Astrology Not the Only Cosmic Hoax

In return for the hospitality of Washingtonpost.com this week, may I be churlish and mention something that has been irritating … Continued

In return for the hospitality of Washingtonpost.com this week, may I be churlish and mention something that has been irritating me about the print version of the paper ever since I moved here twenty-five years ago? The fact is that the objective, detached, independent-minded Washington Post publishes horoscopes.

Harmless enough, you may say. But how true is it that nonsense and pseudo-science are harmless? Astrology is widely considered to be discredited because of certain very obvious objections:

1) It gives people the impression that they are the center of the universe and that the constellations are somehow arranged with them in mind.

2) It suggests that there is a supernatural supervision of our daily lives, and that this influence can be detected and expounded by mere humans.

3) It bases itself on the idea that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even of conception.

Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this ancient hoax? And why would it matter, except that religion, too, believes that the cosmos was created with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force that priests and rabbis and imams can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as “original sin” – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.

Credulity, in the sense of simple-mindedness, is often praised by those who claim to admire the “simple faith” of the devout. But the problem with credulity is that it constitutes an open invitation to the unscrupulous, who will take advantage of those who are prepared to believe things without evidence. This is why, for so many of us, the notion of anything being “faith-based” is a criticism rather than a recommendation.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist and author whose latest book is entitled “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

  • Reasonable thought

    This coming from the guy who guy who thinks that Bush is doing a great job in Iraq.Simple minded indeed.

  • Bobby

    Blah blah blah…same tired points already rehashed by Harris and Dawkins…Anything new on the table to discuss?

  • Tangent

    Interesting assumption that faith precludes any rational thought, examination, or quandrary. Utterly false, of course, but interesting nontheless. Or, it would be, if I hadn’t heard it trumpeted ad nauseum by those who worship at the alter of cynicism.

  • remy

    It is becoming more and more difficult for me to take anyone seriously who cites astrology or the nonsense in the Bible as examples of how one ought to live one’s life.I heard this from a preacher the other day: “I firmly believe that facts are different from the truth.” gack!

  • Andrea

    I believe in horoscopes. Here’s mine for today:”You’ll inspire disbelief, jealousy, and not a little hatred when you, rather than Puerto Rico, are named as America’s 51st state”Did I mention it’s from theonion.com? How could that be wrong?

  • B-Man

    Tangent:It’s not that faith precludes any rational thought. It’s that faith indicates an inappropriate, and dangerous, sublimation of rational thought. Once a person completely throws out reason in one area of his life (i.e. deciding that the universe works a certain way, based on no supporting evidence and mountains of evidence to the contrary) his entire rational thought process must reasonably be called into question.

  • Daniel

    I was born into a very relgious famitly. We were Methodists. We went to Sunday School and Church every Sunday. When I was about 12, I got a six year perfect attendance pin. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, and have long since misplaced it. Even today, I still go to church every Sunday. The Methodist Church has turned out to be, not a bad church. In fact, I think it is a good church. The right-wing political Chrisitanists routinely include the Methodist Church on the list of “apostate Churches,” which always amuses me, and Methodists, in general.When I was a small child in Sunday School, we were taught not to believe in fortune telling, reading tea leaves, astrology, and looking for “secret messsages” hidden in the Bible, especially the Book of Revelations.Even though I am a Christian, and Christopher Hitchens is an atheist, I don’t really mind anything he says. Nothing he says bothers me. And it makes me laugh to see how unsettled and insecure his “Christianist” opponents are. If a Christian is secure in his beliefs, then what matter would it make, that Hitchens or anybody would make any kind of criticism? None.

  • Chris S.

    Daniel your history and position on Hitchens is almost exactly the same as mine (spooky), a fellow lifelong Methodist. I am amused by the right-wingers as well.

  • richard

    thank you mr. hitchens for having the courage to speak the Truth. keep up the good work.

  • richard

    thank you mr. hitchens for having the courage to speak the Truth. keep up the good work.

  • ricardo gomez

    mister hitchens. i like vary much your arguments and what are writing. God bless you and please keeping to spread the Gospel.Yours in Christ,Ricardo

  • jwest

    Tangent

  • E favorite

    Actually, Chris, I think astrology is on firmer footing than religion. It has no moral codes, demands no worship and supports no wars. I don’t think astrology asserts, as you say, that “the cosmos was created with us in mind” – rather that we, like the stars, are a part of the cosmos. While religion may have been a way for pre-scientific people to explain nature, astrology may have been their way to explain personality. I’m not advocating astrology, of course, but I do think its survival on the comics page is fairly benign. Imagine, maybe that’s where religion will be someday.

  • Jeff Kendall

    Mr Hitchens is directly on target in his assessment, and I’m fully supportive of his writings and efforts to point out how utterly fallible supernatural religion/cults/institutions/beliefs/faiths are. It’s time for societies to exhibit some self-awareness about human tendencies and weaknesses (including the notion we’re “special” in the natural world), and see ourselves for what we are: the current result of billions of years of earthly evolution, an animal species with the turbocharged intelligence, physiological drives, emotions, and resultant society common to mammals.

  • cpwdc

    Mr. Hitchen’s contribution does not really advance the discussion; in fact the same argument he uses against both astrology and religion can be extended to science by replacing a few words (capitalized below):”Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this MODERN hoax? And why would it matter, except that SCIENCE, too, believes that the cosmos EVOLVED with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force (GRAVITATION, LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS) that SCIENTISTS can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as GENETICS – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.”

  • Lee

    Now I for one don’t believe the universe cares one whit what we believe. Compared to all there is, we occupy a microscopic bit of dust so we can believe what we like because it doesn’t matter. Should we annilalte ourselves in some nuclear tit for tat and leave the planet lifeless the universe will coninue merrily on its way taking little or no notice.I personally believe my life is a one time thing never to be repeated. What I see with my eyes is what I believe. over the many millenia that sentient human beings have lived on earth thay have invented a complex god centered scenario to explain those things that were unknown. Religion remains strong in the face of science and reason because it offers a relatively easy means of controlling the population and providing rationale for truly abomnible behavior. Children usually give up their imaginary friends as they mature. Perhaps someday humanity will be able to do the same

  • Mary Cunningham

    Dare I presume to challenge the ardent advocate of pre-emptive war? Should I criticize the evangelizing excoriator of that demoness, Mother Theresa?Or is this particular offering from Washington’s very own (slightly tipsy) ex Trotskyite terrible?It’s tosh! It’s pure tosh! It’ll damage your brain cells, if not your liver.It boils down to this:Astrology was ‘invented’ by man, Therefore, religion was also ‘invented’ by man,But the attributes of premise A(for astrology) are *nothing*–nothing!, nada, no relation whatsoever–to premise B or maybe premise R (for religion).Atheism does have some good challenges for Christianity, but, hey, guys, you can do a LOT (and note I almost never use caps) better.Please try harder. Maybe another book by Mr Hitchens on justification by pre-emptive warfare would suffice.

  • rjb

    i’m not gonna defend religion here, just point out that hitchens thinks religion pollutes everything about civilization. yet he’s quite prepared to reject the ideals of civilization at the drop of a hat, namely, he’s very eager to torture people. oh, and he’s gungho about the murderous, utterly vile iraq disaster, and has nothing to say against the new defender of the faith, W.

  • Howard Torf

    I think Mr. Hitchens is obviously correct. Here’s “proof”: In the history of humanity, there have been thousands of religions, each one claiming to be the one and only truth. If you assume that at most one religion is correct, then there is a miniscule chance that any one particular religion is true. So, if only 1 religion is true, than in excess of 99.9% of religions were man-made. So Hitchens is at least 99.9% correct. I think even a devout Christian would be forced to agree with the statement that “All religions (other than Christianity) are man-made.”

  • Ramona Quimby

    Sorry Hitch,Latvian Orthodox is the one true faith.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Daniel – interesting to hear about your Methodist upbringing and how you don’t mind anything that Hitchens says. Have you read “God is not Great” – his new book? Even if you haven’t, I’d like to know your reaction to the following excerpt from it, on p102, with a reference on p289 to “The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Siberman. It’s about Exodus.“There was no flight from Egypt, no wandering in the desert (let alone for the incredible four-decade length of the time mentioned in the Pentateuch), and no dramatic conquest of the Promised Land. It was all, quite simply and very ineptly, made up at a much later date. No Egyptian chronicle mentions this episode either, even in passing, and Egypt was the garrison power in Canaan as well as the Nilotic region at all the material times. Indeed, much of the evidence is the other way. Archeology DOES confirm the presence of Jewish communities in Palestine from many thousands of years ago (this can be deduced, among other things, from the absence of those pig bones in the middens and dumps) and it does show that there was a “kingdom of David.” Albeit rather a modest one, but all the Mosaic myths can be safely and easily discarded.” What do you think about that? I’d also be interested in hearing what your minister says about it. I understand that Methodist ministers have excellent training in biblical history.Thanks

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CPWDC:Science definitely does not believe that the cosmos evolved “with us in mind.” Wherever did you get such an asinine thought?

  • Benjamin G.

    Mr. Hitchen’s views on religion are at odds with his owns beliefs – presumably that evolution via competition is responsible for life as we known it; because religion is part and parcel of that process, and “Faith” is as much an organ unique to ourselves as Wings are to birds, and gills are to fish. We are in fact superior for our ability to imagine a future, to communicate a vision for that future, and to cooperate in its creation.I would point out to Mr. Hitchens, that the mere facts that religions were formed out of the same primordial intellectual soup as languages, cultures, customs, economies, philosophies, traditions, and morals – does not /necessarily/ condemn them as inferior. Religions, like genes, economic assumptions, armies, and cultures, are forged in the fires of competition, and those which are supportive in general of a stable society have risen to the top – and are more probably beneficial than deleterious.Mr. Hitchens, in this book, appears intent on staining all religions with the taint of the middle east, but here he merely misses the lesson of the middle east, which is that the middle east is not a force to be reckoned with on the basis of long-developed and superior genes, culture, tradition, religion, economic assumptions, and morals, but rather it is an inferior package which won big in the oil lottery. Blaming religion for the disruptive effect of a recent perturbation in the long-term process of refining human existence is naive and simplistic.Finally, Hitchens uses “Religious” as a catch-all for beliefs he finds objectionable, but fails to address the fact that science, economics, nation building, and many other “great” exploits require a considerable degree of agreement on principles which can neither be tested nor proved.Hitchen’s use of cherry-picked aspects of religions to criticise the whole is equivalent to condemning the entire Human DNA on account of the bothersome appendix or tonsil. Sure Religious, like economies, genes, and Constitutions have unwieldy and anachronistic components, but their value lies in the totality of the effect on the organism in which they are held, and it is difficult to quarrel rationally with the argument that certain religions have benefited their adherents.Whether or not this organ of Faith is being best utilized is neither for me or Mr. Hitchens to decide, it is a question, like evolution, for milleniums to decide, and the answer will be bred into future generations, to be accepted or challenged, as they see fit.Specifically, I believe the Washington Post does a service by printing Horoscopes as they provide a certain innoculation against an undue reliance on the irrational for most of society, with relatively low casualties in the true-believer column.Benjamin G.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Mr Hitchens -I’ve read your latest book twice. Thanks so much for the informative and entertaining journey! I’ve recommended it to just about everybody I know.BTW – I found my copy of “god is not great” hidden deep in the recesses of the religion section of my local Borders. Same with books by Dawkins, Harris & Dennett. For some reason, atheistic/anti-theist books are treated like porn in my town, even when they’re on the best-seller lists. Wait. I take that back – the porn-like books are more-prominently displayed than the atheist books.Again, thanks for the great read.

  • jwest

    Hi E Favorite what’s up with you???I have noticed these posts are completely devoid of any mention of I-CHING. As long as we are debunking everything we might just as well debunk it. In my search, exploration or otherwise curiosity, I have found I-CHING to be just short of amazing. Christian friends have told me it is the work of the devil without ever having read one iota of it. But again christains find everything they disagree with to be the work of the devil. I-CHING has taught me how to deal with people and how my action and pride are sometimes at fault in any given situation. When read and understood correctly I-CHING gives one good advice as to how to deal with situations we encounter. An example is I had a very bad habit, one which I enjoyed but never the less a bad habit. I consulted I-CHING and it told be to marshall the armies from within to combat this situation. In other words it said

  • Lexhamfox

    Let’s all be grateful that there were men and women brave enough to face death at the hands of religious zealots in order to forward the enlightenment and all the benefits of that great movement we enjoy today. It is frustrating when American Christians assert that the United States was founded on ‘Judeo-Christian values’ when the truth is that our freedoms and notion of government have much more to do with the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment.Mr Hitchens does an excellent job of reminding us of this and that those movements occured in spite of the religio-fascism that prevailed for many hundreds of years.

  • Steve

    I’m inclined to believe there is more of a basis to believing in Astrology than there is in believing religion. The fact that astronomical events do effect us in the form of lunar cycles, sunspots, comets, etc. suggests to me that there could be unfactored biological influences. It may even be more rudimentary, like for example, what sorts of vegetables are in season during the conception of a taurus and how do they impact maturation of the fetus.

  • Steve

    … then again, maybe Jozevz is right.

  • obrie64

    Its ironic that Hitchen rails against religion yet put his faith in the most evangelical religiously dominated and anti-science e.g. (evolution, global climate change) administration headed by a man who believes he has a personal relationship with God, in its invasion of Iraq

  • Mary Cunningham

    Ramona wrote>Latvian Orthodox is the one true faith.Oh ho! There *is* no Latvian Orthodox faith. The Russians in Latvia are *Russian Orthodox*, There are also a few Lutherans but no one, as yet, has determined their ethnic origins. A few Prussians that meant to go to West Germany and took the wrong turn??? A few Swedes that didn’t make it back to Sweden.It’s a mystery…but not as mysterious as Hitch’s tortured attempts at logic.

  • Chris

    Well put Benjamin G.

  • Daniel

    To E-FavoriteI do not know for sure, but I think he is trying to counter or mimic the exessive drama of the right wing Christianits. Remember, I pointed out in my previous comment, these “Christianist” people include my church, the Methodist Church, on their list of apostate churhes, whatever that could possibly mean. If a Christian has a good and confident belief, then it could not cause any worry or anxiety, whatever Christopher Hitchens, or anybody, might say. So, if Christopher Hitchen is upsetting to you, STOP! And think about why.

  • Mary Cunningham

    obrie64: It’s not really ironic, it’s consistent. Hitchens is a Trotskyite–believes in the application of force to the process of history. Trotsky’s have always been on the opposite side of Roman Catholicism and when John Paul weighed in with a whole-hearted condemnation of the Iraq invasion it was gist to Hitch’s mill…George II was really an afterthought. The neocons looked down on the evangelicals as fools, dumb foot soldiers that would do their bidding in the ‘holy war’ to remold the ME into a region more to America’s liking. GWB fit the mold–fit the mould,eh?–perfectly.

  • MC

    Hitchens is not upsetting me at all. He says what he believes, even if he could use a little– lot!–tutoring in logic, but when has that ever been a requisite for a polemicist?The people who upset me are the Spongs and Crossans of the world, atheists masquerading as Christians with their false exegis and tortured renderings of the gospels..

  • Daniel

    What are Spongs and Crossans? And by the way, “atheist” means “without God” so if you would come upon someone claiming to be a Christian, with whom you disagree, then why would you assume that they are atheists “masquerading?” And even if your assumption would be correct, then why would that weaken your confidence? If you are confident in your position, then it should be ok to acknowledge that, probably, just about everybody else is going to have some beliefs and opinions that are different than your own, and, so what? SO WHAT?

  • slewis

    Mercy, Hitchens back on stage, again and again; does he, do we, ever get a break?I’ve not read his new gospel anthology, but I did read a recent review by Stephen Prothero that was published in the WPost on Sunday May 6, 07. In the last lines of the review Prothero offers the following:”Christoper Hitchens is a brilliant man, and there is no living journalist I more enjoy reading. But I have never encountered a book whose author is so fundamentally unacquainted with its subject. In the end, the maddeningly dogmatic book does little more than illustrate one of Hitchens’s pet themes – the ability of dogma to put reason to sleep.”What’s behind those “wild eyes” of the omnipotent Hitchens? He’s a race horse that never seems to tire – and seemingly he’s joyful in the ride; And his non-stop poison pen, what’s the pyschological undergirding there. An arrogance and hubris devoid of civil discourse?Hitchens, like an athlete or comic is entertaining; but when they conclude their acting or performance, they step off the stage.I wonder, what’s precious and intimate to the erudite and omnicient?* Thanks again to the Washington Post and On Faith moderators for this inciteful “question” offering.

  • Pluto

    Christopher Hitchens, you ain’t the Gore Vidal of the 21st century, as you apparently claimed once.Go back and play war toys with the neocons over in the other sandbox. Who can take you seriously anymore now that you are one of the few who is still defending the invasion of Iraq?

  • Daniel

    So what are Spongs and Crossans? Does anyone know? It sounds like some kind of breakfast food.

  • candide

    to: Mary CunninghamMost ethnic Latvians are Lutheran, except in the Latgall region which used to be part of Polish Livonia before the partitions of Poland. There they are Catholic. The only Orthodox are ethnic Russians. The Latvians managed to kill most Jews even before the Nazis wanted them to. There are still a few left.

  • Andrea

    “I will not eat green Spongs and Crossans…”

  • Peacetroll

    If this is the cat who thinks George Bush and the zionist neo-cons are doing a good job by bombing children, causing chaos and running up gas prices, he sure wouldn’t get a following out of anyone I know.Anyone who prescribes to this guy’s ideology is a either a lunatic moroon or a wealthy elite.

  • Derek

    Really the content of this article speaks to me less than the comments. The absurd out pouring of “ideas” illustrates, more accurately, the departure from the rational mind into the dark and obfuscated place where the superstitious mind must hide.

  • Anonymous

    Daniel – No, I’m not trying to egg you on. I really wanted you to address the excerpt I copied about Exodus. It isn’t Hitchens’ “view,” per se, as he’s just presenting information from the Jewish scholars who wrote the “The Bible Unearthed.” I’d really like to hear what your minister had to say too, but if you don’t want to ask him/her, that’s fine. I would like to hear your views, though and hope the other Methodist, “Chris S” will chime in too.

  • Peacetroll

    Ahhhh,This guy is a mouth piece for the NEO-CONS!TOTAL elitist!For Israel #1 and the poor a far #3,0000,00000000!Sell out propogaters of the wealthy cause, forgetting the weak and the fatherless they do!

  • E FAVORITE

    Last comment to Daniel is from me.

  • joe

    At a minimum, Hitchen’s well taken point is that when people invoke the precepts of their faith in an appeal to authority for a secular act, rather than reason, they are on shaky ground. If someone wants to let their faith guide their personal actions, even their votes, that is harmless, but if they amass the power, through numbers or otherwise, to impose their faith based conclusions without having to persuade the majority by force of reason rather than, again, appeal to higher authority, they are dangerous.

  • Joe Nash

    Hitchen’s is just your average scumbag loser being propped up by AIPAC and Zionists to spread misleading propaganda. This guy just parrots the AIPAC line, his real knowledge about anything is zelch….and that extends to religion. BTW, I never heard him say anything bad about Judaism or Israel, so that tells you volumes about where his paycheck comes from. If Hitchen’s was a black dude, nobody would be listening to him now.

  • Nina K

    How dare you equate my personal faith with that collection of claptrap and superstition?I’ll have you know that astrology is a great tool in understanding your own inner preconceptions, especially when you’re having trouble deciding on two equally good or awful choices.Religion? Pfah!

  • Sam

    Let’s not forget that before he went around selling Bush’s Iraq war, Hitchens was an avowed communist. Marxism is a religion no matter what Hitchens might think and possibly the worst one out there (Scientology is objectively sillier, but has done much less damage). Hitchens has as much right to lecture the rest of us on credulity as Slobodan Milosovec would have had to lecture us on intolerance.

  • franco

    Mr Hitchens, someday soon you will be having a weiner roast with the devil. No ice cold beer there!

  • JRM

    John Dominic Crossans and Bishop John Shelby Spong, ‘liberal’ theologians, speakers and writers.

  • franco

    Mr Hitchens, someday soon you will be having a weiner roast with the devil. No ice cold beer there!

  • David Wade

    What about Christopher’s main point? The Washington Post runs the horoscope because many people only buy the newspaper to read the horoscope. The Post’s publishers I am guessing do not believe in the horoscope, but it brings them money.:(Shame.

  • Mr Mark

    It’s disheartening to read so many posters equating Hitchen’s support for the Iraq war with support for the bush administration. Hitchens isn’t a conservative, and he isn’t a big supporter of the bush administration. In fact, he takes numerous shots at the bush administration in his latest book, just as he also takes shots at everyone else – religionists, liberals, bushies, you name it.Such criticism of Hitchens seems to span the scope of political leanings. The lefties agree with his dismantling of religion, but they’re uncomfortable with his stand on the war. So they take the stand of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The righties – who are now also uncomforatable about the war – don’t like him at all, and complain that the world is tired/bored of both babies and bathwater. They claim that Hitchens is irrelevant.I think that we all can agree that Hitchens is a fine writer who does his research and doesn’t shoot from the hip, and that his views and opinions are well-considered (I doubt that he’s ever given “because I said so” as a reason for anything).Perhaps we may also conclude that – like a broken clock – Hitchens is right at least twice a day, just as John Ashcroft was right to stand up to bush’s illegal wiretap program while he (Ashcroft) was in hospital, even while Ashcroft left much to be desired as AG on other matters (least of all, his singing).Personally, I find myself in agreement with Hitchens on many issues, even if I part company with him on bush’s oil war. By similar token, I sometimes find myself agreeing with points made by the religionists on this blog, even while I disagree with them on a basic philosophical level. Hitchens is worth listening to for his erudition and his willingness to take unpopular positions, if nothing else. The outright dismissal of Hitchens as an intellectual force says nothing about Hitchens and everything about those doing the dismissing.I’m glad that he’s around and speaking his mind.

  • Vijay

    Astrology is widely read by Females. Is Mr. Hitchins saying they are stupid?

  • SANJAY ALTEKAR

    Astrology is part fo the Hindu tradition. If one don’t like Hinduism that’s fine, but I wonder if Mr Hitchens would be as vitriolic towards all the other great religions too?

  • SANJAY ALTEKAR

    Astrology is part of the Hindu tradition. If one don’t like Hinduism that’s fine, but I wonder if Mr Hitchens would be as vitriolic towards all the other great religions too?

  • jwest

    vijayOnce again, Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. You have been given the cool-aid and drinking it with zeal. How in the world can seemly smart people ignore facts. I would love to jump ahead in history about 200 years and hear what they say about us today. They would say we were very easily lead astray by our political leaders. Iraq indeed.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Carl Jung thought there was something to astrology, possibly related to his concept of synchronicity.I believe that Jung has been proven wiser than Mr. Hitchins.

  • jay

    Mr. Hitchens – why on earth should anyone pay any attention to you, of all people, given your track record on Iraq, and your shameless cheering on of the war. Does the same sense of reason and rationality shape your views on religion as well? Drink a gin and tonic and smoke your cigar or whatever you smoke that makes you hallucinate so much.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Mr. Hitchens,You are arrogant but a romantic by nature. But then I am a cancer and we would kill each other.So tell me…how close am I?terra

  • Daniel

    To: E-favoriteWhat do I think of Christopher Hitchens saying that the Jews were never held in Egyptian captivity and never wandered the dessert for 40 years? Is that what you’re asking? I don’t think anything about it. My beliefs do not depend on any one verse from the Bible nor any one story or parable from the Bible, which may be proven to be in error, or wrong, at some time in the future. However, in general, almost all commentary on the events portrayed in the Bible by both those trying to prove it, and those trying to disprove it, are all speculative in nature, and my relgious beliefs do not depend on other people’s speculations. So, that is why Christopher Hitchens’s assertions of his own atheism do not trouble me. It is pretty clear to me, why he is so dramatic, and even a little obnoxious in his declartions: he is mimiccing conservative and orthodox Christians who are themselves, with complete and unaware ignorance, just as obnoxious as he is. In my opinioin, there is a primitive kind of Christianity, which would include all forms of Christian fundamentalism. And then, there is a more sophistocated Christianity, which comes from many long years of study and contemplation, under the correct and proper circumstances. I think it is a shame that many people have come to equate all Christians with “primitive” Christian belief, when that is not the case.

  • Julius Orange

    The horoscope is even more pointless when you consider that they are based on ancient star formations that have since shifted in the firmament. So not only are people following this bunk, but it’s not even the correct bunk for them. Everybody reading these are really reading the wrong Horoscope – that is if there was such a thing as a right one, which, as you know, there is not. However, I would point out that in defense of calling horoscopes “harmless” there are no current wars that I can think of between various factions of the Zodiac. We do not have to read every day that a Gemini blew themselves up in a market frequented by Capricorns.

  • CPWDC

    Mr. Mark – The fact that you can use terms related to an equus asinus, but an equus asinus cannot do so vice versa, is the very proof that evolution i.e. natural selection, did at least not have said equus asinus in mind when distilling favorable traits enabling you and I to exchange comments, asinine or otherwise, in a blog.

  • E favorite

    Daniel – thanks for getting back to me. What DO your beliefs depend on? Are you going to ask your minister about Exodus?Terra – You’re right – Hitchens IS an aries – born April 13th – Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. I know this because it was just in the news – he became an American citizen that day, at the Jefferson memorial.Jwest – I have seen I Ching books, but never opened one – will do so on my next trip to Borders, where, by the way, Mr Mark – Hitchens’ book was displayed prominently at first, on a table near the entrance – before it was supposed to come out. I bought it! A week later, it was hidden upstairs in the religion section (actually, right next to it, in the fast-growing atheism section).I can’t wait to see where it is now that it’s an official bestseller.

  • Russell D.

    E-Fav:How much is the book going for? I am gonna shell out some dough to buy it. Michael:

  • George

    Hitchens = Moron

  • Aaron Zisser

    Mr Hitchens, whom I respect a great deal for his outspokenness and thoughtfulness on every issue he addresses, misses the middle ground in this debate. For all his intellect, this is Hitchens’ biggest consistent gaff. In this instance, the middle ground is non-extremist “religious” types — those for whom religion or the texts underlying religion provide a maleable moral and life guide subject to interpretation. In Judaism, for example, the Bible’s meaning is debated over and over again every year, and it has been for thousands of years. The ancient rabbis do not agree on everything. Yeshiva boys are encouraged to engage and disagree. In other words, the Bible and God as metaphor, subject to debate as to its meaning. “God” need not be a literal personified bearded guy in the sky — he can be love, justice, community, one-ness, nature, interconnectedness, human dignity. The Bible, as a narrative and a litany of rules, was and is a relatable narrative — the same way many many people relate better to Twain than to Rawls, or Rilke rather than Kant. The Bible has relatable characters and stories with life lessons, morals in the same way as Aesop’s Fables. Why, Mr. Hitchens, is that inherently dangerous? What IS dangerous, I agree, is the literalism so many attach to the Bible, or the personification of God, or the use of the Bible as a means to separate, divide, differentiate, rather than to see that it really teaches about love, inclusion, respect for every individual, including those who do not adhere to the same precise code. But “religion,” as manifested in the approach to morality and life through an ancient/sacred text, is not inherently bad. When looked at as a narrative threaded by powerful and relatable metaphors and personalities, religion is inherently GOOD.

  • Shawn

    According to Wikipedia: Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949, in Portsmouth, England.I do believe this makes him an Aries, as I am myself. Personally, I do give the personality descriptions of astrology any credit. But only for one reason: they are true..Shawn

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CPWDC -You continue to assign sentience to natural selection. Natural selection isn’t a god or a being. There isn’t a conciousness busy “distilling” favorable or unfavorable traits. It’s a process, not a presence.Still, I enjoyed your use of the big words, especially the Latin phrase.

  • Rev.Dr. Willis Elliott

    Mr.Hitchins, I have the distinguished honor to be only No.111 to respond to your “Astrology Not the Only Cosmic Hoax.” And I do mean honor: You’re more fun to read than any of the other current writers in the down-with-religion! genre.

  • TJFRMLA

    While I disagree with Chris on most things political…I completely agree with him on religion, it’s dangers, and the charlatans who promote it in our society. There are enough good reassons to do what is right without resorting to superstition, fear, and ignorance. Hopefully in another 3 generations religion and god will go the way of alchemists and “bleeding” as a cure for disease.

  • ScottS

    Most ignorant post of the thread:Joe Nash:See: Get a clue. Using “Zionist” as a pejorative tells us all we need to know about you, “Joe.”

  • Perceval

    Joe Nash – I’m very impressed with you. How does one type without opposable thumbs?

  • Mark

    Albert Einstein, the greatest scientific mind in history, said “God does not play dice”. On the question of whether there is a divine plan, Mr. Hitchens would be well advised to look to those smarter (understatement) than he.

  • BD

    Hitchen’s attacks religion and all of a sudden the Christian Right is outraged because he supports the Iraq War? Where was all of this outrage over the Iraq war from the Christian Right when they reelected Chickenhawk in Chief Bush? Probably worrying about gay marriage just like Puppetmasters Rove and Cheney wanted them to. This is a perfect example of how faith and unyielding, intolerant religious beliefs can cloud good judgement. What about fundamentalists like Robertson and Falwell who support(or supported) the war…doesn’t that automatically invalidate their religious beliefs just as Hitchen’s support for the war is supposed to invalidate his argument against religion? Oh and by the way to the poster who accuses Hitchens of being an AIPAC shill… the Evangelicals are some of the biggest supporters of AIPAC (’cause the rapture can’t come until all the Jews are back in Israel) and Hitchen’s is just as critical of Judaism as he is of Christianity or Islam.

  • Father Theresa

    Jozevz et al – You’re writing is impossible to understand and headache-inducing.You could be saying brilliant things for all I know. But the incoherence of your formatting makes you seem, well … nuts. Don’t undermine yourself. Unless you are nuts, in which case nevermind.

  • Pat Kellmurray

    Mr. Hitchens: Can you address the contradiction of your avid support for the policies of an administration guided by the Christian Right?

  • Ponderous

    This discussion is very timely for me — as a life-long but casual and free-thinking Catholic a couple funadamentel questions occurred to me as my mind was wandering during mass last week: (1) what evidence is there in the Bible that Mary’s virgin conception was ever communicated during Jesus’ lifetime, so that it would have become known to the authors of the gospels, and (2) other than Jesus’ own words during the Last Supper, what is the basis for believing in the transubstantiation of the sacraments (bread becomes body, wine to blood) as opposed to mere symbols of his sacrifice and continued presence, and why would this matter to Jesus? Since these beliefs are at the very core of Christianity and/or Catholicism, I’m interested in the perspective of anyone from Hitchens to Benedict.

  • Mike

    Indeed Einstein said that God does not play Dice. But he never proved it. And the main reason he said it was to comfort his own insecurities about the unknown. I would agree that when discussing quantum physics that it is best to turn to greater minds such as Einstein. But the man couldn’t tell you anything about God with any more authority than my 2-year-old niece can.

  • codfish

    Yes, God is human-made just as most other aspects of culture are created by humans. By the time Jesus came around, it was clear (at least to him) that we are better off helping each other out than killing each other. Many humans of the time agreed and rallied around this cause.The concept that God=Love is reductionist, and effectively so. Until this simple axiom was deduced, God was so many other things, too. The sun, the tides, the seasons, etc. That didn’t work for everyone because it was not part of everyone’s culture. If you don’t live next to the ocean, you don’t understand why God would have anything at all to do with the tides.Christianity did a wonderful job of co-opting existing cultural norms under its umbrella so that pagans, and others through time, could unite under the simple message: God=Love.The notion of life after death was enormously useful as far as getting people to behave in a manageable way here on earth. And so, governments (and Churches acting in the capacity of governments) have used religion as a tool to this effect. This is where most of the bloodshed has come from. Humans do need a certain amount of direction, as children, to learn how to behave. Religion has provided a natural method to communicate the benefits of love and right action to our offspring. Unfortunately, the message isn’t so simple (God does not equal Love) within the particular texts and teachings of most religions, we first have to be taught that our God is the only one true God.According to N. Ross Reat and Edmund Perry, each of the different expressions of God are the result of a central spiritual reality that we all share. And, this reality is expressed differently in different cultures (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, etc.). This is a valuable teaching, because if enough people can except it (if it is reductionist enough to be on par with God=Love)it gives us control over our destiny and the ability to see that other humans and cultures are actually more similar to us than disimilar.The point of all this is that religion is man-made and at its worst when used as a tool to achieve a particular human purpose. I think we owe it to our children to keep the message simple, and let them discover those expressions of their central spiritual reality that they can best relate to. This will allow them to better relate to others of different cultures that they come across in life, and make them less apt to kill them.

  • Anon

    If we created God, certainly we can destroy him

  • codfish

    Yes, and we can destroy him by refusing to believe the lie anymore.

  • Some Guy

    Of course, Astrology and God are both pretend. One might argue astrology is harmless fun (for those who know deep down it’s not true, like fortune cookies)But then again, remember Nancy Reagan schedule meetings for Ron according to the stars?

  • Pat Hat

    According to polls I’ve seen there are more Christians in the US who ALSO believe in astrology than there are avowed atheists and agnostics. Now I really don’t think there are that many people that actually believe in astrology. They just amuse themselves in the morning reading the WaPo. Similarly I really don’t think everyone who shows up at church on Sunday is a true believer. They’re doing it because they want to remain in the good lights of their community. Look at Congress. Only one member who doesn’t believe? Doubt it.

  • Anon

    codfish:I was thinking dynamite would work, but you’re idea is better.

  • Pat Hat

    According to polls I’ve seen there are more Christians in the US who ALSO believe in astrology than there are avowed atheists and agnostics. Now I really don’t think there are that many people that actually believe in astrology. They just amuse themselves in the morning reading the WaPo. Similarly I really don’t think everyone who shows up at church on Sunday is a true believer. They’re doing it because they want to remain in the good lights of their community. Look at Congress. Only one member who doesn’t believe? Doubt it.

  • codfish

    Pat Hat: You describe cultural peer pressure at its finest. Our cultural ties provide us with amazing powers to ignore scientific and flawless logic. Acceptance is important to us as emotional, insecure beings. I think the more contemporary term is ‘group-think.’

  • Chris

    Does anyone understand JOZEVZ, or is he just crazy? Seriously, calm down with the assault on the English language. I mean, if you aren’t making sense, at least make it a little less painful to stare at.

  • Athena

    God does indeed play dice. He was on a heck of a run at the craps table at the Deities’ Convention in Vegas last year. This was while Aphrodite was stripping to “Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?”, so maybe you missed it. 😀 But seriously now, folks… the daily astrology column in the paper has about as much to do with actual astrology as Bible-verse-a-day calendars do to Christianity. There is actually a lot more to it. Suggest you check out

  • Daniel

    Dear Mr. E-favoriteYou asked me what my beliefs depend on? On my own history, contemplation, and speculation. I am not particularly interested in arguing Biblical controversies, in the Book of Exodos or anywhere else in the Bible. Since you asked, here are some of my beliefs, just sort of off the top of my head and not very well organized:At one time, I felt increasingly out-of-step with my brethren, and even wondered sometimes if I should just give up on Christianity, all-together. But now I realize the source of my troubled heart: the only thing that really makes my Christianity different from others’ is that my characterization of God and the divinity of Christ has become increasingly sophisticated, and that puts me at odds with people who have remained more primitive in their beliefs; and that, there are, in fact, lots of people like me.I believe that when we think in the present moment, we are speculating. And all of the thoughts and feelings and emotions and beliefs that have come into our minds prior to the current moment, all came to us by way of ever-changing contingencies. My religion is the product of contingencies and speculation. But it is wrong to devote ones entire life to endless speculation. Instead, it is better to live, to act, to do, to be busy, to enjoy the good times, when we are fortunate enough to encounter them, and to help out those we love and care about, and those even whom we may not know very well, when the good times have departed, and things are not going so well. We are born. Where and when is the major contingency of our lives, which pre-determines a great deal of what we may or may not become. We have presented to us, a physical body, ready made, and a mental apparatus, ready made, additional contingencies from which much of our subsequent selves emerge. Then we grow. How we grow, and what we become is also contingent upon the adult shepherds of our lives, and the type of culture in which our lives may unfold. We grow and increase in understanding.So what about doubt? Doubt means, “I’m not sure about that.” It is a feeling. It is autonomic. I cannot control my feelings. I cannot will myself to feel something, that I do not feel. I cannot will myself to love someone whom I so not love. I cannot will myself to believe something that I do not believe. I do not know why I have doubt when some people do not. I do not know why some people feel certainty for the same thing that I doubt. I do not know why someone likes chocolate ice cream best, when I like vanilla ice cream best. I just know, that these are all feelings which people have, which cannot be very easily altered. Many people believe many strange things. I cannot go through life tearing down all the beliefs of other people. I think that people do not really chose their beliefs. They have a brain, which becomes filled with beliefs, and these beliefs determine the person that they are, and not the other way around.

  • pasq242

    Ad hominem attacks everywhere. Jesus, people, separate the person from the point.Do I think neo-cons are evil fascists who eat babies? Yes. Do I hate the war? Yes. Do I wish I was on whatever Jozevz was on? Yeah. Still, Hitchens has a point.Rev. Dr. Ellicott:

  • whoa?

    The only difference between praying and wishing is the one’s belief in the effectuating nature of the act.

  • Arlene Campbell

    Mr. H – I am grateful to God for giving me life, and I wish I had been more clever in living it. But, what if dead is dead? Would that be so bad? Why doesn’t someone ask the God I believe in and Allah to appear in human form and tell us, once and for all, is there a heaven, paradise or hell (I personally think the lovely planet Earth is heaven when we are born and the hell we make of it)? And the unlimited supply of 72 virgins – I hope that 72 boy aren’t upon women bombers. Show yourselves, please. Arlene

  • brandonesque

    Wow, man…It is spacey. There are like all these cosmic parallels here. I was baptized Methodist (see way up the list) AND I met Mr. Hitchens in an elevator at my friend’s appartment building many years ago (he was not at all fire breathing, as some might suspect. Actually very nice). Anyway, while I respect Mr. Hitchens, I think he is also trying to sell his book by staking out such a hardline position….You know, a bit of controversy

  • dat

    Nobody I have ever met thinks that astrology is anything more accurate or reliable than hearing voices. It has always annoyed me to have it in the paper, but somebody must want it.Statistically, scientifically, we can all agree that the tenets of any religion are not objectively provable and, to the extent that religions vary, the great majority, if not all, MUST be completely wrong. Shouting down the person who points this out does not change this. But people do tend to get upset when their foolishness is exposed, don’t they? How many people have admitted responding to the Liberian prince’s lost bank account email scam?

  • Aaron Zisser

    Thistlethwaite says it well:”Faith and religion are not the same, in my view. ‘Religion’ refers to the forms such as ritual and dogma, and the institutional structures that perpetuate them. Faith is a relationship with the infinite that calls us out of finitude into the transcendent. Religion is the finite vessel in which the infinite divine may (or may not) be glimpsed. . . . “This is what Christopher Hitchens and others who write about religion being ‘man-made’ never get. They attack the forms of religion as being fragile and finite and clearly generated by human beings. This is all too true. . . . Religion isn’t reducible to its forms. . . . [W]e human beings are finite. We can’t do without some form of religion to hold the content of faith.”In other words, see my comment above — religion, particularly through the primary texts like the Torah or the New Testament, is merely the means of relating to, expressing, understanding the experience of spiritual connections to other human beings, to nature, to ideals of justice, peace, morality. Interpretation helps flesh out these often abstract metaphors that would otherwise be, and too often are, read literally.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Look folks, just because two entities share a few (only) of the same attributes does not mean they equal each other or are in any *other* way similar. Just because astrology is a cosmic hoax does not mean that religion is also a cosmic hoax. One does not equal the other, except in Mr Hitchen’s addled grey cells. To rephrase:Joan is a woman, 5′ tall, and has brown hair.Joan is thus similar to Megan.Right? Wrong!Joan is 80 years old and Megan is 10. Their height, sex and hair colour are the *only* attributes they share. Religion and astrology share a very few attributes and otherwise have nothing in common.And I wrote earlier, Hitchens doesn’t upset me.Well, I’ve rethought. He does. He sent out the sons and daughters of evangelicals–you know those he considered merely dumb foot soldiers fit only to do his and his fellow neocon’s bidding–to be killed in Iraq for the sake of his nifty pre-emptive war & now has the effrontery to mock the only thing that might give these folks some solace–their faith.Pretty bad, I would say. Nasty, egregious, any other adjective. He should shut up & the Post should stop paying him court & think about its own culpability in cheerleading what was an invasion followed by an uninvited occupation, a disaster that should never have been allowed.

  • kb

    The ancient Vedas of India explain the concept of “God” very well. It is nothing but Consciousness. A conscious entity is required to verify existence. That entity has to be beyond the concept of time. Anything that has a beginning has to have an end and God cannot have a beginning or end!! So, Christ, Abraham, Mohammed, Buddha, Rama, Krishna et al (as the individual we know/understand) are not God.What God was there before Christ/Abraham/Mohammed/Buddha/Rama was born?

  • JS

    It looks as if the people who are critical of Christopher Hitchens either didn’t read his book “God is not Great” or have not thought about or know what faith is. If you have to have faith in something to believe it to be true you, you are lacking evidence. If you lack evidence and still believe something to be true, you are delusional. Having faith is fact displaying your lack of education and inability to know what logic is all about right across your forehead. If you have faith in god or anything else you missed the logic boat as soon as your faith got started and you can argue all you want about the validity of faith but you will lose every time to reason and evidence. Most believers stomp out of the room at this point. When evidence is present you now have the ability to apply science to your evidence and use logic to determine if your hypothesis (what used to be your faith) is the way the world works- there is no evidence in for god. How do we know this? There is no evidence that is even a small bit convincing. If there there would be any evidence, everyone on the planet would be immediately convinced. Religion , god, astrology, and a truckload of other garbage contaminates our society as too many of the posts here demonstrate. This is not suprising given that our present government is polluted with god and antiscience zealots. Three Republican presidential candidates volunteered during their latest debate that they don’t believe in evolution. I am embarassed for them since they basically stated that they didn’t know anything about biological science (or maybe they were pandering to the faithful which is even more pitiful). You don’t get to choose to belive in evolution – it is fact and has been shown to rule the biological world in tens of thousands of studies, even though religious dogmatists shout that evoluton is not fact. How stupid. Hithchens is right on target with his research and his understanding of belief/faith and reason so until you write a book providing evidence for god or any other nonsense you support here, you would be better served to keep your brain sheltered by keeping you mouth closed (or your typing fingers still). Its fortunate that we have intelligent and brave people like Christopher Hitchens to put into words what millions of us already think.

  • Barstooler

    Ponderous,I see the core belief of Christianity as being slightly different.Human (diety) sacrifice required to pay for sins and appease God.This human sacrifice is still practiced over and over in ritual form.Not much different than the sacrifice of animals in ancient times to appease Gods, or the sacrifice of humans in other primitive religions, but in ritualistic form.Barstooler

  • Charles

    Would someone with mad hacking skills PLEASE find a way to identify “Jacob Jozevz” in the real world and make sure he gets his meds? I’m tired of just laughing at his rambling missives. WoPo either needs to block his spam or someone needs to ensure this guy doesn’t work with children. And no, blocking him isn’t the same thing as censorship. If he would just be coherent, pick up a dictionary and learn grammer, it wouldn’t be as bad.

  • Chucky Jesus

    Mr. Hitchens is one of my heroes, except for the Iraq thing — go figure. But regarding religion and pseudo-science, he’s spot-on, as they say in England. Regarding the person who says that faith and rational thought do mix, I very much disagree. Faith by it’s definition is something you wish to believe without any reason. Still and yet, theists want to have their cake and eat it too; they’ll say that you just have to have faith, then they’ll attempt rational argument (and fail miserably), then when you have them intellectually cornered, they’ll once again say that you just have to have faith. If you believe whatever you want to believe just because you want to believe it, then I believe that the earth was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster; prove me wrong.

  • Redman

    Mr. Hitchens,Sheep are meant to be shorn. Credulity in your words is the grease that allows manipulation of people. It is not just the notion taught that the universe was created for our own edification and salvation, greedily we accept that concept as it is what we want to hear in our vanity and fear. Having uncritically accepted that precept we extinguish what little thought processes that we are capable with our brains with the certainty brought on by faith and superstition that if we perform certain rituals, magical practices, follow orders, and pay money that the universe will be manipulated for our benefit. We may smugly think we have passed out of the middle ages and are not subject to the whims and terrors of the dark side of our natures. That is not supported by evidence. Personally I have carefully tried to steer my kids clear of the entanglements of dogma and churches. I have told them that if they want to be believers to remember that if they truly want to meet the anti-Christ, go to church, because there will be wolves sprinkled in with the sheep. As populations become less rigorously educated and governments around the world become absorbed by faith based political groups like the Christian Coalition or Hamas their zealotry very well may bludgeon and drag us into a new dark age. Frankly, I am not sure Darwin got it right when he outlined the mechanism for evolution. Based on anecdotal evidence of my eyes and as yet unchecked by the scientific method or a paper written for peer review we may be moving backward. I think a case can be made for devolution instead of evolution. In other words when we look at monkeys we are looking at the future.

  • Anonymous

    Att: A T H E N A, et al;Please, Go Eat some “MACADONIAN” Nuts and watch-Out for the SPARTANS! Ya?

  • BD

    Mary –

  • Tez

    It doesn’t matter. At the lowest levels of fizziks there is no time. It’s just a concept, like zero, that helps us balance the books.

  • Secular Dan

    As Hannah Arendt advised, the best way to undermine power is to laugh at it, so let’s laugh at Christians eating God every Sunday. Canabalism is WAY grosser than Spongs.

  • Charles

    *ahem* As a man once asked of another man during a crisis of faith: “Where’s your messiah now?” I agree with Arlene. It’s been supposedly at least 2,000 yrs since the last time “g-d” overtly made his/her/it’s presence know. How about a little peak under the 3-card Monty table? Is g-d that much of a control freak he can’t straighten out the mess his conflicted messages have given to his spiteful children? Here’s an idea for g-d to help set us right again….loud heavenly music everyone can hear in their heads, a bright light even in daytime shining down from the heavens, and a really big head looking down from the sky seeming to focus on just you. He/She/It can shake a giant finger at everyone and tell us to knock it off and grow up. The funny part would be if They said “By the way…Homer was right…it’s ‘Jebus,’ not ‘Jesus.’ And that joke about ‘dog spelled backwards is God?’ Yeah…that isn’t a joke. I really have been watching you doing those things.” Think everyone would blush and straighten up from now on? Nah…I don’t think so either 🙂

  • E Favorite

    Mary Cunningham – was it really Hitchens who “sent out sons and daughters of evangelicals–you know those he considered merely dumb foot soldiers fit only to do his and his fellow neocon’s bidding–to be killed in Iraq for the sake of his nifty pre-emptive war?”Would that go for every journalist who was outspoken in favor of the war? Seems to me only the commander-in-chief and his staff and the people in Congress who voted for the war can take the responsibility you are heaping on a single journalist.No, I think it’s his views on religion that have you so upset. I’ve never seen you so militant on these forums. I bet you’re feeling very threatened.Maybe if “these folks” didn’t have so much faith in God and in Bush, they wouldn’t have joined the military in the first place. There would have been a draft that the godless and the non-Bush supporters would have resisted and maybe the war would never have happened.A lot of people who found solace in voting for Bush are now kicking themselves for not seeing sooner what a fraud he is. Maybe soon they’ll feel the same way about religion.

  • Joe Nash

    The bible doesn’t condone homo relationships…that’s only only reason why Hitchens is so anti-religion. Except for his intense hatred for religion (islam and christianity), Hitchens is every bit as a kool-aid drinking fundamentalist bible thumping Falwell follower as they come. No wonder AIPAC and Israel pays his salary. Had the bible approved of gay sex with many men, Hitchens would be the biggest funddie around.

  • JJ et al

    Att: B D, et al;JINGOIST & FREUDOIST NUT CASES is Robertson & Fallwell {Pbuh] respectfully et al! Chavez is experimenting with Socialism short of Communism in our Anti Monroe Doctrine Protocols of OUR Elders, AND 911 socalled “Magnificant-19” Islamo Maniacs plain Robbers, did what they did via in the Name of Jihad and Allah [Mohammads ABRAHAMIC G-d versions].But ofcourse, Be careful Who your friends are!Trust but verify. If you are not allowed to verify then you are a doomed Slave, regardless if Right or wrong Idealogy(s). this is the Turn-Key of them all.

  • Rich

    The problem with Hitchens’ criticism is that he is capable of aiming it at virtually anyone, with no apparent logical explanation for who is choosen as a target and who is spared. One and all are subjected to the same withering scorn and personal abuse: Henry Kissinger, opponents of our invasion of Iraq, Jerry Falwell and theists, generally. The complete lack of any underlying pattern tends to undermine the pleasure that one can take from those occasions on which the target deserves the attack.

  • Agitprop

    Jozevz, I am a psychiatrist and hope that you might consider speaking with a mental health professional in the near term. Your enthusiasm in your postings is appreciated, but you are showing some clinically obvious symptoms of schizophrenia.Please reach out to your local mental health services dept. There are low-cost and even free programs, and you will find yourself able to speak about your ideas freely with the people you meet there.Take care,

  • Shelly L.

    Dear Mr. Hitchens, I have an easier way for you to accomplish your goal. Why don’t you gather together all of the wishes of humanity, everything that makes us look forward to the future with optimism, our awe of the potential, our fun, our remaining tattered sense of the unlikely but possible; take our dreams, our happiness, our wonder, our sense of dreams and magic, and most of all, take our implausible hope, and roll them all up into a ball, stomp on them, light them on fire, and drive over them with a truck, extinguishing them all forever. Then we will all be the hopeless realists, dull, flat, down to earth, and pessimistic like you, and you can then live in tolerant harmony with us silly dreamers and believers at last.

  • Chris Fox

    I don’t see what the fuss is. I thought everyone understood that the point of religion is to keep the morally vacuous in line. Cops can’t watch everyone so fear that God is watching keeps the average dullard from killing his neighbor for his slightly larger plasma TV. What bothers me is faith among those who really should know better. Comforting falsehoods remain falsehoods and people not dedicated to truth are beneath the pale.

  • Paul

    Whydon’t you come out Hitchens you fat f@#k and admit the only reason you hate christianity is because it doesn’t allow you to practice your homo lifestyle.

  • JJ

    A G I T P R O P. Ah, Your a SCIENTOLOGIST and a paid Psychologist or certified Psychiatrist for them Ron L. Hubburd Utero Time Tracking “DIANETICS” money hungry brainwashing & dangerous jealous psychotic folks?

  • Some Guy

    Regarding Jozevz, I think he is already getting medical care. I don’t see how he could function in the real world. My guess is that he is allowed internet access from his managed care facility.

  • maj. andre

    To the person calling himself Jacob Jozevz — how can you not realize you are crazy — do you read your own posts? Try using the “preview” function.Try comparing just the use of capital letters in your posts with those of every other person. Forget the fact that a number of other posters have digressed from discussing Hitchens’ column and instead are discussing your mental health. Forget the fact that one has identified himself as a mental health professional and urged you to seek medical help. Count the number of your own posts — ten? twelve? and compare it to the next highest number of posts by one person — two? three? What is the emergency, dude?

  • S.HA.M. Scam Sam

    I’m with Hitch:The public is wrong about oprah.The public is wrong about the war.The public is wrong about religion.The public is wrong about astrology.The public is wrong about the secret.The public is wrong about global warming.The public is wrong about post-feminism.The public is wrong about new age beliefs.I could just go on,…

  • Tyler

    Well Chris this doesn’t absolve you of your crimes related to Dr. Dean, but it’s a start.

  • katakaha

    Hey, no picking on Jacob. Relax and let yourself enjoy his posts, his exuberant style, and his frequent participation. Where’s the love?

  • Rion Dennis

    Reason and Religion are not mutually exclusive, they are complimentary. I do not suffer any fool who would use their religion over their reason, but there are many more questions in life, where there is no reasonable answers as of yet and that is where religion comes in. That is how the ancients began religion, because there were question that they did not understand and there were some understandings they could not explain, so they used stories and axioms, which were easy to pass along to successive generations.

  • Tangent

    Spong is a retired Episcopalian bishop from New Jersey, who denied the divinity of Christ, the authority of Scripture, and existance of a personal God. Yet, he remains in good standing within the church, even though he rejects essentially all of its basic tenets.

  • Muslim

    Cosmologists believe that the big bang represents not just the appearance of matter and energy in a preexisting void, but the creation of space and time too. The universe was not created in space and time; space and time are part of the cre­ated universe.The biggest misunderstanding about the BIG BANG is that it began as a lump of matter somewhere in the void of space. It was not just matter that was created during the big bang. It was space and time that were created. So in the sense that time has a beginning, space also has a beginning.”In the beginning there was nothing, neither time nor space, neither stars nor planets, neither rocks nor plants, neither animals nor human beings. Every thing came out of the void.So if everything has a beginning, what was before “everything”? What/Who started “everything”? We say God. If the idea of God doesn’t make sense to anybody, then the idea of everything popping out of the blue (as Athiests believe) is even more preposterous.

  • Montag

    Hitch: You doing penance for your trashing of Clinton when he bombed Osama, now that you have faith in the notion of a changed Middle East, or have your beliefs changed?

  • Terra Gazelle

    Muslim,In Greek mythology Gaea= form, meets up with Ouranos=Chaos/void. Gaea+Ouranos=Big Bang= Chronos/ Time..Myth is awfully close to modern understanding isn’t it? The thing is…just saying God did it still does not give any answers. Kinda depends on what is God. terra

  • Kenneth

    Jesus is my health insurance

  • Gulielmus

    I admire Mr. Hitchens’ thinking, writing, and speaking. But I do not base the following feeling on any of his thoughts, but rather, my own. I think there are many who of us couch our atheism with indulgent speech and gestures, to maintain our places in communities of other people who feel threatened by atheists. I think that when religion brought together a non-threatening social structure to a group of people who might otherwise be antagonistic or afraid, it might have been a good thing, but the good thing didn’t last into historical times. Since then, religion has been primarily about power and wealth of the leaders, while many of the the congregation, like those in the Catholic Church, live in squalor, with little or no aid from the church or its congregation.As for god(s)are gods of “the Universe,” does that mean that since there a now known to be 11 universes that there are 11 gods? Or will we being says “god of the multiverse”? No, we can’t do that because that would mean accepting the very science that frequently wounds religions and the crutch of faith.As for Christianity, why is it so difficult to see that this is merely a 2,000-year-old Middle-Eastern death cult that has been given a shiny new Western face?Man has created god(s), and the concepts of religion. The countless genius artists and artisans who have built churches, carved statues, and painted pictures have created our inward image of god all his paraphernalia. They have all either been moved to use their genius this way as a way to make a living, or as a way to express, in their vaulted ceilings, sinuous lines, and beautiful colors, the feeling that there is not only more outside of us that we don’t understand, but there is more inside the individual being that we are willing to admit.

  • Lamb Cannon

    Just because Hitchens is an execrable and dreary pseudo-intellectual patsy of the neocons doesn’t mean he can’t be right once in awhile. I recommend “The Missionary Position” for all who doubt that.Nevertheless, I think he needs another drink and cigar. Now.

  • Lucy

    This is one of my favourite posts on the thread, its sooo Al Qaeda/Taleban:“Joe Nash: – Hitchen’s is just your average scumbag loser being propped up by AIPAC and Zionists to spread misleading propaganda. This guy just parrots the AIPAC line, his real knowledge about anything is zelch….and that extends to religion. BTW, I never heard him say anything bad about Judaism or Israel, so that tells you volumes about where his paycheck comes from. If Hitchen’s was a black dude, nobody would be listening to him now. Posted May 23, 2007 2:56 PM “Well Joe Nash it seems that somebody has messed up your capacity for abstract thought. You and the billions of other males that seem somewhat violently predisposed to defend primitive Bronze Age beliefs scare me. Maybe a dose of secular humanism could help you oh and do catch up by reading the items on the book list below.It seems that most of the people commenting here are expressing signs of desperation as they defend superstition. It really is tragic and frankly a frustrating aspect of existence in America that Americans who have every opportunity for intellectual freedom seem to be lazy, unwilling or perhaps too fearful to take the leap towards enlightenment preferring to embrace the claptrap that emanates from the superstition peddlers, circus huckster clerics. Who in their right mind believes that Noah’s Ark is a true story or that Creationism offers insights into anything? Way too many Americans do for sure. BTW The 10 Commandments are basically wicked and misogynist. What’s the deal with a jealous boyfriend god that threatens damnation and hellfire if you dare check out another god? Isn’t that the modus of ex-lovers who stalk, assault and murder?Yes of course there is no difference between Astrology, I Ching, crystal ball gazing, Judaism, Christianity or Islam etc. Religion is by definition the practice of myth, magic and superstition. Why we don’t as people seeking the common good take action and indict clerics for marketing something that isn’t proven is beyond me. Superstition peddlers and the whacky beliefs they continue to infect the gullible with deserve ridicule and criticizing for deluding the emotionally immature. When the pope/king dresses up like a Las Vegas show girl and parades on stage chanting magic words while waving a wand a la Harry Potter everyone really should break out in laughter yet thanks to the emotional bullying from childhood religious conditioning most can only genuflect as feudal serfs before a monarch. How crazy is that?What part of reality aren’t you people eager to embrace? Why are you so willing to regurgitate the wretched rants of primitive, cave people as if any of their vile ways should be used as guidance today?“Both Dawkins and Hitchens detail the Bible’s disturbing violence, with the former submitting that the Old Testament God is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak, a vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” That’s from Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ chapter one.My guess is that most here whining about Hitchens attempt to enlighten them haven’t read the 3 essential books on the matter and should tout suite:1. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michael Onfray (this one I could not put down it is so engrossing)2. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins 3. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThose that accuses Hitchens of not knowing history, literature or the foundational myths reveal a lot about their own ignorance and state of denial.Growing up emotionally, being skeptical and thinking abstractly can only lead one to the truth and that is there are no gods or to date none are proven to exist, that clerics are frauds, and that Creationism/ ID are just plain stupid and inane etc. Oh and the fear of death is a waste of life.The ‘Hitchens on Falwell’ piece on Anderson Cooper is hysterically funny and oh so true as a comment about religions operating like the mob. Maybe you all should watch Monty Python ‘Life of Brian’ again too.Peace etc. oh and Tarot anyone? Visa/Mastercard or Paypal payments accepted.

  • Barton Keys

    One of the primary contentions of Mr. Hitchens appears to be that religion has been bad for mankind. It has led to suppression, wars, butchery, intollerance–all in the name of God.

  • Roger

    The problem with Hitchins “point of view” (and everything is a point of view) is that he does not have an understanding of Spirituality (not talking about organized religion). If he did he would have Awakened to some degree to going beyond personality, bodily tendencies and onto the Constant Presence in the Heart. Many Mystics attain this Presence and depending on the faith it is Christ etc. Then deeper and further than that is trancending of mind (Hitchins like most westeners is only and all lower mind). Some called Sages attain to Self Consciousness and ultimately are Identified with Source (God etc.) and see no difference in anything including themselves. I have read a lot of Adi Da Samraj and am echoing some of his Realizations here. Without actual Spiritual Practice Hitchins has not done his research, so he is not in a position to comment on Spiritual Practice for Real. As for religions, yes, it is easy to see all the main religions are corrupt and competing with each other.

  • Anonymous

    Christopher Hitchens,you’ve gotta be one of the ugliest people i have ever seen. can i post your pic on uglypeople.com? i mean check out that mug! and what’s up with the “im tired of christians, i hate everyone look”? how bout a little smile? oh yeah it’s hard to smile knowing your going to hell huh? ha ha ha!

  • lifeasariver

    Faith…it is just an aspect of a mental deficiency, lack of education, or sheer stupidity. How come no renown scientist believes in god? Simply because their high IQ provides them with a better understanding about the world around them and how such a world, logically understood, has no place for a god. How come without indoctrination, usually brutal, sometimes physically brutal, nobody becomes a believer in god? Maybe because there has never been, never is, and never will be any empirical evidence of a god. More so, at any logical examination of the concept of god, such a concept proves to be self-contradicting, thus utterly false.But fools and retards have their rights to exist and even voice their ridiculous understandings about world, universe and human condition – that’s harmless. The danger arise, and it is a deadly danger, when these fools find themselves in positions to lead others, such as presidents. Then the hell – the real, tangible and observable one – is open for all of us. Just observe the moron in chief, currently at the white house, fighting with other retards just as deadly as he is but speaking other languages, both sides believing their are doing their god’s work.It blows the mind when we consider what a bunch of primitives said more than 2,000 years ago as being “divinely inspired” but we close our eyes and recite “it’s god’s will” when a thief trashes the Constitution in the name of his god.

  • Unrepentant Liberal

    If you look around the world people are killing each other by the thousands because of religion. There is nothing more dangerous than a man who “Has God on his side.” If God is great why is there so much killing and blood-shead associated with belief? Hitch may be right on this one.

  • Fruitpie the Magician

    Lucy:Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. That was beautifully written and I agree with it completely. I fear that for the faithful, you are simply casting pearls before swine. The sheeple will always love their magic acts. There is very little that reason can do to change that fact. Religious indoctrination is brain-washing and child abuse. Being a Christian does not make one a good, kind and honest person any more than being an atheist makes one bad, mean and dishonest. We are all responsible for our behavior and how we treat one another; I do not look at some astrology chart or holy text to decide how kindly I am going to interact with my fellow humans. And, I charge the faithful who disbelieve in scientific inquiry to toss aside their flat-screen televisions, cellphones, nylon stockings and antibiotics. Only then, when you are all reduced to primatives can you truly be free of hypocrisy.

  • Dogwood Pundit

    What is the difference, really, between the proselytizing Baptist and the proselytizing atheist? They are both boorish if you ask me. I would not pretend to teach the uber literate Mr. Hitchens anything, but I am sure he has read the following quote: “Even if there is no God, I am still my brothers keeper, and I have no right to hurt him by telling him there is no God”What Mr. Hitchens seems to lack most is a sense of empathy for the simple and the struggling souls, for whom religion brings solace and strength. To deny them either is simple cruelty, and an unnecessary cruelty at that.

  • Al

    The world and virtually all of its inhabitants are at what a few sages of every generation have termed the embryonic stage of humanity’s development.And a corollary is that for most of us on this planet, it is the blind leading the blind.I would suggest not following Hitchens or any other so called authority (religious or secular).Decide for yourself, follow your own sense of what you should believe & do, based on your own conscience and instincts.As for Astrology, I would suggest it is, or can be, a real and valid science, but not as practiced by most today. For those who are intuitive and open to symbolic guidance from a conscious universe, astrology is basically a way of understanding your karmic balance sheet, as well as the timing of developmental themes that will appear on a lawful schedule over the course of your life.It does not invalidate free will, but often reflects that free will is not as “free” as we think, being “constrained” to a large degree by the fact that “as we sow, so we reap”, and also by habits and propensities ingrained over many lifetimes.But the truths and the workings of the subtle mechanisms of natural law that this science symbolizes are only rarely perceived or understood.For those receptive, it can be a sublime tool to aid one’s growth and evolution.For most, it is a fool’s errand to even begin to discuss it. So be it. Each has to figure the great drama out for himself or herself. In my experience, it is good to be open minded, though.

  • geronimo

    Oh, please! What is wrong with thinking one is the center of the universe, first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee? Don’t forget the print horoscope (which is different from the Wash Post internet horoscope, an inferior species) is on the funny papers page, thereby bestowing upon it a lighthearted gravity. The moon and starry cosmos is a lovely thing to watch for us mere mortals and yes, there must be something to moon watching and gravitational pull, wise gardeners do plant their gardens according to such. During a full moon, it is humbling to see the “man in the moon”, the same face presented to the rest of the world. So do relax about faith and horoscopes and cosmic forces. Go outside and look at the starry sky, if you can see it in DC. To each, their own!

  • Apostrophe

    Mr. Hitchens – I pray that God holds you in higher regard than you hold Him.

  • mike copperthite

    Hitchens one of my favorite drunks and like most Brits of his skill and profession he cannot get over the fact that if he was at home he would or could only write for the Sun. The only reason he is given credence here is because we all have a.d.d. thanks to TV and the self elevation of the folks who report the news to god like status. Shame on us for paying to drink his dribble. If he ever sobered up he may realize he is a. irrelevant and b. mediocre!

  • Caesar Warrington

    As a Roman Catholic I am embarrassed by some of the posts/comments from my fellow Christians on this board.

  • GARY

    I LIKE HITCHENS. I AM ALSO A FOLLOWER OF JESUS.WHAT I CAN’T BELIEVE IS SOMEONE AS SMART AS HIM CANNOT SEE GODS HAND IN THE WORLD. I DID NOT GATHER FROM READING THIS THAT HE DOESN’T BELIEVE IN GOD. IF HE SAYS THERE IS NO GOD ,I SAY, HOW DO YOU KNOW? STILL HAS SHARP THINKING HE DOES. WORLDLY THINKING.

  • BD

    Muslim -Your argument for a creator is one of the reasons humans invented religion. We are incapable of imagining infinity, whether it is the infinite vastness of space and time or the infinite smallness of nothingness (if size can even be attributed to nothing). The word infinite is often used in theology to describe the attrbutes of a god. So to your question:… if everything has a beginning, what was before “everything”? What/Who started “everything”? We say God. If the idea of God doesn’t make sense to anybody, then the idea of everything popping out of the blue (as Athiests believe) is even more preposterousMaybe it is something we are incapable of understanding. Maybe faith is a coping mechanism for dealing with the fact that we cannot imagine what came before “everything”, or the fact that death may just be the end; because we cannot imagine the utter absence of our own consiousness. So we invent something that we can imagine and call it God. The reality is that every explanation sounds preposterous because we do not yet, and may never be able to, know the truth.

  • Mark S.

    One of Christopher Hitchens’ good points is that he does raise stimulating dialogues (at times). Unfortunately, his voice is rarely part of those dialogues, as the positions he takes are so polarizing as to merely act as a base to which other people can react. Without a self-imposed moderating of rhetoric, Mr Hitchens will continue to be seen as partisan – a friend to those of shared thoughts, and a foe to those of different thoughts.

  • patrick monaghan

    religion does not equal astrology, for whereas lots of wars have been born from the former, the latter has borne none (or at least fewer).

  • what

    Kill yourselves

  • Maurie Beck

    Mr. Christopher Hitchens,You are being churlish. If someone wants to believe in astrology or the flying spaghetti monster, how does that hurt anyone? Of course, it is true that Nancy Reagan made decisions on White House decorations and inserted her two cents into foreign policy based on her personal astrologer. Still, have a pint and don’t worry, be happy. To all those who keep slamming Hitchens on Iraq to discredit his views on religion, get a life. What is it that makes it impossible to have differing views, where one is neither right or left? Is there some orthodox position that must be accepted as a whole, without dissent? I’m sure there are other threads devoted to Hitchen’s views on Iraq. There is one other gripe I have with Hitchen’s views on religion. He was being interviewed as part of his book tour and he was asked where religion came from. It sounds like he hasn’t read Dawkins or other evolutionary biologists, which I find surprising. Regardless, below are some of the hypotheses evolutionary biologists have proposed for the origin and evolution of religion. I believe Benjamin raised a simple version of the possible evolutionary basis for religion.On the origin of religion, I don’t think religion would evolve as a mechanism to cope with death, per se. It may help individuals cope with death (as a byproduct), but I can’t think of any reason that natural selection would favor such a coping mechanism or how it might originate. Some people assume that individuals with religious beliefs may face death and hazards with more equanimity than nonbelievers, but whether that would translate into higher fitness (i.e. more offspring) is questionable. There are six different hypotheses about why there is religion and how it evolved. Some of them are adaptive and some are not. I’m only going to address one of the byproduct hypotheses (there are many) on the origin of religion. Humans are social animals and interactions among humans in a social environment probably has a very large selective effect on individual fitness. In fact, just belonging to a group, especially in the past, would most likely be a matter of life and death. Having strong social bonds between individuals, whether they are related or not, would enhance fitness, especially in response to predators, other antagonistic humans, competition for food, or any number of other things affecting survival and the production of offspring. We all know the effect of social bonds among the individuals in our own lives whom we love and cherish (maybe not so much). Such strong feelings (i.e. social bonds) often carry on after the death of someone we love. This may result in remembrance of those who have died (e.g. on their birthday) and a wish to see them again. Eventually, this might lead to ancestor worship and a belief in life after death. Religions and spirituality are the outgrowth (i.e. byproduct) of selection favoring social bonds among individuals (See Barbara King, Evolving god: A provocative view on the origins of religion). There is evidence in other animals (dogs, elephants, chimps) of strong social bonds and grief even after the death of a group member. Once religion has evolved, selection then may favor it because of one or more of the reasons listed above. However, it is unlikely that it originated because of those reasons above. As for the possible selective advantage of religion, I think there is a lot of support for the group stability hypothesis, including … Some researchers such as David Sloan Wilson suggest that competition between groups (Hypothesis 1) might account for a selective advantage in having strong religious beliefs. This is undoubtedly true. Group fitness would probably be enhanced with a strong religious ideology. However, this is an emergent property after groups have formed. There has to be an underlying fitness advantage for individuals in terms of altruistic behavior, or mutant cheaters who only behave selfishly would arise and dominate the group. See the mechanisms I listed just above this paragraph that prevent cheating or enhance cooperation.

  • Alcibiades

    Hitchens,Why does these trivial details bother you so much? Get a life !

  • Paul H.

    It is difficult for anyone to prove that God does not exist. Proving a negative is probably impossible in many situations. The more reasonable request is that anyone professing a certain religious belief should have to prove its validity. It is not properly the burden of those who profess a lack of belief to prove that their points are credible.Creationism and evolution present similar issues. Creationists often beam with pride when they think they have found some point not adequately explained by natural selection. They seem never to be held to that same rigorous standard because creationism never offers proof of anything. It simply sits back smugly looking for possible holes in the theory of evolution.Evolution may not have all the answers, but creationism provides none. Religion suffers from many of the same failings. It is perhaps fair to say that the only reasonable approach is a very strict form of agnosticism. Leave room for religious belief – but only with evidence in support of that position. “Trust, but verify.”

  • Karen

    Lifeasariver, you said: “How come no renown scientist believes in god? Simply because their high IQ provides them with a better understanding about the world around them and how such a world, logically understood, has no place for a god”.Actually many renowned scientistis believe in God. One quickly comes to mind: Francis Collins, MD, PhD. head of the Human Genome project and likely one of the smartest people around. He was an agnostic, then an atheist, then became a christian. Somehow his high IQ did not stop him from finding a place for God.You also say that nobody believes in God without indocrination or coercion, sometimes physical. Thay maybe so in Saudi Arabia but certainly not in the western world. Just considering the church that I go to, most people that I have spoken with did not even come to faith in Christ through their families but rather because they, on their own were seeking.I have no problem engaging in rational discourse about faith, God, religion etc. But the old canard that only stupid people believe in God needs to be put to rest once and for all. It is just too easy.

  • Marysville

    I’ve watched several clips on YouTube of Chris Hichens and Bill Maher, two very outspoken atheists. What I find interesting is how they say the world would be much better without religion, but they themselves are rude, beligerent, and often insulting. Their behavior is a manifestation of a worldwide that lacks an understanding of the brotherhood and eternal destiny of all mankind. When one understands we are all literally children of a creator, our desire to treat each other better greatly increases.

  • Rich

    This is one of the more useful threads that I have ever read. From now on, when I encounter people with invalid drivers’ licenses, I will understand that they are fans of Celine Dion.

  • Rich

    This is one of the more useful threads that I have ever read. From now on, when I encounter people with invalid drivers’ licenses, I will understand that they are fans of Celine Dion.

  • Rev Craig

    There is someting appalling about critiquing straw men and then patting youself on the back for winning THAT argument. That is what Dawson, Hitchens, et. al. are doing. There is no depth to their squawking – only a rarified whine – like an engine belt ready to rend itself asunder.So Jerry Falwell’s dead and you couldn’t wait until he was cold to find another uneducated dolt to ply his own wares. You editors are either stupid or you can’t resist any idiot talking about religion. (I refer you to Falwell’s unending audience with the press). He was so far right of the religious mainstream he was the statistical outlier – as opposed to Pat Robertson who is an outright liar. Now that Jerry’s dead you’ve quickly found another unschooled demigog to take his place. I am a Christian and I am a biblical conservative which by definition makes me a social liberal. Hitchens is a nonbiblical conservative which makes him dangerous since thinking people like myself are actually responding to his BS. I try not to believe that the press is anti-religion but hey, even paranoids have real enemies. I’ve read so much nonsense on these pages, I I’ve begun to truly believe that the only thing journalists know is journalism and are unable to comprehend any other field of inquiry. Christian or not, religion is not an idea men have stuffed into their heads like food goes into the mouth and is then disposed of in the sewer. Religion is the human response to the revelation of God. Our interpretation of that revelation is all that is open to question (not to be answered finally until death).AND as far as the notion that Christians say or think ANYTHING as a whole – it is an ignorant assumption by the uneducated or the hateful, or those hurt by some fool of a religious leader, or leaders. I could just as easily say that all neo-cons are dumber than rocks and be nearer the truth. If you worship the Enlightenment and swear by all that is rational, you are just as unknowing as the most superstitious believer in astrology. Those who thought the earth went around the sun had good proof until we developed instruments that proved them wrong. While rationality is correct as far as it goes, it only goes so far. It then drops off the side of the earth waiting for a new philosophical instrument to haul it back or clip it off. If you only believe what you see then you are the sorriest of people for your life is flat and without hope. I subscribe to, read, and understand both Science News and Scientific American. I have used both to positive effect in sermons. Religion and science are not antitheses. They are complementary disciplines which require different instruments – tools toward enlightenment. Any pastor who does not understand science might as well pull out the horoscope and the ouija board.Did not the Big Bang let there be light? When cosmologists can tell me what happened before the Big Bang I will listen and my rational mind will decide if the results of their inquiry need to be taken on faith.Oh, and no one believes that the world was invented by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  • Martin America

    I believe that the need for religion has evolved in our brains the same way sight or hearing has. Perhaps it is a left over part of from early evolution. Perhaps it is the bud of something yet to evolve. Regardless, it is one of the most illogical of all human behavior.

  • E Favorite

    Daniel, thank you for the long and thoughtful response. I can see your beliefs are very personal – a mix of what you’ve been taught and what you’ve deduced on your own, after much examination and soul searching. My beliefs now are much simpler. When I was an active believer, I didn’t try as hard as you did to understand my beliefs. When things didn’t add up, I would just stop thinking about them. When I finally started doing serious research on religion, everything started falling into place. I could see that it was all man-made.

  • E Favorite

    DOGWOOD PUNDIT – you say, “What Mr. Hitchens seems to lack most is a sense of empathy for the simple and the struggling souls, for whom religion brings solace and strength. To deny them either is simple cruelty, and an unnecessary cruelty at that.”For the simple and struggling souls who aren’t smart enough to handle the truth? To treat them like children who can’t survive finding out there’s no Santa Claus? To keep them as children, to avoid the “unnecessary cruelty” of mature thought?How incredibly patronizing.AARON ZISSER, when you say, “When looked at as a narrative threaded by powerful and relatable metaphors and personalities, religion is inherently GOOD” it seems like a cop out to me. A lot of people still think those metaphors and personalities are factual and I haven’t seen clergy making any effort to make it clear that they are not. When I see clergy actively getting the word out that Exodus did not happen, I will be able to appreciate your metaphors and personalities more, though I still may not be convinced that religion is good.

  • A Woken

    The world was not invented by the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

  • Freevoice

    Here is another know it all putting God and religion in one basket….ignorance is really bliss. If people like this writer are the enlightened among us I sure am from another planet……and I Praise God!Spirito Santos

  • Vic

    ChristopherYou have a succint and rational prose which I have admired over the years.Religion provides a life guide to meet the needs of most people in a culture. Much behavoir is not governed by rational thought. A case in point is human sexuality. Failure to provide some guide to members of a culture regarding sexuality can lead to unstable, and impossible societies. So where can we find a guide for these irrational life issues outside religion? Those who attempt such things, e.g. scientologists, have yet to build a human guide amendable to most of us.Perhaps you might share your thoughts on this matter in an article or tract?

  • Maurie Beck

    Karen – Actually many renowned scientistis believe in God. One quickly comes to mind: Francis Collins, MD, PhD. head of the Human Genome project and likely one of the smartest people around. Both you and Lifeasariver, who said: “How come no renown scientist believes in god?” are trying to argue opposite sides of a canard. It is like arguing that before Copernicus, because most people believed the earth was flat and was the center of the universe, that it was so. Even if most people believe today in a heliocentric solar system, that by itself does not make it correspond to reality. True descriptions of reality are more reflectively understood as statements that would be true independently of what people think about them. The same can be said about the existence of god. The god of the bible and the Koran either exists or doesn’t, independent of what people think about about him. On a related note, I think you overestimate Mr. Collins intelligence. First of all, he is a very good geneticist, but he is a horrible evolutionary biologist, even though he states he “believes” in evolution. A belief in evolution is besides the point. Is modern evolutionary theory a true description of some portion of reality involving life on earth? Yes, and there is as much evidence for evolution as there is that we live in a solar system on the fourth planet circling a star on one arm of the Milky Way Galaxy in an accelerating, expanding universe that began as a Big Bang ~14 bya.

  • Shrieking Violet

    Why, if it isn’t our ol’ pal Mr. Hitchens! Cheerio, old chap. Bottoms up.I do suggest, however, that when you’re done with your spleen-venting and your efforts to lump the entirety of mankind’s religious faithful from Homer to Aquinas to Osama Bin Laden into one big, undifferentiated mass of credulity, that you take a deep breath, set down the manuscript for your new opus “Why I’m Still Right About Iraq, You Bastards,” and ponder the following question:Exactly where would the world be today without religion?Imagine, if you will, Europe in the Fifth Century AD with its pagan Gothic tribes sacking Rome and Scotsmen running around in kilts shagging their sisters. How, exactly, does one get from there to the Enlightenment without the contributions of the Christian Church, and (yes) even Islam?There is certainly a dark side to religion (no darker than Marxist atheism, but plenty dark.) The truth claims of every major religion are highly suspect (no more suspect than the deluded Iraq conspiracies you cling to, but plenty suspect.) Yet there is a wealth of glorious art, music, and literature that has been brought into human life by religious faith. And faith played a huge role in the slow transformation of The West from Roman brutality to modern humanism.Let’s try to keep that in mind, shall we?

  • Viejita del oeste

    Hitchens, good job demolishing your straw man.

  • Maurie Beck

    Vic – Religion provides a life guide to meet the needs of most people in a culture. Much behavoir is not governed by rational thought… A case in point is human sexuality. Failure to provide some guide to members of a culture regarding sexuality can lead to unstable, and impossible societies.You seem to assume religion provides us with a sense of morality, as a “life guide”. Why would religious belief provide us with any more of a moral sense than anything else. Sex does seem to be one area where rationality goes out the window. Religion has certainly placed strictures on gender roles and sexuality, and might even have stabilized some cultures. However, especially the Abrahamic religions of the Middle East seem to be obsessed with sex and have not provided much understanding of human sexuality. If you want to understand human sexuality, you might want to approach it from an evolutionary perspective. Many human cultures provide a classic example of mate guarding. Males perceive females as a limited resource and try to prevent other males from gaining access to their females. Of course, males also seek to inseminate as many females as possible, which provides a bit of a quandary. If a male seeks copulations from other females, no one is guarding the hen house, so to speak, thereby providing other males with mating opportunities with his female(s). This is especially problematic, in that human females have concealed ovulation (i.e. fertility), requiring males to stay relatively close to home to guard their females. Of course, this is a decidedly male perspective and human females also employ mate guarding strategies. In fact, concealed ovulation is one way to ensure her male also stays close to home, provides resources for her and their offspring, and doesn’t run off seeking outside mating opportunities with wayward females who aren’t getting the attention they deserve from their mates. Concerning our own culture where everyone have the freedom to do as they please, would you like to curtail those freedoms? Just in case you might want government to involve itself in the morality of peoples’ personal lives (I’m not accusing you of this, though your post suggests it), you might consider the implications and unintended consequences. Eventually it could lead to locking women in the shed and only letting them out with your supervision. I’m sure you would agree that women might baulk at such behavior. If they did it to you, you might not like it either.

  • halozcel

    Mary Cunningham,Temple of God,10000 BC,in Turkey.God of hunter,gatherers people.God of Jacob,The Law,two plus two makes four.Zeus,God of ancient greeks,1000 BC.Father of gods.His son Apollo and his daughter Helen(Ellen,Goddess,The most beautiful woman in the world)Dear Mary Cunningham,

  • Maurie Beck

    Shrieking Violet – Exactly where would the world be today without religion? Imagine, if you will, Europe in the Fifth Century AD with its pagan Gothic tribes sacking Rome and Scotsmen running around in kilts shagging their sisters. How, exactly, does one get from there to the Enlightenment without the contributions of the Christian Church, and (yes) even Islam? … There is certainly a dark side to religion…Yes indeed, there certainly was a dark side. I can think of all sorts of ways to get to the enlightenment without all the torture, including the garrucha, which consisted of suspending the heretic from the ceiling by a pulley with weights tied to the ankles, with a series of lifts and drops, during which arms and legs suffered violent pulls and were sometimes dislocated; The toca (waterboarding); the potro (i.e. the rack); and lets not forget burning at the stake. What’s wrong with Scotsmen running around in kilts shagging their sisters? Sounds like fun, though I have to admit I want no part of my sister, though I might like yours.Do you really think there wouldn’t have been great art if not for Christianity. What a price to pay; the inquisition or art? It sounds like a false choice to me. How about just great art? What about all the art and music and theater and novels after the enlightenment?Finally, it is true the Romans were incredibly brutal, but were they any more brutal than medieval Europe. Perhaps you just find the feeding of the Christians to the lions more brutal than the killing of the jews for the blood libel, or any other group outside the church.

  • Anonymous

    Faith is an entirely Christian (NOT Catholic)word and means NOTHING outside Christianity (NOT Catholic). Faith and believe and righteousness are all the same idea in Christianity and anything else that claims faith is a lie. Believe if you want to your own peril but true faith REQUIRES it be based on Righteousness and Righteousness REQUIRES it be based on Believe and Believe REQUIRES it be based on Faith. Anything less is damnable, detestable and abominable heresy.

  • davidreneemgkg

    Hitchens is an evil sinner. May God have mercy on his soul.

  • Richard

    for Daniel:I, too, was raised a Methodist in a small, midwestern, heavily Caucasian town. I used to joke that it was like being raised with no religion at all! :-)Mr. Hitchens is a controversial figure, purposely so, and he is exceedingly difficult to like, as he is deliberately contrarian. That said, I have to admire him for the guts to speak his mind and to speak it so eloquently and forcefully. I don’t say convincingly, because, when it comes to matters of faith or unfaith, I believe that is very difficult to use logic to prove a point.I will say this: despite all the slop we hear from Bill O’Reilly about the “secular-progressives” taking over this country, it is atheists and the agnostics who are the real “religiously oppressed,” for to publicly express religious doubt or a lack of faith is to invite scorn and ridicule. Too often we must “pass” as Christians or at least give lip-service to having faith, lest we be held in contempt or, God help us (pun intended, BTW), pity.Richard

  • Michael

    I’d sooner go to the vet for a root canal than to Christopher Hitchens for philosophy.

  • Louis Massano

    As with his fellow chronically infuriated atheistic bigots, Richard Dawkins and Jonathan Miller and A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens always makes me wonder whenever he bloviates about religion, “What is this man REALLY angry about?”Religion – in the sense of organized religion – is a much more complex phenomenon than these seriously intellectually compromised media celebrities could ever conceive. And the religious experience is even more complex. These facts it would not have been necessary to point out in public twenty years ago, before the West plunged into yet another of its modern “Revolutions of Nihilism.” Today, they must be reiterated all too often: a clear sign of a serious decline in the intellectual life of the west.Attacks on religion as a kind of group fairy tale for adults – or, in this case, as mere superstition – gained credence from the publication of “The System of Nature,” by Baron de Holbach in the 18th century. Holbach was a brave man – publishing views like his in those days did not get you an invitation to write an op ed at a major newspaper for a ridiculous high fee: such views could get you horribly killed. But Holbach’s “System of Nature” is not any longer taken seriously by philosophers – even atheistic ones.Shakespeare had it right: In a late play, “King Lear,” he has Edmund, the nihilistic bastard son of Gloucester, sneer at astrology:”My father compounded with my mother under theNo doubt Edmund speaks Shakespeare’s assessment of astrology in those lines.But Shakespeare – or, if you like, whoever wrote “Shakespeare,” – had his Hamlet say:”There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”The soul-dead “wisdom” of the first quotation modern, emotionally poisoned atheists like Christopher Hitchens, et al., can grasp. But the tentative, wondering wisdom of the second they will, pathetically, likely never comprehend.

  • The limits of science

    With regard to Mr. Hitchens’ reference to “nonsense and pseudo-science,” we must always on the other hand remain aware of the limits of the scientific endeavor, as a merely human enterprise, and the dangers of unquestioning faith in its current paradigms. (Let me say first that I am not a Christian, a creationist, or a member of any of the world’s religions.) Scientists, and those like Mr. Hitchens, insist that we must “believe” only what science tells us. Despite the fact that, a thousand years from now, scientists will laugh at the state of today’s scientific knowledge and refute much of what it currently accepts, anyone who today refuses to swallow whole its current precepts will be ridiculed. We must accept and believe in the current scientific paradigm without question–until of course the paradigm changes, as it did with the new ideas introduced by Einstein. Five years ago, scientists advised us not to drink coffee; it contained caffein, which was harmful. Now scientists are finding all sorts of substances in coffee and tea–including caffeine–that they now say are beneficial. Despite the obvious limitations of our knowledge of human biochemistry, we can never, for instance, question the idea of evolutionists that our physical makeup, and all of our psychological biases and behaviors, have come into being because they have “survival value.” Yet when human beings are oppressed, deprived of self-determination and self-fulfilment, they often commit suicide, a behavior that, despite its existence in every human society we’ve ever known, seems to have very little “survival value.” If “survival value” is the key to everything we do, as evolutionary scientists claim, then where do behaviors such as suicide come from, and why is the drive for meaning, happiness, and self-determination often stronger than the drive for survival itself? Scientists, and Mr. Hitchens, thus insist on an uncritical, even “religious” adherence to current scientific precepts without regard for whether they are capable of providing a coherent explanation of our universe or our existence. Science is only one method, allowing us to arrive at only one kind of knowledge, in regard to only certain limited aspects of the universe that are amenable to observation and quantification. Let’s not set up science as our new religion (spoken too late, I’m afraid). Science well describes what we see through the microscope or the telescope, but not how we, or the microscope or telescope, are miraculously sustained in our existence.

  • Richard Conn Henry

    Two points about science that you might take into account: First, we have known since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925 that the material world is an illusion, and that mind is all that exists. Your choice is then solipsism or religion. Second, the structure of the universe is meticulously arranged to allow for the possibility of our existence. (Many scientists posit quintillions of other bubbles of the universe so as to allow this to be possible by random chance, but there is no evidence for those other regions). Google my name (Richard Conn Henry) to find my web page, if you are interested!

  • Tom

    For me, God is a metaphor and personification of our own inner guidance principle which usually acts to keep us balanced on the psychological level much as we are balanced on the physiological level; it is the result of an emergent evolution of symbolic thought in the human species. Because it is part of a very imperfect faculty it is very prone to Whitehead’s fallacy of misplaced concreteness. Just as our physiological balance involves us personally in a hormonal dialogue, so too does our psychological balance in a symbolic and/or verbal dialogue… in effect we are talking to ourselves (as we are often aware in a less profound way. As with music, dance, polemics and other cultural activities, our inner capacities can be entrained to correspond to the behaviour and beliefs of a group, solidifying joint action. Such convictions can lead us forward, but also astray. In earlier, more fragmented times unquestioned conviction had evident survival value as it still does in war. However, as Machiavelli made clear, the capacity to believe can be seduced by those seeking power for their own ends, and often is (for example, by waving the flag, the cross, or the star of David or through being hypnotized by the words of a preacher or mullah. With the power that we have in our military weaponry today, dispersed across both armies and insurgencies, when coupled with our general human tendency toward parochial selfishness, the negatives of unskeptical belief vastly exceed the positives in almost every circumstance. The lemming is a good metaphor for faith based action.Here I stand … I cannot do otherwise.Tom

  • big fool

    great thread here.keep up the discussion.look, i’ve seen miracles among the most desperate alcoholics and drug addicts who seek a higher power to heal them. i’ve seen the amish forgive a terrible tragedy with christ like empathy. i’ve seen a vicar of christ give millions hope for a better life by the simple force of words “be not afraid” and seen that joe stalins dictum of how many divisions has the pope got answered with legions as his walls in eastern europe came crashing down. i’ve seen the corrupted side also,jihad,gay bashing,blame the victim for being a sinner,et al,ad nauseum. the problem with man’s religion is entropy. it has dissolved into a million different views that all claim perfect enlightenment. how can you argue with a man who says god is perfect and therefore anything i say he has told me is infalable. you can’t and it is only going to get worse as more and more humans arrive on this planet. the future is bleak for existence under this pressure.

  • Non Muslim

    I am an agnostic and an x-Muslim. As part of my job I have to make calls at Catholic parishes that generally include a church, a rectory and schools and as well as gymnasiums etc for the Catholic parishioners. I am always struck by the warmth of the people working at these institutions, many working as volunteers and the kindness of the priests, ministers etc. When in a conversation I admitted to being an agnostic the response of the priests was good humored, no condemnation. The parishes do genuine charity work and give the community a sense of belonging. The churches themselves are magnificent and one feels a great peace when inside. Catholicism did indeed have a bloody past, the kind of present that Islam is currently displaying. But religion is what the people make of it. Catholics are trying to constantly improve their faith, not the theology part but the the humanitarian part. Alas if I could only buy into the Catholic /Christian mythology and superstitions, I would get baptized or take communion, whatever the ceremony that makes one a Catholic.Even better if the Islamic institutions could develop into the same loving, gentle, faith that Catholicism has refashioned itself into. I would then buy into the Islamic mythology/superstition as enshrined in the Quran and the hadiths and not have to call myself an x-Muslim.

  • Non-Muslim

    “This gentleman’s constant efforts to challenge beliefs he cannot accept reflect his own insecurity” says Jim West.Galileo must have been a very insecure man for not accepting the Catholic belief that the sun went around the earth.Another very insecure man: Einstein.

  • Girish Mishra

    Well done, Mr. Hitchens.Astrology is a superstition, preventing people from having self-confidence. Suppose, for a moment, that a man’s entire life from birth to death is planned and fixed in every detail, then where is the question of personal responsibility for any criminal acts, done by him? A murderer kills somebody because he is compelled by his fate. He is just an instrument in the hands of supernatural powers. Why should he be tried and hanged?

  • Girish Mishra

    Well done, Mr. Hitchens.Astrology is a superstition, preventing people from having self-confidence. Suppose, for a moment, that a man’s entire life from birth to death is planned and fixed in every detail, then where is the question of personal responsibility for any criminal acts, done by him? A murderer kills somebody because he is compelled by his fate. He is just an instrument in the hands of supernatural powers. Why should he be tried and hanged?

  • RPW

    Jim West wrote: “…like so many other atheists. If he can’t understand it, it doesn’t exist. An arrogance…”This is unnecessarily pejorative, as well as an inaccurate portrayal.The idea that acceptance of an assertion is predicated on its validity being confirmed by evidence is in no way arrogance, and not restricted to atheism: It is a broader philosophical notion called “skepticism”.We are all skeptics; we must be so to live without utter cognitive chaos. Some of us are simply more consistent about its application than others.It is, however, arrogance to suppose you have some deeper “understanding” of the world for no other reason than your beliefs lead you to accept different notions as someone else — particularly when there is no apparent objective basis for this “understanding”.Believe what you will, as is your prerogative. But don’t label non-theists “arrogant” simply on the basis that they don’t believe as you do.

  • Rich

    But what if the vet was playing Celine Dion music while giving you your root canal?

  • Michael Oliver

    Being forced to listen to Celine Dion while undergoing a root canal would be definitive proof that God doesn’t exist, or at least if he does exist he doesn’t care much for the patient.

  • Karen

    Maurie Beck: maybe I did not express my point clearly enough. My point is that I am tired of reading and hearing over and over again the same tired canard that intelligence and faith cannot coexist in the same person so either we are smart and non believers or we are dumb and believers. So maybe I am overrating Francis Collins’ intelligence, but he must be pretty darn smart to have become the head of the genome project at such a young age and have obtained all the degrees he has.

  • Gaby

    Hello there, Brother Jacob Jozevz, My ECLATi-ON friend. Seems lots of people here think you are NUTSO! Shame on them, I think their PHOTONS don’t shine very brightly.Translation for Jacobs posts:We believe that all the old religions are man-made and not true. God is not a he or a she, IT is IT (ECLAT = Great Brilliance bursting forth).In other words, we believe IT is in us and all around us. IT doesn’t need to be worshipped because we are part of it. However, IT requires us to be good (ECLATi-ON) not bad (ECLATi-OFF)people. When we die, we don’t really die, we are just reuniting with IT. IT = YHWH (I am who I am).O.U.R.S. = One Universal Religious System via the New Song. The Old Song = Abrahamic religions. They need to be abolished because they do more harm than good.I don’t subscribe to everything Jacob says, but the core message is true for me. I have searched for a very long time, examining all kinds of the man-made religions and none of them made any sense to me. A few years ago, on a beautiful afternoon, sitting outside and enjoying nature, I finally realized that we are part of a greater being. (Jacob calls IT the Holy Cosmic Heartbeat.)So there you have it in a nutschell. And, guess what, I figured him out all by myself by trying to look at his posts with kindness and understanding.

  • Mr Mark

    When did Mr Hitchens cme out? I thought the man was married with children.Perhaps the posters who are saying Mr Hitchens is gay are confusing him with Andrew Sullivan. He’s another smart guy with a British accent. That’s such an easy mistake to make…when you’re an idiot.

  • jwest

    Maybe what Jim West, (no relation) doesn’t understand is many people have really thought god, jesus, religion out and found it all to be dubious at best. If people of faith would do their homework like many of us non-beleivers have, then they will see that none of what they think is true, is true. History says something else but they won’t let facts get in the way.They just ignore facts to fit their belief. The leap of faith one must take to get off this planet is too much for some to over come. Unfortunately people like Jim West can only respond in the negative. I feel your hatred Jim. As I do other religious people’s hatred of everyone that doesn’t agree with them. The last thing many people of faith have is love for their fellow man. I think believing in a god leads to the most selfish act man can perpetrate on man. Intolerance. Your god of love isn’t working out very well now is he.

  • Karen

    JWest: is it possible for you to believe that many, many of us have done our homework, have studied the facts, and actually came out with strong belief in the validity of our faith? And that we did not suspend all reason and intelligence to believe in God? Don’t you think it is supreme arrogance on your part to assert that all of us should reach the same conclusions that you have because only you are right?FYI, I most certainly do not hate people that disagree with me, neither do I hold them in the kind of contempt that you hold us in.

  • Shrieking Violet

    Maurie Beck — “I can think of all sorts of ways to get to the enlightenment without all the torture…”And by the same token, I can think of all sorts of ways that the Pyramids in Egypt could have been built without a belief in the afterlife. I can think of a world where Michelangelo would have sculpted something even more powerful if he hadn’t been wasting his time on the Pieta. But I can’t say that these things would have been terribly likely.The mistake that you, and Hitchens, and so many others make in these discussions is to compare the worst aspects of religious faith with the best aspects of a hypothetical world full of secular humanists who share your Western post-enlightment liberal values. And, indeed, in such a comparison the people of faith come off quite badly. But where, exactly, did those liberal humanist values come from? Did bright, thoughtful people wake up one day and spontaneously decide that it would be nice to build a society that values human freedom and social equality? Of course not. The great minds of the Renaissance were raised in a Christian tradition. They drew upon the best of the tradition and attempted to discard the worst of it. They rejected faith in the literal text of scripture and the infallibility of the Pope, but they maintained their faith in the inherent value of Christian ideals. To fancy oneself capable of truly understanding the universe through one’s own reason, and to reject the entire history of religious faith as mere slack-jawed credulity… this is an act of staggering hubris. And it’s worth noting that the great philosophical works of atheists in the past 150 years have led human societies right back down the path to the toca and the rack.Human beings are capable of falling short of the glory of any ideals you set in front of them. But they are also capable, every now and then, of rising up to meet them.

  • Agki Strodon

    cpwdc: “Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this MODERN hoax? And why would it matter, except that SCIENCE, too, believes that the cosmos EVOLVED with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force (GRAVITATION, LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS) that SCIENTISTS can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as GENETICS – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.”1. Who ever said that “the cosmos evolved with us in mind?” No one!2. It seems pretty plain that these forces are insecapable but they don’t seem to be supervisory.3. It’s not only scientists who can interpret these forces, anyone can! That seems to be a big difference between science and religion.4. Since when is genetics or any other science a doctrine?

  • Shrieking Violet

    E Favorite — “The religious establishment was paying for talented people to produce the art, but the art itself was coming from within the artists, not from religious faith.”Very true, although in many cases the religious faith was the primary influence on the art itself. Not the Magic Flute, surely, but Beethoven’s Ninth? C’mon now.I’m simply saying that it’s not very useful to think about whether it’s *hypothetically possible* for the world to be as generally free and culturally rich as it is today without religious faith. One must consider the way religious faith has powerfully influenced nearly everything secular society cherishes in the world… and that this should perhaps more relevant to a discussion of faith than snide comparisons to astrology. It isn’t just 2000 years of superstition and torture, you know.I myself don’t have much faith in the factual basis of the Bible, but I have quite a bit of faith that the world is a better place than it would have been if the book had never been written. Faith is much deeper than mere credulity.

  • E favorite

    Karen – I think you’re overreacting – I can’t think of one time that I heard that “intelligence and faith cannot coexist in the same person.” I was a believer myself until recently and I’m no more intelligent now than I was then – just much more informed – and a lot happier not ignoring all the stuff that didn’t add up. (I think a lot of Christians call this “doubt” and consider it a healthy part of their faith – I never did.)I think it’s more a case of some very smart people having some dumb beliefs – not surprisingly, as the culture strongly encourages religious belief and disparages people who admit to not holding such beliefs. Luckily, that is changing.I also think you’re over-reacting to Jwest’s recent comments. I’ve seen so many cases of people who don’t realize that they have a very limited view of the facts. For instance, they are convinced through readings and bible studies that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. I’ve also seen people who choose to believe in spite of the facts. Just recently I talked with a strong Christian who said she was aware that “all the academics” are teaching that there is no evidence for the Exodus, but that she doesn’t believe it – she is moved by the “holy spirit” in such matters. She is intelligent and capable of making sound, rational decisions in her life. She approaches religion in a completely different way. Hopefully, that is changing.

  • jwest

    Karen,

  • Cleve

    Violet spoke: “To fancy oneself capable of truly understanding the universe through one’s own reason, and to reject the entire history of religious faith as mere slack-jawed credulity… this is an act of staggering hubris.” This is part of the myth of the “arrogance of atheism”. I know many atheists, none of them claiming to ‘truly understand the universe’ Atheists, at least those that became atheist as opposed to never knowing another way, got to this point by asking questions and being skeptical. I myself have no clue whatsoever whether there was a big bang, a mighty outgassing, or any idea whatsoever what might have preceeded them. I believe myself to be a cosmological ignoramous in that respect. That is not hubris, that is merely part of a position of not having any reason to believe in a mystical creator. In fact once I let go of the notion many years ago, the universe started making much more sense. I did not need to find an answer to why did god let/cause 9/11 to occur. I did not need to blame ‘sin’ for a hurricane. I did not need to ponder why an invisible and vague divinity could allow thousands of abortions to occur yet he does seem to want to put a image of the madonna on a pancake or the side of a barn. To try to retrofit an ancient god into relevence in current events requires a staff of thousands of priests, rabbis, and prophets to re-explain ancient texts, some very severe tap dancing at times. It doesn’t take arrogance, or hubris to take god out of the reasoning, it takes a leap of blind eyed finger crossing to put him in.

  • Anonymous

    Shrieking Violet – Of course religion has been an influence in many great things – that doesn’t make it factual. And I contend that if religion hadn’t been the influence, something else would have been – because the influence, whatever drives it, is carried out by humans. Religion isn’t all good or all evil – that’s not the point. Its stories, doctrine, dogma, rituals are all man-made – not from God. A lot of people don’t know that. The information has been repressed, contorted, and misrepresented. It’s shocking that it’s gone on for such a long time and shocking now that it’s finally coming out.Mr Mark – Verdi and Brahms on the A team – Wow. I’d say I’ll be listening to their music more closely now, but I don’t think that’s possible – or necessary. I’ve always gotten just as teary-eyed over Requiem aeternam as when Violetta dies just minutes after Alfredo finally comes back to her.

  • Robert Hall

    It is stupid to say that if there is no God there is no right or wrong. Belief in god is not the problem, the problem with organized religions is that they all preach intolerance and hate. Much of the bible is obviously written (or mistranslated) portraying God as a vicious, vindictive, unfair, and uncaring being. Why would a supreme being create what should be a wondrous cosmos only to act like a small boy who enjoys torturing cats and burning ants with a magnifying glass. Why would we be be given a mind and the gift of curiosity if we are supposed to blindly follow (have faith in) the ranting of others who have a vested interest in keeping us under their heel? Organized religions are, and have been, responsible for such a large amount of hate and evil that their claim to be the superior moral arbiters is ludicrous. Hopefully God has a special place in hell for all such true believers.

  • Rich

    Agnosticism is the only position supported by logic and the facts, for those who might value logic and facts. Hitchens does not appear to be an agnostic. He appears to be a bile filled, abusive assassinator of other people’s characters, who sometimes, whether by chance or otherwise, hits a deserving target.

  • E favorite

    Last post to violet and mr mark is mine.Karen – no, I missed the posts saying only dumb, irrational people can believe in God – please show me a few – that actually say believERS are stupid, not that belief is stupid – that’s different. Could be that I don’t notice them anymore, focusing instead on the ones that say atheists are going to hell.As a liberal Christian, I’d like to see you actively working against the fundamentalists who scare us all so much. Atheists, as I think you’re seeing, are not the problem. Sure, we may hurt your feelings some, saying things you don’t like to hear about your beliefs, but we’re not trying to change America from the secular democracy that our founders so wisely established.My concern is that liberal and moderate Christians don’t see the dangers that the fundamentalists present, because they’re all fellow believers.

  • Shrieking Violet

    “I contend that if religion hadn’t been the influence, something else would have been – because the influence, whatever drives it, is carried out by humans. Religion isn’t all good or all evil – that’s not the point. Its stories, doctrine, dogma, rituals are all man-made – not from God.”But that isn’t the point of Hitchens’ essay, now is it? He’s completely devaluing the QUALITY of the stories, doctrine, dogma, rituals in order to create a dichotomy between rigorous empiricism and “cosmic hoaxes.” The story that “life is an amazing coincidence” may inspire a few people to good works, but also seems to inspire apathy and nihilism in many others. If, as I rather suspect, there is an intrinsic, heritable aspect of human nature that drives many to faith, then it stands to reason that faith will always be with us and it needs to be taken seriously.I’m trying to draw a distinction between skepticism, which I think is a good and healthy thing, and the notion that one can prove that “God is not good” by attempting to prove a negative and reciting a litany of bad stuff ’bout religion. The latter attitude just tends to piss people off unproductively.

  • Shrieking Violet

    A final comment to E-Favorite–“My concern is that liberal and moderate Christians don’t see the dangers that the fundamentalists present, because they’re all fellow believers.”I can’t speak for Karen or anyone else, but I certainly see the dangers of fundamentalism. One could even say that I fight them six days a week. But on the seventh day, I take some time to smack Hitchens and Dawkins around for being arrogant pricks who do more harm than good.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Shrinking Violet -Re: Beethoven’s 9th: Beethoven set Schiller’s poem “To Joy” for the finale of the Ninth. It’s basically an ode to brotherhood. Sure, the words mention the “Creator,” but the words also speak of multiple gods of Elysium:Freude, schöner GötterfunkenTranslates to:Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,No mention of Jesus or the god of any particular religion. It’s not a religiously inspired work, unless one considers the god of nature & brotherhood to be religious.Let’s not forget that Beethoven first set Schiller’s Ode in 1793, and that the tune of the final 1824 version of the Ode dates to 1795. Beethoven probably recycled music he had written decades before – and, the Ninth was written on commission he received in 1817 from a group in London.Most of the great classical composers wrote a fair amount of liturgical music, usually on commission. Those employed basically as church musicians, like JS Bach, wrote LOTS of liturgical music, but Bach also wrote plenty of absolute music that wasn’t liturgically inspired, even though Bach himself dedicated pretty much every piece he wrote to “the glory of god.” We all know the “official” story of the composition of Handel’s Messiah – how the composer wrote it in a fit of religious fervor, completing the work in a mere 24 days. Why, the composer himself remarked that he believed he “saw the great God himself” while writing the piece. What’s less known is the fact that this quick composition was only made possible by Handel’s recycling of music he had previously written for other purposes and adapting it to new use in Messiah (see: Jens Peter Larsen’s “Handel’s Messiah: Origins, Composition, Sources” WW Norton, 1990). As usual, the actual history of how these great composers created their works is so much more interesting, life-celebrating and human-centric than the god-inspired lore of popular myth.

  • Karen

    E Favorite: I am fully aware of the danger of fundamentalism in all religions. I am originally from the Middle East: need I say more? Anybody who thinks that church and state should be joined needs to go spend a month or two in the middle east to see what a bad idea that is!With regard to doing something about it, I am afraid that social activism is out of the question for me at this time with a full time job, 2 young children, and trying to get in some charitable work in addition to church related activities. But I do something about it at the ballot box every time I have the opportunity to do so!

  • and one more thing

    Please don’t start saying the problem is fundamentalism. Every religion is essentially fundamentalist since it believes itself to be true and other religions to be false, or at the very least misguided. Every religion is orthodox to itself, just as all religions are false, heretical, or blasphemous except for one’s own.The real irony is that some of the biggest atheists are actually the truly devout and pious: They are atheists in regards to every religion but their own. Tell me what is more arrogant, to claim that everyone is wrong but you or that nobody has found the correct answer, not even you?

  • jwest

    Karen et al.E-FAVORITE

  • Anonymous

    Karen, I’m enjoying our discussion. When I said to work actively against fundamentalism, I didn’t mean just social activism, (though that’s nice, if you have the time), I meant here, on this forum. It’s my opinion that the nice, liberal Christians (I used to be one) spend too much time defending their faith against atheists, while watching quietly as the fundies bash atheists in the most unpleasant terms. Just recently, I’ve noticed some nice, liberal or moderate Christians chastising them. I’d like to see more of it . Not because atheists need your support, but because I think it helps the Christian cause and keeps its dangerous elements at bay.

  • Dahagg

    To Rev. Craig (11:40)What about all of the Pastafarians?

  • E favorite

    Sorry – last post to Karen is from meJwest – will check out I-Ching – sounds fascinatingMr Mark – thanks for the music lesson

  • MB Evans

    Wow – I’m beginning to understand the difference between having loads of fact and actual truth!!! Geezh, what an overload. If there’s is a god, did it take this much thought going in so many directions to create mankind; to create it all!!! – burn out (supernova style).

  • jwest

    I would like to invite everyone to check out the blog on http://www.au.org latest press release dated may 24, 2007. If this isn’t chilling to our democratic senses than nothing is. A forced christian activity that military personel are being ordered to support. This supports my argument that our government under gwb is in part a theocracy. It should not be tolerated by anyone.

  • SkepticalM

    Here are the alternatives about what happens to you when you die:1) Religion – something that cannot be described scientifically but called your soul goes to heaven or hell depending on how good or bad respectively you were while alive.2) Science – your remains decay and you get recycled in some form into the carbon and nitrogen cycle.For the believers its a no-brainer. Obviously wishful thinking trumps logic everytime.

  • Rich

    Third possibility: no one knows, because, among other reasons, no one has ever been there and come back.

  • Karen

    JWest: I am counting the days till Jan 20, 2009. People like GWB and others in this administration do more damage to the cause of Christ then they will ever know. But I do believe that the tide is starting to turn. The pendulum swings and unfortunately takes too long to settle in the middle. But there are now evangelical leaders like Rick Warren that are a lot more interested in getting their views imposed on others via laws and the ballot box and much more on social justice, AIDS in Africa, poverty etc. Rick Warren for example donated the proceeds of his book The Purpose Driven Life to the fight against AIDS in Africa. E Favorite: I have on occasion participated in these forums and have tried to chastise other christians that I felt were not showing God’s love but were full of judgement and self righteousness. A while ago, I had some verbal sparring with Canyon Shearer about what I saw as very uncharitable posts. But I have since greatly curtailed my involvement in these blogs a) because of lack of time and b) because of the offensive condescencion of non believers towards most believers. And really, I am not being oversensitive. For one thing, I do not particularly care what other people’s opinion is of me. People want to think I am irrational or whatever, fine. I know who I am. It just gets old after a while. If you have ever read Candide insulting rants, you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about… and I really like Voltaire, studied him en francais dans le texte in high school, saw Candide as a play :).

  • Joe

    I subscribe to the Del Taco theory of evolution. chance – evolution will explain birds and reptiles, but only a god with a sense of humor would explain Del Taco (think about it for a while). Seriously, the point is that whatever we accept to fill in the gaps left by what reason reveals (and no, faith is not necessary to justify hope, awe, or love), we should carefully keep to ourselves. I don’t mean keep silent, merely that we have no right, singly or collectively, and certainly not politically, to appeal to our personal idea of a higher authority to impose anything on anyone else. When it comes to societal structure, only the use of reason is legitimate.

  • RPW

    Violet: “To fancy oneself capable of truly understanding the universe through one’s own reason, and to reject the entire history of religious faith as mere slack-jawed credulity… this is an act of staggering hubris. And it’s worth noting that the great philosophical works of atheists in the past 150 years have led human societies right back down the path to the toca and the rack.”Unlike several non-theists on this thread, I am not prone to attack people’s underlying belief systems. In general, I am pretty easy going. But I have to say that no part of your statement is even remotely close to reasonable. Surely you must see that?I do not believe I understand any more of the universe than the average person; I do not dispute most informed historical accounts of the church; but I do not believe there is a God. That is not arrogant, it is not hubris. Merely saying it is so does not make it so. It’s just insult.Your maligning of non-theist philosophical history is incoherent and specious. You do not want to get into a point-by-point accounting of the acts of moral depravity in the world done by those in the name of religion versus those done in the name of non-theism. You would loose, and regardless the outcome is totally irrelevant to what is “T”rue.I respect your right to believe as you will. I judge people’s actions and words, not their beliefs. But I cannot understand this view that non-theism is inherently arrogant; it would seem to be just the opposite to me: It assumes nothing about which one cannot experience. I have no stake in what you believe at all, yet you seem determined to malign all unbelievers. Which of us is committing the more “staggering” act of hubris?

  • P J Sturgis

    “This is why, for so many of us, the notion of anything being “faith-based” is a criticism rather than a recommendation.”The knucklehead Christopher Hitchens – is simply another in an un-ending line of – If I can’t see it – I can’t believe it, crowd. His linguistical straw man of the moment is astrology. But his real message is a malignant swipe at anyone who lives a life based on faith in God.It only takes a 3 – 4 minute test to convince EVERY “see it to believe it” coward that they live by faith. Simply take 6 inches of duct tape and apply it to the bodacious mouth. Then simply hold the nostrils closed for 3 plus minutes – until the subject becomes aware that he / she has faith in breathing – air that they can’t see. Faith comes immediately to the heart, mind and lungs of every “don’t believe it because I can’t see it” protagonist. A simple test passed by every simple minded critic to discover that they live a faith based life.

  • Aaron Zisser

    E Favorite –Thanks for your response to my comment. I agree whole heartedly that too many clergy convince too many followers that the narrative is literally true and factual. I think Judaism, in general, avoids this and places layers and layers of commentary and interpretating and meaning on top of the stories. My own Jewish community in Memphis is fantastic in this way, but it is also a heritage of Orthodox Judaism (whereas the orthodoxy of Christianity doesn’t quite emphasize metaphor and layers). I think the fundamental distinction is this: Religion is great when it is a vehicle for spirituality, connecting with the world and others, empathy. Religion is bad when it promotes intolerance through literal readings of the Bible that is really quite devoid of any spirituality or humanism. But to say religion as a whole is bad because SOME people (even MOST people) don’t use it the right way is not really fair — it’s like saying education is a bad thing because many people use it to exploit and oppress others; or technology is bad because it is used to make weapons or to prey on children over the internet. Yes, religion has been badly abused. But much good comes from it when it is used in a tolerant, open, holistic way.

  • jwest

    pj sturgis,

  • Anonymous

    Religions-all of them-are man-made, & therefore are poison. If Christianity or Islam are true religions, why the need to “convert” people w/ the sword?? Religious people can turn to faith all they want, but facts-through history & science-can not be ignored.

  • steph

    Jozevz, Why don’t you lay off the crystal meth when you want to post? It’s surprising that you have access to a computer. You seem way too strung out/schizophrenic to have managed to keep your computer out of the hands of your dealer, or to be permitted to sit in an internet cafe.

  • Rock

    I am a Christian conservative by nature, but open to other thoughts. If anyone with one ounce of common sense (God did give us common sense)believe that every thing in the bible is true and infalliable, you are on another planet. Yes, it does contain truth, but one must be willing to search and decipher what the original Hebrew was actually saying, how it was translated to Greek, and then to English. While the essences and principal is there, there has been mis- interpretation, especially after 300 AD, or the Apostolic Age. The bible is not just a revelation of God, but a mirror of humanity, so we can come face to face with what and who we really are under our thoughts, and deal with them to be better servants to mankind and God.

  • densbtly

    “It only takes a 3 – 4 minute test to convince EVERY “see it to believe it” coward that “JWEST, thanx for taking Mr. Sturgis down. I shall pile on.All in fun.. you did call us cowards didn’t you?have a great and glorious day!

  • David Leyava

    I would wager that Mr. Hitchens has never taken the time to really investigate the subject of Astrology. In fact, I can’t think, or have never heard of, even one scientist who has. What they do instead is dismiss it, as Mr. Hitchens has, for claiming things that, in fact, it doesn’t claim. It’s like they assume it’s beneath their dignity to go talk to real, competent Astrologers or read some good Astrology books, or attend a convention and talk to practitioners because, after all, they’re all quacks, aren’t they? Here we stand before an awesome, unfathomable and infinite Universe and these so-called scientists actually think that they alone have the tools and the answers. All of them, especially Mr. Dawkins, are beneath contempt for their intellectual dishonesty and arrogance.

  • RPW

    PJ Stugis:I have spent many hours with many, very intelligent and educated people of many different belief systems discussing and arguing about the metaphysic. I have read a great deal of literature and attended many religious services. I simply have no faith, only my reason (such as it is).Your assertion is hollow and desperate.Again, believe as you will, but trust that non-theists are far better acquainted with their (un)belief than you are.You need to understand the distinction between “trust” and “faith”. Trust is to operate under the assumption that a particular verifiable assertion is true, whether or not you choose to verify it. Faith is to operate under the assumption that unverifiable assertion is true.Your air analogy is absurd. I have a tremendous amount of direct experience and evidence of air, and I’ve a biological imperative to breathe, whether I believed in air or not.A better example would be the Eiffel Tower: I have no direct experience of the Eiffel tower, yet I trust that it is there. I know trustworthy people (i.e., evidence) who have seen it, I have seen pictures of it in trustworthy sources, and … ultimately … I *CAN* choose to go see it for myself. There is evidence of its existence, and there are ways for me to acquire more evidence. This is nothing even remotely like faith. I cannot independently and objectively verify that there is an omnipotent Creator. And if one could, what would faith be exactly?Why are we arguing at all? Do we not all agree that one cannot be drawn to believe in God through reason? For a theist, this is a statement about faith. For an agnostic, this is a statement about what is empirically observable. For an atheist, God does not exist and reason cannot but reveal that fact.I choose to live as much by reason as possible, and consequently I do not believe in God. Why do theists see this as an indictment of their beliefs?Trust me: I honestly don’t care what you believe. Why do you care what I believe?

  • Shrieking Violet

    RPW — “Your maligning of non-theist philosophical history is incoherent and specious…I cannot understand this view that non-theism is inherently arrogant…”Whoa, whoa, whoa! Dude! Settle down! In no way, shape, or form did I malign the entirety of “non-theist philosophical history” or insult all non-believers. Your description of what I wrote is incoherent and specious.I said: “To fancy oneself capable of truly understanding the universe through one’s own reason, and to reject the entire history of religious faith as mere slack-jawed credulity… this is an act of staggering hubris.”Do you fancy yourself capable of truly understanding the universe through your own reason? Do you reject the entire history of religious faith as mere slack-jawed credulity? It doesn’t sound like either of those statements apply to you. It is certainly true that many, probably most “non-theists” do not fit these criteria. Ergo, I am not attacking you… and I am certainly not claiming that non-theism is inherently arrogant.*I am discussing an article by Christopher Hitchens.* It is linked at the top of this very page. Please read it, if you haven’t already. Let’s just say that if you wrote a song about hubris, Hitchens would probably think the song was about him.Now then, with regard to atheist philosophy, I have no interest in going line by line over the comparative evils of Marx and Nietzsche vs. The Spanish Inquisition. Nobody wins that contest. I’m simply pointing out that rejecting “primitive superstitions” in favor of reason and human-centered philosophy does not necessarily translate into enlightened and humane outcomes. Hitchens’ thesis is that “God poisons everything.” The evidence actually suggests that regardless of whether God is picking up the credit or the blame, the fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves. People do terrible things to each other. They did this before they invented gods for themselves and continued to do so after they killed off their gods. Faith isn’t the source of the Inquisition any more than atheism is to blame for the people who rounded up the clergy during the Revolution.I also specifically said “atheist” rather than “non-theist” and your use of the latter phrase clearly indicates that you understand the difference. So it’s a tad disingenuous for you to attempt a switch in your response.

  • Mr Mark

    David Leyava writes:Knowing Mr Hitchens insatiable curiosity, his deep study of world religions and his various writings on myriad subjects, I’d wager the opposite.Care to bet?

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Shrieking Violet -I would just once like to see a religionist mention atheists outside of the usual rogues gallery. Why no mention of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Lance Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Joel, Gene Roddenbury, Helen Keller, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney, HL Mencken, Charles Schultz, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Thomas Paine, Francois Mitterand and Jack Nicholson, among others?All atheists – an all very open about it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want to take any stand regarding the “truth” of Astrology, or absence thereof, for I believe it is quite beside the essence of the point addressed by the original poster, mainly, the appropriateness a respected newspaper printing a horoscope. Magic and religion are not things that can be proved or disproved in terms of being truthful representations of reality. They deal with things that are, by their very definition, impossible to verify through objective means of any sort, let alone by science. Therefore, one must rate the aforementioned “appropriateness” by some means other than the correctness or falsehood of horoscopes or any other type of magical/religious belief. But how does one do that without doing something akin to ruling on “taste”? Unless the content in question involves libel, incitation to crime, offensive content or something of the sort, which practically never happens in horoscopes, throwing Astrology out the newspapers because it is a magical/religious content is the equivalent of banning, say, strawberry cake recipes because they are not worthy of print in the same way chocolate cake ones are. As to the specific comments made, let’s have a look.1) It gives people the impression that they are the center of the universe and that the constellations are somehow arranged with them in mind.In Astrology, one states the existence of a correlation between the position of heavenly bodies and earthly events. Indeed, it may even be an non-causational correlation, such as the one between the position of the pointers on a clock and the arrival of trains on a given train station. No need for Astrology to consider the existence of a deity that set up all things as they are especially for us, nor is there any need for it to deny such a possibility either. Also, people ARE, by definition, the concrete center of their own universe, any conception of peripheral positioning within a larger scheme of things being an unsubstantiated abstract assumption. THE universe may be a grand, unphamtomable, thing of which every individual is simply a tiny part of. OUR universe may be just as grand (or even grander, given that it can expand endlessly), but we are the most important thing in it. And, NO, such a thinking does NOT inexorably lead to vanity, egotism or selfishness.2) It suggests that there is a supernatural supervision of our daily lives, and that this influence can be detected and expounded by mere humans.Your point being…? Scientific research shows that religious beliefs and practices are positively associated to happyness and psychological well-being. The basic moral tenets of practically every religion promote honesty, solidarity, modesty and other virtues. Of course, one can be happy and moral without religion, but it is also quite possible to do so without it. Hence, what is the problem?Regarding any debate son who has more blood on their hands, if religion or atheism, one can quote the Cruzades, the Inquisition and the extremists one hand, and Stalin, Mao and other communists on the other, just for starters. I dare say that a long, tedious, tally would result in something close to a draw.3) It bases itself on the idea that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even of conception.Not really. Astrology does not rule that people are determined by birth, but rather are influenced by it. There is such a thing as free will in Astrology, one that can overcome any prediction (which is the whole point of making any predictions in the first place). All in all, it seems that there is absolutely no basis for a call to remove horoscopes from “serious” media on the grounds, except, perhaps, through the ignorant use of faulty logic or wrong assumptions regarding the matter.P.S.In the same way that one can find the best of people among the religious and the non-religious alike, it may also be important to bear in mind that atheist fundamentalists and extremists can be just as dangerous as the religious ones.This whole matter should be a non-issue.

  • Bruno

    I don’t want to take any stand regarding the “truth” of Astrology, or absence thereof, for I believe it is quite beside the essence of the point addressed by the original poster, mainly, the appropriateness a respected newspaper printing a horoscope. Magic and religion are not things that can be proved or disproved in terms of being truthful representations of reality. They deal with things that are, by their very definition, impossible to verify through objective means of any sort, let alone by science. Therefore, one must rate the aforementioned “appropriateness” by some means other than the correctness or falsehood of horoscopes or any other type of magical/religious belief. But how does one do that without doing something akin to ruling on “taste”? Unless the content in question involves libel, incitation to crime, offensive content or something of the sort, which practically never happens in horoscopes, throwing Astrology out the newspapers because it is a magical/religious content is the equivalent of banning, say, strawberry cake recipes because they are not worthy of print in the same way chocolate cake ones are. As to the specific comments made, let’s have a look.1) It gives people the impression that they are the center of the universe and that the constellations are somehow arranged with them in mind.In Astrology, one states the existence of a correlation between the position of heavenly bodies and earthly events. Indeed, it may even be an non-causational correlation, such as the one between the position of the pointers on a clock and the arrival of trains on a given train station. No need for Astrology to consider the existence of a deity that set up all things as they are especially for us, nor is there any need for it to deny such a possibility either. Also, people ARE, by definition, the concrete center of their own universe, any conception of peripheral positioning within a larger scheme of things being an unsubstantiated abstract assumption. THE universe may be a grand, unphamtomable, thing of which every individual is simply a tiny part of. OUR universe may be just as grand (or even grander, given that it can expand endlessly), but we are the most important thing in it. And, NO, such a thinking does NOT inexorably lead to vanity, egotism or selfishness.2) It suggests that there is a supernatural supervision of our daily lives, and that this influence can be detected and expounded by mere humans.Your point being…? Scientific research shows that religious beliefs and practices are positively associated to happyness and psychological well-being. The basic moral tenets of practically every religion promote honesty, solidarity, modesty and other virtues. Of course, one can be happy and moral without religion, but it is also quite possible to do so without it. Hence, what is the problem?Regarding any debate son who has more blood on their hands, if religion or atheism, one can quote the Cruzades, the Inquisition and the extremists one hand, and Stalin, Mao and other communists on the other, just for starters. I dare say that a long, tedious, tally would result in something close to a draw.3) It bases itself on the idea that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even of conception.Not really. Astrology does not rule that people are determined by birth, but rather are influenced by it. There is such a thing as free will in Astrology, one that can overcome any prediction (which is the whole point of making any predictions in the first place). All in all, it seems that there is absolutely no basis for a call to remove horoscopes from “serious” media on the grounds, except, perhaps, through the ignorant use of faulty logic or wrong assumptions regarding the matter.P.S.In the same way that one can find the best of people among the religious and the non-religious alike, it may also be important to bear in mind that atheist fundamentalists and extremists can be just as dangerous as the religious ones.This whole matter should be a non-issue.

  • Bruno

    I apologize for the double post. It was unintentional.

  • Chris W.

    I have to say that I cannot understand atheism. I can certainly understand being agnostic, but being certain that there is no god. That just rings intellectually hollow to me.Even if you believe in the basics of evolution (as I do)and other controversial scientific theories, how do we know that there is not a creator of some form or another….a god?I was raised a Christian, but no I never beleived everything in the Bible. Even as a 6 year old hearing the Noah’s Ark story in Sunday School I knew it was a “tall tale” at best. Probably just a myth. There were many other instances over the years where the Bible seemed silly or absurd. That does not mean that I did not recieve a great benefit from many of the substance of Jesus’s teaching. I just do not accept that the Bible is perfect or inerrant. I see no reason not to believe in God and in the world or scientific discovery.Did it ever occur to some of the Christians out there that God WANTS us to discover the secrets of our universe through both spiritual and scientific endevours?Do not be an enemy of God…know theyself, treat people well, be helpful and support scientific discovery.It just might save your life someday.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Chris W -If you truly wish to better understand atheism, I would suggest you read Richard Dawkins’, “The God Delusion.”

  • E favorite

    Karen – I’m glad you come here when you can. I know how Canyon Shearer is , Candide too, but I really think he’s mild compared to Canyon. (PS – I’ve seen Candide the musical many times). When you say “offensive condescension” I wonder if any criticism of your faith would be considered that way. My perception is that Christians are not used to being criticized – Dawkins says this too, in his book – so that any criticism is seen as over the top. Can you think of a criticism you’ve heard that you wouldn’t consider condescending? What criticisms could an atheist make about your beliefs that wouldn’t offend you?

  • Sorrin

    Densbtly,You are quite right to point out that the athiest’s belief in air – or other things we cannot see need not undermine her position.But, certainly we need not have faith in air. Inductive reasonning -although not foolproof – is not faith. Your belief that the sun will come up tomorrow need not be based on faith, for if it is then all science is simply a matter a faith and only the truths of mathematics can be considerred something we know without faith. Logic is not limited to deductive inferences.And while the air analogy is deeply flawed but surely the underlying point remains.We all need faith (belief without evidence not merely belief without deductive proof) if we are to believe that we have free will, that our lives are meaningful, or in little acts like when we trust someone without any evidence that we should. To some these faiths can make sense without a larger ontological commitment to a belif in God or Thor. To others such a faith would be absurd without the underlying belief. So to say you the athiest do indeed have faith (belief without evidence not merely belief without deductive proof) and not simply beliefs supportedd by evidence is an important point for the theist – it alters the burden (it places a burden on both and not just the theist). The theist still has to show why we need or even would want this ontological commitment to God’s existence – no easy task surely.But the athiest needs to say how we can have these smaller faiths without the larger faith in some God or gods-a problem the theist can answer quite easily.

  • E Favorite

    Hello, Aaron Zisser – Unfortunately I’m talking about Jews too – in fact Jews, mainly, when it comes to Exodus. They are hearing it for the first time from me and are sure I’m crazy. In most cases, even an article and book review from the NY Times doesn’t immediately convince them – why? Not sure, except I think they are stunned and simply tuning it out – it’s such a foreign idea – they haven’t seen it on the news or heard it at temple – why should they believe me that something they’ve “known” all their lives is not a fact? (This information is also in the “Biblical Archeology” section of the newest edition, 2002, I think, of the prayer book used by Conservative Jews). By the way, I’ve only mentioned it to non-religious Jews, except here on the forum. Is this lack of evidence for Exodus discussed at your temple? Would you bring it up? If so, I’d love to have you report back here about it. Regarding Religion being “great when it is a vehicle for spirituality, connecting with the world and others, empathy.” I’d go with “inoffensive” and add that there are many other ways of achieving the things you mention. I’m fully aware of the benefits and the good works of a warm, religious community, having participated in several. The problem for me are the following: the underlying belief, or feigning of belief, in the supernatural and stories and myths; trying to fit everything into the context of a centuries-old “tradition;” an us-them/we’re better attitude, even among liberals. These are not minor issues. Imagine a marriage or friendship that labored under these constraints.If religions were willing to get rid of the things that make no sense, I’d love to see them survive. If they stay based on very shaky “beliefs” I don’t think they will survive very long. I don’t think people are going to put up with it much longer. There’s too much information out there – with this forum as an example.

  • Shrieking Violet

    Gee, Mr. Mark, that’s a swell list. I’m terribly sorry that in a comment thread headed by Hitchens comparing all religions to astrology, in which my response highlighting the positive aspects of religion was met with descriptions of Spanish Inquisition torture devices, I failed to commend Jack Nicholson for his fine performance in The Departed.OF COURSE there are many good and decent atheists in the world. I found your list to be rather unintentionally hilarious since Nicholson is a world-renowned jerk, and roughly a third of the people on your “list of atheists” were actually Deists or liberal Christians who struggled with faith but didn’t reject it entirely. Seriously, I could come up with a more impressive list of great atheists than that one.My intent is not to criticize atheists en masse. My intent is to defend religious faith from the charge that it “poisons everything.” Irrational and hate-filled behavior occurs everywhere. Don’t make faith a scapegoat for human nature.

  • Cleve

    Chris W.

  • ALM

    Hi Charles Re. Jozevz,You will find him here:As I have mentioned elsewhere, I believe he is enjoying a metaphysical legpull.

  • Anonymous

    Sorrin:

  • Dean Walker

    Thanks Mr Hitchens – It’s great to see another prominent writer speaking truth to the “Faithful.” I think this dialog on the existence of God to be truly important since we live in a nation so additicted to myths, fantasies, and blind obedience to common (often irrational) beliefs. I have read your books in that past and recently find myself nodding in agreement roughly 50% of the time. That’s a good thing because you always make me think. However, I think I’ll have to skip this book because I find myself agreeing to everything you have been saying in interviews, debates, and what you have put down on the page here today, regarding your thoughts on God and silly superstitions. It would be like preaching to the chorus. (Ha, ha, if I could use that expression.) Thanks again. I’m looking forward to your next book. Sincerely,Dean Walker

  • densbtly

    Sorrin: ‘Anonymous’ above is me… sorry

  • Robin

    Mr Hitchens,First I would like to thank you, along with Mr Dawkins, Mr Harris and Mr Dennett for putting yourselves out there to bring atheism out of the closet.Secondly, as far as horoscopes printed in newspapers, the one in my local newspaper is printed in the entertainment section along side the crossword puzzle and the cryptoquote. So, personally I don’t have a problem with them being included. I have to even admit I look at them for entertainment purposes only. It can be interesting to see how close or off target they may be. Again for entertainment purposes only. Then I do the crossword puzzle and move on to the cryptoquote.I am more bothered by the space given to the lottery. If ever there was a thing to give false hope of getting out of a life of debt and possibly into a life of luxory, it would be the lottery. Yes, I know, there is evidence that people can and do win, but the odds are so slim that of course its nearly impossible that it will happen to someone we know let alone us. It bothers me greatly that society is preyed upon for sometimes their last dollar for a chance to riches beyond dreams. Some can argue that personal greed is motivation, but more often it is poverty that motivates the purchases.As Mr Dawkins has pointed out there are many roots to evil, of this world. Religion, money/lottery etc. Horoscopes are low on my list.I do think your post speaks more about credulity (readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence) than horoscopes. Horoscopes just being one example.I am not usually defined as an optimist. And maybe I am being too credulous (pun intended)in hoping that with the help and bravery of you and the other fine authors on atheism, and the help of the new generations of young people, who are not so comfortable accepting information without questioning for evidence of truth, there is hope for change. Real change. It will be a slow process and I most likely won’t see it in my day and age. I have been an atheist for most of my 50 years. It wasn’t until I was steered to this website did I realize just how many atheists there really is out there. This website has given me much more awareness and strength about my atheism. It has also steered me to other websites dedicated to atheism and I have met some wonderful people.Thank you!

  • Mikki

    5/24/07Let me see if I can answer directly, as below:If Christopher Hitchens said-Astrology Not the Only Cosmic Hoax..1) It gives people the impression that they are the center of the universe and that the constellations are somehow arranged with them in mind.* ‘center of the universe’ idea belonged to those ignorants who used to think Earth is flat (until 1600 or some, even today ?). Our Ancients (before the last destruction) were smarter [although we are moving up in the past 400 yrs or so- we have a steep-climb to get there, or re-discover- that’s if the ‘free-will(ers)’ would not destroy us] 2) It suggests that there is a supernatural supervision of our daily lives, and that this influence can be detected and expounded by mere humans.* Let us ask (after learning how to communicate) a bee or an ant or even an elephant (or one of our own ‘protein’) a simple Q- . where or how did you learn to get organize your ‘daily lives’ or duty-ethics (Queen Bee v. Worker Bees etc.. or Elephant mother v. child etc..)- What is Manu’s duty ? Read “Veda” or its summary in ‘Bhagad Gita”- Then, one can say- O, Wait, that’s Man made ! Fortunately, may be Yes- but, that’s where you find the Answer: how ‘we’ or the ‘bee’ or the ‘elephant’ or the ‘protein’ got the ‘message’ to do the duty ! Whether you know it or not (or like it or not) Buddha-Jesus made it simple for us to understand that duty-ethics (Islamists or Bush or any Corp./Org. must follow the same Organized ‘daily lives’ to get it right- even today). Thus, the ‘Principle’ is True to Bee-Ant-Elephant or Manu, like Bush !3) It bases itself on the idea that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even of conception.* Yes- see comments above (although all living-entities also learn as part of the evolution- by the way Darwin is correct to the extent that All evolve from point A to Z; but, if anyone thinks that mean- given time A turns up to become Z is NONSENSE !) (4) Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this ancient hoax? And why would it matter, except that religion, too, believes that the cosmos was created with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force that priests and rabbis and imams can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as “original sin” – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.Credulity, in the sense of simple-mindedness, is often praised by those who claim to admire the “simple faith” of the devout. But the problem with credulity is that it constitutes an open invitation to the unscrupulous, who will take advantage of those who are prepared to believe things without evidence. This is why, for so many of us, the notion of anything being “faith-based” is a criticism rather than a recommendation.* Answer to such ‘free-will(er)’ Qs or conclusions are self-evident if One wants to Think, Think-hard ! Why am I here, what am doing ? I will be happy to respond to any and all Qs that can be answered !Mikki

  • Vern

    The problem with atheism is that it maintains that there is no evidence for God, but then cannot describe what evidence for God would or could actually exist. What would the properties be of such evidence? How would you know it was evidence of God?I claim: existence (of anything) is evidence of God. You answer: God is not needed to explain existence.I reply: oh really? then please tell me about this God of yours, which you know so well that you can define when it would be needed if it existed.Meanwhile, let me remind you that the God I am trying to convince you of, would only leave this knowable universe as evidence for its existence.Also I make no claim that Science can prove the existence of this God. This is because there is nothing that can be observed that is not from this God, so even if Science could detect the “signature” of God, we’d never get an example of a non-God thing to observe in order to show that the God thing had the signature.

  • TK

    Christopher (the Bringer of Christ) wants to save mankind from dependence upon God. But, his three criticisms of Christianity show only scant understanding of the faith. Here is why:We know that God cares for us, but we don’t require being the center of the Universe. If we are, fine; but, if we are not, that’s also fine.We believe that God knows us and carees for us, but we don’t believe that he controls our every move. He gave us freedom to be the kind of human beings he created us to be, and we do the best we can to achieve that, though we often fall short of the mark. I don’t know where Christopher got the idea that our character is set at conception or at birth, but I can assure him that nothing is settled until one takes his or her last breath. It is quite Christian to believe that Christopher Hitchens may end up being a truly shining example of a Christian by the time his race ends. The beauty of faith is that it extends the possibilities of reality without disturbing the fundamentals of rationality much more than quantum theory or string theory do. Be of good cheer, Christopher, there is always hope for all of us, Christians and others.

  • RPW

    Violet:I apologize if you felt I misrepresented your position; it was not my intent.Of course I have read the essay, and of course I have no more reason to defend Hitchens than you. I was responding to your generalizations. If I misread your post, I am sorry … but I don’t think that I did.In earnestness, if your comments were not meant to generalize then I do not understand them. Hitchens’ essay makes no mention of church history, makes no claim of “truly understanding the universe”. I don’t know anyone who does … and I know a lot of non-theists.There was no swap in my response in any way; please re-read it. I generalized to be inclusive. I do not wish to make any line-by-line comparisons of history either; however, you cannot seriously be comparing Marx and Nietzsche to the Inquisition. The former are men who espoused philosophies, the latter was an event in history. Your comparison makes no sense to me, they are incongruent.I think the level of hyperbole on all sides of this debate should be ratcheted down several notches. It isn’t helping.

  • E favorite

    Vern and TK – you seem to know a lot about what God is thinking and what God wants. How do you know that? Where are you getting your information?

  • densbtly

    Vern:

  • Karen

    E Favorite: I do not take criticism of my faith as condescencion, that is not my point. I like interesting and lively debate, and again, I am not so thin skinned, believe me. Also, I have never been a big fan of organized religion precisely because of all the excesses commited by various religions once they concentrate on wordly power rather then on the kingdom of God, which is spiritual. That is why I attend a local, non denominational, independent church that is commited to improving the lives of people in our community. There is plenty to criticize about organized religion and you may find me a harsher critic then you because I expect much better from people who profess faith in Christ.What I do not enjoy about many posts on these threads is again the idea that once you are “enlighted” you cannot but shed all vestiges of belief in God. Many of the people who post on the Dawkins, Harris and like minded threads are incredibly full of themselves, of their “enlighted minds” of their ability to think for themselves (as if the rest of us are robots, as if many christians have not come to their faith after much thought and deliberation). Furthermore, the groveling attitude towards Dawkins and Harris is amazing, the fawning over their courage, their intellect, blah, blah, blah. I laugh to myself when I read these comments because the posters just sound so … worshipful of mere men who are busy making themselves famous and filling like pockets much like… televangelists!

  • yoyo

    Faith means never having to make sense.

  • Maurie Beck

    Karen – My point is that I am tired of reading and hearing over and over again the same tired canard that intelligence and faith cannot coexist in the same person so either we are smart and non believers or we are dumb and believers.I actually agree with your premise, but not your use of evidence. Of course, you were responding in kind to Lifeasariver. However, what other people believe is irrelevant. You have a right to believe whatever you want and it really is no one else’s business. If anyone advocates a foolish or erroneous belief, which YOU HAVE NOT DONE here, then obviously those people and their belief can expect some argument regardless whether it is religious or not.

  • Karen

    E Favorite: for an example of the condescension that I am talking about, look no further then the comment of YoYo, right after mine. Exactly what kind of meaningful dialogue can be expected after such facile disdain? And the usual self congratulation for being so witty…

  • RPW

    Vern: “I claim: existence (of anything) is evidence of God. You answer: God is not needed to explain existence.”I appreciate the fact that your faith leads you to this position. But, with respect, this is not my answer to your claim.My answer to your claim is: Prove that.The person proffering the claim is obliged to offer proof, not their audience. There’s no logical reason for me to posit an evaluation criterion for the existence of the supernatural … I make no claim as to its existence. And, as a skeptic, I disbelieve by default unless you can demonstrate a compelling argument.There are many things in heaven and earth not drempt of in my philosophy … but it is unreasonable for you to expect non-theists to have to construct an acceptance criterion for every possible arbitrary belief drempt of in yours. If your goal is to convince a rationalist they are mistaken then you have to accept responsibility for providing the justification for your own belief system. If you feel that nature provides you personally with sufficient justification, so be it. This is unpersuasive to me, and most other non-theists.For my end, I am not invested in whether or not you are persuaded that there is no God.

  • brice

    Hello,I’m a pretty open-minded guy, and wanted to make an observation on astrology and get some feedback.First off, I do not believe that a horoscrope is accurate, but wanted to point out that our brain is an electro-magnet,so does that mean that the moon and/or stars could have impact on our brain? If so, that might give some credibility to astrology (even if it’s entirly misunderstood).Also, a note on Christianity. I think Jesus had a message, and I think that Buddy, Gahndi and Mohommad did too… I think we get lost trying to explain the message in our own words and it all goes down-hill from there. MY RELIGION CAN BEAT UP YOUR RELIGION!!! …God is too big for one religion… if he exists at all.

  • Maurie Beck

    Shrieking Violet – But where, exactly, did those liberal humanist values come from? Did bright, thoughtful people wake up one day and spontaneously decide that it would be nice to build a society that values human freedom and social equality?The Enlightenment and the corresponding philosophical transformation in England were a response to religious excesses in the previous 1000 years. In fact, it was a rejection of those excesses. People thought that perhaps men (and later women) might do better in agreeing on laws among themselves, than using biblical law (Deuteronomy, Leviticus, etc.) and religious police to run societies.

  • bob choi

    On Organized ReligionFrom the Crusaders to the Jihad “nation”Men need religion for spiritual solaceThe New World plundered by the ConquistadorsThe Great Cultural Revolution was equally terrible

  • The Limits of Science

    I think the post from astronomer/physicist Richard Conn Henry was valuable: ” […] First, we have known since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925 that … mind is all that exists….””Second, the structure of the universe is meticulously arranged to allow for the possibility of our existence.”Henry’s trenchant comments in response to the first “Limits of Science” post were helpful in dispelling fallacies believed by the many people who use “science” to advocate the idea that we live in a purely “physical” or “material” universe and to squelch ideas about the possible existence of mind or spirit in it or beyond it. (“The Limits of Science” was not intended to be an anti-scientific rant, by the way, but to emphasize that scientific knowledge will always be limited and in the process of change.)Thanks to Prof. Henry

  • The Limits of Science

    I think the post from astronomer/physicist Richard Conn Henry was valuable: ” […] First, we have known since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925 that … mind is all that exists….””Second, the structure of the universe is meticulously arranged to allow for the possibility of our existence.”Henry’s trenchant comments in response to the first “Limits of Science” post were helpful in dispelling fallacies believed by the many people who use “science” to advocate the idea that we live in a purely “physical” or “material” universe and to squelch ideas about the possible existence of mind or spirit in it or beyond it. (“The Limits of Science” was not intended to be an anti-scientific rant, by the way, but to emphasize that scientific knowledge will always be limited and in the process of change.)Thanks to Prof. Henry

  • Peacetroll

    Chris Hitchens obviously is overpaid and over estimated as far as mental prowess is concerned.For all the problems and issues in the world that are available, this man chooses to write a dictate on “Horoscopes and the harm”.No wonder those who follow Bush, the neo-con puppets of the Zionist regime of Israel are all so damn dumb it’s almost hillarious.Too bad the common man is so indisputably stupid, they neither read let alone think; requiring the spoon feeding garbage of the major media News networks over truth and justice and freedom.C. Hitchens is proof that a maroon can learn a descent vocabulary, follow after nefarious Zionist regime schemes and succeed in this piss-dung world.

  • E favorite

    Karen – I can see you like debate. And I understand that you don’t enjoy the idea that “enlightened” people shed belief in God, but it also seems to me that if you are firm in your faith, it doesn’t so much matter what others think. Certainly there are people of other faiths who think they are enlightened – that theirs is the right way and yours is not. Do they bother you as much? In the case of non-believers, speaking for myself, careful study and analysis clearly indicated that God and religion are man-made. It wasn’t a matter of “does it make me feel good?” or “does it have some value?” It was, “is it factual?” And the answer is no. So, please consider that when non-believers seem disdainful of faith, it’s because they are applying logic in a situation where you are not. For instance, let’s say some people believe the world is round and other believe it’s flat. There is a right answer to this question that can be determined by facts. If after that’s done, the flat-earth people says they still believe the earth is flat, fine, but they really can’t expect round-earthers to respect their belief. Nor should they expect society and the scientific establishment to give credence to their view, say, when planning international travel.There are many cases when logic or facts don’t count or aren’t as important. For instance, personal preferences. Let’s say I love opera and hate jazz and you feel just the opposite. No problem. We both acknowledge that these two forms exist and that they are indeed music. We may have difficulty understanding each other’s taste and may even feel superior to the other – and even feel free to criticize each other’s preference very directly (e.g., “How can you possibly like that stuff? It hurts my eardrums and makes me want to flee to the nearest opera house/jazz festival.”) But when we say anything nearly as critical and direct of someone’s faith, it’s considered highly disrespectful.Regarding Yoyo’s remark, “faith means never having to make sense” – a couple of things. We don’t know if it was in direct response to you. He may not have read your post. That aside, while it’s probably not meant to be complimentary to people with faith, it’s also not untrue. You could say something similar about love – it’s not logical. Or even taste in music. Or maybe it’s like saying “People who wear perfume smell good.” Not to say that perfume wearers are intrinsically fragrant, just that wearing perfume has a pleasant olfactory effect. Though people may choose their faith through a logical process (and make many of the decisions in their lives based strictly on logic), faith itself is not logical – anymore than love is.

  • Lucy

    Man this it is frustrating reading some of the drivel filled posts here by those who are well and truly infected with the mind disease of religion.Just for a little fun how about you religion (gerin oil) junkies offer some scientific proof of the existence of gods? Oh and saying stuff like ‘I feel it, flowers are beautiful etc.’ is not fact based. I could very easily start a religion using my ceramic garden gnome as the voice of the supernatural convincing the gullible that the little fella talks. Being intensely moral I cannot do something like that or televangelize as it is too cruel to the gullible. Money is great but getting it by preying on the emotionally dysfunctional is abhorrent to me.What a tragedy that so many were bullied to the point of not being able to think outside the box. What are you afraid of?It is sickening to hear those defending their quirky beliefs by saying such ignorant, stupid remarks such as ‘Atheists do not love and are not loved’. That is again the mean words of fraudulent clerics. This illustrates how religions are founded on lies not the truth. Those who waste their time and money supporting religions are in essence not living life to the fullest. Why are so many willing to shirk off their intellects and regress back to the Stone Age celebrating the idiocy of primitive humans? That is in effect what those who succumb to religious superstition are doing.Who cares what the illiterate peasants invented through visions induced by food poisoning or epilepsy etc. this is the 21st century and we know where babies come from and how to be good citizens. “Why do people experience religious visions? BBC Two’s Horizon suggests that in some cases the cause may be a strange brain disorder.”I am knew at age 6 that there were no gods and that religion allowed people to be mean to kids and women so am thankful not to have the brain disease, phew.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Lucy, I don’t see the source of the quote you cited ‘Atheists do not love and are not loved.’ Can you point it out to me?I also ask you to consider that people who are questioning their religious faith for the first time, might be put off by your disparaging remarks, suggesting they have a brain disease. Maybe you don’t care.It does bother me, though, that you sound as arrogant as any fundamentalist Christian gleefully telling atheists they’re going to hell.

  • Peter Jackson

    JOHN SHELBY SPONG Former Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of NewarkFrom the beginning people have had strange experiences they could not explain, it was as if someone or some unseen force did something mysterious. Even today I read that polls show that about 30% of people say they have had an experience, usually unrelated to a church, that they call spiritual. There are many books describing these experiences.For thousands of years people called mystics have sought through meditation and other means an experience of great peace, oneness, harmony, etc. that we call God. This experience can be very powerful and often transforms our thoughts and lives. Many books have been written by mystics and saints of all religions and times, describing the experience they had. Although these experiences are often totally different there is most often a common thread weaving through them all.Now the problem begins, how do the mystics describe their experience to those who have not had the experience. It is so vast, powerful and detailed that it is impossible to describe, yet the benefits that could be obtained by each person are tremendous. Of course the explanation must be in the culture, thought-forms, personality-type and daily-living of the mystic’s people or they will not receive the full depth of meaning. So in an attempt to harness, to use, to contain this power a technique, a method, an experience, using the faculties of the people, namely intellect, emotion, love, and behavior, must be devised and is called a religion.What are some of these benefits? Here are some of the benefits I listed a few days ago in commenting – 5-13- 2007 – 9:13 PM to an article in the Washington Post, —- Evangelical Leader Returns To Catholicism —-ANYONE CAN USE RELIGIOUS MEDITATION TO GET A LESSER FEEL OF THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SAINTS AND MYSTICSMeditation is used greatly by the average person in Eastern religionsThe Christian Orthodox Church encourages the average person to have some personal experience of God the Spirit —as I understand their ways.Western Christianity has used the life of Jesus to teach and illustrate this power and also to give many specific examples of how to live with others and live within our mind and being in accordance with these experiences of God as had by the saints and mystics.Non-religious meditation is also used with many benefits. Recently Washington Post on-line has had a Transcript which details many of the non-religious benefits.As Einstein and other notable persons such as Bishop Spong above, have said, there is something mysterious that we cannot explain.However there is a tremendous amount that we are not able to explain in total or in significant amount, but that should not prevent us from using the limited experience we have to reap all the benefits we can.

  • densbtly

    Brice said:Well that’s a bit misleading… our brain is an electromagmet in the sense that electrical current running through any conductor creates a magnteic field. Magnetism is a relatively weak force though and the alignment of very, very distant planets and their effect on the human brain are hardly likely to have more magnetic influence on our brains than a cell phone or IPOD, or even a modestly powerful kitchen magnet… Lunar movements thorugh GRAVITY , not magnetism, does the newtonian push-me-pull-you thing with our large bodies of water and smaller ones to a less observable degree… but look at the masses and distances compared to that of the stars and planets. A cardboard box sitting on earth’s surface can stand up your your gravitational weight… so the actual effect of the stars in the big dipper’s location on the horizon would have so little total impact on your mind and body that it could easily be gravitationally offset/countered/interfered with by a passing car. A practical example is your cell phone.. the transmitters at work in cell towers and even in your blackberry are degrees of magnitude more powerful than that which reaches the earth by the entire galaxy full of stars, yet your signal drops just driving through a small tunnel. So unless there is another force at work, and I scientifically won’t discount that as a possibility, (strings, spinors, twistors, whatever…) the effect is staggeringly unlikely. but the real problem with astrology is not so much in the ‘science’ as it is with the ‘practice’. To date, even powerful magnetic fields, Even the almighty and powerful MRI machines have failed to predict the future with a greater ratio of accuracy than statistical probability or SWAGs.

  • Anonymous

    Peter Jackson,

  • Anonymous

    “Interesting assumption that faith precludes any rational thought, examination, or quandrary. Utterly false, of course, but interesting nontheless.”If it can be subjected to rational thought or examination, there’s no need for “faith”—-if you can know or prove it based upon facts and logic, then you don’t need “faith” it’s true.It reminds me of Steve Allen’s great line: “Do I believe that two plus two equals four? No, I know two plus two equals four.”The capacity of believers for self-deception is the most awe-inspiring thing about religion.

  • yoyo

    I would urge readers to scroll back

  • yoyo

    I was referring to the first Lucy post.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe in Catholicism without evidence! This is where people like Hutchins go wrong in assuming such erroneous arguments. I would probably start with FIDES ET RATIO, epistemology, and metaphysics. That would be a good start! The Early Church Fathers rich wisdom in philosophy and theology is masterful and unrivaled. No one like a close minded person like Hutchins understand this because they choose not too. It is possible to demonstrate God’s existence, although not a priori, yet a posteriori from some work of His more surely known to us. Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • E favorite

    Anonymous/Saint Thomas Aquinas – you post is a good example of how complicated it gets when a person tries to assert the existence of God.Do we really need fides et ratio? espistemology? metaphysics? and all this just as a start?

  • Torgny Jansson

    Dear Christopher,Torgny Jansson

  • Cleve

    Saint Thomas Aquinas: (doest thou blaspheme?)

  • densbtly

    YOYO: Thanks for mentioning the Lucy post!! Wow, I must have missed it the first time through….

  • nicholas

    Mr Hitchins

  • Bernie Bee

    Although nothing to do with astrology, is the following a definite example of premonition?RENDEZVOUS I have a rendezvous with DeathIt may be Death shall take my handGod knows ’twere better to be deepBut I’ve a rendezvous with Death

  • Bernie Bee

    Last line should read:

  • Karen

    E Favorite: I am afraid that you continue to not get my point. I don’t resent the fact that “enlighted” people don’t believe in God, I resent the fact that they think that only they are enlighted because they rejected faith, while the rest of us believers are ostriches with our heads in the sand.I did not mean to imply that Yoyo was directing his statement to me. I was giving his statement as an example of the kind of silly condescencion that usually stops me from participating in this forum. There is nothing to be gained from conversing under those circumstances.Finally, you come across as quite disdainful yourself when you say that you applied logic to your study of religion whereas I and other believers do not. You see, many many of us look at the same facts that you looked at and believe that logically, there must be a creator because things never come out of nothing (I am simplifying of course, not enough time for a detailed explanation). And until somebody can tell me how the big bang came about, and how creation began, I think it is illogical to say, for sure, that there is no creator. Many scientists are deists because of this fact. Logic is not only yours. And it is arrogant and a good conversation killer to start with that premise.I think that logically, a creator has to be considered among the possibilities. Much debate could take place about the nature of this creator. Did he just get the ball rolling and that’s it? Does he take an interest in our lives or not? Does he still intervene? Does he care, or not, about what happens to his creation. Can various scriptures be believed, or not. etc…Your are right about one thing though: I should not care about others’ opinion of my beliefs, and I don’t. I just have a hard time interacting with people who right off the bat, brand me as illogical or dumb. Not much fun debating under those circumstances.

  • Bernie Bee

    But Karen, a 4yr old toddler has been abducted in horrific circumstances in Portugal. Surely to Christ we could all be given a break and feel relief if the Virgin Mary or Jesus or Yewha or whoever would relent and safely return that poor wee wean tae her Mum and Dad?

  • E favorite

    Karen, if I thought you were illogical or dumb, I wouldn’t have engaged you in conversation. I don’t deny the possibly of some sort of “creator,” but when you said you were Christian, I assumed you believed in the basic supernatural events of Jesus’ life story. This is a far cry from the hypothesis of a big-bang related creator. Accepting the supernatural requires faith, and is de facto illogical. I believed in these things for a long time, without giving it very much thought and without being challenged on it in a serious way. I accepted what the nuns told me – the virgin birth, resurrection and ascension were miracles –one time sorts of things, specially arranged by God for the incarnation of his son. When I applied logic to those ideas, they didn’t hold up. First I had to believe in God, then I had to believe ancient stories that this God purposely sent his son, via virgin birth to human female, to be brutally murdered to atone for sins that this God landed on us – his creation, whom he supposedly loved. Next I had to believe the son rose after three days (making his death not much of a sacrifice after all), then ascended bodily into the stratosphere without asphyxiating and now sits at the right hand of God — where? Somewhere outside the milky way? In those days, they didn’t know anything about outer space, but we do now. So where is heaven? Thus, Karen, when I finally thought it through, I realized it didn’t make sense, and required faith, not logic, to accept it. If you believe in the standard Christian miracles, I don’t respect those particular beliefs of yours, though I respect your right to have them. Still, I respect you as a person. I respect your political views and I respect and appreciate whatever good works you do through your church or otherwise. And truly, Karen, I hope the day comes soon when good, intelligent people like you don’t have to weigh the validity of incredible stories, in the process of making their lives more fulfilling.

  • Peter Jackson

    JOHN SHELBY SPONG Former Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of NewarkFrom the beginning people have had strange experiences they could not explain, it was as if someone or some unseen force did something mysterious. Even today I read that polls show that about 30% of people say they have had an experience, usually unrelated to a church, that they call spiritual. There are many books describing these experiences.For thousands of years people called mystics have sought through meditation and other means an experience of great peace, oneness, harmony, etc. that we call God. This experience can be very powerful and often transforms our thoughts and lives. Many books have been written by mystics and saints of all religions and times, describing the experience they had. Although these experiences are often totally different there is most often a common thread weaving through them all.Now the problem begins, how do the mystics describe their experience to those who have not had the experience. It is so vast, powerful and detailed that it is impossible to describe, yet the benefits that could be obtained by each person are tremendous. Of course the explanation must be in the culture, thought-forms, personality-type and daily-living of the mystic’s people or they will not receive the full depth of meaning. So in an attempt to harness, to use, to contain this power a technique, a method, an experience, using the faculties of the people, namely intellect, emotion, love, and behavior, must be devised and is called a religion.What are some of these benefits? Here are some of the benefits I listed a few days ago in commenting – 5-13- 2007 – 9:13 PM to an article in the Washington Post, —- Evangelical Leader Returns To Catholicism —-ANYONE CAN USE RELIGIOUS MEDITATION TO GET A LESSER FEEL OF THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SAINTS AND MYSTICSMeditation is used greatly by the average person in Eastern religionsThe Christian Orthodox Church encourages the average person to have some personal experience of God the Spirit —as I understand their ways.Western Christianity has used the life of Jesus to teach and illustrate this power and also to give many specific examples of how to live with others and live within our mind and being in accordance with these experiences of God as had by the saints and mystics.Non-religious meditation is also used with many benefits. Recently Washington Post on-line has had a Transcript which details many of the non-religious benefits.As Einstein and other notable persons such as Bishop Spong above, have said, there is something mysterious that we cannot explain.However there is a tremendous amount that we are not able to explain in total or in significant amount, but that should not prevent us from using the limited experience we have to reap all the benefits we can.

  • Karen

    E Favorite: thank you very much for your response. We will have to agree to disagree. I absolutely do not agree that faith is illogical. And yes as a Christian, I do believe in miracles, and I do believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and I have received Him as my Savior. In my previous post, I was just giving examples of things that would be interesting to discuss.I was not raised as nor am I a catholic so I cannot relate to your experience. As a 15 year old growing up in a civil war, surrounded by death, fear and violence, I went looking for answers, trying to make sense of what was happening around me. A christian friend suggested that I start reading the bible (which I had never done) and see if what I read made sense to me. No indocrination, no pressure, nothing shoved down my throat. I was seeking. So I started reading and somethings I understood, somethings I didn’t. I also read other holy books, listened to other world views. In those days, I was very much into reading the existentialists, social philosophy, futurists, etc. I read anything I could get my hands on. In the bomb shelter, by candelight sometimes, I read. And the only thing that really made sense and helped me understand the hell on earth that I was living in was the Bible, the story of the fall of mankind (which may be allegorical rather then historical) and God’s plan for our redemption. Before coming to that conclusion, I flirted with agnosticism and even atheism but God drew me back. I still struggle to understand things. There is still a lot that I do not understand. But you know what, there is nothing in atheism that could have helped survive through all the horrors I went through. And I don’t mean physical survival but mental survival. I firmly believe that God is real, that Jesus is my savior and that my faith is built on solid ground. But let us assume that I am wrong. Then what? What do Harris and Dawkins and Hitchens have to offer to replace the comfort and love that are mine in Christ Jesus? Logic? Enlightment? I consider myself pretty enlighted and logical. But I also consider myself loved and comforted. I do not believe in a slot machine god: put in a prayer, get what you ask for. But I believe that God is with me, in my difficult circumstances, helping me get through them. And that, E Favorite, is the blessing of faith.

  • Bernie Bee

    Karen it amazes me how an obviously intelligent person can, as an adult, have flirted with agnosticism and atheism then find enlightenment on reading the Bible! Have you actually read any of the Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens books?

  • E favorite

    Yes, Karen, we do disagree. I’d say you don’t care that faith is illogical, because it has served you so well through both the good and bad times of your life. I notice you didn’t address any of the illogic I mentioned in the Jesus story. I suppose a rational explanation it is not important to you, because it’s a matter of faith. Fine, but that’s not logic. Christianity has brought you needed peace and comfort. That’s great, but it’s not logic. I see your brand of faith as totally benign – it helps you get through life’s trials, and has no negative impact on society, in fact, you exercise your faith to improve society. One thing, though, when you teach your children about religion, please also teach them that there are good people who aren’t religious, because they don’t accept things they can’t see for which there is no evidence. Just as all children eventually give up belief in Santa Claus, some adults don’t believe in God. Atheism is not a faith – it simply means absence of belief – it has no dogma, no punishments or promises and offers no comfort or anything else. Comfort can come from many sources – religion, music, reading, friends, family, nature. Please tell your children that some atheists also identify as humanists. Humanism is not a faith, either. It’s a philosophy. The American Humanist Association describes it as “a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”If you think it’s worthwhile to teach your children that, Karen, then there’s something we can agree on.

  • E Favorite

    Concerned, that’s an impressive list of references, but I don’t think Karen is interested in more information. She has affirmation. Her faith is helping her and seems to be the type of faith that harms no one.

  • jwest

    I enjoyed reading your post Concerned. It astounds me how grown up intelligent people can hold so firmly to what amounts to as an allusion. Since I’ve been reading these post I sence a coming together of a new force in the non-believing community. We seem to be talking more of our true identity. As Mr. Mark alluded to on another onfaith stream, too many americans are equateing critizism of our country with critizism of their god. It is one and the same to them. If you don’t think as they do, then you are an evil atheist against god and country. It is time we identify ourselves, step forward and let them all know we are here too. Christian you have no right to look down your nose at me and call me bad names. It sounds so simple but for centuries it as been impossible for christians to do.

  • jwest

    I enjoyed reading your post Concerned. It astounds me how grown up intelligent people can hold so firmly to what amounts to as an allusion. Since I’ve been reading these post I sence a coming together of a new force in the non-believing community. We seem to be talking more of our true identity. As Mr. Mark alluded to on another onfaith stream, too many americans are equateing critizism of our country with critizism of their god. It is one and the same to them. If you don’t think as they do, then you are an evil atheist against god and country. It is time we identify ourselves, step forward and let them all know we are here too. Christian you have no right to look down your nose at me and call me bad names. It sounds so simple but for centuries it as been impossible for christians to do.

  • jwest

    I enjoyed reading your post Concerned. It astounds me how grown up intelligent people can hold so firmly to what amounts to as an allusion. Since I’ve been reading these post I sence a coming together of a new force in the non-believing community. We seem to be talking more of our true identity. As Mr. Mark alluded to on another onfaith stream, too many americans are equateing critizism of our country with critizism of their god. It is one and the same to them. If you don’t think as they do, then you are an evil atheist against god and country. It is time we identify ourselves, step forward and let them all know we are here too. Christian you have no right to look down your nose at me and call me bad names. It sounds so simple but for centuries it as been impossible for christians to do.

  • jwest

    Sorry for the triple post % ^ (.

  • Brough

    Everything seems to have been covered here at this point – just a comment on some of the attacks on Hitchens:most of the non-sequitur arguments about his support for various other things, including most prominently the war, aren’t grounded in reality. For example, someone noted that Hitch never criticizes the Bush admin for the war effort and its execution – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the accusations leveled at him have been unthoughtful and generally exaggerrated or untrue. If you’re going to try to discredit him by changing the subject, please at least try to know what you’re talking about.

  • jwest

    Actually I never really like Hitchens until lately. Now I understand better where he comes from.

  • Anonymous

    If there were no horoscopes published in the Washington Post I wouldn’t have just trawled through these rabid, pointless and pig-ignorant comments.

  • Karen

    E Favorite: I did not address the factual issues you brought up about Jesus because I just don’t have the time to get into it, because I think that theologicans have addressed a lot of these issues that keep being brought up and because frankly, I don’t think that in general these kind of tit for tat arguments go very far. But mainly, I just don’t have enough time. I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way but as in it is saturday and between household chores, playing with the kids and spending time with hubby, there just are not enough hours in the day!I believe that the way I practice my faith is the way it is meant to be practiced, to help us get through life and try to do good by our fellow humans. I know that much strife has come from religion and religious wars. But much strife has also come outside of religion. Pol Pot, Stalin etc. were just as evil or more so then the inquisitors. I believe, as the Bible says, that we are not born good (I very much disagree with Rousseau in this regard) and that we have to learn to let go of our desire for dominance, vengeance, etc. We have to learn to forgive, to share, to care and so on. I am not saying at all that being good and moral only comes from faith. I have no idea whether Bill Gates is religious or not, I would think probably not, but he is doing a lot of good around the world and I commend him for it. What I am saying is that people will do evil things to each other, sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes to eradicate religion, sometimes just for desire of dominance etc. Blaming all the ills of the world on religion ignores the fact that it is people who cause those ills, not the religions themselves. People find excuses in religion or in other things but that does not mean that the religion itself is bad. Can anybody honestly say that if we all lived up to Jesus’ commandments to love one another, take care of the poor and not care about money, the world would not be a better place?With regard to my children, we are raising them in the christian faith but with the specific understanding that they will have to make their own decisions as to what to believe. I tell them very clearly that they are not to commit to Christ just to please us and that we would love them no matter what their faith decisions are. It is certainly my prayer and hope that they will grow up to be christians but that will have to be their decision, not ours. I also encourage them to read and explore, like I did and like my husband did. But I will tell you then when a dear friend of ours died last year of a brain tumor, they both found tremendous comfort in the knowledge that he was in heaven, free of pain, and that we would see him again. Finally, I will reiterate to you and the other poster that I am conviced that my faith is logical and that I did not suspend reason by believing. I do believe that the BIble presents us with the best framework for understanding the world and yes, my faith has helped me weather some pretty tough storms and still does. Life is tough, and the presence of God in me, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit has made all the difference. I still have my moments of doubt sometimes, but then I remember specific times in my life when the Holy Spirit was clearly at work in me and in my life, I hang on to that and keep going.

  • JR

    I should also mention that astrology is based on a ‘scientific’ outlook that is beyond absurd. Namely, the idea that ours is a geocentric universe, and that the sun and moon are planets.

  • jwest

    Karen states her position very well. I respect her and know plenty of people like her. And if that is were they find solace and comfort then I am truely happy for them. I find mine playing golf, my guitar, and photography. I find it in my family and friends.I find it all around me in life. I enjoy life because I am not questioning it so much anymore. I don’t ask for something I know I won’t get and I have greater expectations of my fellow man. We should be kind to one another, treat each other with respect no manner what religion or culture we come from. I’d like to see that.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Karen – At this point, I really don’t want you to try address the factual issues about Jesus. I know it can’t be done logically – there’s nothing logical about the supernatural – I bet even a theologian would tell you that. It’s faith.Of course your children were comforted by thinking that your family friend was someplace where they would see him again. Who wouldn’t be? That’s doesn’t make it real – just comforting – which counts for a lot when people are grieving. I trust also that you’re raising your children well and not forcing them into Christianity. However, you didn’t mention whether you’d take me up on introducing them to the idea that some good people choose not to believe in God. Was that an oversight? I don’t want to impose on your week-end time with your family, but I would like a quick response to that.I agree that Jesus’ messages of love and compassion are good – and know that these are good ideas no matter what their origin. I also know that they do predate Jesus and exist in people who have never heard of Jesus.Though I don’t personally identify with the workings of the “holy spirit,” I can see it’s a sustaining and positive force for you and think that, whatever it is, it will continue to serve you well.

  • Bernie Bee

    Karen if you can’t bring yourself to look at those recommended books then can you at least tell us what you make of the following extract from the Dostoyevsky masterpiece, “The Brothers Karamazov” (available free on Google. Chapters 35, 36 would be a good starting point) I posted the following elsewhere in response to those who put forward the proposition that evil must exist if we are to appreciate what is good. “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions?” The devout Christian the question is put to ‘softly answers, ‘No’, and who among us would be willing to offer the contrary as our response? The “argument from evil” is generally considered one of the most powerful arguments against the existence of (or at least belief in, depending upon the formulation) the traditional sort of God which is central to the classical, philosophical theism (and, hence, the sort of God central to most monotheistic religions today). Every formulation of the ‘argument from evil’ basically makes the case that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with the existence of the god in question. Therefore this god can’t exist, probably doesn’t exist, or it is at least reasonable to disbelieve in this god. Responses and rebuttals to the ‘argument from evil’ almost always posit some ‘greater good’ that is achieved through the presence of evil in the world. Perhaps the presence of evil is required in order for us to have ‘free will’ or perhaps evil is necessary in order for us to develop positive qualities like sympathy and charity. Whatever this ‘good’ may be, apologists argue that because this good is so important, the existence of the evil required to achieve it does not negate the existence of their god. Such defences often seem rather cold-blooded because we are, after all, talking about the death and suffering of real human beings and not simply abstract concepts. The above passage from Dostoyevsky’s book puts this into sharp relief by taking our attention away from the concept of ‘evil’ and focusing it instead upon the experiences of a single innocent creature, the example of that tiny baby who is suffering. What Dostoyevsky describes is a relatively simple trade-off, happiness and peace for all of humanity (eventually) in exchange for the slow torture and death of a single innocent baby. Is this a fair trade? That hardly seems likely. The gain is unambiguously great and wonderful—it’s not something that anyone would lightly turn down. The cost, however, is tremendous. Imagine if you, Karen, were required to be the one who inflicts the torture and suffering on the infant. Would you do it? Could you do it? If the cost here is not worth the gain, how can you argue that the gains alleged in various theodicies are worth the monumental suffering experienced by so many human beings over the millennia? If happiness, peace, and rest for all of humanity is not worth the slow torture and death of a single infant, how can ‘free will’ or ‘charity’ be worth the slow torture and death of countless millions throughout human history? I suppose there will always be some who insist that this is a fair and reasonable trade, that the development of positive virtues like the ability to experience ‘sympathy’ is so important that all this incredible suffering is quite a reasonable price to pay. I’m not sure, however, that such people really have developed this virtue and really are able to experience something like ‘sympathy’ after all. It’s not much of a trade when the supposed gains aren’t being experienced.

  • Karen

    Wow, much to try to respond to… E Favorite: I have definitely told my daughter that there are many good, moral people out there that chose not to believe in God for various reasons. My son is not really old enough for these conversations yet. My daughter is very inquisitive and big hearted. She asks me a lot of tough questions. Together, we try to make sense of things. It would be wrong of me to teach my children that morality can only be found in the context of faith. That is the kind of stuff that produces narrow minded adults. JWest, thank you very much for your very kind response. I am glad to know that you have come in contact with other christians that hopefully do not bring disrepute to the name of Jesus. Just to clarify, I do not only find comfort in my faith. Family, friends, books, music, taking long walks with the kids… they all give me plenty of enjoyment. All those (except for the kids of course) were available to me as a child and young adult growing up in the middle of a war. And at that point, they were definitely not enough.Bernie Bee: in answer to your first post to me, wondering how an intelligent person like me (thank you) considered atheism but still went back to believing the Bible. Guess what, I ask myself a similar question about obviously well meaning people like you, E Favorite and others on these threads, as well as friends of mine that are atheists and agnostics: how can you all look at the evidence and not believe in God, and not believe in Jesus. So you see, the disbelief in the other side’s opionions cuts both ways. But as long as we all respect each others’ right to believe or not believe, no reason why we can’t get along. I have never believed in imposing my views on others and never will. Above all else, faith has to be a free choice. I firmly believe that that is the only kind of faith that God wants.The question of evil is indeed the toughest one and the reason many people to do not believe. I do not struggle with the choice in the Brothers Karamazov because I do not believe that God would ever put this choice in front of us. When there was a sacrifice to be made, He sacrificed Himself. Jesus was God among us. He walked a mile in our shoes, he suffered as we do and more and he was the sacrifice necessary for redemption.Finally, you have all given me many suggestions of books to read, some of them I have actually read. The Jesus Seminar has very little credibility in my eyes because of their methodology. Biblical experts have demonstrated the pitfalls of their work in detail on some of these threads but Concerned keeps pushing them on us and is practically worshipful of Crossan. I am not and have never been closed minded and I do read the works of biblical debunkers etc. I have read some of Harris’ writings and find them mostly laughable. Dawkins and Dennett are a lot more interesting. At the end of the day, I remain convinced of the truth of the main narrative of the Bible.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Karen

  • Karen

    Anonymous: Victoria is an irish convert to islam. I have disagreed with much of her posts though I think she tends to be pretty nice and respectful. Not sure why you think we would be one of the same or twins.

  • Anon

    victoria is not only an American Muslim of mostly Irish origin, she used to be Catholic. Before she converted to Islam at age thirty eight eight years ago, she had spent many years in a Franciscan convent in training to be a nun. So her niceness has deep and long Catholic roots.

  • Dan O’Bannon

    does it even matter? if enough people believe it to be true to them and their lives, they’re going to internalise it and make it (come) true or manifest. perhaps it may so twist their personal outlook that they may “believe” it has came true.choose your progamming carefully!why do we still need an invisible man in the sky to be good and moral? that’s the big question…

  • Dan O’Bannon

    does it even matter? if enough people believe it to be true to them and their lives, they’re going to internalise it and make it (come) true or manifest. perhaps it may so twist their personal outlook that they may “believe” it has came true.choose your programming carefully!why do we still need an invisible man in the sky to be good and moral? that’s the big question…

  • Lee

    It is obvious that Mr. Hitchens does not view religion, esp. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, very highly. For the devout of these (and presumably other) religions, the “simple faith”–being prepared to believe that for which there is no evidence–only leads us to be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.Now who said that religious people, all religious people, no less, have this “simple faith”. Even if a significant number of us do have it, so what? He presumes that we are all spiritually lazy, and that only the real work of humanity and true guidance can come from the “sense” of science, as opposed to the “nonsense” of religion. However, the author now has the burden of proving how science, other than in people’s standard of living, has improved society. What noble ideas and visions do we have for humanity from science? Here are a few: medical science was advanced by the Nazi’s horrific experiments upon their Jewish captives. We can thank them for the human-skin lamp shade! The most incredible achievement of science, the development of the atomic bomb, was used to kill tens of thousands over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to keep whole hemispheres of the globe only minutes away from eradicating the humand race. Our powerful computer technology was used by the 9/11 terrorists to send email and communicate over cell phones, to transfer money, etc., for their evil work. You can bet that technology is being used by sleeper cells for that purpose even today in this country.When has a society without religion ever been peaceful? The Soviet Union was a godless nation, and look what it produced: poverty, death, the gulags, and so on. What good came out of that place? Sure, Christianity had its anti-semitism, the Crusades, the thirty-years war, the inquisition. However, religion also taught us to love our neighbor, and help move us from tribalism to democracy and free markets (read the Old Testament to see the development millenia ago). One thing the author neglects to mention is that we all must believe some things at some time without evidence. We don’t view a table of data in order to drive our cars to work. We don’t prove that the engine would not explode upon starting, or the bridge we cross wouldn’t fall apart with us on it. We don’t call the EPA in order to see if our water is safe before we boil that spaghetti. Yet all of these actions, which are inherently non-religious, could cause us to be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. So where does that leave us? In no better place without religion than we are with religion.

  • Anonymous

    What a stupid personal attack…I am of course referring to the moron (possibly plural) who made this about Bush.And first off, the man supports the war and the man willing to do it, not neccessarily the tactics and strategy. Mistakes have been made, but so have many successes. The fact that the same idiot who believes in astrology and other such nonsense disagrees with someone as brilliant as Hitchens is a bit telling about the argument against Bush as well.”I BELIEVE THAT BUSH IS EVIL BECAUSE THE STARS SAY SO!”

  • E favorite

    Good, Karen. Just keep being open with your children – and maybe putting in a plug for non-believers, whenever you see an opportunity, among your church friends. I will do the same for open-minded Christians.Also, here’s something to add to your reading list – Albert Schweitzer’s “Quest of the Historical Jesus.” It’s an old book – 1910 – and the whole thing is available free online. Schweitzer was a German theologian before becoming a famous missionary doctor. Although his theological studies led him to question much of the Christian scriptures, he still led an intensely Christian life in as a medical missionary among in Africa. Here’s a link to the last chapter – “Results” – PS – you sound nothing like Victoria to me.

  • Brian Monroe

    Just an observation of Hitchen’s atheist argument from his debate with Al Sharpton.Christopher repeatedly cited the genocidal massacre of the Canaanites at the hands of the Israelites. In citing these events as recorded in the Bible, he connotes the historical accuracy of something that happened most likely around 1200 – 1100 BC. At the same time he repeatedly questions the historical accuracy of the Gospel and even the existence of Jesus, events occurring around 30 AD. It would seem that Hitchens ‘objective’ analysis of religion (in this case, the Judeo-Christian variety)would have us believe in the authenticity of events which transpired 3000 years ago versus events which transpired 2000 years ago. The only reason, I think one would make such an odd and unhistorical basis for an argument would be to validate the barbaric aspects of religion (ie the Canaanite genocide) and to obscure the redeeming and compassionate aspects (ie the many profound sayings of Jesus Christ). By questioning the mere existence of Jesus Christ, Hitchens is free from exploring his words and actions and evaluating them from an objective standpoint, which any sensible person would come to, at the very least, an apologetic view of Christ and the fundamental roots of Christianity. The archaeological and historical evidence of the Canaanite genocide is scant at best; however, the existence of Christ is supported by at least two different Gospel sources (most likely Mark and the theoretical Q gospel). Also, Jesus is mentioned as a real historical figure by the credible historian Josephus in his Testimonium Flavianum.

  • MJ O’Shea,

    Dear Ms Quinn, On the Faith vs Reason question, it has never been pointed out, as far as I know, that it is atheism that is Faith-riddled, and Theism that is Rational. Proof: Dawkins lives in hope, ‘faith’ surely, that some day physics will discover how matter might cause matter. Theism however derives its affirmation of God from Aristotle’s rational deduction of a Prime Mover. As for this proof, today, (using Russell’s Paradox of 1902), it would run thus: “(1) There can be no Set of all sets. (Why? Because they’ve all been used up already). ‘But surely it can’t be that simple!’ It is.I hope I have made it clear the usual level of discussion of this subject operates on a very low level. Once again Mr Hitchens seems to have backed a loser. Yours,

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Brian Monroe -Wow. You totally miss the points that Hitchens made in the Sharpton debate. I saw the debate and have read his book twice, and it’s very simple:IF you believe the stories in the Bible, then you are faced with a dichotomy – the OT delivers one message, and the NT delivers another. The key word is “IF.”Hitchens no more regards the OT stories as history than he does the NT stories as history. Ergo, your premise doesn’t apply to what he said. Myths written 3000 years ago or 2000 years ago are still myths. Myths can’t and don’t demand a test for truth, least of all any test one would apply to actual history.BTW – if you’ll read Hitchens’ book, you’ll find that he believes that the NT is much worse than the OT (and I can’t disagree with him on that one). If you wish to learn his reasoning behind that, then I suggest you plunk down the $ and read the thing.

  • jwest

    Mr. Mark makes a very good point when he says to pluck down the dollars and read the thing. The number one reason my christian friends don’t wan tot take to me about believe is because they haven’t read the thing. But they believe every word is true because someone told them.

  • jwest

    pls excuse my sloppiness, I sent before previewing.

  • Dr. Dog

    Regrettable that so many posters here attempt to use Hitchens’ views on Iraq to refute his views on religion, rather than addressing what he says directly. It’s the most transparent ad hominem ever.

  • Yahzi

    SANJAY ALTEKAR wrote: Astrology is part fo the Hindu tradition. If one don’t like Hinduism that’s fine, but I wonder if Mr Hitchens would be as vitriolic towards all the other great religions too?:D 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 As irony, that’s priceless.As a demonstration of how people feel free to comment on things they know nothing about, it’s exemplary.As an honest question by someone only vaguely aware of Western culture, the answer is: Yes, Mr. Altekar, Christopher Hitchens is equally vitriolic to all religions, great and small.

  • joseph palazzo

    There are many things that are common to both science and religion, whether it’s about its impact on the personal, social or political aspect of human activities. The real difference is at the philosophical level, more particularly on the notion of truth. On a fundamental level, religion says: there is a set of core beliefs that you must accept — for Christians, that Jesus is the son of God; for Muslims, that Mohammed is the prophet of God, etc. On the other hand, science says: for any truth you must provide evidence that supports it. Religion says you can do that also, except for those core beliefs — those are off-limits. The crucial question is: on which one will you hedge your bets when there is matter — your health is failing, for example — on which the two flagrantly disagree?

  • bruce

    The humility of a God who allows a person named Christopher to be a classic iconoclast astonds me.

  • Michael Doane

    Shelly,I guess Hitch got to you, right? Rather than examine a Disneyfication of life, you want to challenge a test of positive thinking? His vision is less than dull. It is the personifcation of exciting. Enjoy your bland acceptance. Sad.

  • Nick Lento

    Thanks to Christopher Hitchens for sparking such a (generally 😉 great discussion/thread! For what it’s worth, I wish to associate myself with the remarks of Shrieking Violet (though I detected, not a hint of shrieking).If one accepts all of Hitchens’ premises; then of course one would have to come to, pretty much, the same conclusions. The problem with Hitchens on the question of “the existence of God” is that each of us has a different, essential, definition/understanding/experience of what the word “God” even means.As for organized religiosity; I tend to generally agree that it has been used a tool that has resulted in much suffering, cruelty and death; but that’s not the whole story/truth.Evil behavior exists with or without religion as a rationale. It’s all about power, ego and fear.As long as this thread has been, there hasn’t been much discussion of the distinction between spiritual realities as experienced by individuals and religious practices/beliefs/dogmas as put forth by organized religions.My own impression of Hitchens is that he’s a professional contrarian trying to earn a living. The full context of his work, history, political journey and ideological “evolution” to the point where he has become a professional (he does get paid for it, eh?) apologist for the invasion/occupation of Iraq is all relevant to ascertaining his sincerity/intellectual honesty in his stance re religion/God.Having said all of that I do agree with Hitchens on the general premise that we have much to fear from some organized religion’s (cults’) attempts to theocratize our nation/planet.I submit to you that religions that organize around fear and/or the personalities of their “leaders” have nothing to do with any spiritual reality; but rather are a manifestation of the more base/perverse aspects of “human” nature.To the person being tortured, it makes not much difference if the torture is being perpetrated in the name of “God” or of “the state”; it’s the same sickness by a different label.Anyway, here’s a video of Chris Hedges recent talk at NYU’s Brennan Justice Center that some of you might find interesting. Enjoy.

  • dimmer Jones

    Although Mr. Hitchens’ book may contain little that is ‘new’, it is wonderfully written and it makes me laugh, and puts a spring in my step.Thank you, Mr. Hitchens.dj

  • Brian Monroe

    Mr. Mark,The current consensus by historians on Josephus is quite simple: although we lack the original manuscript, and the sources that mention Jesus most likely have been altered by later Christians, Josephus likely did mention Jesus in some form.As for the Old Testament and New Testament ‘myths.’ It is your belief that events in the Bible are myths, but you have no evidence to support you. It is likely that some of the events described in the Bible are not true (perhaps, more appropriate to be viewed allegorically rather than literally)but at the same time we have separate, independent evidence corresponding to events in the Bible. I think the credible historian has to view the Bible as any other ancient source: written and passed on by fallible human beings in the context of their religious and cultural beliefs, with the potential to provide certain insights on the events, values, and beliefs of people who actually existed: the peculiarly monotheistic tribal inhabitants of a world dominated by polytheistic inclinations. To be curious about the advent and existence of such a people in such a world and to treat their ideas with respect is the only legitimate viewpoint by the historian who, rather than viewing history from the perspective of the current age’s language and identity, is able to separate himself/herself from their age and view historical events and people from the perspective of their subjects. And for me, divorced from any political or religious loyalties, the Abrahamic faiths, seen through the context of the age they come from, deserves an apologetic viewpoint.

  • Yammer

    1. Hitchens does not support pre-emptive war. My reading of Hitchens is that he thinks the war between the militant Qutbist interpretation of Islam and the West has been going on for decades and that the current war is not so much against Afghanistan and Iraq as it is set in those countries, with the fighters coming from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.2. Hitchens supports Bush on the issue of fighting that war. He has exoriated Bush repeatedly on other issues, including faith.

  • Jeff

    G-d bless the amazing Christopher Hitchens.

  • E Favorite

    Brian Monroe: Regarding myths in the Bible. Please check out the Book “The Bible Unearthed” by Jewish archeologist Finkelstein and Jewish historian, Silberman. Bottom line – no evidence for Exodus and many other OT stories. Bernie Bee – nice to see you here.For the record – I want to correct my sloppy editing my post above. It should say: “Although his [Schweitzer’s] theological studies led him to question much of the Christian scriptures, he still led an intensely Christian life as a medical missionary in Africa.”

  • rodpodd

    I think I will personally accept JOZEVZ as my personal savior. His use of capital letters inspires me to worship on faith alone. I pray for his guidance and deliverance from all evil. Namely, intelligent writers like Hitchens and Dawkins.

  • Karen

    E Favorite: thank you for the book recommendation. I will check it out.Bernie Bee: my apologies for not being more clear in my post. When I was talking about evidence, I did not mean the Bible. Though I believe in its truth, and though many agnostics and atheists have come to faith based on their study of the Bible and early christian scriptures, I know that this kind of evidence would not hold much water with you. I meant the evidence of the natural world. In the words of the great cosmologist Allan Rex Sandage: ” It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated that can be explained by science. It is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence”. Sandage also said that the Big Bang was a supernatural event that cannot be explained within the realm of science as we know it. He said that science had taken us to the First Event but it cannot take us further to the First Cause. In his opinion, the sudden emergence of matter, space, time and energy pointed to the need for some kind of transcendence. Sandage was an atheist from childhood but became a christian at 50 because of the evidence that he saw in studying the cosmos. Please note that he has spent his life studying stars, galaxies, remote galaxies and quantifying the universe’s expansion through his work at various observatories. He even studied and worked with Edwin Hubble. So I think that we can all agree that his scientific credentials are impeccable.In short I believe that nature itself provides the strongest evidence for the presence of a creator.

  • Titus

    I’m persuaded by the Neil Peart sentiment thatIt does seem like God has outlived his usefullness, and believing in his cruelty is counterproductive to our future. Should we even consider a future or continue trying to coerce God into a premature appearence at Armegeddon? What good is that? God has charged the elect, whether they be Jews, Muslims or Calvinists to a destructive path. At what point do we defy God by dedicating ourselves to mankind? I feel I must join Hitchens, Dawkins and others in spitting at foolish religion so that we may truly be saved. Its seem the truly christain thing to do.

  • Kimpatsu

    Well written, Hitch. Of course astrology is ludicrous; if anyone could actually demonstrate its reality under properly double-blinded conditions, they would win Randi’s $1 million prize. The fact is, astrological interpretation is purely subjective, with no basis in reality.

  • FlyingTeapot

    The underlying principle of I-Ching is interesting.The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.Infact I find it amazing that the thought process used in “framing” the world is quite rigour and satisfactory. Compared this with the simplistic Devil versus God metaphor to represent/explain our world.However, the Chinese schrewed up big time when try to correlate the outcome of their fate with Anyway, for those who thinks that believing that Fying Teapot in the Universe is a joke, wait till you see the offerings in any Chinese funerals. The Chinese believes that Credit Card will be used in Hell as well. ;)Maybe the remark on “What!!! No Santa Claus during Christmas?” can be equally applied to Chinese funerals as well “What!!! No Credit Cards in Hell”?The biggest question for Atheist is the question on the Origins of everything. How come Out of Nothing there is Something?What make you think that “From Nothingness there is Something” is not as bizarre as the phrase “From Nothingness there is God.”The Spontaneous generation was rejected during Louis Pasteur. It is funny now that when it comes to the Origins of the Universe, the spontaneous theory is accepted like a gospel amongst the Atheists!

  • E favorite

    Hi, Karen – I know there are many scientists and other intelligent people who believe in Christianity. Their belief is based on faith. It’s unrelated to Christianity’s stories being factual or its dogma being accurate. As to science pointing to a “Creator” – maybe. I and many other intelligent people don’t discount that there is something before the big bang that we don’t understand and may never understand. But that doesn’t mean God did it – it could be something that science hasn’t figured out yet. That has been the case so far with things once attributed to the supernatural. And the presence of an as yet unexplained creator certainly doesn’t verify the whole Christian story of virgin birth, atonement for sins via sacrifice of God’s human son, and the miracles of resurrection and ascension. I’ve raised this in our earlier discussions. It seems important to you to think all of this is logical.Why do you love your husband and other logical, intelligent women do not? I bet he’s a nice guy, worthy of love. Probably some other women would fall in love with him if they had the chance – and some others wouldn’t. Where’s the logic in that? Even if your husband betrayed you, you might not fall out of love with him immediately (though you might wish you could). There are some beliefs and feelings that are not not based on logic – even though people with the beliefs and feelings are fully capable of logical thought.

  • evan

    I love mr hitchens, i love his work, i love his god-given mind. and the beautiful thing about god is that god loves him whether it is reciprocated or not.for someone who argues so passionately that we would’ve come up with the ‘do good,’ routine whether moses’ decreed it or not, mr htichens is an extremely mean-spirited person. he even goes so far as to ignore, poo-poo, or make light of stalin, mao, hitler, et al– the atheists who killed a LOT of people.if his logical conclusion is that we’d come up with the ‘moral code’ had moses not been there, mr hitchens is certainly missing the “love your neighbor” part.Hitchens, in one sense has turned into the old testament god, decreeing “thou shalt not believe in anything, lest the testy british man through some vapid intellectual crap at you.” ah well.

  • John

    The same points continue to be made because people still don’t get it.

  • Charley Nobel

    One of a couple additional and elegant refutations of astrology is that there are new planets which have been found post the creation of the concept of “star charts”. I suppose that the influence of these freshman celestial bodies only began upon discovery. So sorry, ante-Galileo believers. The other delightful misunderstanding of science practiced by Astrologers is that THE STARS HAVE MOVED! Polaris is an heir of another north star. Just ask the architects of ancient Giza.I guess that the lesson is to drop it and move on.

  • jwest

    Concerning I-CHING, tossing the coins is the quick and lazy, but I find effective way of getting a hexagram. The real way is much more time consuming and involves casting yarrow sticks. It requires a more meditative state on the casters part. If done correctly it requires a deep knowledge of the whole process. Karen.. Believers such as yourself have come to regarding atheism as a faith the same as christinity. This is a false premise on your and others part. Atheism is not a faith. It is just a plain and simple fact that some people don’t believe in the supernatural. Calling atheism a “faith” gives arguement to why does the government except the atheist faith but not theirs. Strawman comes to mind. Atheism is not a faith or religion. It’s a fake argument. Yesterday I spent time with an old friend who is recovering from double knee replacement surgury. He almost died in the process and was in a coma for two months. He told me his faith was stronger than ever and has read the bible twice during this long recovery process. I wanted so bad to ask him questions on what he is getting out of reading the bible twice but I know he is unwilling to talk about that. Why? It’s simple, most people I know that read the bible read it blindly. Not really understanding what they are reading or even wanting to try to understand it. They are programmed at an early age thru church bible school that it is a gift from god and you don’t question it. He believes that it is something he should do and it is powerful. I wanted to tell him most christians I know have never really read the bible and many more that have don’t know what they read. He didn’t read the bible for understanding, he read it because he thought that was what he was supposed to do after a life threatening situation. If this sounds confusing it’s because it is. He wants to stay right with god. I knew as I know not to question or otherwise try to get in a discussion with him. My point is most people just don’t want to be bothered by the complcations of the bible. It’s a sunday school book, that’s that.

  • Slopehed

    What’s throwing up in latin?

  • Bernie Bee

    Well now Karen, you say when you were talking about evidence you did not have the Bible in mind and that in short you believe it is nature itself provides the strongest evidence for the presence of a creator.But Karen, if you stop to think, even if only fleetingly, on the colossal scale of misery and suffering that humans and animals have endured from time immemorial it is hardly rational to consider that an omniscient, omnipotent creator, especially one that means well, set it all in motion? And then sending its son in human form into this chaotic arena to endure a sadistic death that only added to the confusion and became the cause of even more frightfulness?To my mind (at least until we know better) it is preferable to believe that randomness and chance brought the universe into existence rather than a supernatural entity that all the evidence would show had to be intent on evil.

  • nutr0d

    God is dead.Before God died it left a seed. That seed grew into a wonderful thing.That thing is life.In life sentience evolved.Sentience grew into an individual entity.That entity ponders… where is my mommy?

  • Bernie Bee

    Pukealageri = throwing up in Latin.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark, where do you get your research from, Wikipedia? The criticism of Flavius passages regarding Jesus has not been proven to be a forgery either! So the debate still goes on…

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark: Those who consider it to be completely genuine The third class of scholars believe that the whole passage concerning Jesus, as it is found today in Josephus, is genuine. The main arguments for the genuineness of the Josephan passage are the following: First, all codices or manuscripts of Josephus’s work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way. Second, it is true that neither Tertullian nor St. Justin makes use of Josephus’s passage concerning Jesus; but this silence is probably due to the contempt with which the contemporary Jews regarded Josephus, and to the relatively little authority he had among the Roman readers. Writers of the age of Tertullian and Justin could appeal to living witnesses of the Apostolic tradition. Third, Eusebius (“Hist. Eccl”., I, xi; cf. “Dem. Ev.”, III, v) Sozomen (Hist. Eccl., I, i), Niceph. (Hist. Eccl., I, 39), Isidore of Pelusium (Ep. IV, 225), St. Jerome (catal.script. eccles. xiii), Ambrose, Cassiodorus, etc., appeal to the testimony of Josephus; there must have been no doubt as to its authenticity at the time of these illustrious writers. Fourth, the complete silence of Josephus as to Jesus would have been a more eloquent testimony than we possess in his present text; this latter contains no statement incompatible with its Josephan authorship: the Roman reader needed the information that Jesus was the Christ, or the founder of the Christian religion; the wonderful works of Jesus and His Resurrection from the dead were so incessantly urged by the Christians that without these attributes the Josephan Jesus would hardly have been acknowledged as the founder of Christianity. All this does not necessarily imply that Josephus regarded Jesus as the Jewish Messias; but, even if he had been convinced of His Messiahship, it does not follow that he would have become a Christian. A number of possible subterfuges might have supplied the Jewish historian with apparently sufficient reasons for not embracing Christianity.

  • E favorite

    Sorry, Anon – though you are right that “few scholars would disagree” it’s not saying much. They are agreeing on the basis of very little evidence and none from the many contemporaneous historians. By the way, these same scholars make no claims about Jesus’ divinity. Only a few ancient historians mention Jesus at all, and it was long after his supposed death.Have you seen the works of Josephus? It’s a huge book in small print. even if the teeny part about Jesus were accurate, it wouldn’t say much about the relevancy of Jesus in his time.

  • Karen

    JWest: you must be confusing me with somebody else. I don’t think that I have ever said that atheism is a faith in any of my comments. Also, much of what you said in your post does not apply to me re: indocrination from an early age, not reading the Bible much etc. As I said in a previous post I was not indocrinated, I was seeking and I started reading the Bible on my own when I was 15 and have read it many times since. I do not think that I am that unique in this regard. In my current prayer group, just about all of us became commited christians independly of or in spite of our parents and communities. And we all read our Bibles and are pretty good about thinking for ourselves.E Favorite: in my previous post, I was not necessarily trying to say that faith is logical or can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. Faith by definition is believing in things unseen. I was just answering an earlier question from I think Bernie Bee about evidence for belief. I was trying to say that 2 people that are equally intelligent, scientific and logical can look at exactly the same evidence -namely the cosmos in my example- and come up with two entirely different conclusions. I look at the evidence and believe, you look at it and don’t. I wonder how come you can look at it and not believe and you look at the evidence and call my belief wishful thinking. And that is that.Finally Bernie Bee, I get your question about evil, and the way nature is at this point. This is a question I struggle with too. Part of the answer is that we will not understand all things on this side of heaven. Part of it is that what we currently see is nature in its fallen state. Finally, people bring up over an over again Father God sadistically torturing his son Jesus. Christians do not see it this way at all. Jesus is God come to us in person to reconcile us to Him. He laid down His life for us willingly. God in human form willingly shed some of his divine attributes and showed us His infinite love by his sacrifice. Again, you all recommend all sorts of books to me, some of which I will get to. I will recommended only one: Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. He answers these questions much better then I can do it here in the couple of minutes that I have.

  • Bernie Bee

    As you say Anon, those are indeed third class scholars, the same ones who champion creationism!

  • Bernie Bee

    Karen, If “part of the answer is that we will not understand all things on this side of heaven.” then what was the point of God morphing into the image of a person only to depart in such a manner that splits developed almost straight away into various sects oppressing and murdering each other down all the centuries over just what Jesus meant?For instance, when Jesus said, “This is my body…This is my blood…did he mean that literally or symbolically?

  • Anonymous

    E. Favorite, the writings of these ancient pagan historians Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and the Jewish historians Philo and Josephus shows some evidence that Jesus indeed existed. Have you read Church History Book I-X because there is relevance. Also the divinity of Christ is another debate. And yes I have read Josephus so don’t try to discredit me. I also care to read ancient writings from the early church fathers: Clement of Rome, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Papias, Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Irenaeus. They speak volumes of Christ’s divinity as they uphold the unbroken Apostolic Succession. Very powerful teachings of the Christ and the early church.Have a good night.

  • Mr Mark

    Anon provides a half-baked answer for why Tertullian and Justin didn’t bother quoting Josephus.He fails to mention the Xian writer Origen, who wrote in 240CE and who does quote Josephus but never mentions the TF. This fact shoots down Anon’s premise for why early writers didn’t cite Josephus as Origen did. It also gives us a Xian writer who is on record as reading Josephus. Does it not stretch credulity to believe that Origen wouldn’t have quoted the TF had if been present in pre-4th-century versions of Joesphus’ Antiquities? We can assume with a great degree of certainty that Origen didn’t quote the TF because it wasn’t there.The big question about the TF is this: why does no writer mention it until the 4th century? The answer is obvious: the man who first cites the phrase was an admiter forger for the church.The TF is FIRST MENTIONED in 340 by the Xian apologist and liar-for-the-faith. Eusebius (“We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity.” Eusebius – Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chapter 2). Isn’t that convenient?To whoever asked: no, I don’t get my info from Wikipedia, though I find many of the counters to my arguments spring from that source.

  • jwest

    KarenBernie Bee: my apologies for not being more clear in my post. When I was talking about evidence, I did not mean the Bible. Though I believe in its truth, and though many agnostics and atheists have come to faith based on their study of the Bible and early christian scriptures, etc etc…This statement lead me to believe you think, as others do, that atheism is a faith. If that was not your intention, then to quote a very noble and famous stateswoman “never mind”.

  • karl

    Poster cpwdc kindly offered a prime example of the intellectual failure of people who place science and religion on an even footing. He writes:”Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this MODERN hoax? And why would it matter, except that SCIENCE, too, believes that the cosmos EVOLVED with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force (GRAVITATION, LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS) that SCIENTISTS can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as GENETICS – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.”#1. The scientific method (determining the truth or falsehood of an assumption by conducting a reproducible controlled experiment designed to test that assumption) is not “modern;” it is as ancient as Demosthenes. Here cpwdc betrays an ignorance of science, of history, and of the history of science. A trifecta! Plus, science’s (well, scientists’) “belief” in a given theory or experimental interpretation, is always subject to change under the impact of new data. Which is 100% antithetical to the function of religion, which clings to outmoded beliefs and interpretations for thousands of years, at a stretch.#2. If there are serious cosmologists who propose that the cosmos “evolved with us in mind,” they apparently don’t publish. Maybe they suggest that idea to cpwdc in private, but I have yet to hear such an idea proposed in public. I’m betting this is demonstrative of cpwdc’s ignorance of that field, as well.#3. The Laws of Thermodynamics, Newtonian Physics, etc are not ‘almighty forces’ that ‘scientists can interpret.’ They are mathematical descriptions of fundamental physical rules governing how this universe operates. You think electromagnetism is ‘almighty?’ Think again, cpwdc. Or, better yet, crack a basic physics text and try to absorb some of its contents.#4. Genetics is not a “doctrine.” Genes and genetic processes have been directly observed, and genetics is simply a description of their functioning. On this point, maybe cpwdc should just try cracking a *dictionary.*Anyway, an old and tired argument, not to be resolved “until the last doddering priest is killed by a brick falling from the last crumbling cathedral.”For all his flaws, Voltaire got it right.

  • Mr Mark

    Brian Monroe writes:”it is clear from the ongoing debate regarding Josephus, that the historical evidence is inconclusive. The evidence, looked at objectively can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Jesus.”Then why do Xians – like you – continue to cite Josephus as a non-Biblical confirmation of Jesus’ existence? Earlier in this thread (on May 27, 2007 11:13 AM), you (ie: Brian) made the statement that, “Jesus is mentioned as a real historical figure by the credible historian Josephus in his Testimonium Flavianum.”Gee, that hardly sounds like a statement that the Josephus “evidence,” “looked at objectively can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Jesus.” I missed the part in your original post where you provided the caveats to the authenticity of the Josephus passages. Oh, that’s right – you didn’t. The caveats were later provided by (wait for it…) me.You later expanded on that, in your words, “inconclusive” thought, saying that the “current consensus” of historians believes that Josephus mentions Jesus “in some form” (of course, you provide no supporting evidence for your statement on those historians). You’re really trying to have it both ways, aren’t you?How about this – if the evidence “looked at objectively” can neither prove or disprove the existence of Jesus, then why don’t you and other Xians stop citing Josephus as a source that proves Jesus’ existence? Then, I won’t have to keep jumping in to offer some balance to your bold-faced (and hardly definitive) assertions. The Josephus discussion only happens on this board when Xians bring him up as some unimpeachable, non-Biblical source confirming Jesus existed (as did you, Brian, earlier in this thread). I am sure that I have never initiated a discussion about Josephus. My posts on Jospehus are invariably the result of countering some Xian presenting Josephus’ writings as proof positive for Jesus’ existence (ditto Pliny, Tacitus and the others).Quit posing “historically inconclusive” (your words) evidence as conclusive historical evidence, and we won’t keep having this same dialogue over and over again. Keep bringing Josephus up as “conclusive” evidence, and I’ll keep providing the balance.But thanks for finally admitting (at 7:58 pm today) what I’ve been saying all along – that Josephus’ “evidence” is no evidence at all.

  • E favorite

    Brian Monroe, you say, “The evidence, looked at objectively can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Jesus.”My sentiments exactly! But I reach this conclusion not even considering the highly questionable evidence from Josephus. Unlike events in the OT (tumbling walls, parting seas, avenging armies, etc.), Jesus didn’t do the kinds of things that produce a lot of archeological evidence. Besides, even if there were a Jesus wise-man, we know logically that the laws of nature can’t be suspended to allow the miracles that form the basis of the Christian faith. Also, Jesus’ wisdom turns up in many much older traditions and his miraculous life story is basically lifted from other ancient gods. So, while you can neither “confirm nor deny,” it looks quite shaky that Jesus existed and out of the question that he was the son of god. Agreed?

  • Brian Monroe

    Mr. Mark:After reading your recent post and reviewing our past exchanges, I feel oblige to correct a few things:1) Forgive me if I gave you the impression that I am a Christian. I have never claimed to be a Christian. Although I am a nominal Catholic, I would prefer to consider myself an apologist on religious matters. I believe that I made myself clear as to this position and how I arrived there.2)The only thing I said about Josephus, which seemed to arouse your concern, was the following: Jesus is mentioned as a real historical After everything that has been brought up, I still stand by this statement. It seems, at face value to be not that controversial or difficult of a statement to accept. It’s actually quite simple. To deny the validity of the statement you either 1, don’t accept that Jesus is mentioned in the TF or 2, you contest the characterization of Josephus as being a credible historian. 3) To the degree that you inferred the Josephus statement as being posited as “proof positive for Jesus’ existence” is a mistake on your part. At no time did I claim that Josephus gives us “proof positive.” What I intended the statement to suggest is that it may offer the historian an independent source of the historical Jesus. I never used words such as proof ‘positive, confirmed, slam-dunk.’ To the extent that you don’t accept what Josephus, as a secondary source, says because of his actually never meeting Jesus, I would welcome you to revisit the New Testament and read the sources which purport to having done so (also, I am curious as to the depth of your historical understanding in general, to reject out of hand secondary sources). As to the other caveats you so generously offered the discussion I will simply reiterate:4) The current consensus by historians on Josephus is quite simple: although we lack the original manuscript, and the sources that mention Jesus most likely have been altered by later Christians, Josephus likely did mention Jesus in some form.You have yet to deny this statement which is really the crux of the whole thing. Do you agree with it, or not?–It is (once again)a contextual question, not analytical, you don’t have to rack your brain to answer. If you accept the statement, well then 1, you agree with the consensus of historians and you see the plausibility in mentioning Josephus in a discussion on the historical Jesus or 2, you disagree with the consensus and you are going against the current academic belief, claiming your title as an atheist trailblazer of sorts (which, I would say more power to you. I admire the trailblazer, even of the atheist variety). The only response I have received regarding this crucial point is your extending the invitation to prove it. Well, I’m sorry, I think that’s a bit of a waste of my time. I don’t think it’s at all necessary to offer any proof. The proof is out there regarding this statement. I guess I will take a page of the atheist’s book and say: You just need to open your eyes and see the truth.

  • sig

    Not to interrupt the discussion of the existence of Jesus, but if God exists does that mean that Satan exists? If there is supreme good, is there supreme evil? Is it a literal or metaphorical battle?

  • Bernie Bee

    Sig, the dilemma of evil was apparently first formulated by Epicurus (341-270BC) and is quoted as follows:If God is perfectly good, He must want to abolish all evil; if He is unlimitedly powerful, He must be able to abolish all evil: but evil exists; therefore either God is not perfectly good or He is not unlimitedly powerful.According to the Bible God brags of being evil and Jesus even pleads with with Him not to lead us into temptation.

  • Richard King

    Christopher Hitchens offers the usual rant about pseudoscience expected from such people. He then indulges in expressions such as, “It gives people the impression that … “, “It suggests that … “; the usual loose reasoning, lack of evidence approach one also expects.Taking his numbered points in order:1) I have never gained the impression from astrology that I am at the centre of the Universe, I have never met anyone who has; I have never known an astrologer to make such a claim.2) There is no such thing as the supernatural, it is all perfectly natural. As what Christopher Hitchens refers to as a “mere human”, I semi-constantly “detect” beyond the physical and do expound on it. It is the difference between those of us who are sighted and others who are blind. I am a Chartered Engineer, so I understand the science. I am also Healer, Psychic, Mystic, etc., from Hampshire, U.K.; so, I not only understand beyond the limitations of physical world science I observe, hear, etc, beyond the physical world3) I have never come across any claim “that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even conception”. Te situation is quite the contrary. Our character and personality are in a constant state of flux. That is one of the reasons we experience the lives we do.I do not “laugh at the credulity of those who fall for the ancient hoax” because there is an element of truth in it.I do not even laugh at the limited knowledge, limited reasoning ability, biased “logic” and ramblings of people like Christopher Hitchens. I do, however, derive a degree of amusement from such limited thinking and the words that tumble from it.Richard King

  • Karen

    Bernie Bee: I meant “have to faith in God”. sorry for the confusion. I was not saying that atheism is a faith. I meant atheists looked at the evidence and came to faith in God.Have a good day everyone. Too busy to blog today.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus is not a Republican or Democrat! I can see where my Evangelical brothers and sisters can turn atheists off from the Lord when they preach politics and salvation. They mean well but they come across as judgmental at times. Salvation is being saved from the fires of hell but it also means to be saved while living in the world today. To be saved is to come into reconciliation with the Lord once reconciliation has been made grace and blessings are given in multitudes. I remember the first time in my life when I was blessed with God’s grace. I was given a beautiful home, a beautiful wife and beautiful children whom I love with all of my heart. From depression and despair I was given purpose, love and meaning. To me that is what it means to be saved by the Lord and I am extremely thankful for his gifts of kindness. We all need to be saved from ourselves and the world; some of us choose to dwell in misery, suffering and pain. Jesus died on the cross for our sins but also for our human suffering. Some of us don’t think we need God but those people don’t know how it feels to be blessed by the Lord. In fact know one knows how it feels to be loved by God until you are saved by repentance. I wish they could see the light of life and that is why I am compelled to speak with you about the Lord. I know how this sounds strange. I only wish that I could give you a better explanation but all I have is my story. Peace.P.S. May the Lord come into your hearts and set you free my friends.

  • E favorite

    Anon- please consider that some people feel as free as you do without the lord ever coming into their hearts or because of their decision to discard their belief in the lord.

  • Karen

    Sorry my last post was in answer to a question from JWest.

  • Bernie Bee

    Karen, I read your meaning the way you intended.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Brian -Thanks for the comments and the dialogue – and for keeping it civil.Re: who’s a Christian. Re: your statement – “After everything that has been brought up, I still stand by this statement. It seems, at face value to be not that controversial or difficult of a statement to accept. It’s actually quite simple. To deny the validity of the statement you either 1, don’t accept that Jesus is mentioned in the TF or 2, you contest the characterization of Josephus as being a credible historian.”You leave out the obvious third option (which is actually my point to begin with) – Josephus was a credible historian, but he didn’t write the TF. Yes, Jesus is mentioned in the TF, but Josephus didn’t write it – some later forger did. My position is that the entire TF is a forgery. It matters not that 1) Jesus is mentioned in the TF – as a forger wrote that text. The fact that a forger wrote the text doesn’t impact on 2) Josephus’ credibility as a historian.Re: the current consensus of historians say Jospehus wrote about Jesus in some form. I have done a fair bit of reading on the TF, and I can find no consensus among scholars saying that Josephus wrote about Jesus. Maybe I’m reading the wrong scholars. Ergo, I disagree with your statement that there is a consensus in favor of Josephus. What I have found is the elephant sitting in the room of Biblical “scholarship” – a good percentage of Biblical scholars are looking for information to confirm their Xian beliefs, not to refute their beliefs. Many are unapologetic in this regard. These historians are not dispassionate scientists looking to falsify the latest theory. They’re cheerleaders looking to win one for Team Jesus. In the best of all possible worlds, such blatantly subjective analysis is bound to tilt the scales in favor of your consensus. That said, one can still find plenty of people on the other side of the scale who disagree.So, maybe you are correct in saying there’s a consensus. Let’s not forget that there was a 90% consensus in the country on invading Iraq as well. New and more-honest information on those non-existent WMDs and bush’s bullheaded war-mongering have shifted the consensus. Maybe the same will eventually happen with even the most hardline Josephus/Jesus apologists in due course.BTW – The best case that can be made by scholars on the “Josephus wrote about Jesus” side of the debate, is that he reported a gospel-like story that was already in circulation. Earlier scholars thought this source was Luke, but modern scholars believe it was the Q or some other lost document. To reach this “proof,” these scholars (apologists?) take the TF and remove the overtly Xian langauge (ie: “He was the Messiah,” etc) and conjecture that perhaps, PERHAPS what is left was written by Josephus. The salient point is that even if we stipulate the “perhaps” argument, we’re still left with Josephus basing his writing on a second- or third-hand source. It isn’t an eyewitness account or a contemporaneous account. It’s an account from received opinion, and we all know how reliable such accounts tend to be (for a modern equivalent, see: Jessica Lynch, American Hero).In addition, such revisionary scholarship addresses only the text in the TF. It doesn’t address the fact that Jesus isn’t mentioned in the table of contents of the TF while everyone else is. It doesn’t address the fact that not a single early historian who cited Josephus elsewhere ever cites the TF or the other text where Josephus supposedly mentions Jesus. These inconvenient truths aren’t likely to ever go away, no matter what hoops some scholar jumps through to tidy up the text of the TF to make a presentable case.OK. I think I’m done with Josephus for a while.

  • Mr Mark

    Correction.he following statement in my last post:”It doesn’t address the fact that Jesus isn’t mentioned in the table of contents of the TF while everyone else is.”Should have read:”It doesn’t address the fact that Jesus isn’t mentioned in the table of contents of the Antiquities while everyone else is.”Mea culpa.

  • Bernie Bee

    Mr Mark: Re: who’s a Christian. Well now Mr Mark, speaking for myself, having spent a large part of my childhood in a convent orphanage run by the ‘Sisters of Mercy’ I can assure you that it is possible to be a Catholic yet not be a Christian!

  • E favorite

    Bernie bee – tell us more

  • Bernie Bee

    E. Fav, it’s a long story and more than somewhat upsetting, for me anyway. I mean even now I still cry, that is to say, shed floods of tears, not just for that child that was myself but for so many others, when I am asked to recall those days.Recently I gave a written summary of that time to my GP which she felt should be published but there are so many similar experiences already published that another would now be neither here nor there.

  • E favorite

    Bernie Bee – OK – I certainly don’t want to bring back back memories. However, if you already have an account written and have decided not to publish it, think about just posting it here, stating clearly that you will not respond to any subsequent posts.Alternatively, publish it and let us know where it is

  • Karen

    Bernie Bee:May I extend a virtual hug? I am terribly sorry to hear about the pain/loss of your childhood. And I appreciate the fact that you still manage to engage in polite, civil discourse with believers like me despite your early, terrible experiences.

  • Bishop Landstaff

    This filthy little atheist!! Going against our beliefs. Indeed. I refute every syllable uttered by this demonic infidel.

  • jwest

    Bishop Landstaff Are you going to appear on the comedy channel soon? Because you must be joking.

  • Brian Monroe

    Mr. Mark:I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. You’ve brought up some really good points and it’s been a nice discussion. I think in the end my main point has been that the idea of a historical Jesus cannot be dismissed out of hand and that there may be evidence which deserves recognition and scrunity.

  • Bernie Bee

    Had a dram or two or three too many last night and not for first time in such circs ended up posting an embarrassing, maudlin, over-emotional recollection of long past times. A bad show!You’d hardly believe I was guffawing within minutes of signing off last night over an interview Chris Hitchens gave to a top woman journalist in yesterday’s London Times newspaper.He told her he had only prayed once in his life–for an erection (unanswered)He can be very witty. He’s hardly known this side of the pond but methinks that’s about to change once his book ‘God is not Great’ is published here next month.

  • E favorite

    Brian Monroe – you say “agree to disagree” but quite honestly it seems more like a concession to me. Mr. Mark had better information and arguments than you expected. I agree with you that “the idea of a historical Jesus cannot be dismissed out of hand and that there may be evidence which deserves recognition and scrutiny” however I haven’t seen it – and I’ve been looking hard. I suspect all the available evidence has been thoroughly scrutinized and some case over-scrutinized or mis-scrutinized.I was stunned when I found out how little evidence there was and how past and present church leaders covered it up, misled people about it or plain lied about it. Probably a lot more don’t know much about it and don’t want to know. It’s hard to accept that something that seems so real is actually quite ephemeral.

  • Bernie Bee

    E Fav and Mr Mark, do either of you realise there was a time when you could be burnt at the stake for fielding questions for which religious dignitaries have no answer!An enquiring mind is a grave sin that merits eternal punishment in the place where both of you are def’nitly heading unless ye repent while there’s time!

  • E favorite

    No, Bernie – I didn’t know that – and wonder if people would risk the questioning. You’d have to be very curious.I did know that the Roman Catholics were not happy about translating the bible. I do think it would have been better over all to keep it a secret — or to burn it. It’s an quaint old piece of literature, but it’s caused entirely too many problems to merit continued use.

  • Steven

    I laugh at people who are attacking Hitchens because of his stance on the word instead of actually addressing what he says in this article. I am an atheist and I disagree with Hitchens on the Iraq war. That said I doubt he think George W Bush is doing a good job. I know he thought the war was necessary.Faith is the belief in something without evidence. Believing in something just because you where told by your parents and priest or just because it makes you comfortable but has no evidence attached to it. This is IRRATIONAL. It is faulty thinking. It isn’t just religion we atheists have a problem with its the religious mindset. That believe crazy stuff is somehow great recommendation of that person. I am not talking about faith in your family or your football team. I mean the faith that their is an invisible guy in the sky who watches what you do and created the whole universe with just you in mind. Incredibly arrogant, egocentric, anthropocentric and small minded.

  • Steven

    I laugh at people who are attacking Hitchens because of his stance on the war instead of actually addressing what he says in this article. I am an atheist and I disagree with Hitchens on the Iraq war. That said I doubt he thinks George W Bush is doing a good job. I know he thought the war was necessary.Faith is the belief in something without evidence. Believing in something just because you where told by your parents and priest or just because it makes you comfortable but has no evidence attached to it. This is IRRATIONAL. It is faulty thinking. It isn’t just religion we atheists have a problem with its the religious mindset. That believing crazy stuff is somehow a great recommendation of that person. I am not talking about faith in your family or your football team. I mean the faith that their is an invisible guy in the sky who watches what you do and created the whole universe with just you in mind. Incredibly arrogant, egocentric, anthropocentric and small minded.

  • Karen

    Wow CW. What a well written post. I agree with so much that you have said. Thank you for a very coherent and intelligent post. I have tried to say some of the same things in previous posts, but certainly not as well as you did.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CW -Atheists by definition cannot be “mad at a God” anymore than we can be mad at the tooth fairy. Reliance on miracles is the provence of the religionists, not the atheist. I know of no religionist who became an atheist because god didn’t answer their pleas for a miracle. Indeed, their religion happily supplies the answer for their disappointment – god works in mysterious ways!Is Christopher Hitchens “furious” at religion, or is that simply your perception of him standing up to the idiocies of religion, idoicies that have been given a critical pass in our society? Is Hitchens fury any more explicit than the fury that a hellfire preacher throws at believer and unbeliever alike? I think not.Finally – for you to asssume that an atheistic world would be more awful or cheerless than the religion-dominated world we have now is speculation. Imagine a world dominated by the atheism represented by self-identified atheists like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Carl Sagan, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, James Madison and Gene Roddenbury. Would the world be such a cheerless place? These people brought a ton of cheerfulness to our planet, and they did it without god. How about that?It’s easy to cite the horrors of the seminary-trained Stalin or the never-renounced-his-Catholic faith Hitler as examples of “bad” atheists, but the fact is that they didn’t commit their atrocities in the “name of” atheism. In fact, they simply took the existing religious models in their countries and bent them to fit their political beliefs. Hitler worked hand-in-hand with the Vatican, not with Bertrand Russell.As far as the experience of an atheistic world – boy, I’d sure like to try that. I can imagine that within 5 years, religion would be dead as a doornail, kept alive only through the occasional efforts of stand-up comedians and cheap advertisements.What a world that would be!

  • Bernie Bee

    CW wrote: Perhaps some atheists are angry at a God that disappointed or hurt them by not having made a world that they might have preferred and are punishing him by denying that he exists.How is it possible to punish God by denying his existence! Especially by somebody who doesn’t believe there is a God!And surely you have to concede that the atheist Russian leader, Mr Gorbachev, played no small part in ending the Cold War?

  • Bernie Bee

    CW…Have just finished reading your interesting second essay but don’t see anywhere that this ‘super intelligence’ despite all the wondrous creation, can be anything other than evil for bringing the universe as we know it into existence.

  • CW

    Bernie Bee:I have reviewed my post and I do not find any reference to a sulky, peevish, enraged or petty God who was upset with us humans for not believing in him and took vengeance upon us. I don’t ascribe anthropomorphic attributes to God.My comment was a sort of joke about an atheist who, as a former believer, became angry at a God who did not create a universe to his liking and decided to punish him by refusing to believe in him any more. It was meant to describe the almost apoplectic anger many atheists display in their critiques of religion. In response to your second post, I agree that the problem of evil is an important one, but it in no way addresses the issue of the existence of God, only what he does and does not do, what he allows, and his relationship to humankind. Those are weighty questions that will have to wait for another time.Mr. Gorbachev, by the way, was a pragmatist who saw the handwriting on the wall. That he was an atheist who recognized the inevitable downfall of an atheistic regime means virtually nothing.CW

  • E favorite

    Karen, you say “I have tried to say some of the same things in previous posts, but certainly not as well as you did.” But it seems to me, Karen, from what you’ve said, that you do believe in the God of Abraham and all the miracles of Jesus. This seems quite different from CW’s God of the wonders of the universe.CW – I compare the perceived anger of Hitchens and Dawkins to the anger attributed to the early feminists – those “shrill” bra burners who were so derided in the press and among ordinary people. People were shocked to hear these women speaking up about issues they hadn’t noticed or thought about. It was quite disconcerting. It rocked the boat. But eventually people started listening and realizing that the new message applied to their own lives.In your second post, you go on and on about Varghese, as if word count is enough to make his position convincing. So he’s a “respected scientist” (so you say); so he has a theory. That doesn’t make what he says accurate. So he has a book that proves God’s existence? Right – and I’m hearing about it for the first time buried in a blog. Even the bogus Jesus tomb made the front page for a day or two. I checked Amazon and the book came out in 2003. If it demonstrated prove of God, I’m sure the evangelists and Fox news would be all over it. He also wrote “God-Sent : A History of the Accredited Apparitions of Mary” so I have my doubts about him as a respected scientist. Also, I googled a bit and found no reference to any academic credentials, not even on his own website, though he drops the names of prestigious universities of people he’s known or places he’s spent a couple of days.So it makes me really mad that you try to pull this kind of crap. Are you just trying to fool us or are you fooling yourself as well? Does it give you a thrill to dupe an intelligent, hopeful person like Karen, even for a moment? Maybe you’re the silver-tongued Varghese himself doing a little sub tabula promotion. Perhaps you don’t know know how bad you make believers look by being so deceptive, or perhaps you don’t care. Atheist anger is bad, but lying for God is good, I suppose. Keep this up and Mr Mark is going to get his wish sooner rather than later —-Mr Mark – it sounds like your dream world is one of Dan Dennett’s hypotheses of the future of religion: “Religion is in its death throes; today’s outbursts of fervor and fanaticism are but a brief and awkward transition to a truly modern society in which religion plays at most a ceremonial role.”

  • Bernie Bee

    Quoting CW: “Nor did I say that Varghese had a theory “proving” God’s existence. I said that he advances the argument that examining the latest scientific knowledge of both the macrocosm and microcosm demonstrates that science itself has inadvertantly proved the existence of a super-intelligence, and and he provides that evidence to support his argument.”That’s still nothing more than speculation, mere quessing, which people have been doing for a long time now.Unless you point us in the direction of this scientific proof for the existence of a super-intelligence we’re all going to be left thinking along the lines of: “You praise the firm restraint with which they write -/ I’m with you there of course:/ They use the snaffle and the curb all right,/ But where’s the bloody horse?”

  • E favorite

    CW – I’m happy to be an example of atheist anger. Anger appropriately directly can be a very powerful tool. Though it’s unlikely that very many people will see this discussion, at the end of a long internet conversation, I’m still hopeful that it can serve as an example of religionist obfuscation and maybe, just maybe, discourage you from using this tactic.I seemed to me that you more than hinted at Varghese’s scientific credentials with statements like this: “rational intellectuals, including prominent scientists and philosophers of past and present, find evidence of a creator in the very universe itself. One of these is Roy Abraham Varghese….”“He is a brilliant scholar”“Varghese’s intellectual credentials and his encyclopedic knowledge of science….”Knowing Varghese’s work as well as you seem to, I’d imagine you’d also know exactly what his credentials are. As I mentioned, I couldn’t find them on the internet. So, please tell me, what degrees does he have, where did he get them and in what subjects? I notice you drop the names and numerous degrees and stellar credentials of numerous others who use “the latest scientific knowledge to challenge the materialistic viewpoint.” What about Varghese himself? Perhaps he is a self-made man. More power to him. Why hide it?In terms of proving God’s existence, you said this: “Flew still does not believe that this intelligence plays any ongoing role in man’s existence, he is co-authoring a new book with Varghese on the science that actually “proves” God’s existence.” But I also learned that in 2006, Flew accepted the “Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth” from Biola University, a Christian university in California. Seems strange that someone who rejects a theistic God would be selected to be honored this way and strange that he would accept. A possible motive is that University gets plenty of satisfaction using the headline “Former Atheist to Receive Award at Biola” CW, you don’t mention my reference to Varghese’s 2000 book, “God-Sent : A History of the Accredited Apparitions of Mary” – a subject that would seem to harm his credibility with scientists. In the Amazon description it says: “He asserts, for example, that a rosary prayer circle in post-World War II Austria was responsible for the Soviets pulling out of the country in 1955, an event for which there was no “humanly plausible explanation.” (A decade of pressure from the Allies and a pledge of nonalignment from the Austrians suggests otherwise.)”By the way, I and many other non-believers (including Richard Dawkins, to drop a celebrity name myself) are fully open to the possibility that something beyond what we know now had a role in creating the universe. We just don’t know yet and can only say that based on the evidence so far, it seems unlikely. I can’t imagine being swayed by the views of a atheist turned deist who accepts awards at an evangelical college or a brilliant scholar with no obvious academic credentials who writes about apparitions of the Virgin.

  • E favorite

    CW – I’m happy to be an example of atheist anger. Anger appropriately directly can be a very powerful tool. Though it’s unlikely that very many people will see this discussion, at the end of a long internet conversation, I’m still hopeful that it can serve as an example of religionist obfuscation and maybe, just maybe, discourage you from using this tactic.I seemed to me that you more than hinted at Varghese’s scientific credentials with statements like this: “rational intellectuals, including prominent scientists and philosophers of past and present, find evidence of a creator in the very universe itself. One of these is Roy Abraham Varghese….”“He is a brilliant scholar”“Varghese’s intellectual credentials and his encyclopedic knowledge of science….”Knowing Varghese’s work as well as you seem to, I’d imagine you’d also know exactly what his credentials are. As I mentioned, I couldn’t find them on the internet. So, please tell me, what degrees does he have, where did he get them and in what subjects? I notice you drop the names and numerous degrees and stellar credentials of numerous others who use “the latest scientific knowledge to challenge the materialistic viewpoint.” What about Varghese himself? Perhaps he is a self-made man. More power to him. Why hide it?In terms of proving God’s existence, you said this: “Flew still does not believe that this intelligence plays any ongoing role in man’s existence, he is co-authoring a new book with Varghese on the science that actually “proves” God’s existence.” But I also learned that in 2006, Flew accepted the “Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth” from Biola University, a Christian university in California. Seems strange that someone who rejects a theistic God would be selected to be honored this way and strange that he would accept. A possible motive is that University gets plenty of satisfaction using the headline “Former Atheist to Receive Award at Biola” CW, you don’t mention my reference to Varghese’s 2000 book, “God-Sent : A History of the Accredited Apparitions of Mary” – a subject that would seem to harm his credibility with scientists. In the Amazon description it says: “He asserts, for example, that a rosary prayer circle in post-World War II Austria was responsible for the Soviets pulling out of the country in 1955, an event for which there was no “humanly plausible explanation.” (A decade of pressure from the Allies and a pledge of nonalignment from the Austrians suggests otherwise.)”By the way, I and many other non-believers (including Richard Dawkins, to drop a celebrity name myself) are fully open to the possibility that something beyond what we know now had a role in creating the universe. We just don’t know yet and can only say that based on the evidence so far, it seems unlikely. I can’t imagine being swayed by the views of a atheist turned deist who accepts awards at an evangelical college or a brilliant scholar with no obvious academic credentials who writes about apparitions of the Virgin.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CW -Thanks for the response.I didn’t address your point on “rational believers” because there are only so many hours in the day. To be honest with you, I have never heard the term “rational believers” before your post. Is this some new term that’s being bandied about in believer circles as a counter to atheism and its dependence on reason?You miss my point in citing religious pasts of Hitler and Stalin. I am not saying that Russian Orthodoxy influenced Stalin. I am saying – as is Hitchens – that the organizational aspects of religion itself provided a ready made platform for Stalin and Hitler to push their politics upon their people. Metaphorically, the religion is a car that gets people hither and yon. Stalin & Hitler kept the car but elected to fill the trunk with explosives.Re: Varghese – I had never heard of the guy. After reading E Fav’s last post, I can see why. You’re busted, along with Varghese. I went back and re-read your Varghese post, and I must say that while you, indeed, never called him a scientist, you cleverly gave the impression that he was a scientist by writing, “It might be useful for you to recognize that many quite rational intellectuals, including prominent scientists and philosophers of past and present, find evidence of a creator in the very universe itself. One of these is Roy Abraham Varghese…” You later write the phrase, “his intellectual credentials and his encyclopedic knowledge of science.” I must tell you that reading your post rather quickly as I did and do when it comes to the blogosphere (you are, after all, like me, an anonymous blogger posting on a website, not a credentialed author like Christopher Hitchens), I came away with the impression that Varghese was a credentialed scientist, even though you never said that he was. Later on, you write, “Some think that Varghese is just another of the “Intelligent Designers,” closet evangelicals who find design rather than mere evolution in biology where none (they say) exists,” well, you got me again. When one uses the term “Intelligent Designers,” I take that to mean scientists and pseudo-scientists. That’s laziness on my part, and I can only admire you for setting a trap that exploited my laziness in reading your post.Finally – your citing of various scientists who agree with Varghese isn’t really impressive. Statistically, the battle is long over. The vast, VAST majority of scientists believe in evolution and very few believe in god (what is it? 7%?). I’ve heard the “more and more scientists are believing in god” argument before, and it is BS, BS akin to the manufactured “controversy” over teaching ID in schools – there is no controversy in the legitimate scientific community that views ID as total crap. The so-called controversy is manufactured by ID proponents as a poor man’s way of elevating the absurdities to the level of real science. “Teach the controversy” in regards to ID is to science as “teach the controversy of the Lord of the Rings” is to world history.And to cite scientists from centuries ago who believed in god doesn’t really make Varghese’s case either. Belief in god was given, and many early scientists – including Darwin – approached their work as a way of explaining “god’s handiwork.” It was only later that a few of these scientists realized that god wasn’t needed in the handiwork equation. As the decades have rolled on, the given among biologists et al is that god isn’t there. That sits in stark contrast to the time of Newton, et al. Thanks for the conversation.

  • CW

    Bernie Bee:I find it fascinating how stubbornly atheists cling to what to them seems a rational nonbelief without opening their minds to other possibilities also supported by reason. This is precisely what atheists accuse religionists of doing. It reminds me of a little child who shuts his eyes and covers his ears to keep from hearing something he doesn’t want to hear. This refusal to even countenance reasonable arguments for the existence of God — usually accompanied by anger and scorn for opposing viewpoints — may indicate something more psychological than intellectual is going on in the closed mind of the atheist. To dismiss a scholarly 460 page book one has never read and knows nothing about as mere speculation is a manifestation of what is known as “contempt before investigation.” I would suggest you read it first and save your critical review until then.There is much intellectual pretension among atheists — Hitchens is a good example — that accounts for their condescending attitude. But you might find it interesting to know how the scientists upon whom atheists rely for their cherished non-belief actually feel about God.In a 2005, Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund surveyed 1,646 faculty members at elite research universities, asking 36 questions about belief and spiritual practices. (Rice University is also one of America’s elite research, science and engineering schools). it was found (much to the surprise of the researchers) that 62% of natural scientists (physicists, astronomers, etc.) and 68% of social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, etc.) believe in God. In separate work at the University of Chicago, also released in 2005, 76 percent of doctors said they believed in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife. These are the knuckle-dragging morons atheists find so pathetic in their delusions. It seems to me that for some yet to be discovered reason, atheists not only refuse to allow reasonable argument to penetrate their denial system but exhibit hostility to anyone who tries. There is something akin to a paraphrase of Shakespeare going on here: “The atheist protesteth too much, methinks.” Lighten up.CW

  • CW

    Mr. Mark,I am very tolerant of atheists and for very good reason: I was an atheist myself for 16 years who returned to belief in God entirely through scientific inquiry and deductive reasoning, not blind belief. I have held civil debates with a number atheists and have always attempted to use reasoned argument rather than invective to make my points. While you have certainly strained my tolerance by accusing me of sinister motives and dishonest tactics in my post about Varghese’s book (Setting traps! Really!)it still remains, and I may understand you better than you think.To your question about the term “Rational Believer,” it is simply the way I describe people who do not embrace religion and all its baggage but who have found sufficient evidence through reason to believe in God.As for your contention that few scientists believe in God, you are simply wrong (see below). But you will note that I do not accuse you of sinister motives in retailing this as fact, I just chalk it up to ignorance. In case you missed my last post addressed to Bernie Bee, here are the results of a 2005 survey of scientists regarding their belief or nonbelief in God, conducted by Rice University and polling 1,646 faculty members of elite research universities (a huge sample, if you know anything about polling): 62% of natural scientists believe in God; 68% of social scientists are believers. In a separate study at the University of Chicago, 76% of doctors said they believed in God, and 59% believed in an afterlife. In case you think I am making this up, here is the URL:Nice chatting with you.CW

  • Sig

    Bernie Bee, Thanks for the response. I remember my childhhood evangelical church experiences and always thinking “Am I the only one here who doesn’t get this?”. Everyone around me seemed to so happy and filled with joy, yet I was always internally questioning everything. The concept of Good vs Evil was always particularly vexing. If God is so mighty, powerful, wonderful, etc., why does He allow so much evil, horrible suffering in this world. Did He create an evil that even He couldn’t deal with? Like the joke “Could God create a rock that even He could not move?” I never outwardly questioned anything. But guilt is a powerful weapon in the hands of those who wish to manipulate people, and I do not like being manipulated.The only thing that relgion has taught me is that ignorance is bliss. I can’t believe in any deity that would create something to either ignore or to play with like toys.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CW -Thanks for the stats. I do understand statistics and how they are derived. In fact, my career depends on it (but that’s another story).As far as your setting “traps,” I meant that in a kidding way, I should have placed a smiley emoticon there. I really didn’t mean to imply that you thought out the entire scenario I proposed – who could? I was, rather, pointing out that my quick-read of your post was a minus to MY side of the debating ledger, not to yours.As far as what scientists believe what about god – I will check out the studies you cite. Those studies stand in stark contrast to the 1998 National Academy of Sciences study (as reported in the journal, Nature) that found that only 7% of Academy members believed in a personal god. I’m sure that the number who believe in a non-personal god would snag a few others, but I doubt whether that number would climb into the 60-plus percentile of the studies you cite.Still, I’ll take a look (can you provide direct links to the studies themselves?).Thanks for the chat.

  • E favorite

    CW – You are the only one where who has used the term “knuckle-dragging morons” to describe believers.It’s quite a disrespectiful term. I wish you’d stop using it.

  • Bernie Bee

    Och Cw, have a heart! Surely you don’t mean I have to read 460 page books when there’s every reason to believe an already thoroughly discredited subject would make a colossal impact even here in the depth o’ back o’ beyond Scotland had anybody come up with evidence to show such nonsense was in fact how everything actually is! Well OK, I haven’t read that particular book you mention. Then again, I haven’t laid an egg either but I can still tell a good one from a bad one as well as anybody!

  • Bernie Bee

    Jist a minit Mr Mark! Are you insinuatin’ CW was in on all that suberfuge! That he’s a bliddy agent for they fundies!

  • CW

    E Favorite: If I get you mixed up with Mr Mark, please forgive me. Scrolling back and forth to view the comments of each of you is tiresome and you are both pretty much saying the same thing.Attacking Roy Varghese without having read his book — “contempt without investigation” — seems to be a typical ploy of the defenders of the true faith. I was first introduced to Varghese by an article in Texas Monthly Magazine (a very liberal publicaton, I might add) by noted Texas writer Gary Cartwright, who interviewed Varghese some time last year, and later in a much longer article in Dallas Observer Magazine (a publication owned by the Village Voice). Both provided details of Varghese’s education.In college in India, Varghese studied literature and liberal arts, earning a master of arts from Madras University. While studying science and philosophy Varghese came to embrace atheism because, he says, atheism was the canon of many of the world’s most famous thinkers. Why not emulate them? “I went through my own period of insanity,” he admits. He has other names for atheism: confused, schizophrenic, arrant nonsense, a form of irrationality. After deeper study he became convinced of God’s existence and gradually found confirmation in the works of leading philosophers and scientists. In 1983, he earned a Master’s Degree in International Journalism from Baylor University, and a short time later he was asked to co-edit a book with the noted Yale physicist Henry Margenau. In addition to authoring and editing several books on the relationship between science and religion, he became a computer systems consultant to high-tech companies. He has organized and conducted numerous symposiums, inviting noted atheists and theists to debate the issue of God’s existence. He has funded these activities out of his own pocket. In 2003, he founded the Metascience Foundation, which is dedicated to facilitating the debate between science and religion (or more accurately, belief in God). The result of one the symposiums was the conversion of the long time atheist philosopher Antony Flew to philosophical theism. (Why you find Flew’s acceptance of an award from a religious group, in light of his apostasy from atheism, is puzzling. They were delighted to have a new convert to the fold, regardless of his disavowal of organized religion; apparently he thought it was okay too. Perhaps he should have checked with you first).Varghese has no scientific degrees. Does this disqualify him from possessing a brilliant mind? Read the book and judge for yourself.As for his book about apparitions, why is this surprising (or disqualifying) to you? Varghese is an avowed Syrian Rite Catholic, who believes in the tenets of his church, including the virgin birth. Why would he not write a book about phenomena — no matter how outlandish they sound to you and me — that are part of his religion? Remember, I have just presented you with rather compelling evidence that most scientists in both discipline categories — natural science and social science — believe in God and most practice religion. What beliefs one adopts after making a rational choice for God is a matter of individual choice. This choice involves finding a “nature of God” that satisfies the individual; certainly it disqualifies no one in science from either participating in science or engaging in religion. Think about these things.Meantime, you might consider abandoning the attack the messenger mode and pay some attention to the message he is delivering. To do that, it might be useful for you to read the book.CW

  • Mr Mark

    CW writes to E Fav:”Remember, I have just presented you with rather compelling evidence that most scientists in both discipline categories — natural science and social science — believe in God and most practice religion.”Compelling evidence my *ss! Did you read my research on your Templeton-funded “compelling evidence?” Really, CW, if you’re going to debate in a public sphere like this, you’ve got to do better. Every post you’ve made subsequent to your posting of that original study has been weaker and weaker in its defense of that piss-poor-excuse-for-a-scientific study from Rice. What makes it compelling, CW? The $283,000 grant of religious apologist money that funded the study, the $15 payoff given to the participants, the breaking of basic ground rules for running a statistically unbiased study, or the fact that the researcher herself is clearly a religious apologist as well?The evidence you present is no evidence at all.BTW, Mr Messenger – the message you’re delivering is unscientific propaganda that is transparent to one and all. I almost fell out of my chair laughing when you wrote this:”Varghese has no scientific degrees. Does this disqualify him from possessing a brilliant mind? Read the book and judge for yourself.”As for his book about apparitions, why is this surprising (or disqualifying) to you? Varghese is an avowed Syrian Rite Catholic, who believes in the tenets of his church, including the virgin birth. Why would he not write a book about phenomena — no matter how outlandish they sound to you and me — that are part of his religion?”Wow. What a ridiculous statement! Just because Varghese BELIEVES in unscientific fantasies like the virgin birth, that shouldn’t disqualify him as a SCIENTIFIC mind???! Are you nuts? Yes – he can write about fantasies promoted by his religion. He can even write about them as if they are facts. But that doesn’t make them facts, and they can never be proven as facts. You make the mistake of asserting the fantasy as fact. Unless you and Varghese are prepared to submit such drivel to the rigors of the scientific method, then you are selling snake oil and nothing else.Your presenting the uncredentialed, fantasy believing Varghese as a counter the the weight and sum of scientific fact is as audacious as it is irresponsible and unlettered.Challenge for Varghese/CW – cite a single scientific study/source that supports the idea of a human virgin birth.Taken as a whole, your comments in this thread are pretty much an insult to the intelligence and rational thought that is being displayed in spades by those challenging your whole-cloth assumptions. That you can’t see that, and that you continue to offer the ignorant, untested and untestable religion-driven OPINIONS of the laity as a counter to established scientific fact is risible and, truth be told, an old and sorry song that has been shot down on this particular blog on many, many occasions.Next time you can save us all a lot of time by simply posting a link to the Discovery Institute and leaving it at that.I think I’m about done with you, CW. With every post you reveal yourself as just another religious sap who will go through the most twisted contortions to convice yourself – and no one else – that you are citing “compelling evidence,” when all you’re really doing is citing pseudo-science that can be debunked in seconds by anyone with an internet connection…and the stomach for engaging in yet another a pointless “debate” between scientific fact and religious fantasy.

  • Bernie Bee

    By Christ! As far as I’m concerned that last missive from CW has convinced this atheist that if there ain’t no God there sure is a Devil when ye consider all that deceit and lying from that source!

  • E favorite

    First a big thank you to CW for confusing me with Mr Mark. Made my day. Then, thanks to Mr Mark for doing your internet research. I had done some of it earlier before leaving my computer. You spared me the write-up. Market researcher, eh? Contact me at efavorite@verizon.netBernie Bee – Kudos for injecting a wee bit of Scottish-atheist humor in this otherwise dour endeavor.Karen – Please keep alert for charlatans like CW and Varghese (possibly one and the same). There are a lot of them out there and yhey give religion a bad name.

  • Bernie Bee

    The first lesson CW and those of his ilk need to learn is to wonder why there is the need to go in for so much deceit and downright lies in the hopes of bamboozlin folk into become believers.If only they would stop to ask themselves what Jesus would think of their methods they would surely realise such ways would not have his approval.He is so creepily deceitful I even doubt CW’s claim that he was ever atheistic. I’d bet my maximum this character is and always has been a rabid Catholic.

  • CW

    Mr. Mark,I love when you say “gotcha!” It’s cute. Well, you’ve done a lot of work, which I suppose I grudgingly admire you for, but you have failed miserably to make even the slightest dent in my argument. I simply pointed out that you have not produced an instance in which a university, a funding source and a researcher all conspired to deliberately do dishonest research or falsify results. You still have not done this. You may yet find one, but even if you do, it would provide a statistically insignificant challenge to my argument. But even that’s not really the point. The type of research in the Rice study involved the filling out of a questionnaire by a large number of respondents. What I asked you to do was explain how, for the princely sum of $15 (paid in advance), this infernal researcher at Rice University was able to convince nearly 700 well-paid scientists at elite research universities to tell blatant falsehoods about their belief in God and their religious practices. Would you renounce your own atheism for $15? Well, maybe you would; I’ll send you a check. The ethical guideline you cited about paying money up front to participants says it is acceptable in principle, (but) should be discouraged as far as possible and subject to explicit conditions, with special regard to the reliability of the information provided. Very good guideline indeed. Do you have evidence that the payment of money in the Rice survey did not include those explicit conditions? I didn’t think so. Further, the ethical guidelines for sociologists also included the following instruction:”Each sociologist supplements the Code of Ethics in ways based on her/his own personal values, culture and experience. Each sociologist supplements, but does not violate, the standards outlined in this Code of Ethics. It is the individual responsibility of each sociologist to aspire to the highest standards of conduct.” Again, what evidence do you have that Dr. Ecklund fails to aspire to such a standard? That because she studies religion among her specialites she is therefore utterly untrustworthy? The reason one pays respondents up front for questionnaire-type surveys (as researchers know) is to compensate them for the time they have to spend in completing a somewhat lengthy work, thereby assuring a sufficient sample size to produce credible results. Usually it is a token amount like, say $15. The more questions, the more reliable the results.Your presumption that the Rice study was deliberately dishonest in its methodolgy from its funding source to the specialty of the researcher and apparently to the university itself is simply ludicrous. Rice is no bastion of the religious right or of the political right; quite the opposite, and its endowment of $4.1 billion makes it one of America’s richest small universities — they don’t need to lie on Templeton’s behalf to make payroll. And in case you decide to advance the argument that Templeton itself has “cooked the books,” Dr. Ecklund published her own findings.Finally, the survey which produced the long, long, tediously long laundry list of improper conduct in various disciplines within the academic community suffers from a fatal flaw, at least certainly in your eyes: It is a survey. If one, like the Rice survey, can be dismissed out of hand, why not any survey? Particularly one where professors or students are ratting out other professors. No axes being ground in collegial academia; of course not.Try again, Mr. Mark. But don’t waste too much more time on the irrelevant. (Although it is fun to watch you scurrying around so frantically). Just answer the question about the 700 scientists (those guys and dolls at whose feet your worship) who sold their souls for $15.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    Quoting CW: “But don’t waste too much more time on the irrelevant. (Although it is fun to watch you scurrying around so frantically). Just answer the question about the 700 scientists (those guys and dolls at whose feet your worship) who sold their souls for $15.”CW, those guys n dolls come over as ID eejits who’d sell their souls for a lot less than $15!

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CW -Thanks for staying engaged in the dialogue.My most-recent longish responses have been attempts to provide you with answers to your questions. Or should I say your challenges to “prove it.”I would note that you never asked me to prove conspiracy as it related directly to the study at Rice, at least until now. You made bald-faced challenges to “name a single” instance where such “conspiracies” took place, and I provided more than enough empirical evidence to make the case (BTW – in the future, you may be more cautious with such challenges. There is always the exception that proves the rule. In reality, your challenge wasn’t much of a challenge at all). Had you bothered to read the article I linked (“The Kept University”) you would have read this paragraph directly following the paragraph that I quoted on fen-phen:”Corporate underwriting of research is by no means confined to the medical sciences. In his book The Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate (1997), Ross Gelbspan documents how, over the past several years, fossil-fuel companies have bankrolled numerous academic studies that downplay the threat of global warming — distorting, Gelbspan argues, the public-policy debate.”Indeed, had you read that entire article, you would not make yet another ridiculous statement about deliberately falsified reserach. ie: “You may yet find one, but even if you do, it would provide a statistically insignificant challenge to my argument.” On the contrary, the problem we’re talking about is a huge and growing problem in the field of research, from the examples I cited, to Microsoft getting to determine curriculum at places like MIT. To state that this is a “statistically insignificant” problem is to not know the statistics.As far as my “scurrying around” to make my case, I have a confession to make. First, I knew about the Atlantic Monthly article already because I have discussed it elsewhere. So, I guess I sort of cheated there. As far as my opinion of Templeton – well, I basically cheated there as well, for I am well aquainted with the article, “A Skeptics’ Tale,” by former Templeton Fellow John Hornan (Richard Dawkins and others have commented on the article). In that April, 2006 article, Hornan recounts an incident at a Templeton conference at Cambridge where a Templeton official made what Hornan contends were inappropriate remarks about what his Templeton-funded research should be producing as results:”One Templeton official made what I felt were inappropriate remarks about the foundation’s expectations of us fellows. She told us that the meeting cost more than $1-million, and in return the foundation wanted us to publish articles touching on science and religion. But when I told her one evening at dinner that — given all the problems caused by religion throughout human history — I didn’t want science and religion to be reconciled, and that I hoped humanity would eventually outgrow religion, she replied that she didn’t think someone with those opinions should have accepted a fellowship. So much for an open exchange of views.” (here: So, while I realize that religionists believe that the universe revolves around them, I must disabuse you of that belief in this instance. I’m really not spending hour after hour searching the net just to answer your questions. I’m using my well-worn cheat sheet. Don’t hate me for that, please?Having admitted that, let me ask you a question: what would be wrong with bloggers “scurrying around” to find responses to your questions? I kinda assumed that you were asking your questions honestly and expecting we atheists to try our best to answer them honestly. I have to say that it’s a bit insulting to have one’s honest efforts to engage in a dialogue – and to provide information beyond one’s personal opinions to support one’ arguments, complete with links to various sources – thrown back in one’s face with a dismissive, “ha, ha…it’s cute when you play gothcha.”OK. Two points remain. Have I proved that the Rice study was an example of a funder, a university and a researcher conspiring to produce false results? No. Was that what you asked me to do in all of your previous posts before the one you submitted June 3, 2007 7:12 PM? No. You asked me to produce a SINGLE case of conspiracy, and I did that. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were moving the goalposts on this one. I have no doubt that had I produced evidence to prove that this particular Rice research was false information produced via a conspiracy, that your next question would be, “yeah, but can you show me a single instance where a funder, a university, a researcher and a traveling group of dwarfs conspired…” 🙂 (CW – notice the smiley face this time!)OK, last point – the $15 paid to the participants.I have provided you with the ethical standard that says that while payments are OK in principle, that such payment-involved studies should then be “subject to explicit conditions, with special regard to the reliability of the information provided.” Well, that was my whole point to begin with. I said that as a researcher, I would not trust the results based on the upfront payment. I prefer a cleaner format. Do I think the $15 made each and every doctor renounce his atheism and claim to be a practicing Xian? No, I just think the payment left 75% of the doctors solicited with a feeling of obligation to take a survey. I’ve never been in a position to pay people upfront to participate in a survey, but maybe that’s because I’ve always had the luxury of working with large universe (10,000+) where a 3% reponse rate will give an accurate result.I would wonder why one would even bother with such a small honorarium to begin with. I think it’s the placement – the $15 upfront instills a feeling of obligation. Had the initial approach not included the $15 but only hinted at some future reward, then the participation level would have suffered. That simple obligation can be enough to skew results in “some” situations.So, I am willing to concede your point on a payment and that it happens sometimes. I’m even willing to concede that a payment would have less and less influence on participants who get surveyed and paid all the time (the feeling of obligation would naturally lessen with repeated experiences), but I would still say that opinions that are gathered without payments are more to be trusted.As far as my skepticism of the Rice study – it’s a combination of many background factors (chiefly Templeton) that make me question its vailidity. As I pointed out in one of my initial posts on this matter, the Rice 60-percentile response stands in stark contrast to the 7% of the 1998 Nat Academy of Science study. Taken as a whole, I think I am on very firm ground in my skepticism about the “compelling evidence” you thought you provided. My earlier posts make my reasoning clear, and I stand by them – even if a minimum of scurrying was involved in producing them.:)

  • CW

    To the atheist gang:I am almost sorry I introduced Roy Abraham Varghese into this debate. Many of you have used that post of mine of a couple of days ago as a means of attacking not only Roy but me and the horse I rode in on. You have dragged him as a giant red herring across the path of your own failed arguments substantiating atheism as the only “rational” choice in explaining the universe.First, let me assure you that I am not Roy Varghese, although I am somewhat flattered by the suspicion. Thanks. Varghese is indeed a brilliant man, as those eminent Nobel prize-winning scientists who endorsed his book attest, and as further attested to by his influence in the conversion of Antony Flew to philosophical theism. (I know full well – and in your hearts you do too – that if Flew had resisted the arguments of Varghese and Gerald Schroeder and had affirmed his lifelong atheism you would have hailed it as a great victory and lauded this wise old “patron saint” of atheism. Instead the atheist community {if there is such a thing} has ridiculed him, banished him, mocked him, accused him of senility, and now, lately, has begun to even ask “who is he and who cares?”).But Roy Varghese is a latecomer in my own conversion to theism via science. As an atheist for more than 16 years I began to find my way back to a belief in a God as creator entirely through reading books by noted scientists: Carl Sagan’s “Broca’s Brain,” “The Dragons of Eden,” “Cosmos” and the fictional work “Contact;” Robert Jastrow’s “Red Giants and White Dwarfs” and “God and the Astronomers;” Stephen Hawking’s obligatory “A Brief History of Time;” Paul Davies’ “Other Worlds” and “Mind of God” and others. These books, written both by atheists (Sagan, Hawking) and what I call “rational believers” (Jastrow, Davies), re-awakened in me the wonder of the universe. Many years before I ever read Varghese, I had concluded that the universe’s precision and intelligibility presupposed an Intelligence.To me, the great value of Varghese’s book was found in his clear and complete exposition of the latest science in biology, physics, cosmology and quantum mechanics; a thorough review of the evolution of scientific inquiry dating from Galileo forward; and an interesting if one-sided “debate” between two fictional characters: an atheist and a believer. Since I am quite tolerant of both atheists and religionists so long as neither tries to convert me or kill me, I have no problem with a man who can explain an intelligent source of the universe cogently and persuasively and who also belongs to a specific religion. Your supposition that one cancels out the other is, as I have pointed out before, distinctly anti-intellectual. The noted Catholic theologian Hans Kung (who was stripped of his ability to teach Catholic theology because of his denial of papal infallibility) is only one example of a true intellectual who fully embraces the theory of evolution, believes there can be a bridge between science and religion and has written persuasively about both (“Does God Exist” was his seminal work). But back to Roy Varghese.In my original post on Varghese and particularly in subsequent defenses of the original, I may have left the impression somehow (I can find it nowhere, but your posts in response to mine indicate you think so) that I am a religionist and a stealth ID proponent. I am neither. (Nor is Varghese a proponent of ID or Creationism and rejects both). Here is a short excerpt from a letter I wrote to Sam Harris which was my first post to this blog some days ago:I have debated atheist friends on numerous occasions and I find that most have two things in common: First, their principal attack is upon the “God of Abraham” and the religions that have organized the worship of that God: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Second, many atheists (but not all) are very angry. On proposition one, to a large degree I side with the atheists. Religions are indeed filled with superstitions, internal contradictions, divine figures in earthly forms, outlandish tales of miracles and assorted artifacts of their founding long ago. That the world’s three major religions are more coherent than primitive worship of the sky god or wood spirits only makes them more accessible to intelligent people, not any less incredible upon close examination. So, in truth, arguing against religion is like shooting fish in a barrel.But religion is a superstructure imposed upon theism – belief in God — not the other way around. And arguments against God as creator of a wondrous universe become much more difficult when religion is taken out of the equation. I have yet to hear a convincing argument against God that presents a credible alternative for the creation and existence of the universe. Few scientists even try. I hope this will clarify my position. I am not a sycophant of Roy Abraham Varghese or anyone else. I found his book to be wonderfully crafted and brilliantly written. There were many aspects of it that I did not like, did not agree with, and was disappointed by. But as a whole, it was as clear an interpretation of science as a case for God as I have read, in spite of the paucity of his scientific credentials (which seemed, for many of you to be fatal to the whole enterprise, in spite of the praise it has received from noted scientists).I have no illusions about persuading the unpersuadable, as most atheists are; I merely hope that I have convinced you that I am not a “charlatan” (what a charming word that really is) or some sinister closet evangelical out to woo unwitting women like poor gullible Karen (gee, I was touched by your concern for her well-being) away from “rationality.”Finally, I really do find many of your arguments to be well stated; others – I’m sorry – not only weak but tiresome. The ad hominem attacks were expected — it is the last resort when one is placed on the defensive. Atheism and Rational Belief, I am confident, are at a standoff. Science cannot prove God does not exist. Rational Belief says science has made the case for God. It is that simple, and the current spate of almost venomous books attacking religion itself cannot change that. I too hope that religion will one day move away from the superstition that so hampers its effectiveness toward science and a rational belief that is there for the taking.CW

  • CW

    Mr Mark:One really final thing: I just noticed this:”In the last few decades atheists and others who are radically anti-religious have been a rapidly declining percentage of world population. They are now 2.5% of world population. Agnostics and those who are indifferent to religion are also a somewhat more slowly declining percentage of the world’s population, they are now 11.5%.”If we are to assume that the 7% figure among scientists is accurate, it is almost three times higher than the percentage of atheists in the world.CW

  • Mr Mark

    CW writes:”I really must insist you answer the central question I have asked repeatedly, or we really have no debate at all: How did the Rice study go about influencing 60% of the scientists who completed questionnaires to lie about their religious beliefs?”I thought I answered that in my last post.I’ll try again: you’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t “did the payment influence” the participants? The question is “could it have” influenced the participants? If the answer is that it’s possible that it could have influenced them (postively or negatively from the aspect of the researcher), then the cleanest fix to eliminate an unwanted variable is to totally eliminate it, OR to build a compensating agent into the formula used to produce the results. If I was running the research, I’d follow the KISS principle and not include the upfront payment, even on the outside chance that it could skew results.I can’t ask you to prove a negative (ie: that such payments don’t influence responses), so I would go with playing it safe. If I was worried about receiving enough responses to give me a true read on the questionairre, then I would prefer to expand the universe of participants and go with a smaller response rate from a larger group.Re: that 7% figure you just quoted. You have the numbers turned around. In the 1998 study I cited, only 7% of scientists said they believed in a personal god, not that they were atheists. The number that didn’t believe in a personal god was over 90%. If the quote you provided is accurate, it means that 14% of the world’s population are atheists or agnostics. That would make the number of non-believing scientists 6.4 times the amount of atheists/agnostics in the general population.I know, it’s late, and things get fuzzy.One final thought – you have stated several times that you have had good debates with your atheist “friends.” Have you ever considered the fact that you might actually cultivate a few atheist “friends” on this board in due time? Think about it, won’t you?

  • Mr Mark

    CW -One final thought. You wrote:”I was disappointed to discover that you apparently deliberately left out another study from one year earler, 1997, that yielded a much different result.”Nothing deliberate about it. Your post is the first I’ve heard about the 1997 Larson study. Yep, it’s true. I had no idea.Time to get out your “jump to conclusions” mat, CW (Office Space joke intended).

  • CW

    Mr. Mark:You write: I’ll try again: you’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t “did the payment influence” the participants? The question is “could it have” influenced the participants? This still does not answer my question; one that I thought I had made quite clear. The up front payment did indeed influence 75% of the scientists who received the questionnaire to fill it out and return it, thus producing a larger sample size and a more reliable result. But how could the payment influence the participants’ answers to the 36 questions? This would require the researcher to somehow demand that the respondents answer the questions in a particular way to produce a desired result, in return for paying them the quite modest sum of $15. So, please answer my question: How did this supposedly dishonest researcher in the pay of the sinister Temple Foundation get tenured, well-paid scientists to lie about their religious beliefs by paying them $15? As I asked you earlier, “would you renounce your atheism for $15?”Sorry about getting the 7% upside down — it was late and I was getting fuzzy. As for the other study done by Larson, I found the results of both the Larson study and the National Academy of Sciences study in the same article and assumed that was where you got your information; thus my charge of cherry-picking. I apologize.As to the offer of friendship; how nice. I have not reviewed all of your posts in response to mine but recent ones have been quite civil and you are a worthy disputant. I have one atheist friend with whom I have corresponded off and on for years; we now no longer even raise the issue of our differences. However, I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a blog debate in which I was ever so vilified by other posters. I may have been acerbic and sarcastic myself in response to some of these attacks, but I don’t think I have descended to the level of the slurs and accusations of being deceptive, dishonest, a closet evangelist, in the pay of the Creationists, etc., that have been leveled at me by others on this blog. I think one even suggested I would (or should) burn in hell.For a clear statement of my beliefs and how I acquired them, please see my recent post addressed to “the atheist gang.”I have enjoyed our exchange. But please tell me how the researcher influenced those scientists to sell their souls for fifteen bucks.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    Among other things CW you also appear to lack a sense of humour. If ye’re ever in these parts my auld granny, a certified spey-wife, will read yer teacup (only loose tea allowed) with satisfaction guaranteed or yer money back! I can assure ye nobody has yet ever had money returned!

  • cw

    Dear Bernie Bee:I suppose that perhaps because I spent a number of years as an actor and singer in musical comedy; host of a comedy television show; a deejay, program director and owner of radio stations; and then as the writer, producer and performer in more than 500 radio and television commercials (most of them humorous),I somehow failed to grasp what you describe as “humour.” Maybe you are a sight gag and that’s what I’m missing.Among the other things I lack is a closed mind — probably the product of an inquisitive nature, a healthy skepticism of any kind of orthodoxy, and, oh yes, a modern education.I love these little exchanges. You guys just leave yourselves so wide open!CW

  • E favorite

    Bernie Bee and CW – Wow, I’ve been an actor and singer on the Broadway stage, host of a comedy television show and podcast; owner of six radio stations; and writer, producer and performer in more than 501 humorous radio and television commercials, and I have been able to grasp both the “humour” and humor that each of you have displayed here. I’m also humble, honest, totally self-assured and quite funny, both in person and in print, if I do say so myself. You guys slay me.

  • Bernie Bee

    Even if ye dae say so yersel’ E Fav I havtae go alang wi’ ye…CW is def’nitly the better comedian.D’ye know, I’m beginning tae suspect that CW is none other than that other comedian, Timmy, having us all on!

  • i_capricorn

    Hitchens only says these things because he’s an Aries.

  • Bernie Bee

    Don’t know about where Chris is in the Zodiac but that CW sure can be a pain in the aries!

  • CW

    E Favorite:CW

  • Bernie Bee

    There’s no perhaps about it CW! Being the sensitive wee soul that E Fav is, I’ve often made him blush tae the roots and not only E Fav by the looks o’ it!

  • Daniel

    I am giving my comments from a Christian point of view: I am not bothered by atheism or atheists. Atheism means “without God” and an atheist is someone who does not believe in God. An atheist does not need to have a reason for not believing in God, because this not believing is actually a kind of sketicism or doubt. So, why do Christians worry so much about atheism and atheists? It is not the atheist nor the atheism that bothers Christians; it is the doubt that bothers them, perhaps a doubt, which they do not wish to face, or cannot face, cannot meet, and entertain; and atheism makes them think this unwanted thought.I believe that Christians should not blame atheists for their own doubts, but if they may have doubts, that they should face them, and leave the atheists alone. In denying ones own inner doubt in favor of a forced certainty, a Christian is really a little disingenuous, and to seek to persecute any group unjustly, such as atheists, is actually against the basic teachings of Christianity. So, Christians, as they appear in these threads, are actually protraying a very weak and flawed version of their religion, which could and should exist and be practiced in a much more real and robust way.

  • CW

    Since no one appears willing or able to respond to my questions regarding the mechanism Dr. Ecklund used to perpetrate fraud in her study of the attitudes and beliefs of members of science faculty at elite universities, I have asked her to help us all. Here is that email:Dear Dr. Ecklund:CW

  • CW

    Daniel:I have no problem with atheists, either, Daniel, and I enjoy debating with them. I am not a Christian, but I don’t think Christians worry too much about atheists — they are simply too few in number, and those numbers are declining worldwide.In fact, the brutal suppression of religion in all communist countries during the Cold War was carried out by atheists along with the murder of more than 100 million people in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and wherever communists were able to gain control of the government. (Christopher Hitchens’s suggestion that Stalin merely used the existing repressive model of the Russian Orthodox church — in other words, the system was already in place — as a vehicle for his depredations is almost funny it is so transparent).I don’t fear atheists — Some of them are quite nice people — although their power is disproportionate to their numbers. They occupy key positions in media, government and academia. I agree that Christians doubt — and should — but I think at bottom, many atheists, in spite of their protestations that they are in possession of ultimate truth, have great doubts about their views. Antony Flew’s conversion is ample testimony that atheists do grow up, even if they have to reach 80 to do it.I would like to see Christianity grow up too, and abandon some of the anachronistic baggage it carries with it. I sense this is happening through the hermeneutic changes that regularly occur in more enlightened Christian denominations, but the evangelicals have enormous power still.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    CW, you obviously don’t notice but you do come over as someone with a very high opinion of yourself, indeed a bit of a braggart with regard to your achievements for instance.But don’t you ever relax, even laugh at yourself or as our great bard put it “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us”And I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing that for an unbeliever you are very pro Christian (in pay of the Templeton Foundation perhaps?)Yep, methinks you’re as rabid a Catholic as you’ve ever been.You don’t seem to have learned anything at all from that wonderful post Daniel has sent.

  • Bernie Bee

    And for goodness CW can’t you see how ridiculous you make yourself with statements such as:”I agree that Christians doubt — and should — but I think at bottom, many atheists, in spite of their protestations that they are in possession of ultimate truth, have great doubts about their views. Antony Flew’s conversion is ample testimony that atheists do grow up, even if they have to reach 80 to do it.Name an atheist, any atheist protesting they are in possession of the ultimate truth!

  • CW

    Dear Bernie Bee:Ridiculous? Only one atheist who has posted here (it may have been Mr. Mark) has acknowledged even the slightest possibility that there might be “something else.” The very tone and tenor of the rest of the responses — ranging from rage to ridicule to scorn to contempt — indicate that the atheist believes he is in possession of ultimate truth and is nearly hysterical at the benightedness of the believer. Tell me what ultimate truth about the non-existence of God do you not possess?Poor Antony Flew. And he could’ve been a great hero. All he had to do was abandon his integrity and renounce his newfound belief. Instead, he chose the path of honesty and now, of course, he is worthless, senile, and is being airbrushed out of the picture like the old Soviets who displeased their atheist comrades and went down against the wall in the basement of Lubyanka. What a world you kind, thoughtful atheists would run if you had the chance.And finally, in spite of your insults, I have a soft spot in my heart for Scotland, and the Scots. I had the joy to appear in a production of “Brigadoon” a number of years ago, and it was one of the greatest of my experiences in theatre. “Brigadoon,” you may (or may not) know, was a village in the Highlands of Scotland that God had spared from the torments and evils of the world by allowing it to appear for only one day every one hundred years. It was a show full of great songs and highland flings and bagpipers and a magical, wonderful story. But you are a curmudgeonly lot, you know.CW

  • Karen

    E Favorite: sorry for the delay in responding. I have not looked at this thread since last week. I did not realize it was still going so strong.To clarify: my agreement with CW’s first post was with regard to the evidence in the universe for the existence of a Creator. As I said before, many reputable scientists have become Deist because of what they see in the cosmos and the universe pointing toward a creator of the big bang. Aside from that, you are right. I remain a commited christian and believe in a God that is present in our lives though there is much about Him that I still don’t fully understand. And I continue to derive great comfort from my faith in the face of adversity. Faith coexists with doubt. Moments of doubt become fewer the longer we walk with God and the more we read and study God’s word, or at least I should clarify that that is how it is for me. If in the end, it turns out that I was completely wrong… what would I have lost? In my opinion to believe in Christ is all gain and no loss because my faith is about love and not about fear.I also agree that the question of evil and pain remains the biggest roadblock to faith in God and is often what brings doubt to my mind. I will again recommend Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God” to anyone who is interested in looking at some serious, thoughful and non sugar coated study of the problem of pain.

  • Daniel

    To: CW

  • CW

    Bernie Bee:Do you ever post without insulting those with whom you disagree? Civil behavior in these debates, particularly when they involve people with putative intellects, is always to be desired. You have a tendency to accuse me of hidden agendas, being a closet ID advocate, in the pay of Templeton or a member of an organized religion. None of these is true, and I wonder where you get these ideas. Certainly not from anything I have written.Your observation that I am a braggart was just another in a long line of insults. I merely listed a number of my past experiences in the theatre and broadcasting to counter your little jibe that I had no sense of humor. I do laugh at myself often; apparently you die laughing at yourself.I wonder what you meant when you said I had learned nothing from Daniel’s wonderful post? I agreed with him for the most part and also thought it was a lovely post. I only disagreed that Christians worry a lot about atheists and that Christians “persecute” atheists. I doubt that Christians ever think very much about atheists at all.You might also clarify your statement that for an unbeliever I sound “pro-Christian.” I am not an “unbeliever;” surely you know that by now. I am a rational believer in God, but not as a member of any organized religion. I am not, however, “anti-Christian,” either, and the values I embrace in life could be described as “Christian” values.I suggested to Daniel that both atheists and Christians need to grow up. Perhaps you should too. Why not try laying off the insults for a while for starters?CW

  • CW

    Daniel:You wrote: To: CWI’m sorry, but that doesn’t match anything I said to you in my post. I said that I don’t believe Christians worry very much about atheists because they are so few in number. Fundamentalists rage about sin and corruption and the degradation of the culture, but I don’t think they single out atheists in particular. (I admit, I don’t pay much attention to fundamentalists).I also said that I have no fear of atheists, and have a number of atheist friends. However, there is little doubt that there is a more or less organized (and largely successful) campaign among secularists to remove God from the public square, and to diminish the role of religion in American life. A good source of information on this phenomenon is “The Culture of Disbelief” by liberal lawyer Stephen Carter. Carter shows how religion is trivialized (and even demonized) by the law and politics, the media, entertainment and activist organizations like the ACLU. I also pointed out that most atheists would like to see religion disappear — many on this very blog have said so repeatedly. Chris Hitchens’s polemic is a good example. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others have become known in the media as “evangelical atheists.” There is nothing comparable going on among Christian writers.Finally, I merely suggested that the doubts that Christians may have about their faith have nothing to do with atheism, but with the doubts that many religious people have. Doubt is common in religion, in fact, faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin. CW

  • Daniel

    There is a Christan crusade going on in America to stamp out atheists and atheism. Atheists react to it with mistrust and anger. So? What about that don’t you understand? As a Christian, I do not agree with this crusade; however, I am well aware that it is happening. If I try to point out to my brethren that maybe their problem with doubt is within their own hearts, then their anger becomes directed at me. So, I do know that there is great and extreme anger and anxiety from Christians, directed at atheists, and atheism. You know, if you want to practice Christianity, there is a church on every street conrner in American, and you are free to do so. If you have doubt, then stop blaming it on atheists, and look into your own heart.

  • CW

    Karen:I am glad to see you back on this blog. Your post was beautiful. I have some thoughts to share with you, but I have to run to a meeting and to lunch. Thanks again for your wonderful message. It resonates strongly with me and I admire your courage in entering this sort of hostile atmosphere. More later.CW

  • David H. Miller

    Karen wrote:>As I said before, many reputable scientists have become Deist because of what they see in the cosmos and the universe pointing toward a creator of the big bang.I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford; my wife’s Ph.D. is in biology.I have never talked with nor even heard of any of these scientists you mention, Karen!No doubt someplace in the world there may be one such person, but if, as you say, there are “many,” I think I would at least have heard of one of them.I think this is an “urban legend,” Karen.All the best,Dav

  • CW

    Daniel:You wrote: There is a Christan crusade going on in America to stamp out atheists and atheism. Atheists react to it with mistrust and anger. So? What about that don’t you understand? As a Christian, I do not agree with this crusade; however, I am well aware that it is happening.The part that I don’t understand is the whole argument. You seem to keep repeating the same charge with no evidence to support it other than that you are somehow aware that it is happening. I believe I am fairly well read, and although as I mentioned, I do not pay much attention to the activities of the right-wing religious zealots, the televangelists, the IDers, the Creationists, et al, I’m not aware of any concerted effort to “stamp out atheists and atheism.” Nor is there even an effort by churches to convert atheists to religious belief — their numbers are too small to really matter. (I think that during the Cold War Catholics were urged to pray for the “conversion of Russia” — but this was really a prayer for the overthrow of atheistic communism).On the other hand — and you don’t address this in your posts — there is in fact a concerted effort by secularists (not all atheists by any means, but well-populated by non-believers) to greatly reduce the influence of religion in American life. It is not “paranoia” as you suggest that there is an ongoing, successful attempt to trivialize religion. Hollywood, television, certain agencies concerned with the law such as the ACLU, some environmental groups and much of academia have anti-religion agendas. There is no similar and concerted effort to marginalize atheism and atheists themselves. (This is not to say that the religious right is not feverishly involved in trying to expand the role of religion — it is, and I don’t like it any more than you do).Finally, to return to the idea of “doubt” which you maintain comes to Christians (and one would assume to members of other faiths as well) as the result of fear aroused by the arguments of atheists. I simply see no evidence of this anywhere. Doubt, as I pointed out in my last post on this subject, is a component of religious belief: the other side of the coin of faith. In the Christian tradition, doubt was expressed by Christ not only on the night before his death in the Garden of Gethsemane, but upon the cross itself. This is a metaphor in Christian theology for Christ’s humanity — an assurance that to doubt is to be human, but that faith in something “divine” overcomes doubt and makes man victorious.CW

  • CW

    Karen,You seem to have become a focal point for a sort of atheistic “conversion” exercise. I recall a while back in this endless blog someone even suggested you “watch out for me” because I was being deceptive (or some similar warning) in simply posting my beliefs.Then I noticed you were “wooed” by another atheist who said you were really a sweet but misguided person, and urged you to teach your children about atheism. Patronizingly, he told you just how to do it, by telling them how little children get over believing in Santa Claus. It almost made me sick.Now comes another atheist, a scientist, who tells you than neither he nor his PhD wife know any scientists who believe in God. In fact, I think he said while there might be one out there somewhere he had never heard of one. Given such a nonsensical statement, one must wonder if indeed he is legit in his claim to be a scientist. You are correct, there are many, many scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, who believe in God. Not all are merely Deists, either. Some have written persuasive books about science and religion — I have read several.Recently, I posted on this blog results of a study done by a Rice University sociologist in which 1,464 natural scientists and social scientists, all faculty members of the 21 top research institutes in the country, filled out questionnaires about their belief in God and spirituality. It was found that only 38% of natural scientists — physicists, chemists, astronomers, etc. — did not believe in God. Many practiced a traditional religious belief and regularly attended services. A slightly smaller percentage, 32% of social scientists — psychologists, sociologists, etc. — did not believe in God. This was an exhaustive survey that gathered a great deal of personal data about the participants. One of the more interesting findings was that the younger the scientist, the more likely he or she was to believe in God. Another finding showed that having a family also played a role in belief and religious observance. And still another — one that I find very interesting — is that some scientists select science as a profession because they are already atheistic or agnostic and believe they will be more comfortable in that environment.So, don’t be wooed by these people who have described me as a charlatan or in the pay of the Intelligent Designers or who tell you to tell your children that believing in religion is like believing in Santa Claus. Stick to your guns. I am going to post separately a short (and quite incomplete) list of scientists who believe in God. I’m sure it will shock your alleged Stanford PhD.Best wishes,CW

  • Bernie Bee

    CW, I assure you I’m a very friendly fellow. My attitude is always to be freindly with people, at least until someone does does something unfriendly.But CW is it everybody else but not you that should grow up!Now CW I don’t mean that in any way insulting just an another example o’ Rabbie’s observation on if only we could see ourselves as others see us!

  • Daniel

    CWYou claim that the atheists are taking over everything, and the Chrisitans are a tiny minority. But that is just your plain weird delusion. There is a church on every street corner in America. You could not run for President, Congress, or even dog catcher, if you do not profess some sort of Christian belief. So what is your delusional point? Why were you preaching to me about doubt? I brought up doubt, that only a sincere Christian who has experienced doubt could empathize with the doubt of atheists, and not feel threatened that atheistic doubt might weaken an insincere and forced certainty, which many weak Christians maintain. I think you, like most people on these boards, do not really know what you believe, but are just here babbling.

  • David H. Miller

    CW,I did not say I know of no scientist who believes in God: I know of a few although none who are top-rate.Karen made a much more specific claim. She claimed, in her words:I have never heard of any such scientist, i.e., one who became Deist “because of what they see in the cosmos and the universe pointing toward a creator of the big bang.”If you or Karen know of such a scientist, let us all know. I will be very surprised if you can list “many reputable scientists” as Karen claims.And your claims about most scientists’ believing in God is a long-known Internet fraud. I’m trying to post all the details here but have had technical difficulties.Dav

  • David H. Miller

    I notice that the whole long controversy here about Elaine Ecklund’s research failed to note a simple fact: the original claim by CW posted on June 2, 2007 12:09 PM is simply a well-known Internet fraud (i.e., “that 62% of natural scientists (physicists, astronomers, etc.) and 68% of social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, etc.) believe in God”). Ecklund appears to be a legit researcher. But CW did not bother to check what she herself wrote about her own work In Ecklund’s own words,Let me repeat that. According to Ecklund, over 60 percent of scientists are atheists or agnostics: that leaves less than forty percent who believe in God.I.e., about two-thirds of scientists do NOT believe in God. The hoax perpetuated by CW has exactly inverted this, claiming that about two-thirds DO believe in God.

  • David H. Miller

    (cont. from above)And here is a link to a Christian website that had the decency to expose the hoax: The fraud seems to have begun with a bogus report on http://www.livescience.com that was picked up without fact checking by MSNBC and then spread across the Net by the true believers.It’s shameful how some of the god-fakers will lie to advance their religion!The god-fakers ought to be ashamed of themselves.CW, by all means check with Professor Ecklund and see if she stands by her own words or by the meretricious mis-reporting of her research by you and by livescience.com.Somehow, I don’t think that CW or any of the other god-fakers are ever going to apologize.Dav

  • CW

    Daniel:Well, Daniel, I hardly know what to say. I have repeated my reasonable arguments three times now. Each time you have responded you have become less and less intelligible. You have misunderstood virtually every point I have made, all of which have been written in clear, unequivocal language. Just read any of the previous posts carefully and you will find that your responses misstate my positions almost completely. As for the study I have referenced, apparently you do not understand that few atheists want to believe there are a lot of scientists who believe in God. When I first posted this study, it came under furious attack by several atheists for being spurious, simply because its results challenged a dearly held belief. A recent poster has even said it was an “internet hoax.” I was surprised at the results. Even the researcher was surprised at the results. But you were not? You knew it all along? How?Finally, on doubt. Your last response is just incoherent. If you are, as you say, a Christian, and you do not understand my last post on doubt, then go ask your pastor or priest about Christ’s doubt on the cross.And please. Nobody is attacking you. This is just a debate. CW

  • David H. Miller

    Ah, CW, I see that you do not have the honesty to actually click on the links that I posted to check out the Internet fraud that you have been promoting.At first, I thought you might be an innocent victim of the fraud. But now we know the truth: you don’t care that it’s a fraud, do you, CW?You want to lie.You’re a liar, CW.But the links are there, everyone can click on them.Very soon, CW, everyone is going to know that you are a liar.Dave

  • CW

    Dav:Wow! You sure get lathered up, don’t you? Might be a good idea if you went back and looked at my last post on this study in my message to Karen:It was found that only 38% of natural scientists — physicists, chemists, astronomers, etc. — did not believe in God. Many practiced a traditional religious belief and regularly attended services. A slightly smaller percentage, 32% of social scientists — psychologists, sociologists, etc. –did not believe in God. There is nothing in the least deceptive about this. My original post on this topic was taken from a magazine article that made the statement that 68% of natural scientists and 62% of social scientists said they believed in God. Here is an excerpt from that article that appeared in LiveScience on Aug. 11, 2005. “About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do.” Here is the URL for the article. I also furnished it as part of my original post: I discovered only this afternoon that responses to the question “do you believe in God” included a 31% agnostic response, and in my next post on this issue I reported, that 38% and 32% of the two disciplines reported that they did not believe in God. (Actually, on further examination, the survey showed an even lower non-belief percentage than I reported earlier today). As you know, agnosticism is not an expression of unbelief, but an expression of an inability to know. It does not belong to either category: belief or non-belief. An appropriate summary then should be: 31.2% said they did not believe in God; 31.0% said they did not know if there is a God; and 37.8% said they believed in God or a Higher Power.It should be pointed out here that most of those who attacked the study would have been just as skeptical of a report that showed a 37.8% belief in God. They believe the number is somewhere around 7%.So, don’t get so worked up. Dr. Ecklund did not mention this discrepancy that was misreported in the original magazine article in our email correspondence, it was not mentioned in the original article, and I discovered it myself only early this afternoon when I read the report in detail. So, claiming that this is some sort of internet “hoax” is the typical overreaction of a group of people who seem to become almost hysterical when their pet beliefs are challenged. The fact remains that only 31.2% of these elite scientists do not believe in God, and 37.8% do. Who’d a thunk it? Now, just relax and take a deep breath.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    Just a minit CW! Are you claiming that agnostics are in fact god-believers?

  • David H. Miller

    CW wrote:>Might be a good idea if you went back andOkay, CW, let’s dig a little deeper into your web of lies.You confess that before that post to Karen you realized that the statement that you had posted on June 2, 2007 12:09 PM:”62% of natural scientists (physicists, astronomers, etc.) and 68% of social scientists(anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, etc.) believe in God”was not true.Where in the post to Karen did you inform her or anyone else of this fact?Nowhere.What you did post was:Since you did not deign to inform readers that you knew that your earlier post was false, they would unavoidably read your new statement that 38 % of natural scientists do not believe in God as simply the flip side of your earlier claim that 62 % did believe in God – i.e., as a reiteration and confirmation of that earlier claim. No one could possibly read it any other way, unless, like me, they already knew from other sources that you were lying.No one could think otherwise.It would have been the simplest thing in the world to admit that your earlier post was wrong.You lacked the guts to do so.Instead, you intentionally wrote your new post in such a way that readers would assume that it was consistent with the old post.You are just a lying god-faker. You never intended to tell people here that your June 2 post was false.

  • acd

    Thank you, Christopher! This reminds me of a story an old friend of mine told me years ago. His mother was editor of the ‘Life’ section of a rather large newspaper. She used to switch around the predictions and advice that came through the syndicated horoscope service. Imagine how many people messed up their days following the wrong advice? It went on for months, and no one ever noticed.

  • CW

    David:I have noticed the quality of the debate here has degraded markedly since you joined it. Using words like “liar” and terms like “god-faker” and “web of lies” does nothing to enhance or enlarge the discussion we have been having. I really have been surprised at the level of viciousness with which you (and one or two others) have responded to the various issues I have raised.In this latest explosion of spleen, you ignored my response to you in which I reported the accurate numbers, and in which I explained that I had unfortunately relied upon the LiveScience article for my original post. My post to Karen is a separate issue. I was not trying to deceive Karen, only to reassure her that, contrary to your contention, there are indeed plenty of scientists who believe in God, as the very abbreviated list of Nobel laureates and others I posted to you demonstrates. I gave her accurate figures. And in my last response to your over-the-top outrage, I gave you the correct result directly from Dr. Ecklund’s study, which she sent me yesterday morning. I also pointed out, that, had I initially reported the numbers correctly, there still would have been the same bitter skepticism about a study that showed 37.8% of science faculty at elite universities believed in God or a Higher Power, while only 31.2% disbelieved. Atheists seem to think that no one with a scrap of brain matter could possibly believe in God, let alone exalted scientists; I am fairly sure you find the 37.8% to be just as false as 62%.Finally, I started out my participation in this discussion with the observation that most atheists (and as I said, I have debated many) were very angry. You have certainly confirmed once again that observation. Your comments to me sounded like the venting of a rage-aholic, not a sober, serious member of the scientific community. I do believe we can remain civil even in sharp disagreement. Throwing epithets at each other (something I have studiously tried to avoid) profits neither of us.Meanwhile, here is an email I sent to Dr. Ecklund this morning that might further clarify my concern over having quoted a misleading story from the LiveScience web site.Dear Dr. Ecklund,Best regards,

  • Daniel

    To: CWI admit, I didn’t read all that stuff you posted. It is too much, too much, too much for anyone to read. Why are you compelled to post so much stuff? Very few people, probably no one, actually, would go through the trouble to read it all, even though it apparently means a lot to you.So, I admit, since you have posted a great deal, and I have only read about the first sentence of each post, I have not been tracking very well, with what you are trying to say.

  • Daniel

    In a nutshell, 10 words or less, who is Dr. Ecklund? Who is Karen? We should care about these people because, why? A person’s comment should not have a cast of characters.

  • CW

    Daniel:I am accused often of not apologizing for errors I make. I hereby apologize to you for being verbose. Maybe it’s because I used to get paid by the word.Karen is a Christian who has posted here in the past with her observations about her own faith. She is a very gentle and tolerant person whose posts are quite pleasant to read. Dr. Ecklund is a sociologist at SUNY in Buffalo NY who did a study on the belief or non-belief of scientists at elite research institutes. I posted a summary of the report a few days ago that I had found in a magazine. The article either deliberately or accidentally made fundamental errors in its report, errors I unwittingly passed on via this blog. I have corrected that error.Thanks for your post.CW

  • Karen

    I really do not want to get involved in the debate currently raging on this thread. Angry point and counter point just are not my thing. Just quick response to David Miller though. In the midst of all the back and forth with CW, you still have not responded to the extensive lists of highly regarded scientists that are either devout believers, somewhat casual believers or deista. Don’t you think that this effectively answers your question to me?I’ll add one more scientist that I spoke about in an earlier post: Does this prove anything? The only thing that it proves is that scientists with impeccable credentials are like everybody else: some of them believe in God, some of them don’t, some of them are not sure. Can we finally put to rest the idea that no serious scientist could believe in God and move on?Finally David, if you have a chance to look at my previous posts, you will find that I am a devout christian but a social liberal. I believe deeply in God and just as deeply in your right not to believe in Him. Regards to all and please try to tone down the rhetoric. It is a great turn off and does nothing to advance either side’s perspective.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear CW -Hey, I’m back (I was off solidifying the terms on a new job that I’m taking, so my time to spend here was severly limited). I never “fled the field” as you asserted, I just ran short of free time to spend on this blog.OK – I’ve caught up on the firestorm over the Ecklund study. Let me say a few things:• I believe you when you say that you unwittingly posted erroneous numbers based on a third-party report, and that you have qualified and revised your numbers and apologized for the mistake. I certainly accept your apology and looked with interest at the new figures.• I would point out that my original challenge to your posting of those erroneous numbers stemmed from the huge disparity between the Ecklund (incorrect) numbers, and the Nat Acad of Science numbers. The new, corrected Ecklund numbers seem to be quite within the realm of possibilities, and they do show that the majority of scientists don’t believe in god (which has been the basic discussion in this thread).• I admit that I never considered that the article you cited got Ecklund’s numbers so wrong, and that I jumped the gun in assigned the questioning of those figures to Ecklund’s poor research methods and the intentions of her funders, and not to an error-ridden report by some online magazine. All I can say in my defense is that the obvious disparity in the numbers between Ecklund and Nat Acad led me to look for a mistake in the first place I always look – the researcher and the methodology employed. This huge disparity in results smacked of books being cooked, and when I looked at the players involved, my prejudices fed the conspiracy fires. In truth, it would appear the the conspiracy was limited to the book cooking done by livescience.com. Next time. I’ll be more circumspect in reaching early conclusions.• I commend you for going to the source (Ecklund) to get answers, and I also commend you for having the guts to report what you found on this blog, because what you found out has totally undermined your original statement of fact. Perhaps you can now also investigate that 1997 study that you cited that seemed to agree with the erroneous Ecklund findings.• David H Miller points out that the livescience.com lies are a well-known internet hoax. I have no reason to doubt him, though it was certainly news to me. Scientists and doctors would have more knowledge of such hoaxes being hoaxes, so maybe the rest of us can be forgiven for being duped at this late date. Why, just yesterday, I had to correct a poster on this blog who was recycling the long-disproven lie that Al Gore ever said he invented the internet!• My original point has now been proven true (ie: most scientists don’t believe in god), even if there’s a question about the percentage that do believe in god (is it closer to 7%, or 30%?). Perhaps we could restart the discussion based on this reality, rather than the false assumptions prsented in livescience.com’s hackjob report on Ecklund’s research?Thanks for the research and the dialogue.

  • CW

    Mr. Mark:I must confess it is a relief to get a message like yours. I think David Miller sort of lost it there for a bit and hurled considerable invective my way. It was embarrassing for me, but after all was said and done it must have been even more embarrassing for him to re-read his post.Yes, I was disturbed that I had passed on erroneous information supplied by LiveScience, but I must tell you that the same information was played back in several online publications, at least one being a seemingly legit science web site. The difference was that LiveScience added agnostics to the believers total to reach a false conclusion, while the other articles simply included the numbers for nonbelief, leaving the impression that the rest were believers. Innocent mistake by several publications? Sloppy journalism? Or something wrong with the press release from Rice? I don’t want to start another witch hunt. (A Snopes search revealed no evidence that LiveScience is a source of internet hoaxes).Ecklund was quite forthcoming with me and I found her paper at another site in which she mentions the 37.8% belief number and says that it comports with other studies. And she also emailed me the complete study which was released just recently.In my opinion (and as an atheist for 16 years and an agnostic for 5 years) agnostics should be placed in a separate category from believers and non-believers. Those who don’t know should not be lumped together with one or the other. I am not quite willing to accept that my entire argument has been undermined. The corrected results of the survey as to belief were: 37.8% were believers; 31.2% were non-believers; and 30.1% said they did not know (and could not know)if there was a God. I know that it is fairly common (but not always) to lump agnosticism together with nonbelief. I don’t think this assumption is valid.My agnosticism changed over the years from agnostic tending toward atheism to agnosticism tending toward belief, and at last, to belief itself; so agnosticism can indeed be a transitory state. I have often seen these qualifiers used with regard to agnosticism. I frankly would have been happier with Ecklund had she framed her questions differently to discover what the agnostic tendency is. The binary choice forced a yes or no answer instead of a more nuanced response. In the question about nonbelief in God, qualifiers such as “strongly disbelieve” and “somewhat disbelieve” would also have yielded a more interesting result.Finally, just a note about the Larson study at the University of Georgia: its result was somewhat similar to Ecklund’s, with 40% of scientists believing and 45% disbelieving. No mention of agnosticisim was made in the article I read, although I suppose we might assume the remaining 15% included the agnostics. Also, I believe the National Academy of Sciences study cannot really be relied upon. It’s “belief” number is so low and the sample size so small that it doesn’t look too plausible. And there are other studies, including a Gallup poll that come in pretty close to the Ecklund and Larson studies.If you will bear with me, I have a couple of observations about the Ecklund study. Ecklund says that in subsequent interviews she conducted many of the scientists who professed unbelief considered themselves to be “spiritual” or to feel that there is “something outside themselves” (mirroring Einstein, perhaps?). Another surprising result: 73.5% of scientists said “there are basic truths in many religions.”There is a bit more, but I will save it for later. Again, thank you for your kind and measured post. It is greatly appreciated. Debate can be heated and also civil, and I am not claiming I have been entirely civil in these contentious exchanges where I have been one against many. I think we could all learn from the wonderful online video debates between Peter Beinart of New Republic Magazine and Jonah Goldberg of National Review. They are models of good natured disagreement, but boy, do they disagree.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    CW, do you know that Bertrand Russel was an agnostic? Don’t you think he would disapprove of being lumped as anything other than a non-believer?Even Richard Dawkins aknowledges the possibility that the birth of the universe could have been a supernatural event but so far there is no evidence for that or ever likely to be.So where are we?You say you are an evolutionary creationist which you claim is not to be confused with creationism.Just for the record, do you agree with that definition?Moreover, it was you that gratuitously made use of hostile and derogotary terms soon after you showed up in here for which E Fav rebuked you. So it is hardly to be expected that you should complain if David was a little impatient in dealing with your perceived attempts at subterfuge.

  • David H. Miller

    Karen,Thank you for finally actually responding to my original post, unlike that pathological liar CW, who keeps lying that I claimed that no scientist believes in God.If Sandage still believes that “the sudden emergence of matter, space, time and energy pointed to the need for some kind of transcendence” then he is scientifically out of date, about a quarter century out of date, in fact. Competent cosmologists no longer believe that everything came out of nothing at the Big Bang.If you google “cosmic inflation” or check it out in the Wikipedia, you will find that the dominant theory now is that there was a larger universe out of which the Big Bang exploded – that larger universe may have existed forever, so that there may be no need for solving the problem of origins.Sandage is a very old man (is he dead yet?), perhaps he is senile now and can’t follow current work.I incidentally was a doctoral student at Stanford when the inflationary model was originated by Alan Guth, then a post-doc at Stanford, so I have followed this from the beginning.Dave

  • Karen

    David Miller: Sandage made this statement in the mid 80s, I believe. Finally, I would somewhat agree with CW that there are a lot of pretty angry atheists on this thread. My guess is that their anger is directed at fundamentalists of any religion that try to shove their beliefs down people’s throats and impose their views on everybody else. Well, I can get pretty angry at those people too. We have to separate the harm that people do in the name of religion from the religion itself. There are hundreds of millions of christians around the world that live their faith in a personal, reflective way and are spurred onto good works by their faith. The problem is, they do not usually make the news. So I would encourage fellow christians on these blogs to let God’s love shine through their posts and to bring honor to the name of Christ, rather then adding to the anger and contention that many on both sides seem to relish.

  • David H. Miller

    Karen, Actually what you wrote was that there were “many reputable scientists” of this sort.And I responded with real doubt that there were many.I still doubt that there are many, but thank you for listing at least one.One of the many reasons I have the highest level of contempt for CW is that he kept lying, saying that I claimed there were no scientists who believed in God, when I have never claimed that in my life. I have myself known scientists who believed in God, although not many, since believers in God are a tiny, tiny minority among top scientists (as we have now established, despite CW’s lies to the contrary), and most of my experience has been among top scientists.Yes, I am an angry atheist, but, no, I am not primarily angry at fundamentalists: I acutally have liked almost every single fundamentalist I have known in real life (I was raised attending a Southern Baptist church – I knew a lot of them!).What does make me angry is lying – whether by CW, Bill Clinton (Monica), Dubya (almost everything), or anyone else. I am a non-partisan, non-denominational hater of lies. I also have absolutely zero-tolerance for the current American norm that says we should not call a lie “a lie” even when it most assuredly is.D

  • David H. Miller

    Karen,You wrote:I, and almost all scientists I know of, agree with you. Science very clearly can disprove stories about some particular gods: even Christian fundamentalists agree that some religious tales from ancient cultures are disproved by modern science. And if you disprove enough stories about a particular god, you have, in effect, proved that the god described in those stories is fictional.However, it is hard to see how science can disprove the existence of some sort of spiritual being in the most general sense of the word.That is one of the reasons that I am so annoyed with people like CW who constantly lie trying to convince people that scientists support their religious views when few scientists think that science is of much relevance to the question of the existence of god at all.In fact, I myself was surprised that so many scientists in the Ecklund survey, which CW lied about, chose the “atheist” answer. I would have expected many more to choose the “agnostic” answer (even I might have) rather than the “atheist” answer. I suppose hard-core atheism is even more widespread among scientists than I had thought!I suppose as a scientist I should feel complimented by the eagerness of Christians to falsely claim that scientists are really believers. After all, no one bothers to lie to try to convince people that lawyers or used-car dealers are more religious than they really are!Why do people like CW care whether or not scientists believe in God?Dave

  • David H. Miller

    CW wrote:>I think David Miller sort of lost it there for a bit and hurled considerable invective my way. It was embarrassing for me, but after all was said and done it must have been even more embarrassing for him to re-read his post.Oh no, CW, I think I was probably a bit soft on you, to tell the truth.You are a pathological liar. You have admitted that you knew that the figures you had posted were false at the time that you posted another post that not only failed to acknowledge the falsity of the earlier post but that was also carefully worded to make any reader think you still stood by the earlier post.You never intended to tell anyone on this thread the truth.You did not breathe even a whisper on this thread to anyone letting them know that your original post was false until I posted links that would allow everyone to find out the truth. Then when you had no choice, you finally half admitted the truth (although you continued to lie even in that post, claiming, “As you know, agnosticism is not an expression of unbelief..”).You have yet to retract your misrepresentation of me, pretending that I had said that no scientists were Christians, which I have never said here or anywhere else.Oh, no, CW, I was too polite to you earlier.All of this can easily and rapidly be checked by scrolling through this thread. But I doubt anyone cares anymore.You are now a proven, documented pathological liar, and nothing you can ever do can change that.Da

  • Spin Doctor’s Exposed

    Mr. Hitchens is a british ZIONIST IMPLANETED SHILL

  • David H. Miller

    I urge everyone following this thread to get a copy of a 2003 book by a retired pastor who served for decades in the United Church of Christ, Jack Good’s “The Dishonest Church.” Rev. Good explains in that book that any pastor who has graduated from a serious, reputable, mainstream seminary knows that the central teachings of Christianity (traditional doctrines such as the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the Virgin Birth) are lies.He also explains that most of the pastors he knew personally in mainstream American denominations intentionally deceived their congregations, hiding this truth from the people in the pews.He further explains that a central reason for the deception is that his fellow pastors fear losing their income if ordinary Americans find out the truth.It’s about money, folks.I have checked this out myself through various sources. Rev. Good appears to be telling the truth.This is why I am so angry and dismayed by the intricate pattern of lies recently displayed on this thread by “CW.”This is what Christianity now is: a tissue of lies. Tear away the lies so eloquently revealed by Rev. Good and so tawdrily practiced by CW and there is nothing left. If the American people knew the truth, Christianity would blow away like the morning mist before a good clean wind.It’s all lies. There is nothing left in Christianity except lies and some pathetic little men who fear that they will lose their paltry income if they tell the truth.That is why I am so angry about CW’s lying.Dave

  • Mr Mark

    Dear David H Miller -Thank you for your comments in this thread. It is good to have an actual scientist commenting here.You asked why Xians care what scientists believe. I think we all know the answer(s) to that: religionists love science when they believe it lends support to their fairy tales, but they discount science when it puts the lie (or even an alternative) to their beliefs. Scientific discovery continues to reduce the gap in which their god exists, so all of the vehemence which with they used to spout their defense (belief?) in god over a wide range of human thought gets squeezed into an ever-narrowing confine. Thus, we get religionists who say they believe in micro evolution but not macro evolution, religionists who say evolution is “only a theory,” religionists who believe the science that built their cars and computers but discount science when it comes to biology and cosmology (or not – earlier this year, a Xian on this board argued with me over how gasoline is produced. When I pointed out that science learned how to crack carbons to produce gas and other petro-based products from crude oil, he opined that carbon cracking may not actually take place, that we only THINK that’s what’s happening, and that tomorrow, science could revise its belief on how gas is produced from crude oil – his point, apparently, was that you can’t trust the absoutes of science because, unlike religion, there are no absolutes in science).As far as religionists misrepresenting your words on this board – I’m afraid that’s an experience all of we anti-theists have had more than once at On Faith. One poster was fond of quoting me by lopping off the beginning of sentences I had penned to give them the opposite meaning of what I intended. Others used the ever-handy ellipse to cut-n-paste my writings into a position supporting their Biblical nonsense. I called them on this dishonest practice and it seems to have stopped…but I would really like Dr Ecklund to do a study on why religionists stoop to such practices, especially in this internet age where their writings live forever and fact checking their statements takes only a matter of seconds (perhaps they’re counting on divine intervention to make it all good?)IN CW’s case, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this first offense of citing erroneous data (though your outrage is well placed), especially as he has made a full apology at this point. The proof will be in CW’s subsequent behaviour – we’ll know in short order if he was duped by livescience.com or if he’s an active and willing participant in spreading misinformation (sorry, CW, but I need to reserve final judgement on you at this time).Again, thanks for the comments.

  • Daniel

    We may give scientists some credibility in their relgious beliefs, becasuse they are, for the most part, intelligent. But so are alot of other people, who are not scientists. I have known alot of scientists who go to church. Since I have not engaged most of them as to the true nature of their beliefs, I cannot say anothing about that. Most scientists that I have known, who go to church, are Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, or Presbyterian. I have also known a number of practicing Jewish scientists. Islamic scientists tend to be bitter and confused over their religion. I would imagine that many, if not most, scientists who go to church have quite sophisticated and creative Christian beliefs, and you probably wouldn’t want to use them as examples to prove literalist or fundamentalst Christian dogma.

  • E favorite

    Mr Mark – I’m not so willing to give CW the benefit of the doubt. I don’t trust his supposed coorespondence with Prof Ecklund. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made all or most of it up. Just a theory, of course, but he’s lost a lot of credibility with me and it seems like just the sort of story he’d spin to prop himself up.Sorry, CW, it’s not worth it to me to converse with you any more. I will probably check back here, but I won’t respond to a post from you.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear E Fav -I can understand your reluctance to give religionists like CW the benefit of the doubt. Personally, I try my best to keep an open mind for as long as possible, even if 99% of the time it turns out that I was dealing with yet another uniformed apologist who wasn’t interested in engaging in a dialogue as much as offering a diatribe.I’ve had no success speaking with members of my own family – college-educated siblings who are professionals in their fields. Inevitably, they fall back on the same myths and questionable/discredited/illogical “proofs” that one sees regurgitated on a daily basis on this very blog. Attempting dialogue comes with the territory of this blog, and I feel that I need to give people a lot of room if I wish to really engage in this blog the way it’s intended.

  • Bernie Bee

    I noticed right after CW’s very first post, despite the denials of being a fundamentalist, that was plainly how he came across and I guessed out loud he was a rampant Catholic.However, CW was truthful enough in admitting to being an evolutionary creationist. As mentioned in my immediate previous post this is within the purlieu of no less than the creationism held by the ‘more conservative evangelical christians).So it would appear CW is indeed a fundie!

  • E favorite

    I’ve had some excellent, civil conversations here with devoutly religious people — and I think they would agree.However, it’s hard and ultimately a waste of time to converse with someone who seems untrustworthy at a very basic level.

  • CW

    Mr Mark:Thanks for being so kind as to reserve your judgment about my honesty until you have observed my future “behavior.” But I disagree with your excusing David Miller for what you call his justifiable outrage. I found it to be (and still do) utterly inappropriate, and, for a man of science mystifying. I note that while I apologized for my reporting of a false research result (I was duped along with many others, including you), David has continued to call me a pathological liar.I recall you were pretty outraged yourself over the Ecklund study, but you were equally outraged that I had tried to pass off Roy Varghese as a scientist when I had done nothing of the kind. It has been a pleasure to read the measured and quite lovely posts of the estimable Karen and the quiet remarks of Daniel, neither of whom rants. My own writings, when compared to some of the vitriolic responses I have received, have been quite mild. I have used words such as preposterous and absurd a couple of times, but I have never attacked anyone who blogs here as dishonest, deceptive, in the pay of someone else, masquerading as someone else, hiding their true beliefs, etc. I have been described as a charlatan, a “god-faker,” (whatever that means), a Creationist, an IDer, a rabid Catholic, a braggart. None of these (with the exception of “braggart,” which is in the eye of the beholder) is true. Your posts, Mr. Mark, with the occasional lapse, have been reasonable and one even included an offer of friendship which I greatly appreciate.These posts are not really attempts to persuade but to state and expand upon positions already deeply held. I have no illusions that you or David or the clever Bernie Bee will accept my version of reality; nor, I am sure, do you believe that I will suddenly return to atheism in a blog-induced epiphany. I have pointed out that my return to belief in a super-intelligence was reached by much reading of science books written principally by atheists or agnostics. My conclusions, to me, devoid of the trappings of religion (which I think often, but not always, get in the way of belief) are perfectly rational.I admire people like Karen who can accept their Christianity in its entirety with some doubt but with even greater faith. She made perhaps the most telling point of anyone in this seemingly endless conversation when she said that if her belief turned out to be false, what has she lost? But the fact that she looks to the cosmos for further affirmation of a creator is important too. I know that rational belief (not an oxymoron as some would have it) is available; I have found it, first in the agency behind the inexplicable wonder of the cosmos, and then experientially by turning to and relying upon that creator personally for guidance, inspiration, intuition, courage, acceptance, assurance, hope and love. If all that is illusion, I ask, with Karen, not only “what have I lost?” but “how much have I gained?”Some say that science has eliminated a “need” for God; that he has “nothing left to do.” But with the discoveries regarding cosmic expansion that David referred to come even deeper questions about God’s role in an eternally expanding series of universes that may (or may not) have an even more distant beginning than we can imagine. The wonder increases, not decreases, with each new finding. God may in fact have a lot to do.And in the last analysis, no matter how much explanation science may provide — and I stand in awe of the brilliance of its practitioners (if not the manners of some) — no matter how much is revealed about the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, branes and strings and the Higgs boson and wave-function and the multiverse, the ontological question will remain in one form or another for so long as intelligent beings exist: “why is there something rather than nothing?” To those who say that an endless infinity of universes eliminates the “nothing” from the equation, I would reply that it simply revises it to ask “why is there anything at all?” This unanswerable question that only a rational mind could conceive is the beginning of all faith. It was this wonder that led the Neanderthal man to create his myths about nature and life, and above all, death. The myths which became the structures of theism all began by dealing with the mystery of death by imagining immortality. Science told us some time ago that our immortality is assured by the laws of conservation of matter and energy. The only question that remains for us is, can consciousness survive? Only death itself will provide that answer for all of us. In the meantime, it is comforting and almost exhilarating to understand that the matter and energy of which I am made are as old as the stars.CW

  • David H. Miller

    Mr. Mark,You wrote:CW has not made an apology of any sort for his recent and ongoing lies.CW’s initial use of the false information was indeed careless and reckless: I first saw the false claims in another forum — it literally took me 30 seconds on Google to find out that it was fraud (when I came to this forum, I therefore already knew about the fraud). The first expose I found went way back to early ’06, so it has indeed been known to be a fraud for a good while. Had CW cared at all about the truth, he could easily have checked it as I did. And, of course, his use of the data was extraordinarily arrogant, obnoxious, and ad hominem, which I think would justify a sharp reproach.However, that is not the real problem. The real problem is that CW has created a complicated skein of brand new lies on this issue in the last several days. That is why I am denouncing him as a pathologically disturbed liar.The heart of this new net of lies is his attempt to convince people, such as yourself, that he willingly admitted his original error when he realized that he had been wrong. I take it from your words that it is for this reason that you are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.This is demonstrably and unequivocally false, given information CW has provided himself. CW did not reveal his errors when he found out about them, according to his own testimony, and, indeed, continued to post comments that would lead everyone to believe that the original figures were correct although he definitely knew otherwise. He did not post the truth about this matter when he found out the truth; he attempted to continue to deceive people, even when I announced that the figures he had used were fraudulent and that I would expose them on this thread (he must have thought I was bluffing).Only when I actually provided links that anyone could follow to see that CW was lying did he finally post a message acknowledging that the figures were false and that he had known prior to my posting that the figures were false.CW’s own statements, placed on a timeline, make quite clear that, even though he knew the figures were false before I publicly exposed the fact, he went out of his way to conceal this knowledge until I posted the truth.He did not voluntarily inform anyone of the truth, although he knew it himself, and clearly had no intention of ever doing so, until I forced his hand.Since there still seems to be some real doubt on this, I will post his own statements, with the relevant time-stamps in my following post (the server limits the length of posts, so I cannot include it here).(cont. below)

  • David H. Miller

    ( Part II cont. from above)I have outlined above the case that proves, that over the past few days, CW has intentionally engaged in an orgy of lies. I will here present his own words with the relevant time-stamps that conclusively prove his eagerness to lie and to deceive everyone on this thread for as long as he thought he could get away with it.As everyone knows, on June 2, 2007 12:09 CW claimed, based on a study by Professor Ecklund that:This is false and easily shown to be false, but in his eagerness to attack scientists, CW may have believed it at the time.On the evening of June 6, 2007 at 6:49 PM CW posted a message in which he claimed of Ecklund’s study:These later figures would of course reassure any reader that CW stood by his earlier figures (62 + 38 = 100; 68 + 32 = 100).In fact, this attempt at reassurance by CW was fraudulent: he later admitted that he knew by this time that his initial figures were false.In a post on June 6, 2007 11:59 PM, I announced that I knew his figures came from “a long-known Internet fraud” and I knew they were false (as he also did by this time, although he refused to say so) and that I would post the details as soon as I could deal with some technical difficulties. I had been dealing with these technical details for more than a day (the server’s restriction on length of posts, it turned out).(cont. below)

  • David H. Miller

    ( Part III cont. from above)In a post at June 7, 2007 12:57 AM, when CW already, by his own later admission, knew that his initial figures were fraudulent, he nonetheless continued to dishonestly defend those initial figures and pretended to be perplexed by my claim that they were fraudulent:>When I first posted this study, it came under furious attack by several atheists for being spurious, simply because its results challenged a dearly held belief. A recent poster has even said it was an “internet hoax.” I was surprised at the results. Even the researcher was surprised at the results. On June 7, 2007 at 12:44 AM and 12:48 AM, I posted the links that enabled everyone to find out that CW was lying. The jig was up. CW could no longer hide from everyone the facts that he had already known.CW’s following post in response to mine is the key post, for it is here that he admitted, probably without realizing that he was admitting it, that he had indeed known that the figures were false before I informed everyone of that fact, and that, indeed, he had known of that fact when he had posted previous messages in which he still defended the fraudulent numbers and pretended not to know that they came from an Internet hoax.Mr. Mark, this is the key point. It is here that CW admitted that he knew information at the time of his 6:49 PM and 12:57 AM posts that proved that the original numbers were false — although he chose to reveal none of this in either of those posts and, indeed, continued to defend his original post, even though he knew by then that it was false. In CW’s post on June 7, 2007 02:00, (after I had publicly and indisputably exposed the fraud on this thread) CW admitted that:>I discovered only this afternoon that responses to the question “do you believe in God” included a 31% agnostic response, and in my next post on this issue I reported, that 38% and 32% of the two disciplines reported that they did not believe in God. This of course means that his original post, claiming that 62 % of natural scientists believe in God was wrong.Note, however, that CW confesses that he knew the truth “this afternoon” (i.e., the afternoon of June 6) – which shows that he must have known by the time of his June 6 6:49 PM posting and that he obviously knew the truth at the time of his June 7, 2007 12:57 AM post.Yet, in both of those posts he chose not to reveal the truth which he then knew and, indeed, continued to defend his original post which he then knew was false.(Note also that he did explicitly refer to his “next” post (i.e., next after finding out the truth): this was the June 6 6:49 post, as he indicates by relating what he mentioned in that post. This proves that he did know the truth before the 6:49 PM post, in which he nevertheless did not admit that the original figures were false.)This is the smoking gun, Mr. Mark.

  • David H. Miller

    But, CW, now that you’ve been proven beyond any possible rational doubt to be a patholigically disturbed liar, no sane person is going to believe anything you say.

  • Bernie Bee

    But wait a minit Davie, are ye no’ bein’ a wee bit too shrill?I’m still willin’ tae extend the hand o’ friendship tae CW sae lang as he’s prepared tae meet me half way.

  • David H. Miller

    What always perplexed me the most about l’affaire Lewinsky, given that Clinton was a sleazeball, was that of all the women in the world that the President of the United States could have fooled around with, he chose a fat, ugly, obnoxiouos slob.Clearly, I lack an emotional understanding of the urge to adultery!But, of course, I also can’t understand why CW, when he found out his much beloved numbers were wrong, didn’t just post the truth and move on. Why continue to engage in lying?Clearly, I also lack an emotional understanding of the urge to “lie for God”!Dave

  • David H. Miller

    Bernie Bee wrote of CW:>I’m still willin’ tae extend the hand o’ friendship tae CW sae lang as he’s prepared tae meet me half way.Well, it would certainly wreck my research project if CW simply disappears from this board altogether!Let me reveal a few things I have not mentioned yet. I really do have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford. But my current academic pursuits are slightly different (call me a younger, little-known Richard Dawkins, if you wish).You know the famous quote from Mencken:The thesis of my research is that, in his inimitable way, Mencken has captured the social and psychological process that keeps religion going. Most people on this planet know that all of the other religions are quite bonkers and only con games to keep the money rolling in.But they agree not to say so, in exchange for everyone else doing the same.The one group who does not benefit from this little mutual con game is us atheists.So what if we atheists stop playing the game?What if we tell the truth about the constant and provable lies of people like CW in the same way we would if he had lied about issues of money or law?The thesis of my research is that the whole rotten game of religion will then collapse.Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris, Colbert, et al. are testing this theory at a “macro” level. I’m testing it at a “micro” level. What happens if I come along and start telling the simple, unvarnished provable truth about a religiously pathological liar such as CW?Anyway, I’m now at the point in the protocol where I have to reveal the experiment to the subject: this often produces some of the most interesting responses. (CW is of course not my first experimental subject.)Let me make clear that everything I have said about CW (and myself) to date is true: that’s the point of the experiment – how do those entrapped in religious belief systems respond when faced not with polite weasel-wording but with the unvarnished truth.Science is fun.(If anyone wants to know more about this line of research, look up Harold Garfinkel and ethnomethodology in the library or via Google.)Da

  • CW

    To all:Sometimes when one is repeatedly accused of something (in this case, lying, still lying, an orgy of lying, pathological lying, continued lying, etc.,) one begins to wonder: My God, where did I go wrong? Well, in my case, I offended David H. Miller. But then I found, quite by accident, that David H. Miller apparently has a habit of calling people liars (and even worse). Some other poor fool on another blog quoted that infamous study and here’s what David said:”Now that it turns out that I’m right and you’re lying, I have some questions for you, Steve.Did you ever actually go to college, Steve? Did they have a campus or just a PO Box? Did they explain to you the irresponsibility of relying on secondary sources alone instead of trying to check primary sources (which in this case would have taken you about 30 seconds on the Net) to see if your secondary sources lied???You accuse me of being irresponsible. You’re not just a liar, Steve, you’re a lazy liar.Yes, I am not ashamed of having a Ph.D. from an elite university in a difficult subject or of having the intellectual ability to have earned that Ph.D. You have just proven that you lack such ability.I was talking about an issue, the attitude of scientists towards religion, for which my having a Ph.D. from Stanford was clearly relevant. I will not apologize to morally and intellectually inferior human beings such as yourself for my having that Ph.D. or for my mentioning it when it is relevant.I earned it through hard work.You, on the other hand, have so little knowledge of science, or so little honesty, that you did not care to check out the obvious lie in the MSNBC report (MSNBC, by the way, did not even do the story themselves: if you had looked carefully, you would see that they acknowledged that they cribbed it from the site livescience.com ).You ought to be ashamed of yourself for libelling your betters.You are beneath contempt.You also lied about Einstein, but I won’t bother to respond to those lies. I think your dishonesty is now obvious to everyone.Dave” I particularly liked the line about Steve being “morally and intellectually inferior” followed by “you ought to be ashamed of yourself for libelling your betters.” (Your betters, no less!).Well, Steve, I guess I must join you in being beneath David H. Miller’s contempt, and who could ever get much lower than that?I did notice that at least he didn’t accuse Steve of pathological lying. Maybe he hadn’t yet run across the word. Maybe at the time he had not yet seen his shrink who told him, “Dave, I think there something pathological about your anger.”CW

  • David H. Miller

    CW, you old pathological liar, you, you’re learning to Google.Yes, I’m going around the Web tracking down you pathological liars, that’s how my research project works, as I’ve explained.You’re not the only one, CW, but you are much, much worse than Steve.Dave

  • E favorite

    Dave Miller – I’m quite fascinated with this statement of yours: “Most people on this planet know that all of the other religions are quite bonkers and only con games to keep the money rolling in.But they agree not to say so, in exchange for everyone else doing the same.”I’ve seen many examples of it and some quite recently. And I think there’s more to it than that – in some, perhaps most cases, it’s unconscious or otherwise quite hidden or suppressed. People don’t know they’re doing it. It’s quite ingrained and insidious. It’s imperative to study it, but it won’t be easy, breaking through those barriers.

  • E favorite

    Dave Miller – I just read your Amazon review of “The Dishonest Church” – a book I recenly read.Agree with all you said and would add that the community that good churches offer is a major reason why people stay, putting blinders on that prevent them from looking at their “faith” in the eye.

  • CW

    Dear Dave,Hey, I’m honored to be a subject of a micro-study by the younger Richard Dawkins! Where do I sign up? I do wish you had told me I was being secretly scrutinized sooner, but then, I understand how people sometimes fail to ‘fess up right away, and I’m perfectly okay with it! But now that you revealed all to the others on this blog the truth that I am not just a liar, but a pathological liar, and worse, a religious pathological liar, I am surprised that you really trust me to help you prove how rotten I and religion are and all. Just for your sake, how could you possibly depend on any response I make to have a shred of truth in it? What credibility would your study have? You see, a pathological liar lies about everything. So, remembering the old riddle about the natives sitting on a log, you could never be sure of anything I said. If you said “are you telling the truth?” and I said “no,” you would have to assume I was telling the truth! And vice versa. So it would be a bookkeeping exercise at best, tracking all those confusing answers. Maybe you could used sodium pentathol or torture to get the straight dope.But I’m willing. I don’t need any money, just a quid pro quo. I’m doing a stealth study myself on narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). So I’ll let you study me while I’m studying you! Sound fair? But you have to assure me that I am still beneath your contempt, or it’s no deal!CW

  • CW

    Bernie Bee:Shhh! Dave says you’re not to tell me that you’re willing to hold out the hand of friendship to me or I might leave the blog and wreck his study! So don’t tell me! Well, maybe stealthily. . .shhh. . .we don’t want Dave to see this. . .I’m happy to hold out mine in return.CW

  • CW

    E FavoriteYou wrote: Sorry, CW, it’s not worth it to me to converse with you any more. I will probably check back here, but I won’t respond to a post from you.Gosh, what a loss! I’ve so enjoyed your civility and your open-mindedness. I’ll certainly miss them.CW

  • Bernie Bee

    I’m sorry to have to say so Dave but CW is on the side of the angels with regard to the intensity you feel apropos ‘absolute truth’.And although it might be shown by some spoilsports to be apocryphal I go along with CW in believing things like when Moses came down from the mountain he was mobbed by multitudes anxious to know how he got on and he told them there was good news and bad news. “The good news” sez Moses, “is that I managed tae get Him down tae ten!” (Cheers all round!) “The bad news is…adultery is in!” (boos all round!)And Davie lad, I still think Monica is a really lovely, gentle lass…aye Bill, like our own dear bard Rabbie B, was lucky with the lassies!

  • Mr Mark

    To Dave & CW -I’m afraid your arguing has reached the point where I no longer wish to participate. It’s a bit like a Wagnerian opera. If you know Wagner, you know that part of his magic is the ability to develop scenes wherein the audience’s loyalties keep getting shifted from one arguing character back to the other. Wotan says something that makes perfect sense…until Fricka shows the lie behind his statement…which leads Wotan to provide the prejudice behind Fricka’s statement…which leads Fricka to throw Wotan’s promises to her back in his face…which leads to Wotan saying those promises were made under false pretenses…You get the idea.I’ll thank you both for directly addressing my earlier posts and take this opportunity to exit the fray with as much dignity as I can muster.

  • David H. Miller

    Mr Mark wrote:>I’ll thank you both for directly addressing my earlier posts and take this opportunity to exit the fray with as much dignity as I can muster.Not gonna happen, MM. I don’t take orders from people younger than me.I’ve already addressed everything in your posts that interests me — you’re a boring guy.Now, CW’s psychopathology, that interests me.Not to be flippant for a moment, I honestly think that the only interesting thing about religious believers such as CW is their psychopathology: there is no other interesting intellectual issue there.Theology is not an intellectual discipline: it is a technique used by con artists, indeed by the overwhelmingly most successful con artists in the history of the human race.But their day is ending.Dav

  • David H. Miller

    E Favorite wrote:Yes, if you followed the recent exchange between Mr. Mark and me, he is very annoyed that I see the main utility of threads such as this as studying people like CW. It seems obvious to me that reasoning with CW is a waste of time, at least until one understands his psychopathology fully. How can one reason with people who intentionally and pathologically lie?To me that pathological lying is the heart of religion. Mr. Mark evidently disagrees and is not happy with a diversity of opinions on that issue. (Perhaps it is his relative youth showing through.)Of course, Mark’s attitude is part of the overall psycho-social dynamics. His insistence on treating people like CW as deserving of respect even when they are proven pathological liars is a big part of enabling the religious con game in the first place. There are now enough people in America who know the truth about religion that, if we all were outspoken in defense of truth, the rotten structure could be brought down. But Mr. Mark is an enabler for the con artists and helps prop them up.You said you’d read “The Dishonest Church.” Do you recommend any other good books on the psychology/sociology of religion (in the broad sense of those terms)? I’ve been looking at some of the evolutionary psych books about religion but have not settled on which ones to read. I’ve read Dawkins of course, but have not seen Hitchens’ yet. Sam Harris’ book seems to me, somehow, a bit like a grade-school primer: somehow I feel he is talking down to the reader a bit.All the best,Dave

  • David H. Miller

    Bernie Bee wrote: >I’m sorry to have to say so Dave but CW is on the side of the angels with regard to the intensity you feel apropos ‘absolute truth’.Well, you Scottish people have always been known for your easygoing happy-go-lucky ways, right? Must be that wonderful Mediterranean climate you enjoy! And I can’t deny that CW is certainly a fun guy to have at a party, at least if you don’t mind pathological liars.Seriously, I gotta admit that I am much more serious about, as you put it, the “absolute truth” thing than CW is about his god-faker thing. He seems to be lying just for the fun of it; frankly, I think it is all a parlor game to him. I, on the other hand, intend to do what I can to assist in the eradication of religion from the face of the earth.As I have explained, I’m here to observe how the personal and inter-personal psycho-sociological dynamics change when someone comes in and tells the blunt unvarnished truth about religion without weasel words or showing false respect for people who are lying.No need in the world for you to share my perspective: I can learn just as much if you and I have diametrically opposite perspecitves. Trust me, I’m good at avoiding weasel words or avoiding false respect for psychopaths: I don’t need you to do it too.I’m already tickled pink to see Mr. Mark shocked, shocked (!) that someone, me, who is posting on a discussion of Hitchens’ essay would actually have a perspective similar to Hitchens’ on religion.And I deeply loved CW’s shock in finding out that I really am going around the Web seeking out people like him to expose and study wherever I can find them. Obviously, a pathological liar like CW cannot understand the concept of someone actually telling the truth!So, as the man said, let the games begin!Dave

  • Bernie Bee

    Davie, d’ye know ye’ve all but chased me into the arms of Pope Benny himself with all that unrelentin’ monotonous,rantin’ ye go in for!You say: Well, you Scottish people have always been known for your easygoing happy-go-lucky ways, right?D’ye know, I think I’ll set off now for the nearst church tae say a wee prayer ye!God bless!

  • E favorite

    Dave Miller, Like you, I’m interested in studying people’s reactions here, however, I have no interest in participating in whatever “games” are being played at this point.Looking back over recent posts, it’s hard to see who’s enjoying this fracas more, you or CW.Although I think you represent a worthy cause in exposing religious fraud, you seem just as gleeful as CW at denigrating people who do not see things exactly your way. This attitude is foreign to any legitimate research process that I know of. It’s my opinion that Mr Mark and Bernie Bee have been hoodwinked by CW in this discussion, influenced by a combination CW’s manipulative skills and their own sense of decency and fair play. I’m just as repulsed by your treatment and characterization of them as I am by CWs trickery.You too duke it out if you want too. Analyzing the interaction could be useful in some future study of the extremes of religious thinking.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Dave -You really take things personally and to extremes, don’t you?I thought that I gave you props in my earlier posts. I also took CW to task on the Ecklund study long before you entered the fray. You seem put off by the fact that I acknowledged his apology on posting phony info. Does that make me an “enabler” of the religious on this board? E Fav thinks that maybe CW hoodwinked me. On the contrary, I haven’t been taken in by his message or methods as they’re pretty standard fare for people of any stripe when their unassailable info comes crashing down to earth (I’ve been there before – haven’t you?). But I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, and CW’s apology seemed sincere enough to me. In the large scheme of things, he won a battle but not the war. I’m not looking for total victory in these discussion boards, I’m looking for a discussion. Compared to Canyon Shearer and some of the other wackos who have posted here, CW is quite moderate in his views.As far as my youth and inexperience, Dave – I’m the same age as you, 52.

  • E favorite

    Mr Mark – It’s on sincerity, not methods, that I think you’ve been hoodwinked. Just my theory – can’t be challenged with internet links, so will remain my theory. I also think CW likes getting this kind of attention, so I won’t be providing any more of it.

  • Bernie Bee

    Oh Mr Mark! Ye HAVE been taken in and how! So have the rest of us!I wondered at an educated person, let alone a scientist, being so obnoxiously insulting as our fly wee Davie has been all the way!I bet gentle folk such as Karen must have been sickened by that non-stop and apparently atheistic invective laid on so thick she’d never listen to a non-believer again!We’ll have to watch out now for any further attempts in a new guise if we’re to prevent similar duplicitous ‘games’.Here’s hoping that’s it finally over now.

  • CW

    To all:I wish to make a couple of things clear. First, yes I do enjoy debating; I grew up in a debating society. My older sister (a Rice University PhD) and I held spirited discussions on a wide variety of topics as young adults, and we still engage in one or two via long distance and email. I think debates help us grow in understanding not only of issues, but of our fellow human beings. A debate also should produce more, not less, tolerance for other points of view.I really think that if you reviewed my posts you would find that I have never denigrated anyone in this long conversation. I posted a sarcastic response to Dave a while back when he revealed his stealth “research” study and suggested he look into his own mental health in another, but only after having been repeatedly brow-beaten with this “pathological liar” canard.Also, a careful review of my posts would reveal that I am not trying to convert atheists, subvert atheism or defend religion. My whole point here is to suggest that one can find a rational path to a belief in God without religion. I have said repeatedly that I am not religious; do not believe in mythological superstructures built on top of theism; do not attend a church of any kind; do not believe in miracles (other than the miracle of the whole thing) and do not believe in an afterlife.I have been accused of a number of things, all of which are unfounded: trickery, deceptiveness, manipulativeness, denigrating other people’s views and pathological dishonesty. These are amazing charges and are absolutely false. I was called to task for representing Roy Varghese as a scientist; I did not. I said he was an intellectual with an encyclopedic knowledge of science, which he is and has. This led to ad hominem attacks that included accusations that I was Varghese himself in disguise. My unwitting reporting of a published research study and the perceived tardiness in my correcting it led to a firestorm of criticism, particularly from Dave, whose over-the-top fury may indeed smack of pathology. I have repeatedly said that I am not a religionist; yet even the tolerant Bernie Bee continued for some time to accuse me of being a closet Catholic or a “fundie.”In the heat of battle, particularly when one has no allies, it is not surprising that some of the return rhetoric becomes somewhat less than civil. But I have tried hard to remain civil anyway; for those occasions when I have failed, I apologize. Finally, I do not know whether I will stay in this conversation or not. The hostility that Dave displays toward me is disturbing. The fact that he is surfing the web to find still more “pathological liars” for his “study” is even somewhat alarming. I shared one of Dave’s long rants with a colleague of mine, a summa cum laude psychologist who is presently working on her PhD. We work together on a suicide prevention hotline where many of our calls come from disturbed people. She agreed that Dave’s responses indicate a messianic zeal coupled with uncontrolled anger. These are symptoms of several disorders. I wonder if I want to risk having Dave learn more about me for his “study” and somehow find a way to harass me privately.I think I probably have said all I need to say. I just wanted to set the record straight regarding my beliefs, and to again apologize for using an inaccurate report to bolster an argument. I am a truthful person, so it is particularly troubling to be falsely accused as a liar. When I wrote Dr. Ecklund (some people doubt that I even did that), I told her that I prided myself on the accuracy of research I do (I have been a writer for more than 35 years)and that this error had damaged my credibility.Of course, I understand fully that, as part of a debate, discrediting the other fellow is a fair tactic. I left myself open for it. You all had your day with it. Dave seems to have built his whole life on it.CW

  • CW

    Bernie Bee:Caught at last! Yes, Dave and I have been conspirin’ together since he was a wee bairn, I bein’ much older than he. And yer right about the other thing too: we are indeed one and the same person, only his head is bigger’n mine, him bein’ a PhD and all!I loved your Moses joke. Here’s another, probably one you’ve heard a thousand times, but it’s one of my favorites:In the middle of foggy night in the NW Atlantic…..two lights are heading directly for one another… and on the radio an American voice is heard saying “we suggest you alter course by 10 degrees”. Back comes the reply “No!” Then the American voice says “this is the battleship USS Missouri leading the American Atlantic battle fleet, you had better alter course by 10 degrees.” Back comes the reply “this is the Hebrides lighthouse, but it’s your call, Jimmy”I too hope the bonfire of Dave vs CW has burned itself out. You have certainly tried your best to extinguish the flames, and thanks. If you have read my previous post you will note that I do think some pathology is involved: nobody whose mind is functioning normally gets that outraged or obsessively surfs the web seeking out enemies to confront.And I share your concern for Karen. I have mentioned her several times in my posts. She is indeed a gentle soul; intelligent, gracious, non-judgmental and a stout defender of her faith and of the right of others to have none. I know I could do a better job of following her example.CW

  • David H. Miller

    Mr. Mark wrote:>I thought that I gave you props in my earlier posts. I also took CW to task on the Ecklund study long before you entered the fray.Hmmmm… as I recall, you rather viciously libelled Professor Ecklund, who seems to be a competent and honets researcher, by imugning her integrity, her competence, etc. Or am I confusing you with someone else?Your behavior really was nearly as bad as CW’s, wasn’t it?Neither of you cared about what Ecklund had really discovered. All you cared about was advancing your own agenda, even, in your case, if that meant libelling a hard-working young sociologist who had the energy and courage to tackle a difficult and controversial subject and, evidently, do it well.It was I, with 30 seconds of work on Google, who was able to show that CW was wrong. You never were able to show he was wrong, though you did manage to viciously label a young sociologist in the process of trying.MM, let me make this clear. I was never on your side. If Ecklund had really discovered what CW claimed, that would have been fine with me, (and, unlike you, I’m not paranoid about the Templeton Foundation — I’ve seen no sign that it is any more corrupt than most funding agencies, and some signs that it actually tries to maintain its integrity as Ecklund claims).No, I just think people like *you* and CW should stop lying, libelling innocent people, etc.Aside from my research project, that is the only horse I have in this race.I have not addressed your unethical behavior before, because once I exposed CW’s dishonesty, I assumed that it would be obvious to everyone that you had falsely maligned Ecklund.It seems not. So, let me put it bluntly: you falsely maligned Professor Ealine Ecklund in a very public forum. You owe her a private and public letter of apology.You’ve been an incredible jerk.Looking back on this thread, it is clear that your only goal has been to prove your intellectual superiority by trying to engage in intellectual one-upmanship. Give it up – as your foolishly false and malicious attacks on Ecklund show, you are not that smart.I’m glad that my coming on to this thread seems to have spoiled your nasty little game, and I take it as a compliment that a jerk like you dislikes me.And it makes absolutely no difference to me that you and I happen to agree on some issues of Biblical criticism and religion.Libel is wrong. It’s time for yout to admit that you are a jerk.Because, MM, you’ve been a real jerk.Dav

  • David H. Miller

    CW wrote:> I too hope the bonfire of Dave vs CW has burned itself out.Oh, I’m sure you do, CW, I’m sure you do. But the fire is little more than an ember so far: it can only get bigger.Now, of course, if you could bring yourself to admit, that after you already knew the numbers you had posted were wrong, you continued to post deceptive messages trying to deceive people into believing your lies, then the fire might cool down.But you do not have it in you to admit that, do you?You cannot admit that you lied, can you?Have you been a sociopathic pathological liar since infancy or is this an acquired trait?Amd, CW, you are making a wonderful experimental subject, the best in the whole project, so far!Dave

  • Anonymous

    Dave,I hope you can set aside your anger at and contempt for me long enough to read the following:I am not a professional in the mental health field. However, I have spent the past 11 years as a volunteer suicide and crisis counselor at an accredited major market crisis center, where I also served on the board of directors for 4 years. My training is in a crisis model developed by the American Association of Suicidology, and I regularly attend Continuing Education classes taught by psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and other professionals. I have counseled nearly 6,000 individuals in suicidal and other crises.Because 90% of all suicide victims have one or more mental disorders, it is necessary that suicide counselors have a working knowledge of mental illness so that we may establish empathetic rapport with our callers and recognize symptoms of mental disorders that may be in need of diagnosis, treatment, resumption or changes in medications and the like. In light of your recent posts and the increasing intensity of anger, righteous indignation, and frustration they display, I believe it is possible that you are in the grip of a personality disorder. After sharing one of your posts with a colleague at the center who is a clinical psychologist now working on her PhD, she agreed that you are exhibiting symptoms of one of several possible personality disorders.She believes, and I concur, that you should seek an evaluation from a mental health professional, preferably a psychiatrist. Given these symptoms, which have been noticed not only by me but by others on this board, one possibility is that you may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. It is similar to the more familiar OCD but does not necessarily feature OCD’s ritualistic behaviors. Here is an excerpt of a longer paper on this illness:Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder “Generally two hallmark thinking styles are pervasive for persons who suffer this condition. The primary manifestations of OCPD entail either a bent toward perfectionistic standards or righteous indignation. Along with perfectionism comes relentless anxiety about not getting things perfect. Getting things correct and avoiding at all costs the possibilities of making an error is of paramount importance. The second factor entails the rigid ownership of truth. This feature produces anger and conflict. Persons with OCPD generally lean toward one of these perspectives or another. In some cases both perspectives are of equal magnitude. Rituals, on the other hand, often play a relatively small part in this complex syndrome of perfectionistic mannerisms, intense anger and strict standards. Their way is the correct way and all other options are “wrong”. Anger and contempt are rarely held at bay for those who disagree. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III-R, the bible for persons in the mental health profession)suggests that persons with OCPD display a pervasive pattern of orderliness, perfectionism, and/or mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. It is further suggested that persons with this condition tend to resist the authority of others while simultaneously demanding that others conform to their way of doing things.” Often, people who suffer from OCPD do not seek treatment simply because they think that they are in possession of objective truth about everything and there is nothing to treat. Frequently, others must provide the impetus for them to seek help.It is difficult even for a mental health professional to make a diagnosis based on a few angry outbursts. And OCPD is only one of several possible diagnoses. But there is a pattern of increasing intensity and hostility that is clear. Suddenly turning on former allies with rage and contempt because they disagree with you is yet another and quite powerful signal that all is not well. And there is something of a messianic fervor in your proposed “study” and your continued search for enemies that are troubling.You may continue to hate me, and that’s okay. I have never felt that it was a rational hatred anyway. At the time I made that sarcastic offer to do a “mutual study” of our respective pathologies I had not fully recognized that you might indeed be suffering from a real pathological condition over which you have little or no control. I sincerely hope you will consider seeing someone very soon.CW

  • CW

    To all:Recently Dave wrote:Well, it would certainly wreck my research project if CW simply disappears from this board altogether!I am going to do just that, as I said I was considering doing a few posts back. As I said then, I do not feel entirely safe in dealing with Dave on this board. Nor do I contribute anything to the board so long as I am the focus of his rage, which has become the dominant feature for the last couple of days. Although he seems to have re-focused this anger on Mr. Mark, I think he too has retired. Maybe with both of us gone, Dave will be forced to seek other and greener fields. Meantime, I hope Dave will seek help for the rage that seems to be consuming him.For the benefit of Dave’s research study, I’m going to restate by beliefs and positions, which have been detailed many, many times before on this thread starting with my very first post:5. I do not believe in miracles, other than the fundamental miracle of the creation of the universe.Best wishes to:EFavoriteI will visit from time to time to see if the fires indeed cool. Forgive me, but I must say, because I truly mean it,God bless you all.CW

  • Anonymous

    Ananymous,I read only the beginning of your post.That was enough to convince me that you clearly and certainly are in the grip of a very serious personality disorder and that you need serious professional helpAlthough I am not a mental health professional, like you I possess a magical ability to diagnose people from across the Internet.It’s just a gift that some of us possess, isn’t it?I hope you will seek help rapidly before your condition worsens.I’m really serious about this.And I find it extremely revealing that you made no attempt to find out if the statements I was making about your personal friend CW were true.In the old Soviet Union, people who told the truth about the government were diagnosed as insane, too. Amd, there too, it did not matter if their “insane” statements happened to be true.Your post was a clever bit of satire, now, wasn’t it?CW, you are soooo funny. I hope you appreciated my little riff here on your post. One good piece of satire deserves another.Of course, you are still a pahological liar.Dave

  • David H. Miller

    E Favorite wrote:>Looking back over recent posts, it’s hard to see who’s enjoying this fracas more, you or CW.Oh, E Fav, trust me on this, I’m enjoying it enormously more!I did not know that this site existed at all until I did a Google search to find people who were lying about the Ecklund research (as I recall, I googled “Ecklund, science religion”).This site was one of the first to pop up, thanks to CW’s lies.I only came here to expose CW’s lies, and other related lies, as part of my research project.I have never been on this thread for any other reason.Of course, it turned out that there were others who libelled Ecklund, such as the macabre “Mr. Mark,” so I got to have a bit of fun at his expense too.I have never hidden this, so things are working out exactly as I intended.But, not, perhaps, as CW or the Macabre Mr. Mark intended.And, you know, despite everyone’s proimise to leave the thread, I have a sneaking suspicion some of you may be back.I’ll be watching.Dav

  • David H. Miller

    While I made fun of CW’s little mental-health hoax (there’s always another hoax from old CW!), I think everyone should know that the shrink he quotes so fawningly seems to have credentials that are just a wee bit open to question.What CW does not mention is that the “Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy” appears to be simply Steve Phillipson’s office. As the Website admits, the “center” is simply a “private group practice in midtown Manhattan” ( Normal people don’t give silly, offical-sounding names to their offices! A close friend of mine, who is now a practicing MD, tells me that this sort of grandiose, delusional thinking is, sadly, common among the psychological profession.Unlike Mr. Mark and CW, I do not libel innocnet people, so I will not come right out and say that Steve Phillipson is a quack. It is possible that he is simply a well-intentioned, low-level grunt.I will say that as myself someone who does have a Ph.D. from a top-ranked university (Stanford), Phillipson’s CV is singularly unimpressive ( His publication list is most disturbing. He does not appear to have any publications at all in any serious, academic, peer-reviewed journals.I realize that many people reading this will not know how stunning this is, but if you talk with any Ph.D. from a top-ranked university in a serious field (biology, physics, nerual science, etc.), I think they will assure you that this is very unusual and very disturbing.I turned up CW’s pathological lying thanks to Google, and I think what I have turned up about “Dr.” Phillipson is almost as interesting!Phillipson is indeed CW’s kind of guy. They should get married.But I do bet Phillipson is better at getting the rubes to part with their hard-earned bucks than CW will ever be.It’s amazing what you can find out about people through Google!Dave

  • Steven Phillipson

    The Center for CBT is a training facility which trains Ph.D. canditates from Columbia, Fordham Univ. Yesheva, St. John’s, Long Island univ., Feirley Dickenson Univ. and Rutgers Univ Phd and Psy.D programs. The Center employs aprox. 14 pre and Post doc employee from these universities. I have been a speaker at the OC foundation’s national conference for the past 8yrs. The Center has supported Doctoral dissertations and had research presented at national conferences. As my misspellings indicate Im severly dyslexic and there for my non top ranked education is a result of SAT and GRE scores which protray me as lacking in educational accumen. Dave if you would like to discuss your contentiousness regarding my status as a top professional within the psyc community I love to recieve a call from you. if you do not have the nerve to contact me directly then I suggest you discontinue you boderline slander regarding my reputation.steve

  • Steven Phillipson

    The Center for CBT is a training facility which trains Ph.D. canditates from Columbia, Fordham Univ. Yesheva, St. John’s, Long Island univ., Feirley Dickenson Univ. and Rutgers Univ Phd and Psy.D programs. The Center employs aprox. 14 pre and Post doc employee from these universities. I have been a speaker at the OC foundation’s national conference for the past 8yrs. The Center has supported Doctoral dissertations and had research presented at national conferences. As my misspellings indicate Im severly dyslexic and there for my non top ranked education is a result of SAT and GRE scores which protray me as lacking in educational accumen. Dave if you would like to discuss your contentiousness regarding my status as a top professional within the psyc community I love to recieve a call from you. if you do not have the nerve to contact me directly then I suggest you discontinue you boderline slander regarding my reputation.steve

  • David H. Miller

    Steve,I’d really like to thank you for confirming my previous comments.New York is really a great city.All the best,Dave

  • David H. Miller

    Oh, and Steve, your “borderline slander” comment is really a hoot!I can’t stop laughing!All I did was quote directly from your own Website, mainly the CV you yourself psoted, and explain why I myself find your qualifications singularly and startlingly unimpressive.The fact that you consider this sort of quoting from your own CV to be “borderline slander” speaks volumes about your own level of confidence in your professional abilities and qualifications.The facts really do speak for themselves, don’t they, Steve?Laughing at you all the way,Dav

  • David H. Miller

    Steve,It finally hit me why you falsely, maliciously, and libelously accused me of “borderline slander” (you mean “libel,” but, I know, you’re dyslexic and can’t help sounding stupid).You must be upset about me making fun of the silly name you chose for your office!Now I certainly would not want to openly accuse you, of say, delusional grandiosity, especially since I know that might upset you, and I certainly would not want to be accused of inducing any emotional instability in you.But it is your own Website that admits that the “Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy” is really simply a “private group practice in midtown Manhattan.”I am completely entitled, legally, morally, and professionally to find it extremely hilarious that you chose such a pompous name for your office. You get to choose the name, you get to post it on the Web, and everyone else gets to ridicule you for choosing such a silly name and to make fun of it.It’s called “freedom of speech,” you poor fool.Do you really fail to understand this? I am free to make fun even of real research instituitions if the mood strikes me: the Mayo Clinic, the Kennedy School of Government, etc.I can surely make fun of your silly liitle group!That, Stevie, is called freedom of speech, not “borderline slander,” and if you can not understand this, you need to see a psychologist for help. (Oh, I forgot, you’re dyslexic, and that explains why you appear stupid.)You wrote:As a practitioner of psychological science, have you ever thought about the alternative hypothesis: just maybe, just conceivably, the SAT and GRE scores are accurate and you really *are*, to use your words, “lacking in educational accumen”?You are such an unbelievable fool.I love ya’, man! You’re even more entertaining than that pathological liar, CW.Laughing at you as I write,Dave

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  • Anonymous

    Dave:I ran across this thread today and read the last six or seven posts. I agree that you have a personality disorder of some kind and that you need help. Nobody gets angry and stays angry for this long without some kind of pathology being present. You seem to have run off everybody that was posting here. Does this tell you something?

  • Pandeism Pundit

    It is not impossible for a “faith” to exist which abandons such pretense of the watchful tinkerer God who intercedes to prevent some evil, but allows other evil to occur according to dictates as mysterious as the star chart purports to be. Deism, Pandeism, Pantheism, and Panendeism offer a real, rational choice, a choice to believe in a God whose actions make sense in the context of its nature.

  • msf

    Wonderfully said. Realizing that humans are cosmically insignificant (or at least inherently no more significant than any other living material species) is among the deepest insights grownups can achieve. So many children never grow up. But then authority figures never tell them that God, like Santa, is a story we tell kids.

  • Dan

    Good stuff!As you have the public’s attention, don’t stop advocating for rationality/reason. You and your peers are the heroes of the 21st Century, your anti-hero being “belief in the belief in God”.

  • Bryan Taylor

    Mr. Hitchens,

  • leon t. martin

    If itcan’t be found,and you get no answer from it, it doesn’t exist.

  • leon t. martin

    If itcan’t be found,and you get no answer from it, it doesn’t exist.

  • Robert

    Genius. Hitchens is a great man, surely.

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  • nin Privitera

    Dear Christopher-I would love to hear your answer to this question.Thousands of Jews were crucified by the Romans 2000 years ago. Why were books written about one Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth, who went to the cross, and no one else?Best wishes,Nin

  • nin Privitera

    Dear Christopher-I would love to hear your answer to this question.Thousands of Jews were crucified by the Romans 2000 years ago. Why were books written about one Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth, who went to the cross, and no one else?Best wishes,Nin

  • dreevesx

    Hitchens was a left winger, and now is a right winger. So maybe someday he’ll stop being an atheist and become something else.

  • Trent

    Spot on, Hitch!

  • James

    Dear Mr. Hitchens, do you honestly think that the post would waste all that pulp and ink for nothing? Without an enigma machine, german intercepts appeared to be meaningless, too.

  • joe

    sounds like someone has some anger issues to work on!!!

  • David

    The study of astrology goes way beyond fortune cookie slogans in a newspaper. Read a good book by Robert Hand such as Astrology in Youth with your own astrology chart on hand. Read each of the significations and put it all together with a critical but open mind. Now read about all your friends and family members with the same attention. Then, if you still are assured that astrology is a mindless hoax, fine. But don’t try to say that newspaper astrology is representative of astrology. That is marketed for the masses. You claim to be thinkers and intellectuals. Do your homework first before you come out swinging.

  • Brin

    Hello, nice site 🙂

  • Anonymous

    There is no poison in anything that has given me everlasting, inhuman strength to overcome an overwhelming statistic.Bow down now rather than later. My God works miracles!

  • angel

    I wasted much of my time and thoughts on astrology. I would have been better off studying plumbing. My collegues at work all follow the daily horrorscope and seem surprised and even offended when I scoff at it, or criticize the likes of Sylvia Brown. These people claim to be open minded, yet can not listen to my views simply because I disagree. They even get hot under the collar and are personally offended (and they call themselves “pacifists”). These New Agers feel morally superior in spite of the fact that few of them have taken any time to look deeply into these matters and are quick to judge things they know little or nothing about. I would trust a Christian before I would trust a New Ager simply because there is some consistancy in their religious madness. I can only chuckle to myself while I keep my mouth shut.

  • angel

    I wasted much of my time and thoughts on astrology. I would have been better off studying plumbing. My collegues at work all follow the daily horrorscope and seem surprised and even offended when I scoff at it, or criticize the likes of Sylvia Brown. These people claim to be open minded, yet can not listen to my views simply because I disagree. They even get hot under the collar and are personally offended (and they call themselves “pacifists”). These New Agers feel morally superior in spite of the fact that few of them have taken any time to look deeply into these matters and are quick to judge things they know little or nothing about. I would trust a Christian before I would trust a New Ager simply because there is some consistancy in their religious madness. I can only chuckle to myself while I keep my mouth shut.