speculation that envy has an evolutionary origin linked to some facet of survival is not going to increase their own self knowledge one iota.

    Where does the text say that He even left the ground, Adrian?

  180. Adrian Meades says:

    “Where does the text say that He even left the ground, Adrian?”
    Please Raven, just tell me what events you believe these accounts are describing.

  181. GC says:

    Toad is actually rather fond of the fat old fraud GKC.
    …As he is with the skinny old fraud, GBS.

    Oh yes, Toad, you say that now.

    A likely story.

  182. Tom Fisher says:

    Here he is Toad:

    Anyway, I’m the one who was rude about Chesterton on this thread when HRM posted the dubious quote. Some of what he wrote is still good fun, I just get irritated when Chesterton quotes are parachuted into the middle of arguments as if he is some sort of authoritative figure. Especially in the U.S. he gets taken a bit too seriously, more so than he might have wanted. But that’s not important. The ascension etc.

  183. Adrian Meades says:

    “being conversant with a speculation that envy has an evolutionary origin linked to some facet of survival is not going to increase their own self knowledge one iota.”

    Regarding envy as an evolved function is more than speculation for many reasons, including:
    • We observe animals behaving in ways which we would call ‘envious’ in human behaviour
    • Envy is universal among humans, and is a compulsive trait.
    • It corresponds with the competitive and hierarchical systems of other mammals.
    • We acknowledge that the objects of our envy are solely people of the same sex – contemporaries, generally speaking.
    And from my own experience, I have found that seeing envy in this new light (new to me at least) has certainly made its influences far easier to recognise and dismiss.

  184. Brother Burrito says:

    Hey Adrian, this post of mine should be right up your street:

    http://wp.me/pYA4j-6pj

  185. Brother Burrito says:

    Catholics are not subject to natural selection.

    They are subject to supernatural selection instead.

    Convert, and get the upgrade for free

  186. The Raven says:

    Regarding envy as an evolved function is more than speculation for many reasons, including:
    • We observe animals behaving in ways which we would call ‘envious’ in human behaviour

    Not off to a good start, Adrian: you’ve begun with some deeply irrational, unscientific anthropomorphism.

    • Envy is universal among humans, and is a compulsive trait.

    This is a silly hostage to fortune to give: one unenvious individual makes your “universal” into merely “most” or “some”. And I have met, and known well, a number of people who did not show any sign of envy in any of its forms.

    • It corresponds with the competitive and hierarchical systems of other mammals.

    Another dash of anthropomorphism.

    • We acknowledge that the objects of our envy are solely people of the same sex – contemporaries, generally speaking.

    “We” (who ever “we” are) acknowledge nothing of the sort! I strongly envy the abilities of many of the women with whom I work; I often envy the simple pleasure that new mothers sometimes show in their babies. Keep your “we” to yourself, Adrian; you don’t speak for humanity as a whole.

    And from my own experience, I have found that seeing envy in this new light (new to me at least) has certainly made its influences far easier to recognise and dismiss.

    If you say so, Adrian, but it seems to me that your assertions are not particularly rational, not especially accurate and I fail to see how these particular myths can improve your self-knowledge. I guess it doesn’t do for us all to be the same.

  187. Brother Burrito says:

    Raven, I envy your mind, but not your opponents.

  188. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “Where does the text say that He even left the ground, Adrian?”
    As I have mentioned on several occasions, that heaven existed above the sky was a commonly held belief at the time of Jesus. Therefore, those writing the account would be aware of this, and would surely add extra info to avoid confusion if they did not want people misled into thinking that Jesus was rising up to the heaven above the firmament. This, obviously, they did not do. ‘A cloud’ is mentioned – a solitary cloud, such as a cumulus perhaps, but not a low lying layer of hill fog – with no other data to suggest it was not as high as any common type of cloud you may see over Jerusalem.

    The accounts of the ascension in the New Testament are the last we have of Jesus’ time on Earth, but even the record of this momentous event is being interpreted in different ways: BB takes it to be analogical, Tom Fisher appears to be in two minds, and you, Raven, cannot even tell me what how you interpret it – even after all this tedious rigmarole.
    So please, try and see this from my point of view. How can you claim this is the one true religion, when you can’t even come to a clear consensus as to what these accounts actually mean? It hardly makes the plausibility of Catholicism very compelling to the outsider.

  189. Adrian Meades says:

    “I strongly envy the abilities of many of the women with whom I work; I often envy the simple pleasure that new mothers sometimes show in their babies.”
    Then you clearly do not understand the meaning of ‘envy’. Covetousness is quite a rational response to those things you mention.

  190. Brother Burrito says:

    Adrian, The key to understanding Catholicism is that it takes all kinds of people to make a Church.

  191. The Raven says:

    Please Raven, just tell me what events you believe these accounts are describing.

    I really don’t follow your question, Adrian. I believe that the text in Acts gives us a fair account of what happened. Are you asking me how i visualise these events? If so, to what purpose? You would just be asking me what I read *into* the text.

  192. Adrian Meades says:

    “Adrian: you’ve begun with some deeply irrational, unscientific anthropomorphism”

    Would you similarly criticise the recognition of, for instance, aggression, or sexual excitement in other mammals? So why do you with envy?
    How can such a pugnacious response to new ideas be conducive to gaining a better understanding of how things really are?

  193. Tom Fisher says:

    Tom Fisher appears to be in two minds

    No, I think that there is possibly something anachronistic in the debate as framed by Raven and Adrian. What I think is below:

    Adrian is essentially saying that the account in Luke / Acts is of Jesus floating into the sky like a helium balloon, until the disciples’ view of his ascent is obscured by a cloud. To the modern reader this sounds (and this is how Adrian wants us to read it) not only implausible, but a lot like “science fiction”. We are very used to objects (e.g. a space shuttle) travelling up into a thoroughly material “outer space”. — To the modern reader, Adrian’s reading appears to be both evacuated of spiritual content, and hopelessly literal.

    Raven is picking up on the fact that Adrian offers a spiritually desiccated reading of the text, and is “re-spiritualising” it. The vertical ascent, the disappearance into the cloud etc. are not to be read as simple, concrete, easy to visualise events according to Raven. — The ascension recounts the withdrawal of Jesus from the world of space and time, not a journey upwards towards the stratosphere.

    I think that is is likely that Luke, and his first readers (hearers) would have found this to be a false choice. In their time the “mundane” world did not extend as far as it does today in the human imagination (we know there are golf balls on the moon, and junk in orbit).

    Adrian is trying to make the ascension sound silly by literalising it, and Raven is trying to rescue it by spiritualising it, and I think that involves us in a false choice.

  194. The Raven says:

    As I have mentioned on several occasions, that heaven existed above the sky was a commonly held belief at the time of Jesus.

    Among which people, Adrian? Are you able to cite sources for it being a common belief among first century Jews? Are you able to cite sources for it being a common belief among the pagan cultures that first century Jews were in contact with?

    As I’ve already pointed out to you, the writers of the Gospels tell of interactions between heaven and earth that clearly don’t put heaven in some place above a distant firmament (if you need to be reminded of those examples, I pointed to the transfiguration and the baptism of Our Lord).

    In short, you are hypothesising, not responding to the text nor to the interpretation of the text that Catholics believe in.

    ‘A cloud’ is mentioned

    There is no definite article in the Greek – you’re reading too much into the English translation and the rest of your speculations about the cloud are just that – things that you are imposing on the text to make it fit with your own presuppositions.

    The accounts of the ascension in the New Testament are the last we have of Jesus’ time on Earth

    Not true: He appears to St Paul after the Ascension. And the Gospel writers clearly don’t give it the same weight as you do: Matthew and John do not mention it at all (John explicitly says that Our Lord did loads of other things, but he’s not going to write them all down, because he’s captured the important matters); Mark reports it briefly and bluntly, with no description of the actual ascension; Luke gives it more space in his Gospel and in Acts, but he, unlike the other authors, was writing at a distance from the events and it is possible that the Ascension was of greater interest to the audience that he was writing for (as Toad will tell you, you have to respond to your readership).

    How can you claim this is the one true religion, when you can’t even come to a clear consensus as to what these accounts actually mean

    But we do have a clear consensus as to what these accounts mean, Adrian: they mean that Our Lord was seen to leave his Apostles and go to heaven. Why should we speculate about anything beyond what we have in the text? Visual artists will want to think about how to dramatically represent this narrative, but I’m not aware of any of us claiming to be one of those.

  195. The Raven says:

    Would you similarly criticise the recognition of, for instance, aggression, or sexual excitement in other mammals? So why do you with envy?

    Both aggression and sexual excitement are unambiguous types of behaviour that are usually physically expressed or evidenced. The same is not true of envy.

    How can such a pugnacious response to new ideas be conducive to gaining a better understanding of how things really are?

    These ideas are hardly new, the attribution of human emotions to animals goes back to Æsop and beyond; that they re-emerged in the twentieth century is no surprise – it was a reaction to the wicked cruelness of ideas about animals inherited from Descartes, but modern research shies away from labelling animal behaviours with human emotions.

  196. The Raven says:

    Then you clearly do not understand the meaning of ‘envy’. Covetousness is quite a rational response to those things you mention.

    I neither desire the persons of the women with whom I work nor lust after the new mothers with whom I am acquainted.

    I think that you may need to invest in a Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:

    Covet 1. To desire; esp to desire eagerly, to long for. Also fig. 2. To desire with concupiscence. 3. to desire culpably; to long for (what is another’s). 4. To lust; also with for, after

    Envy 1. Ill-will, malice, emnity, Odium, unpopularity. 2. Harm, mischief. 3. Mortification and ill-will occasioned by the contemplation of another’s superior advantages. 4. Emulation. A longing for another’s advantages. 5. Desire, enthusiasm.

  197. The Raven says:

    Tom,

    I think that you are right in most of your diagnosis; but my own reading is rather less mystical than it perhaps seems, I am just making the attempt not to fall into the trap of eisigesis.

  198. Tom Fisher says:

    Maybe this partly turns on understanding (as Raven of course does) that these texts are pointing to indescribable events, and are trying to help us approach the ineffable by invoking feelings of the numinous.

    Nowadays we tend to mock the idea that heaven is a place where people sit on (fluffy!) clouds. And we respond by emphasising the fact that heaven isn’t a physical place in the sky (true enough). But anyone who’s seen the splendour of a cloud streaked sky at sunset knows that the old descriptions were saying that such a sight (and the feelings it invokes) hint at the invisible glory of God.

    It’s not just that not all these texts are literal, even the intention of literal language is often forgotten by the modern reader

  199. toadspittle says:

    Catholics are not subject to natural selection.”

    The trouble is, Burro – that they simply are. Everybody is. And you know it.
    Denying it will not make it go away.
    To suggest that Catholics are subject to “supernatural selection,” thus implying that no other sect, group, or religion is – is either arrogance, or folly, or both. (It seems to me.)
    And not try to give reading GKC a break? Why not try Unamuno for a change?)

    Tom, thanks for the Gil clip. He didn’t have a reedy little voice, did he?…Fascinating to see.

    GC, in the quondam of my nonage I was fond of GKC, Belloc, Shaw, H. G. Wells, and D.H. Lawrence, among others. Now, with advancing senility, I’m a bit inclined to regard that lot as just a teeny bit “bogus.” Might be wrong, of course, and they are little the worse for my opinion.

    …Lovely old hymn. Performed here with great reverence and piety.

  200. toadspittle says:

    The Fifth Dimension!
    Where Jesus went! (maybe)

  201. JabbaPapa says:

    Oh, where to start?
    “In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values”

    The obvious connection is that all three are built upon evidence based reasoning.

    An entirely evidence-free assertion — liberal values are based on a political ideology, not “evidence” ; and I have never seen any demonstration that the atheistic belief system is “evidence based”.

    Not even all scientific reasoning is evidence based — evidence is a tool of such reasoning, NOT the basis of it.

  202. JabbaPapa says:

    Toad : However, It strikes me as being a bit bleeding ironic that a great many Christians* are all for vigorously spreading their “truths” to try and convert people, but when Atheists try the very same thing, piercing wails of execration are heard in the land.

    erm, Toad, can’t you see that the irony in the expression “evangelical atheist” is completely intentional ?

    The point is that there’s a blatant hypocrisy in this type of atheism, and in its activity of what amounts to a religious proselytism, all the while pretending to complain of such activity by others.

    Atheist proselytism is a religious activity that is organised both by individual quasi-preachers, and by groups of individuals sharing the same religious ideologies.

  203. Tom Fisher says:

    Not even all scientific reasoning is evidence based — evidence is a tool of such reasoning, NOT the basis of it.

    QFT

  204. JabbaPapa says:

    “Now you tell me: what tools do we have that would allow us to test for the attributes of the God worshipped by Catholics?”

    Likewise with ghosts, fairies, and Leprechauns. So then; what is your evidence for not believing in those?

    I cannot help but notice that you failed to answer the actual question, and instead simply re-posted your false analogy / cliché / category error.

    May I point out that you have implicitly defined belief as being the product of evidence ?

    Just because YOU reject this or that evidence on the basis of your own prejudice and your own ideologies and the indoctrination that you have been subjected to over the course of your life, does not mean that the evidence magically vanishes, nor does it mean that your reasoning is “evidence based” and the reasoning of others is not.

    In fact, your reasoning on these questions appears to be quite circular — your definition of what is and what is not evidence is a product of the very reasoning that you have claimed to be “based” on “evidence” ; except that you have obviously made an a priori decision to reject certain sources from the category of “evidence” ; so that it is a strict logical impossibility that the reasoning in question could be based on evidence in sesum, because evidence as such includes all sources, and is incompatible with the notion of rejecting some of them purely on the basis of personal bias or prejudice.

    There is plenty of Scriptural, historical, religious, and anecdotal evidence to support the Catholic beliefs ; there is very little such evidence about “ghosts, fairies, and Leprechauns” ; none whatsoever about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  205. JabbaPapa says:

    ‘truth’ is just a name we give to the existence of a reality. It is applied to the state of how things are.

    I’d advise you to try and avoid any philosophical minefields, if you think that these sorts of howlers will provide you with any protection —

    How could Truth possibly just be a transient state of affairs ? Just a name ?

    Can’t you see how absurd your statement is ? You’re essentially saying that Truth does not exist — except in that case, none of your own statements can be considered as being true, can they ?

    Your position is inherently illogical and auto-destructive.

    It is introductory-level philosophy, epistemology, semiotics, forensics, and indeed a very basis of scientific reasoning itself, that if truth were transient then it would cease to be truth ; therefore truth itself must be non-transient.

    Just because certain conditions within reality are transient does not require that reality itself is transient ; indeed, to claim such a thing would be a direct category error, claiming that a species should be defined on the basis of the characteristics of an individual — something along the lines of “Socrates is bald ; Socrates is a man ; therefore all men are bald” ; but even more pervasively erroneous : “my father is not always in the shed, therefore truth does not exist”.

    It’s like saying “Oranges are my favourite fruit, so I prefer Windows PCs to Apple Macs”.

    You are engaging in a similar manner of grossly irrational syllogisms by analogy — all the while falsely trumpeting this sort of reasoning as being “evidence based”.

  206. Tom Fisher says:

    Please down-vote this comment

  207. JabbaPapa says:

    liberal values are based on reasoning

    ho hum been hard at work back down in the category error mine again I see …

    So are all other philosophical/political values

    It might be factually true to make a statement like “most women are selfish” — but its implications are false, because the only reason why it’s true is that most people are selfish.

    It is categorically absurd to suggest that just because X is “based on” Y, non-X isn’t.

    without the input of irrational faith in ancient folklore

    Please demonstrate that Faith is “irrational”.

    Please demonstrate that God is merely an entity in “ancient folklore” (which is an oxymoron BTW)

    unsupported superstitions

    What “superstitions” are these, and can you please demonstrate their superstitious nature ?

    notions of the ‘magical’

    What “notions” are these ?

    Can you please demonstrate how this litany of yours is not simply another product of your prejudiced belief system ?

    I could use The Bible to make a judgement on whether God’s actions and characteristics, as presented, sound sufficiently credible for a perfect and all-powerful creator of the universe.

    I could use The Bible to make a judgement on whether Mickey Mouse’s actions and characteristics, as presented, sound sufficiently credible for a talking rodent.

    All you’ve done there is to characterise the bias that is inherent to your methodology ; particularly your bias of “sufficient credibility”.

    If “sufficient credibility” were the central yardstick of a proper humanity, then we’d all of us still be hunter-gatherers in the forests and the plains …

    Catholicism is a religion of the spoken word, not the written text. It is a religion that is based on personal and interpersonal relationships, including relationships with God, not on whatever sort of literary analysis ; notwithstanding that it is possible to engage in such relationships with the assistance of Scripture.

  208. JabbaPapa says:

    your evidence for God existing is merely just your opinion

    You’re not even TRYING to engage in any honest to-and-fro.

    An opinion such as yours can only exist on the basis of a positive belief in the non-existence of God except as a mental artefact.

    You are making NO EFFORT either to conceive of the possibility that this opinion of yours might be wrong (which is stunningly ironic BTW), and you are making NO EFFORT to actually demonstrate the veracity of your claim that “liberal values” and “atheism” are “evidence based”.

    If atheism is “evidence based”, then I’d like to hear your evidence of the non-existence of God.

  209. JabbaPapa says:

    Toad : What you are saying, in another way, it seems to me – is “God made all things, and since all things exist, that proves God exists.” Well…

    Does anyone else on CP&S believe what Habsburg is saying here?

    This sort of thing does translate rather poorly into the Modern English … though you should realise that “God made all things” in the above is not a posit, but an intermediary.

    The logic for the existence of God is sort of that given the necessary existence of truths, Truth itself must exist, and if Truth exists then a transcendental reality must exist (because Truth itself must necessarily be transcendental, not conditional nor transient), so that given the existence of our own conscious self-awareness, then a transcendentally conscious self-awareness must also exist (or our own individual ones could not), as being a part of the necessary nature of Truth. From which various points and counterpoints lead to God and Truth necessarily being of the same Nature, and therefore one and the same, and so on and so forth.

  210. JabbaPapa says:

    We were culturally isolated from Greek ideas for the best part of six centuries after the fall of Rome

    hmmm, not really — though knowledge of Greek did become rarer than it had been.

    A certain pro-Greek prejudice of Roman origin was revived after those six centuries or so, though🙂

  211. JabbaPapa says:

    How can such a pugnacious response to new ideas

    The idea that animals are possessed of the same emotional traits as humans is hardly “new”, given that it has existed since Antiquity.

  212. Adrian Meades says:

    We cannot tell what an animal thinks or ‘feels’, so with aggression, sexual excitement and envy, we can only observe their behaviour and physiology and assess how these traits correspond with our own.
    We may dislike the idea of (what we call) envy as being just another evolved function, but it is ignorance to dismiss these things, simply because they conflict with our own weltanschauung.

    “These ideas are hardly new, the attribution of human emotions to animals goes back to Æsop and beyond”
    I’d love to hear what Aesop had to say about the evolution of species, Raven.

  213. The Raven says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, Adrian, you well know that I was not imputing to Æsop anything about evolution.

    And “envy” is not in the same category as aggression or sexual arousal: the latter two are labels that we give to clearly identifiable behaviours, the former is a state of mind.

  214. Adrian Meades says:

    “Don’t be ridiculous, Adrian, you well know that I was not imputing to Æsop anything about evolution”
    Then why claim that envy being an evolved psychological function is not a new idea?

    “And “envy” is not in the same category as aggression or sexual arousal: the latter two are labels that we give to clearly identifiable behaviours, the former is a state of mind”
    All these behaviours are the result of a particular state of mind, Raven.

  215. Adrian Meades says:

    Tom, the reason I brought up the ascension was to challenge Raven’s claim that the accounts of The New Testament provide good evidence for the resurrection and other miracles of Jesus – and thus, for the Catholic God. This challenge proved indisputably successful, and here are some of the reasons why:
    • Apparently the accounts of the ascension can only be properly understood if we “spiritualise’ them (try telling that to a court of law)
    • They mention things that don’t exist (referring to ‘a cloud’); “There is no definite article in the Greek – you’re reading too much into the English translation”
    • Some Catholics claim these accounts to be analogical, while others do not.
    • They should not be taken literally

  216. toadspittle says:

    “If atheism is “evidence based”, then I’d like to hear your evidence of the non-existence of God.”
    Nail smack on the head from Jabba.
    Atheism is no more “evidence-based,” than is Theism.

    It’s all idle speculation. (I reckon.) Better off taking the dogs for a walk – and wondering if Sprinter Sacre can make a come-back today.

  217. The Raven says:

    Then why claim that envy being an evolved psychological function is not a new idea?

    For heaven’s sake, Adrian: I said that the idea of attributing human emotions to animals was not new.

    All these behaviours are the result of a particular state of mind, Raven.

    “Envy” is not a behaviour, Adrian.

  218. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    Your comment to Tom is, to be blunt, pretty dumb.

    • Apparently the accounts of the ascension can only be properly understood if we “spiritualise’ them (try telling that to a court of law)

    The meaning of the account has to be spiritualised, the account itself is pretty plain, I find it puzzling that you are making such heavy going of it.

    • They mention things that don’t exist (referring to ‘a cloud’); “There is no definite article in the Greek – you’re reading too much into the English translation”

    My bad: definite article is the word “the” – I meant the indefinite article, the word “a”. A literal rendering of the Greek would be “and cloud received him out of sight” – we add the indefinite article in English to make the sentence more euphonious: I’m pointing out that you are hanging too much on the word “a”.

    • Some Catholics claim these accounts to be analogical, while others do not.

    Where do you get that from, Adrian? I don’t think that any of us have said that the witnesses were not describing a real event.

    • They should not be taken literally

    Who has said that, Adrian? I have said repeatedly that you should not import things that are not present into the text, which is what you seem desperate to do.

  219. Adrian Meades says:

    “For heaven’s sake, Adrian: I said that the idea of attributing human emotions to animals was not new.”
    No, we were discussing my views on the evolved nature of envy
    Adrian: How can such a pugnacious response to new ideas be conducive to gaining a better understanding of how things really are?
    Raven: These ideas are hardly new

    ““Envy” is not a behaviour, Adrian”
    Neither are aggression or sexual desire, but, like envy, are states of mind which lead to certain behaviours.

  220. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    at roughly what altitude do you imagine the cloud to have been when it received Jesus, and what would be your reasoning for coming to this opinion?

  221. The Raven says:

    …we were discussing my views on the evolved nature of envy

    I said quite clearly that the attribution to animals of human emotions is not new (which is the bedrock of your argument – it is meaningless to talk about evolved behaviours if we do not attribute human emotions to animals).

    Neither are aggression or sexual desire [behaviours], but, like envy, are states of mind which lead to certain behaviours.

    Adrian, it would help if you stuck to one concept – you originally referred to sexual excitement, not desire. And I disagree: we describe visible animal behaviours as aggression and sexual excitement, we say nothing about the contents of their “minds”.

  222. Adrian Meades says:

    “I said quite clearly that the attribution to animals of human emotions is not new (which is the bedrock of your argument – it is meaningless to talk about evolved behaviours if we do not attribute human emotions to animals).”
    No, Raven, you’ve got it the wrong way around. We have inherited these psychological functions from animals, through the evolution of our species.

    “it would help if you stuck to one concept – you originally referred to sexual excitement, not desire.”
    Sexual desire, or sexual excitement – much the same thing, and it makes no difference to the points I am making.

    “And I disagree: we describe visible animal behaviours as aggression and sexual excitement, we say nothing about the contents of their “minds”.”
    It says nothing about the contents of their minds? Then what exactly do you believe is provoking these actions?
    My local newspapers often has stories about people who have acted with envy, and we have all witnessed people acting in envious ways.

  223. JabbaPapa says:

    Raven,
    at roughly what altitude do you imagine the cloud to have been when it received Jesus, and what would be your reasoning for coming to this opinion?

    That’s not good literary analysis (Pace, Raven).

    The text provides no information about the cloud being at any altitude at all, although the strictly internal textual conotation is certainly that at least after the Ascension had occurred, the cloud appeared to be located at a certain distance from the point of observation ; but clouds move ; and one should be careful, as a broader reading including all references to “a cloud” as being a manifestation of the Action of God the Father/Creator would reveal that the behaviour of such “a cloud” would usually seem to be both unpredictable and supernatural (AKA disobedient of the ordinary laws of physical behaviour), so that no particulars should properly be assumed in this case.

    Besides, if you’ve never been inside a cloud on a mountain top, then you’re just making some dodgy assumptions on the basis of insufficient knowledge and/or experience.

    That is not to say that your interpretation regarding the relative location of that cloud must be wrong as such ; I’m simply saying that alternative readings of the text either strictly on the basis of its contents, or in parallel with other references to “a cloud” in Scripture, or in parallel with sources external to the Bible are possible that would not agree with your readings, the Raven’s, mine, or anyone else’s ; whereas you yourself are wrongfully insisting that only those readings that are in a binary agonistic/antagonistic relationship with your own should be worthy of one’s attention, by which I mean that you’re insisting that one position related to your own personal reading must be “right” and all other positions therefore “wrong”.

    But any properly competent literary analysis follows strict scientific methodology as much as is possible, including to whichever possible degree in interpretative analysis, notwithstanding the clear limitations of such endeavour, and the fact of the matter is that your interpretative methodology is unscientific, most notably in its failure to properly gauge the contents of the existing corpus of interpretation.

  224. JabbaPapa says:

    Apparently the accounts of the ascension can only be properly understood if we “spiritualise’ them

    This OTOH is just offensive, supercilious poppycock.

  225. JabbaPapa says:

    my views on the evolved nature of envy

    Cripes it’s you again, isn’t it …

    You keep on returning to these discussion forums with new sockpuppets, but the same old, same old repetitive unsupported claims, refusal to learn, pretence, and the incredibly tedious fixation on your indoctrinated notion that various forms of animal behaviour might somehow (magically) deny the lessons of several thousand years’ worth of philosophy and spirituality are always recognisable.

    As is your repetitive failure to actually answer ANY challenges that are made against your positions.

  226. Thanks to Tom and Jabba for saying in English what I was trying to express in (what I at least thought were) logical terms (maybe not?)🙂

  227. The Raven says:

    No, Raven, you’ve got it the wrong way around. We have inherited these psychological functions from animals, through the evolution of our species.

    Adrian, you’ve launched into a circular argument: you are essentially saying that we must attribute emotional states to animals because we inherited them from animals.

    The argument doesn’t work. We simply have no way of knowing whether the psychological states that animals are showing signs of are analogous to human psychological states or not.

    We can certainly draw tentative parallels, but to venture beyond that is to indulge in crass anthropomorphism and magical thinking.

    Even those who work with higher primates who have been taught sign-language are careful to avoid anthropomorphising their charges.

    To be blunt, Adrian, it seems to me that your hypothesis is neither particularly rational nor scientific.

    Sexual desire, or sexual excitement – much the same thing, and it makes no difference to the points I am making.

    There is a fundamental difference between desire and excitement, Adrian, as desire can be expressive of futurity and is directed at a single individual – we see no analogue in nature. What we do see evidence of is excitement/arousal – the present action, not the future plan or wistful thinking.

    The lack of consistency and comprehension in your use of language deeply undermines your argument.

    It says nothing about the contents of their minds? Then what exactly do you believe is provoking these actions?

    No, these behaviours don’t usually tell us much about the “contents of their minds”: they are usually nothing more than a response to external stimulæ.

    My local newspapers often has stories about people who have acted with envy, and we have all witnessed people acting in envious ways.

    We usually know that someone is envious because we are able to directly interrogate an individual as to their emotional state. Can you point to a specific behaviour that is unambiguously attributable to envy and would not be exhibited by a person in a different mental state?

    And may I suggest that you change localities – you seem to live in an area plagued by people indulging in undesirable emotional excesses.

  228. The Fifth Dimension
    You’re behind the times, Toad. There are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7… Eight Dimensions now.

  229. toadspittle says:

    No, you’re the one behind the times, Habsburg (but then, that’s where you, and all the other 19th Century Habsburg crumbly wannabees, really enjoy being, don’t you?)

    However, when and where did I ever suggest there were only five dimensions?

    There are in fact, 1,689 dimensions now.
    Wait…sorry, – make that 1,690! One more just in!
    But, regardless, there always was a Fifth One – whatever you say.
    And it’s a very nice one at that. Spooky.
    …Jesus will agree.

  230. Adrian Meades says:

    “Adrian, you’ve launched into a circular argument: you are essentially saying that we must attribute emotional states to animals because we inherited them from animals”
    Is that so difficult to understand? Our emotional states have evolved through our animal heritage, and that is why we share these functions with other animals. Sexual desire is a product of sexual arousal – an evolved psychological function – and just because a human being can plan for the future does not alter this fact one bit.

    “No, these behaviours don’t usually tell us much about the “contents of their minds”: they are usually nothing more than a response to external stimulæ”
    How much contemplation goes on before a man responds by lashing out in anger? Why should the basic emotions of humans be any different from those of a chimpanzee?

  231. Adrian Meades says:

    “As is your repetitive failure to actually answer ANY challenges that are made against your positions”
    Sorry Jabba, but I find your tone rather aggressive on the whole, and that’s why I have not responded to your comments.

  232. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    What evidence do you have that “Our emotional states have evolved through our animal heritage”? What evidence do you have that there is anything other than the most superficial similarity between human and animal emotional states?

    Why should the basic emotions of humans be the same as those of a chimpanzee? Our brains are radically different to theirs, our cognitive processing will also be radically different as they lack language: there is no reason to anthropomorphise them.

    And your use of language really suggests that you do not understand the terminology that you are using.

  233. JabbaPapa says:

    I find your tone rather aggressive on the whole, and that’s why I have not responded to your comments.

    You cannot blame me for engaging in any aggressive peer-review of your so-called “evidence” — that we’ve yet to see a hint of BTW.

    Your notion of “nice” is not evidence.

  234. Tom Fisher says:

    I find your tone rather aggressive on the whole, and that’s why I have not responded to your comments

    Adrian, the trick with Jabba is to think of the vitriolic tone as kind of verbal tic often his actual arguments are worth reading.

    It’s a case of reading selectively. In this made up example the bits in italics are the bits to ignore:

    Obviously you are an illiterate plebeian autodidact. The only explanation for your failure to understand Aristotle is that you taught yourself philosophy from a urine stained copy of Readers Digest which you stole from a dumpster. Aristotle spoke Greek not Swahili as your asinine musings clearly imply

    Diamonds in the rough and all that
    😉

  235. JabbaPapa says:

    Tom Fisher glared resentfully and in aggrieved annoyance at his impeccably polished and glistening computer monitor, as he slowly stirred the crystal powder of two sugars into his habitual morning tea. “This will not do,” he finally muttered almost absent-mindedly to himself, as he ceased his methodical stirring of the deliciously aromatic breakfast infusion. “This will not do. This will not do at all. That cad Jabba’s been at it again.” Online ad hoc stylistic justice against the horrendously ghastly petty crime of disturbing the calm, stately procedure of discourse amongst those gentle and civilised folk who would never dream of conjuring any such gothically baroque written embroidery to make any extraordinarily over-complex paragraphs of prose needed serving to this aggressively opinionated, bloated Hutt of a fellow ; and a calm and collected blow struck in the name of all those who write more sensibly and so more conservatively all of the same things and in always the same way as approved in gently restful motherly care by the proper politically correct bourgeois middle class aesthetics of sensible moderately-educated ordinariness.

    Melmoth the Siamese stirred lazily in the lap of the crisp, sharp linen of the still crumpled bed coverings, as Fisher began to type out his message to the blog.

  236. Tom Fisher says:

    @Jabba

    That really is very, very good. You said to be continued regarding purple prose, and you followed through.

    I tip my hat to you. I laughed out loud. That was well done

  237. toadspittle says:

    We are veering wildly away from the central topic here, into pointless, prolix, and puerile paradigms of purple prosody.
    Vis a vis, as Jabba says – the of Jesus’s selected method of returning home:

    There. Beamed up! Answers all possible objections, be they logical, moral, poetical, Atheistic, artistic, scientific, aesthetic, anthropomorphic, sceptical, Calvinistic, or metaphysical – dunnit?

    .…Now back to earth, please. lads.

  238. Tom Fisher says:

    Was it the same Spock “beamed up”, or was Spock destroyed, and a new Spock created by the transporter? That’s what I always wondered. Toad knows, but he’s not telling.

  239. JabbaPapa says:

    It’s obviously a quantum enfoldment device, so it would be the same Spock, not a new one.

  240. Tom Fisher says:

    Reading back over the thread I just noticed that Adrian addressed me directly and I neglected to respond (sorry, there have been many comments during this discussion!)

    Tom, the reason I brought up the ascension was to challenge Raven’s claim that the accounts of The New Testament provide good evidence for the resurrection and other miracles of Jesus – and thus, for the Catholic God. This challenge proved indisputably successful, and here are some of the reasons why:
    • Apparently the accounts of the ascension can only be properly understood if we “spiritualise’ them (try telling that to a court of law)
    • They mention things that don’t exist (referring to ‘a cloud’); “There is no definite article in the Greek – you’re reading too much into the English translation”
    • Some Catholics claim these accounts to be analogical, while others do not.
    • They should not be taken literally

    Jabba sets the scene: Tom Fisher glared resentfully and in aggrieved annoyance at his impeccably polished and glistening computer monitor :

    Adrian, that is an exceedingly poor comment. If you want to challenge the claim that the New Testament provides good evidence of the Resurrection, then do so. There is an interesting debate to be had. But your comments regarding the Ascension add up to nothing more than an attempt to make the account sound trite. (I addressed this in detail on March 10, 2015 at 23:29)

    Apparently the accounts of the ascension can only be properly understood if we “spiritualise’ them (try telling that to a court of law)

    The New Testament describes events with spiritual content. Do you object to mathematical content in book about physics? Under what possible circumstances would a ‘court of law’ be relevant?

    Some Catholics claim these accounts to be analogical, while others do not.

    Some Catholics…. (there are billions of ways to finish that sentence)

  241. Tom Fisher says:

    I really wish I didn’t drop articles whenever I type fast, and I never notice until after I’ve pressed ‘post’.

  242. The Raven says:

    Definite or indefinite articles?

  243. Tom Fisher says:

    Definite and indefinite, mostly the indefinite, less often articles of faith thankfully🙂

  244. Adrian Meades says:

    Thanks Tom, but I think it’s up to Jabba to become a bit more ‘nice’, rather than for us to tolerate him as he is.

  245. Tom Fisher says:

    We’ve talked about Islam, and the danger radical Islam poses to our civilization quite a bit recently. And in light of those conversations, I’m interested to hear what the CP&S community think of the documentary below.

    It’s not “Islamophobic” in the nasty sense, but it is a serious historian casting a very skeptical light on the traditional account of how Islam began.

    — I beg the indulgence of the moderators, this comment is off topic, I won’t complain if it’s pulled!

  246. JabbaPapa says:

    I think it’s up to Jabba to become a bit more ‘nice’, rather than for us to tolerate him as he is

    Thank you for seeking to dictate my behaviour to me. I’m sure it’s very “nice” of you to do so.

  247. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “What evidence do you have that “Our emotional states have evolved through our animal heritage”?”
    It surprises me that you don’t appear to have given much thought to these fundamental aspects of human nature.
    The basic emotions of animals have been developed & passed down through their evolutionary heritage, so why ever would you suggest it should be any different for humans? What alternative explanation can account for us having emotions that match those of other mammals?

    “Our brains are radically different to theirs, our cognitive processing will also be radically different as they lack language: there is no reason to anthropomorphise them.”
    Our advanced abilities have allowed us to develop our thinking. With complex language we can contemplate and complicate thoughts and ideas like no other animal can, and share those thoughts – weaving and embellishing them within our ever more complex cultures. i.e. we haven’t changed the basic emotions, but we indulge them in much more complicated ways.

  248. The Raven says:

    The basic emotions of animals have been developed & passed down through their evolutionary heritage, so why ever would you suggest it should be any different for humans?

    Adrian, that’s not evidence, it’s just circular argument again. You’ve concluded that our emotions *must* have evolved, therefore animals *must* also have evolved emotions.

    The plain fact is that there is no evidence to support your hypothesis and our behaviours and/or emotions may have entirely different origins (you will note that I am not saying that they do, I am saying that the paucity of evidence puts all such thinking into the realm of speculation, not science).

    And all of this just goes to demonstrate my starting point: knowing about theories surrounding the origins of emotions or behaviours is not of any use in a conversation about ethics – an individual’s behaviour towards themselves or others is largely going to be dependent on their own degree of self-knowledge, the norms of the surrounding culture and their own beliefs.

    The original premise of this post was Gray’s statement that there is nothing reasoned or reasonable in atheist ethical thought, you’ve done nothing to refute his point.

  249. JabbaPapa says:

    It surprises me that you don’t appear to have given much thought to these fundamental aspects of human nature

    It surprises me not very much to see you continuing your efforts to denigrate the intelligence of those who disagree with your clichéd and indoctrinated philosophies.

    Are you still so unaware of the Classical model of the Animal Humours (and the older theories of Antiquity) that you imagine that all those who lack your singular (and BTW entirely false) vision of the theory of evolution being “new” in relation to pre-19th century thought, rather than this theory itself being an evolution on the basis of such earlier models ?

    You see — you’re not even applying the very theory of evolution that you keep ranting on about, year after year after year (as if we hadn’t all understood your proposals the first time ’round), to its fullest logical conclusions — that no (scientific) theory can ever be entirely “new”, but must instead be an evolution from the contents of a previously existing corpus of thought.

    No — instead, you simply imply that anyone with a religious life must be considered as a total backwards-looking “superstitious” ignoramus who bases their views on “magic” and “ancient folklore” — whilst daring to lecture others about “aggressiveness” !!!

  250. JabbaPapa says:

    ooops forgot to add a verbal phrase in my second paragraph there — my bad !!

  251. Adrian Meades says:

    “You’ve concluded that our emotions *must* have evolved, therefore animals *must* also have evolved emotions”
    I have never said something “must have” anything, have I? What I am doing is applying reasoned thinking to this discussion in order to assess what appears to be likely, or unlikely.

    “The plain fact is that there is no evidence to support your hypothesis and our behaviours and/or emotions may have entirely different origins”
    There is no evidence to support the theory that humans have evolved along with all the other animals? That behaviour of these evolved animals corresponds with the habitat and communal and mating systems of their own particular species?

    Yes, emotions may have entirely different origins, but have you any serious or reasoned suggestions as to what those origins may be, or why you might think they might not be the product of evolution? If so please open it up for discussion.

    Human nature is a major cause for so much suffering in this world, and any further insight into the psychological functions which influence that nature would surely be welcomed by any reasonable person. Science does not dismiss investigation on the grounds of inconclusive supporting evidence – just imagine! – but considers the plausibility and potential value of a subject.
    You, Raven, are demonstrating an inability to think beyond your established beliefs, or else a refusal to consider that which conflicts with them.

    “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.” James Buchanan

  252. toadspittle says:

    The idea of us not being merely another species of “animal” is absurd.
    I know everyone on CP&S agrees, but millions of numbskulls don’t. This, despite the fact that humans are clearly superior to other species in many ways, – notably the ability to think, and then lie.
    And to make up metaphysical nonsense on an industrial scale.
    Nevertheless, we are clearly “cleverer” than all other species, in so far as it’s possible to tell, which is why we behave so much worse than any of them.
    However, we are slower than many, unable to fly or swim properly, and miles uglier than any other animal – and I include cockroaches, rattlesnakes and pigs here.
    But then, we are made, I’m frequently told, in the image of God.
    And a lion, a cat, or an antelope, is not.
    Lucky old them.
    This thread is too long now.

  253. JabbaPapa says:

    We’ve talked about Islam, and the danger radical Islam poses to our civilization quite a bit recently. And in light of those conversations, I’m interested to hear what the CP&S community think of the documentary below.

    It’s not “Islamophobic” in the nasty sense, but it is a serious historian casting a very skeptical light on the traditional account of how Islam began.

    There are a couple of interesting things in the video, but the methodology is quite shoddy — particularly the inaccurate statement that Science in the West must be provided by “scepticism”, but then expecting the viewer to be taken in by a rhetoric that belongs to the conspiracy theory genre.

  254. JabbaPapa says:

    It’s a lot like a UFO documentary in several ways.

  255. The Raven says:

    Toad,

    Whether or not we are “merely another species of “animal””, it would be wrong of us to anthropomorphise animals, to treat them as deficient people: after all, surely your dogs would be mightily offended by the comparison?

  256. Tom Fisher says:

    It’s a lot like a UFO documentary in several ways.

    There is far too much emphasis on trying to create a “mysterious” atmosphere in the documentary. Unfortunately TV producers like that sort of thing. The basic premise, that the Qu’ran was developed further north than tradition asserts, isn’t outlandish or original to Tom Holland. The book is a good read, the documentary is in some ways a poor effort, and I understand your response

  257. JabbaPapa says:

    There is far too much emphasis on trying to create a “mysterious” atmosphere in the documentary

    That’s not the worst of the rhetorical legerdemain, Tom, but yes.

    Much worse is the deliberate attempt over about 50 minutes to support whatever post-structuralist rejection of the primary sources, to then hammer into the bewildered and manipulated viewer the idea that all religious texts must be viewed as being intrinsically false. Whilst claiming this rubbish as being “sceptical” and “scientific” and “historical”.

    And please don’t tell me you failed to notice the grossly blatant cherry-picking and out-of-context quoting of the various interviewees …

  258. The idea of us not being merely another species of “animal” is absurd.
    I know you are, Toad (an amphibian to be exact), but the rest of us (except possibly The Raven- and maybe Jabba{are Hutts animals?}) think differently. In a way, we’re all a sort of amphibian, existing in the spiritual and material worlds, with elements of both in our nature.
    This thread is too long now.
    Welcome to the new CP&S Forum. It used to be a Blog, but you can’t stop evolution (or so I’ve been told).

  259. johnhenrycn says:

    Is this the “John Gray” blog or the CP&S blog? There was this little dog back in 19th C. Scotland whose master – another “John Gray”- passed away, and the poor little dog spent something like the next 12 years sitting by his graveside before joining him. Personally, I prefer to die somewhere else😉

  260. The Raven says:

    What I am doing is applying reasoned thinking to this discussion in order to assess what appears to be likely, or unlikely.

    in other words, you are indulging in unevidenced speculation.

    There is no evidence to support the theory that humans have evolved along with all the other animals?

    Not relevant to your point, Adrian.

    That behaviour of these evolved animals corresponds with the habitat and communal and mating systems of their own particular species?

    Did they adapt their behaviour to their habitat? Is their communal and mating system also a product of their habitat? If they were placed in a different habitat how quickly would their behaviour, communal and mating systems change to adapt to their new habitat? To what extent can these changes be described as “evolution” and to what extent are they mere adaptation? If an animal’s behaviour changes during the course of a single individual lifetime in response to their environment, can that change be legitimately called evolution?

    Human nature is a major cause for so much suffering in this world, and any further insight into the psychological functions which influence that nature would surely be welcomed by any reasonable person.

    But how does wasting time speculating about the origins of behaviours in deep time help? Psychologists have literally billions of live subjects to study, they really don’t need to waste their time on behavioural evolution. Besides which, psychology is only referred to as a science as a matter of politeness: its methods have rarely stood up to objective study; its practitioners readily admit that the great majority of their diagnoses are wrong.

    Science does not dismiss investigation on the grounds of inconclusive supporting evidence – just imagine! – but considers the plausibility and potential value of a subject.

    “Science” has nothing to say about “plausible” or “potential value”; “science” is the study of observable phenomena.

    You, Raven, are demonstrating an inability to think beyond your established beliefs, or else a refusal to consider that which conflicts with them.

    The established belief that you are struggling to get past is the belief that your speculations are worth no more than anyone else’s. And, to be clear, I am not dismissing the possibility that your speculations about the origins of human emotion might prove to be true, I am dismissing the possibility that they are of any use to you in this debate and I am dismissing the idea that they constitute “evidence based reasoning”.

    “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.” James Buchanan

    Which James Buchanan was that, Adrian? The one who, in his inaugural address in 1856 described the territorial issue of slavery as “happily, a matter of but little practical importance.” ? The one consistently ranked as the worst president in US history? Because he sounds like a man whose judgement I’d really trust.

    And by the way, which work is this quotation taken from? Because the only places that I’ve ever seen it cited are on atheist websites, who are quoting Noyes, who does not,himself, actually give a source.

  261. Adrian Meades says:

    You missed a bit, Raven:

    Yes, emotions may have entirely different origins, but have you any serious or reasoned suggestions as to what those origins may be, or why you might think they might not be the product of evolution? If so please open it up for discussion.

  262. The Raven says:

    You missed my answer, Adrian, albeit that it was phrased as a series of questions:

    Did they adapt their behaviour to their habitat? Is their communal and mating system also a product of their habitat? If they were placed in a different habitat how quickly would their behaviour, communal and mating systems change to adapt to their new habitat? To what extent can these changes be described as “evolution” and to what extent are they mere adaptation? If an animal’s behaviour changes during the course of a single individual lifetime in response to their environment, can that change be legitimately called evolution?

  263. Adrian Meades says:

    The basic emotions may have entirely different origins, but have you any serious or reasoned suggestions as to what those origins may be, or why you might think they might not be the product of evolution?

  264. The Raven says:

    Read the answers that you’ve already been given, Adrian.

  265. Adrian Meades says:

    “If an animal’s behaviour changes during the course of a single individual lifetime in response to their environment, can that change be legitimately called evolution?”
    I don’t know about you, Raven, but in such a case I’d say that the animal’s mind has evolved to adapt – to learn. Dog’s can be observed to do this – or am I just indulging in unevidenced speculation?
    So, do you agree that emotions have been created within the minds of evolved creatures in response to external influences, or do you have other theories about their place of origin?

  266. The Raven says:

    I see that you are not using the word “evolution” in its commonly accepted sense.

  267. Adrian Meades says:

    It was you who used the word “evolution”.
    I hope you are not dodging my question?

  268. The Raven says:

    Evolution/evolved adaptation/adapted.

  269. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    do you agree that emotions have been created within the minds of evolved creatures in response to external influences, or do you have other theories about their place of origin?

  270. The Raven says:

    What is the purpose of the word evolved?

  271. Adrian Meades says:

    It’s to say that the creatures evolved, rather than just appeared fully formed. But I suppose it’s not that vital in this context. Try this:
    do you agree that emotions have been created within the minds of living creatures in response to external influences, or do you have other theories about their place of origin?

  272. JabbaPapa says:

    Personally, I’m wondering how evolved that dead horse that he’s flogging might be.

    More than the flogger ? Less ?

  273. The Raven says:

    “Created” infers the conscious act of a creator. Are you sure that’s the word you want?

    This line of questioning is going nowhere interminably, Adrian.

  274. JabbaPapa says:

    do you agree that emotions have been created within the minds of living creatures in response to external influences, or do you have other theories about their place of origin?

    That’s like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, except not as much fun.

  275. JabbaPapa says:

    This line of questioning is going nowhere interminably, Adrian

    Indeed, Raven — there’s a clear lack of evolution in his discourse.

  276. Adrian Meades says:

    “This line of questioning is going nowhere interminably, Adrian”
    Of course it is if you continue to avoid answering the question.

    ““Created” infers the conscious act of a creator.”
    Or a creative process perhaps?? But if you are not happy with it try this:

    Do you agree that emotions have formed within the minds of living creatures in response to external influences, or do you have other theories about their place of origin?

  277. JabbaPapa says:

    In what way is it like that, Jabba?

    Because it’s a completely abstract question about nothing other than definitions.

    There is no such thing, by definition, as an emotion without an external component, simply because the “e” in “e-motion” is an “ex”, so that the word could be abstractly considered as signifying a motion from within to without, or the other way round, or both simultaneously, or alternately the one or the other.

    You might as well ask yourself if Schrödinger’s cat has had enough Kitty-Kat, or how long is a piece of string.

    It is a futile line of questioning, and it is inherently incapable of leading to any actual knowledge of anything other than pure semantics.

  278. The Raven says:

    As I disagree with your use of the words “emotion” and “mind”, I find myself unable to agree.

    If you were to reformulate that as “animals’ mental states are formed in response to their environment” then I would agree with you.

    And you might try the whole “answering questions” thing yourself – we’re no closer to your proving your opening statement on this thread than we were when you started it.

  279. toadspittle says:

    “If you were to reformulate that as “animals’ mental states are formed in response to their environment” then I would agree with you.”
    Same with human animals. If you put one in a place that’s too hot – like in a fire, say, he becomes mentally unhappy.
    Human animals have despoiled the planet for almost all other animals.
    t would be pleasant to think we might be called to account.

    “Toad, Whether or not we are “merely another species of “animal””, it would be wrong of us to anthropomorphise animals, to treat them as deficient people: after all, surely your dogs would be mightily offended by the comparison?”
    It’s not that other animals are “deficient people,” so much as that people are deficient animals, (in my opinion,) Raven.
    And their arrogant boast that they look like God – because they are made in His image, is for me, laughable. Though not, presumably, for Raymond Cardinal Burke, Mel Gibson, GKC, or Tony Blair.
    Homo Sapiens is clearly vastly superior to, say, rabbits – at filling in tax returns, and arguing about which way the priest should face during Mass, but inferior in many other more reasonable tasks – such as plentiful sexual reproduction, nose-twitching, and ear-wriggling. Kathleen will be particularly sympathetic here, (though perhaps not so much about her ability to wriggle her ears.)

  280. JabbaPapa says:

    I was unaware that God had incarnated as various other species as well as Man, Toad. Which other species, then, have been made in His image ?

    And just imagine how many species there are that must feel shock and resentment at this arrogance of ours !!! No doubt, the dogs have been tugging at your ear on this very topic …

  281. toadspittle says:

    As far as I can see, Jabba – no other species – on Planet Earth, anyway – are unfortunate enough to have been made In God’s Image.
    But, as I think, Montaigne quotes one of his crummy old Roman dudes as saying – “If horses had a God, it would look like a horse.”

    Luckily, my dogs tug at my arm, not my ear.

    Maybe there’s an ant god – a big, kindly, twinkly-eyed, old ant, with a long, white, beard. ….Who sends bad ants to Hell.

    (For God’s sake Toad, try and take this a tiny bit seriously.)

  282. Adrian Meades says:

    Well, Raven,
    with all that question avoiding – leading to your implication that emotions don’t exist in animals – to the deleting of my further comments, it certainly looks like you’ve beaten me fair and square!
    Well done!

  283. The Raven says:

    Well, Adrian, I have asked you a lot of questions on this thread, but still don’t seem to have any answers.

    I shy away from the word “emotion” when talking about the mental states of animals, because it is just so much anthropomorphic projection in most cases. Oddly enough, so do those actually working with animals:
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2015/mar/13/anthropomorphic-language-its-only-human

    Now stop flogging this dead, anthropomorphised horse: it isn’t going to get up and prance around the ring any more.

  284. Adrian Meades says:

    Thanks for the article, Raven;
    ‘Anthropomorphic language – it’s only human
    Attributing human traits to animals and using words to tell their stories can help us make sense of their world and ours’
    Although those who study the psychology of animals are quite rightly wary of anthropomorphism, can you name any who do not believe that animals have emotions?
    Which scientists do not believe that other mammals behave with aggression, or fear, irritability, sexual excitement or panic, for example?

    “I have asked you a lot of questions on this thread, but still don’t seem to have any answers”
    If there is a specific question you’d like me to answer, please ask and I will answer it asap.

  285. The Raven says:

    I suggest that you do some basic reading on the topic, Adrian, the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point.

    And aggression, irritability, sexual excitement and panic are not emotions; they are behaviours. In a human being we might see the emotions of anger or love underlying those behaviours, but we have no evidence that animals experience those mental states.

    And in terms of my questions, these will do for a start:

    • I would be very grateful to hear what your evidence for atheism is
    • How does your “stuff like that” evidence anything other than the fact that your own presuppositions, having been brought up in a culture fashioned by Christian ethics, are those of the prevailing culture?
    • what evidence can you advance that faith in religion is irrational?
  286. JabbaPapa says:

    God created Man in His image — but Adrian is trying to upstage Him, by flogging an evolved dead horse into the image of a man.

  287. johnhenrycn says:

    Oh, for goodness sake, give it up. Admit that invincible ignorance is a fact, why don’t you? But, on this, the 50th anniversary of the Sound of Music, let’s be friends:

  288. GC says:

    And Julie Andrews will be 80 this year, which means she was nearly 30 when she was a problem like Maria.

    How about this, JH? Patronising???

    Forty percent of Australians are of Irish descent. That is said to be the highest outside of Ireland itself.

    Although Mr Abbott is a Catholic, his father was an Englishman (Tyneside), his mum of Dutch and Welsh extraction (well, St Patrick may have been Welsh!), and he himself (Mr Abbott) was born in London.

    Anyway.

  289. johnhenrycn says:

    Dear GC: I don’t know much about Abbott (2 bs and 2 ts is unusual, and I shall read up on him); but his green tie is so gay – from a Catholic perspective. Men born on St Patrick’s Day wear this one:

  290. toadspittle says:

    Strewth. What a flamin’ gobshite.

    May emerald-green emus come and kick his dunny down.
    (Old Irish curse.)

  291. johnhenrycn says:

    My dear Salientian: you do realize that ‘strewth’ needs an exclamation mark?
    On the other hand, I’ve not a clue what your “Old Irish Curse” means.

    But tomorrow is the Ides of March – what you Brits call Mothering Sunday – so here’s something in honour of all our wonderful mothers:

  292. toadspittle says:

    Strewth! …needs an exclamation mark if Toad says it does, JH – not otherwise!
    The question here is, as Humpty says, “…who’s to be master here.”

    …And my Hibernian curse also means exactly what it says it does. You might want to keep your minces on your dunny, from now on. The Curse of Toad is powerful, and far-reaching.
    Ask Tony Blair.

    But you are right, as usual – about Mums. We don’t realise what we had, until they’ve gone.

  293. Adrian Meades says:

    “I would be very grateful to hear what your evidence for atheism is”
    I have no evidence that God doesn’t exist, in the same way that you have no evidence for the non-existence of Shiva, Odin, Ganesha, Eostre, Thor, Zeus, pixies, Inugami , ghosts or bunyips.

    “How does your “stuff like that” evidence anything other than the fact that your own presuppositions, having been brought up in a culture fashioned by Christian ethics, are those of the prevailing culture?”
    Well, I don’t know much about the history of ethics, nor do I see this as being of much importance to how we tackle issues today.

    “what evidence can you advance that faith in religion is irrational?”
    For someone who is aware that, at best, all but one of all the religions ever invented must be completely misguided, and that even their own religion’s holy book has nothing to suggest it was inspired by anything else but men, total ‘faith’ in that religion has to be irrational.

  294. Tom Fisher says:

    By Methuselah’s beard and whiskers!! Enough already with this interminable cliche ridden blather.

  295. JabbaPapa says:

    Well, I don’t know much about the history of ethics, nor do I see this as being of much importance to how we tackle issues today.

    /face-palm/

  296. Tom Fisher says:

    /face-palm/

    Yes indeed!

  297. toadspittle says:

    “Ethics and logic are one and the same.”

    ….Something to consider from Ludwig.

  298. Tom Fisher says:

    he was possibly one of the most interesting men who ever lived, Toad.

  299. toadspittle says:

    Agreed, Tom. That almost ensures you’ve already read, “The Duty of Genius.”
    If not, you are in for a rare treat.

  300. Adrian Meades says:

    “/face-palm/” Why?

    Raven,
    • Can you name any scientists researching animal behaviour who do not believe that other mammals have emotions?

    • Both the Old & New Testament contain many references to God and Heaven being above the earth, or above the sky – the account of the ascension being just one. And considering the prevailing beliefs of a firmament among the Hebrews and Egyptians, which continued through to St. Thomas Aquinas – not forgetting Buraq the flying horse who took Mohammed up to heaven. Do you have any evidence at all to show that the writers of the New Testament did not believe that heaven was above the sky?

  301. toadspittle says:

    If “emotions,” include, fear, happiness, anger, curiosity, sadness – then I can confidently tell you animals do have them. And others, as well. Like guilt and suspicion.

    Horses in heaven? Whatever next? Tigers? Elephants? ….All with wings, of course. Remember Dumbo? That proves it.
    ….Though I believe it’s also true Joan of Arc had a sword made, and dropped from there, with which to kill Englishmen.
    So there is a forge “up there,” where horseshoes can be made. Possibly wing-making factories, as well.
    Doubtless, Secretariat is in Paradise now. He earned it. Didn’t need wings, either.

    Have I got all this right, Raven?

  302. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, I believe that Adrian is only interested in reason and evidence (so he keeps telling us). On that basis, we can be pretty sure that animals suffer fear; the other emotions that we perceive in our animals are too open to subjective interpretation and projection for us to use those terms with the necessary rigour that Adrian commands of us (I’m not sure that curiosity and suspicion are actually classed as emotions).

    I like to anthropomorphise my animals as much as the next sentimental old fool, but I’m not going to pretend that my subjective feelings about my cat’s feelings are in any way scientific.

    I’m afraid that I don’t hold a brief for swords falling from heaven, that all sounds a little figurative to me.

  303. johnhenrycn says:

    “If ’emotions’ include, fear, happiness, anger, curiosity, sadness – then I can confidently tell you animals do have them. And others, as well. Like guilt and suspicion.”

    Thus sprach Toadspittle, as he wiped up the poop from his living room floor. Here’s a man who questions the existence of God, but who has no trouble interpreting the facial expressions and vocal utterances of beasts. I question whether animals even experience fear, but even if they do, emotions and feelings are not signs of intelligence insofar as we know.

  304. Tom Fisher says:

    Personally I have no doubt that mammals experience emotions, and even do a bit of remembering and thinking. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty confident about it. All my experiences of animal behaviour make more sense to me if I presume that they have interior lives

  305. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m an agnostic when it comes to the issue of animal emotions, but find it hard to accept that if animals experience even an emotional simulacrum of love they do not go to heaven when they die – which I doubt they do, Greyfriars Bobby notwithstanding. Tom, do you believe animals go to heaven?

  306. toadspittle says:

    “Thus sprach Toadspittle, as he wiped up the poop from his living room floor.”

    Would you rather it stayed there, JH? Animals will be animals, won’t we? Clearly you aren’t the sort of man who cleans up his own kid’s “poop.” That’s what wives are for, aren’t they?

    “I question whether animals even experience fear, but even if they do, emotions and feelings are not signs of intelligence insofar as we know.”
    That, of course, depends on what we mean by “intelligence.” If a dog appears to be frightened, like one of mine did today, because we had to drag her into the house and give her a bath to get two pounds of solid mud off her, I’d say she was demonstrating both fear and intelligence – misplaced intelligence, in this case, because she didn’t know we weren’t going to hurt her. Anyway, why should I expect my dogs to be intelligent?
    …If that’s what human beings are, you can keep it.
    Viz, the Kaltoon, which is visible, with patience, I assure you.

    http://www.economist.com/news/world-week/21639585-kals-cartoon?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/kal/jan17

    You do not agree. OK. Not worth arguing about, for sure.
    Unlike which way the priest “should” face during Mass, or whether Mohammed’s horse went to heaven in a balloon.

  307. johnhenrycn says:

    Your last attempt at a Kal-toon trifecta was successful, Toad, but (sniff) his is the one offering that I usually pass over when reading my print edition (sniff) of The Economist, and your offering was so pathetic as to make me wonder why they still keep him on after all these years, and why I trusted you to come up with an entertaining satire – a trenchant one being beyond your present capabilities, as we all know.

  308. johnhenrycn says:

    …but, I hasten to add, your footling attempts to entertain us are light years ahead of those offered by Mr Asparagus Syndrome Meades.

  309. Tom Fisher says:

    light years ahead of those offered by Mr Asparagus Syndrome Meades.

    Do you have any evidence that Mr Meades is not entertaining? Can disprove that he isn’t not entertaining? Can you prove that you not finding him entertaining isn’t evidence of you being poorly evolved?

    Game. Set. Match. Atheism

  310. The Raven says:

    I have no evidence that God doesn’t exist

    I am glad that you admit that your claim that atheism was evidence based reasoning was untrue.

    I don’t know much about the history of ethics

    As Jabba says, /facepalm/: your claim was that “liberal values” were derived from evidence based reasoning – if you don’t know the origins of “liberal values” how on earth can you support that claim? It sounds more like a tenet of your faith than a thought out position.

    For someone who is aware that, at best, all but one of all the religions ever invented must be completely misguided,

    I am aware of no such thing: other religions may not present the fullness of truth, but they contain hints of the truth; they are not completely misguided, merely incomplete.

    …and that even their own religion’s holy book has nothing to suggest it was inspired by anything else but men, total ‘faith’ in that religion has to be irrational.

    ” All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice…”

    Is that your own, subjective judgement talking there, Adrian? Or do you have some other source to draw on to say that the Bible was inspired by men?

    From the sounds of it your measure of “rationality” is nothing more than the extent to which something conforms to your own opinion. That seems pretty irrational to me.

    And I have video evidence for the existence of Pixies (there’s even a nice doggy and kitty emoting their existential angst at the failure of humankind to embrace evidence based reasoning).

    As for animal emotions and scientists, I’m not sure that she’d go so far as to say that mammals do not experience emotions, although she would be unwilling to apply the same labels to their mental states as we do to emotions, but you can start with Marian Stamp Dawkins.

    And finally heaven. I get it that you would like it to be true that people thought of God sitting on a cloud, so that your nicely polished argument about the ascension works, but the Gospels really don’t get particularly specific about the physical location of heaven and, as I’ve already pointed out, the descriptions of the baptism of the Lord and the Ascension really read as if they locate heaven far more immanently than a distant spot above the ether.

    I know that you think the firmament argument is a good one, but the word “firmament” is not even used in the NT: there is no evidence that it had much “mind-share” for them as a concept.

    And as to your repeated question about evidence that they didn’t see heaven as a place in the sky, you’re the one asserting that they must have believed that it was in the sky, it’s up to you to prove your point from the evidence available to us: namely the text. I’ve already pointed out things in the text that oppose such a naive reading.

  311. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad says (21:12) that JH is clearly not “…the sort of man who cleans up his own kid’s poop.”

    Of course I have. Truth is, I’ve touched more (hundreds more) male bottoms than Elton John can ever dream of. And I loved doing so, although not in the same way that he does.Tell me, Brother Burrito, is there still such a thing as a 3H enema? Normally, I was told to administer SS enemas, but sometimes 3H in drastic cases. Disimpactions in really severe cases. Speaking of which (Elton John, that is), has anyone else seen this disgusting piece by the disgusting Bryony Gordon, The Telegraph chick who thinks she’s a thinker? Her piece is disgusting (did I say that already?) but had to laugh at the Tweet from Sir Elton calling for a boycott of the gay fashion designers (““I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again”) who disapprove of adoptions by homosexuals. Talk about intolerance. But as we have learned these past 50 years, tolerance was the foot wedged in the door by home invaders who hate free speech, and who now command us to shut up.

  312. JabbaPapa says:

    The Raven :

    I am glad that you admit that your claim that atheism was evidence based reasoning was untrue.

    QFT

    From the sounds of it your measure of “rationality” is nothing more than the extent to which something conforms to your own opinion. That seems pretty irrational to me.

    QFT

    All of Adrian’s tedious, one-sided, blinkered, stubborn ranting about “evidence” is powerful in its insistence that a certain reading of the Bible that is directly contrary to the evidence of its contents must be believed.

    Adrian’s position is so farcically preposterous as to actually be worthless — which is quite unusual, as most wrong-headed beliefs contain at least *some* valid components.

    Still, even so, his fantastical notion that morality could be divorced from ethics is akin to suggesting that the world is flat, in its TOTAL IGNORANCE of every single piece of actual evidence AKA History.

    Adrian falsely claims that Science is made of evidence ; but then chooses to ignore the ONE scientific discipline, History, that is entirely focused on the nature and contents and focus of evidence as such.

    All of which begs the question — how, exactly, did Adrian fall down into his rabbit hole ?

  313. toadspittle says:

    “I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again”
    And neither will Toad, Sir Elton. And Toad never lies: Unless, of course – like everyone else – it is in his interests to do so.
    Admittedly he never wore D&G in the first place, but a stand must be made. So here is Toad’s stand.
    He’s considering discarding his Fry and Lauries, too.
    And his Hitchens and Dawkings.
    …But keeping his Benedict and Francis.

    If this “thread” must roll endlessly along – like Ole Man Ribber – and it seems it must* – can it not be “broken up” in some fashion? It is now taking minutes to get it up on my computer.

    * Yes, I’m only making it worse, I know.

  314. Adrian Meades says:

    “I am glad that you admit that your claim that atheism was evidence based reasoning was untrue.”
    Sorry Raven. The evidence based reasoning shows us that the gods, as proposed by religions, are unlikely to exist.

    “As Jabba says, /facepalm/: your claim was that “liberal values” were derived from evidence based reasoning – if you don’t know the origins of “liberal values” how on earth can you support that claim?”
    Why would I need to know the ethics of certain Middle Eastern people of 2000 years ago in order to make constructive ethical decisions today? Likewise, does Jabba need to know about the ethics of the Iceni, ISIS or 14th century Chukchi people to make his?

    “they are not completely misguided, merely incomplete”
    Hinduism is ‘merely incomplete’? The Qur’an is ‘merely incomplete’? Scientology? Baluba?

    “Is that your own, subjective judgement talking there, Adrian? Or do you have some other source to draw on to say that the Bible was inspired by men?”
    Considering that The Bible contains nothing that men of the ancient Middle East could not have known, I’d say that was more than just ‘subjective judgement’. It’s the same with the Qur’an too. Why don’t the Inuit never get a mention?

    “Using anthropomorphic language does not have to discount the animal’s point of view. Anthropomorphism allows other animals’ behaviour and emotions to be accessible to us” Marian Dawkins
    But Raven, just imagine if there were a real life Tarzan – raised by gorillas from a baby with no contact with human language – do you have any good reason to believe he would experience emotions much differently to the ways his gorilla family did?

    “And as to your repeated question about evidence that they didn’t see heaven as a place in the sky, you’re the one asserting that they must have believed that it was in the sky, it’s up to you to prove your point from the evidence available to us: namely the text. I’ve already pointed out things in the text that oppose such a naive reading”
    Naïve reading? Surely The Bible is meant to communicate with everyone – simple peasants like me, to learned theologians.
    As you well know, The Old Testament and New Testament contain many references to heaven being ‘up there’, and only ‘up there’. Do you really want me to quote them? The Church carried this notion of heaven into the middle ages.
    If those who wrote the New Testament did not believe in a heaven above the sky, do you really believe – all considered – that they would have written the accounts of the ascension as they did? Do you have any evidence which suggests that they did not believe that heaven was above the sky, as there is plenty to show that they did?

  315. JabbaPapa says:

    Why don’t the Inuit never get a mention?

    Why is there no mention of the Wombles of Wimbledon in the Bible ? Or for that matter, in “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins ?

    Can it possibly be that neither of these works is Wikipedia ?? !!!!! ???!!??!!?

  316. JabbaPapa says:

    But Raven, just imagine if there were a real life Tarzan – raised by gorillas from a baby with no contact with human language – do you have any good reason to believe he would experience emotions much differently to the ways his gorilla family did?

    No imagination required, actual examples of humans raised by animals exist.

    And the answer is yes.

  317. JabbaPapa says:

    … just as the emotional life of animals raised by humans continues to be inhuman, nor BTW have several tens of thousands of years of acculturation and evolution provided these animals with cognition nor any other direct form of intellect as such.

    Carry on glogging your evolved dead horse, at least ’til you get bored and decide to fabricate yet another superior evolved sockpuppet.

  318. JabbaPapa says:

    An evolved rabbit :

  319. Tom Fisher says:

    Adrian,

    I think it was Jabba who said:

    your claim was that “liberal values” were derived from evidence based reasoning – if you don’t know the origins of “liberal values” how on earth can you support that claim?”

    And you responded:

    Why would I need to know the ethics of certain Middle Eastern people of 2000 years ago in order to make constructive ethical decisions today? Likewise, does Jabba need to know about the ethics of the Iceni, ISIS or 14th century Chukchi people to make his?

    I urge you to reflect on how utterly stupid that response is. I don’t know if you are familiar with the late Christopher Hitchens, but a genuine atheist intellectual, he would have held that kind of a-historical trash in contempt

  320. Adrian Meades says:

    Please explain why my response was utterly stupid, Tom.

  321. Adrian Meades says:

    Tom & Jabba,
    I think I’ve identified where it is that you are getting confused:
    If I said that ‘liberal values’ were derived from evidence based reasoning, this was referring to the process by which a ‘liberal’ may form opinions in order to make an ethical decision i.e. not the entire world history of ethical reasoning – which, of course, no one could possibly be aware of anyway.

  322. toadspittle says:

    Oh, my ears and whiskers! Two people so far have given Jabba’s post @ 10.52 the thumbs down? Why on earth?

    Does Toad think any animals go to Heaven (or Hell)?
    Probably not.
    Does he think Homo Sapiens is “Differently Abled” to other animals?
    Yes.
    Does he think Homo Sapiens is superior to other animals?
    No. Just differently abled.
    Does he think that one single species in the entire universe (as far as we know) is made in God’s image (Yes, even David Cameron and Lady Gaga) – and thus has the possibility of immortality and eternal bliss?
    Well, it’s a nice, cosy, idea. …If you happen to be fortunate enough to be a member of that unique species.
    Does Toad suspect (like Unamuno did) that immortality might be the result of wishful thinking?
    Yes.

    Does anyone on CP&S think Neanderthal people had souls, by the way? Are they in Heaven (or Hell) now?

    …To be continued… infinitely, it would seem.

  323. johnhenrycn says:

    That’s a brilliant question about whether neanderthals had souls, Toad. Well, brilliant might be a tad hyperbolic, but it caught my attention. I’d say yes they do, but what if we go back even further on the hominid evolutionary chain (please, Roger, do not respond to this question) and think about, say Homo erectus or Homo habilis. One thing’s for sure, there are no chimpanzees in Heaven (or Hell):

    I wonder if you and I keep posting, Toad, we can make this absurd thread crash?

  324. JabbaPapa says:

    Does anyone on CP&S think Neanderthal people had souls, by the way?

    Most of us are about 20% Neanderthal.

  325. JabbaPapa says:

    Oh, my ears and whiskers! Two people so far have given Jabba’s post @ 10.52 the thumbs down? Why on earth?

    Toad, I think it just illustrates the sheer brilliance of Caroll’s satire that even 1-2 centuries later, a bourgeois nincompoop or two can still be offended by a talking rabbit

  326. The Raven says:

    The evidence based reasoning shows us that the gods, as proposed by religions, are unlikely to exist.

    Adrian, don’t be an ass, you’ve already admitted that you have no evidence to support your position: no evidence = no evidence based reasoning.

    Why would I need to know the ethics of certain Middle Eastern people of 2000 years ago in order to make constructive ethical decisions today?

    But that’s not what you claimed, Adrian. You claimed that your ethics were derived from evidence based reasoning. From reading your comments you seem to believe in a form of ethics based on Our Lord’s injunction to love our neighbours as ourselves: an ethical position explicitly inherited from Christianity (irrespective of its unhistorical, nineteenth century, retrospective Hellenisation as the “Golden Rule”). If you are using the “Golden Rule” as your measure, what evidence are you basing your decision to use such an ethical metric?

    And your attempt to displace attention from this central failure in your argument in your response to Tom and Jabba is entirely irrelevant: no-one demands that you have a complete knowledge of global ethical thinking, only a knowledge of the history of ethics in the west (which is where you live and whose values you’ve adopted after the manner of a cargo-cultist).

    Likewise, does i need to know about

    Are you channelling lol-cats?

    Hinduism is ‘merely incomplete’? The Qur’an is ‘merely incomplete’? Scientology? Baluba?

    Yes.

    Considering that The Bible contains nothing that men of the ancient Middle East could not have known, I’d say that was more than just ‘subjective judgement’.

    What does your subjective judgment lead you to expect the Bible to mention that is absent, Adrian?

    As I say, your objection just sounds like your own subjective opinion.

    …a real life Tarzan…”

    Jabba has already answered your point on this, Adrian. The only thing I’d add is that you ought to read Professor Stamp-Dawkins instead of just attempting to quote-mine her.

    Surely The Bible is meant to communicate with everyone

    Really, Adrian? What was the literacy rate in antiquity? Scripture has always been communicated to the faithful by those learned in it; the idea that anyone can pick up “the Good Book” is a nineteenth century Protestant construct.

    As you well know, The Old Testament and New Testament contain many references to heaven being ‘up there’, and only ‘up there’. Do you really want me to quote them?

    Yes, there are plenty of references to heaven being above the earth, but as I keep pointing out, we have key passages in the NT that indicate a view of heaven that does not physically locate it anywhere (and, when we last debated this point, I pointed out to you that “above” can have many more meanings than a description of physical location).

    The Church carried this notion of heaven into the middle ages.

    Unevidenced assertion: prove it.

    If those who wrote the New Testament did not believe in a heaven above the sky, do you really believe – all considered – that they would have written the accounts of the ascension as they did?

    Your reading of the ascension is predicated on your chosen belief that heaven is a place in the sky. You already have Tom’s and my own word that we do not read the passages in the same way. Your repetition of a non-point serves no purpose and, being blunt, is starting to look a little dishonest.

    Do you have any evidence which suggests that they did not believe that heaven was above the sky, as there is plenty to show that they did?

    You have not produced any evidence to support your assertion, Adrian. I have already, and repeatedly, pointed to accounts that contradict your opinion; you haven’t engaged with those accounts. Your repetition of points that have been answered doesn’t strengthen your case.

  327. toadspittle says:

    “Most of us are about 20% Neanderthal.”

    I didn’t know that, Jabba. It explains a great deal.
    Although, is it known whether or not that constitutes the 20% that tells lies, maltreats other animals, and kills one another over differences of opinion about what God’s “plan” for us is?
    Or is it the 80% of “Homo Sapiens” that’s responsible for that?

    …Bit of both, for all I know.

    (That should harvest a decent few “thumbs downs.” Collapse of elderly thread.)

  328. Why would I need to know the ethics of certain Middle Eastern people of 2000 years ago in order to make constructive ethical decisions today?
    Whatever else is true, it is emphatically not true that the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth were suitable to his time, but are no longer suitable to our time. Exactly how suitable they we to his time is perhaps suggested in the end of his story….The truth is that when critics have spoken of the local limitations of the Galilean, it has always been a case of the local limitations of the critics. He did undoubtedly believe in certain things that one particular modern sect of materialists do not believe. But they were not things particularly peculiar to his time. It would be nearer the truth to say that the denial of them is quite peculiar to our time. Doubtless it would be nearer still to the truth to say merely that a certain solemn social importance, in the minority disbelieving them, is peculiar to our time. He believed, for instance, in evil spirits or in the psychic healing of bodily ills; but not because he was a Galilean born under Augustus. (Chesterton parachuting into the argument again*)
    Does anyone on CP&S think Neanderthal people had souls, by the way? Are they in Heaven (or Hell) now?
    Neanderthals were just a tribal family of humans (with souls) that just happened to have severe arthritis. Whether they’re in Heaven or Hell is their (individual) decision.

    (*I’m sorry; but he says it so well.)

  329. Adrian Meades says:

    Evidence based reasoning shows us that the gods, as proposed by religions, are unlikely to exist.

    “Adrian, don’t be an ass, you’ve already admitted that you have no evidence to support your position: no evidence = no evidence based reasoning.”
    What nonsense Raven! For starters there’s only too much evidence to challenge the claims of there being an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful God. Then we have evidence that shows that Catholics are no more noticeably kinder or nicer than anyone else (just look at what they write here and compare it to Toad’s far more agreeable nature). Then there is the Bible, which is no more convincing than any other holy book. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that your religion is not what it claims to be, and therefore the same can be said for its claims.

    “From reading your comments you seem to believe in a form of ethics based on Our Lord’s injunction to love our neighbours as ourselves: an ethical position explicitly inherited from Christianity”
    I don’t believe Jesus has been the only one to have noticed the benefits of getting on with others – many other mammal species also live in largely peaceful communities too.

    “And your attempt to displace attention from this central failure in your argument”
    There is no central failure in my argument. Please look again:
    “If I said that ‘liberal values’ were derived from evidence based reasoning, this was referring to the process by which a ‘liberal’ may form opinions in order to make an ethical decision”

    “What does your subjective judgment lead you to expect the Bible to mention that is absent, Adrian?”
    I would expect it to read like an invention of archaic Middle Eastern men, which of course it does. And although that’s just my subjective opinion, it is nonetheless true.

    “Jabba has already answered your point on this, Adrian”
    Jabba’s dubious Tarzan claims were entirely unsupported, and his comment “just as the emotional life of animals raised by humans continues to be inhuman” demonstrates that he has not been giving my original point much thought at all.

    “Yes, there are plenty of references to heaven being above the earth, but as I keep pointing out, we have key passages in the NT that indicate a view of heaven that does not physically locate it anywhere”
    And the key passages of the NT you point me to:
    “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son,whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
    “Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

    The Church carried this notion of heaven into the middle ages.
    “Unevidenced assertion: prove it”
    Raphael’s Vatican fresco showing the Holy Trinity in Heaven
    Giotto’s Scenes from the Life of Christ, Cappella Scrovegni, Padu
    The ascension fresco of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican
    The ascension painting by Dosso Dossi,
    etc. etc. etc.
    If the Church did not want to mislead the peasants into thinking that heaven was above the sky – or ‘up there’ – why were they producing these images?

    And from Wikipedia;
    “Augustine wrote that too much learning had been expended on the nature of the firmament. “We may understand this name as given to indicate not it is motionless but that it is solid.” he wrote. Saint Basil argued for a fluid firmament. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the firmament had a “solid nature” and stood above a “region of fire, wherein all vapor must be consumed.””

    Meanwhile, you cannot produce a single piece of evidence which suggests that authors of The New Testament did not believe that heaven was above the sky.

  330. toadspittle says:

    “Neanderthals were just a tribal family of humans (with souls) that just happened to have severe arthritis.”

    Well, that is a good, solid, positive. statement, HRM.
    I agree they were a “variety” of human beings. It seems there were others – Homo Erectus, and Homo Habilis, as JH points out.. Did they all have souls? Must have, I suppose.
    Clearly then – they were also descendants of Adam.
    Where do expulsion from The Garden of Eden and Original Sin come into the picture for them? Where do they “fit” into the Bible picture, in fact? It isn’t clear on The Good Book that God created several species of human.
    Was the Neanderthals’ arthritis a direct result of The Fall? Is everybody’s, sicknesses, in fact?

    What a lot of boring questions.

  331. JabbaPapa says:

    Arthrosis, actually (I’ve got that one myself) ; plus the diabetes (which I haven’t). I’ve several physical features that resemble those of Neanderthal man, including a disproportionately large hat size.

    I’ve a friend who has had his genome sequenced, and he’s about 30% Neanderthal. It’s even possible that there could be people alive today who may atavistically be more homo sapiens neanderthalis than homo sapiens sapiens ; only the pure black Africans have 0% ; rather ironically in regard to 19th century paternalistic colonialism and the fascistic “racial purity” rubbish, it turns out that we’re most of us a result of prehistoric miscegenation, and of course God’s Original Creation.

  332. The Raven says:

    … there’s only too much evidence to challenge the claims of there being an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful God.

    Adrian, that you have said is that you believe that you have “evidence” against the existence of a God that has a number of attributes. To be quite honest, what you actually have is evidence that, if there is a God, He doesn’t behave in the ways that you, personally expect Him to.

    You seem to be having difficulty distinguishing between evidence and subjective judgment.

    Then we have evidence that shows that Catholics are no more noticeably kinder or nicer than anyone else

    Even if that were true, it would be proof that Catholics are no better than other human beings. How does that begin to address the existence or otherwise of God?

    Then there is the Bible, which is no more convincing than any other holy book.

    I am tempted to ask which other holy books you are comparing it with, but will limit myself to observing that this is nothing more than a subjective judgment of your own; it is evidence of nothing more than your own state of mind.

    There is plenty of evidence to suggest that your religion is not what it claims to be, and therefore the same can be said for its claims.

    This is an illogical formulation, Adrian: what specific claims does Holy Church make about itself that are demonstrably untrue? How do these untruths speak to the existence of God?

    And none of this is really relevant to the subject: atheism is a pretty extreme position to take, what evidence do you actually have to take it?

    If you are not convinced by the evidence for God, then the rational, evidence based position to hold would be agnosticism, not the angry proclamation of the non-existence of God!

    I don’t believe Jesus has been the only one to have noticed the benefits of getting on with others…

    But we aren’t talking about merely “getting on with others”, Adrian, we’re discussing ethics and your belief that liberal ethics are derived from “evidence-based reasoning”.

    If I said that ‘liberal values’ were derived from evidence based reasoning, this was referring to the process by which a ‘liberal’ may form opinions in order to make an ethical decision

    But how did a “liberal” become a “liberal”? What evidence based reasoning got him or her there?

    The measure of “evidence based reasoning” that you are proposing is nothing more than “I am going to evaluate the situation in the light of my pre-existent beliefs”. By that measure, you’ve put your “liberal” ethicist on the same level as an adherent of Daesh.

    I would expect …[the Bible] … to read like an invention of archaic Middle Eastern men, which of course it does. And although that’s just my subjective opinion, it is nonetheless true.

    What texts are you benchmarking it against, Adrian? How have you formed your opinion of the mindset of “archaic Middle Eastern men”? You need to answer those questions and demonstrate an expertise and engagement with the text before you can claim that you subjective opinion in the matter is “nonetheless true”.

    And, in my view, Jabba is entirely right to dismiss the point that you are attempting to make about “real life Tarzan”: we would have no way of knowing whether a human being brought up among animals developed the same emotional states of mind as them or not; given the differences between human and animal brains, there is no reason to believe that the emotions of such a person would have anything other than a superficial resemblance to the states of mind exhibited by his or her animal foster-family.

    Thank you for reproducing the passages that I pointed you to. Is this you conceding the point or do you have an argument to make?

    The Church carried this notion of heaven into the middle ages.
    Raphael’s Vatican fresco showing the Holy Trinity in Heaven [etc]
    If the Church did not want to mislead the peasants into thinking that heaven was above the sky – or ‘up there’ – why were they producing these images?

    Adrian, these are artistic depictions on a flat surface. If they meant what you claim to think they mean, then we should wonder why the Russians thought that Lenin lived in the sky, and look, here’s Stalin doing it too! It’s not just the Russians: Londoners clearly believed that giant athletes lived in the sky in 1948.

    And why are you still withering on about the firmament? How is it possibly relevant to the conversation?

    As for the views of the NT authors on the location of heaven, you’ve neither answered the points put to you nor established a prima facie case for your suppositions.

  333. Tom Fisher says:

    Please explain why my response was utterly stupid, Tom.

    It’s been covered by The Raven, but I don’t want to ignore your request, so:

    Jabba said:

    your claim was that “liberal values” were derived from evidence based reasoning – if you don’t know the origins of “liberal values” how on earth can you support that claim?”

    And you responded:

    Why would I need to know the ethics of certain Middle Eastern people of 2000 years ago in order to make constructive ethical decisions today? Likewise, does Jabba need to know about the ethics of the Iceni, ISIS or 14th century Chukchi people to make his?

    So, broadly speaking (and definitely not being limited by American usage) I hold to many liberal values as well. And I agree that reasoning and reflection played a significant part in their development. But ethical development doesn’t occur in a vacuum. All developments in ethics build upon or react against what came before. Even considered in secular terms, there is no doubt that the ‘Christian centuries’ were the seed bed of modern liberalism. Radical notions such as the fundamental equality and fraternity of all people certainly stood in contrast to the aristocratic system, but they were implicit in the Christian worldview. There was an organic development from medieval / early modern Christendom through to what we call ‘liberal values’. It is rather daft (I am convinced that you yourself aren’t stupid) to think that you can disregard the historical context for your own value system. — Do do so would put you in danger of mistaking liberal values for universal and timeless truths — which is just the mistake you think the dogmatic are making.

  334. Adrian Meades says:

    Tom,
    I never said that I disregarded the whole historical context for my own “value system” – and I’d point out again that none of us can ever know this anyway.

  335. JabbaPapa says:

    I never said that I disregarded the whole historical context for my own “value system” – and I’d point out again that none of us can ever know this anyway.

    This sentence appears to be completely devoid of any meaning ; and you are, quite clearly, very confused.

  336. Tom Fisher says:

    I never said that I disregarded the whole historical context for my own “value system”

    Well you didn’t say you were disregarding it, but nonetheless you did disregard it. Which was my point.

  337. Tom Fisher says:

    Adrian, regarding pre-modern ideas about the ‘location of Heaven’, I’d be very cautious about leaping to conclusions. For example I have no doubt that Dante believed in both Hell and Purgatory, but it would be asinine to think he thought purgatory was actually on an island in the southern hemisphere*.

    *Sometimes I suspect that NZ actually is Dante’s purgatory, but never mind.

  338. JabbaPapa says:

    … meanwhile, ISIS has forbidden teaching people the theory of evolution, and I should imagine is quite willing to execute those who fail to comply.

    … but Adrian seems to believe that Catholic Christianity is the sum and repository of all that he hates. He is far down in the line of those who queue up desirous of suppressing the Truth.

  339. JabbaPapa says:

    The Raven :

    no evidence = no evidence based reasoning

    quoted for emphasis

  340. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba’s dubious Tarzan claims were entirely unsupported, and his comment “just as the emotional life of animals raised by humans continues to be inhuman” demonstrates that he has not been giving my original point much thought at all.

    erm, sorry matey — for starters YOU are the one who introduced Tarzan into this “conversation”, and made various strange claims about his emotional life.

    for seconders, though it’s fiction, it’s an actually evidence-based narrative, not your ersatz version : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Child

    for thirders, you’re just mouth-gapingly naïve in your submission to some greatly flawed educational theories first suggested in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, and propagated massively by the Stalinist USSR and its satellite propaganda organisations.

  341. toadspittle says:

    “*Sometimes I suspect that NZ actually is Dante’s purgatory, but never mind.”

    I had a Tasmanian friend, and once asked him what Tasmania was like, “It’s so boring people go from there to New Zealand, to have a bit of fun,”he said.

    Foolish question 1: At what evolutionary point do we think God inserted souls into a certain variety of ape, and thus made them immortal?*
    Foolish question 2: Do we know what percentage of Adam and Eve was Neanderthal?*
    Foolish question 3: Why do we know absolutely nothing about more than half of Christ’s life? Was nobody interested enough to ask him when he was alive? Didn’t they realise who he was?
    Foolish question 4: Why did the Jews demand that Christ’s death bring a curse on all succeeding generations of them? What had they to gain from that?

    That’s quite enough foolish questions for one morning, Toad.
    …Especially as you must get ready to take three priests out to dinner this evening.

    * Rogebert need not answer these two.

  342. JabbaPapa says:

    Foolish question 1: At what evolutionary point do we think God inserted souls into a certain variety of ape, and thus made them immortal?

    None — each soul is entirely individual in Nature.

    Alternative answer : when you were conceived as a Person that God knew would grow into a person.

    Foolish question 2: Do we know what percentage of Adam and Eve was Neanderthal?

    No.

    Foolish question 3: Why do we know absolutely nothing about more than half of Christ’s life?

    Because the Christ was not born into the frivolous period of Hello magazine.

    Foolish question 4: Why did the Jews demand that Christ’s death bring a curse on all succeeding generations of them? What had they to gain from that?

    “the Jews” ?? What a staggeringly unacceptable and implicitly racist generalisation !!!

  343. GC says:

    I shouldn’t really say this, Toad, but I once heard an Australian associate professor here say that he thought it might be better if Tasmania was sold off to the New Zealanders and then they could all call it “West Island”. I’d better not tell you what else he said.

    I understand Tasmania is quite delightful, though I’ve not been, and the source of much “green politics” and “marriage equality” stuff these days. You know the story and would probably feel right at home, Toad.

  344. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “To be quite honest, what you actually have is evidence that, if there is a God, He doesn’t behave in the ways that you, personally expect Him to”
    No; his behaviour does not correspond with the claims of the religion
    e.g. if there is an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful God, why then do we have mental disorders which result in so much torture, rape and murder of children. Likewise, why would so many suffer such terrible afflictions – including terrible parasites like guinea worms?

    “If you are not convinced by the evidence for God, then the rational, evidence based position to hold would be agnosticism, not the angry proclamation of the non-existence of God!”
    I’m not angrily proclaiming anything, but saying that I find no good reason to believe in God; much as you consider you have no good reason to believe that I am the reincarnation of Queen Cleopatra, should I start claiming that as ‘truth’.

    “But how did a “liberal” become a “liberal”? What evidence based reasoning got him or her there?”
    Do we really need to go back 2000 years to notice that more harmonious behaviour leads to a more harmonious world?

    “Thank you for reproducing the passages that I pointed you to. Is this you conceding the point or do you have an argument to make?”
    Well…
    ““At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him”
    kind of implies that God and Heaven are ‘up there’ somewhere – much as when God speaks from a cloud after the Transfiguration. Nowhere do we hear of God, or anything else from heaven coming from below or horizontally.

    “Adrian, these are artistic depictions on a flat surface. If they meant what you claim to think they mean, then we should wonder why the Russians thought that Lenin lived in the sky, and look, here’s Stalin doing it too!”
    To borrow from Jabba; “face-palm”!

    “And why are you still withering on about the firmament? How is it possibly relevant to the conversation?”
    Because until up to the renaissance, The Church believed it to exist.

    “As for the views of the NT authors on the location of heaven, you’ve neither answered the points put to you nor established a prima facie case for your suppositions.”
    Unbelievable!
    Can you produce a single piece of evidence which suggests that authors of The New Testament did not believe that heaven was above the sky?

  345. The Raven says:

    No; his behaviour does not correspond with the claims of the religion

    Adrian, your argument here is nothing more than a statement that God doesn’t behave in the ways that you personally would expect him to; the very most that you can say for your argument is that the evidence does not support your conception of God.

    I find no good reason to believe in God

    Then why have you chosen to adopt the doctrinaire faith of atheism?

    Do we really need to go back 2000 years to notice that more harmonious behaviour leads to a more harmonious world?

    Adrian, stop trying divert attention: we’re debating ethics, not behaviour. And if your ethical measure is the promotion of a harmonious society, then the socially divisive results of the increasing liberalisation of our society should be opposed at every step. I think that you need to rethink your assertions.

    “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him”
    kind of implies that God and Heaven are ‘up there’ somewhere – much as when God speaks from a cloud after the Transfiguration. Nowhere do we hear of God, or anything else from heaven coming from below or horizontally.

    it implies that the Holy Ghost was above Our Lord at His baptism, God and Heaven? not so much. Similarly, the account of the Transfiguration tells us that the cloud that God spoke from covered them – it doesn’t tell us any more about the location of Heaven than any of the other sections that we’ve discussed.

    To borrow from Jabba; “face-palm”!

    I understand your pain at having made such a basic error.

    Because until up to the renaissance, The Church believed [the firmament] to exist.

    Everyone believed in the firmament, Adrian; people like Nicholas of Cusa, who speculated on the stars being other Suns, were few and far between until the late eighteenth century.

    How is that relevant to anything that we are discussing?

    As for the views of the NT authors on the location of heaven, you’ve neither answered the points put to you nor established a prima facie case for your suppositions.

    repeated, because it’s still true.

  346. Adrian Meades says:

    “it doesn’t tell us any more about the location of Heaven than any of the other sections that we’ve discussed”
    I could have also quoted Mark 1:
    “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    And then there are all the paintings and frescoes which illustrate the event, such as by Giotto, Sustris, Pietro Perugino, Francesco Albani, Leonardo da Vinci, Joachim Patinir etc. etc.

  347. JabbaPapa says:

    “And why are you still withering on about the firmament? How is it possibly relevant to the conversation?”

    Because until up to the renaissance, The Church believed it to exist.

    This is a pure invention of your atheism.

    In reality, the shape of the world was a hotly debated topic for thousands of years.

    That is why no definitive statement on that subject can be found in the Scripture.

    Oh and BTW please stop trying to pretend that you might in any way be complicit in the usage of my hand towards my face — your sheer ignorance of matters that you seek to lecture us upon is staggering.

  348. toadspittle says:

    “I understand Tasmania is quite delightful, though…”
    Well, anywhere that has its very own Devils can’t be all bad, GC. (Except New Jersey, perhaps.)

    Jabba, your answer to F.Q. No 3 is absurd, as I think you know. If 18 years of the life of, say, Marcus Aurelius, Voltaire, or C.S. Lewis, was a total blank, any sane person would ask why, and how this could be. When it comes to the life of possibly the most important man who ever lived so far – something very fishy is going on.
    I ask again – was nobody interested enough to ask Jesus about his life so far? Was he that boring? Or were they too inattentive to remember what he said, if they did bother asking? It’s a reasonable question and deserves a reasonable answer, even if it’s as lame as, “We just don’t know why.”
    Your answer to F.Q. No.4 is, I suggest – a trifle shabby for a man of your mental calibre. What am I supposed to call the Jews in the New Testament, except Jews? All that I’m asking for – reasonably I suggest, is an explanation of why the New Testament says:
    “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”
    As a matter of fact, I find it hard to believe that “The Jews,” any of them, much less all of them – said any such thing. I don’t believe they would say anything so daft, pointless, and self -destructive. And I think that Luke (was it?) reporting that they did so – is where your own “racist generalisation” comes in.. But I might be wrong.
    …Why should anyone in their right minds say such a thing? That’s all I’d like to know.

    But it’s an interesting and important topic – which I hope will be further discussed (hopefully on a different “thread” ) – and thank you for your prompt reply, anyway.

    …And I think the “answers” to F.Q’s 1&2 are soppy as well. Not answers at all.
    But we must let Neanderthals be Neanderthals. And stick to Human frailty.

  349. Adrian
    No; his behaviour does not correspond with the claims of the religion
    e.g. if there is an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful God, why then do we have mental disorders which result in so much torture, rape and murder of children. Likewise, why would so many suffer such terrible afflictions – including terrible parasites like guinea worms?

    In all your five minutes studying the claims of the Catholic religion, did you never read: For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens (Note: heavens, i.e. the sky not Heaven) are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.
    And as for torture, rape, and murder; two words: FREE WILL(i.e. your choice, not God’s). Period.

    P.S. to Toad
    Why do we know absolutely nothing about more than half of Christ’s life?
    Why do you care? Is it that important? Is it important that we know aspect of Christ’s life? And what about tradition? Numerous traditions tell us much of Christ’s life. Yet in any case, as it is not necessary to salvation, we don’t need to know.

  350. Sic. Every aspect (Not aspect as I have above) Sorry about that😦

  351. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    Your reading of the passage in Mark is open to exactly the same criticism as your reading of the parallel passage in Matthew.

    And haven’t we already disposed of the question of artists’ representations? They are intending to represent an event in two dimensions that is also freighted with heavy theological significance. The pictures of Lenin, Stalin and the 1948 Olympics are drawing on the same artistic language as the paintings that you have mentioned; you don’t read the 1948 Olympics poster as conveying a literal truth that they got giants in to do the track and field events in the sky.

  352. Adrian Meades says:

    HRM,
    how does ‘free will’ become an explanation for God allowing mental disorders and guinea worms to develop and thrive?
    Jabba,
    I don’t hate anything about Catholic Christianity, nor have I expressed any sentiments to suggest that I do.

  353. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “Your reading of the passage in Mark is open to exactly the same criticism as your reading of the parallel passage in Matthew”
    There is a difference in Mark’s account, which makes your claim of “it doesn’t tell us any more about the location of Heaven than any of the other sections that we’ve discussed” clearly untenable:
    “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove”
    i.e. in that short space of time, how could Jesus had seen both of these events if heaven was not in more or less the same direction as the Spirit. Clearly it is meant that the Spirit is descending from the opening in heaven – otherwise the account would be so misleading it would be just about worthless.
    Anyway, this is indeed how The Church depicted the event for centuries, with the help of some of the greatest painters… oh, but you dismissed all that – being on the level of a few Russian posters and their inventive use of scale . Sorry.

  354. toadspittle says:

    “P.S. to Toad: Why do we know absolutely nothing about more than half of Christ’s life?
    Why do you care? Is it that important? Is it important that we know (every?) aspect of Christ’s life?”

    Why do I care, Hapsburg Resurrecting Movement?
    True, I don’t particularly care – I will lose no iota of sleep over it, and it isn’t even mildly significant to me, as you suggest.
    I just find it deeply interesting, strange, and wonderful that people can build so much sturdy faith on such flimsy foundations – for want of a better analogy.

    It’s mostly my background as an old and sceptical hack that makes me bother at all.
    As an editor, I would tell the reporter on the Jesus story, “Go and find out why nobody seems to know what he was up involved in for 18 solid years,before he got mixed up in such big trouble – and why there is a total blank regarding those years – there must have been something very odd going on.”
    That is to say, Jesus might have been doing all kinds of awful things during this time – or he might not. He probably wasn’t, I agree. But we just don’t know,do we?
    No, I know you don’t ‘get’ it. And yes,it’s difficult.
    ..Of course, on investigation, I might well be “proved” utterly wrong, and that there is a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation for this giant black hole in our knowledge of Christ’s very limited time on earth.
    …which I look forward keenly to both reading, and being reassured by.

  355. JabbaPapa says:

    All of we Bronze Age goat-herding Sky Fairyists are deeply convinced that one day, the Flying Spaghetti Monster will cast down its sauced tendrils to bring us up to its habitation in the lower atmosphere of this planet.

    This is because of our deeply ingrained stupidity.

    Thank cirrostratus nebulosis for Adrian’s faithless willingness to teach us all how to read !!!

  356. JabbaPapa says:

    I don’t hate anything about Catholic Christianity, nor have I expressed any sentiments to suggest that I do

    Mendacity is not an attractive feature.

  357. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba, your answer to F.Q. No 3 is absurd, as I think you know. If 18 years of the life of, say, Marcus Aurelius, Voltaire, or C.S. Lewis, was a total blank, any sane person would ask why, and how this could be.

    Of course it jolly well isn’t !!!

    What do you know of the first 18 years of life of Socrates, Homer, Gilgamesh, Tesla, or Cleopatra ?

    It is insane to believe that private childhood details of whomever should be available as some sort of common knowledge, not to mention a bit creepy.

    I ask again – was nobody interested enough to ask Jesus about his life so far? Was he that boring? Or were they too inattentive to remember what he said, if they did bother asking? It’s a reasonable question and deserves a reasonable answer, even if it’s as lame as, “We just don’t know why.”

    This line of questioning is beneath you, Paddy — even if such a narrative were available, you’d no doubt dismiss it anyway as an invention.

    Your answer to F.Q. No.4 is, I suggest – a trifle shabby for a man of your mental calibre.

    I was trying to be as polite as I could, in the face of as embarrassingly gross a misreading as I have ever seen.

    The New Testament depicts a variety of Hebrew reactions to the Presence of the Christ — it is foolishly idiotic to arbitrarily designate just one of those opinions as having some kind of universality.

    …And I think the “answers” to F.Q’s 1&2 are soppy as well. Not answers at all.
    But we must let Neanderthals be Neanderthals. And stick to Human frailty.

    Not answers at all ? How much more unambiguous can one be than a direct negative ?

    If you’re unhappy with that answer, then maybe you just asked the wrong question.

    As for the first, I’ll admit to some sloppiness, but that did not prevent me posting it, despite some stylistic misgivings — but then, your question itself was very sloppy indeed, as it seeks to submit the transcendental to the nature of the immanent.

    Your suggestion is akin to an expectation that your kindly doggies should have some say about the composition of your Thursday lunch menu. At what point do your animal instincts insert the choice of your second course ?

    We are created souls in a material world — and to expect whichever material answer to this transcendental mystery and wonder is very, very naïve. We live in a peaceable kingdom — not the trite horror of an animal den.

  358. JabbaPapa says:

    Can you produce a single piece of evidence which suggests that authors of The New Testament did not believe that heaven was above the sky?

    Can you produce a single piece of evidence which suggests that the authors of The New Testament did not believe that England would win the World Cup in 1966 ?

  359. Adrian,
    how does ‘free will’ become an explanation for God allowing mental disorders and guinea worms to develop and thrive?

    Hast thou not read my comment? I was explaining murder, torture, and rape thus.

    Very well I will try and explain. Free will is the explanation for human actions. The Fall was a Human action. The Fall had consequences. One of those consequences was that Nature itself became unnatural. And all because of one Man’s free choice. Yet God’s ways are not our ways, and He does not permit evil to thrive unless it serves His higher purpose of Good. Thus even the just consequences of Man’s rebellion against God can be an aid in his salvation. Is this not a more hopeful belief than any other?

  360. Adrian seems to believe that Catholic Christianity is the sum and repository of all that he hates. He is far down in the line of those who queue up desirous of suppressing the Truth.
    Yawn. And he hasn’t even started attacking the Hapsburgs yet. Which makes me wonder why I’m here (on this thread I mean).
    For all of you who skipped this part of the main post above: The Hapsburg empire was based on rejecting the liberal principle of national self-determination; but – possibly for that very reason – it was more protective of minorities than most of the states that succeeded it. Protecting universal values without honouring what are now seen as core liberal ideals, these archaic imperial regimes were more civilised than a great many states that exist today.
    P.S. To Toad
    Hapsburg Resurrecting Movement Great name! We could use it on a poster or pamphlet or something…

  361. GC says:

    Toad: As an editor, I would tell the reporter on the Jesus story, “Go and find out why nobody seems to know what he was up involved in for 18 solid years . . .

    But why should the gospels be like a feature article in the weekend edition of the Nazareth Morning Quill?

    The gospels came about about for the reasons and purposes they came about, and that’s it. There may be slightly different views on what these were, but here’s one:

    The apostles and the eye-witnesses of the deeds of Christ were growing aged and they began to realise that as their generation was passing from the stage and another coming upon it, and as the oral tradition must soon become corrupted, it would become necessary to supply likewise a personality in time. Accordingly the demand for written gospels became urgent, and with the demand came an answering supply . . . an intelligent reader . . . would recognise three characteristics of style as specially marked; (1) simplicity, (2) directness, (3) the didactic motive.

    Here, read this, pages 20 to 23:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/3157357?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    If so, Toad, things mainly didactic would be included in the gospels and these things came mostly in Jesus’ adult life. So that’s what the gospels deal in most of the time, his adult teachings. There is some material in the gospels about Jesus’ earlier life such as his birth and his instructing the teachers of the law in the temple, but these are there mainly to show Jesus’ unique authority to teach. Ultimately they are didactic also.

    But there were some early “infancy gospels”, Toad, but they appear to have been written too late and often have Jesus performing party tricks. Some of the material in them also looks like stuff that shows up in the Qur’an. For example, this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infancy_Gospel_of_Thomas

    Anne Rice, the vampire lady, also had a go:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_the_Lord:_Out_of_Egypt

    Would you like to borrow my copy?

  362. Tom Fisher says:

    Great comment GC!

  363. GC says:

    Good evening over there and thanks, Mr Fisher. Toad will be up presently for his and the dogs’ “we time”.

  364. toadspittle says:

    Yes, Toad is up and donning stout dog walking boots. (stout boots, that is – not dogs, except Tim, a bit.)
    I appreciate the thoughts re: “Jesus: The Missing Years,” but am unconvinced by them. Not that it matters, as we have clearly established on CP&S. Who cares what Christ was doing for 18 out of 33 years? Clearly nothing worth mentioning to anybody else, and we shouldn’t be nosey. A man’s entitled to a bit of privacy, innee?
    So, on that note, over this plainly speculative topic a – veil will be drawn.

    ….But the Atheist thread itself drones on to infinity – voyaging to far-distant regions “Up There” in “The Beyond,” “Over The Rainbow,” where the hand of man has never yet set foot – to half-inch a soupçon of Jabba’s Purple Prose. etc., etc.

    … I blame Adrian, of course.

  365. JabbaPapa says:

    An amazing voice, Toad, and a more fitting soundtrack to this thread is hard to imagine.

    Well done !!!

  366. The Raven says:

    Adrian,

    Your argument from Mark assumes a restricted field of vision and conceptualises heaven as being a small thing that we could miss if we were only looking vaguely in the right direction. The only directional information that we have is that the Holy Ghost descended.

    Are we given the dimensions of the opening in heaven? No. Could the opening have started at ground level and gone up from there? The account doesn’t tell us. Did the Holy Ghost fly out of the opening? The account doesn’t tell us. What does the account tell us? That the Father spoke from heaven.

    The account isn’t misleading, Adrian, you’re just approaching it with a particularly fixed visual image in mind.

    I can see where you’ve derived that image from, but you are misreading the paintings as badly as you are reading the written accounts.

    And as for my Russian and British posters, something tells me that you didn’t look at them with much attention.

  367. Adrian Meades says:

    “He does not permit evil to thrive unless it serves His higher purpose of Good”
    Exactly, HRM!
    If God is all he is claimed to be, wouldn’t He find another way of serving His purpose, which did not include the terrible and prolonged suffering of millions of children due to psychotic illnesses and dreadful parasitic creatures?

  368. JabbaPapa says:

    Your cliché-ridden rantings, Adrian, are easily dispelled by a proper reading of the first three chapters of Genesis, despite your extremely unreasonable pretension that it should be read as if it were a science manual, but it isn’t.

    More properly, they are a meditation on the origin of good and evil in themselves, and on our directly and originally sinful desire to wallow in the latter.

    [The moderator – Please dial-back the insults]

  369. Adrian Meades says:

    “The account isn’t misleading, Adrian, you’re just approaching it with a particularly fixed visual image in mind.
    I can see where you’ve derived that image from, but you are misreading the paintings as badly as you are reading the written accounts.”

    John 1:32
    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.”

  370. Brother Burrito says:

    Adrian,

    To a man who lacks Faith, the Scriptures are meaningless drivel. Faith, a gift from God, is key. Faith is a gift, it cannot be won, or attained by violence. This is very important to consider. Faith comes before all other religious considerations.

    Have you heard the prayer of Robert Ingersoll?:

    “Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!”

    or the prayer offered on request to Anthony Hopkins by a Jesuit priest:

    “Oh f*ck it!”,

    (as in “Oh f*ck it, it’s in God’s hands anyway”).

  371. Brother Burrito says:

    James, what does “I’m feeling really down” mean topologically?

  372. The Raven says:

    Thank you for that, Adrian, I had quite forgotten the account in John. I don’t think it particularly helps your argument, though.

  373. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,

    “Thank you for that, Adrian, I had quite forgotten the account in John. I don’t think it particularly helps your argument, though.”

    But your earlier comments on my reading of Mark 1:10 were as follows:

    “Your argument from Mark assumes a restricted field of vision and conceptualises heaven as being a small thing that we could miss if we were only looking vaguely in the right direction. The only directional information that we have is that the Holy Ghost descended.
    Are we given the dimensions of the opening in heaven? No. Could the opening have started at ground level and gone up from there? The account doesn’t tell us. Did the Holy Ghost fly out of the opening? The account doesn’t tell us. What does the account tell us? That the Father spoke from heaven.
    The account isn’t misleading, Adrian, you’re just approaching it with a particularly fixed visual image in mind.”

    We see from John’s account ( “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.”) that descended ‘from’ heaven ‘above’.

    “The account doesn’t tell us. Did the Holy Ghost fly out of the opening?”
    John clearly says it did by adding extra information, which was omitted by the others.

  374. The Raven says:

    Adrian

    You’re inserting the word ‘above’ into the text.

    Yes, John answers one of the three questions that I put, but he doesn’t reinforce your reading of the text: if I said a dove descended from Nelson’s Column, would you start to believe that Nelson’s column was a thing in the sky?

  375. Adrian Meades says:

    Yes, Raven,
    how would the Holy Spirit have descended to Jesus from heaven if heaven was not ‘above’??

    And here is another question answered:
    “Could the opening have started at ground level and gone up from there?”
    No, because it descend ‘from’ heaven, not ‘through’ it.

  376. The Raven says:

    Adrian

    The only locational information that we have is that the Holy Ghost descended. Therefore the Holy Ghost was above Our Lord.

    St John tells us that the Holy Ghost descended from Heaven. Therefore it is not unreasonably to suppose that the place in Heaven that the Holy Ghost descended from was above Our Lord.

    How do you get from those propositions to the idea that all of Heaven was above Our Lord?

  377. JabbaPapa says:

    [The moderator – Please dial-back the insults]

    Not intended as such, but point taken, and I will.

  378. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,

    “Therefore it is not unreasonably to suppose that the place in Heaven that the Holy Ghost descended from was above Our Lord”

    We have been told that the Holy Ghost descended from ‘Heaven’ to Jesus.

    “How do you get from those propositions to the idea that all of Heaven was above Our Lord?”

    is there any mention of this being just a part of heaven? It is just called ‘heaven’, and therefore is it not unreasonable to suppose that this means ‘heaven’?

  379. The Raven says:

    is there any mention of this being just a part of heaven? It is just called ‘heaven’, and therefore is it not unreasonable to suppose that this means ‘heaven’?

    I see, so you think that the Holy Ghost came down from all of Heaven at once. If someone says they’ve come from Birmingham, do you imagine that they were evenly spread across the entire city before you met, or that they may have come from a place in Birmingham?

    How large do you suppose Heaven is, Adrian? You write as though you conceptualise it as being the size of a small shed.

  380. toadspittle says:

    “How large do you suppose Heaven is, Adrian? “
    I suppose we must each of us suppose Heaven to be precisely whichever size we would like it to be. Infinitely enormous or infinitely minute. Infinitely elastic even, if we like.
    ….Since we have no earthly clue.

    Right, Raven? Jabba?

    Do you blame Original Sin for the size of your head, Jabba?

  381. Adrian Meades says:

    No, I mean that If someone says they’ve come from Birmingham, I’d imagine they came from that city, and not some ‘other Birmingham’ which no one has ever heard of – in Dorset, or under the English Channel perhaps?

  382. johnhenrycn says:

    A dwarf standing on the head of a giant can see farther than the giant himself (burp!)

  383. The Raven says:

    I don’t think that anyone’s positing an alternative Heaven, Adrian, only pointing out that it probably has more than just two dimensions, or do you conceive of it being flat?

  384. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, I know little about heaven, but Adrian is giving us all a fascinating insight into purgatory.

  385. Adrian Meades says:

    At least 3 dimensions I’d say, though it would be rather pointless to speculate on its size.

    But at least – at long last – we have established that heaven is ‘up there’; or rather that is what the authors of the New Testament appeared to believe.

  386. The Raven says:

    We have established no such thing, Adrian. All we have done is said that the place, in Heaven, that the Holy Ghost was seen to come from at the time of Our Lord’s baptism was above Him, nothing more.

  387. Adrian Meades says:

    So, all considered, what makes you think that authors of the New Testament did not believe that heaven is ‘up there’?

  388. johnhenrycn says:

    Adrian (21:05): I not sure if there’s a “Birmingham…under the English Channel”, but there is one under a lake in Kentucky. There’s also one on the Moon. And there are lots of songs about a Birmingham south of the English Channel, if not under it, and I offer one here in honour of this historic thread, which is destined to become the subject of many a Blog Studies 101 case history:

  389. The Raven says:

    Adrian

    You haven’t been able to argue a convincing case that they did think that Heaven was a place in the sky.

    Now let’s get back to a far more interesting question: by what intellectual process did you come to adopt the atheist faith? Was it a sudden conversion? Or was it like your ethical stance, just a question of following the zeitgeist?

  390. Adrian Meades says:

    “You haven’t been able to argue a convincing case that they did think that Heaven was a place in the sky”

    Raven, we have been told that the Holy Ghost descended from ‘Heaven’ to Jesus. Now consider that in context with these quotes I’ve picked out from both the OT and the NT:

    Genesis 28:12
    He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

    Samuel 22:10
    He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
    11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
    12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.

    Kings 2:11
    Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind

    Job 22:12
    Is not God in the heights of heaven?
    And see how lofty are the highest stars!
    13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
    Does he judge through such darkness?
    14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
    as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

    Psalm 144:5
    Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;
    touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
    6 Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
    shoot your arrows and rout them.

    Ezekiel 8:3
    He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem

    Daniel 4:13
    “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven

    Daniel 12:7
    The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven

    Matthew 14:19
    Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.

    Matthew 28:2
    There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it

    Mark 7:34
    He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”)

    Mark 16:9
    After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God

    Luke 10:18
    He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”

    Luke 18:13
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    Luke 24:51
    While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

    John 1:32
    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.”

    John 1:51
    He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

    Acts 1:10
    They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

    Acts 7:55
    But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

    Acts 11:4
    Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.

    Revelation 4:1
    After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

    Revelation 10:1
    Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head

  391. Adrian Meades says:

    “Now let’s get back to a far more interesting question: by what intellectual process did you come to adopt the atheist faith?”
    What atheist faith, Raven? As I have said before, I just can’t see any good reason to believe in the gods as proposed by religions. I’m not saying that no God exists, but that I do not believe that one does. That’s fair enough isn’t it?

  392. The Raven says:

    All lovely descriptions, Adrian, but none of them exactly geographical.

    Let’s stop reinventing the wheel and look at what Holy Church says about all of this. This is from the 1907 Catholic Encyclopaedia (from back in the day when we had the anti-modernist oath):

    The language used by the Evangelists to describe the Ascension must be interpreted according to usage. To say that He was taken up or that He ascended, does not necessarily imply that they locate heaven directly above the earth; no more than the words “sitteth on the right hand of God” mean that this is His actual posture. In disappearing from their view “He was raised up and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9), and entering into glory He dwells with the Father in the honour and power denoted by the scripture phrase.

  393. The Raven says:

    No, Adrian, not “good enough”. Why choose to adopt a belief (and atheism is a belief) in this matter and argue that belief?

  394. Adrian Meades says:

    But the views of the Church in 1907 aren’t in question.

    You claimed that the accounts of the NT were good sources of evidence for events in Jesus’ life. Have you changed your mind on this?

    “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.”
    ““At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him”
    Real events, or not?

  395. Adrian Meades says:

    “No, Adrian, not “good enough”. Why choose to adopt a belief (and atheism is a belief) in this matter and argue that belief?”
    Firstly, I didn’t choose to ‘adopt a belief’. And secondly, I am not arguing a belief, but challenging your outlandish claims, which you ‘know to be true’.

  396. At least 3 dimensions I’d say, though it would be rather pointless to speculate on its size.
    Ah, but that is where you are wrong. Eternity cannot be measured in Human dimensions, for it is outside of them.

  397. johnhenrycn says:

    Quite so, HRM (01:32): I was just thinking tonight how absurd it is for people to think size means anything (no offence). Why, just this evening, the Gloucestershire Echo reports: “Amazing supermoon to shine over Gloucestershire tonight”. The venerable Echo, being (presumably) a sister publication of that other well known Newspaper of Record, The Toledo Blade, explains that a “supermoon is when the moon reaches the point in its orbit closest to the Earth, known as ‘perigee’, and appears 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal.

    My question for any astronomer or astrologist reading this spellbinding thread is how a new moon, which is what we have tonight, can ever appear “bigger [or] brighter than normal”?

  398. JabbaPapa says:

    Do you blame Original Sin for the size of your head, Jabba?

    It’s the size of my feet that worries me more.

  399. toadspittle says:

    Your thread’s too big, Mr. Moderator.
    It’s Toad’s fault.
    He shouldn’t have shot that albatross.

  400. The Raven says:

    No, Adrian, I haven’t changed my mind on the NT as eyewitness evidence: I just don’t visualise heaven as a kind of Laputa.

    So I would say that the descriptions in Mark and John are reliable descriptions of an event that actually occurred. I am just not importing the same baggage into the text that you seem to bring to the table.

  401. The Raven says:

    Firstly, I didn’t choose to ‘adopt a belief’.

    Oh, so you were brought up to be an atheist by your parents? But there must have come a point when you decided to personalise that parental faith, university perhaps? Surely there must be more to your conversion story than your upbringing; after all, many children of atheists become Catholics.

    And secondly, I am not arguing a belief, but challenging your outlandish claims, which you ‘know to be true’.

    But Adrian, you started this thread by proclaiming that atheism and liberal values were founded on evidence-based reasoning: you didn’t come to this thread to challenge the claims of Catholicism, but to proclaim your own beliefs in the face of John Gray’s comments about atheist ethical thought.

    In short, you most emphatically are arguing for a belief.

  402. Adrian Meades says:

    “Oh, so you were brought up to be an atheist by your parents? But there must have come a point when you decided to personalise that parental faith, university perhaps?”
    As far as I remember – especially in my Catholic primary school – the stories of God and heaven, angels seemed fictional to me. Thinking back, my friends appeared to see it this way too.
    I didn’t go to university.

    “But Adrian, you started this thread by proclaiming that atheism and liberal values were founded on evidence-based reasoning”
    No, I proclaimed that they are ‘built upon evidence based reasoning’ i.e. the process by which one forms opinions, which does not include considerations of a religious, or supernatural nature.

    “you didn’t come to this thread to challenge the claims of Catholicism”
    I came to this thread to represent a non-believers point of view (it was very heavily biased without me) and to continue to challenge your outlandish claims of ‘truth’.

  403. Adrian Meades says:

    “So I would say that the descriptions in Mark and John are reliable descriptions of an event that actually occurred. I am just not importing the same baggage into the text that you seem to bring to the table.”
    i.e. that ‘heaven’ opened above and the Holy Spirit descended to Jesus like a dove ( which is exactly what all those paintings were depicting)

    “I just don’t visualise heaven as a kind of Laputa”
    Perhaps not, but from all the evidence I have provided on this page, the authors of the New Testament clearly did. Do you have a single shred of evidence to suggest otherwise?

  404. The Raven says:

    i.e. that ‘heaven’ opened above and the Holy Spirit descended to Jesus like a dove

    Fixed it for you, Adrian.

    And no, you have not demonstrated that the NT authors conceptualised heaven as a variety of Laputa, all you have demonstrated is your own limits as a reader.

  405. Adrian Meades says:

    Again, if heaven was not ‘above’, how did the Holy Spirit descend to Jesus from it?

    Do you have a single shred of evidence to suggest that the authors of the New Testament did not believe heaven to exist ‘above’ the earth?

  406. The Raven says:

    Again, if heaven was not ‘above’, how did the Holy Spirit descend to Jesus from it?

    We’re already done with that one, Adrian. See my answers yesterday.

    You’ve either got to put something new into play or take another approach to arguing your position.

  407. The Raven says:

    As far as I remember – especially in my Catholic primary school – the stories of God and heaven, angels seemed fictional to me.

    There has to be more to it than that, Adrian. Surely you haven’t embraced your beliefs on the mere basis that the particular presentation of another set of beliefs “seemed fictional”?

    Me:”But Adrian, you started this thread by proclaiming that atheism and liberal values were founded on evidence-based reasoning”
    You: No, I proclaimed that they are ‘built upon evidence based reasoning’

    I’m struggling to see a distinction between those two descriptions.

    i.e. the process by which one forms opinions, which does not include considerations of a religious, or supernatural nature.

    But, as Gray observes, the starting point of your values are ideas and values explicitly derived from religion. How do you resolve that apparent contradiction?

    I came to this thread to represent a non-believers point of view (it was very heavily biased without me)

    Adrian, you started the thread, remember? And Gray is an atheist, too. Do you mean that you came to represent your particular sect of atheism’s point of view?

    and to continue to challenge your outlandish claims of ‘truth’.

    So you did come to evangelise, then.

  408. toadspittle says:

    Adrian’s reward for terrier tenacity will not be in heaven.
    Very funny if it turned out that way, though.

    On the other hand, the prospect of Adrian, Jabba and Raven bickering throughout eternity on Paradise tempts one to opt for the alternative of being eternally prodded by grinning demons with pitchforks at gas mark 15.
    …Dunnit.

  409. The Raven says:

    Come now, Toad, you’re just peeved that you haven’t had a turn at bickering.

  410. Adrian,
    heaven to exist ‘above’ the earth
    Even were Heaven to exist in space (which it does not),
    Heaven if it were above the Earth in space,
    would be equally below the Earth,
    as there is no up(above) or down(below) in space.

    That being said, Heaven exists “above” the world in the sense that is it beyond the world, and better than it.

  411. Tom Fisher says:

    Adrian is saying, based on several passages from Scripture, that the ancient Jewish people (the culture into which the Church was born) naively believed that God and heaven was literally “up in the sky” and that angels literally rose up to heaven and came down to earth.

    So how then does Adrian explain the Jewish understanding of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, how does that fit into the naive world-view he attributes to ancient Judaism?

  412. toadspittle says:

    For Raven to suggest, presumably with a straight face, that Toad, “…hasn’t had a turn at bickering,” beggars belief. And surely throws considerable doubt on the sanity of any other pronouncement from him?
    Peeved? Moi?

    But belay this interminable thread, and all come over to “St Joseph,” and help Toad get a handle on physical bodies in Paradise.

  413. Tom Fisher says:

    all come over to “St Joseph,” and help Toad get a handle on physical bodies in Paradise.

    You still haven’t explained your grumpy by-line pic🙂

  414. toadspittle says:

    Yes, Tom – it’s rotten all right.
    Even I don’t really look that bad all the time, only after the bars shut – but it was the nearest snap I had to hand – as I don’t do “selfies,” as you can imagine – and I don’t care what I look like any more, anyway.
    I’d rather The Blade had used my toad “atavar.”
    But they demurred.
    …Thought I was trying to be funny.

  415. The Raven says:

    I am a little worried about a toad wishing to handle physical bodies in paradise!

  416. toadspittle says:

    It all depends on what you mean by “handle,” and “,bodies,” and “paradise,” – I suppose, Raven,

  417. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “You’ve either got to put something new into play or take another approach to arguing your position.”
    I have provided so much evidence here to support my belief that the authors of the New Testament did believe that heaven existed above the sky, while no one has been able to provide any piece of evidence at all which challenges this view
    i.e. I don’t have any need to ‘put something new into play’, but you certainly do.

  418. JabbaPapa says:

    in my Catholic primary school – the stories of God and heaven, angels seemed fictional to me

    So here we are at last — you received some potentially quite poor catechism as an eight-year-old, but then you expect the reasonings that you have built up upon your childish appraisals to fully trump all else that may exist on these topics ?

    And no wonder you can’t budge from your strikingly naïve readings of the Scripture on these matters — they have been based on the sort of infantile catechism that is all too often provided for primary school children by some undoubtedly well-meaning adults who do not realise the harm they do by diluting the Faith into this sort of diluted kiddie-fodder.

    I didn’t go to university.

    In other words, as a child you were provided with a diluted and therefore warped and incomplete catechism designed by adults for use of primary school children, instead of being given the actual Catechism as such ; on average, you can be expected to have received the typically shoddy degree of similarly dumbed down and totally secularised secondary level schooling that has become the norm ; and you have received no formal training since you were a school-leaver neither in the Catechism, nor in the methodology of textual or historical analysis nor other forms of critique, including the scientific methodology, so that you are left to rely almost solely on the impressions that you gathered as a child from some incomplete and likely flawed instructions and whichever random personal impressions that you may have arrived at.

    I’m honestly sorry to see all that you have been deprived of, through no real fault of your own — but you still can’t expect those whose positions are not based on such lack of information to be convinced by impressions that you may have had as a child concerning an incomplete and likely flawed presentation of the Catholic teachings.

    No, I proclaimed that they are ‘built upon evidence based reasoning’ i.e. the process by which one forms opinions, which does not include considerations of a religious, or supernatural nature.

    This is a false presentation of the nature of such reasoning.

    Actual evidence-based reasoning does NOT arbitrarily designate particular categories of information as being “not-evidence” simply on the basis of a personal prejudice.

    Considerations of a religious, or supernatural nature constitute evidence, regardless of your declarations otherwise.

    I came to this thread to represent a non-believers point of view (it was very heavily biased without me) and to continue to challenge your outlandish claims of ‘truth’.

    Quite apart from the fact that it has now been firmly established exactly how much of a position of ignorance you’re arguing from, don’t you realise that the only thing you’ve really achieved is to demonstrate the depth and extent of your own atheist bias ?

    And you really shouldn’t imagine that you’ve presented any “new” ideas — we’ve all of us, I imagine, seen countless thousands of nearly identical claims from countless hundreds of similarly evangelical atheists.

    But the contents of “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins are quite risible to anyone who knows anything at all about the putative subject matter of that work — to wit, Theology, Philosophy, Science, God, Religion.

    If Dawkins has somehow piqued your interest in these things, then fine — but then do yourself a real favour, and please start learning more about them ; much more.

  419. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “There has to be more to it than that, Adrian. Surely you haven’t embraced your beliefs on the mere basis that the particular presentation of another set of beliefs “seemed fictional”?”

    I never felt I had good reason to consider that the religious stories or supernatural claims were anything other than fictional.
    But why do you keep on presenting this as two sets of belief systems in conflict? Would you apply the same approach to someone who didn’t believe in L Ron Hubbard’s Thetans? Of course you wouldn’t.

    “But, as Gray observes, the starting point of your values are ideas and values explicitly derived from religion. How do you resolve that apparent contradiction”
    My ideas are not explicitly derived from religion, but influenced by our culture as a whole. Don’t you think that religious ideas have also been heavily influenced by some ‘common sense’ reasoning and logic too?

    “So you did come to evangelise, then”
    No. You are the one who claims to know the ‘truth’, not me. You are the one who is making the outlandish claims of supernatural beings, not me. I am simply trying to test those claims, which is a perfecting reasonable endeavour – to say the least – considering what it is that you are actually claiming to know.

  420. toadspittle says:

    “If Dawkins has somehow piqued your interest in these things, then fine — but then do yourself a real favour, and please start learning more about them; much more.”
    Jabba advises Adrian Meads ( aged fourteen and tree quarters – rotten old bully)
    …Because then you will be almost (only almost!) as knowledgeable as the mighty Jabba and Raven, Adrian – and even possibly as cheerful, and sensible, and well-suited to life on Planet Earth in 2015 as they are.
    Yes, let us all read – not necessarily Dawkins, but by all means do so- he knows the biological field as well as near anyone, and is a superlative communicator of it,( I believe, but might be wrong ) – but Darwin himself.
    Or, to save a fair bit of time and effort nowadays – read, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” by Dan Dennett (all those “D”s! Dire!)

    “But the contents of “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins are quite risible to anyone who knows anything at all about the putative subject matter of that work — to wit, Theology, Philosophy, Science, God, Religion..”
    …This from Jabbissimo – the famous, and vastly successful author of the best-selling Catholic response that left “The God Delusion” writhing in the dust of his literary chariot wheels, and the entire world laughing at Dawkins’ imbecile folly in publishing his drivel!
    Yea, right!
    What was the name of it again, Jabba? It seems to have slipped Toad;s mind, “Debunking Dopey Dawkins,” was it? (Something like that, I recall. I think.)

    Oh, shut up, Toad – it;s not as if you went to university, yourself, you little green ignoramus. Jabba could easily write such a book, we all know that. He just can’t be bothered, can he? …Course not. he’s got better things to do.
    Like bully kids on CP&S. Yea.

    (Yes, I know, GC, – and I’m truly sorry (Oh, no, you aren’t, Toad!) – but we can’t let this kind of nonsense go unheralded by some sort of raspberry noise, can we?)

  421. johnhenrycn says:

    The “thumbs up” was from me Hypnotoad:

    Your efforts to resuscitate this DNR thread are not appreciated by me, but I do admire your selfless heroism. Mind you, when it comes to slapstick, you can’t hold a two bit votive candle next to Fr Andrew, whose idea of a good homily at Mass today was to sing it.

  422. Brother Burrito says:

    Too much consumption of “Hypnotoad” (prescription-only or tightly controlled in most countries) leads to severe feelings of “toadium”, which is like tedium but much worse.

  423. Adrian Meades says:

    I have been trying to reply to comments, but I just get keep getting deleted.😦

    [the moderator – for some reason your posts have been going to “spam”, now rescued]

  424. The Raven says:

    I have provided so much evidence here to support my belief that the authors of the New Testament did believe that heaven existed above the sky, while no one has been able to provide any piece of evidence at all which challenges this view

    Adrian, you have provided evidence that you read certain passages in a way that support your beliefs: as I and others have said, we think that your readings are mistaken.

  425. The Raven says:

    But why do you keep on presenting this as two sets of belief systems in conflict? Would you apply the same approach to someone who didn’t believe in L Ron Hubbard’s Thetans? Of course you wouldn’t.

    There is something of a difference in saying “I don’t believe in proposition X” and saying “I believe in proposition Y”.

    What you’re effectively saying is that you do not believe in the claims of Catholicism therefore you believe the claims of atheism; that seems to be a fairly major leap that you’re taking and I would like to understand how you got there.

    My ideas are not explicitly derived from religion, but influenced by our culture as a whole.

    Adrian, if your ideas are influenced by our culture as a whole, but the cultural basis of those ideas is explicitly religious, then your ideas *are* explicitly derived from religion.

    Don’t you think that religious ideas have also been heavily influenced by some ‘common sense’ reasoning and logic too?

    Scratch the term ‘common sense’, which meaningless, and I will agree with you: religion is an entirely reasonable, logical position to take.

    You are the one who claims to know the ‘truth’, not me.

    But you’ve told me that there is no God, that atheism is built on “evidence-based reasoning”, that I’m reading the New Testament wrong: you’re the one making truth claims in this argument, Adrian.

    You are the one who is making the outlandish claims of supernatural beings, not me.

    Your outlandish claims relate to the nature of your beliefs and ethics (that they are based on evidence-based reasoning), that you have an insight into the inner lives of animals and non-human predecessors of modern humans and that you know the origin of the universe. I find all of that far more outlandish than relying on the evidence of witnesses.

  426. johnhenrycn says:

    Dear Bicycle Thief Recovery Victim:

    I agree that Toad has NPR (no prior record) when it comes to helping us understand any of the Great Books – especially the greatest one of all – that he constantly brags about reading; but you’ve got to hand it to him: he’s a welcome relief (only PRN, mind) on those occasions when the peacock feathers of hubris are furiously fanned on this blog.

  427. toadspittle says:

    Hypnotoad! I am not worthy, JH – but many thanks.

    I have read the Bible.*
    It’s much like war, or cricket. Interminable stretches of mindless tedium interspersed with bursts of hideous violence. (The porno bits in The Good Book are fun, though.)
    But in general the Bible signally fails to convince – because the main character is inconsistent. He’s supposed to be good, but persistently behaves very badly indeed.
    But the happy ending is reassuring.

    …Nor is it Toad’s function to explain Unamuno, Voltaire, Anthony Kenny, Cyril Connolly, or Montaigne, etc., to the canaille. These chaps can speak for themselves.

    * But not the Koran. And won’t. Can’t be bothered. ( Nor The Book of Mormon, or The Da Vinci Code, or Harry Potter and the Papist Gunpowder Plot. Sorry.)

  428. Adrian Meades says:

    Raven,
    “What you’re effectively saying is that you do not believe in the claims of Catholicism therefore you believe the claims of atheism”
    What I have been effectively saying is that I see no good reason to consider the supernatural claims of Catholicism to be true.
    What exactly are the ‘claims’ of atheism?

    “the cultural basis of those ideas is explicitly religious, then your ideas *are* explicitly derived from religion.”
    All the religions? We do still have our pagan festivals I suppose – Eostre soon!
    Yes, our culture is influenced by religions, and my thoughts and ideas are influenced by them to some degree.

    “But you’ve told me that there is no God”
    No I haven’t (see above).

    “But you’ve told me … …that I’m reading the New Testament wrong”
    No, I’ve said that all the evidence points to that being the case, and you have yet to produce anything to counter this.

    “Your outlandish claims relate to the nature of your beliefs and ethics (that they are based on evidence-based reasoning), that you have an insight into the inner lives of animals”
    It is hardly outlandish to believe that animals – with whom we share an evolutionary heritage, and evolved psychological functions, such as fear, aggression, sexual excitement, irritation, instincts for nurturing and affection – might have similar mental experiences to our own.
    Claiming to have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe is less outlandish than this?

    “..and that you know the origin of the universe”
    When have I ever claimed to know that?!

    “I find all of that far more outlandish than relying on the evidence of witnesses”
    The ascension? The baptism of Jesus?
    You can go all over the world and find all sorts of people with all kinds of different supernatural beliefs – all who claim to know the ‘truth’.

  429. Adrian Meades says:

    HRM,
    “Even were Heaven to exist in space (which it does not),
    Heaven if it were above the Earth in space,
    would be equally below the Earth,
    as there is no up(above) or down(below) in space.”

    And how did we come to discover these things?

  430. johnhenrycn says:

    I too have actually read the Good Book from cover-to-cover, and have to agree with you, at least insofar as several OT books are concerned. Still, it is our Christian duty to have done so. Also agree with you about the Koran, but I would like to one day observe a Muslim Friday service – only in the interests of social anthropology you understand.

    And despite the cuts and thrusts aimed at you here by me and others, it’s apparent that you’re as widely read as most, and more than some. I won’t say which of those two groups I fall into.

  431. JabbaPapa says:

    But in general the Bible signally fails to convince – because the main character is inconsistent.

    The Bible does not have a “main character”, not in the literary sense anyway — although Jesus is the principle character of the New Testament from that point of view.

    The Presence of God in the books of the Bible functions more like a theme than as a character.

    Surely, it must at least have intrigued you that the inconstancy inherent to the various descriptions of the various relationships between characters in those books and God seems to be so similar to the inconstancy that is found among our contemporaries, both in their relationships with God, and those that they have with material reality too ?

    I *could* I suppose point out the theological absurdity of viewing the Actions of God described in the Scripture as being those of “a character” — as you are implicitly reducing God into a Being that exists within reality, rather than the immanent and transcendental source of the reality itself ; but I suppose that I could at least point out that your reading is directly contradicted by the contents of the texts themselves, but most notably by the Name of God : “I AM” — Being Itself has no distinct characteristics, and therefore ipso facto is not a “character”.

    I suppose though that you are confusing God Himself with the Three Persons of the Godhood. A common error — and to be perfectly fair, NOT an easy one to avoid.

  432. toadspittle says:

    You take me a little too literally here, I suspect, Jabba, although – no matter how we look at it – the Old Testament God does command people to do some frightful things.
    No need to reiterate them.
    However, as you point out, it’s the Bible, not “Great Expectations,” and I was teasing a bit.

    I was a bit too testy with you yesterday, re: “The God Delusion,” and I’m sorry – as I haven’t even read the book myself, and don’t intend to.
    …Largely because I doubt if it would make me any the wiser.

  433. JabbaPapa says:

    You take me a little too literally here, I suspect, Jabba

    No, I really don’t — I was seeking to point out to you (and others) that the loose terminology that you were using is dangerous, because it has certain precise meanings that are contrary not just to the Doctrine of the Faith, but also to the notions that you yourself seemed wanting to express.

    It’s not helpful to anyone that a certain reliance may exist upon modern translations, as understanding even a single ancient language has become not just rare, but actively discouraged by the contemporary system of “education” — in favour of encouraging interest and need and addiction to every worst form of crass corporal gratification.

    The words usually translated as “Lord” or “The Lord” have multiple meanings in the source texts — including the meaning of “the boss” AKA the owner of the slaves writing the texts in question.

    Some of the texts in the Bible have a great poetic similarity to the Blues.

  434. JabbaPapa says:

    More implicitly, I also wanted to show that the manner of Adrian’s naïve & crass literalist readings of these texts contains very little that could be taken seriously.

  435. toadspittle says:

    “Some of the texts in the Bible have a great poetic similarity to the Blues.”

    …. very well put, Jabba.

  436. Adrian Meades says:

    How can we tell from the accounts of the resurrection that Jesus actually appeared in physical form – as flesh and blood – rather than just as a vision in the minds of those who ‘saw’ him?

  437. toadspittle says:

    How can you, Adrian, tell that everyone and everything you imagine you see in physical form – right now – is not a “vision,” apparition, or illusion?
    That’s what Descartes ( among other people) wanted to know ( among other things).
    Solopism, it’s known as.
    And, like everything metaphysical, it can neither be “proved,” nor “disproved.” So there’s no end to it. We just each decide what we are going to believe, then we go ahead and believe it.

    G. E. Moore, the philosopher, was lecturing in a hall with which he was unfamiliar. “I know it to be true, as surely as I know that that’s a window, over there,” he declared, only to be told the “window,” was a cunning bit of trompe l’oeil.

  438. toadspittle says:

    No, it’s not, Toad – you minute green ignoramus, it’s called “Solipsism.”

  439. JabbaPapa says:

    How can we tell from the accounts of the resurrection that Jesus actually appeared in physical form – as flesh and blood – rather than just as a vision in the minds of those who ‘saw’ him?

    Been watching The Matrix ?

    Gospel of John

    {20:24} Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus arrived.
    {20:25} Therefore, the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I will see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the place of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
    {20:26} And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas was with them. Jesus arrived, though the doors had been closed, and he stood in their midst and said, “Peace to you.”
    {20:27} Next, he said to Thomas: “Look at my hands, and place your finger here; and bring your hand close, and place it at my side. And do not choose to be unbelieving, but faithful.”
    {20:28} Thomas responded and said to him, “My Lord and my God.”
    {20:29} Jesus said to him: “You have seen me, Thomas, so you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

  440. Adrian Meades says:

    But to read that as meaning Jesus was in physical form would surely be reading that text in a naïve & crass literalist way, Jabba?

    I also have 2 poignant comments above from days ago, still awaiting moderation.

  441. Brother Burrito says:

    OK Adrian, I approved your comments, such as they were.

    I am now closing this post to further comment, to avoid boring our regular readers and contributors.

    No doubt I am in the wrong!

Comments are closed.