Stealing from God: Evil


In chapter five, Turek repeats some of the points he made on morality. Nonbelievers are being inconsistent, he says, when they complain about evil, since on the atheist view there is no evil. His argument for the latter is simple, and can be restated this way:
1. Evil only exists as a lack of something – it is a deficiency of good.
2. So evil only exists if good exists.
3. But good only exists if God exists.
4. Therefore, evil only exists if God does.

I’ve already criticized the third premise a couple of posts back. The other premise this argument depends on is the first one. But this premise Turek simply asserts. Like many theists, he seems to think it’s just obvious. I personally don’t think it is obvious at all — and certainly not any more so than the opposite claim, that good is the lack of evil.

Ancient Superstitions at the Heart of Christianity


A Review of Robert Conner’s book, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story

There are a lot of clergy these days who have escaped from the church and lived to tell the tale. Drew Bekius captures the feeling of so many of us: “Trying to make sense of what doesn’t make sense will make you crazy.” Of course, some folks detect the nonsense early on and walk away. At a young age George Carlin knew enough to get out: “This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.”

But, good grief, what does it take to get people—especially those lost inside Christianity—to see that it is a grim fairy tale? They aren’t bothered by the crazy. Father Andrew Greeley, in a 1994 New York Times article, suggested that Catholics stay with the church because of the stories. There’s probably been slippage since 1994 because of the child rape scandals, but the Christian stories have undeniable appeal. Well, some of them. The church has had to finesse the brutal human sacrifice at the core of the faith.

The Bible is Not a Friend to Immigrants

I have published a new essay in the Bible & Interpretation website about religionist biblical scholars who are commenting on the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Here is the abstract:

In commenting on the current family separation disaster that is occurring at our borders, biblical scholars mostly have perpetuated a benign view of the Bible’s stance on immigration. The Bible, as commonly defined by Jews or Christians, presents far more complex and contradictory views of immigrants that range from acceptance to genocide. Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, offers morally contradictory views on children and immigrants. Using the Bible to support a liberal or conservative Jewish or Christian position also perpetuates a form of textual imperialism that still retains the Bible’s place as a moral authority today. That approach will not help oppressed immigrants in the long term.

Dr. Ralph Lewis, "Finding Purpose in a Godless World: Why We Care Even If the Universe Doesn't"

This definitive book by Dr. Lewis is a must have one! I wrote a blurb for it:
The question of life’s purpose is probably the main reason believers cannot bring themselves to reevaluate and reject the antiquated religions they’ve been indoctrinated to believe. Prompted by a personal crisis, Dr. Lewis has written a definitive answer to this question, one that I hope gains a substantial audience. LINK

The Cartoon History of Humanism, By Dale DeBakcsy

I wrote this blurb two years ago. Get this book! It's seriously good!
From Arnold of Brescia, the man so important you've never heard of him, to Denis Diderot's book, Jacques the Fatalist and His Master--which changed the entire direction of the author's life--this cartoon history of humanism is pure creative genius. DeBakcsy has produced a delightful textbook case in creativity, containing superior research expressed in a concentrated engaging style, with cute cartoons at no extra expense! If readers don't learn something on every page I would be surprised. My only disappointment is I'll have to wait for Volume Two to read more.

"We Are Atheists" Live Call-in Show, Episode E1S2

Your co-hosts are John Loftus and Calyb Tittman. [There's a minute time gap at the beginning].

To keep from missing a show join our Facebook page.

A Debate With Kent Hovind On "We Are Atheists"

"We Are Atheists" is a TV show out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, of which I co-host with Calyb Tittman, the one responsible for putting it together. Our very first show was a debate with biblical creationist Kent Hovind. Yes, THAT guy! Enjoy. I think we did well, very well!

I had expected Christopher Rex to present the over-all case for evolution, but he chose instead to poke holes in Hovind's case, which he did well. This forced me to speak on the scientific issues when I had expected to focus on the biblical issues. Due to logistics errors with it being our first show, the time was cut short, so it wasn't long enough to boot. See what you think.

Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Processed’ Scripture: Those Damned Red Letters


The Bible as ‘Word of God’—Fatal Flaw Number 5 (of 5)
I retain an iconic image from my distant youth, that of Billy Graham standing at his TV pulpit, waving the Bible above his head. It’s actually a neat summation of Protestantism: preaching from the Bible. Even if unofficially, preaching ranks as one of the sacraments for those who broke from the Roman church, and the Bible is the primary talisman.

Billy had faced a bit of a struggle himself, especially when his preaching pal, Charles Templeton, gave up on Christianity. But Billy couldn’t give up on the Bible:

Only in America?

If you've never been to Spain and you like to travel, put it on your bucket list. I've been returning to Spain for twelve years, often staying for my 90-day limit on my passport. There are loads of reasons why I fell in love with Spain, but one that I often fail to remember is that like much of Europe, Spain is far more secular than the US. That's no small accomplishment considering their crushing history with the Catholic church.

Bayes Theorem Is a Math Equation, So Math Must Be Used!

Let's talk about Bayes Theorem one last, and I mean last, last time (until later). I've seen a lot of tribalism on this issue. If you like a person who disagrees with me, you'll tend to agree with him. If instead you like me, you'll tend to agree with me. But if people truly want to think for themselves rather than align with a tribe, just honestly consider this post. Keep in mind I am not objecting to Bayes Theorem. It's the best way to figure out what is probable when there is data to work from. Here is a really good explanation of it, complete with a video.

But what about unique Christian miracle claims? Let's consider the belief that a virgin birthed god incarnate in the ancient world. If it happened *cough* it's a unique miraculous historical event (on Christian grounds). It's a good example since many other Christian miracles are unique to Christianity. To get Bayes rolling one must suggest a mathematical number representing the prior probability of such a miracle taking place. Without picking a specific number based on bonafide previous data as the prior probability, Bayes cannot get off the ground.

Social Evolution Exposes Religion for What It Really Is

The #MeToo movement apparently is making its presence felt in Southern Baptist churches. This isn't the first time that secular social movements have tried to knock down the doors of cultural convention. Religion is just another culturally crafted expectation designed at least in part to keep people under the crushing rule of churches. 

The Catholic Church and its horrendous treatment of children and women as well as its impact upon the lives of poor people by denying them the right to birth control has long been under the radar. Their crimes, lack of moral ethics and coercive practices are no longer a secret. Recently, the weary people of Ireland voted against the ban on abortion, continuing to strip away the once  unquestionable power of a religious institution that has caused much pain and suffering. People who become a catholic these days are choosing to walk into this den of iniquity with eyes wide open, supporting an institution that is steeped in archaic darkness. 

The ‘Good Book’ Has Never Lived Up to the Hype


The Bible as ‘Word of God”: Fatal Flaw Number 4 (of 5)

If only the Bible had produced the best possible results in this best of all possible worlds. We’re stumped that the deity who gave us this thousand-page book didn’t foresee some of the consequences. By some measures, of course, the Bible has been a big success; in terms of sales it ranks pretty high—supposedly the best seller of all time. And billions of copies have been handed out by Christian zealots. ‘Holy Bible’ is commonly printed on the cover, but does widespread veneration mean that it has been successful as a moral guide? Of course we can acknowledge the many positive outcomes of people following its best teachings. But that’s not the whole story by any means.

My Major Objection With Bayes Theorem

I've written a lot about Bayes Theorem, where I've laid out some of its problems. [See TAG below]. The major objection I have with believers who use Bayes Theorem to evaluate ancient miracle claims of faith, is that by doing so it disingenuously gives them the appearance of proving these miracles to be true, since after all, the math shows it, stupid! This is how William Lane Craig used it in his March 2006 debate on the resurrection of Jesus with Bart Ehrman, saying,
In calculating the probability of Jesus’ resurrection, the only factor he (Ehrman) considers is the intrinsic probability of the resurrection alone [Pr(R/B)]. He just ignores all of the other factors. And that’s just mathematically fallacious. The probability of the resurrection could still be very high even though the Pr(R/B) alone is terribly low. Specifically, Dr. Ehrman just ignores the crucial factors of the probability of the naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. [Transcript PDF, page 16]
Who can argue against the math, right? Ehrman had a bit of difficulty but he still did well in that debate.

Stealing from God: Morality, Part 2


As expected, Turek criticizes atheists for expressing moral opinions, for on his view that’s inconsistent with atheism. If without God there can be no objective morality, then on what basis do atheists condemn wrongs? Unless, of course, they are once again "stealing from God."

Bayes Theorem & My Pet Pig Porky

This is my concrete pet pig named Porky. It cannot fly. What are the mathematical odds it grew wings and flew since I last saw it? Come on, be honest! What bizarre world do you have to concoct to change a zero chance into a probability?

Let's say there is a society of believers who claim there was a concrete pig that flew in the ancient world.

So you get out your Bayesian calculator and consider the prior probability. No known concrete pig has even flown. What do you do? Someone suggests that for the sake of argument you should be generous. So you put down a wildly improbable figure of 10% prior probability. Why? That's granting way way too much from the get go! People who use Bayes are lying whenever they grant these generous numbers. The number should be so low it's indistinguishable from zero. Then there is no more math to be done.

Robert Conner On Jesus Studies and the Use of Bayes Theorem

I have asked crucial questions of the use of Bayes Theorem before. [See Tag Below] So it's refreshing to see others share my skepticism. Professors Louise Antony and Dan Lambert don't think it applies to miraculous historical claims either, to say the least! Now Dr. William M. Briggs weighs in.
[Y]ou may not be surprised to learn there is not one, but two books which argue that a fixed, firm number may be put on the proposition, "God exists." The first, by Stephen Unwin, is called The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth, in which he uses Bayes’s theorem to demonstrate, with probability one minus epsilon, that the Christian God exists.

This is countered by Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus by Richard Carrier, who uses Bayes’s theorem to prove, with probability one minus epsilon, that the Christian God does not exist because Jesus himself never did.
Briggs: "These authors would help themselves better, and contribute to a more fruitful discussion about Jesus, by explicating the evidence and eschewing unnecessary quantification."

Robert Conner comments:

Pastor Jim Bakker Helps You Stay Alive During the Apocalypse! Ha! Ha!

I don't care who you are. This is funny! Ex-con headline-grabbing TV preacher Jim Bakker is back. He was the one who first gave TV preachers a bad name. BASTA!


A Pentecostal friend of mine on Facebook tried deflecting this as if he isn't a reflection of true Christianity. I think I owned her:

Religion is Cultural All the Way Down!

It just does not take much intelligence to realize religion is cultural, you imbeciles! ;-) It's cultural all the way down. This is obvious as seen in some religious festivals.

Pulling the Plug on Eternity in their Hearts

I took one for the team! I read Eternity In Their Hearts by Don Richardson! I see why some Christians like it so much! If the book is true, it validates there is only one god, ever! No matter how many pantheons humans have invented or how wildly different the myths are, there is just one God! My mocking of Richardson’s overuse of exclamation points ends now!!!

Thesis of Eternity In Their Hearts

Richardson describes two forms of revelation central to his thesis. Specific Revelation, which are the stories in the Bible as revealed to the Israelites. And General Revelation, which are similar stories as revealed to other cultures by the Christian God. Richardson claims these General Revelation stories are planted by God to pave the way for Christian missionaries centuries or millennia later. Even though the stories are about other gods, Richardson cites examples of commonality between the stories to argue they are all about a single supreme being.

Is God a Man?

When I was growing up in a religious cult, I never thought for one moment to question whether god was a man. After all, in our house, my father reigned supreme as his god had intended all males to do. My mom, however, was a rather stubborn woman according to him. It was often necessary for him to subdue her. She didn’t always comply to his wishes and that caused a great deal of religious tension in the household in addition to all the other angst and terror that a holy god brings to a family controlled by an iron fist.

Stealing from God: Morality, Part 1


What can one say about a chapter informing us that “morality isn’t made of molecules,” and that attempts to stump nonbelievers by asking such questions as: "What does justice weigh?", "What is the chemical composition of courage?", and (my personal favorite) "Did Hitler just have ‘bad’ molecules”? It’s hard to know where to start. But I’ll begin by addressing the underlying argument Turek uses tying morality to God.

Unsurprisingly, Turek maintains that in a godless universe, there can be no objective moral principles. Now, I happen to agree with that — but then I also think that there cannot be objective morality in a universe with a god. God’s got nothing to do with it.

Turek is — again unsurprisingly — also a proponent of the modified divine command theory. This is the new and supposedly improved version introduced as a way to avoid a problem with the older theory. Only it doesn’t.

I Wish Christians Would Just Openly Admit They're Indoctrinating Their Children!

I've written about indoctrination before. I'm considering a book on it.

I wish Christians would just openly admit they're indoctrinating their children, most all of them (comparatively speaking). Because that's what they're doing by taking their kids to church on Sundays and/or to Sunday School, Catechism classes, AWANA programs, Child Evangelism activities, Vacation Bible Schools, Christian summer camps, then sending them off to Bible Colleges and Seminaries. I know, having participated in these child/youth/young adult indoctrinating activities, the goals of which were to convert, indoctrinate and train a child to behave in the ways of their parents.

Colossal Deceptions to Protect the Faith


Christianity Thrives When Curiosity Doesn’t
The long-running Jesus Cult comes to mind when we recall this exchange from Alice in Wonderland:

"Alice laughed: ‘There's no use trying,’ she said, ‘one can't believe impossible things.’ ‘I daresay you haven't had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’"

Of course I thought of Christians. But to the credit of many of them today, they have dismissed beliefs that for centuries have been considered part of the Christian package—no questions asked, literally. An enlightened and informed view of the world doesn’t leave room for virgin births, turning water into wine, floating up to a heaven that is just beyond the clouds. Many believers are willing to separate the wheat from the chaff—and stick to the essentials.

Robert Conner's Book On the Resurrection of Jesus Is Now Available!

The book is titled, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story. Of Conner we're told he "studied Greek and Hebrew at Western Kentucky University from 1975 through 1977. Since 1983, he has published three books on magic in early Christianity, and a study of the “Secret” gospel of Mark controversy. He has always been fascinated with languages and enjoys reading the gospels in their original tongue." Conner is a blog member here at DC and comments frequently.

Both David Madison and I wrote blurbs for his book. Here's what I wrote:

Dr. Wallace Marshall Highly Endorses David Marshall's Book, "Jesus is No Myth"

I never thought I would do this, write a post introducing one of David Marshall's books to my readers. I have read through a couple of his books and they are bad, really bad, while what he writes online is worse, if that's possible. But he got my attention when Wallace Marshall (no relation) wrote a high recommendation of his book, Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels. As you might remember, I debated Wallace who also wrote a couple of recommendations for my works, LINK. Here is what Wallace said about David Marshall's book, following. I think mythicists and others should tear him a new one, that's all! ;-)

What About Atheists Who Are Raised As Atheists? *Sigh*


Listen, the challenge of re-considering what we were raised to accept is real. But there is a real difference in how children are raised. Teaching kids WHAT to think (indoctrination) is not the same thing as teaching them HOW to think. Indoctrination is wrong. From what I know the more conservative the religious faith is then the more that INDOCTRINATION is prevalent. The more that kids are indoctrinated to believe then the more important it is for them to to re-evaluate what they were taught by their parents. Since indoctrinated youths may not know for sure whether or not they were indoctrinated to believe, they should all re-evaluate what they were taught! It should be a right of passage into adulthood, to re-evaluate what was taught by one's parents before a youth can claim to be an adult. Anyway, see what you think about this "discussion" on Facebook with the indefatigable David Marshall:

Congitive Biases, Fallacies and the Outsider Test for Faith


The Outsider Test is Necessary and Important For Honest Seekers


‘The Brain on Faith’: What We’re Up Against


Theology fails the honesty test

Those who are distraught because they’ve discovered that Christianity can’t possibly be true—and are going through stages of grief—commonly say, “I lost my faith.” Something once treasured is now missing from their lives; they face the so-called ‘god-shaped hole.’

Those who are not upset by the “loss” of faith—something once taken for granted or endured has been left behind—commonly say instead, “I didn’t lose my faith. I saw through it.” They don’t face a ‘god-shaped hole.’ They are closer to embracing the human experience honestly.

Stealing from God: Intentions and the Laws of Nature


So far, we’ve covered causality, reason, and information in Turek’s C.R.I.M.E.S. acronym. But there is another “i” he mentions: intentionality (by which he simply means the characteristic of having intentions, rather than what that term means in the philosophy of mind). Acting intentionally is acting with purpose, or toward some goal. Most of this section of the book, however, is concerned with a more fundamental idea: That there are goals or purposes in all of nature. This is an idea that Turek learned from Edward Feser (a philosopher already familiar to many here at DC), who in turn got it from Aquinas. In fact, it’s the basis of Aquinas’s fifth way of proving the existence of God.