A believer responds to Ben Goren

September 6, 2015 • 8:30 am

Ben Goren’s post on “The one question a Christian can’t answer” (aka “Why didn’t Jesus call 9-1-1?”) got lots of comments: over 150.  One of them, a long screed critiquing Ben’s essay, didn’t appear. It was by a religious reader called “Nixak”, clearly Jewish, and I decided to put it as a standalone post. It’s an object lesson on the mentality of the True Believer, and I will leave it to the readers to comment. I particularly enjoyed point #2, which shows how some people can believe in a God who’s basically a jerk. The justification for evil is also interesting.

First of all- Ben’s premise assumes that the God [Yah] of Creation, NEVER answers anyone’s prayers. I personally know that’s FALSE! But of course if you’re a non-believer, you’ll never put it to the test, so exactly how could Ben know??

2nd} Most folks, even most ‘religious’ folks, call on the Lord using the wrong name. So if you call on Him using the wrong name, why do you expect for Him to respond to you?

3rd} Many folks, including the ‘religious’, conflate the idea of ‘Miracles’ w MAGIC- thus think you can just call on ‘Jesus’, & the Lord will just go ‘poof’ out of thin air like some ‘fairy’ out of a ‘fairy tale’ & save you. Yet there’s nothing in the Bible that says that’s actually how the Lord [Yah] really works.

4th} It’s written: ‘My spirit [of the Lord Yah] will not allows strive w man’ [as w the ancients]- till the appointed time. This is a statement even most ‘religious’ folks can’t really grasp- let alone atheists. It means that the [Biblical] ancients had a whole nother level of relationship w the ‘Creator’ than most folks do today- even so-called ‘religious’ folks. Most folks today, even the ‘religious’, don’t really know how to call on the Lord’s name – or even what his real name is.

5th} Ben’s whole premise shifts blame onto the Lord [Yah] instead of the actual perpetrators. For the most part we [collectively] are mainly responsible for what happens to us as a whole- IE: If there’s evil in the World [& that’s definitely so], it’s because some of us [collectively] are GUILTY of perpetrating &/or exacerbating it, &/or allowing it to flourish in our midst.
An example: This is the 10th anniversary of the Katrina Disaster. Since hurricanes are called ‘Acts of God’, one might argue that the Lord [Yah] is ‘guilty’ for the devastation & loss of life. Yet there’s much more to the story- 1st, New Orleans is on the Gulf coast at the mouth of the Miss River, yet much/most of it lies at-least 10ft below sea-level. Just that alone made it especially vulnerable to hurricanes, yet N.O. City & LA State officials & city engineers, etc- decided to do Little to Nothing to resolve that problem. 2nd} Katrina actually missed New Orleans- it was NOT a direct hit. Those Levees should have held even w Direct hit from a Force 5 Hurricane [FYI: Katrina was a Force 3 Near MISS]. But someone decided to build those levees inadequately & it was known in key circles they were improperly built 3rd} The N.O. City, LA State, & US Govts failed to properly evacuate the city, & failed to adequately prepare food, shelter, supplies, medicines, etc for those who could NOT evacuate; even though it was known at-least 4 days in advance that New Orleans would likely be hit by Katrina [which at one point reached Force 4 – 5]. 4th} Too many people in NO’s 9th Ward had been too poor for far too long, of-course making the folks living there especially vulnerable to DISASTER. Yet the power elites, Govt officials, Biz community, etc; allowed those impoverished conditions to persist for decades. 5th} In the wake of Katrina many of these same ‘Usual Suspects’ saw Katrina as an opportunity to implement a whole-slew of long held ‘Disaster Capitalist’ Agendas, especially since so many ‘undesirables’, were effectively swept from New Orleans by Katrina. Thus it almost seems like many of these afore mentioned issues were deliberately left improperly addressed.
If any of these first 4 points had been dealt w properly by those in charge, & especially if all 4 points had been- IMO the death toll would NOT have been 1800, it may have been less than 180, may be even less than 18. So who should be blamed for this God, or the officials who did a ‘Heck of a Wacked Job’??!
– The same could be said re: the Fukushima disaster- Yes the Earthquake &Tsunami were ‘Acts of God’, yet Fukushima did NOT have to have a triple melt-down & go up in smoke. Those in charge made a series of bad decisions IE: building it in a known earthquake & tsunami zone, taking down the natural rock-cliff wall that was well above the height of the tsunami, known design flaws in the Mark 4 Reactors, etc- that made it a Disaster waiting to happen!

6th} Directly addressing Ben’s issue re: the Catholic Pederastic Priest scandal: First- Ben seems to presume that the Vatican actually is the Biblical Yah’s [or even the Biblical Yeshua’s] true representative on Earth- IMO that’s false! The Vatican has instituted a number of policies that serve as a back-drop for this scandal. Most obvious- Its celibacy policy- which is NOT even based on Biblical Scripture. These Pederastic Priests violate the 3rd & 7th Commandments as well as laws against lewd sexual activities, homosexual acts, & the Biblical warning: ‘Woe onto the Shepherds who mislead [& abuse] My Flock…’ FYI The 3rd Commandment against Taking the ‘Lord’s Name in Vain’- don’t mean don’t say G-d-damn. ‘It means don’t turn the ‘Lord’s Name into a Vanity’- but in Hebrew the word used actually means FALSE-HOOD &/or LIE!!! Thus ‘Don’t Turn [misrepresent] the Lord’s NAME into a LIE’- and obviously Priest who misuse their office to sexually abuse kids [mainly under-age alter-boys] have done exactly that! And ‘Woe unto the ‘Church’’ for making it a long-standing policy to protect abusive priests instead of their child victims!!!

I always wonder this: if religion didn’t exist, would people like “Nixak” fulminate just as insanely, but about another issue?

193 thoughts on “A believer responds to Ben Goren

  1. Ha! I guess the only response is, “How do you know all (or any of) that?” But I do like 2nd} – I mean, that explains a helluva lot!!

  2. Point #2 is just amusing. Really, an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being is incapable of hearing prayers if the supplicant uses the wrong name? If this is true, this being is none of those “omnis” or it is a sociopathic jerk — I’d call this the argument from “you didn’t use please”.

    It’s interesting that so much energy is put into a rational explanation of Katrina, one that is accurate but God is completely left out of the picture. So when bad things happen, that’s human error. When good things happen, that’s God.

    So, why would God sit there and let humans do all those things that led up to Katrina and then sit there and let the humans perish? Even if it was to teach us a lesson, that’s really how a sociopath would behave, no?

    1. It is also exactly like how a non-existent God would behave. It does not answer prayers b/c it does not exist. It does not intervene in disasters b/c it does not exist, and so on.
      This hypothesis fits the known facts down to the Planck scale.

    2. – the argument from “you didn’t use please”. –

      Thank, now I’ve got coffee all over my keyboard and computer screen. 😛 This is gold.

      1. Me as well! Love it.

        To respond to this person in full, I would just make them read what Ben wrote again. It’s all there – he just wasn’t listening. Perhaps if Ben had just called him by his real name …?

    3. For the most part, the people who suffered as a result of Katrina and Fukushima were not the people in power who made the bad decisions. Instead, they were the poor saps who were caught up in the bad decisions of others.

      Nixak’s argument then — that the victims simply deserved what they got — falls apart when viewed from the point of views of the individual victims themselves. As you point out, an objective look at the chain of causation is what we do as humanists. What could have been done differently? Theists are supposed to have an advantage in that God or Spirit or Yah can and does step in to protect the faithful and the innocent from disasters not of their making while these disasters are occuring.

      1. The “getting what they deserve” tack also fails because it holds god to such a lower standard than the theists would hold anyone else, including themselves.

        Would such a theist really stand by, arms folded, and watch someone bleed to death after a “hold my beer and watch this” moment because, hey, that idiot made the choice to be stupid. I’m not going to help. This was the whole point of Ben’s essay.

    4. Really, an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being is incapable of hearing prayers if the supplicant uses the wrong name?

      No, it’s a particularly pathetic excuse. It’s not even a novel pathetic excuse.

  3. Thus spake the True Believer, the unthinking fanatic, endowed with the absolute. He is alive and well(?) in his belief that there is only one view.

    In the Tanakh, Genesis 2;16-17, JPS Version, “Of every tree of the garden (of life) you are free to eat, but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.”

    That is God’s first command to humankind and I have yet to find a scholarly assessment of its meaning… hence this:

    “You are a perfect human. You have a choice. You can choose to eat from every tree (thought?), but don’t eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and bad (behavior?).

    What are these fruits? Since I have not found the answer I must think and choose. For me they are Pride and Disgust.

    The key to religion is to embrace the ideas, not follow someone’s admonitions, even what others say God said.

    Thanks for the post… and please delete this if it violates the rools.

        1. The Bible, oral for generations before being recorded… it is a story collection to many being true in perception, not fact.

      1. It’s whether you read it as literal or metaphor. One Christian scholar I enjoy, John Dominic Crossan, muses that the Bible was written as metaphor and the dumb take it as literal.

            1. OK, perceive me this: what is “a lie given within the first commandment to the supposedly loved created beings” a metaphor FOR, exactly? Sounds like childish stories made up by primitive goat herders to me.

        1. Metafor…for what!?

          Luke 19 is very famously a metaphor. It ends with Jesus quoting the king as ordering that all who reject the king should be brought before him and slaughtered at his feet.

          But…in the metaphor, the king is a stand-in for none other than Jesus himself, and the entire story is about how Jesus will, Real Soon Now™ bring about Armageddon and slaughter all the non-Christians as a giant blood sacrifice to himself at his own altar.

          And the Flood? Is that a metaphor for how good it is to drown kittens? Maybe Numbers 31 is a metaphor for why priests are righteously worshipping YHWH every time they rape prepubescent girls?

          Claiming the Bible is a metaphor makes it even more horrific than it already is.

          b&

          1. It seems that the folk who claim it is to be taken as metaphor haven’t realized that they must then explain the metaphor. The claim is really just an excercise in arm waving in hopes that that damn athiest critic will shut up.

              1. And you know what all those examples do that yours from the Bible don’t?

                They poetically equate one thing to the other. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.” People are born, live their lives according to the way inevitability unfolds, and they die.

                But “Evil is pervasive because a talking snake tricked a rib woman to eat some sin fruit” isn’t a metaphor. And even if you want to try to twist it beyond all recognition into something to do with a tendency of humans to fuck up, the way it’s presented in the Bible is so far removed from reality it’s utterly hopeless. Any such analogy you’d make would either contradict reality or the story.

                That’s why it’s bullshit — not just a faery tale, but a bad faery tale and a waste of time.

                b&

              2. If that’s the case, that metaphor is entirely subjective, then there’s exactly zero value in discussing them. There is no communicative value to them. It is “make it up for yourself” time. Who cares about such things except somone halucinating and unable to discriminate reality from imagination?

              3. I think that what Mr Hill is suggesting is something quite banal: that metaphors have, as they have to, meanings that may be agreed upon, while at the same time they, for one reason or another, may have various kinds of personal significance for particular people. Proust’s madeleine had a personal significance for him that it didn’t have for others.

              4. Good metaphors can be understood by people of average intelligence. Perspicuity is a virtue.

                If the bible’s metaphors can mean entirely different things to different people then they are poor metaphors.

              5. While many metaphors may be interpreted similarly by many, I disagree the they must be seen the same to be good. Goodness, for me, has to do with its personal reference.

          2. Whatever you see as its reference which is the problem with “eat not the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” Is there a real tree with real fruit? Not for me… and I have found no satisfactory reference in Biblical commentaries so I decide for myself. Absent evidence, we either dismiss the metaphor or try to decide what it means.

            1. Let me get this straight.

              We have an ancient faery tale about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard…and you’re worrying about whether or not we have enough evidence to decide whether the magical sin fruit tree in the middle of the enchanted garden was real or not, or what it’s a metaphorical representation of if it wasn’t actually real?

              Seriously?

              Do you also ponder, absent evidence, whether the metaphor of Yoda waving his hands and squinting to Force the X-Fighter from the swamp should be dismissed outright or if there’s some real meaning to that as well?

              b&

              1. Huh? The thing is positively lousy with faeries. What on Earth do you think all those angels and daemons are? Hell, it even has the king of the faeries taking on the form of a talking plant! (on fire, no less!) and giving magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero.

                If you think that’s anything other than a faery tale, you are powerfully disconnected from reality.

                b&

              2. Precisely. Metaphor, myth, imagination speculative envisioning are all disconnections from reality. The mind has spent and continues to spend considerable time there, especially theoretical scientists.

              3. Er, no. Theoretical scientists — at least, the ones who actually collect a paycheck from a respectable institution for doing theoretical science, such as Sean Carroll — do not waste their working hours disconnecting their minds from reality. And they certainly don’t waste their working hours plumbing the depths of ancient third-rate faery tale anthologies to try to uncover metaphorical insights.

                Quite the opposite, in fact.

                b&

              4. Imagination is the easy part. Anybody can imagine, for example, living inside a whale.

                The hard part is figuring out if your imagination has even the slightest bearing on reality. And to do that, you have to have a damned good idea of what reality actually is.

                Real scientists spend almost all their time trying to hone their perceptions of reality. Even a single bull session after work is more than enough to imagine plenty to keep you busy for quite some time.

                The real key is to know enough about reality that you can imagine the consequences of your fanciful thoughts in enough detail with enough accuracy that you can save the time in your day job for just the stuff least likely to be fantasy.

                b&

          1. Good question. the answer is difficult as the definition of Christianity is better defined outside than within. As with science, the definitions keep changing, the difference is that Christianity’s are subjective. Since I no longer identify as a Christian, although I still enjoy the stories and parables of Jesus, I am a poor one to ask.

            1. Perhaps you may know the answer to this: I am well acquainted with many progressive, liberal xians but none of them would admit that the whole shebang is metaphorical; do such xians exist? If so, isn’t that a rather perverse use of the term “christian”?

              1. Good question. I’m not sure perverse ie the best label, but they are challenged to define their current view.

                Returning to the original issue, if God exists, is he the guider in chief. My point, from which I have strayed into territory where I had best avoid, is that the Jews and Christians I know believe we are responsible for our behavior and accountable for our actions.

                As for characterizing what constitutes a Christian, that seems to have been uncertain since the beginning, assuming the early texts are generally correct.

              2. Returning to the original issue, if God exists, is he the guider in chief.

                Congratulations! You’ve just demonstrated the nonexistence of your god — for even the laziest of high school guidance counselors has guided infinitely more people than any god ever.

                I mean, really. If a “guider in chief” can’t even be arsed to get a social media account, what’s the point in even pretending?

                As for characterizing what constitutes a Christian, that seems to have been uncertain since the beginning, assuming the early texts are generally correct.

                Erm…if you’re using “generally correct” and “early texts” in the common senses of the terms…you’re completely out to lunch. Jesus was an ancient (centuries BCE) Jewish demigod long before he was given a made-up biography by the Christians — and that biography has no bearing on reality whatsoever. We’ve ample non-Biblical reporting, all of it perfectly devoid of even the slightest hints of anything Jesus-related — save, of course, for the continued theological development of the Logos, including the identification of a certain ancient Jewish demigod with the same.

                Identifying who is and who isn’t a Christian is trivial. Does the person believe that Jesus is the most significant figure in all of human history, whatever his nature? Then you can reasonably call that person a Christian. You can reasonably call that person very confused and deeply mistraken about reality as well, of course, but that’s another story….

                b&

        1. That the problem I have with the scholars, esp. the Christian ones. These, originally oral, traditions don’t make sense as a metaphor in the first place. They were answers to the question of why life is so difficult – why the Earth can be such a harsh place. It’s a classic response from a parent to a child’s incessant “why” questions. Except *most* humans then barely got out of their tweens before they snuffed it. They seem to be the best scientific answers the ancients had, passed like a game of telephone tag. “Why would God make the Earth such a tough place?” “Well.. he didn’t, originally. Originally, it was a bountiful land with no worries… uh except then WE screwed up, and got kicked out… etc.” Classic victim blaming, casting ourselves as the victims. What is the Garden a metaphor for? IT ISN’T. It’s an honest rationalization – an attempt to concoct what would have HAD to have happened to explain the current state of affairs, passed along from parent to child… teacher to pupil… taken on authority. It’s obviously not a metaphor, because if it was, then Jesus would’ve died for a metaphor. That would’ve made no sense for the original Jesus authors. He died as a scapegoat to appease himself for mankind’s original sin, passed through bloodlines. Like for realz. Have you even read “Faith vs. Fact”? The theologian you admire pulled this crap out of his (or Aquinas’, they claim) ass. It’s the same with Noah. And Moses. These are histories – natural histories. The whole metaphor thing is later apologetics, created in steps after we wised up a bit. I’d put down that theology crap if I were you. It’s soaked in confusion. These are not “scholars” in the modern sense of the word.

          1. The question of Biblical literalism has been an area of disagreement for centuries. Augustine may be Exhibit A in the question as he accepted parts of Genesis as literal and parts as story/metaphor.

            It’s a challenge for any issue where evidence does not exist, in science, too. If an issue is seen as worth consideration, an opinion is formed.

            I know of no evidence for “a tree of knowledge of good and bad”, hence, a disbelief in their being any fruit thereof, leading me to wonder whether the verses have meaning as to how to live.

            If they do, you form an opinion. If not, you don’t.

            1. It’s a faery tale.

              And the original tellers of the tale may well have sincerely believed they were telling the Capital-T-Truth™, and it’s certain that a great many idiots since them have believed it’s the Capital-T-Truth™.

              But it’s still a faery tale, bullshit through and through, with not the slightest bearing in reality, period, full stop.

              There’s no “there” there.

              Besides which, it’s a bad faery tale, one of the worst in the literature.

              If you really want to look for value in faery tales, try A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Arabian Nights or anything from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Much better stories, much better told, with much more meat to sink your teeth into. And, as a bonus, nobody (outside of the story) mistrakes Sauruman for an hero and a role model; nobody’s dumb enough to wonder if rubbing lamps is a metaphor for something profound; and everybody knows that making an ass of yourself doesn’t mean actually taking on the physical form of a Bottom.

              b&

              1. Well, of course you would, wouldn’t you? It allows you endless hours of amusement, trolling away and admiring your own cleverness.

              1. I was thinking, “it’s meta for ‘this book plus a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee,’ but I like yours best.

              2. Well, of course you would, wouldn’t you? It allows you endless hours of amusement, trolling away and admiring your own cleverness.

            2. You know of no evidence that there was ever actually a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. Of course not. Neither do any of us because there isn’t any. That doesn’t mean the author must’ve intended a metaphor. People make unevidenced claims all the time without intending them to be metaphor. We call this being mistaken, deluded, or lying.

              When conservatives prattle on about the effectiveness of trickle-down economics are we to conclude they must be speaking metaphorically because the effectiveness has never been demonstrated?

        2. What the hell is “spiritual death”?

          Just because we can put two words next to each other doens’t turn them into a meaningful phrase.

            1. There’s also such a thing as intellectual death, and someone seems to be well on his way there now, if he has not already achieved it, together with the smug certainty that accompanies it.

            2. aiufnoihj3ddu882367R767

              If random letters on the screen have meaning to the reader, fine. It’s subjective.

              What is the point of communication?

              1. Good question. I believe it was Whitehead who wrote, “The sole purpose of reading is to force the mind to do its own thinking.”

                Meaning can be a waft of mist.

    1. The “Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (or Bad)” is obviously (to me) judgement based on an assumed absolute morality, the tree itself.

      1. Works for me, meaning I believe it needs a personal assessment.

        I use “bad” instead of “evil” because that is how it is written in the Jewish Publishing Society translation I have… which begs the question, “Are bad and evil identical.” (The analytical mind will not be still.)

        When I was young I believed it was a real tree with real fruit. (I also bought the Santa and Tooth Fairy ideas.) Fortunately, my journey led me to thinking Christians.

        My view of the “Eat not the fruit…” passage is that God told Adam and Eve they had the ability to choose and that eating this particular fruit was a bad one.

        I read this, in response to the original idea of God being the who’s-in-charge, as evidence to the contrary, that we can choose. The challenge is when and how.

        Thanks for your insight.

  4. The wrong name! Of course! I never considered that an infinitely powerful all-knowing being would get confused due to simple name mix-up.

    Duh!

    I must admit that the many times I’ve said that religion had no value I had completely ignored the enormous amount of comedic material it provides. I am corrected.

    1. Right. As far as I can tell, comedic material is religion’s major asset. However, some of the political aspirants in the US are giving it a lot of competition this year!

    2. Yup, the wrong name! I hadn’t realized that prayer is actually a magic incantation where if you don’t get all of the words and the pronunciation correct nothing happens. Who knew? But then, prayer has never made any sense to be in the first place. Because it’s like begging God. And surely if God is all knowing God already knows what you want, so prayer is redundant – unless God is just a gigantic manipulative egomaniacal sociopath… :-0

      1. Oh you poor people, you’re still getting it wrong! It’s not just the name it’s the way you call it! No wonder your prayers don’t get answered! You atheists can’t get anything right! 🙂

  5. A Japanese musician of our acquaintance, who seems to be well acquainted with anti-semites outside Japan, actually told my (Japanese) wife that the Jews were responsible for the earthquake and tsunami that resulted in the deaths of so many, the extraordinary destruction, and the nuclear problems in Fukushima, and that they (the Jews) were teaching Japan a lesson for some reason or another that he didn’t, and probably couldn’t, explain. Needless to say, we are no longer ‘acquaintances’. The former – and very racist – governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro, blamed the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing destruction on the postwar individualism that has very much qualified the belief, deriving from State Shinto, that the Japanese were one big happy family until the outside world impinged upon them. Ishihara was one of the most popular politicians in Japan in his time, which should give pause to those who keep telling us how un-religious the Japanese are – there is a great deal more religion in Japan than they suppose, but because it doesn’t fit into the categories of the Abrahamic religions, it is thought to not really exist.

    1. “Ishihara was one of the most popular politicians in Japan in his time, which should give pause to those who keep telling us how un-religious the Japanese are…”

      Isn’t it possible he was popular for reasons other than this?

      1. He was popular because he was very right-wing, and because his ideas about what a lovely nation Japan was before the Westerners came and spoiled things by introducing democracy and individualism resonated a lot with those many Japanese people who like to think of themselves as racially pure and who look back to a ‘golden Age’ before the gaijin came or the heady days in the the early part of the century when Japan was proving its military prowess and worshipped the Emperor and authority and the war dead in the proper manner – as does not happen now, in his mind. He was also popular because he gave voice to a number of racist sentiments, particularly about the Chinese (‘they have different DNA’, etc), that depend partly on the assumption that the Japanese are a semi-divine race whose language is both divine and unique. Those on the political right here really do hark back to the kind of religious ideas that were touted by state Shinto, ideas that were given a quasi-scientific status in the 1970s, 80s & 90s by the purveyors of ‘nihonjin-ron’ (theory of the Japanese), that people like Peter Dale, Roy Miller & Ross Mouer, and to a small degree myself, stood against.

        Having said that, most Japanese people I am acquainted with and have had dealings with are thoroughly sensible people who have small time for the right, and I am very happy to live here. But Japan nevertheless has its most right-wing government in power, old animosities with Korea and China are being kept constantly on the boil (though this is as much the fault of the Chinese and Korean governments as of the Japanese one), I am to very happy about the nation’s present political direction.

        1. Don’t know what happened there. Last sentence should read:

          ‘But Japan nevertheless has its most right-wing government in power SINCE THE END OF WW II, old animosities with Korea and China are being kept constantly on the boil (though this is as much the fault of the Chinese and Korean governments as of the Japanese one), AND I am NOT very happy about the nation’s present political direction.’

    2. This is a pretty popular one amongst wacko conspiracy theorists. The Jews planted a nuclear weapon on the seafloor that triggered the earthquake and subsequent tsunami as retribution for Japan providing atomic technologies to Iran. I had one of my ostensibly Jewish relations tell me this was a very plausible explanation.

      If anyone is interested in some of the more loony conspiracies, this is a good place to start:http://www.jimstonefreelance.com/fukushima1.html

      Enjoy!

      1. Well, I skimmed through quite a bit of that and stopped – no earthquake damage, he says (this in order to pretend that the Japanese government lied as to the magnitude of the quake after being told to do so by the Israeli government who set off the tsunami with a nuclear bomb in an oceanic tench and threatened to set off more if the Japanese didn’t comply). We had to get the foundations of our house in Tokyo – miles away from Fukushima – strengthened at vast expense in consequence of that quake, since they had been weakened by it.

  6. Yes, humans make mistakes and some humans will lose their lives as a consequence of those mistakes. Mr. Nixak has yet to answer why God remains unmoved by those accidents, although his 2nd argument is very telling. Apparantly God refuses to help a child being raped by a priest because the child doesn’t address God in the right way.

    If Ben saw something like that happen, I’m sure he would do everything in his power to stop the priest. That’s the difference between Ben and God.

  7. Regarding Mr.Ms. or Mrs. Nizak’s points 4 & 6: I heartily agree that the Army Corps of Engineers and the Roman Catholic Church are misbegotten institutions, tending toward evil.

  8. Yes, I’m afraid that even in the absence of religion, we would have insane fulminations on many topics. Those who follow Faux News, Alex Jones, Limbaugh, etc. can preach their pet conspiracy theories ad nauseum. However, most of those “screamers” could be theists such as Nixak.
    His description of “Katrina” was accurate, but I would like to have seen (in detail with empirical evidence) how he KNOWS that a god personally answered his prayers.

  9. I always wonder this: if religion didn’t exist, would people like “Nixak” fulminate just as insanely, but about another issue?

    It is entirely possible. I have on occasion got involved in discussions about matters such as homeopathy and reiki and have seen similar responses. If religion didn’t exist, I think the number of Nixaks would be smaller, but there would still be quite a few around.

    1. Indeed. I’ve had people who like homeopathy say, well, how do you know there is no medicine in the drug and when I reply ‘simple maths’, they look totally confused. So even without religion you can find people who are pretty uninformed.

    2. I don’t think you can divorce homeopathy or reiki from “religion,” though. When you look at what they’re saying both of them advocate supernatural forces which can be worked for our benefit because that is how they work — they’re cosmically anchored to the primacy of human desires and needs. At best, they’d bypass full-blown religion by falling under the category of “spirituality.”

      As you note they’re defended with the same apologetic passion and techniques: the same arguments requiring the need to believe, the same acceptance of Other realms and Ways of Knowing, the same basic assumption that we’re embedded in a benevolent and caring Nature which will ultimately “heal” us through a non-material process.

      Same sh*t, different shovel, as I always say.

      1. I think it’d be useful to distinguish religion from other forms of superstition by identifying religion as the superstitions which involve devotion to more-than-human personalities.

        For example, chi is simply a mechanical thing with no mind of its own, and reiki and acupuncture and the like simply physically re-route chi to where it belongs — the same way an electrician would fix a wiring fault. Yes, chi is imaginary and supernatural and is the motive life force and the rest…but it doesn’t have a mind of its own.

        Now, if you pray to Krishna to fix somebody’s chi or sacrifice a chicken so Krishna will possess your body so your hands might be guided by Krishna to most effectively fix the chi, that’s religion.

        Or, if the superstition were to morph such that a bunch of chi were to aggregate into a god made of pure chi, and that god then roamed the landscape with his samurai sword whose magic touch restored broken chakras…that would again be a religion.

        But just manipulating chi by itself isn’t religion, any more than dowsing is.

        Cheers,

        b&

        1. Manipulating Chi is basically a magic ritual which allows a conscious being from the material world to change and effect elements of the spiritual realm. Same with dowsing: it requires a sensitive human with the right intentions in order for it to work. Neither is really a “mechanical thing” or force. Compare them for example to electricity. They’re like electricity if electricity responded as if it cared that we care.

          So yes, you’re making a useful distinction because what I called “full-blown religion” tends to have a lot more organizational structure and traditional community around it than alt med. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who believes in “woo” who doesn’t think that the woo works because it’s embedded in some network or Higher Power which places and treats living, thinking beings as distinctly different than mere inert objects.

          The distinction is useful then, but not terribly critical.

          1. Again, it’s rather difficult to conceive of a godless religion. Which god is being propitiated through the ritual of dowsing?

            I’m not suggesting that dowsers won’t have gods, or that dowsing is incompatible with their religious beliefs, or whatever.

            Another analogy: baking isn’t a religion, even if bread is sacred to many religions, even if magic is invoked to explain the rising of the dough.

            b&

            1. The definition of “God” isn’t limited to personal gods. “Impersonal” gods might include cosmic unifying forces, energies, or essences which have some intrinsic connection to something we normally associate only with minds — like values, abstractions, or “harmony.” Dowsing isn’t straight-forward. It relies on special powers of divination which sense or connect to occult emanations through feelings. There’s a kind of magical back-and-forth going on here which is itself a kind of spiritual belief.

              True, baking isn’t a religion (or spirituality) — but what would you think of growing wheat through biodynamics?

              1. Your expansion of the terms is subsuming all of superstition and pseudoscience into religion. If anything, it should be going the other direction: that religions are a particular subcategory of pseudoscience and superstition, not that, say, Bigfoot and healing magnets are religions.

                b&

            2. No, I agree that religion is a sub-category of supernaturalism. My point was that a sufficiently cosmic or fundamental supernatural theory of reality is often more like “God” than not. Dowsing or reiki isn’t “God” — but they’re practices which invoke or involve a “higher” divine power.

              Pseudosciences like Bigfoot, UFOs or perpetual motion are I think in a different category, in that they’re (usually) not supposed to be spiritual; they’re just wrong.

              1. I argue — and I may have gotten this from you some years ago on this or another website — that religion is a subset of faith. Faith is believing without or against evidence (e.g., UFOs). Religion is the subset of faith that (mostly) includes gods.

                Unfortunately, “faith” is used interchangeably with “religion”.

              2. Pseudosciences like Bigfoot, UFOs or perpetual motion are I think in a different category, in that they’re (usually) not supposed to be spiritual; they’re just wrong.

                I think you’ll find a lot more similarities and overlap between the pseudosciences than you realize. Aliens in UFOs are often practically indistinguishable from angels and demons — who, in turn, are no different from the Olympians. A perpetual motion machine is usually presented as a form of “black box,” a magical source of immense power that you would be wise to avoid questioning too closely…exactly like the Ark of the Covenant.

                That’s why I see the most useful dividing line not being whether or not, if you squint at it in just the right light, you can perceive some essence of pure mentality in some obscure corner somewhere…but rather whether or not there are personal gods being worshipped.

                There are UFO cults that are clearly religions, praying to the aliens to come rapture them; there are other UFO nutjobs who really don’t give a damn what the aliens do or don’t want, any more than they’d care what the Soviets did or didn’t want. For the latter types, the aliens are just people, weird people from another planet, with some technology we don’t have but that the nutjobs are sure they could reverse-engineer if only they could pry it loose from the government conspiracy. And that’s no more a religion than the myth of the 100 MPG carburetor locked up in a GM vault in Detroit.

                b&

              3. The 100mpg carburettor is easy to disprove by simple arithmetical logic (partly because the concept is clearly defined). UFO’s, about one order of magnitude less easy to disprove.

                cr

              4. Interstellar travel isn’t quite as much of a slam dunk ask a 100 MPG carburetor, but there’s still overwhelming reason to be confident we’ve not been visited.

                You see, interstellar travel is expensive, by any means you might wish to measure. It’d take (roughly) our entire civilization’s entire annual energy budget just to send something the size of the Space Shuttle to the nearest star in about the same time as we just sent New Horizons to Pluto.

                When you look at what percentage of the global civilization’s energy budgets get spent on new exploration and regular travel…well, you’d expect the first Martian colony to survive to be established about the same time as there are vacation resorts on the Moon; the first Saturn colony when there are vacation resorts on Mars; and the first manned interstellar mission when jet setters living in a cloud city on Venus can, on a whim, decide at the breakfast table in the morning to have dinner that evening in that delightful new restaurant that just opened in orbit around Jupiter.

                And the only way to have anything even remotely approaching the type of interstellar travel depicted in science fiction stories, just for the propulsion systems themselves you need to draw upon a significant fraction of an entire star’s total output.

                …but, if you’re now actually making a dent in a star’s power output, you’ve got an energy crisis that makes the ’70s look like peanuts. You’re not gonna be gallivanting across the galaxy looking for hot green women to screw; you’re going to head straight for the nearest star to use as an energy source to power your desperate-for-more-energy civilization. Mere planetary-scale engineering — let alone yacht-sized UFOs — is way beneath you.

                So, the reason we can be confident that there aren’t any UFOs is because there aren’t any hyperspace bypasses being built to steal the Sun away from us.

                (Lots of oversimplifications above, of course. But this whole thing is wildly off-topic….)

                b&

      2. I don’t think you can divorce homeopathy or reiki from “religion,” though.

        Certainly there are similarities. It’s a question of taste as to where one considers that religion begins and ends, and the margins are going to be fuzzy however one defines it. But I incline to draw the borders short of homeopathy. One reason is the reason that Ben gives in his answer. Another is exclusivity: all the religions I have encountered expect one to be a follower of exactly one religion, whereas believers in one variety of woo very frequently believe in others as well. In that respect football is closer to religion than homeopathy is.

        1. One of the most popular modern variations of religion however is the ecumenical view of “many paths; one truth” which is infiltrating more and more into mainstream religions. Even hoary old Catholicism has a tradition of accepting that noncatholics might yet get into Heaven because they have Christ’s truth “written on their heart” or vague claims of like nature.

          Not all religions are exclusive then in the sense you mean. They could be thought “exclusive” in that those who believe only one religion is right are WRONG — but that’s playing around a bit with the term, I think.

          It seems to me that alternative medicine’s role model then is those “liberal” religions who practice a kind of happy clappy “isn’t it wonderful if that works for YOU” form of accomodationism of other ways of seeking God. I’ve even seen people use the one to explain or justify the other, as in “we don’t criticize other people’s health truths for the same reason we don’t criticize other people’s faiths.”

          The line between “religion” and “spirituality” is very blurry indeed. I’m far better acquainted personally with liberal versions of traditional religion than fundamentalist versions of traditional religions. I’m not going to play fundy and insist that UCC and the like aren’t “real Christians” or even “real religions” because they believe Gandhi is in Heaven.

          1. That’s a rather different issue though. Yes, some religions are becoming more tolerant of each other, but that’s not the same as having people who are followers of more than one. I don’t know anyone who identifies as being both, say, a Lutheran and a Roman Catholic – do you? Let alone both a Christian and a Muslim.

            You may incidentally be interested in the case of the three Dutch protestant denominations who agreed, in the ecumenical spirit you mention, to put aside their differences and merge together into the “Protestantse Kerk in Nederland”. At least, the leaderships did. All three of the churches had a schism over the issue, so instead of going from three churches to one, they went from three to four.

            1. Sorry, yes, my analogy didn’t address your objection.

              I could argue however that alt med practices are similar to religious rituals like praying, idols, relics, chanting, pilgrimages, taboos, fasting, purges, and so forth. Not only are these elements often shared among different religions, but people in a single religion may choose to refrain and yet still recognize the legitimacy of those who don’t — just like in alt med.

              The important thing is the rejection of materialistic naturalism and the embrace of our “spiritual nature.”

  10. All I can do is laugh at the childishness of that screed, particularly the wrong name of his God. I also chuckled how he absolves the deity of any responsibility for anything.

    Of course, he ignored the infant with cancer problem, unless he thinks it’s the parents’ fault for having a child.

    It must be Obama’s fault for letting insects paralyze and dump their eggs inside another insect.

    How does one live bent over so backwards at this guy?

  11. Garden variety expressions from the religious. Most obvious is that only his religion is the correct one because only his uses the correct name. All those other names and other g*ds just made up I guess.

    Since this fellow knows the right name, how about setting up that 911 line in your house and we can all call you. We would all be saved. Praise the YAH.

    All that stupid human stuff done in New Orleans, we should have known. What about that flood in the bible… who was responsible for that one? Or maybe the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906? Just stupid people building in the wrong place – who’s fault was that, pardon the pun.

    Last thing and then I’ll let you get back to making stuff up. Where is the evidence for any prayers being answered, since you personally know. Did he ever not answer one? Since you have that personal knowledge, how about sharing it. Yah would allow that, right?

  12. Perhaps Mr Nixak could tell us where is a good place to build cities. A place free from the problems of hurricanes, flooding, high winds, tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, fires, blizzards, avalanches, lightning strikes, dust storms, locusts, plagues, and so on. If God created the planet, God left no safe place for us. nor, did God give his ancient Best Pals any good method of dealing with those disasters. Maybe Mr Nixak will blame that on a woman.

  13. Wow. Who knew that doing god was so hard? Kudos to Nixax for figuring it out. But seriously, if Nixax were right about god existing, and about how wrong the majority of believers are about how It works, and how to worship It, I think this would actually support Ben’s argument. I mean, what kind of passive-aggresive alien would let everyone be so wrong about It, in a way that would seem to jeopardize their salvation? Either It allows the devil to delude people, or It Itself has purposefully or incompetently broadcast Its own rules.

  14. To mock Nixak is easier than taking candy from a baby. What we need is a better understanding of why people think like that. I suppose a lot of research has been done on why so many people succumb to religious nonsense. I guess that more needs to be done. I have an acquaintance who is an arch Catholic. He is quite a decent person, but believes by fanatically practicing Catholic rituals he will earn enough “points” to get him on the express train to heaven. That’s right, he actually used the word points. I think he is physically brain damaged, but I would really like to know how he has gotten this way.

    1. Most religious nonsense has an analogy in human experience which isn’t nonsense. Think for example of all the real life situations where it’s very important to follow a lot of rules in order to gain “points” towards some goal. Doing that isn’t crazy or inexplicable.

      The problem I think comes in because someone has taken some religious claim seriously enough to behave in a normal, reasonable, sensible fashion towards it. Just that one little kink early on which got away from reason…

      1. One rule that’s pretty important is calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. Curious that the believers themselves are decent enough human beings to follow that rule, but the gods themselves never bother to.

        b&

        1. Once God is viewed as the Emergency Technician who always shows up and always does the right thing, our experience with ETs is that we just stand back and trust that they know what they’re doing. When it comes to having faith in God of course this goes to ridiculous levels.

          For one thing, sometimes the Emergency Technician is also a Prison Guard.

        2. Did you ever think: maybe God’s fingers are just too BIG to dial a dial or tap an iphone. You can’t underestimate God’s power and size.

  15. Ben’s premise assumes that the God [Yah] of Creation, NEVER answers anyone’s prayers.

    Nope; not at all.

    It assumes that whichever god in question — and you’ve identified “Yah,” so I’ll run with that — at least sometimes answers prayers (and therefore a demonstrated minimum amount of ability and awareness), but never ever calls 9-1-1 (therefore demonstrating grossly callous negligence).

    So if you call on Him using the wrong name, why do you expect for Him to respond to you?

    Next time I’m hiking with Baihu in South Mountain park, if there’s somebody at the bottom of a ravine shouting at me, “Hey! You! I fell and I think my leg is broken! Please call 9-1-1!” I’m not going to ignore that person because my name isn’t, “You.”

    Many folks, including the ‘religious’, conflate the idea of ‘Miracles’ w MAGIC- thus think you can just call on ‘Jesus’, & the Lord will just go ‘poof’ out of thin air like some ‘fairy’ out of a ‘fairy tale’ & save you.

    No, but I do expect that a responsible adult will call 9-1-1 in a crisis. And I even expect most irresponsible children to do the same. Is your Yah not even as competent as an irresponsible child?

    It means that the [Biblical] ancients had a whole nother level of relationship w the ‘Creator’ than most folks do today

    That’s nice. But we also have “a whole nother level” of infrastructure that the “Creator” is perfectly stymied by. I mean, really. Yah can create the entire Cosmos but is utterly baffled when it comes to making a simple phone call?

    Ben’s whole premise shifts blame onto the Lord [Yah] instead of the actual perpetrators.

    Nope. In my original example of the tree falling on a car, there’re no perpetrators, no blame. Shit happens — or haven’t you heard?

    But, when shit does happen, those aware of the shit have a moral obligation to do something — even something as simple as call 9-1-1. Fail that task for any but insurmountable obstacles, and you demonstrate yourself entirely unworthy of respect.

    How many people in NoLa desperately cried for help but couldn’t get any response because the phones were out? How many could have been easily saved had they gotten through to a 9-1-1 dispatcher? What’s Yah’s excuse for failing to make the call for them?

    Ben seems to presume that the Vatican actually is the Biblical Yah’s [or even the Biblical Yeshua’s] true representative on Earth- IMO that’s false!

    Corporations most jealously protect their brand names. Try selling counterfeits and you set yourself up for a world of hurt. Declare yourself an official Nike spokesperson without actually being one and you’ll never know what hit you.

    So why hasn’t Yah even done so much as issue a press release denouncing the Vatican?

    For that matter, who the fuck are you to claim to be Yah’s official spokesperson? What are your credentials, and how do you expect me to confirm that you’re not the exact same sort of fraud you accuse all the other official spokespeople of being?

    Cheers,

    b&

  16. My favourite is Nixak’s mis-spelling of “altar boys” as “alter-boys.” Also his use of “pederastic” instead of the more common “pedophiliac”. Yes I know there is a difference, but is the difference important in this case? — Not much I say.

  17. He’s right, and everyone else is wrong. Seems like the exact definition of fundamentalist.

    “Magic” is the only way “yah” could impress us in this century. All the miracles of days past fail in comparison to 3d television without glasses, 3D printing on demand, Skype with anyone anywhere in the world, telemedicine, LIDAR, images from Pluto or beyond the Kuiper belt or a comet, AI-driven vehicles, etc etc. YAH must have a difficult time with IT and forced obsolescence.

    Also, I know too many non-religious that are fanatics about anti-GMO or organic foods or homeopathy (often times all 3). No amount of evidence stops them trolling conspiracy sites for more uncredible woo. So yeah (not yah), fanatics are predisposed people with an ax to grind to feel discrimination from perceived unrealized threats. Affiliation isn’t the issue with this lot.

  18. I rather like his point about Katrina. It’s an argument I haven’t really heard before. We (atheists) often conceded that man on man “evil” is explainable by the fall, but not natural disasters, or disease etc.
    In this age in a sense they are. If we used our collective wealth for the good of humanity how many diseases would still exist, how many people would starve, how many would be living in high risk areas (tornado alley) without adequate warning systems, and shelters. We’ve gotten to the point as a species where much of this “natural” suffering is preventable. It’s only our collective selfishness that stands in the way.

      1. Would it be too much to ask Yah to contribute to the public review process for new public infrastructure construction projects? That way, Yah could use his vast knowledge of physics to spot proposed levees which would be inadequate as proposed and suggest a solution that wouldn’t be quite so disastrous. Maybe even put together a PowerPoint presentation showing the devastation that would ensue if his advice is ignored.

        b&

        1. “Would it be too much to ask Yah to contribute to the public review process for new public infrastructure construction projects?”

          Perhaps he would have if people hadn’t been greedily trying to maximize profit rather than making safety their priority. I recall seeing reports years before Katrina talking about the dangers of a direct hit. The levees failed because people didn’t want to spend what was necessary to make them secure.

          1. Perhaps he would have if people hadn’t been greedily trying to maximize profit rather than making safety their priority.

            And it’s utterly beyond all-powerful, all-knowing Yah to come up with ways to combat corruption? Not even an anonymous tip to a muckraking newspaper or regulating agency?

            And why should Yah protect the corrupt with his silence and inaction, and make the general public pay for the corrupt to once again fail to learn the lesson?

            b&

            1. In all of the above arguments what does the concept of god actually add. Yes human nature does allow for mistakes, intentional or unintentional, to be made. These behaviors sometimes lead to tragedy. Address the problem rather than throw a non-functional concept like god to obfuscate the issue and sidetrack truly helpful efforts.

    1. Yes — but it’s a rational, humanist argument stuck in the middle of an apologetic. From the point of view of someone trying to answer the Problem of Evil, all it really takes is one single example of gratuitous, pointless suffering inflicted on an innocent victim. The odds of human beings ever being able to create a world where no bad things happen to good people at all is approximately zilch.

      1. “The odds of human beings ever being able to create a world where no bad things happen to good people at all is approximately zilch.”

        Which is why I added the caveat about God helping those who help themselves. The apologist could argue if we universally, and selflessly fed the poor, ministered to the sick, and dying,(rather than getting fat and rich at their expense) he would have made up the difference. It’s our selfish nature as a species that causes us to be victims of bad things.

        1. Would we not need effective help to remedy our moral failings as much as to remedy natural disaster? And what better way to teach compassion, altruism, and charity than by demonstrating it?

          b&

          1. “And what better way to teach compassion, altruism, and charity than by demonstrating it?”

            I imagine Christians would answer by telling you that’s what Jesus did.

            1. …in which case Jesus is profoundly incompetent. First, for choosing a random backwater on the outskirts of the Empire and relying on charlatans and conmen to spread the message to the masses. Secondly by being an amazingly horrific asshole, what with all the Luke 19:27 this and Matthew 10:34 that. And lastly by failing to follow up ever again — especially in this modern day and age of press conferences and Twitter where it’d be so easy for him to set the record straight.

              b&

        2. The apologist though is still stuck with the problem of dealing with the fact that those few who DO selflessly feed the poor, minister to the sick and dying, and behave in all-around exemplary fashion really have no better track record in ‘answered prayers’ than the fat and rich.

          Unless they’re wise enough to always make their prayer “Thy will be done.” That sort of test is painfully easy to pass, from God’s perspective.

          The traditional example of “gratuitous suffering” is a baby fawn painfully burning to death in a forest fire caused by lightning. I’ve actually seen an apologist argue that maybe those deer are only unfeeling prop ‘deer’ incapable of suffering.

  19. The point is of course that a True Believer can and will find an answer for ANY question, and doubly so for one deemed unanswerable. Will it be nonsense? Yah. But isn’t it all nonsense?

  20. First of all- Ben’s premise assumes that the God [Yah] of Creation, NEVER answers anyone’s prayers. I personally know that’s FALSE! But of course if you’re a non-believer, you’ll never put it to the test, so exactly how could Ben know??

    Nixak, it’s not a TEST if there’s no result which means ‘failure.’ In other words, if someone prays to God in order to test whether God exists — or even whether God answers prayers — then what would a ‘negative result’ look like? What would have to happen for Ben to legitimately conclude that “God does not answer prayers?”

    The answer, as you well know, is that nothing ought to lead to that conclusion. Any and all results of the “test” must and do confirm God. If the physical result doesn’t happen, then God sent down some psychological answer … which Ben must have ignored. Or maybe whatever happened WAS God’s answer, just not the answer which was expected. Or gee, maybe Ben didn’t say the prayer the right way. And on and on with apologetic excuses which would be laughed out of any self-respecting science lab.

    My point being that there is not even a hypothetical result which warrants any conclusion other than “God answers prayers.” God and prayer and spiritual claims can’t be “put to the test.” The onus is always on the tester to find some way to put a positive spin on it. Isn’t it?

    So please stop talking about how non-believers never “put prayer to the test.” It’s dishonest.

    1. When I was a believer, I put prayer to the test every day, and unless I prayed for something like, please allow me to live through the night, or please make the sun come up tomorrow, no prayer was ever answered. I think a decade and a half of daily prayers not being answered in any substantive way is putting “prayer to the test”. And the test results: a big fat fucking F.

      1. If you pray for God to do his own will, is the assumption that he wouldn’t if you didn’t ask him? This is arrogant and putting yourself over the Creator of the Universe. If you pray for a specific request otherwise, the assumption is such that this isn’t God’s will. This is arrogant and asking God to change his divine plan on behalf of yourself. I came to this realization and stopped praying. It was sometime before I dropped God altogether but prayer makes no sense in even the most trivial of contexts given the attributes assigned to the Abrahamic God.

  21. 1) It’s actually worse if god answers your prayer concerning some comparatively mundane issue yet ignores the prayers of parents whose children are deathly ill.

    2) God can’t figure out when he’s being prayed to? Even I, a mere mortal, know when someone’s addressing me, even if they get my name wrong.

    3) So miracles can only be things that are actually possible? Then they’re not miracles.

    4) Is this the same argument as (2)? I love “a whole nother”.

    5) Ben’s not doing the shifting. Theists themselves insist the buck stops with god. People mess up. Does that mean we can’t expect god to show some mercy? Also, childhood leukemia.

    6) I don’t see how this “directly addresses” anything Ben wrote. Ben’s essay was not about which religion/denomination is the true one. His argument works against any god claimed to be omnipotent and omnibenevolent, regardless of the flavor.

  22. Wow…and I thought that illusion PCC posted yesterday hurt my brain. This scree works far better at hurting my brain than any illusion.

    These comments are great though, and worth the IQ points I lost reading Nixak’s critique.

  23. I presume that the Jews know the right name of God; this explains why their prayers are so spectacularly more successful than the prayers of Gentiles.

    1. I’ve known some radical cults that try to follow the Bible from a 1st or 2nd century point of view, thereby being stuck in between Xianity and Judaism. They even do ancient Jewish holy days (ones Jews have long left to the wayside). They are insistent on using only the “true” ways that early Jewish xians would have, including YAH, Yeshua, elohim, etc. Surprisingly though, they follow the normal Bible, which wasn’t yet put together in that time… They consider the Vatican to be a later pagan sect.

      I’d suspect Nixak is one of these, not just merely Jewish.

        1. I think it was a Stephen Wright joke:
          “I want to form my own religion. So whenever people ask ‘Do you believe in God’ I can say ‘YAH Wright’.”

  24. I can’t help but see a statement of the classic abused victim in point #5: “Yes, he did beat me but I deserved it.” And the reason the victim deserved it could be as simple as not using the correct name to address the abuser.

  25. On point #6 he falls somewhat short. He is able to identify a religion that is a false representative but does not state which view is the one true faith. It seems that the true believer is a lot like the god they believe in – they both lack clarity.

    1. Apparently, you can…if the person in question is a woman named, “Eve,” and the blame includes incoherent ranting about sin fruit and talking animals.

      b&

      1. And since when is logic part of their beliefs? Something bad happened, you must have caused it. Sort of the opposite of prayer, but one they can “confirm” through the fact the bad thing happened.

        ie gays caused Katrina

        1. Ah, yes…Jesus just happens to turn his omniscience on when a pair of boys plays doctor with each other rather than with the girls across the street, gets totally grossed out by just how icky it is, and so throws a temper tantrum that wipes out an entire metropolis. I mean, that’s what love gods do, right?

          b&

  26. It wasn’t all coherent – as per usual – but I’ll do my best:

    1) It is a well established fact that magic agents, whether you call them ‘gods’ or not, do not respond to prayers. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer ]

    Appeal to anecdote just tests how unreliable such are! And goes a long way toward showing how the statistics of how ignorant of religion religious are comes about.

    2) ‘Gods’ = jerks, got it. I doubt religious tend to agree. So how does that not support Ben’s article of no _good_ answer?

    3) ‘Miracles’ have to be claims of magic, or they are simply a case of an unlikely event happened.

    It is well established that magic action would act outside of physical laws and hence would destroy our ability to define and test energy. (Which, according to Noether’s theorems, is the same as having constancy of laws. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noether%27s_theorem )

    But we can do that, so magic agencies do not exist.

    4) Incoherent.

    5) There is no blame shifting – except that ideas such as #2 & #5 work under – we expect these purported agencies to take responsibility for what they do.

    6) Incoherent. Doesn’t the catholic sect have their ‘gods’ as any other religion?

  27. There is nothing you can say about this Nixak the delusion is so complete.
    I hope he/she reads the comments, perhaps rational thinking may take place on some of the answered issues at some level.

  28. Good to finally find out, of course, that the Lord God [Yah] Almighty doesn’t respond to prayer calling Him by the wrong name. Does this mean mortals get a pass on the taking-His-name-in-vain commandment as long as they’re using the same name He ignores in prayer? Or is that kind of reciprocal arrangement a whole nother thing that’s beyond the Omniscient One’s ken?

    Seems odd [Yah]’s into “magic words” in matters of direct address, but not when it comes to calling down miracles (and never mind that He responded to just such express calls for magic poofing when it came to, say, parting the Red Sea or raising Lazarus from the dead, to pick a pair of random examples).

    Future generations will likely look upon our time as the Late Dark Ages — a period when people could still proclaim such arrant nonsense publicly without being laughed into ostracism or carted off to the funny farm.

    1. Dark ages maybe, but there will always be some with bizarre points of view or lack of rational logic. Or we wouldn’t be human. God is not necessary for extremists, or otherwise doomsayers. Tribalism will not pass away so easily.

      1. I agree; difference is, other bizarre points of view and logic-chopping aren’t afforded the automatic respect that religion is, making people more amenable to seeing through to the former’s underlying bullshit.

  29. Let’s summon God, Jesus, Allah, Yah, Odin, Zeus, et al., and see which one if them shows up to confirm we have the right name. Obviously, whichever one is actually the omnipotent Almighty should be able to stop the confusion about his name and then confirm why he never dials 9-1-1 himself.

    As for natural disasters, well no place on Earth is immune so that argument y is patently ridiculous, especially going back through human history when nomadic tribes had absolutely no idea which areas were prone to which natural disasters. The ones who didn’t receive manna were also busy trying not to starve to death.

  30. Starving Child “Dear God….just a crumb of bread to fill my empty stomach”

    Yah (able to do it-yet unwilling because this starving child didn’t pray the right name)

    Week 3 of starvation
    Starving Child “God, if you’re out there…send food soon-I’m dying! I’ll do anything you want me to…”
    Yah (God of peace and love is still unmoved because the wrong name has been invoked)

    The next day, a radical muslim terrorist sect rolls into this child’s town, feeds him, and instructs him that Allah has saved him and he must submit to Allah’s holy Jihad.

    Meanwhile, back in heaven, Yah continues to sit on his hands as another future suicide bomber is born….

  31. I really wouldn’t bother with Gordon Hill. There he is, up in his little metaphorical pulpit, playing the evasion game until the sun comes up, when… Poof!

  32. It’s amusing, when you can step back and look at it. So many religious folk appear with condescending airs, claiming that atheists aren’t addressing the “sophisticated and nuanced” aspects of religion, and then produce exactly these kind of decrepit excuses with immediately recognizable flaws. Hey, my 4-year-old niece wanted to tell me how to drive, but I wasn’t taking her seriously, either.

    The name bit is especially precious, though. If I knew any human, even with all of our flaws, who refused to offer needed assistance because their name wasn’t used properly, I would avoid even speaking to the asshole – but Nixak worships such a being.

    But why does an omniscient, singular being even possess a name? Who’s going to confuse it with someone/something else? I mean, it had to have given the name to itself, right? Why? And why is it so petulant about it? If someone is sitting there mumbling inside their head for help with their mother’s cancer, who the fuck else would they be addressing?

    Unfortunately, Nixak’s confidence in knowing the Real Truth™ has somehow not extended to all of the other believers out there, and I’m willing to bet no effort has been made either. Screeds like this are for us nasty atheists, to let us know how far from grace (especially Nixak’s grace) we are, and our refusal to find it compelling, or even coherent, is evidence of our utter blindness. Other religious folk would also fail to buy it, though, and that makes it more than a little suspect; they should, at least, be willing to hear the correct way, shouldn’t they? Since Nixak so readily demonstrated that theodicy is not really an issue, all of the theologians the world over are now going to abandon their studies and defenses of it, right?

    Except that Nixak didn’t really address the problem, but tried to handwave it away with excuses instead. All that was asserted is that a universe with Nixak’s god, and a universe with no god, are indistinguishable – which was Ben’s underlying point.

  33. 2nd} Most folks, even most ‘religious’ folks, call on the Lord using the wrong name. So if you call on Him using the wrong name, why do you expect for Him to respond to you?

    But how many people know that YHWH’s name is Jealous? Exodus 34:14

  34. I’m sure that he would rant about against the perfidy of the wood fairies – everyone knows they are not to be trusted – or those damn pixies that live in the lilies of the valley.

    I have this discussion a couple of times a week with the poor guy who only has marginal control over his eyes.

      1. I recall that when I was a child, my mom would often call me and say, “Chris, it’s time for dinner.” When I didn’t come in, she’d up it to my full name including the middle. This seems to the sentiment of Yah…a bit childish and stubborn, probably a lousy designer too as system testing requires a lot of patience.

  35. I thought at first he or she failed to answer if you got the name even slightly wrong was the result of petulance. That doesn’t fit the idea of omnibenevolence, though.

    Then it occurred to me that he/she/it (they?) are at least 13.72 billion years old. One could argue for senility.

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