Questionable Motives

May 15, 2013

Why can’t theists and New Atheists have a meaningful dialogue?

Filed under: dialogue,faith-based beliefs,New Atheists,regulation,Religion — tildeb @ 10:33 pm

religious confusionIn a nutshell, because theists alone try to moderate it.

I like to comment on other sites, like the give and take of a truncated argument where different people become involved and the original post can be explored in detail. This can be rewarding not just for the participants but for the host who can sometimes gather more hits to a site as they follow along. But sometimes I grow weary of  writing comments to start this kind of thread that end up going into moderation never to be seen again. Most religious sites are notorious for their moderation of comments, where the most outlandish and rude commentary is allowed when in support of the web site author but strangled when it becomes critical supposedly because of ‘militant’ tone!

I commented over at Just Thomism in response to a post about why the claim that ‘science destroys creation myths‘ did not matter to right religious creationist beliefs… a post that expressed the notion that myth shouldn’t be mistaken for being anything other than myth, and so any criticism of a creation myth shown to be false by scientific inquiry is not needed and in no way reduces the truth value of creationist claims.  Knowing full well that catholicism requires belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve for them to have a literal and historical fall to own original sin and then pass it along to the rest of humanity that literally and historically descends from them, I commented how relieved I was that this notion could now be cast aside and that the redemption paid for by a literal and historical Jesus could now be seen as a literal and historical blood sacrifice for a metaphorical sin revealed in a creation myth.

I know, for example, that Pope Pius XII stated (with italics and bold added by me) : “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

Yes, it’s not apparent how reconciliation can occur when science examines reality and adduces that the tenet is factually wrong.

Bummer.

I also know, for example, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390)

Note the word ‘parents’ as in plural – male and female together. It’s important because it’s factually wrong.

So if scientific inquiry reveals, as it has done using genetics, that we do not share a common founding couple, then surely this raises a irreconcilable problem of an incorrect central tenet of the christian faith as it pertains to the need for a literal and historical redemption for a literal and historical Fall. I pointed this out and – Lo and behold! – out came the deluge of sophisticated theology in action!

I was the problem. My lack of understanding sophisticated theology was the problem. Atheism was the problem. New Atheism was the problem. The form of my argument was the problem. My tone was the problem. My faith in the religion of science was the problem, and so on.

Well.

Nowhere in this deluge was the criticism ever focused on the actual problem I had raised: that there really was an irreconcilable difference between reality and the faith claim. Several people tried (and I think utterly failed) to find a middle ground between reality and faith by changing the meaning of words and applying metaphysical nebulous terminology to obfuscate defining that a problem actually existed. No dice. There really is an irreconcilable problem that requires the tenet to be changed if what’s true in reality actually matters. But to most believers – and this group of sophisticated theologians relying on the the teachings of Thomas Aquinas and his right arguments specifically – it will never be the tenets of their faith that requires change because they already know The Truth and just have to get everyone else to squint at it the same way by hook or by crook.

As if this theological assault wasn’t enough to send someone concerned with knowledge and respect for reality running from the room that turned out to be padded for the safety of its patients, I find out that one of the inmates – Crude – has posted on his own site a skewed version of just how nasty a person I am In Which The Asshole Makes A Reappearance. I commented in as nasty a tone as he had maligned me and it wasn’t moderated! The Lord works in mysterious ways! But then Crude got to work and lied again. This time, however, I wasn’t allowed to have my rebuttal published, nor any other comments about different posts. No talking allowed, you see, by order of the administrator who wishes to malign.

Imagine the irony when I see this next post by Crude: Is Dialogue With An Atheist Possible? He argues it may be possible with agnostics and atheists (of the weak-kneed variety more concerned with tolerant tone than truthful content) but not with those nasty and brutish people who identify with ‘cult of Gnu atheists’. Yes, the Gnus cannot be reasoned with and so any productive – aka, willing to be respectful of woo – dialogue isn’t possible. What’s possible, of course, is to call them all kinds of nasty names, lie about them, and then ban them from commenting about their unfair treatment!

Anyway, I spent time and effort to make a meaningful comment on this post but, of course, it wasn’t allowed. So I figured, hey, why not post it here if for no other reason than I want to see it on a blog! And I can do that because I understand and appreciate that legitimate criticism is the very heart of any meaningful dialogue. So, here it is:

Crude writes But what makes an atheist a Gnu is, fundamentally, a commitment to the view that not only is theism or Catholicism or (etc) wrong, but that it is a view not worth taking seriously to begin with.

And why is this? Simple. Because supporters of theism don’t respect reality enough to allow it to arbitrate their faith-based beliefs. But this doesn’t stop these supporters from presenting their faith-based beliefs as if they were equivalent to knowledge adduced from reality. This is intellectual fraud and not worth ‘taking seriously’.

 Supporting faith respects a contrary and conflicting stance by respecting what is merely assumed, merely asserted, to be true, to be knowledge, because it is  believed to be true and treats this belief as if it is equivalent to knowledge adduced from the reality we share. But it’s not because it cannot be demonstrated to be so. In addition, in order to maintain this confidence in the belief claims, supporters of the belief will not allow reality to arbitrate them independently; instead, faith – defined as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen – is deemed to be the higher virtue than respecting reality’s adjudication of these claims.

 When a believer approaches honest dialogue between those who respect what’s true and knowable about reality based on this arbitration by reality and those who do not allow it any such role (but presume their faith-based beliefs are still equivalent to arbitrated knowledge adduced by reality’s evidence) there can be no meaningful dialogue because there is no meaningful middle ground. If there were a middle ground between what reality tells us is true about it and faith-based claims that would willingly submit to the same arbitration, then we the means to find a common ground. But it is theists – by rejecting reality as the independent arbitrator to faith claims – who have already rejected this means by which we can have a constructive and meaningful exchange of knowledge-based ideas. Theists exercise dishonesty by then blaming others rather than themselves for misunderstanding and misconstruing the knowledge value of their claims based on faith, but when we ask for evidence of this knowledge, guess what we find? Nothing! Faith-based beliefs alone contribute nothing to independently verifiable knowledge (justified true beliefs), produce no practical applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere in reality. Sure, they produce assertions and assumptions masked by nebulous terminology if the theists are sophisticated enough to try to obfuscate this fact, but that’s it.

 So what is there to talk about?

 Well, the New Atheists talk about confronting religious privilege in the public domain and why this privilege is both unwarranted and unjustified, and for this audacity, are vilified. Just look at the kind of religious terms Crude uses to try to smear New Atheists. And we see these religious smears all the time. (This is a clue…) New Atheists are commonly called ‘militant’ and ‘strident’ and ‘angry’ and all manner of typical putdowns but they are also called ‘cultists’ and ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘evangelicals’ and ‘religious extremists’ and so on . This is the ‘dialogue’ that we have in play, and one that never treats the criticisms of New Atheists straight up and seriously by using reality successfully to arbitrate faith-based claims and  produce knowledge. Pointing out that there is no shared epistemology – no reliable and consistent method independent of faith – to connect faith-based claims to the adjudication of an independent reality means there is no common ground on which to discuss meaningful differences between those who respect reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it and those who demand a special exemption for their faith-based claims… but want everyone to go along with accepting the charade that these claims are equivalent to knowledge… but another <i>kind</i> of knowledge.

 Not going to happen. Not ever. Not on our watch.

Although supporters of religious privilege effortlessly use reality-based knowledge all the time in their regular lives, when it comes to the public treatment of their faith-based claims, those who continue to respect reality and hold these beliefs in the same contempt believers themselves use elsewhere, are suddenly the bad guys, the ones who should be written off, the ones in need of… wait for it… blogging administration and comment approval! Why? Because such bloggers as Crude are more concerned with protecting their faith-based claims from legitimate criticism than dealing with it in a mature and intellectually open and honest respectful manner. And that’s why we cannot have any meaningful dialogue and why theists themselves – and not New Atheists – do not allow their faith claims to be taken seriously.

There. That feels better.

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139 Comments »

  1. Great post mate.
    Theists do not want debate. They take their faith based claims to represent reality and whenever there is conflict between reality and faith claims, faith takes the upper hand.
    I do not know why most of them address us and when we respond decide what comments to allow. What is the point in starting a dialogue one is not willing to see the end of it.
    Anyone who maligns others in posts or comment threads should not be taken seriously.

    Comment by makagutu — May 16, 2013 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  2. Thanks, M.

    Well, they certainly want to appear to win debates, which is why W.L. Craig is held in such high esteem by so many theist bloggers. That his arguments have been repeatedly and unequivocally dismantled and discredited, and yet continue to be promoted by these bloggers as if they have a champion armed with a winning case, shows this: it’s all show and no tell.

    And you’re right: Real conflict between faith claims and reality exists but don’t get resolved as long as the faith claim is presumed to be correct. It is this presumption that is the heart of the problem behind the conflict and, when revealed, moderated by far too many under the excuse of disrespectful tone. But which is more important: respecting what’s true or respecting what’s not? What theists like to call ‘dialogue’ is relativism writ large, where the term used by theists is meant not to “Take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem” but to have everyone go along with the fiction and pretend the problem doesn’t exist and so should not be talked about! To insist it should be talked about then becomes cause for theists to blame the incivility and rudeness of those who don’t except this fiction to be the cause of the real conflict, the real problem, which is the character flaw of those who see conflict between incompatible truth claims! Hence the sustained maligning of New Atheists. How dare we reveal the actual conflict between faith-based belief and reality-based belief and challenge faith to be subjected to reality’s arbitration of it. As if this wasn’t cheeky enough, New Atheists then insist that without a demonstration of faith to be shown to be practical knowledge about the world we share, we shouldn’t privilege its assumptions to be adequate to inform and justify faith’s public effect. in fact, such a presumption that creates conflict with demonstrable knowledge richly deserves ridicule and scorn for the superstitious nonsense it is.

    The nerve.

    Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 10:10 am | Reply

  3. I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard time having a scientific dialog with people of faith. As a Christian, this is upsetting. It’s a problem that we can’t communicate, or rather, listen. I know I’m only one person, and you don’t really know me, but there are a bunch of people like me who are willing to have these conversations. We are willing to discuss and are willing to admit when we are wrong. Just don’t look for it in any mainstream settings. You’ll only get frustrated.

    Comment by Kevin Daniel — May 16, 2013 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

    • Yes, I’m sorry, too. But that’s because the exercise of faith really is incompatible with science. A lot of people just don’t understand why this is so.

      Now, before anyone tries to tell me that this isn’t really a problem because there are many scientists – even really good ones – who exercise some form of religious faith, consider the following analogy:

      The exercise of pedophilia is incompatible with catholic moral values, says I. But, says the earnest person who disagrees, they must be compatible because there are many catholic priests – even really good ones – who are pedophiles. Voila! Compatibility. But not so fast. What hasn’t been shown is how there is compatibility between the actions and the values any more than there has been shown compatibility between the actions and methodologies of faith versus science.

      As long as we don’t look too closely, the incompatible seems compatible. But when we do look closely, we soon find a point at where a direct conflict arises between a faith-based belief and some explanation we have adduced from reality about how it works. It is here at this nexus where the incompatibility arises because how faith-based beliefs are informed stands in direct conflict with how scientific beliefs are informed; the former is asserted a priori and held to be true about reality whereas the latter is adduced from reality and held to be a conditional explanation. Only when the two are in agreement does there seem to be compatibility; the rubber hits the road when there is direct conflict between products of the methods and this is when the epistemology differences become incompatible; they are conflicting methods of inquiry producing antithetical results. They can’t both be true.

      Leaving aside the incompatibilities between conflicting religious claims themselves ( a powerful indication that the method is flawed), this incompatibility is clearly revealed by the theory of evolution in direct conflict with all meaningful forms of faith-based creationism.

      Lots of people who are religious say that they their faith has no inherent conflict with evolution and so the two are compatible… right up until the moment the religious person insists without any evidence from reality that somewhere, at some specific location, at some specific time, an intervention by Oogity Boogity to cause a specific effect really did occur. No matter how far back in time we wish to go, no matter how subtle the intervention may have been, this is what the creationist wishes us to accept in order to make wiggle room for the belief to seem to be compatible with our understanding of evolution. But it isn’t because it attacks and undermines our understanding of the mechanism at work, namely, NATURAL selection. Not guided selection. Not purposeful selection. Not meaningful selection. Not influenced selection. Simply natural selection.

      This incompatibility would be fine and dandy if theists would make their faith-based beliefs subservient to knowledge rather than argued to be equivalent, to be another kind of knowledge exempt from reality’s arbitration of them. But earnest theists aren’t willing to do this. Until they are, they will continue to be the problem advocating for compatibility in methodology where there simply isn’t any, advocating for another kind of knowledge where there isn’t any, advocating for influence where there is no compelling and reasonable justification to do so. This is the understanding that is necessary for theists of all and any stripes and non theists to find compatible grounds for dialogue. We know the method of science although imperfect works the same for everyone everywhere all the time: one knowledge of the true kind. This is not a small achievement to set aside for the privilege of a method that does not produce anything nearly equivalent..

      Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

      • Well, I really don’t think I’m smart enough to continue this conversation. Personally, I have no notion of evolution. My only academic experience was in college Biology 100 when my professor skipped over evolution, in favor of scientific laws, due to time constraints.

        I would say that there are many believers who aren’t afraid of change, or are stuck blindly to their beliefs. I think the current and upcoming generation of believers will be more progressive than past generations.That said, there will always be a disconnect. At some level, we will disagree. That considered, I don’t believe the differences in our core values should constitute a complete dissolution of discussion.

        People will always have differing theories, especially for things, like the Big Band/Creationism, that take faith.

        Comment by Kevin Daniel — May 16, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

      • Hey, I happen to play Big Band music and am a huge fan… not because it’s a theory but because it’s real!

        It’s truly unfortunate that you haven’t studied evolution: it’s probably the most awe-inspiring product of science that is beautifully simple yet so elegant and provides us with a causal chain that has already and shall continue to inspire unimaginable practical benefits from our expanding knowledge based on it. It is a great leap forward, a tremendous human achievement, and opens up vistas of creative links that cannot help but deepen our appreciation of just how spectacular – and understandable – life is.

        That aside, of course, we share many very important values and I think it is sad that what we share will always be mitigated by the unwanted intrusion of an unnecessary and meddling faith, which has a tendency of causing a very real and very negative effect on everything it touches… although to the believer this kind of assertion seems extreme and radical. But from the non believer’s point of view, it is a daily intrusion in need of restraint and one that colours our best attributes in a most unpleasant shade of shifted ownership. A good starting point is to agree to uphold secular values throughout the public domain, secular values such as freedom of religion. How much or how little one allows faith to inform one’s private domain is, of course, no ones business… unless it touches upon and imposes on another without enfranchised consent. And I think this is very difficult to achieve when the assumption is made that faith is good. I don;t think it is and I have a lot of compelling reasons to suggest that. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, some of my best friends are religious but they know me well enough to understand why their faith-based beliefs do not define reality. And this goes far beyond religion into any set of assumptions that is in dispute with allowing reality to inform claims of causal efficacy. Everything from conspiracies to naturopathic treatments fall under this requirement and our conversations center around this aspect. But from family members to acquaintances, over the years there has been a significant shift by them away from respecting faith to being far more critical of it in whatever form it takes. And in this criticism we have far more in common than differences.

        As to scientific theories of any kind, it may be of benefit to know that they have successfully accounted for all significant hurdles you or I can think of in our opinions. This means that when we assume an opinion that is not in line with them, the fault will be entirely with us and based most assuredly on our inferior knowledge. It is not my place to assert a scientific theory is somehow doubtful; any doubts are due to me and my lack. That is an assumption that has served me well and I urge you to do likewise.; when in doubt, blame myself. Sure enough, the more I learn, the more I realize just how informed are scientific theories so I pay attention to them even if I assume they are in some way insufficient.

        I sincerely hope that your post secondary education will yield what mine eventually did for me: to learn how to ask the right questions. I think it was brilliant that for several years at my last university I had to read something weekly and come up with two things: an important question that got to the heart of the work I read and an explanation why this question in particular was important. (That’s not such an easy thing to understand in addition to actually do.) I then had to present this justified question to a roomful of very critical people week in and week out. Yet in all my studies and different degrees achieved with much hard work this one learned skill has served me the best, and in every endeavor I have undertaken since. Regarding a claim of any kind about the reality we share, I think the right question to ask of the person asserting it is, Is this claim true and how can we know? If you try this, be prepared to be vilified. That’s a clue about its power, by the way…

        Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  4. I quickly perused the thread at Just Thomism. Crude seems like a lost cause, but you didn’t address Brandon at all beyond citing MacDonald (which I winced at, given MacDonald just seems to be a man with a blog and nowhere close to an actual scholarly authority on whoever Augustine is), you just kept re-iterating the alleged incompatibility of original sin and evolution even after it was pointed out to you it needed to be argued for (with the whole premise-premise-conclusion structure, this is the first thing anybody learns in logic class), which you kept not doing. Seriously, I was hoping for something more than your constant failure to say something new and incisive, which never came, just doubling-down on your original claim, which I thought had been torn apart already. This is, incidentally, coming from a happy agnostic who couldn’t care less about Catholic doctrine, but I’m irked at how inept my fellow irreligionists can be sometimes.

    Comment by lwells — May 16, 2013 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

    • Speaking of inept, I’m glad you’re happy in your unwillingness to admit there is no positive evidence in reality to assume intervention by Aquinas’ god and yet find it sufficient reason to withhold making an informed knowledge judgement about it. Me? Not so much.

      The claim that myths should be read as myths I fully endorse. What I don’t endorse is the method of thinking that excuses how some people pretend that they agree with it when they don’t. Because Thomism is based on Aquinas – a man of exemplary catholic thinking and held by the institution in the highest regard – I know perfectly well that all people who agree with Aquinas must agree with creationism by an agency of Oogity Boogity. And the source of catholic creationism is to be found in Genesis. You know that and I know that. Why allow obfuscating metaphysical terminology by defenders of Aquinas to deflect from correctly identifying this source?

      The source of the creationism in Thomism is not mitigated by pretending Genesis is just a myth to be read as just a myth, (meaning a fiction that is also true). It’s the ‘true’ portion that matters in response to the post’s thesis, namely, that science doesn’t detract from it. On the contrary, it does when the ‘true’ portion – an historical couple who underwent a literal event that caused original sin to be inherited by all of us – is absolutely essential. In the fiction, this couple was given names of Adam and Eve but these details are not the ‘true’ portion under consideration. It is the necessity for a founding couple in catholicism in particular. Population genetics has put that fiction to bed and this, in fact, does – as the original comment from which the post was addressed – matter a very great deal. That point was quickly lost in the resulting downpour of sophisticated theology that addressed my original comment.

      The downpour depended entirely on switching away from the science that refuted the ‘true’ portion of the myth – a central tenet of the faith – and into the familiar battleground of metaphysical musings and metaphysical terms within the use of formal logic. That’s a fool’s game and you may have considered it worthwhile to fight but I did not (knowing from decades of such wasted time that it would eventually result in bickering over what the nebulous metaphysical terms actually meant in reality) because the original post was about science addressing the ‘true’ portion of the myth to show it to be false – a founding historical couple. This is what matters: what reality has to say about what’s true, and it has found the myth wanting.

      But you’ve already admitted that what reality has to contribute isn’t enough to sway you to actually take a position – claiming to be agnostic – but sufficient in spite of its absence in the resulting sophisticated downpour to be enough for you to decide that I was ‘torn apart’. Hardly. My criticism was not taken seriously by those whose central tenet of their faith was shown to be false, that there was no founding couple, no inheritable original sin. Now, you might think this doesn’t matter in the world of theological metaphysics and you’d be right only because the use of metaphysics is on its own a guaranteed method to fool one’s self and not know it by relegating reality to be some trivial side show, and you’re welcome to your non-positional yet negative opinion of those who do respect reality enough to think it should hold some sway describing it. But reality actually does matter, actually does hold adjudicating sway over descriptions of it – be it in mythical form or not, faith-based form or not, superstitious form or not. Until you get off your fence-sitting ass and deal with this necessary role reality plays in claims made about it – especially by sophisticated theologians dedicated to supporting incompatible truth claims about reality – in whatever form these incompatible truth claims may take, I urge you to get over your irk in the perceived failings of others who try and focus more on your own lack of intellectual spine to step in a do a better job.

      Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

      • This has been a fascinating case study in ideology. Much thanks.

        Comment by lwells — May 16, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

      • Right: respecting the arbitration by reality regarding claims made about it is now “ideology”. And here we go down the rabbit-hole of shape-shifting metaphysical terminology in the service of theology. But I don’t think it’s fascinating; I think it’s cowardly that people feel this is any honest way to have a dialogue… just keep changing the language!

        Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

      • Claims to unmediated access to reality are pretty much pure ideology. Science doesn’t get a pass from this – read Haraway or Kuhn sometime. And as I’ve said, I could care less about Catholic doctrine, so I’m not a theologian, and invoking the spectre of metaphysics is particular amusing, given how often you like to talk about “reality” (I do believe somebody did mention Kant in the Just Thomsim thread).

        “I think it’s cowardly that people feel this is any honest way to have a dialogue”

        Excellent self-parody, tildeb. You’re fundamentally not honest in your dialogue (in fairness, I believe you believe you are), given you continually have to reframe a debate in terms that are already prejudiced in your favour (although you consider this to be simply dispelling obfuscatory language and getting to the core of the matter), you similarly marshall limited and selective “evidence” (which you probably believe to be a fair and representative sample*) and when pressed you retrench your earlier claims, convinced that your interlocutors have simply misunderstood your point. Ideological is the least worst way to describe your discursive tactics. You are of course, in your mind the unbiased and unpartisan hero and protagonist in all your brave crusades against blind irrationalism, which I don’t dispute. I simple dispute your necessarily being the hero in very possible construal of your engagements.

        PS: my agnosticism stems from a hermeneutics of suspicion, not a boring naturalism (and that modality of atheism is itself reliant on an outdated conflict narrative – again, read the history and philosophy of science, in particular how obsolete Draper and White are). As such I find the term “atheism” inadequate. And I have to admit, I’m perfectly happy being a spineless fence-sitter if the alternative is to be a dogmatic catechist.

        * Despite of course your selection and presentation being motivated by a predetermined ideological hostility. Do you turn to Macaulay for fair histories of Toryrism?

        Comment by lwells — May 17, 2013 @ 12:16 am

      • Ah yes, the term ‘reality’ is the really the issue here, a philosophical notion really, one that must be examined by at least reading Haraway and Khun, and the term ‘science’, another philosophical notion, also in need of examination by at least reading why Draper and White have been discredited, and ‘evidence’ another philosophical term where revisiting Kant is a bare minimum. Without these readings to inform what it is we are even talking about, my criticism is not about how population genetics puts to bed any notion that we descend from a single couple as put forward as a tenet of faith to link us with original sin. No, my criticism is all about me being a dogmatic catechist, an ideologue along the lines of what Macaulay describes for fair histories of Toryrism, framing the ‘debate’ in favorable but prejudiced terms not least of which is ‘boring’ naturalism!

        See what I mean? This shit passes for erudite dialogue in such circles. Nowhere does it allow for the subject at hand – why and how population genetics really does destroy a central faith tenets derived from the creation myths in Genesis – to be addressed in the same terms used to describe it but recasts the criticism to the post as easily dismissible ‘hostile’ ideology. Adduced explanations from reality are now just another kind of ideology with a wave of the philosophical hand. How marvelous. How convenient. How clever. And if you can swallow that shit to be equivalent to knowledge, then you deserve to be fooled. After all, it’s much easier to wave away an ideology from a philosophical vantage point than it is to dismiss why and how the exploration of our genetic heritage using what works for everyone everywhere all the time dismantles this necessary tenet. That would require practical knowledge and meaningful effort and an admission that what works this way seems to indicate something outside of our philosophies is having affect… and we can’t have any of that low brow activity interrupting the splendid scenic view we have up here in the rarified air of the metaphysical approach. And that’s the game in play.

        What a fine example of the Courtier’s Reply in action.

        Comment by tildeb — May 17, 2013 @ 8:45 am

      • So ignorance of relevant scholarly literature (or really, the avoidance of any intellectual cultivation whatsoever) is a prerequisite for informed discourse? You’ve sidestepped my actual point, which it that you confuse your perception of reality with reality in itself (hence the suggestion to to read Kant) which thus paves the way for your preferred and indeed only tactic, to say something once, and if it doesn’t, say it again because clearly tildeb cannot ever be wrong, because tileb is in perfect harmony with Scientific Reality™, and his interlocutors can only be confused. Perhaps there is only one Reality and tildeb is Its prophet? In any case, I eagerly await your responses, with their wonderful inability to say anything new, or indeed, correct.

        And please stop harping on about the creation myths or whatever. I said I don’t care about Catholic doctrine, which may have been untrue, in retrospect. I care about Catholic doctrine insofar, and only insofar as it relates to the state of contemporary irreligion, which has declined remarkably rapidly since the 20th century. Your staggering ignorance of anything remotely resembling serious thought (I should’ve known when you cited a blog post on Augustine), and hence your embarrassingly incompetent attempts at actual argumentation (seriously: premise-premise-conclusion: learn it), are emblematic of that decline.

        Oh, and seriously? The Courtier’s Reply? All us unfaithful are truly fucked if that’s still being using that unironically.

        Comment by lwells — May 17, 2013 @ 10:55 am

      • It never ceases to amaze me that people assume my ignorance and lack of intellectual cultivation. In the same way that reading, comparing, and contrasting various bibles fully informs its rejection as a source of trustworthy knowledge (and the lunacy of pretending it is inerrant), so too does my study of Kant and Augustine and many other big brained people inform my rejection of discussing them as relevant to how population genetics reveals no founding couple. You seem determined to avoid this central point to which all other side issues derive relating to the post I criticized in your quest to call me names. This is clue about your intellectual capacities to have an honest dialogue… maybe you shouldn’t trust your assumptions so much.

        What you consider relevant reading material isn’t relevant to the issue at hand. And I explain why but you don’t care for that explanation; instead, you pretend I am adhering to some other kind of religious myth-making ideological position equivalent to the one I criticize. Such deepities! You transform the meaning of words to mean only what you want them to mean and then accuse me of staggering ignorance. This is a cheap and transparent and dishonest ruse to avoid dealing with my criticism: the lack of an historical and literal founding couple matters to any theology that requires them. Pretending it doesn’t really matter is to reject reality to be a condition that matters in claims made about it, reality as an adjudicator of what is claimed to be true about it and the best method we have to find out what that adjudication is. All the rest of your philosophical warbling to please the ears of those who mistake their faith-based beliefs to be an equivalent kind of knowledge about the reality we share – a reality I use to inform my criticism – is just so much snide and arrogant hand waving about your reading list. Been there. Done that.

        Comment by tildeb — May 17, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    • Oh, and in case anyone was curious, Brandon stated that the traditional Catholic interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve in the garden is that it is not strictly historical. This is factually wrong as I’ve pointed out in my post by catholic authorities far greater than Brandon’s blithe statement to the contrary while assuring everyone that I was probably not as stupid as I appeared. Other than not respecting what’s true but willing to malign it in his cause, Brandon I’m sure is a swell guy well whose opinions about interpreting science correctly in regards to the tenets of catholicism are worth taking seriously. Oh wait…

      Comment by tildeb — May 16, 2013 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

      • Do you not know anything about hermeneutics, as well as logic and philosophy of science? Urgh. It’s this kind of interpretative incompetence that birthed the whole mess of creationism in the first place.

        Comment by lwells — May 17, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

      • To put this another way:

        A: Those evolutionists sure are stupid. If we evolved from monkeys, there must be no more monkeys, which there are.

        B: Are you an idiot? That doesn’t falsify evolution at all. Look at these resources and then come back to me.

        A: Yeah, but if you look at this source, I’m still right. Evolution still requires there be no more monkeys, which there are. Trying to get around this is just a hand-waving attempt to deny reality.

        B: Wow. You really are in the throes of pure ideology.

        Now consider this:

        C: Those Catholics sure are stupid. If we’re sinful, then there must have been a first founding couple, which there isn’t.

        D: Are you an idiot? That’s not what the doctrine of original sin entails. Look at these resources and then come back to me.

        C: Yeah, but if you look at this source, I’m still right. Original sin still requires a foundling couple, which there isn’t. Trying to get around this is just a hand-waving attempt to deny reality.

        D: Wow. You really are in the throes of pure ideology.

        Comment by lwells — May 17, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

      • The correctness of a conclusion in formal logic is not dependent on the truth value of the premises but simply follow the right form. This is why if we are concerned with what’s true outside of formal logic and in reality, we must deal with the problem of establishing that the premises themselves each correctly represent what’s claimed to be true in it. This is why formal logic alone is axiomatic.. like math; it requires an emphasis on right form to produce the right answer, the right conclusion. This is what people who respect metaphysics desire: a kind of formal inquiry once removed from reality’s arbitration of it (because reality doesn’t provide the kind of help needed, namely compelling evidence) you see. But the problem is that this method does not produce practical knowledge on its own but must still be adjudicated by reality to see if its knowledge claims does work, indeed, does represent what’s true in reality. Math passes this test because it accurately represents quantities that can be demonstrated to be of practical and reliable benefit in the real world. Math works. Metaphysics doesn’t. And it doesn’t work to produce practical knowledge because it fails to allow reality to arbitrate the truth value of its conclusions outside of its correctness of form. That’s why it’s a waste of time and effort as a method of honest inquiry into reality. And the reason why the conclusions are wrong is because the premises are exempt from having their truth value evaluated independently verified.

        This is exactly what we see in action with lwells analogy that he claims represents my ignorant reasoning. Unfortunately for him, it achieves no such result.

        Take a look at D: Are you an idiot? That’s not what the doctrine of original sin entails. Look at these resources and then come back to me.

        The claim is that what I describe as the doctrine of original sin (from C) requiring a founding couple is not true.

        As I wrote to Kevin Daniel above, the key question to always ask about any truth claim is: Is it true and how do we know?

        Is lwells claim true that what I describe as the doctrine of original sin is, in fact, wrong? How do we know?

        Well, let’s turn to the internet to see if my claim about the doctrine of original sin requires a founding couple. Go ahead. Google “doctrine of original sin” for yourself and see what you get.

        Specifically, let’s look at at saintaquinas.com because Just Thomism relies on the writings of Aquinas as its central authority for ‘correct’ heuristics used by the author of the original blog post over at Just Thomism. See what it says? Let me quote:

        “In order to understand the doctrine of original sin, it is necessary to begin with the first created man, Adam. Scripture and Tradition tell us that “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The first human, Adam, was created by God as the progenitor of the human race. From Adam’s ribs, God created his wife and companion, Eve. Together Adam and Eve, were given the loving gifts of free will, original justice and original holiness. God gave them the fruits, pleasures and duties of tending to the Garden of Eden where they lived in harmony with God, each other and God’s creations.”

        lwells’ premise by D in his little masturbatory analogy here is factually wrong. The long list of sources shows his error. The claim he uses to arrive at the conclusion he does is premised on his assumption that my understanding of the doctrine of original sin is wrong. It isn’t. Why he can’t get that through to his brain is mystifying to me but it’s not my fault. What’s at fault is lwells presuming I don’t know what I’m talking about and waxing poetically about all my educational faults for this lack (in spite of knowing fuck all about my education). Yet it seems that, in this case, I do know what I’m talking about. lwells’ sky can begin falling now. In comparison to his assumption, my claim about requiring an original couple for the tenet of redemption by Jesus to remain true is backed up not by a few cherry picked sources but across the biblical scholarship board – even by Augustine’s notion of concupiscence itself: a heritable sin physically transmitted from the descendents of Adam to the next generation by exercising longing. Good grief but these people wishing only to vilify New Atheists are almost always such charlatans and intellectually corrupt academics.

        What lwells is trying to sell here is just so much smoke and mirrors in all likelihood trying at the expense of others to make himself feel superior. But he isn’t. He – like the other commentators at Just Thomism – is trying to blur the need for an historical Adam and Eve to link us to the need for an historical Jesus… not by offering some other equivalently widespread and accepted heuristics but by vilifying his favourite target group – New Atheists – who dare as I do to point out what’s true actually matters, namely, that science does destroy creation myths when some portion of one is required to contain a literal and historical account that is factually wrong.

        Comment by tildeb — May 19, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

      • I actually didn’t see his comment till recently, given how relatively late it came compared the speed of the rest of the thread. But it deserves a reply (actually it doesn’t, but I’m a masochist).

        “But the problem is that this method does not produce practical knowledge on its own but must still be adjudicated by reality to see if its knowledge claims does work, indeed, does represent what’s true in reality.”
        You do know logical positivism is a dead paradigm? Can you actually evulate and independently verify the claim you just made? Nevermind that reality actually can’t adjudicate anything by itself, there’s always a subject who has to adjudicate on its behalf. Which I why I’ve been mentioning Kant and Haraway.

        “And the reason why the conclusions are wrong is because the premises are exempt from having their truth value evaluated independently verified.”
        You think something in the realm of literary interpretation can be “evaluated and independently verified”? I repeat, “logical positivism is a dead paradigm.”

        “Well, let’s turn to the internet to see if my claim about the doctrine of original sin requires a founding couple.”
        Great: let’s totally ignore actual Catholics who have the relevant exerptise in these matters so I can find sources that I can interpret. Let’s set aside all my thesis papers on Aquinas and my coverage of Augustine. Let’s turn to the internet, which is wise and infallible in all matters and doesn’t actually reveal how vast my actual expertise on this topic is.

        “The long list of sources shows his error.”
        You’re such a fan of reality, and you’re always so honest and truthful, so I guess those Catholics over at Just Thomism, who would know their own religion better than somebody who has to google Aquinas, don’t really exist.

        “understanding of the doctrine of original sin is wrong. It isn’t.”
        Well, those actual Catholics seemed to think you were confused, and you kept not being able to deal with their criticisms and repeating your original claims as if the repetition would render them true, so yeah, ideology at its finest.

        “What’s at fault is lwells presuming I don’t know what I’m talking about and waxing poetically about all my educational faults”
        Can we add a moral fault to your educational faults? Still not seeing proof you weren’t lying.

        “Yet it seems that, in this case, I do know what I’m talking about.”
        Because Google! And saintaquinas.com! I know Catholic theology better than Catholic theologians because I know how to Google and they presumably don’t!

        “Augustine’s notion of concupiscence itself”
        Hey, Augustine! I know him! He wrote a book about interpreting Genesis and how literal readings weren’t necessary!

        “Good grief but these people wishing only to vilify New Atheists are almost always such charlatans and intellectually corrupt academics.”
        Well, I’ll admit in tildeb’s reality this is the case, but that’s as far as I will go.

        “one is required to contain a literal and historical account…”
        But one isn’t. And unless you have a real argument otherwise so its soundness can be properly soundness, but I don’t expect it to be forthcoming.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  5. So basically, anything that might possibly call into question the legitimacy of your position is “a cheap and transparent and dishonest ruse” and/or not “relevant to the issue at hand”? How is this not pure ideology? You’ve done, again, exactly what I predicted you would do, which is “to say something once, and if it doesn’t, say it again because clearly tildeb cannot ever be wrong.” Self-quotation is a vice, I know, but I can’t resist another: “I eagerly await your responses, with their wonderful inability to say anything new, or indeed, correct.”

    Comment by lwells — May 17, 2013 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

    • Firstly, people don’t interpret evolution… they run experiments to try to falsify the theory.
      And evolution does not say that we evolved from monkeys, it says that both monkeys and humans (and indeed all life) evolved from a common ancestor.

      Secondly, you seem to be attempting to retrofit today’s scientific understanding onto yesterday’s myth understanding (or vice versa) – and when you do this you then say “see their argument is just as equal as yours because with a bent ruler we can draw parallel lines between them.”

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 18, 2013 @ 11:05 am | Reply

      • That was my point! Creationists don’t understand the actual structure evolution, out of ignorance of willful blindness, I don’t particular care why. And as I’ve said, many times over, I fundamentally don’t care about the state of contemporary Catholic doctrine – I’m not a Catholic, I’m not a Christian, I’m an staunch agnostic – not in the sense I consider the existence or nonexistence of God to be unprovable, but that “God” doesn’t signify a divine entity so much as the projection of various material concerns. If I were Feuerbach’s contemporary, I guess I’d be more happy with the label “atheist”, but the state of 21st century atheism fills me with revulsion. tildeb’s woefully incompetent attempts at polemic (most notably, his simple inability to form anything remotely a genuine argument as recognized by the overwhelming majority of Western thought*) is reason enough for my self-categorization.

        My point is not that the Catholic argument is the equivalent to the case for evolution, but that the discourse is formally identical, and as such, C’s claims are untenable as A’s because they both make the same argumentative missteps (i’m not saying C is necessarily wrong, I’m saying C needs to make his case properly). I purposefully avoided particularity just to make this point of a formal, not substantive analogy. So your accusation that I “retrofit today’s scientific understanding onto yesterday’s myth understanding” seems basically to be wildly misguided.

        *Premises, then conclusion. Otherwise you end up with a mess of incoherent claims which are never justified (and thus never actually technically refutable) and can only be repeated again and again, as if the truth of a particular proposition depended on how frequently it was said.

        Comment by lwells — May 18, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

      • “My point is not that the Catholic argument is the equivalent to the case for evolution, but that the discourse is formally identical…”

        Then your point is a faux one – because you are comparing apples with oranges and saying ‘look see these arguments look the same so they are structured the same way therefore they are both wrong’ – which isn’t true.

        One is a misrepresentation of scientific fact (argument A) – that can be corrected with data known as ‘facts’.

        The other (argument C) is just bollocks – because it is only supportable with yet more bollocks.

        The discourse is therefore not equal, it only looks equal if you are ignorant or care very little about what is true.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 19, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

      • I’m glad you spotted the same problem I did. Those who insist on right form are almost always those who dismiss the importance of function.

        Comment by tildeb — May 19, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

      • “a formal, not substantive analogy”

        This isn’t even hermeneutics anymore, it’s basic literacy.

        Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 3:11 am

      • More charitably: I’m not saying “‘look see these arguments look the same so they are structured the same way therefore they are both wrong,” I’m saying ‘look see these arguments look the same so they are structured the same way therefore they are both wrong in the same way. This of course absolutely does not preclude C actually having drawn the correct conclusion, just that C’s way of coming to his conclusions is faulty (so there’s a kind of Gettier problem, if you like). When you say “argument A.. can be corrected with data known as ‘facts’,” I of course agree with you, but would point out the creationist is entirely capable of recourse to a reality he has constructed for himself wherein the scientific facts are incompatible with evolution (of course, it’s a shoddy reality, but he doesn’t know that). A can be corrected, but A won’t, because A the creationist is ideologically mired in his pseudoscientific sludge. Similarly, tildeb is ideologically mired in his pseudorational sludge, and the claim he wishes to vindicate has only thus far seen “justification” similar in form to the wretched ignorance parading as an overbearing pomposity so characteristic of the clowns over at Answers in Genesis. The discourse doesn’t need to be equal for my point to hold – you’ve missed the point of a formal analogy.

        Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 4:10 am

    • “I’m saying ‘look see these arguments look the same so they are structured the same way therefore they are both wrong in the same way.”

      Your argument is still faux.

      It doesn’t matter how you cook it and spice it up with fancy words, meanings and citations from big brained people – the logic in your argument is fundamentally and categorically wrong.

      Because you cannot distinguish between a the ‘content’ of the pros (i.e. the thought that the pros represent) and the syntax of how it is being written.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 20, 2013 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

      • If you’re incapable of grasping basic logical structures, I can’t help you. Sorry. Buy a philosophy textbook sometime, or you could not stray away from conversations that don’t presuppose at least a minimum understanding of discursive standards.

        Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  6. I reiterate my criticism of the post that a founding couple is needed, is required, for the claim that we inherit a sinful ‘nature’ because that – and not heuristics and apologetics and metaphysics and philosophies – is the issue at hand regarding the use of the Genesis myth to explain why an historical and literal human blood sacrifice of a messiah figure is necessary for our individual redemption. Take away the literal founding couple who committed this necessary act of sinning and you remove this justification. The post suggested that scientific incompatibility with the mythological basis of this necessary central faith tenet didn’t matter because the point of the myth was still theologically true. Bullshit. This is an avoidance of the actual incompatibility between establishing the necessary link between Adam who sins and Jesus who redeems; That’s why I keep harping on the fact that the christian doctrine of original sin – regardless of denomination – requires just such a founding couple. That you grow weary of me reiterating this doesn’t matter; what matters is the necessity for such a link if the tenet is to remain in place.

    A bunch of catholics says it doesn’t really matter and to accomplish this sleight-of-hand adjustment (now that we know through population genetics that there never was a founding couple) they – like you – simply assume we are born with this sin as part of our ‘nature’, and that that’s good enough. It isn’t. All it does is change the focus from what was believed to be true – we descended from this couple – to assuming wh inherit the sinful ‘nature’ by fiat. It is this assumption that now has no validity if there was no founding couple who acted in such a way. This was Macdonald’s point I borrowed to show that a myth taken only figuratively fails to accomplish the task set before it: namely, to justify the assumption for inherited sin in our ‘nature’. A metaphorical sinful nature simply doesn’t do the job required of it to link humanity to needing a literal and historical redemption. And this point is backed up by not by me reiterating it because of its importance, but a pope who agrees and the catechism of the institution itself.

    Of course, the rcc doesn’t speak for all christians nor represent only the correct interpretation of biblical scripture (in spite of an insistence by catholics and their leaders that it does) but it does argue on my behalf of how important the historical and literal link is to the tenet itself regardless of under what denomination the tenet is accepted. The complaint leveled against me for my ‘ignorance’ of how to properly interpret the myth and study all the sophisticated theology that does so to avoid conflict with having no founding couple – and thus find compatibility with what our DNA tells us of our ancestry – still fails utterly to inform the assumption about our sinful ‘nature’. Hand waving using the framework of formal logic built on vague and nebulous terminology doesn’t accomplish this task, either. What works is using evidence adduced from reality to demonstrate the biological basis for the assumption, and in this matter there is none. We are no more sinful in our nature than a cabbage or parasite or rhinoceros and no more in need of redemption than they. So those who claim we are must accept to bear the burden of proof to show how a theological claim about our ‘nature’ differs from cabbages and parasites and rhinoceroses. It falls to believers – whether sophisticated or not – to link the assumption of sin to the need for redemption and this has to be accomplished by gathering a compelling case from evidence similarly adduced from reality to be similarly compatible with the knowledge that we have no founding couple. Without this necessary link, the justification for the assumption that humanity is sinful in need of redemption is an exercise in intellectual folly and futility. But ignoring reality and its central role in adjudicating such claims made about it is what sophisticated theologians and heuristic apologists and fuzzy metaphysicists and philosophers do best: pretend the incompatible is compatible by exercising intellectual squinting muscles alone.

    Comment by tildeb — May 18, 2013 @ 11:28 am | Reply

    • “I reiterate my criticism…” yeah, sure, whatever. I could reiterate my claim I am in reality the the Dalai Lama is a lizard-king from Jupiter, but without any actual argument, nobody ought to take me seriously (and with good reason). I can make all sorts of grandiose claims (moon landings were faked, Shakespeare’s wife actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays, tildeb understands what an argument is), but without actually laying out a genuine argument there’s just desperate flailing around. You keep talking about ‘inheriting” a sinful nature, assuming as you do that this “sinful nature” needs to be inherited, that there is a “necessary link between Adam who sins and Jesus who redeems”. Do you think that’s a tautology? Because it isn’t, it needs to be argued for, and I’d imagine plenty of fundamentalists and evangelicals who’d being your corner in doing so. The thing is, any time anybody agrees with that community (cf. Hitchens on the Iraqi invasion) I tend to consider them entirely worthless. It’s a good heuristic. (Oh, and by the way, I don’t assume we’re born with sin, the concept of sin is actually unintelligible to me. Are you as incapable of reading anybody else’s comments? It would explain your behaviour in the Just Thomism thread.)

      “This was Macdonald’s point…” Yeah, no. A quick Google reveals that Macdonald is not a recognized authority on Augustine or indeed anything whatsoever. Forgive me for not taking you seriously as an interlocutor when you relish your lack of grounding in any modern philosophy of science (or indeed, Kant of all people) and yet consider the citation of a mildly-famous blogger to be a checkmate.

      Your last paragraph is basically your first repeated, which is itself everything you’ve said redux. So, once more, “I eagerly await your responses, with their wonderful inability to say anything new, or indeed, correct.”

      Comment by lwells — May 18, 2013 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  7. You keep talking about ‘inheriting” a sinful nature, assuming as you do that this “sinful nature” needs to be inherited, that there is a “necessary link between Adam who sins and Jesus who redeems”.

    There is a link – both (according to the myths) are sons of the same god.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 19, 2013 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

    • I would have responded to lwells with a, “Well, duh,” but I have found that those who consider themselves so highly educated in comparison to the likes of New Atheists rarely appreciate the obvious… or what’s true… busy as they are using their reading list to disqualify anyone but themselves from having a legitimate observation worthy of their attention… while holding us ‘properly’ contained in their a priori contempt because we are New Atheists.

      Comment by tildeb — May 19, 2013 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

      • “There is a link – both (according to the myths) are sons of the same god.”

        Yes, and? What does this have to do with anything? I (albeit briefly) did work on Milton, which did force me to be acquainted with at least a minimal knowledge of Christology, and what you’ve said is flatly ignorant. The God Adam relation and God-Jesus relation is not considered identical. Probably analogous or something, but not the precise similarity you require.

        “the obvious… or what’s true… a legitimate observation worthy of their attention…”

        It’s not a legitimate observation, it’s not obvious (if it were this conversation wouldn’t have happened), and its “truth” is questionable at best, as I’ve pointed out multiple times, for multiple reasons. It’s the equivalent of the preacher claiming an atheist exclaiming “Oh my God” is tantamount to a secret confession of faith, i.e., a remarkable piece of sophistry grounded in a stunningly incompetent hermeneutics that, most worryingly, the sophist sincerely and genuinely believes to be a unassailable truth.

        a priori contempt because we are New Atheists.”

        Are you sure you know your fancy Latin phrases mean? My contempt is a posteriori, predicated on the New Atheist reliance on a long obsolete narrative (Whig history, to oversimplify), a fetishization of a crude and naive concept of reason (I’d be much happier if the New Atheists were capable of intelligent discourse about, say, Frege or Quine instead of just invoking “rationality” as some sort of panacea) and in general form of radical epistemic closure wedded to an amply demonstrated (see:tildeb’s contributions) near-total unfamiliarity with the entire tradition of Western philosophy (I can tolerate either on its own, both together provoke me to no end).

        Before you incidentally bring in another quip about a ‘reading list [being used] to disqualify anyone but themselves from having a legitimate observation worthy of their attention,” I have to ask – are you actually genuinely claiming your own ignorance as a virtue in this conversation? Because that would warm my heart to no end.

        Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 3:43 am

      • It’s like Duh – indeed.

        The only book you need on the reading list to link Adam to Jesus is the bible itself – after all this is why they are bound together under one spine – you don’t get more linked than that!

        The philosophers reading list is not needed.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 20, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

      • “Yes, and? What does this have to do with anything? I (albeit briefly) did work on Milton”

        The link is not hidden in some deep philosophical soup that only intelligent people can work out, if had to be that smart religion would never have worked in the first place!

        Here is one link to get you started, now run along and go and find some more….

        “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come [Christ].” (Romans 5:14)

        “The first man was of the dust of the Earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the Earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49)

        And stop it with the name dropping, there is nothing worse than communicating with an intellectual snob! Milton was just some bloke with an opinion (probably with less information at his fingertips than you have right now!) – find your own opinion for once!

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 20, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

      • Bloody hell you are entirely incapable of reading at all, are you?

        “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come [Christ]” only requires a historical Adam to have sinned whatever if you read the Eden narrative as a historical chronicle, which frankly requires doing serious violence to the text. Urgh. This is probably the first time I’ve read this passage and it’s not hard to see it as not requiring a historical founding couple or whatever tildeb is fetishizing.

        “The link is not hidden in some deep philosophical soup that only intelligent people can work out, if had to be that smart religion would never have worked in the first place!”

        Shit, nuanced interpretation is deep philosophical soup? Better get rid of all my Kafka.

        “And stop it with the name dropping, there is nothing worse than communicating with an intellectual snob! Milton was just some bloke with an opinion (probably with less information at his fingertips than you have right now!) – find your own opinion for once!”

        This is hilarious. I name-drop because I’m trying ot make you aware of my intellectual background, so you know how to properly engage – it’s a courtesy. If you really think talking to an “intellectual snob” so bad, that I’m afraid says a great deal more about your presumptions than anything on my part. And for fuck’s sake I don’t know how you think I was actually citing Milton – I was saying, in the study of Milton’s poetry and prose, one has to at least become familiar with some Christian theology, some of which is Christology and the the Fall, which means I can at least spot when somebody is talking out of their ass about these issues (see: your comments). Milton’s actual theology is considered pretty batshit, you would know this if you weren’t busy trying to misread everything.

        Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

      • You name drop – because you are an idiot.

        You think it makes you sound smart – it doesn’t, it makes you sound like a prat – especially when you ignore the direct text that is being discussed.

        “This is probably the first time I’ve read this passage and it’s not hard to see it as not requiring a historical founding couple or whatever tildeb is fetishizing.”

        Fool – how can you interpret anything until you have read it yourself?

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 21, 2013 @ 12:59 am

      • “You name drop – because you are an idiot.”

        Or I name drop because I know my shit and it’s easier saying “Kant” than hashing out the whole noumena/phenomena distinction. It’s really not that difficult. If you think any thinkers I’ve cited are being misused by me, go right ahead and criticize me there. I may well be wrong, but I won’t know unless you can actual make a genuine critique instead of yelling idiot and/or prat, none of which carry any serious weight when you’ve demonstrated a fundamental incapacity to improve on tildeb.

        “Fool – how can you interpret anything until you have read it yourself?”

        I just said I read it?

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 4:22 am

  8. “where the most outlandish and rude commentary is allowed when in support of the web site author but strangled when it becomes critical supposedly because of ‘militant’ tone!”

    That happened on Toughquestionsanswered. Ggodat’s posts would mostly be frat-boy taunting (unless they were simply asking “Where are the fossils?”. But Bill Pratt never picked him up on his posts, despite continually threatening us with “Strike 2!” when we pointed out he was talking nonsense. Then one day I found out Bill and ‘Greg’ (for that’s his name) are mates, possibly IRL. Josh on NoApologiesAllowed did sometimes upbraid one of the Christians posting on his site. I notice the latter site has gone very quiet since we stopped posting there. On one his recent blogs someone posted to ask where the atheists had gone, so I left a post explaining that whenever I DID post anything with a simple point, the point would be ignored, I would be attacked and then given several questions to answer, with an ultimatum that not answering them would be taken as me avoiding the subject.

    How did Josh respond? He ignored my point, attacked me, then gave me several questions to answer, with an ultimatum!

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 20, 2013 @ 9:22 am | Reply

    • That’s too funny!

      When I pointed out Templeton money to fund a particular ‘study’ (hell, the whole damn 3-person faculty linked to Oxford University for proper cover!), Bill Pratt warned me about attacking character rather than what it was: questioning motives for the selected data in support and rejection of data against). I never received a second warning but was simply banned thereafter when I committed the same ‘mistake’ with another post about a paper by a Discovery Institute Fellow ‘peer reviewed’ by the journal put out by the Discoveroids!

      Anyway, Ryan, I’ll pop over and see your comment. I stopped commenting when Josh decided my comments were in need of moderating approval. I notice he now like to comment about my comments wherever he can find them on other christian sites and he still follows the same M.O.: ignore the point, attack me, and list a bunch of self-appointed questions I must answer or consider his (almost always) straw man criticism sufficient. How tedious.

      Comment by tildeb — May 20, 2013 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  9. Yeah, MUR, it’s not like OT theology tells us Jesus was related in lineage to Adam or anything…. you ignorance from not reading Xanthyamalai and Quigley is showing that… oh wait…

    Love your editing, too, lwells, altering my point away from you disqualifying others who do not (necessarily) share your reading list to me suggesting that I’m in error assuming what’s obvious and true and legitimate. And you have not raised a single point discrediting my ‘assumption’ of the need, as I am claiming, for the central tenet of sin to have a heritable component in the same kind of theology used as an authority over at Just Thomism… spite of me quoting the specific catholic authorities to the theology used there. Yet you continue – in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – to describe this need I’m pointing out as my thing, my hangup, a fringe position I hold, a theologically naive position to which I am ideologically stuck, yet you offer no other means by which we – including you in your proclaimed agnosticism – can link to the need for an historical redemption through a literal blood sacrifice. To what does this relate? A fucking metaphor from a myth? Well, apparently, you don’t care to deal with this actual problem – which is the entire point of my criticism, you dolt; you care only to try to malign those who point it out for having the audacity to do so when you’ve declared their educational credentials are so poor compared to your own self-justified exalted reading list.

    As for litany of complaints against New Atheists, what you offer is nothing of value. Because New Atheism is about challenging religious privilege in the public domain for compelling reasons, your criticism of it is as useful and meaningful as tits on a bull because you’re not dealing with merit of the criticisms they raise; you are confusing presumed character flaws to be equivalent with assumed flawed content. Your inability to deal with the content of my criticisms of the Just Thomism post while concentrating your efforts to malign my character demonstrates exactly this. Your agnosticism in this matter of the original post is not from intellectual rigor at all (as if your reading list magically verifies intellectual rigor) but a feeble excuse to prevaricate on the issue itself while using it for cover to try to vilify a New Atheist who dares take a position. Rather than showing how such an erudite fellow as yourself can tackle this theological rear guard action by Just Thomism and showing us all how you can do it better to deal with such theological hypocrisy, you pretend the crime here is in the criticism rather than the claim. That makes you a tacit acoommodationist of the worst kind. Congrats. You’re earned my disdain.

    Comment by tildeb — May 20, 2013 @ 10:58 am | Reply

    • Yeah, you’re reading the genealogy poorly. Even a brief study of early modern English poetry will tell you this. The relationship between Adam and God is not the relationship between God and Jesus, because with Adam sonship is much more figurative, whereas the sonship has to do more with the relations inbetween the Trinity, whatever that is supposed to mean. In short, whatever “Adam” is si the son of God simply by virtue of being the divine creation with the imago dei, “God” is the son of God by virtue of being the incarnate divinity. Whatever that exactly means, I don’t know – I studied literature, not theology. But if you can’t demonstrate a knowledge of this distinction, then you’re basically not worth taking seriously.

      You quote those Catholic sources as if they prove anything – they don’t (and this was the point of the analogy which has the magical power of making misunderstoodranter lose all literacy whatsoever upon encountering it). Note the catechism states “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event” – so already your necessarily literalistic interpretation is in tatters. Nowhere is Adam and Eve specifically mentioned – all you get is “original fault freely committed by our first parents.” I don’t see any need for a founding couple – “parents” is ambiguous, and in any case we already know the tale of Adam and Eve is considered “figurative.” So you’re kind of really bad at reading things, huh? Humani Generis is an encyclical, that you’re trying to cite it as an conclusive source is laughable – it’s already discountable under the broader context of the tradition. Just so you know, I hate you even more for forcing me to at least get acquainted with Augustine, and yeah, he pretty much has already dispelled your position, and more than a millennium before any of your sources as well!

      “you are confusing presumed character flaws to be equivalent with assumed flawed content”

      Wow, you really are incapable of reading. I pointed out the flawed content – the reliance on a problematic narrative, the lack of familiarity with any serious thought, the hypocrite involved in invoking reason whilst not being remotely familiar with any actual logicians. These aren’t character flaws, they’re holes in the New Atheist position which render it problematic if not outright irredeemable. I’m totally happy with “challenging religious privilege in the public domain,” but not when this public domain is then occupied by people who categorically and demonstrably ignorant as the New Atheists. As far as your continued needling about my apparent reading list goes, I still haven’t seen anything resembling an answer to my question: “are you actually genuinely claiming your own ignorance as a virtue in this conversation?” Because you keep bringing up my ability to actually cite respected intellectual figures as as bad thing.

      “overwhelming evidence to the contrary”

      I genuinely laughed. Thanks.

      “link to the need for an historical redemption through a literal blood sacrifice”

      Fine. I’m not a theologian, but if I can do it, that should only emphasize how flatly wrong you are. Gnostic identification of creation with fall. Buberian account where arising of consciousness leads to the possibility of an I-Thou relationship and its simultaneous disavowal. Structural deficiencies in human interrelations once society proceeds past a certain point of complexity. First stirrings of mimetic desire as the fall (and I think Girard might actually propose this explicitly). Fall as simply ontology of the human (Kant’s notion of radical evil). I could go on. Of course none of these permit literal interpretation of Genesis, but if you’re trying to force a text that’s clearly a creation myth into the realms of literal history, you’ve lost all hermeneutic credibility. Incidentally, by “literal blood sacrifice you are of course demonstrating another remarkably lack of acquaintance with the theology surrounding the nature of atonement” – the relationship between your rhetorical aberrations and intellectual lacunae continues to fascinate me.

      ” Your agnosticism in this matter of the original post is not from intellectual rigor at all”

      And you would know this how? You’ve openly admitted you know fuck-all about Western philosophy, and you can’t even construct an argument for anything, just recite accusation of “sophistication,” as if being able to see nuance is a vice. I can’t find this anything other than hilarious. My reading list does not constitute intellectual rigour, it constitutes at least a helpful body of knowledge which i can draw up when advancing my own position or engaging others. And you are hardly the one to chide me on intellectual rigour, given how often you have been asked for an actual argument along the widely recognized lines of premise, premise conclusion, which you have consistently failed to provide. I have said multiple times my self-labeling of “agnosticism” derives at least in part from the damage wreaked on the “atheist” label because of folk like tildeb – I have my own quite firm stance on the religious question, which I assure you comes out ultimately hostile to religion, but no, anybody who disagrees with tildeb must do so because he lacks the requisite spine and courage, instead of you know, thinking tildeb is a blundering idiot? Maybe because I’m ” such an erudite fellow” I see your criticism as essentially misguided and a blight on modern irreligious discourse, rather than a willful refusal to have my erudition subordinated to your pathetic excuse for an secular vanguard.

      I’m happy you have your disdain – I wouldn’t accept anything less, and I shall wear it as a badge of honour, considering it came from someone who doesn’t even recognize the relevance of Kant when he’s trying to talk about reality. I’m just so sad it came so late in this conversation.

      Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

      • if you’re trying to force a text that’s clearly a creation myth into the realms of literal history, you’ve lost all hermeneutic credibility.

        No, lwells, I haven’t. Redirect this towering arrogance you have to those whose religious beliefs require the literal and historical link between sin and redemption as a central tenet of their faith and go argue with them on their hermeneutic credibility. What I am criticizing is that they do and I’ve demonstrated this by quoting doctrine. What you’ve done is seek and presented the names of authors you hold in philosophical esteem to be the required basis of familiarity with the rigor of right squinting to interpret and then frame this central tenet in such a way as to make the doctrine mysteriously compatible with compelling evidence that it is factually wrong.

        This is foolishness.

        That you can’t discern why it is foolishness is not my problem – busying seeking a black cat in a black room and thinking metaphysics is the way to reveal it – and has nothing whatsoever to do with me; it simply reveals the extent to which you will go to try to make the square peg of philosophical hermeneutics fit snugly in the round hole of catholic biblical theology. You might be impressed with the result of this academic crafting and shaping and mental gymnastics needed to accomplish this task (gnostic identification, arising of consciousness, structural deficiencies in human interrelations, stirrings of mimetic desires notwithstanding but to your squealing anticipatory satisfaction) but it doesn’t relate to what’s true, to what catholics and their religious institution actually accept as a central tenet. You even seem oblivious to the obvious and necessary theological link that connects humanity’s sinful nature (so claimed by the literal and historical event) with the need for atonement. Atonement for what… if it’s simply a question of sophisticated interpretation a clear mind might inquire, (but not lwells obviously); according to lwells there simply must be a sophisticated philosophical way to render this aspect of the theology moot as well, and use it as another opportunity to blame others outside of the faith for being being too uneducated to appreciate the slight of intellectual hand necessary to hide the link as having any importance whatsoever.

        Your philosophical approach to rendering this connective error to be both covered up as well as relied upon is just so much intellectual wanking.

        Comment by tildeb — May 21, 2013 @ 11:34 am

      • “Blah blah, same old shit, I still don’t understand what an argument is. etc.”

        More interestingly, tildeb, you do know I outright called you a liar in one of my latest comments? As loathsame as you are, I don’t want to believe you’re a liar, so give some tiny scrap of hope for thinking otherwise. All these grand figures you alleged have a large body of publications about – have they been reduced to your “reading library”? (And you should really go see a classicist if you really have a work by Socrates hanging around your house, that at the very least you could sell it for enough to pay for the Master’s thesis on Aquinas I keep suspecting you don’t really have). I just keep finding inconsistencies, you see, when you claim to have covered Augustine and yet I remember in Just Thomism you tried to use some Macdonald blogger as your reference on Augustine.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

  10. “Congrats. You’re earned my disdain.”

    I just think he’s stupid.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 20, 2013 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

    • Oh dear, was it my irksome tendancy to you know, be right too much for you? I do apologize for your incapability to grasp the simplest points.

      Comment by lwells — May 20, 2013 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

    • You don’t have to apologise for your own stupidity or arrogance – instead go read the actual text (i.e. the fucking Bible) and come back before you comment any further.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 21, 2013 @ 1:02 am | Reply

      • This is exactly the fundamentalist reply to non-creationist Christians. Not even formally, but substantially. Thank you.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 4:46 am

  11. I was the problem. My lack of understanding sophisticated theology was the problem.

    Yes, we are always the problem. It’s always about us somehow. Examples too numerous to mention litter the intertubes.

    Several people tried (and I think utterly failed) to find a middle ground between reality and faith by changing the meaning of words and applying metaphysical nebulous terminology to obfuscate defining that a problem actually existed. No dice.

    Humpty-Dumptyism. Where would your fundy be without it? 😉
    Great post, tildeb.

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — May 20, 2013 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  12. You’ve openly admitted you know fuck-all about Western philosophy.

    Speaking of a problem with comprehension, what I wrote was What’s at fault is lwells presuming I don’t know what I’m talking about and waxing poetically about all my educational faults for this lack (in spite of knowing fuck all about my education).

    To be clear, I have not only a very extensive reading list but an extensive body of writing – academic papers including a Masters paper with presentation to a board, comparing and contrasting many of these works. So what? I don’t need to drop author’s names if I want my criticisms to stand on their own merit. Your hand waving, lwells, to dismiss my central criticism to the thesis at Just Thomism, reveals a dedicated effort on your part to ignore the obvious, namely, to ignore the very brand of theism used by those sophisticated commentators. That theism is catholicism you moron, and not some deistic branch of gnosticism. have you read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica? I have. Have you written thesis papers on it? I have. Have you had to defend your thesis successfully? I have. Again, so what? Well, it just so happens I do know what I’m talking about because I’ve read and comprehended and argued and compared and contrasted Aquinas to and with faculty members. So I give you permission to eat your fucking words about incorrectly presuming my academic background. And yes, I’ve read and written many works by Plato and Socrates and Sophocles and Thucydides and Antiphon and Perpetua and Teresa of Avila and Christibne de Pizan and Hildegard of Bingen and yada yafda yada. I’ve read, written, compared, and contrasted different bibles as well as read the koran and the tibetan book of the dead and the gita and Confucius. I’ve covered the big names of authors like Augustine and Kant and Descartes and Machievelli and Neitzche and so on. Yes, I’ve read Milton and Mills and Marx and Mann and so on. To claim I’m admittedly ignorant about philosophy is to believe something that simply isn’t true. It is because I have struggled mightily through Aquinas that I know perfectly well just how brutally logical he is; but I also know why and in what ways he is the modern father of catholicism and its current doctrines. It is because of this familiarity that I know bullshit when I read it, that the need for an historical couple is central to his and now the vatican’s doctrinal theology. That you won’t listen is not my problem; that you are ignorant is yours. Stop waving your hands and start understanding. It would make a refreshing change and do you a world of good.

    So, no, I’m not pretending my ignorance is a virtue; I am quite serious that the form of logic on its own – something I hold in contempt as a comparable method of inquiry into reality as science – is not a path to recognizing what’s true about reality and must yield the field when good science and the knowledge it produces corrects a long held metaphysical mistake… almost always based on an incorrect premise. I won’t stand idly by while accommodationsists like you try to pull the wool over people’s eyes and pretend this knowledge doesn’t directly impact and correct these metaphysical errors – central mistakes that describe and defend theological beliefs with premises that are also factually wrong even if logically pristine – arrived at and justified solely by relying too much on the correct form of logic. Logic has its place when the axioms are mutually acceptable. But it holds no sway over whether or not the premises on which it relies are demonstrably and reliably true in reality. Pretending it does matter as long as the form is correct is intellectual fraud if one wishes to relate one’s academic interests outside in the real world by its use, and it is fraud to pretend Thomism doesn’t require a founding couple for heritable sin. It’s fraud because it is a central tenet in spite of you pretending it isn’t or that it doesn’t matter to Thomism. You are the one arguing from ignorance here.

    Comment by tildeb — May 20, 2013 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

    • “To claim I’m admittedly ignorant about philosophy is to believe something that simply isn’t true.”

      The truth is tideb – it doesn’t matter even if you were ignorant of the big reading list – being cognisant of them does not qualify anyone in being right about the core of the argument – to state so is just a distraction tailored to whitewash over ones inadequacies.

      Look squirrel!

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 21, 2013 @ 1:09 am | Reply

      • “being cognisant of them does not qualify anyone in being right about the core of the argument”

        Being ignorant of directly relevant scholarship rendering one’s claims untenable in their present stage ought to disqualify one from being wrong, misunderstandingranter.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 5:02 am

      • Urgh. “Disqualify somebody in being right,” obviously.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 5:02 am

      • Quite right, MUR. My mistake. It’s annoying to be called ignorant when I simply look at my reading library and I responded to that annoyance rather than stick to my criticism that lwells will not accept – not because of it’s content but because of how he perceives its context. I really should know better than to play his obfuscating game.

        Comment by tildeb — May 21, 2013 @ 10:54 am

      • “Being ignorant of directly relevant scholarship rendering one’s claims untenable in their present stage ought to disqualify one from being wrong, misunderstandingranter.”

        Really – then perhaps you will read the horses mouth:

        http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm

        It matters not what the dead philosophers stated – what matters is what the church (now / today) states; and how the lessons the Church teaches are taught, understood and *in acted* by those who believe them without question.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 21, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

      • You still think citing some isolated piece of the tradition which you assume to be monolithic and univocal constitutes conclusive proof? Come on, try harder.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

    • “knowing fuck all about my education”

      I can infer from your general behavior in this thread. It’s not hard. I might be wrong. You’ve given me no reason for thinking so. I’m happy to change my mind, though.

      “To be clear, I have not only a very extensive reading list but an extensive body of writing…”

      In what field? If you’re not qualified to discuss it, then don’t discuss it. It’s really that simply. Throwing out your academic credentials would have been more impressive if your actual contributions to this conversations would have reflected their relevance. You’re the one who did write the mess of a paragraph beginning “Ah yes, the term ‘reality’ is the really the issue here..”, so I’m just going to go ahead and call bullshit on your alleged erudition. You didn’t seem to know who Draper and White were (or Kuhn or Haraway or Macaulay), and you seemed oblivious as to Kant’s Copernician revolution. I’m inclined to believe you just strung together a litany of names from Google and tried to pass it off as actual intelligence, sinceyou’re pseudonymous and nobody can actually ascertain the veracity of your statements. When you say “I’ve read… many works by Socrates and Sophocles and Thucydides… and Perpetua” you seem to be committing a lot of basic errors for somebody whose got an “extensive body of writing”. Socrates wrote nothing, we only have a portrait of him from Plato’s works. Sophocles is a playwright, Thucydides is a historian, not sure about the relevance (it would’ve been better to mention Aristotle, and the poor Presocratics don’t seem to exist in your universe), and Perpetua is a martyr who personally contributed precisely zero to the history of Western thought, so even less sure about the relevance. It’s weird you say “Confucius” instead of “Analects,” which is the actual work, and there is saying “Gita” by itself is like saying “Testament.” You seemed totally ignorant of Kant, so please forgive my skepticism there, and I have no idea who “Machievelli” or “Neitzsche” or most egregiously, “Mills” is supposed to be. The fact you think Milton and Mann are in the same category as “Mills” or “Marx is ridiculous. And am I supposed to believe you’ve read the entire Summa Theologica? It’s 2 million words, come on. You wrote a thesis on it? What about? Which sections were you focusing on? What were your conclusions? What relevant secondary literature were you discussing? Anybody on the internet could make claims, but when you conflate deism and Gnosticism it’s not just frankly embarrassing (Gnosticism was an early strand of Christianity, Deism was an Enlightenment refinement of religion, it’s entirely anachronistic to put the two together) your claims simply don’t seem plausible. You’re basically expecting me to assume you’ve written on such a vast array of figures (at what level? Undergrad is worthless, master’s might be worth something but I doubt you have a few hundred M.A.’s lying around). So the only thing that seems true in your first paragraph is “I’m admittedly ignorant about philosophy” which sounds like a delicious Freudian slip.

      Your second paragraph is the same boring argumentless shit. I’m much more interested in your first, which the longer I think about it seems a hastily composed lie. But again, I’m quite happy to be proven wrong on this.

      Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 4:59 am | Reply

      • Also, I have to ask: if you’ve really “covered the big names of authors like Augustine”, what do you make of his The Literal Meaning of Genesis?

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 5:04 am

      • “In what field? If you’re not qualified to discuss it, then don’t discuss it. It’s really that simply.”

        Great let’s not discuss anything then – since no one is qualified. Just exactly where do you get off on telling people what they can discuss and what they cannot discuss? Are you the only person who is qualified?

        Ever wondered what happens when someone gets their qualification:

        “I’m inclined to believe you just strung together a litany of names from Google and tried to pass it off as actual intelligence, sinceyou’re pseudonymous and nobody can actually ascertain the veracity of your statements.”

        Pot calling the kettle black!

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 21, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

      • “Just exactly where do you get off on telling people what they can discuss and what they cannot discuss?”

        I get off on people being wrong, so I have at least three orgasms whenever you comment. It’s a bad habit, hence why I’m trying to get people to stop.

        “Pot calling the kettle black!”

        Lay it out precisely where I’ve demonstrated an ineptness with the figures I’ve cited (Kant, Haraway, Kuhn, – call what you think to my bluff, and only then do you get such asinine claims. Not only are you inept at understanding formal analogies, you can’t construct one yourself.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

      • I tend to find YouTube videos a waste of my time, but I clicked anyway and I saw your attempt to favorably deploy James Randi, that brought a genuine chuckle from me as soon as I saw the title Then I closed the tab as and began to understand why misunderstandingranter seemed to incapable of anything resembling rigorous thought.

        Comment by lwells — May 21, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

      • I tend to find YouTube videos a waste of my time…

        I find them a great source of entertainment and information.

        <iI…but I clicked anyway and I saw your attempt to favorably deploy James Randi…

        James Randi is a skeptic that has poked holes in frauds and liars for a very long time. His methods are always very fair.

        …, that brought a genuine chuckle from me as soon as I saw the title Then I closed the tab…

        The phrase “Judging a book by it’s cover” comes to mind. Congratulations, you have officially outed yourself as a fucking moron.

        James Randi exposes Uri Geller and Peter Popoff

        Comment by Cedric Katesby — May 22, 2013 @ 12:17 am

      • Sigh. The fact somebody like Randi is lauded in atheist circles is just evidence of the decline in irreligious discourse. Why you waste your time with him rather than reading, say, Hume, is beyond me.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    • Are you really that thick…. ?

      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm

      Is written by Catholics about Catholicism you idiot, for the digestion by Catholics.

      In the space magical thinking in which the of sky fairy lives, and the Jesus zombie dies they are the rulers and owner of the metaphysical ‘truth’ – so I would say that it is they who are the subject matter expert on this… and not your list of dead philosophers or you with your extended ego.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 2:11 am | Reply

      • Go over my last reply again, perhaps with a dictionary and especial focus on the words “univocal” and “monolithic,” and you might begin to understand why you’ve missed the point.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 3:18 am

  13. Why can’t theists and New Atheists have a meaningful dialogue? Because theists alone try to moderate it.

    Thank you for the demonstration that proves my thesis, lwells.

    Comment by tildeb — May 21, 2013 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

    • I’m not a theist. Maybe the reason you can’t have a meaningful dialogue is because you’re just a terrible reader?

      Also, I really actually have directly accused you of outright lying. Please provide something that might demonstrate otherwise?

      Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 12:11 am | Reply

    • Ouch.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 2:13 am | Reply

    • “I’m not a theist. Maybe the reason you can’t have a meaningful dialogue is because you’re just a terrible reader?”

      If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it probably is a duck!

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 2:18 am | Reply

      • “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it probably is a duck!”

        Is this what passes for critical thinking to you? If evidence were ever needed of an inverse relationship between favourability towards James Randi and actual intelligence, this would be perfect.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 3:20 am

      • You can’t think… So you are incapable of recognising it…

        You are the duck in this parody…

        The duck is a theist… You think just like one, and use the same non logic to justify your random backwards thinking…. It’s boring.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 4:36 am

      • Yeah, I realized I was supposed to be the duck. The most charitable reading remains a clever attempt at parody.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 5:03 am

  14. “Sigh. The fact somebody like Randi is lauded in atheist circles is just evidence of the decline in irreligious discourse. Why you waste your time with him rather than reading, say, Hume, is beyond me.”

    The fact that you don’t respect his qualification – shows the contempt that you have for critical thinking in all its guises…. Which does nothing but demonstrates your lack of intellect.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 2:24 am | Reply

    • It’s almost as if I didn’t recommend one of the most significant philosophical skeptics whose works are a model of critical thinking in my comment!

      Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 3:21 am | Reply

      • You still don’t get it…. Do you…?

        Qualifications are not needed or a large intellect to be able to see through your stupid argument… It is quite easy for everyone to see that you are muddled and that you know you are muddled and that you are trying to cover up your tracks by claiming to be more intelligent than everyone else…… Via the floccinaucinihilipilification of everyone else’s education (that you know nothing about). This is ironic especially when you do not seem to be able to analyse content that a 10 year old would grasp with ease.

        You are at odds with the Church that invented this stuff… This has been pointed out to you several times in the above… and not once have you explained how your argument stands up to the evidence that has been provided beyond this guy said this and this guy said that.

        The dead philosophers you cite, would have nothing to write about on the topic if it had not been invented by the people who made the original sin claim in the first place… !

        There is no mystery explanation that no one gets except you with your divine intelligence…

        Your insistence boarding on tantrum that we are all wrong and you are the only one who is right is utterly futile….

        It is like watching a train crash…. It’s so cringingly embarrassing it hurts.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 4:54 am

      • Wow. Just wow.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 5:02 am

      • “Qualifications are not needed or a large intellect to be able to see through your stupid argument”

        My “argument” is actually a critique of tildeb’s intellectual flailings. It seems quite obvious he doesn’t understand how logic operates in its most basic instances (premise-premise-conclusions, as I’m increasingly tired of typing out).

        “It is quite easy for everyone to see that you are muddled and that you know you are muddled and that you are trying to cover up your tracks by claiming to be more intelligent than everyone else”

        Who is this mysterious everyone? Skeptics of all people should know that sample sizes matter. My claims to be more intelligent than anybody else are not motivated by covering up my tracks, they’re a direct response to the incompetence of the argumentation on this thread (the most recent example of which is the comment I’m responding to now).

        “Via the floccinaucinihilipilification of everyone else’s education (that you know nothing about).”

        As I said before, I can infer. tildeb claims to have read and written a work by Socrates. It’s not hard to extrapolate his ignorance from that.

        “This is ironic especially when you do not seem to be able to analyse content that a 10 year old would grasp with ease.”

        First: look up irony sometime, you’re using it incorrectly. Second, when you say “analyse content”, do you mean tildeb’s shoddy writing? Because yeah, a 10 year old could easily tear holes in that.

        “You are at odds with the Church that invented this stuff”

        Wait, I thought you thought I was a theist? Make up your mind please?

        “This has been pointed out to you several times in the above… and not once have you explained how your argument stands up to the evidence that has been provided beyond this guy said this and this guy said that.”

        What evidence? What argument? I’ve only been making critiques of tildeb, and my evidence is his incompetence. I never actually said anything in the form of “this guy said this and this guy said that”, and tihs is clear evidence of your lack of reading comprehension. I’ve alluded to certain thinkers whose major contributions to intellectual discourse militate against tildeb’s claims.

        “The dead philosophers you cite, would have nothing to write about on the topic if it had not been invented by the people who made the original sin claim in the first place… !”

        Are you serious? Do you think I’m citing Haraway and Kant as theologians who wrote on original sin? Haraway is a philosopher of science who pretty much makes tildeb’s naive epistemology untenable, and I was using the Kant to discredit his rhetoric of “reality”. This is just embarrassing how little you know and how much you think you know.

        “There is no mystery explanation that no one gets except you with your divine intelligence…”

        What mystery explanation? All I’ve been saying is that that tildeb is totally incapable of formulating a serious argument for the thesis he wishes to advances, the incompatibility of original sin with modern evolutionary theory (he can correct me on this if I’ve framed it wrong). Regardless, he’s demonstrated over and over he doesn’t even know how to construct an argument, and it seems like he’s resorted to lying. I fail to see how this is a “mystery explanation”.

        “Your insistence boarding on tantrum that we are all wrong”

        Well, you are? You’re free to interpret my responses as tantrums, just as you’re free to interpret Genesis as history.

        “and you are the only one who is right is utterly futile…. ”

        Yeah, probably, given your reading skills. Still, one can dream.

        “It is like watching a train crash…. It’s so cringingly embarrassing it hurts.”

        ‘Cringingly embarrassing” is a tautology. Aside from that: pot, kettle.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 5:20 am

      • “Wait, I thought you thought I was a theist? Make up your mind please?”

        Being a theist and disagreeing with the church are not mutually exclusive.

        “the thesis he wishes to advances, the incompatibility of original sin with modern evolutionary theory”

        Is that what this is about? I’ve followed the past couple of dozen exchanges and had lost track of what was actually being disputed.

        Original Sin is a concept of the Church, right? It seems to depend on Adam and Eve existing as actual people, and therefore – I’d have thought – one would also need to buy into the Creation story of God creating all the animals. How can that be reconciled with modern evolutionary theory? I know Christians who accept evolution, and they tell me they see the ‘Garden of Eden’ story as being allegorical. As far as they’re concerned evolution is reconcilable with their faith. But I don’t think those sort of Christians buy into the ‘Original Sin’ idea, as they don’t think there was a real Adam and Eve or talking snake or forbidden fruit.

        Rather than indulge in more insults, could you just engage with the above para and explain what you disagree with about it? Is it just that you believe one can see the Eden story as being allegorical and yet still believe humans have ‘Original Sin’ in some way? If so, just explain how, and the discussion might get somewhere and move forward.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 22, 2013 @ 5:37 am

      • I’m not a theist, though you are quite right that being a theistic antagonist of the church is eminently possible.

        I made a comment earlier at 8:51p.m. (just search for “radical evil” about possible theories of original sin that don’t need Adam nor Eve. But bear in mind I’m not a theologian. (Nor, for that matter, is tildeb, no matter how hard he tries to play one).

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 6:12 am

      • tildeb claims to have read and written a work by Socrates

        My mistake… obviously. I was simply perusing titles and making a few references to what I’ve read, to what I’ve studied in response to being falsely accused of being philosophically illiterate. I glanced at The Symposium and wrote down Socrates quite by mistake. I apologize for my error. I do make them from time to time but rarely am I so vilified for it. As for Aquinas, I have had to study and write on various arguments he makes, which is why I asked if you had read him because it is very difficult reading material. His arguments follow strict formal logic but the devil, as they say, is in the detail of the accuracy of the premises he uses… the complaint I have used to explain to you why I don’t find the form of argumentation sufficient to to demonstrate (rather than prove) the accuracy of the conclusion so reached. In other words, if such a big brained fellow as Aquinas can be fooled into thinking form trumps function, I can understand why you have fallen into the same trap.

        But the problem is that you don’t recognize the trap when you hold up various authors as if they support and inform the same position you do, which is assumed by you to be sufficient to reveal the error of people like I am who point out where and how catholic doctrine is linked to a literal and historical founding couple. The trap is that catholic doctrine is quite clear about this link, and is readily available to anyone who seeks to know about it. Yet, amazingly, you refuse to agree to recognize this most basic presentation by various official organs of the catholic faith (the only ‘authentic Magisterium’, to quote JPIIand signed by The Rat when Prefect of the CDF). You’re just not going to accept that. Even when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states “A proposition contrary to these doctrines can be qualified as erroneous or, in the case of teachings of the prudential order, as rash or dangerous and therefore “tuto doceri non potest” regarding… the doctrine on the existence of original sin”(number 28 in the list pertaining to “the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas.” The Marian dogmas is the source by which others interpret Augustine to support a non literal link to a founding couple, whereas I’ve already pointed out (above in this thread) why the ‘authentic Magisterium’ tells us this is a mistake.

        Now, avoiding the trap involves understanding why it doesn’t matter what, and by how many, other authors you wish to present who might disagree that the official church has any greater authority in this matter of interpretation than official catholic doctrine does. Because you assume the opinion of other authors matter equivalently in this regard to official doctrine, you show you do not understand nor are willing to accept basic catholic theology as it really is against which the thesis at Just Thomism must be measured. You wish to use some other measurement. But by doing so, you remove yourself from relevancy in this discussion about the doctrinal link official catholic doctrine makes to an historical and literal founding couple.

        Your vilification of me doesn’t matter to the quality of the content of the criticism I raised there. The fact of the matter remains that official catholic doctrine requires a literal and historical link be accepted. This faith position is not compatible with but contrary to the results of population genetics. The folk at Just Thomism try to get around this problem by using sleight of hand to present what various popes and officers of the church and the the CDF claim is “erroneous” to represent catholic doctrine when it doesn’t. It’s just that simple.

        You are free to inform your beliefs about me with whatever assumptions you want. But your assumptions about me are not equivalent to what’s true nor do they accurately address the quality of the criticism I have raised against those who pretend the results of scientific inquiry are compatible with official church doctrine. In the same way, my assumptions about your motives to be a willing supportive dupe of those who have fallen into the same trap you have (to prostitute your intellectual integrity on the alter of making the incompatible seem compatible by hook and by crook) may be wrong. You may indeed be an agnostic regarding belief in the catholic god ( and the authority of the roman catholic church as its representative on earth) but you are not agnostic in practice on this comment thread. You really do present your case as if it is based on knowledge that vilifying me is central to discrediting my criticism. You are wrong; it is based on ignorance both of me and what constitutes officially sanctioned catholic doctrine. That’s why if you wish to argue against this doctrine (rather than excuse it for being poor hermeneutics contrary and in conflict with population genetics), then take your case elsewhere for it does not address my criticism that there really is a conflict being papered over and covered up by those who really do accommodate it by utilizing philosophical obfuscation.

        Comment by tildeb — May 22, 2013 @ 8:08 am

      • My mistake… obviously. I was simply perusing titles and making a few references to what I’ve read, to what I’ve studied in response to being falsely accused of being philosophically illiterate. I glanced at The Symposium and wrote down Socrates quite by mistake. I apologize for my error. I do make them from time to time but rarely am I so vilified for it. As for Aquinas, I have had to study and write on various arguments he makes, which is why I asked if you had read him because it is very difficult reading material. His arguments follow strict formal logic but the devil, as they say, is in the detail of the accuracy of the premises he uses… the complaint I have used to explain to you why I don’t find the form of argumentation sufficient to to demonstrate (rather than prove) the accuracy of the conclusion so reached. In other words, if such a big brained fellow as Aquinas can be fooled into thinking form trumps function, I can understand why you have fallen into the same trap.

        But the problem is that you don’t recognize the trap when you hold up various authors as if they support and inform the same position you do, which is assumed by you to be sufficient to reveal the error of people like I am who point out where and how catholic doctrine is linked to a literal and historical founding couple. The trap is that catholic doctrine is quite clear about this link, and is readily available to anyone who seeks to know about it. Yet, amazingly, you refuse to agree to recognize this most basic presentation by various official organs of the catholic faith (the only ‘authentic Magisterium’, to quote JPIIand signed by The Rat when Prefect of the CDF). You’re just not going to accept that. Even when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states “A proposition contrary to these doctrines can be qualified as erroneous or, in the case of teachings of the prudential order, as rash or dangerous and therefore “tuto doceri non potest” regarding… the doctrine on the existence of original sin”(number 28 in the list pertaining to “the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas.” The Marian dogmas is the source by which others interpret Augustine to support a non literal link to a founding couple, whereas I’ve already pointed out (above in this thread) why the ‘authentic Magisterium’ tells us this is a mistake.

        Now, avoiding the trap involves understanding why it doesn’t matter what, and by how many, other authors you wish to present who might disagree that the official church has any greater authority in this matter of interpretation than official catholic doctrine does. Because you assume the opinion of other authors matter equivalently in this regard to official doctrine, you show you do not understand nor are willing to accept basic catholic theology as it really is against which the thesis at Just Thomism must be measured. You wish to use some other measurement. But by doing so, you remove yourself from relevancy in this discussion about the doctrinal link official catholic doctrine makes to an historical and literal founding couple.

        Your vilification of me doesn’t matter to the quality of the content of the criticism I raised there. The fact of the matter remains that official catholic doctrine requires a literal and historical link be accepted. This faith position is not compatible with but contrary to the results of population genetics. The folk at Just Thomism try to get around this problem by using sleight of hand to present what various popes and officers of the church and the the CDF claim is “erroneous” to represent catholic doctrine when it doesn’t. It’s just that simple.

        You are free to inform your beliefs about me with whatever assumptions you want. But your assumptions about me are not equivalent to what’s true nor do they accurately address the quality of the criticism I have raised against those who pretend the results of scientific inquiry are compatible with official church doctrine. In the same way, my assumptions about your motives to be a willing supportive dupe of those who have fallen into the same trap you have (to prostitute your intellectual integrity on the alter of making the incompatible seem compatible by hook and by crook) may be wrong. You may indeed be an agnostic regarding belief in the catholic god ( and the authority of the roman catholic church as its representative on earth) but you are not agnostic in practice on this comment thread. You really do present your case as if it is based on knowledge that vilifying me is central to discrediting my criticism. You are wrong; it is based on ignorance both of me and what constitutes officially sanctioned catholic doctrine. That’s why if you wish to argue against this doctrine (rather than excuse it for being poor hermeneutics contrary and in conflict with population genetics), then take your case elsewhere for it does not address my criticism that there really is a conflict being papered over and covered up by those who really do accommodate it by utilizing philosophical obfuscation.

        Thank for dealing with one part of my accusation, which I notice you haven’t fully denied. Honestly – your claims about writing about Aquinas are so vague as to be useless. I repeat my prior questions: “What about? Which sections were you focusing on? What were your conclusions? What relevant secondary literature were you discussing?” I’m afraid I still don’t believe you “have not only a very extensive reading list but an extensive body of writing” – or if you do, then it’s probably undergraduate essays, which proves pretty much nothing The Socrates error is something a novice would do (so is the phrase “deistic branch of gnosticism”, and let’s nto forget the glibness of “have you read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica? Aquinas’ Summa Theologica? I have”), not somebody as allegedly familiar with the canon as your litany of names attempted to demonstrate. I don’t know how you’ve think “I’ve fallen into the same trap,” given my creationist-tildeb analogy would work regardless of function (formal analogy, ladies and gentlemen, formal analogy), and moreover, you don’t even seem to understand logic – functions are always expressed in some form or another, and if you’re incapable of realizing what forms are valid and what aren’t, then you’re just lost at sea.

        The various authors I’ve mentioned don’t “support and inform the same position [I] do,” they undercut certian key points and presuppositions you make. When you tried to appeal to “reality”, you were demonstrating a hugely callow epistemology, of which Kant is the most directly relevant figure to mention, though Haraway and Kuhn are also relevant insofar as they limn the impossibility of an scientifcally unmediated reality.

        I vilify you because your criticisms are inept. You don’t seem to have noticed that even in your own sources (The Catechism), it specifically says “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event” – so whatever that primeval event is, it’s doesn’t have to literally be that founding couple you desperately require. When you actually favorably (in context) cite of the CDF and say “the ‘authentic Magisterium’ tells us this is a mistake” I have to ask, what are you, an ex-Catholic who still thinks the Pope and his buddies get to define the precise borders of Catholicism, who’s in and who’s definitely out?

        “this discussion about the doctrinal link official catholic doctrine makes to an historical and literal founding couple.”

        No offence, but I’d trust any of the commentators at Just Thomism to have a better grasp on “official Catholic doctrine” than you, given all your elucidations of “official Catholic doctrine” are done with an ideological axe in hand (your repeated attempts to claim in the thread you were just getting down to the real essence of the problem whilst brushing away all the criticisms of your position were is just more evidence of how entreched you are in this). In fact, I’d trust any of the commentators at Just Thomism to have a better grasp on anything. None of them, to my knowledge, have yet claimed to have “read, written, compared, and contrasted… the gita and Confucius.”

        ” But your assumptions about me are not equivalent to what’s true”

        As I’ve said, I’m happy to be corrected. But you’ve given me no reason for doing so.

        “official church doctrine.”

        There we go again, so again I have to ask: “an ex-Catholic who still thinks the Pope and his buddies get to define the precise borders of Catholicism, who’s in and who’s definitely out?” I’ve long suspected there was a kind of dialectial co-implication between New Atheism and reactionary Christianity (religion in general), but mostly in the Protestant realm. This is a pretty rare Catholic case, or maybe I don’t know enough Catholics.

        “You really do present your case as if it is based on knowledge that vilifying me is central to discrediting my criticism.”

        Maybe the discrediting and the vilifying are one and the same? I mean, I’ve consistently raised the problem of your lack of understanding of what an argument actually looks like, often quite nastily. It’s not as if discreding you takes so much effort I can only muster up the real polemic in other comments.

        “what constitutes officially sanctioned catholic doctrine.”

        Hallelujah! Thank the lord! I can feel the Spirit! You keep repeating “catholic doctrine” as if it solves all your problems – it’s sort of cute, really.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 9:09 am

      • Well I’m obviously incompetent with copy and paste (not to mention orthography and probably grammar). My actual comment beings from “Thank for dealing.”

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 9:11 am

      • I’m wondering – given you at least think you yourself have a solid grasp on what is and what isn’t “official Catholic doctrine,” why don’t you actually head back to the Just Thomism thread and see what they have to say about that? I’m sure those Catholics would love to be told what they actually should be believing! (Again! It’s not as if predetermining the positions of your interlocutors isn’t a favoured tactic of yours). Because back in that thread you seemed to pretty happy just claiming the act of redemption required original sin which required a historical fall and founding couple, now you seem to have ameliorated that claim to the point where “official Catholic doctrine” is setting the standard for everything and the decisions of the the Magisterium with its capital “M” have actual heft. Sure feels a little bit more ultramontane than it used to.

        Comment by Not Really Anonymous — May 22, 2013 @ 9:40 am

      • Urgh, apologies for the quadruple post – “Not Really Anonymous” is the name I use at another wordpress, forgot to switch back.

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 9:41 am

  15. “I’m not a theist, though you are quite right that being a theistic antagonist of the church is eminently possible.”

    Sure, you’ve said you’re not a theist several times. You said “Make up your mind”, implying that being “at odds with Church” meant you could not be a theist. Now you’re saying that it’s “eminently possible” to be both. OK.

    “If you’re trying to force a text that’s clearly a creation myth into the realms of literal history, you’ve lost all hermeneutic credibility”

    By “clearly” a creation myth do you mean that a) it’s clear to us that it is false, or that b) it was clearly INTENDED by the author not to be taken literally? If the latter, how do you know? And it’s not Tildeb who tries to force it into literal history, it’s the Creationists. Have it out with them. They’re all plenty convinced it’s meant to be taken literally. They say it’s impossible to be a Christian and NOT take it literally.

    “Fall as simply ontology of the human (Kant’s notion of radical evil)”
    I think your disagreement comes down simply to what you mean by ‘Original Sin’. The phrase is pretty commonly taken to refer explicitly to The Fall in Eden. You seem to be taking it more metaphorically (obviously, that’s what the whole argument is about) and point to people arguing that mankind is naturally flawed (unless I’m misunderstanding – my own Kant is rusty). Although one can argue that – I don’t know anyone who thinks we’re perfect – it seems a stretch to refer to that as ‘Original Sin’.

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 22, 2013 @ 6:28 am | Reply

    • “Sure, you’ve said you’re not a theist several times. You said “Make up your mind”, implying that being “at odds with Church” meant you could not be a theist. Now you’re saying that it’s “eminently possible” to be both. OK.”

      Yeah, because I was irked at misunderstoodranter’s attempt at an analogy. “Make up your mind” in the context needed to be nothing more than an expression of irritation at his sophistries. I didn’t want to leave it at that, so I agreed with you on the possibility of an anticlerical theist, which is obviously true. What else is there to say?

      I mean it’s pretty clear you don’t have to read it literally – authorial intent (which not a good concept regarding the Old Testament – biblical criticism is a fascinating discipline) seems pointless given its both irretrievable and unnecessary (that is, religious people don’t read Genesis to get in the head of some ancient Jewish scribe, they read it as part of their spiritual devotions or whatever). I mentioned Augustine’s the Literal Meaning of Genesis somewhere else? I actually just discovered it existed a few days ago, and was pleasantly surprised to see he comes out, in the 5th century AD, against a literal interpretation. I’m not making this up, this pillar of Catholic and Christian thought affirms an allegorical reading of Genesis. And I do hang with creationists. I think they’re wrong and I think they need better hermeneutics. I also hang with other Christians who are pretty orthodox (so I’m guessing they affirm original sin) and are pretty happy with evolution. They’re happy to say it’s possible to be a Christian and take Genesis non-literally. I don’t see why creationist and Christian need to be identical. That seems to be a theological claim, which theologians ought to really be adjudicating.

      “The phrase is pretty commonly taken to refer explicitly to The Fall in Eden.”

      I’m pretty sure this isn’t right – the Fall is the event that causes original sin; you can’t collapse the two. They’re related, but still distinct.

      “I think your disagreement comes down simply to what you mean by ‘Original Sin’….”

      I’m happy to concede this. As I said, I’m not a theologian, so you’d have to ask one of them how to do it properly. Still I don’t think my examples were “metaphorical” nor do I see how it’s a stretch to refer to human imperfection as original sin?That’s literally the doctrine, isn’t it? The inherent and unavoidable flawedness of humanity? But I’m no theologian, as you’re probably tired of me saying.

      Oh, and http://www.iep.utm.edu/rad-evil/ is a decent primer on Kant and radical evil.

      Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 6:50 am | Reply

      • There don’t seem to be many notions it is NOT possible to reconcile with Christianity if the individual is determined enough. It’s not referred to as ‘the giant book of multiple choice’ for nothing. So sure, there are Christians who believe in things that other Christians may say are irreconcilable with Christianity. Given that there are 3,000 or so sects, all of whom disagree on something, I doubt there’s a Christian out there who wouldn’t be dismissed as heretical (or at least ‘hermeneutically confused’ by some other Christian somewhere.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 22, 2013 @ 6:56 am

      • I’m glad we agree?

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  16. I guess. On the one hand it’s seems valid to say ‘One cannot accept this doctrine and also except this other doctrine/this hard piece of science’. On the other, there’s so much cognitive dissonance involved with subscribing to almost any flavour of theism, that it seems a bit pointless to point out contradictions. Likewise, I understand the need for hermeneutics in many instances, but I’ve also seen people use it to justify completely different interpretations of the same passage. It seems often just a sophisticated way of having the bible say what you want it to say. Also, it presupposes that a book stitched together over thousands of years, often in ways very much influenced by the politics of the time, has a single ‘RIGHT’ way of interpreting it. Liberal Christians have said: “Here’s what the unsophisticated reader misses about what the bible REALLY says about gays – really God has nothing against them”, while conservative Christians think it’s equally clear that God hates gays, and they’ve got great hermeneutics to back it up.

    I saw on the truthbombapologetics website earlier this month a blogger arguing that Christianity and science were obviously compatible because x% of scientists were Christians. I didn’t respond, but considered pointing out that y% of Christians support abortion rights, which I knew the blogger saw as being completely incompatible with being a Christian. In other words, the fact that one can find a Christian who believes Z doesn’t mean that Christianity and Z are actually compatible except for in the very loosest sense of ‘compatible’. Which is in the sense that humans have a great capacity for cognitive dissonance and can easily hold two completely contradictory ideas in our heads at the same time.

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 22, 2013 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  17. “Yeah, because I was irked at misunderstoodranter’s attempt at an analogy. “Make up your mind” in the context needed to be nothing more than an expression of irritation at his sophistries. “

    I actually said “You think just *like* one” – I didn’t say you were one.

    I think this whole debate is far more complicated than it needs to be – hence why I have called out your over excessive name dropping, simply because it is distraction from the real motive of the original author – which is to seek and secure truth of claims that are made about our origins and the origins of our behaviours and morals and such like.

    The simple argument as I understand it is this:

    Creation theory according traditional Catholic (common views) and the peddling of original sin verses modern scientific inquiry based on reality as we (today) understand it to be.

    For some reason this debate has spiralled out of control into all sorts of fringe discussions about the definition of reality and who the large amount of religious people are – the danger with this is that it looks like people are trying obfuscate and confuse the core debate – this is a cause of great frustration, because it is a tactic that is always used to move religion out of reach of honest examination.

    Argument style, content and structure has been criticised again and again, and whilst all of this stuff is interesting – it is not relevant to the core of the debate. It is also subjective – style of argument and form of argument, and the understanding of analogy etc vary amongst cultures (just like humour), and academic disciplines. My background is a science and engineering background, not a literary one; this does not disqualify me from making my mind up on truth claims based on my observations, and interpretations of ‘common’ texts that I stumble along during my life.

    The other point I would like to make is that whilst people who are following this discussion and the points made by Iwells that invoke historical brains; the vast majority of the god fearing folk cannot and do not follow such texts, and as such they do take the common views of religion creation story literally (arguably some don’t – but the point is that a lot do). The men in funny hats exploit this, and that is how we get people teaching controversies that are not there – and kids growing up thinking that evolution is wrong because we still have monkeys, or being indoctrinated in hell houses and such like seeding the next generation believers. It was for this reason that Darwin was worried about the publishing of his book, because he knew only too well that it would not be received well by the indoctrinated and those who are not capable of making their mind up. Evolution is controversial to the teaching of the Catholic church – and no amount of academic debate to the level that has been discussed in this post can disprove that.

    My final point, is that Socrates and the many other people cited are dead and have been dead for a very long time – they have not formed opinion based on today’s technology, understanding, ideas, information and culture, so I wouldn’t place too much value on their perspective because if they were alive today you might find that they very much would have changed their points of view.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 22, 2013 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

    • Evolution is controversial to the teaching of the Catholic church – and no amount of academic debate to the level that has been discussed in this post can disprove that.

      Yeah, I only touched on this problem over at Just Thomism before being accused of switching my criticism by several of the sophisticates. You’re right, I think, but don’t go far enough with the term ‘controversial’; I think there’s a strong case to be made it is incompatible.

      Here’s why:

      The catholic church proudly proclaims itself to be compatible with the theory of evolution (as it claims to be about all right science) and this is its public stance supporters like to enunciate time and again (especially when accused by ‘militants’ like me to be closet creationists). The catholic doctrine is that humanity has descended by common ancestry but – at some point – god intervened in the world and inserted a heritable soul (made sinful through this inheritance from Adam, let us not forget). Again, though, this sort of sounds compatible if one doesn’t think about it too much (“Think? I don’t have to think. I’m Catholic!” is the money quote from Kathleen Turner’s movie The Perfect Family) … right up until one gets to the necessary point of this involvement… a creationist involvement.

      Now we’re back to Oogity Boogity intervening in some causal way in the natural world to direct and shape and affect human evolution… which is no longer evolution as it is understood by evolutionary biologists, namely, change over time by the mechanism of natural selection. Now we have a catholic form of evolutionary biology that claims an interventionist causal agency at work… at some specific historical point in some specific historical place with some specific divine intention. Catholic evolution, then, is guided selection… sort of an animal husbandry kind of ‘natural’ selection. Of course, this is incompatible with the definition of evolution and is based on no compelling evidence accumulated and adduced from reality but simply imposed upon it as a necessary tenet of faith, which is why it is catholic evolution and not simply the science of evolutionary biology that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time. Catholic evolution is sort of like it… except where it’s not like it at all. But don’t let this antithetical discrepancy bother you; all you need to do is keep repeating that catholicism is compatible with good science… unlike those brutish other christian denominations that are hostile to it.

      Look! Squirrel!

      So I don’t see the official catholic doctrine as simply one of some measure of controversy with good science; I see it as a flat out contradiction.

      Comment by tildeb — May 22, 2013 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

      • “Now we’re back to Oogity Boogity intervening in some causal way in the natural world to direct and shape and affect human evolution… which is no longer evolution as it is understood by evolutionary biologists, namely, change over time by the mechanism of natural selection.”

        What? I’m pretty sure you’re plainly confused here. The supernatural and the natural don’t have to be in conflict unless you assume a flat metaphysical topography, which is simple question-begging. I doubt theologians who at working thinking about ensoulement and evolution are trying to make scientific contributions to evolutionary theory – they’d be quite happy to accept evolution as “change over time by the mechanism of natural selection”, because they’re not concerned with whatever’s going on “naturally.”

        “interventionist causal agency at work… Catholic evolution, then, is guided selection…”

        Have you actually read Aquinas? Because the Thomistic notion of God isn’t a divinity which intervenes, it’s pure (and then thus divine) actuality which renders possible all motion and change in the first place. God according to Aquinas literally can’t intervene, because that would reduce God to the order of created beings and secondary causes (miracles are supposed to be perfections of the natural order, not interventions into it, and in any case ensoulement isn’t a miracle as commonly understood because it doesn’t take place on the empirical plane). Can you please tell me what exactly you wrote on about Aquinas, and what level? I don’t think I’ve ever touched the Summa Theologica (I’ve probably only read Aquinas accidentally in anthologies or something), and I know this. This is just a mortifyingly poor understanding of divine agency as conceived in Catholic theology. You can cite the CDF and the catechism but fail at this?

        Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      • “The supernatural and the natural don’t have to be in conflict unless you assume a flat metaphysical topography, which is simple question-begging.”

        There is only conflict if you’re an ignorant idiot.

        “(The Thomistic notion of God) is pure (and then thus divine) actuality which renders possible all motion and change in the first place.”

        The cause of all motion and all change is made possible only by ‘pure actuality,’ which he describes as ‘divine’… as if this means anything to anyone outside of accepting such nebulous metaphysical terminology as meaningful in the real world. What he doesn’t see, and perhaps cannot see for his own arrogance (if truly agnostic which is highly doubtful), is that he does so in the service of a kind of intellectual prostitution I call ‘supporting the faith’. Others might call it accommodating it or apologizing or excusing it. But in any case, following this trail involves very strange and weirdly shaped footsteps for a supposedly straight footed agnostic to follow in. Makes one wonder if this is a clue…

        For anyone unfamiliar, the common term for lwells ‘pure actuality’ used extensively by Aristotle was an ‘unmoved mover’ to explain agency in the world, which was later utilized by Aquinas in his cosmological arguments to likewise show universal agency as the Prime Mover, which also does double duty as the First Cause (but our esteemed lwells wouldn’t be so crass to use familiar terminology for us commoners. He needs something more… snobbish… more highbrow, and ‘pure actuality’ does a much better job obfuscating his meaning. This will later aid him, no doubt, in greater maneuvering room for his self-appointed and therefore acceptable hermeneutic wiggle room to which he and his brethren alone are entitled to enjoy but unavailable to the rest of us ignorant idiots who dare criticize his charade. Note that for not one second does lwells know enough to doubt the application of the term in real life… it took over a millennium for this Aristotelian notion narrowly and Prime Mover generally to be shown to be in error, finally, by Galileo (for which he received awards, recognition, and riches from the catholic church for his compatible contribution to its doctrine… oh, wait…). What had been assigned agency due to movement turned out to be wrong in reality and demonstrably so… for those who actually cared about what was true in reality. Fortunately, lwells does not fall into this heathen category like us ignorant idiots.

        And I love this little gem: “ensoulement isn’t a miracle as commonly understood because it doesn’t take place on the empirical plane.”

        Of course it doesn’t take place on the empirical plane (as if there are many such planes so that only proper accredited hermeneutics can reveal which occurs where)! If it did, we could know something about it, and we can’t have that, now can we? Fortunately for us us ignorant idiots, lwells is here to save the day and pronounce what he knows about the unknowable. But he knows about such planes how? Not by any knowledge he can produce independent of his (agnostic: a neutral knowledge position, let us remind ourselves) ) belief, but only by claiming he does! Anyone who disagrees by definition must be an ignorant idiot, so he’s in the clear! And he grants this claim to which only he has access to enough self-appointed authority to actually have the staggering arrogance to correct the ‘commonly understood’ notion of a miracle! Thank goodness for lwells or we ignorant idiots would nothing about it!

        The nit has mistaken his own tail as a source of nourishing food assuring the rest of us what a rich diet he has in comparison to the likes of us, far superior to the rest of us ignorant idiots, to be sure.

        Keep chomping, lwells; you’re really clearing things up here… one bite at a time.

        Comment by tildeb — May 23, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

      • Is there anything you’ve said to anything substantial or is it all just bluster? The closest thing I can make out is “Prime Mover generally to be shown to be in error, finally, by Galileo” which is flatly nonsensical – are you maybe thinking of Newton? Even then you’re still moving without warrant to a flat metaphysical topography (which is of course you cant’ actually defend, only label those who question your move ignorant idiots). Come on, I thought you wrote thesis papers on Aquinas, I thought you’d at least realize this.

        Hermeneutics is pretty irrelevant here – we’re not really talking about the textual exegesis (well, we might be if you had actually systematically read Aquinas but it’s growing more obvious neither of us have), we’re talking about how you don’t even understand the interaction between the supernatural and natural order as conceived in Thomistic philosophy/theology.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

    • “I actually said “You think just *like* one” – I didn’t say you were one.”

      So if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it probably just thinks like a duck? Please ungarble what you’re saying first.

      “It is also subjective – style of argument and form of argument, and the understanding of analogy etc vary amongst cultures (just like humour), and academic disciplines.”

      I don’t think you understand what is meant by “form”. One can have entirely true conclusions and a wholly problematic way of coming to those conclusions. The difference between sophistry and sound argumentation is very much one of form. This isn’t subjective at all.

      “My background is a science and engineering background, not a literary one; this does not disqualify me from making my mind up on truth claims based on my observations, and interpretations of ‘common’ texts that I stumble along during my life.”

      Well, no it doesn’t. A dearth of literacy and and misunderstanding of valid logical structure doesn’t even disqualify you from making your mind up. It should disqualify your personal conclusions from having any heft. I don’t know where you think I’ve said anything different.

      “Evolution is controversial to the teaching of the Catholic church – and no amount of academic debate to the level that has been discussed in this post can disprove that. ”

      Sure. Whatever. But that’s an awfully narrow claim to weak, a very “thin” claim in the technical sense, and I fail to see what relevance this has to most of the thread, where the spectre of “official Catholic doctrine” has only recently been raised..

      “My final point, is that Socrates and the many other people cited are dead and have been dead for a very long time – they have not formed opinion based on today’s technology, understanding, ideas, information and culture, so I wouldn’t place too much value on their perspective because if they were alive today you might find that they very much would have changed their points of view.”

      Do you actually consider this a serious counter? I don’t doubt a lot of long-dead figures who I admire “if they were alive today you might find that they very much would have changed their points of view” – but maybe if Aquinas or Augustine were alive today they’d also be coming up with creative ways to bring together Catholicism and evolution. So your final point seems entirely vapid. And incidentally, Haraway is very much alive and Kuhn is only recently dead.

      Comment by lwells — May 22, 2013 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

    • You’re right, I think, but don’t go far enough with the term ‘controversial’

      Possibly – but I was speaking from the view point of the Catholics – to them, it is controversial rather than – out right wrong (or incompatible). As believers they will always try to link anything we understand to the divine because they believe in the creator.

      When I have argued with religious people about evolution before, I am often satisfied with their acceptance that ‘evolution may be Gods creation’ (even though I disagree that it is) as a runner up to ‘evolution isn’t real’.

      But I take you point completely – anyone with half an ounce of scientific knowledge and reasoned thought can conclude that evolution wasn’t invented by a supreme being.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 2:00 am | Reply

      • “Possibly – but I was speaking from the view point of the Catholics – to them, it is controversial rather than – out right wrong (or incompatible). As believers they will always try to link anything we understand to the divine because they believe in the creator.”

        It didn’t seem all that controversial to the Just Thomism commentators. I find it amusing the amount of insight you claim to have into the Catholic mindset and your sole sources seem to be some isolated articles from some encyclopedia.

        “anyone with half an ounce of scientific knowledge and reasoned thought can conclude that evolution wasn’t invented by a supreme being.”

        If you actually think religious folk believe evolution was “invented” by a “supreme being” you clearly don’t understand what you’re actually trying to argue against.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 2:18 am

  18. “So if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it probably just thinks like a duck? Please ungarble what you’re saying first.”

    This is my observation that you seem to have difficulty separating fact from fiction in relation to truth claims – which is how religious people think. It’s probably easier for me to explain this in the way I know best. In cryptography there are two algorithms asymmetric and symmetric – both are alike as in they are *ciphers* – but both have different properties.

    “I don’t think you understand what is meant by “form”.”

    Probably – by your understanding of form, and how you are using it as a verb or a noun either directly or not. As a noun the word form means different things to different people depending on where and how it is used – and people will relate to the understanding of the word which they are most accustomed to. For me the word ‘form’ is most applicable to tangable things – i.e. things that can be engineered. To a sportsman it might mean something different. My point is that in human languages the actual usage is less important than in logical languages like maths or programming languages like C++ – because human languages don’t crash in the way that you seem to think that they do.

    “Sure. Whatever. But that’s an awfully narrow claim to weak, a very “thin” claim in the technical sense, and I fail to see what relevance this has to most of the thread, where the spectre of “official Catholic doctrine” has only recently been raised..”
    It’s relevant – because the debate about debate is secondary to the issue of catholic indoctrination that causes ignorance to spread and slows down technical progression and improvement in society. Let me put it this way, if the religious organisations could make society unlearn evolution – what do you think they would do?

    “Do you actually consider this a serious counter?

    It’s not a counter, it’s an observation.

    “Aquinas or Augustine were alive today they’d also be coming up with creative ways to bring together Catholicism and evolution.”

    Doubtless – and to some degree that is the point that is being made – Christians don’t need these dead people to do that – they are busy injecting Gods work into evolution or devaluing evolution at every opportunity usually by deploying some pretty dishonest interpretation of scripture – which is the frame of argument style that you are using hence the attack from Tildeb.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 2:36 am | Reply

    • “This is my observation that you seem to have difficulty separating fact from fiction in relation to truth claims – which is how religious people think. It’s probably easier for me to explain this in the way I know best. In cryptography there are two algorithms asymmetric and symmetric – both are alike as in they are *ciphers* – but both have different properties.”

      That… doesn’t explain anything, it just tries to dance around the awful piece of sophistry you made. I realize you were trying to equate my way of thinking with a theistic way of thinking (not even sure how that would work, the closeset I can imagine is subscribing to some sort of divine illumination epistemology, which I can definitely tell you I don’t), I still think it was a absurd claim to begin with and you’ve only further garbled it.

      “Probably – by your understanding of form…”

      So you don’t know what “form” actually means in the way I was using it. Okay, That’s all I wanted to know. Thanks.

      “It’s relevant – because the debate about debate is secondary to the issue of catholic indoctrination that causes ignorance to spread and slows down technical progression and improvement in society.”

      Wow, Draper-White indoctrination is still going around, huh? Amazing again how much you think you know and how much you actually do.

      “Let me put it this way, if the religious organisations could make society unlearn evolution – what do you think they would do?””

      Depends on what religious society – I doubt the Catholics would care. I don’t think evolution relatively is all that important, and your fixation on this is tiresome. Catholic organizations actually can and do hinder the spread of effective anti-AIDS programs in lesser-developed countries. Mainline protestants would give zero fucks, the more right-wing evangelicals and fundamentalists would probably attempt an unlearning but we already knew they’ were wrong in pretty much everything, so your scenario is again vapid.

      “deploying some pretty dishonest interpretation of scripture – which is the frame of argument style that you are using hence the attack from Tildeb.”

      Who made you king interpreter of the Bible? Is your last name Bergoglio? (And even if it was, why should a mainline Protestant care about how you read their sacred text?) You’ve evinced a glaring exegetical incompetence at pretty much every stage in this conversation, so I hope you don’t mind me finding your presumption of being able to adjudicate what constitutes a dishonest interpretations of scripture hilarious.

      And in case you missed it: my attack on tildeb is mostly motivated by his poor grasp of actual argumentation (once again, premise-premise-conclusion). Shoddy hermeneutics probably figure into it somewhere, but the most concerning thing is his misunderstanding of logical structure, which is rendered all the more problematic given he likes to promote himself as a crusader on behalf of rationality.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 3:05 am | Reply

  19. “That… doesn’t explain anything…”

    To you it doesn’t because I doubt you can explain the difference between the two ciphers anyway… The point is that you argue in the same way a theist does… You keep looking for more meaning in the argument than there actually is, for what purpose I do not know. And you keep going on about this criticism of Tildeb’s competence or whatever, like it is relevant to what he was saying…. It’s not, the content is the important piece.

    “I hope you don’t mind me finding your presumption of being able to adjudicate what constitutes a dishonest interpretations of scripture hilarious.”

    You have missed the point… Scripture is not fact… It is fiction. Evolution is fact it is not fiction, therefore the origin of life as described by evolution trumps the creation myth hands down….

    As for Catholics not caring about evolution, clearly they do because they have been to the legal courts over its teaching in schools more than once and have lost.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 4:27 am | Reply

    • “To you it doesn’t because…”

      Or maybe it doesn’t explain anything because you still haven’t explained anything? You went from calling me a theist to saying I just think like a theist, which I can’t make sense of, maybe because that’s an incoherent concept?

      “You keep looking for more meaning in the argument than there actually is, for what purpose I do not know.”

      Actually, I keep looking for an actual argument, so I can actually see if tildeb has any justification for his claims. It’s that simple.

      ” And you keep going on about this criticism of Tildeb’s competence or whatever, like it is relevant to what he was saying…. It’s not, the content is the important piece”

      Uh… if he’s incompetent the content he puts out is going to be garbage? I’ll put this in a syllogism for you:

      P: If person P is incompetent with regards to subject y, then P cannot be trusted to write anything worthwhile on subject y.
      P: tildeb is incompetent with regards to subject y.
      C: Therefore tildeb cannot be trusted to write anything worthwhile on subject y.

      “You have missed the point… Scripture is not fact… It is fiction. Evolution is fact it is not fiction, therefore the origin of life as described by evolution trumps the creation myth hands down…. ”

      Ah, that explains why I keep seeing the BIble on the selves in my university’s library right next to the Saul Bellow novels. I defer to Northrop Frye on this: “[Scripture is] a mosaic: a pattern of commandments, aphorisms, epigrams, proverbs, parables, riddles, pericopes, parallel couplets, formulaic phrases, folktales, oracles, epiphanies, Gattungen, Logia, bits of occasional verse, marginal glosses, legends, snippets from historical documents, laws, letters, sermons, hymns, ecstatic visions, rituals, fables, genealogical lists, and so on almost indefinitely.”

      So basically, you don’t even recognize what type of text scripture is supposed to be (we used to have actual irreligious biblical critics putting out important scholarship, and to some extent we still do, nowadays we get this nonsense). Secondly, you assume that creation myths and scientific theories and facts are competing for the same space, that they have identical functions, which is yet more evidence of your utter inability to properly read any text more literary than, what, a bicycle manual?

      “As for Catholics not caring about evolution, clearly they do because they have been to the legal courts over its teaching in schools more than once and have lost.”

      You’re confusing “one particular group of Catholics” with “all Catholics everywhere.” I thought you skeptics were supposed to be good at critical thinking?

      Comment by Not Really Anonymous — May 23, 2013 @ 5:12 am | Reply

      • “[Scripture is] a mosaic… blah blah blah.”

        None of which is relevant to Mis’ point – it may be all those things, yet it remains fiction as far as it’s account of creation (and many other things) is concerned. You’re trying to pain Mis as a luddite with a long quote that has nothing to do with his point.

        “So basically, you don’t even recognize what type of text scripture is supposed to be…”
        Again, utterly irrelevant to what Mis was saying.

        “Secondly, you assume that creation myths and scientific theories and facts are competing for the same space”
        The Dover court case (and many other fights in schools up and down America) show it to be a fact – they genuinely ARE competing for the same space. They shouldn’t be, but they are. Mis needs to assume nothing here. Go look on the Discovery Institute’s website, look at their mission statement. Look at the ‘teach the controversy brigade’. Talk to a high school biology teacher. I could go on.

        “You’re confusing “one particular group of Catholics” with “all Catholics everywhere.” ”
        When did Mis say “All Catholics everywhere hold this position”? You’re arguing against a strawman. And by ‘One particular group of Catholics’ care about evolution, what group are you talking about? I guess you mean “The group that cares about evolution”.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 5:27 am

      • “None of which is relevant to Mis’ point – it may be all those things, yet it remains fiction as far as it’s account of creation (and many other things) is concerned. You’re trying to pain Mis as a luddite with a long quote that has nothing to do with his point.”

        No, you’re plainly wrong here. It’s a myth, which can be categorized as fiction if you don’t understand what a myth – to put it briefly a grand narrative by which a society orients and understands itself – there’s a cultural function there “fiction” simply doesn’t get at. The concept of fiction, is, incidentally, an interesting one – by fiction you probably have something in mind akin to a novel (I mean, nobody puts Homer or Virgil next to the novels in public libraries), which is itself a fairly recent form of prose. The Bible was composed long before there was anything resembling the notion of “fiction”. This is all important and relevant, because importing these anachronistic categories and concepts into contexts will simply get muddled. I’m definitely not saying the Bible is accurate history, I’m saying calling it “fiction” is another sign of the decay in irreligious discourse (and you can read a great number of irreligious biblical critics on how to castigate the Bible properly).

        “The Dover court case (and many other fights in schools up and down America) show it to be a fact – they genuinely ARE competing for the same space. They shouldn’t be, but they are. Mis needs to assume nothing here. Go look on the Discovery Institute’s website, look at their mission statement. Look at the ‘teach the controversy brigade’. Talk to a high school biology teacher. I could go on. ”

        You seem really confused here- of course they’re competing for the same space in some people’s understandings, but then you go on and say “They shouldn’t be, but they are.” I’m well aware of the Discovery Institute and I can assure you I loathe them. I literally don’t see any point to this part of your comment.

        “When did Mis say “All Catholics everywhere hold this position”? You’re arguing against a strawman. And by ‘One particular group of Catholics’ care about evolution, what group are you talking about? I guess you mean “The group that cares about evolution”.

        “As for Catholics not caring about evolution, clearly they do because they have been to the legal courts over its teaching in schools more than once and have lost.” He didn’t qualify or nuance this.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 5:40 am

      • “You seem really confused here”

        I’m not. Perhaps the problem lies with your perception. Try reading what I wrote again.

        “I’m flattered you wanted to know, though.”
        No, I’m suggesting you ask yourself that question. I’m pretty sure I know what your aim is already.

        “I’m going to go ahead and guess from this you have no real expertise in hermeneutic theory (which is actually one of my fields of study). Would I be wrong?”

        You are right.

        “Oh, and seriously? The Courtier’s Reply? All us unfaithful are truly fucked if that’s still being using that unironically.”

        Why’s that then?

        Hermeneutics are useful if hermeneutics are what’s actually required. I’m not convinced here it is. I’ve made no claims to be ‘King of bible interpretation’; neither has anyone else. You’re claiming superiority over us, possibly correctly. But as I said, I’m not sure why that’s actually relevant to the discussion. I think perhaps hermaneutics are your hammer, and it’s making every problem look to you like a nail.

        “The tone you thought sounded knowing and superior actually just made you look like an idiot.”
        Hilarious.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 5:58 am

      • I’m not. Perhaps the problem lies with your perception. Try reading what I wrote again.

        Still confused. Obviously they compete for the same space in the heads of two groups of people – New Atheists and reactionary religious folk. Neither of which

        “No, I’m suggesting you ask yourself that question. I’m pretty sure I know what your aim is already.”

        Ah, a psychoanalyst! Tell me, when I keep masturbating to an image of Ezra Pound, is it his eyes or his beard I appreciate more?

        “You are right.”

        Well, there we go. And that pretty much renders the paragraph “Hermeneutics are useful if hermeneutics” ignorable, since you don’t seem to know what hermeneutics are or how they fit into this discourse.

        “Why’s that then?”

        Because it’s essentially a circular argument, that I don’t have to know theology to dismiss it because theology is bullshit and I know this despite not knowing theology because it’s bullshit.* The irreligious are supposed to be exemplars of rationality and yet they seem to consider this a paragon of argumentation. What the fuck happened to people like Feuerbach and Hume? They were interesting, original, rigorous, exciting. Now we get people like tildeb.

        “Hilarious.”

        Well, it did? You could have only come across as more of a prat if you had thrown in a “” in there.

        * For what it’s worth, my own agnosticism – which is fine, also an atheism – is predicated on a hermeneutics of suspicion, which sidesteps the question of theology, rather than dismisses it.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 6:08 am

      • If only the comments here were worth spending time editing my responses to on before publishing! The sentence beginning with “Neither of which” should go “Neither of which are paragons of intellectual integrity, so they can be dismissed pretty easily.”

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 6:11 am

  20. ” I hope you don’t mind me finding your presumption…” “Amazing again how much you think you know and how much you actually do.” ““Do you actually consider this a serious counter?” ” I find it amusing…” “If you actually think … you clearly don’t understand what you’re actually trying to argue against.” etc etc

    Iwells, I don’t believe you have the slightest interest in explaining any of your positions or shedding any light on the truth you think you have access to. All your posts are just a mixture of smarmy, snorting superiority and trash talk. Every single time you have the chance to politely and more importantly CLEARLY explain why you think Tildeb or mis has got something wrong, you instead resort to unpleasant rhetoric of the ‘So you really actually believe that’s actually a smart reply?” variety. It adds nothing to the conversation and must makes you come across as a complete arsehole.

    “The point is that you argue in the same way a theist does… ”
    Yup. Yes, the tale-tell “Ah, your hermeneutics is very unsophisticated”, used by any apologist when presented with an inconvenient piece of scripture. Roll up your sleeves gentlemen, we’re going to perform some sophisticated hermeneutics! This pro-slavery passage will come up smelling of roses by the time we’re through!

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 5:04 am | Reply

    • See, now we have an example of where form is actually irrelevant.

      Comment by Not Really Anonymous — May 23, 2013 @ 5:13 am | Reply

      • Obviously I’m a condescending asshole, but I make the “do you really think…” etc. first before elucidating why I find the response wholly inadequate. If you were to point out an example where I’ve failed to engage, I’ll get right on it.

        “Iwells, I don’t believe you have the slightest interest…”

        I’ve explained as best I can. What am I supposed to do, draw pretty pictures to accompany what I’m saying? My position is that tildeb doesn’t have an actual argument in any legitimate form (any valid logical structure), and that more broadly he tries and fails to assume a problematic (to say the least) interpretation of a creation myth like Genesis is the one universally valid interpretation.

        “All your posts are just a mixture of smarmy, snorting superiority and trash talk.”

        And they shouldn’t be be because…? As long as I have the actual engagement in there somewhere, then I’m happy. If you’re missing it, then see your optometrist?

        “Every single time you have the chance to politely and more importantly CLEARLY explain why you think Tildeb or mis has got something wrong,”

        I’ve explained. Multiple times. It’s clear to me, it’s not like I’m adopting a Finnegans Wake prose style. If it’s not clear to you, then point out what you want elucidating and I’ll try to explain it again.

        “It adds nothing to the conversation and must makes you come across as a complete arsehole.”

        It conveys my exasperation. Is that forbidden now? I don’t mind coming across as a complete arsehole – you’re coming across like a tone-policing prick with nothing substantial to say, but I don’t hold it against you.

        “Yup. Yes, the tale-tell “Ah, your hermeneutics is very unsophisticated”, used by any apologist when presented with an inconvenient piece of scripture.”

        I ask the same question I asked misunderstoodranter: Who made you king interpreter of the Bible? In this argument it doesn’t matter how sophisticated or not the hermeneutics are, if matters it he possibility of a sophisticated hermeneutics is open – the distinction is admittedly subtle but crucial. Secondly, do you have any actual expertise in hermeneutic theory (this is one of my actual fields of study)?

        “Roll up your sleeves gentlemen, we’re going to perform some sophisticated hermeneutics! This pro-slavery passage will come up smelling of roses by the time we’re through!”

        I’m going to go ahead and guess from this you have no real expertise in hermeneutic theory (which is actually one of my fields of study). Would I be wrong?

        Comment by Not Really Anonymous — May 23, 2013 @ 5:24 am

      • Oh bloody hell I keep doing it. “Not Really Anonymous” and “lwells” ought to be considered interchangeable in this thread. Sorry again.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 5:25 am

  21. “You went from calling me a theist to saying I just think like a theist, which I can’t make sense of, maybe because that’s an incoherent concept?”

    You are contriving to make it incoherent….

    A jug and a cup are both like each other… The word you keep not reading is LIKE…

    “If it looks LIKE a duck, walks LIKE a duck and quacks LIKE a duck – it PROBABLY is a duck!”

    You think like a theist does not equal that you are a theist.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 5:27 am | Reply

    • You don’t seem to see you’ve used “is”, not “is like.” I’ll bold it for you.

      “If it looks LIKE a duck, walks LIKE a duck and quacks LIKE a duck – it PROBABLY is a duck!”

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  22. ” I don’t mind coming across as a complete arsehole ”

    I don’t mind you coming over as an arsehole either, but it’s getting so I just start skipping over the bombastic nonsense in your posts, such that I might miss a point – should you ever actually get to one. What are you here for – to explain your position or just to try to lord it over others and feel like the big man?

    Like I said, every time you have a chance to explain where you think someone else has gone wrong, you instead take the low road of posting along the lines of: “So, are you really so stupid to think that…”.

    It’s getting no-one anywhere.

    “As long as I have the actual engagement in there somewhere”
    It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. Worse, you’ve stuck a load of turds in among the hay. Forgive me for not wanting to search too hard.

    “Oh bloody hell I keep doing it.”
    Don’t worry, it’s pretty clear who you are. Very clear in fact.

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 5:34 am | Reply

    • “I don’t mind you coming over as an arsehole either, but it’s getting so I just start skipping over the bombastic nonsense in your posts, such that I might miss a point – should you ever actually get to one.”

      I get to them pretty quickly. Are you being deliberately disingenuous? There’s one intemperate sentence, then the engagement. It’s not as if I spend 5 paragraphs on pure polemic before getting down to the point.

      “What are you here for – to explain your position or just to try to lord it over others and feel like the big man?”

      Why do you care? I’m here because I commented and tildeb replied and I don’t feel the conversation is finished (I’m still waiting on something to shake my ever-growing conviction he lied about his credentials). I’m flattered you wanted to know, though.

      “It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. Worse, you’ve stuck a load of turds in among the hay. Forgive me for not wanting to search too hard.”

      They’re right there after the polemic. Does prolonged exposure to this site cause one to slowly lose their reading skills? In which case I you are wholly forgiven. The whole “turds’ thing is hilarious given you’ve tried to accuse me of making contentless claims.

      “Don’t worry, it’s pretty clear who you are. Very clear in fact.”

      Yeah, I comment at a friend’s blog under “Not Really Anonymous” as a joke and forget to change back to my more universal moniker when I get back. I mean, it’s not as if I’ve pretended to sockpuppet, I always catch on and make a comment letting people now I’ve mad the mistake. The tone you thought sounded knowing and superior actually just made you look like an idiot.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 5:47 am | Reply

  23. Oh, and Andrew Ryan: I’m surprised you’re trying to tell me to moderate my tone, then you go on to put out gems like “Worse, you’ve stuck a load of turds in among the hay.” and “I just start skipping over the bombastic nonsense in your posts” and “Don’t worry, it’s pretty clear who you are. Very clear in fact.” and “No, I’m suggesting you ask yourself that question. I’m pretty sure I know what your aim is already.” I totally understand why you would want to adopt this style, which is fine and all, but I am a little irked you basically tried to appoint yourself the tone police and yet can’t can’t keep a firm grasp on your own. Can we both then agree your initial complaints are then valueless?

    Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 6:23 am | Reply

  24. “yet can’t can’t keep a firm grasp on your own”

    The phrase “you’ve stuck a load of turds in among the hay” is a metaphor, it’s not an insult for the sake of it. Similarly the other words you quote there are all answering questions – they’re not obscuring or getting in the way of points.

    “Because it’s essentially a circular argument”
    No, it’s saying bullshit remains bullshit no matter how complicated an argument you construct to defend it.

    “Secondly, you assume that creation myths and scientific theories and facts are competing for the same space”
    I pointed out they are competing for the same space, you reply that they are only competing in the heads of people you dismiss. OK, but competing they are. You feel free to dismiss them, but that doesn’t help the people having the fight the court cases to defend science.

    Perhaps that’s completely irrelevant to what you were arguing. Let me try to get to the start of you and Mis’s exchange and try to find in what context you were saying Mis was assuming that.

    … OK, I just tried to follow the argument back through the quotes to get back to the nub of what context you are dismissing those people, but admit after going back six or seven back and forths further up the page I started to lose interest. I skipped to the top and found the argument starts by referring on to a different website entirely, and I’m not going to track through another bunch of exchanges there. So if I’ve completely lost the thread somewhere along the way (and therefore am arguing against a strawman) then I apologise.

    “since you don’t seem to know what hermeneutics are”
    I said I’m not an expert, I didn’t say I didn’t know what it was. I don’t see what I’ve said that would ‘seem’ to suggest I don’t know what it is either. Wiki tells me it’s the study of the interpretation of written texts eg the bible. That’s what I thought it meant. All my previous references to hermeneutics were written with that meaning in mind.

    Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 8:35 am | Reply

    • “The phrase “you’ve stuck a load of turds in among the hay” is a metaphor, it’s not an insult for the sake of it. Similarly the other words you quote there are all answering questions – they’re not obscuring or getting in the way of points.”

      And I could just as easily say the same about my own rhetoric, so I repeat the same question: “Can we both then agree your initial complaints are then valueless?”

      “No, it’s saying bullshit remains bullshit no matter how complicated an argument you construct to defend it.”

      I’m not defending theology at all, I’m saying the courtier’s reply, insofar as I can make it out, is circular and thus invalid. I find it weird you chided me on “the bombastic nonsense in [my] posts”, and yet I still see no actual argumentation in what you’ve said – why does nobody in this thread seem to understand what logic looks like? Premises, then conclusion. Volatire: “Un bon mot ne prouve rien“, except he at least lived in age where the bon mot was thriving – we’ve gone from that to empty bluster.

      “but competing they are”

      No, some people think they’re competing, and moreover, these are people who who I tend to have little respect for given the quality of justification they provide for the positions they hold. You seem to be conflating the ontological and sociological aspects of this question, and I’m talking about the former. I’m not going to disagree with you on your positions on the sociological, but I don’t think this thread was much concerned with the sociological.

      “the people having the fight the court cases to defend science.”

      They seem to be doing fine without my help? I’m again flattered you think my non-participation in the fight against creationist sophistry is a non-trivial factor in its continued existence, but I’m not a monumental narcissist (sorry to disappoint you, misunderstoodranter). And yeah, it’s pretty irrelevant to what I’m arguing.

      “I said I’m not an expert, I didn’t say I didn’t know what it was…”

      Sure, but your comments still evinced a thoroughgoing ignorance of the actual discipline. Wikipedia doesn’t render anybody an expert on anything. If you’d read my comments carefully, I was pointing out how all the mere possibility of a hermeneutic that could accommodate non-literal interpretations of Genesis served as a defeater for tildeb’s original claims (now we’re talking about “official Catholic doctrine” and tildeb has half-morphed in somebody indistinguishable from a member of the Catholic League). When misunderstoodranter basically try to say such interpretations were “dishonest” he was implying “the only legitimate interpretation is mine and everything else is dishonest obfuscation,” which is why I asked why he had appointed himself interpreter king of scripture. Texts never signify alone, this is one of the first things you learn when you study hermeneutics.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:08 am | Reply

      • “And I could just as easily say the same about my own rhetoric”
        If you want to defend the rhetoric as points in their own right, go ahead.

        “Can we both then agree your initial complaints are then valueless?”
        No. Even if you conclude that I ‘lost control of my tone’ (which I reject) it still doesn’t affect the value of my initial complaint (tu quoque fallacy).

        “No, some people THINK they’re competing”
        If biology books are being re-written to accommodate creationist views, if court cases are being fought, then I don’t get the distinction between ‘think’ they’re competing, and literally competing. A fight is definitely being had.

        “They seem to be doing fine without my help?”
        Who said they weren’t?

        “I’m not defending theology at all”
        I know.

        “Wikipedia doesn’t render anybody an expert on anything.”
        Who said it did?

        “yet I still see no actual argumentation in what you’ve said”
        I was (there) arguing that the bombastic nonsense added nothing to your points, and instead obscured them. By contrast, my ‘turds in the haystack’ metaphor augmented my point – it suggested that the bombastic nonsense in your posts made it not just difficult to pick through your posts for the point, but actually unpleasant.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    • “If you want to defend the rhetoric as points in their own right, go ahead.”
      Of course i can’t, and neither can you. This is my point. I’m surprised you still haven’t gotten it.

      “No. Even if you conclude that I ‘lost control of my tone’ (which I reject) it still doesn’t affect the value of my initial complaint (tu quoque fallacy).”
      Fair. In which case I’d simply repeat your previous comments: “it’s getting so I just start skipping over the bombastic nonsense in your posts, such that I might miss a point ”

      “A fight is definitely being had.”
      I’ve never denied this. I don’t think a fight needs to be had. I think this is a sufficient defeater for tildeb’s claims. You’ve said so yourself: “They shouldn’t be [in conflict], but they are.” You’re slipping into self-parody, or if you were already a parodist, then I congratulate you on your skill.

      “I know.”
      And yet you’re not capable of arguing why the Courtier’s Reply isn’t a circular fallacy? Come on, you didn’t have to do the whole quote-reply thing just to reassure me you’re a better reader than misunderstoodranter (not a high standard, admittedly).

      “Wikipedia doesn’t render anybody an expert on anything.”
      At this point you’re skimming over my actually substantial points for the sake of nitpicking. It was a response to “Wiki tells me it’s the study of the interpretation of written texts eg the bible. That’s what I thought it meant. All my previous references to hermeneutics were written with that meaning in mind.” – and I’ll concede it was a fairly hyperbolic response, but that seems to have no real bearing on the question at hand.

      “I was (there) arguing that the bombastic nonsense added nothing to your points, and instead obscured them.”
      You know, in context, that was supposed to be a request for clarification on why you think the Coulter’s Reply is a valid anti-theological argument? I actually don’t care how you perceive my writing – the “bombastic nonsense” has a performative element I find helpful; you might not, but I don’t write to please you.

      “By contrast, my ‘turds in the haystack’ metaphor augmented my point”
      tildeb claims to have written thesis papers on Aquinas, and yet he doesn’t seem to understand divine agency as articulated in Thomism very well. You claim “my ‘turds in the haystack’ metaphor augmented my point”, and yet you don’t seem to actually have a point beyond gripes about trivial matters that you end up being wrong about regardless.

      “the bombastic nonsense in your posts made it not just difficult to pick through your posts for the point, but actually unpleasant.”
      This doesn’t seem more than a little narcissistic to you? Again, I’m not trying to produce prose pleasing to your aesthetic sensibilities, and I don’t know why your aesthetic sensibilities should even be in consideration. When I sad your tone made you come across like a prat, I wasn’t asking you to write in a manner more pleasing to me, it was probably because you didn’t realize it.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:45 am | Reply

      • Its a bit like runny shit this conversation…. Do you not think?

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 10:31 am

      • “It was a response to…”

        Yes, I got that you were responding to that. And I got that you were being hyperbolic. I wasn’t taking your hyperbole literally. But even taking it as an intended exaggeration, your point still didn’t make sense. I wasn’t claiming that wiki had taught me anything at all, let alone made an expert. I was saying as far as I could tell, my grasp on what hermeneutics IS is correct. You’ve not pointed out that the wiki summary of what it is is false. As far as I can tell, my grasp on what hermeneutics is is STILL correct. Rather than correct me (“No, that wiki summary is false”) or concede that that basically does sum up hermeneutics, you’ve just offered a non sequitur – “Wikipedia doesn’t render anybody an expert on anything.”

        “yet you don’t seem to actually have a point…”
        I can’t see much points in your own recent posts bar picking holes in mine. And yes, they end up being wrong regardless.

        “Again, I’m not trying to produce prose pleasing to your aesthetic sensibilities”
        At this point I’ve no idea what purpose your prose is supposed to have.

        “This doesn’t seem more than a little narcissistic to you?”
        You’re the one essentially saying you’re writing only to please yourself.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 10:49 am

      • Let’s make your comment an actual argument!

        1. Either lwells thinks or misunderstoodranter is wrong.
        2. misunderstoodratner is not wrong.
        3. lwells does not think.

        Yay!

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 10:33 am

      • The Wikipedia quip was another exasperation of you hermeneutic ineptness. You’re not wrong when you say it’s the theory of interpretation, but that alone is so vague to be meaningless, hence your mishandlings of the term.

        My prose has different purposes depending on the context – this is quite obvious. I’ve been responding to you so of course I’m going to be trying to poke holes – smaller and smaller holes, given you’re saying pettier and pettier things.

        I never claimed I was writing for myself, and in any case you’ve made your own tu quoque fallacy.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 11:13 am

      • “The Wikipedia quip was another exasperation of you hermeneutic ineptness.”

        Sorry, but you’re totally full of crap. There’s not even any content in your last post for me to respond to.
        Cheerio.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — May 23, 2013 @ 11:30 am

      • No problem. your own comments were becoming more and more trivial so I figured they’d eventually reach a point where you had nothing to say. I’m glad we reached that point sooner rather than later.

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

      • Thanks for making the attempt, Andrew. The irony of the post’s title question and my answer – in the face of lwells contribution to this ‘dialogue’ – may be lost on him but I think makes all our ‘bullshit’ ‘idiotic’ ‘ignorant’ efforts worthwhile.

        Comment by tildeb — May 24, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

  25. Silly putty.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

    • It is, isn’t it?

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  26. “I’m not defending theology at all, I’m saying the courtier’s reply, insofar as I can make it out, is circular and thus invalid.”

    Do you want to expand on this? – because you have not explained why you think this either…

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2013 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

    • I did? If your background in engineering and the humanities left you without literacy nor an understanding of what constitutes a valid logical structure, then I’m sorry, but that’s all I’m not the President of your alma mater.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  27. So, to sum up, we have a post at Just Thomism that asserts that scientific understanding doesn’t ‘destroy’ certain hypotheses put forth in creation myths because they remain myths with some truth value regardless (and that this naive understanding of ‘destroying a creation myth’ is really replacing one myth – a theological one – with another – scientism). I pointed out that the central hypotheses put forth in the Genesis myth(s) – a founding couple who introduced sin into the world that we have inherited – has been thoroughly discredited not by any myth of scientism but by the hard science of population genetics – an hypothesis that holds a necessary place not just in catholic doctrine (under whose theological tent Thomism belongs) but christianity in general… a tenet from the myth that links the sacrifice of Jesus with humanity’s need for redemption. And that this really is a problem that matters (even according to a pope).

    But this criticism won’t stand without challenge by those who think there is a way around it, by returning the myth to the status of metaphor and figurative language alone while ignoring the problem of disconnecting it from linking this literal and historical event and the need to address it: by a literal and historical redemptive act.

    Not a problem, say the sophisticated theologians and their apologist and accommodating allies. We’ll just make it compatible by saying it is compatible.

    But pointing out why this remain a problem in spite of sophisticated theology at work has led to vilification for not being sufficiently qualified in the eyes of those who wish to pretend no such incompatible problem exists to be philosophically sophisticated enough to appreciate the theological gymnastics required, that the problem of the failed hypothesis lies not with evidence contrary to it but with anyone who dares criticize the hermeneutics of such sophisticates who cover this problem up by pretending it doesn’t exist in the real world.

    To phrase it slightly differently, we are to assume and agree that calling bullshit on bullshit is allowable only after adjudication and acceptance by these same sophisticates who self-rule their hermeneutics to be up to the task telling us what the real world says about it, while criticism of this tactic – no matter how well annotated by those of theological weight – is deemed to be inadequate. And not just inadequate in some philosophical way but inadequate because popes and prefects and scholars who accept the problem are all equivalently ignorant idiots.

    This is the sum total of lwells contribution to dealing with the original criticism, that it doesn’t count because it is fully informed only by idiots who are ignorant. And one is an ignorant idiot by definition if one disagrees.

    How convenient: there is no problem but if there were any problem then only ignorant idiots might think so no matter who they are or what real life elevated theological position they hold. Ignorant idiots the lot of them.

    All those hundreds of millions of people who believe the link hypothesized from the myth is still fully compatible with the science of population genetics can rest easy knowing that such guardians of the faith – even self-proclaimed agnostics! – are on duty making sure that the hypothesis remains in use, that the scientific results that demonstrate an incompatibility of this hypothesis wi8th what’s true in reality is still compatible by the proper exercise of philosophy and metaphysics, and that all is right in the christian world between its tenets and reality. That it isn’t all right in reality doesn’t matter, you see, because only idiots and ignorant people could possibly think otherwise so any compelling evidence offered by these ignorant idiots that supports the incompatibility criticism – like pointing out that the vast majority of believers assume an historical link to a founding couple even though this assumption is factually incorrect – is ignorant idiocy in action because the sophisticates have decided it must be so.

    No circular thinking at work here. Thanks lwells. Glad you think philosophy and metaphysics still trumps reality even when it doesn’t. But you are a true believer in the awesome power of your specialty, your emphasis on hermeneutics, your granting it the only power you deem worthy (if in the correct form, of course) to describe and define reality.

    Perhaps it’s now time you rested your blood humor and balance your biles now that your plegmatic job is done describing whatever and whomever disagrees with you as ignorant idiots… over and over and over again. Yeah, we get what you’re saying and we understand why you think you’re in a position of authority to proclaim it so; we just don’t agree because we still find reality calls your position bullshit. And bullshit is shall remain… as long as it continues to stand contrary to what’s true in reality. I hope someday reality becomes your friend, too. There we shall find common ground.

    Comment by tildeb — May 23, 2013 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, it’s all there: the naive rhetoric of reality demonstrating stunning lack of acquaintance with Kant (who you undoubtedly covered alongside Augustine), the similarly naive understanding of religion as merely assent to a series of propositions (talk to an anthropologist sometime), an inability to read texts that might contain a shade of complexity more than IKEA instructions, the still remarkable absence of anything that might resemble an actual argument. I applaud you on how many errors you’ve crammed into one post – even your past comments were only moderately embarrassing.

      Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

      • NB: I too, hope that “someday reality becomes your friend, too. There we shall find common ground.” After all, New Atheist “bullshit is shall remain… as long as it continues to stand contrary to what’s true in reality.”

        Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

  28. Actually, you know what? How about this: I, lwells, concede to tileb’s sophistries and admit the truthhood of whatever confused claim he was trying to make. Having hence heard the gospel of of reality, I henceforth strive from this moment to unlearn all knowledge so I may more readily and perfectly imitate our lord and saviour, tildeb. Thank you. That will be all.

    Comment by lwells — May 23, 2013 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

  29. ” an hypothesis that holds a necessary place not just in catholic doctrine (under whose theological tent Thomism belongs) but christianity in general…”

    Actually, all faiths and beliefs and pretty much all other explanations that exist only in the human mind – catholic ++

    Irwells stupid ++

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 24, 2013 @ 2:21 am | Reply

  30. Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
    Paarsurrey says:
    I think discussion and dialogue is always possible if the Atheists stick to reason and don’t use foul words instead.

    Comment by paarsurrey — August 1, 2013 @ 9:52 am | Reply

    • That pretty much goes for all participants in the discussion, no? If, for example, the Christian avoids reason (regardless of what they substitute for it), then discussion and dialogue is not only not ALWAYS possible, but is pretty much NEVER possible.

      Comment by Andrew Ryan — August 1, 2013 @ 9:56 am | Reply

      • I would agree with you.
        Don’t you have a blog or website of you own?
        I tried to visit it but could not do so.
        Thanks

        Comment by paarsurrey — August 1, 2013 @ 10:07 am

      • I don’t. But googling my name will get you to lots of sites I’ve commented on. Just add an apologist term or two in the search, and perhaps ask it to avoid results involving ‘rapture’ or ‘bioshock’.

        Comment by Andrew Ryan — August 1, 2013 @ 10:11 am


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