Anti-atheist article in American Thinker

EverLastingGodS...
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Anti-atheist article in American Thinker

I just read an awful anti-atheist article by Bruce Walker on American Thinker.com.  For a thinker, he really seems to have overlooked some key facts.  Here's my take on the piece, which I have sent in to the site as a rebuttal.

 

http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/11/the_godless_delusion.htmlThe article "The Godless Delusion" by Bruce Walker is filled with erroneous statements and ideas that are without basis in fact.  I feel compelled to comment."There is evil in the world because people choose evil.  Each of us has a conscience."  As if we choose tsunamis, hurricanes, cancer, or car accidents.  "All people - especially militant anti-theists - are religious."  What is the creed of the anti-theist religion?  What are its rituals?  Expressing yourself on the subject of God and religion isn't following a religion."No crimes of Judeo-Christians remotely approaches the holocausts of Aztecs, Japanese, Nazis, atheist Russia or atheist Japan."  Hello, the crusades?  The Spanish Inquisition?  Someone hasn't seen the Crimeline of Christian Atrocities: http://www.buckcash.com/opinions/temp/Christian_Crimeline.htm."What of the new god, Science?  One of the most compelling facts of science is that it debunks itself."  What?  Is this guy using a computer and posting on the internet?  These things exist thanks to scientific applications of learned knowledge.  Does this guy refuse to go to the hospital when he's sick?  Science created the medicine and equipment that are used to help him."One might think that those who worship science would wake up."  Who "worships" science?  This silly ad-hominem is barely worth responding to, other than to explain that "Natural science and social science are empirical sciences, which means the knowledge must be based on observable phenomena and capable of being experimented for its validity by other researchers working under the same conditions."  No worship required, just rigorous testing using the scientific method."Without God, we cannot even imagine anything good (if you doubt that, try to imagine Heaven.)  Those who reject God suffer from the Godless Delusion."  Millions of nonbelievers emphatically disagree.  Atheists and others without religion are outspoken about their happiness and satisfaction with life.  As an atheist, I can imagine many good things, I do not need to believe in supernatural entities in order to find goodness and meaning in life.Bruce Walker's article is little more than a rant, complete with unsupported assertions and snide prejudice.  It is a shame to see the publication of such a misguided and mistaken invective.


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Oops, I mistakenly sent

Oops, I mistakenly sent them a copy of my post, and forgot to edit the first paragraph.  They replied already!

Quote:

  ----- Original Message ----- From: American Thinker Editor To: 'Janice Rael' Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2007 11:05 PM Subject: RE: Anti-atheist article in American Thinker
Madam,   I gather that this is intended to be addressed to the editor, although it states "Here's my take on the piece, which I have sent in to the site as a rebuttal."   This is the first I have heard from you.   Beginning to read your comment, I note that you apparently categorize hurricanes as "evil.'   I cannot take such drivel seriously. Evil involves human volition.   Thomas Lifson, editor

 


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Never heard of the site. The

Never heard of the site. The generic design belies the moronic neoconservative underpinnings.


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magilum wrote: Never heard

magilum wrote:
Never heard of the site. The generic design belies the moronic neoconservative underpinnings.

An online friend tells me that American Thinker is promoted by Rush Limbaugh.


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EverLastingGodStopper

EverLastingGodStopper wrote:

magilum wrote:
Never heard of the site. The generic design belies the moronic neoconservative underpinnings.

An online friend tells me that American Thinker is promoted by Rush Limbaugh.

No wonder.  These days it almost seems as if the words "American" and "Thinker" don't belong in the same sentence. Limbaugh, Faux News, Coulter and the wannabes on other stations are making us all look bad. The very word "dittohead" (what Limbaugh fans call themselves) negates the idea of thought.

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You have some great points

You have some great points there. I couldn't finish reading that guy's article because it made my soul hurt. I would have also pointed out Godwin's Law for good measure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
- Thomas H. Huxley

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
- Abraham Lincoln


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Could you please send them

Could you please send them this as my response?

By the title of the article, the “Godless Delusion”, one might expect that the author would present an argument that being Godless is a delusion by establishing, on a priori or a posteriori grounds, that it is false, in the same way that we call “Flat Earthism” or other similar naïve ideas delusions because they are false. Indeed, the author did nothing of the sort. Instead, the author made a slew of formal and informal fallacies which were more to do with politics than argument and more to do with emotion than reason.

Why do religious people sometimes do bad things?

I would seriously hope that this is not an argument that any atheist would raise, since that would commit an ad consequentiam fallacy, and a formal non sequitur. I cry strawman. This is simply a counterrefutation for when the religious assert that religion is some integral and necessary part of human existence. It is not an a posteriori argument for God not existing. That’s ridiculous.

Often evil appears more alluring than goodness. The source of evil may be identified as the Devil, but it is more precisely a rejection of God. When God is at the center of our lives, then evil is not.

This is little more than a bare, naked assertion, more specifically, it is what we call a category error.

Consider the following statements

X exists

X is good

X is bad

The former is a formal knowledge claim, the latter are judgment claims. But a direct link between any knowledge claim and judgment claim rarely exists. They are, for the most part, separate categories, unless justified. Of course, you have not justified your propositional link between “metaphysical knowledge claim” and “value judgment”, and so, have not justified the statement that Evil=Rejection of God. It would be analogous to asking someone how much their dreamed weighed.

Theists have this childlike tendency to do this. It’s called a fallacy of rheification, turning an abstraction into an entity or a thing. Actually, in this way, they could be compared to small children, since children, psychologically speaking, cannot understand the notion of abstraction.

Also, it makes the fallacy associated with what John Locke called second-order qualities. In second-order qualities where we have two opposing states, X and Y, X is not an absence of Y or vice-versa. X and Y are simply qualities of a first-order property. The fallacy that evil is a “lack” of something simply reveals a childish understanding of properties and how they work. It would be like saying that cold is an absence of heat or that heat is an absence of cold. In reality, such second-order qualities are simply expressions of a first-order property, particle motion, better known as temperature.

Furthermore, this has nothing to do with the title anyway, since the concept you outlined would presuppose the existence of God and the Devil, which entails you present some sort of logical argument which would imply that being Godless is a delusion.

The term "religious people" is meaningless. All people - especially militant anti-theists - are religious. The vital question is what one's religion believes. What I call "The Great Faith" of the Judeo-Christian heritage believes in a loving, good and just God - a Blessed Creator, as devout Jews might put it.

This is a fallacy of conflation. You’ve conflated “religion” with “any propositional belief”. Religion has a specific meaning. It refers specifically to a set of doctrines, canons, rituals and practices and bodies revolving around a central concept usually the concept of a deity. Diests, for example, explicitly reject religion, as do pantheists, existentialists, or any associated philosophical schools.

The history of Judeo-Christians is profoundly different than the history of other religious peoples, including religious anti-theists. The religious people of pre-Columbian American Mexico conquered other tribes simply to sacrifice them to Aztec gods. The religious people of Imperial Japan committed unspeakable crimes against the Chinese in following their national religion. The religious Nazis, who loathed passionately both Christianity and Judaism, committed unspeakable crimes against Jews, Poles and others. The religious anti-theists of Stalinist Russia and Maoist China murdered more than any other religion in history. And, of course, radical Islam murders indiscriminately.

You are veering off topic. Let me remind you that this has nothing to do with whether or not believing in God is logically consistent and logically correct or not. At best, it is ad consequentiam, at worst, it is a total non sequitur.

And, of course, you have fallaciously equivocated “God” with “the Judeo-Christian God”, Yahweh. So, at best, this article is little more than Christian exceptionalist propaganda, which has precisely nothing to do with the title topic.

And, as a side note, bringing up the Aztecs or Incas is interesting because quick history reminds anyone that when the conquistadors landed, Cortez at Tenochtitlan and Pizzaro in Peru, they cut a swath of destruction of colossal magnitude. Of course, the Aztecs and Incas were barbaric, and the Spaniards were horrified to see them cut the hearts out of sacrifice victims…of course, the Aztecs were equally horrified at the barbarity of the Spaniards when they burned their compatriots alive[1]. And then of course, the genocide conducted by the conquistadors in Peru killed almost 30 million people, not before Pizarro had burned down Cusco and melted down all Inca metallurgy for cannon shot. In a barbarity contest between the Incans and the conquistadors…I would bet on the ones who came with fire, cannon shot, horses, smallpox, swords and armor. Whilst Pizarro was little more than a swashbuckling mercenary, Cortes had full blessing of Spain’s religious Orthodoxy, for the purpose of converting the populace to…why, Christendom of course[2]. And of course, since the investors expected their return, the bulk of the Andean population was enslaved to ensure that ingots flowed out of Lime to Hispaniola and the Spanish Empire (Of course, to be fair, it is important to point out that this barbarity was halted by Drake and Protestant England, it just irks me that you would bring up the Aztecs for this reason[3])

Just a side note, of course, since your paragraph had nothing to do with the topic at hand. But, of course, we are not in the business of counting heads of iniquity! All men of doctrine have committed savagery, but to compare by body count the atrocities of Christendom to those of the post-monarchic dictatorships like theocratic Japan is hardly fair. The 20th century human grinders had access to modern weapons and devices. Of course, any religious doctrine is capable of committing genocide. That you establish that the original genocides that took place under the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire killed less people than the quasi-religious cultish dictatorships 500 years later means nothing. Indeed, it would be just as easy to argue that the bulk of what you associate with “Christianity” actually came during the Enlightenment, which was mostly secular and carried two contradistinctive naturalist and deistic traditions associated with the most important intellectuals of the era, both traditions explicitly rejecting religion as a source of authority. Actually, it could be argued that the most important concept in producing what we have to day is the philosophical and epistemological understanding of correspondence theory, the idea that X is true if it corresponds to a verifiable fact about reality. But religion does not work like that, since in religion “epistemic justification” is meaningless, and things are believed because of tradition, authority, coercion or an infallibility doctrine.

But I digress. It is irrelevant to the topic. Why is then that you lack the capacity to address the topic the title proclaims? Are you ignoring your epistemic duty deliberately, or do you just have a very short attention span?

Invariably, your strawman about being focused solely on Judeo-Christianity has nothing to do with the title or the situation in reality. Whilst the term “militant atheist” is little more than a phrase for holding argument at arms length, I do know some of them myself, and I assure you the Zeitgeist among them, and myself, is unequivocal despising of Islam over Christianity. And I would certainly say that the quasi-monarchic theocratic junta of Japan was the most barbarous nation of WWII. I would continue…but there are more fallacies to point out in the rest of your shoddy article.

Oh, and by the way. The last paragraph was a Tu Quoque.

Some religions are good and some religions are bad

Ad consequentiam. Nothing to do with the title.

nearly everything - traces back to a Christian or a Jew.

Another time, perhaps, I would dispute the historical accuracy of your statements (the article never backs any of its assertions up, anyway), but not today. Today, I simply point out two words: Genetic Fallacy

And, for good measure, fallacy of irrelevance, the implied link in that sentence can be destroyed by reductio ad absurdum.

Should I remind you what the title topic is supposed to be covering?

If the anti-theists want to pick on Christians and Jews (and that does seem to be the real thrust of militant atheism) for sometimes acting badly,

I don’t. You’ve just made a false generalization fallacy. I care only for whether or not someone can back up their position and can put up a logical argument. Religious metaphysical doctrine has no established epistemology, no reliable mode of inquiry, and its propositions are usually cognitively meaningless anyway.

Again, let me remind you that thus far nothing you have said establishes that rejection the proposition “God exists” is a delusion

it is imperative to note that both Christianity and Judaism accept the notion of sin.

An ad hoc, like the Free Will defense. The word:fallacy ratio in your article is climbing to unacceptable levels.

Again, the history of Jews and Christians is a testament that serious faith produces, quite simply, the best people on earth.

The number of fallacies in this single sentence is simply enormous

Post hoc

Non sequitur (from the title)

Linguistic fallacy of meaningless statement (undefined parameters)

Inductive fallacy

Verificationist error

One of the most compelling facts of science is that it debunks itself.

 

This is another fallacy of rheification. “Science” is not a set concrete body of entities or facts. It is primarily an epistemology.

Actually, by definition, what you are looking for when you say “Debunks itself” is Popperian falsification. “Debunks itself” implies stolen-concept fallacy. You obviously don’t have the first clue about scientific epistemology, the structure of scientific paradigm shifts, or the falsificative nature of science. What you mean to say is that science is a continuum epistemology.

 

Maxwell, one of the the greatest physicists in history (and a devout Christian), worked out the equations in the 1860s which postulated that the speed of light is finite. Michaelson and Morley decades later calculated the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second. God created an absolute bar to what we can ever know about reality that is 187,000 miles away from us at the moment of our birth and is traveling at the speed of light away from us. This is not a theoretical bar: it is an absolute, irrevocable bar.

 

Maxwell missed what was written in his equations. It was Einstein who first worked out, that according to special relativity, light speed is finite, and the absolute maximum achievable speed due to time dilation and the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction. This effect is not created by God. It is an effect which results from light having no mass, and hence is not affected by special relativity, because it has no dilation effect along its world line. That is why it is the absolute stop on speed. That you did not mention that it was Einstein, not Maxwell, who postulated the light-speed rule simply reveals an inability to copy names and dates.

Again, let me remind you that this has nothing to do with the title. Also, it fallaciously conflates science as “God”. No scientist is naïve enough to think that science is an objectively infallible epistemology. The idea of absolute irrevocable truth is, by definition, not within the domain of empirical method. The only epistemology which deals in that is formal logic and mathematics.

Essentially, Theory of Knowledge positions can be divided into three broad camps, dogmatists, progressivists and relativists. Science is the second, and religion is the first. Hence, the religious often criticize the scientific epistemology on grounds that it changes. What was true 100 years ago is certainly not today. Who knows what we will overthrow in the next 100 years? Surely, science cannot be trust to provide us with truth, then?

This is an ignorant view of the scientific method. The whole point of science is that its inherently inductive and open minded nature of inquiry means that of course it changes as we become more advanced. There would be no science to speak of without this change. But because science does not and cannot postulate itself as absolute truth, this change is utterly acceptable. Hence, the religious who do make this claim are making a fallacy of equivocation. Religion propagates absolute truths which must be accepted, and which are presupposed, without evidence. Science does the absolute opposite. Being that scientific truths are inductively gleaned, they are indeed open to change and revision as our technology, method, and philosophy become more sophisticated.

A critical concept of this is, of course, falsification. When we propose something, we must consider our falsification. Could evidence come to light which could hypothetically disprove our claim? There has to be. Science would be meaningless without falsification. We do not deal in absolute truths or in certainties. We deal in uncertainties, probabilities and empirical knowledge. As such, science is a process of gleaning truths in continuum. 

There is a subtle difference between saying that an argument has not been falsified and that it cannot be falsified. The first is invalid as a method of proving X. The second, however, is absolutely critical to burden of proof and epistemic rights. If something cannot be falsified, then it cannot be tested, and then, there cannot ever be evidence of it.

God has created another absolute bar to human knowledge.

Whilst it is true that this is an absolute bar, that it was created by God is merely a naked assertion on your part. Again, let me remind you of the irrelevance of this with what the title asserts.

No serious person today can think that material benefits will make us happier - not in a society in which the greatest health problem is obesity and the greatest emotional problem is boredom.

This is a non sequitur. It does not follow from the first part of the paragraph, which just made a naked assertion anyway. It has nothing to do with the topic, nothing to do with the title, indeed, I suspect you either recombined two totally different articles or you have dissociative identity disorder.

Without God, we cannot even imagine anything good (if you doubt that, try to imagine Heaven.)

The first part of the sentence is a category error, and a naked assertion. The bracketed part is meaningless.

Your entire article was compromised of ad consequentiam which had nothing to do with what the title attempted to establish, followed by a strawman which revealed astonishing ignorance of scientific epistemology, followed by a slew of naked assertions which establish nothing whatsoever. Furthermore, you followed this up with more non sequitur. Never once in your article did you establish why disbelieving in God would be a delusion. Never once did you put forth a priori or a posteriori arguments to suggest that it would be a delusion. In fact, not one single sentence in your article pertained even remotely, in any way whatsoever, to the article’s title. It went something like this:

P1: Christianity is good

P2: Christianity is less bad than any other religion

P3: Christianity produces the best people on Earth (this is a rare case where I can avoid breaking Godwin’s Law and say that this is a Hitlerian statement)

P4: Science cannot provide us absolute truth

P5: Science changes

P6: Without God, we cannot become happy (assertion)

C: Therefore Godlessness is a delusion

The first six are premises. Most can be dismissed out of hand, the rest are irrelevant, and none of them have any relevance to the attempted conclusion (7). I suspect you neither know nor care about the basics of logical argument.


[1] R.Wright A Short History of Progress
[2] J.M White, Cortes and the Downfall of the Aztec Empire
[3] A. Herman, To Rule The Waves, How The British Navy Shaped the Modern World

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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EverLastingGodStopper

EverLastingGodStopper wrote:
Beginning to read your comment, I note that you apparently categorize hurricanes as "evil.' I cannot take such drivel seriously. Evil involves human volition. Thomas Lifson, editor
Did you explain to him that evil involves volition, human or not? I would expect a religious person to be used to the concept of nonhuman higher beings. 

The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
- Thomas H. Huxley

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
- Abraham Lincoln


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hurricanes evil?

Re: the original poster

 

Can you clarify your use of hurricanes / tsunamis etc with respect to "evil"? As much as I disagree with the author of the American Thinker article, he does have a point that "hurricanes" aren't "evil". It's certainly a raw deal to have your entire lifestyle swept away by an act of nature, but I'd hardly call it evil.

 Anyways -- was your statement a mistake? If not, can you expound on it?


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deludedgod wrote: Could

deludedgod wrote:

Could you please send them this as my response?

It would be better if you sent it in yourself, the address is editor@americanthinker.com.

Great comments, thank you very much!


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strick09 wrote: Re: the

strick09 wrote:

Re: the original poster

 

Can you clarify your use of hurricanes / tsunamis etc with respect to "evil"? As much as I disagree with the author of the American Thinker article, he does have a point that "hurricanes" aren't "evil". It's certainly a raw deal to have your entire lifestyle swept away by an act of nature, but I'd hardly call it evil.

Anyways -- was your statement a mistake? If not, can you expound on it?

If I lost everything in a natural disaster, or was diagnosed with a disease, I would feel that something evil had happened to me.  If there was really a benevolent, all-loving deity watching over me, why would it allow bad things to happen to me?  It can't be all-loving if it lets bad or evil things to occur. 


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I disagree with the

I disagree with the equivocation of evil and bad.

All "evil" things may also be "bad", but not all "bad" things are "evil."

 


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The Editor at American

The Editor at American Thinker disagrees with me.

Quote:

----- Original Message ----- From: American Thinker Editor To: 'Janice Rael' Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 9:31 AM Subject: RE: Anti-atheist article in American Thinker
Natural phenomena have no human volition. They can be harmful, of course.   Obviously you do not grasp the basic concept of evil. Apparently it is just a synonym for "bad" in your mind. That is sad. And very shallow.

 


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Sample sentences (my

Sample sentences (my argument should be pretty clear from this): 

  • A bad hurricane wiped out my family's house.
  • An evil hurricane wiped out my family's house.
  • A bad man killed my mother.
  • An evil man killed my mother.

 Here are the dictionary definitions, I've crossed out definitions that are irrelevant.

Evil (adj): http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/evil

  1. morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>
  2. arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>
  3. archaic : inferior
  4.  causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive <an evil odor>
  5.  disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
  6. causing harm : pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
  7.  marked by misfortune : unlucky
 The boldfaced definitions are that which would most fit into the second "hurricane" sentence above. I would submit that these are NOT the typical usages of the word, however.
 

Bad (adj): http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/bad

  1.  failing to reach an acceptable standard : poor <a bad repair job>
  2. unfavorable <make a bad impression>
  3. not fresh : spoiled <bad fish>
  4. not sound : dilapidated <the house was in bad condition>
  5. morally objectionable : evil <bad men>
  6. mischievous, disobedient <a bad dog>
  7. inadequate or unsuited to a purpose <a bad plan> <bad lighting>
  8. disagreeable, unpleasant <bad news>
  9. injurious, harmful <a bad influence>
  10. serious, severe <in bad trouble> <a bad cough>
  11. incorrect, faulty <bad grammar>
  12. suffering pain or distress <felt generally bad>
  13. unhealthy, diseased <bad teeth>
  14. sorrowful, sorry <feels bad about forgetting to call>
  15. invalid, void <a bad check>
  16. not able to be collected <a bad debt>

From those definitions, the two boldfaced entries are most relevant when describing something that is also evil.

I don't think I'm being entirely unreasonable in my argument that "evil" is a subset of "bad". I don't mean any personal offense, of course - I respectfully disagree with your statement, that's all.


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We'll have to agree to

We'll have to agree to disagree, then.  The letter was already sent.  This is an activism forum and my priority in posting about the article is encouraging people to respond to it.


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I'm agreeable to that.

I'm agreeable to that. Smiling

 

I actually did read the article and responded to it myself. Thanks for pointing it out! 


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Quote:   Great comments,

Quote:

 

Great comments, thank you very much!

I dont really want to give those people my email, and since you've already done so... 

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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So...can you do that?

So...can you do that?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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I've responded to the

I've responded to the "American Thinker" editors myself; I have posted my response elsewhere: The Godless Delusion?


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Gawd, what a hideous bit of

Gawd, what a hideous bit of hate speech and self-delusion.


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Pinhead story wrote: One

Pinhead story wrote:
One might think that those who worship science would wake up.   Knowing much beyond what we already know about the universe is increasingly improbable.  No serious person today can think that material benefits will make us happier - not in a society in which the greatest health problem is obesity and the greatest emotional problem is boredom.

What the heck kind of statement is this?  New discoveries about the state of our world happen all the time.  What would we gain from ending a quest for knowledge and understanding?  Draw a line and say, look, we probably can't find any more cures for diseases.  Let's just stop and turn to prayer.

Diseases cured by prayer and the Bible: 0

Men on the moon on Bible power: 0

Plans for automobiles in the Bible: 0

Technology invented through biblical reinterpretations: 0

Airplane plans in the bible: 0   (an obvious barrier, that man would never fly perhaps?)

This list could go on forever.