NOTE: Scroll down for update responding to Anon's reply to this post.
(Anonymous has taken me to task yet again.
Unfortunately, it took Markiarchy a whole page of arguing with himself (I wasn't
here) to boost his self-esteem after I simply asked him to take me at my word
and TRY what I suggested.
I do take you at your word that you believe the things you say you believe. You have not given me the same courtesy. But I don't try out every irrational idea someone presents to me. Remember when you were a kid and your parents said, "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump off it too?" I'm not giving up my reason and jumping off the bridge.
And, even if I do argue against theism to boost my self-esteem, my arguments are neither weakened nor strengthened by that fact. You can't win by attacking my motivations. You have to address my arguments.
We must either accept that Jesus was 1) Exactly what he said he was or 2) Either
a madman or an idiot. However with his highly charged rhetoric, we aren't left
with thinking him merely a good teacher. His teaching was so radical that the
this viewpoint would be irrelevant. I might have gotten that wrong, but pick up a copy of Mere Christianity. Markiarchy's afraid to read it, because he would lose an argument with a dead guy.
I not only have read Mere Christianity, but my well-worn copy sits on my bookshelf right now. It isn't doing your arguments any good to continue to assume that I haven't read the books you have read. You don't know what I have or have not read.
Secondly, Lewis is presenting a false dichotomy. Jesus could be any number of things other than the Only Begotten Son of God, a madman, or an idiot. For instance, he could simply have been wrong. Not a madman, not an idiot, but just wrong. He could have been misled: maybe a bunch of people told him he was the Son of God and he believed them. Or, he could have simply been very prideful and he liked the attention claiming to be the Son of God got for him. For that matter, he could have just been a liar. There are lots of other possibilities, including that Jesus wasn't anything like how he's portrayed in the Bible and is, in large part, a biblical fiction.
Also, Jesus' teaching was anything but radical. About the only new thing in his philosophy is the idea that only through him can one come to God. Everything else he says is cribbed from the Old Testament, various Rabbis, and Greek and Persian thought.
But I would agree that it makes little sense to call Jesus "merely a good teacher." I don't think he was a very good teacher at all. His parables were obtuse, his teachings were impractical, and a lot of his ideas were, frankly, immoral.
Unlike Markiarchy, who labors in obscurity, but thrives on self-adulation C.S. Lewis was an accomplished scholar and a one-time atheist who logically convinced
himself that there was no other alternative save Christ.
C.S. Lewis' fame relative to mine does not mean his arguments were right and mine wrong. Argument by Authority isn't going to fly here, so you can stop trying.
Oh and by the way, Markiarchy does believe in God, or he wouldn't waste so much
time arguing against nothing.
Now, you have to realize that this argument doesn't make any sense. As Paul correctly pointed out, and as I have said explicitly before, my arguments are attacks against theism, not God. You are correct in one thing, that there's little reason for me to attack God since God doesn't exist. But theism does, theists do, and theocrats do, and there's much to be argued against there.
But, Anon, if you know that I really do believe in God, why are you bothering? You don't need to convert me or ask me to seek after God. According to you, I'm already there, so what, exactly, do you have a problem with?
in Markiarchy's world view I guess where all destined for worm food.
Unless you are cremated, yes. You may believe that your soul is going elsewhere when you die, but that doesn't change the fact that your body will decompose and end up as "worm food." My worldview isn't based on what I want to be true. It's based on what is likely to be true, and it is very likely that there is no life after death. That's not necessarily how I would like it to be, but just as it does no good to squeeze one's eyes shut to avoid reality, denying the likely fact of our eventual nonexistence does us no good either.
That's the hope I speak of, that this life and the moral code we choose was for
something other than the moment.
I can understand that hope. But I think that a lot of people waste their lives on that hope. And, if is likely true, this existence, here, now, is the only one we ever have, I find it very sad that people fail to live now because they're too focused on what happens next. It might seem to you that, even if it turns out that we really are just "worm food" that the belief that there is an afterlife provides comfort, or, as you call it, hope, and is therefore good whether true or not. But belief in an afterlife affects people now, in this life, and I'm not sure the comfort some get is balanced by the damage it does. People kill and die in the belief that it's okay because there's an afterlife. People give up on their lives because they want to get it over with and go see Jesus. My uncle is an example of this. Facing up to reality may deprive some of comfort for a short time, but it will force people to live this life, now, as if it is the only one they have, because it probably is.
And that's what I hope for.
So tell me why I should be a Markiarchist, what benefits does your religion offer? Give me a list of the pros and cons of following you and I'll consider it. You've obviously put a lot of thought into it, so I'll consider it. You like to poke a lot of holes in my religion, which you clearly have no understanding of. Show me yours.
I don't have a religion. I'm not advocating that people replace one religion with another. I don't think religion is necessary. I advocate facing up to reality without leaning on belief in the immaterial and supernatural. The benefit is in seeing things the way they are rather than how we might wish them to be. The benefit is that we can spend our time and effort making this world a better place than worrying about what will happen in some other world that likely doesn't exist. That no one would blow themself up or fly themself into a building on a mistaken belief that they will be going to Paradise. That's all. Non-theism can offer only one thing: reality. It may not seem like much, or be exactly what you want, but it is real and true.
You're mainly a braggart who believes his own hype to the extent that any other belief just couldn't be right because you're so damn smart. I'm going to hedge
my bets and go with God on this one okay? You just haven't convinced me that
you're bigger than him yet. Your arguments are just too charged with Me-ness to
I'm not bigger than God. But I am real, and He is not. I can't stop you from hedging your bets and going with God, but I will still say that you are almost certainly wrong in your belief that He exists. Not because I am so smart, but simply because there's no evidence that He does.
Atoms and plasma, you know what I meant. Of course, I guess you were there when
the big bang happened too. How's that Cold Fusion paper coming? Yes that's a cut
on you, but you probably don't know what the hell you're talking about when it
comes to physics beyond the discovery channel so I'm giving you a pass here.
I did and do know what you meant. You were wrong. Impugning my scientific knowledge or lack thereof does not change that fact.
The fact that I don't know what happens we leave this mortal coil and yet still
believe that God is there is why it's called faith. You might want to look that one up.
Yes. I know. One the principle arguments I have made on this blog is that this sort of faith is not a virtue.
Yes we as Christians are persecuted. Why can't our children pray in school? ... We'd hear outrage, but every year Christmas displays are disallowed in schools, Christian prayer is banned and stores aren't allowed to say Merry Christmas when I shop there. Why else would I be in there with all that wrapping paper in my buggy? We call it Winter Break and let's face it there's only one reason everybody gets a day off in December and it's not Eid.
As Paul noted, prayer isn't banned in public schools in the US. Organized, government-sanctioned prayer is banned. Kids pray in school every day, especially before tests. Not being allowed to use the government to promote Christianity does not make Christians persecuted. If it did, then I would be just as persecuted, because I can't use the public schools as a staging area to deny Christianity either.
And you must know that there is no prohibition on whether stores choose to say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas." They make that choice on their own, in light of what they think will be best for business. You have to blame the open market for that.
The reason we get a day off in December is because it's the winter solstice. No one knows when Jesus was born, but pagans were used to having a winter holiday. To make it easier for pagans to convert to Christianity, Christians chose to claim December 25th as Jesus' birthday to placate them. December 25th was chosen because it was the birthday of Mithras, a Roman/Persian sun god, and so putting Christmas on the same day made it so that the pagans didn't even have to change the day they celebrated their holiday.
I believe that Jesus was in fact the son of God and did pay a price not just
for my ancestor's sins but my own as well. Faith is believing in something you
can't prove. Salvation is the reward of faith in this case.
Believing in something without sufficient evidence is a bad idea. That's why I argue against it. It is unlikely that you will gain salvation through it, but it is certain that people will suffer and die for it.
In response to Anon's latest comment...
He takes me to task for editing one of his paragraphs:
In fact, hit does make great copy whenever any other religion is discriminated
against. Markiarchy knows it and that's why he chose not to include it. He
didn't have a response.
I will post the original paragraph with the bits I edited out in italics:
Yes we as Christians are persecuted. Why can't our children pray in school? If a Muslim child, and I'm not singling them out I'm using a different religion as an example so don't get uptight on me here, were to be barred from praying it would hit the news like something else hits the fan. We'd hear outrage, but every year Christmas displays are disallowed in schools, Christian prayer is banned and stores aren't allowed to say Merry Christmas when I shop there. Why else would I be in there with all that wrapping paper in my buggy? We call it Winter Break and let's face it there's only one reason everybody gets a day off in December and it's not Eid.
I edited out that part of the paragraph because it wasn't relevant because it wasn't true. Muslims are no more banned from praying in public schools than Christians. Muslims are just as much proscribed from using the public schools to preach their religion. The reason that most establishment clause cases involving school-sanctioned prayer are brought against Christians is not persecution, but the fact that Christians are the majority and they are the ones trying to use the public schools as a pulpit. Pure and simple. If there were a public school in the US in a place with a Muslim majority (I'm not sure one exists) in which the administration or teachers used the school to promote Islam, that school would get sued too, for the exact same reason.
There is a difference between being denied the right to practice your own religion and being denied the right to have the government support it. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, and adherents of every other religion can all pray in school. The school simply cannot endorse one of these religions for exclusive endorsement and support. Being denied exclusive status as the one government-endorsed religion is not persecution. Being denied the exclusive right to force those of other religions to participate in your religion's practices and beliefs is not persecution.
Persecution is when your rights are circuscribed. Persecution is not being denied the right to circumscribe others' beliefs. The latter is all that Christians are denied.
I just warned you about claiming knowledge about me that you don't have, Anon, such as that I "didn't have a response." In every case your assumptions have turned out to be untrue and they only weaken your arguments.
Insofar as Lewis' argument. ANY other argument that he was not who he claims toSince you bring it up again, it occurred to me that I believe Lewis' argument was that Jesus was "lord, lunatic, or liar," and so I think he actually includes one of the possibilities I mentioned above that you left out. I will check to be sure this evening when I have a chance.
be could in fact be lumped in with 2) Madman or idiot. Idiocy implies that he might have been wrong here.
However, I think you are wrong here as well. Being wrong does not make one an idiot. Being prideful to the point of willingness to believe one is the Son of God does not necessarily make on a lunatic. Asserting that unlike things are equivalent does not actually make them so.
I would also like to know here what immoral teachings Jesus was responsible for. Have you read the old testament? You do realize that Jesus put away so much ofYou know I have read the Old Testament. Or you should, since I have told you before that I have read the Bible cover to cover a number of times.
the old testament ritual and belief that this is in fact why the pharisees sought to kill him? He healed on the Sabbath, he claimed to be able to rebuild the temple in 3 days (he was referring to himself) and when he died the veil to the temple was torn, symbolically proving to the reader that they could access God directly and bypass the rabbi. He chased the moneychangers from the temple, and saved a condemned woman from certain death by stoning. He stood in the way of a great deal of "old" teaching. If that isn't radical (for the time) I don't know what would be. This was during a time that the church was law for the jews, and he stood often against it.
What you have said above is a selective reading of the New Testament. While Jesus did seem to rebel against some aspects of the Law, he also said, "I come not to destroy it, but to fulfill it." He said that not one jot or comma in the Law could be changed. The Sermon on the Mount cribs liberally from Old Testament values and Law. And much of what Jesus preached is taken from extant critiques of the law. His interpretation of some of the rules, such as the rule about not working on the Sabbath, differed from the majority interpretation of the day ("The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath"), but he wasn't preaching a radical new rule. He was one of many who critiqued the conservative interpretations of the Law as being too strict and most of his critiques were made earlier by the Rabbis' commentary at some point or another.
I would also point out that the portrayal of the Pharisees in the Bible is very inaccurate and so using any examples of Jesus' position relative to the Pharisees' as evidence of Jesus' radicalism is problematic. In reality, the Pharisees' position on most issues was similar to, if not identical, to Jesus'. Later writers of the Gospels portrayed the Pharisees as critical of Jesus' teachings because, at the time the Gospels were written, the Pharisees were the main competitors with the followers of Jesus for setting the direction of Judaism. It was to the Gospel writers' advantage to portray the Pharisees in a bad light. (For references, since you, Anon, will claim I have none even though I have been able to back up everything I have said, please look to Abba Eban's My People as well as Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Guide to the Bible).
Off the top of my head, some immoral teachings or acts of Jesus are that you should maim yourself rather than allow yourself to doubt him (the part about plucking out an offending eye and cutting off an offending hand), the idea that you have hate your family to follow him (generally ignored by Christians), that he cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit for him even though it was out of season (blaming others for things out of their control), refusing to cure a woman's son because he wasn't Jewish, threatening people with eternal torture for disagreeing with him, saying that being a good person or doing good things (good acts) isn't really important to him (since salvation is dependent on faith in him, not in good acts), and that people should continue to live together married even if they're miserable or being abused ("what God has put together let no man pull asunder").
If your argument is against theism rather than God, then do you acknowledge God?
If there is no God, how can there be theists? What do they worship? Why call them theists? They could just be crazy people who talk to thin air. Theists imply something else. Your very argument reveals something that you did not expect.
You have to realize this argument makes no sense whatsoever. Theism is defined as belief in the existence of a god or gods. Theists, therefore, believe in a god or gods. It is not necessary for the object of a belief to exist for the belief itself or its believers to exist. You must see the distinction.
What do theists worship? An idea. A fiction.
Why call them theists? Because they believe in a god or gods.
I think that theists do talk to thin air whenever they think they are speaking to God or praying. While I have argued in the past that, technically, this should be considered a delusion and therefore a type of mental illness, I was being somewhat facetious. While there are mentally ill theists, all theists are clearly not mentally ill. They are, however, wrong, and hold an irrational belief.
You mention a soul. Doesn't that go outside your world view? What's a soul? According to you we shouldn't have one, we're just a collection of nerve bundles
that act on impulse and several million years of instinct.
I do not believe in such a thing as a soul. I do, however, know what theists mean when they say "soul" and was using it in that context.
Markiarchy, if what you speak is true then why bother? Why doesn't true Anarchy
reign supreme? The proof of God's existence rests squarely with you I'm afraid.
You're going to have to come up with a fact that God doesn't exist in order to challenge my belief. The only way that the belief that the earth was flat was challenged was with the fact after observation that it wasn't. Beliefs are only
changed after facts. Give me facts that God doesn't exist. You can call the
Bible a pack of lies, but I could call the Kuran or any other religious text the same thing and what would it prove? These are texts of ancient society and quite frankly, in less you were there that is all we have to go on. So I read the Bible and I take it to be true. What scientific evidence do you possess other than your dizzying intellect to prove to me and everyone that there is no God? You could make a great deal of fame and fortune on this evidence. Do you have a picture from Hubble with a blank corner of the universe where heaven should be? I know that sounds ridiculous but come on!
Anon, you know that I have addressed this issue before, so I know you know why this line of thinking is wrong. The one making the claim is the one who has the burden of presenting evidence. If I tell you that bigfoot exists, it is not incumbent upon you to prove that he doesn't. You would, correctly, ask, "What evidence do you have?" If I couldn't present any, you would correctly decide that my claim has no merit and not accept it.
Theists claim there is a god or god(s). Just as if someone wants to convince me that bigfoot exists, I need evidence commensurate with the claim in order to accept the claim. Otherwise, I must reject it as unfounded. You, yourself, Anon, do this as well. I know because you asked me for evidence that Einstein wasn't a theist before you would accept it. I didn't respond by saying, "Prove to me Einstein wasn't a theist." I offered evidence. That's how it works.
Whether you accept it or not, the burden is still squarely on you to present sufficient evidence of God's existence before anyone should accept your claim.
In addition, as I am sure you know, it is generally impossible to prove conclusively that something doesn't exist. That does not mean we have to accept all claims, however. We can still discriminate and reject those unlikely to be true. For instance, Anon, you cannot prove to me that there is not a teapot orbiting Jupiter. That doesn't mean that you therefore have to accept that there is, in fact, a teapot orbiting Jupiter. Since the likelihood of an intact teapot somehow getting into orbit around Jupiter is vanishingly small, you can safely reject the claim. By demanding proof that God doesn't exist, you are assuming in your argument that he does. But you have to provide evidence before you can jump to that assumption. Otherwise, all claims have to be accepted as true and therefore meaningless.
What I'm trying to point out and have been trying to point out the whole time is
that you have evidence of none of this. You believe God doesn't exist and I do. We could leave it that, but your antagonistic, smarmy attitude won't allow it. You boast across this blog like you're a scholar with a line of degrees 10 miles long. You label others as stupid because of their difference of opinion. I don't think that you're stupid I think you're wrong. You assume I'm an idiot and mock my magic sky god. That isn't a debate, it's Monomarkiarchy or the rule of one Mark. That's no better than the crusades or the inquisition. When it's all said and done, you have no fact, no evidence that God does not in fact exist. You have a belief that he doesn't. That's fine, but stop trying to pass it off as science. You are obviously intelligent but a Jack of All Trades and Master of None it would seem.
I label others as stupid when they say or do stupid things. Disagreeing with me is not, in and of itself, stupid. But the arguments theists often use are, indeed, stupid, as are the conclusions they draw from them. But the main point of this blog isn't to point out stupidity, but to refute it. I don't just ridicule people or their arguments: I refute them. Calling them stupid may be unnecessary and gratuitous, as Paul argues, but it doesn't relieve you or other theists of the responsibility to actually refute my arguments. You can't just complain about how I present them and think that in any way challenges the arguments themselves.
I don't assume you are an idiot. I know you cling to an irrational belief. I am beginning to suspect you are quite irrational otherwise as well, since you continue to repeat arguments I have refuted and continue to assume knowledge of me that you can't possibly have, neither of which help your position.
I do mock your beliefs and your God, or magic sky fairy, as I have often called Him. I do so because I think religious beliefs have somehow been granted an unearned and unwarranted status in human culture that puts them beyond the reach of criticism, which is wrong. No belief should have special status and be protected from criticism, religious or otherwise. It is hypocritical of theists and many others who cannot abide any criticism of their own special beliefs but freely criticize the beliefs of others. It is wrong to expect your own beliefs to have special exemption from scrutiny but not to extend that courtesy to all other beliefs, religious or otherwise.
I think theists are wrong, and I say so. I don't give religious beliefs a special exemption any more than I do any others. I don't hold back in saying that conspiracy theorists or UFO abductees are wrong either. But for some reason society thinks it is okay to criticize conspiracy theories or UFO abduction stories, but not religious beliefs. That is wrong.
Oh and when you quote me, include the whole context. It only proves you're clutching at straws at this point.
Let's make one thing clear: this is my blog. I allow you to post here. I haven't moderate, edited, or deleted any of your comments. I have never edited them in any way that distorts their meaning. I have never had to, because they have not refuted any of my arguments successfully.
If you do not want me to edit your comments for brevity when I quote them, or if you don't want me to "dissect" your comments -- otherwise known as "responding to them" -- then don't post here. I haven't taken anything you have said out of context. I will not do so. If you falsely accuse me of doing so again, I will ban you from posting here.
My point is this. You aren't arguing a fact here. You can't prove God does not exist, I don't have to. I've offered my belief as simply that, a belief that I want to share with you. What you are arguing here is in fact your own belief and no more significant or accepted than mine, but you advertise it as the truth. That is what makes you wrong. I've said time and again that faith is believing in something you cannot see. Facts could change that but you don't have any.
I have never challenged your statement that faith is "believing in something you cannot see." I have challenged your assumption that this is a good thing to do. It is unwise and dangerous to believe in things in the absence of compelling evidence. The religions of Abraham -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- have turned faith into a virtue in order to defend themselves from those who point out the lack of evidence for their claims. I do not subscribe to those religions and I do not accept the assertion that faith is a virtue. It is not.
I have my doubts that any facts could actually alter your faith. Faith is generally impervious to facts and evidence.