Atheist Nutballs


There are atheist nutballs out there. Generally they’re perfectly nice people, but they simply have bizarre goings-on between their ears.

Sometimes you find one who just takes himself way too seriously, and has worked out an entire elaborate intellectual superstructure around his atheism. He makes it all look ever so erudite, and researched, and knowledgeable, a bit like the vast trove of “science” in support of a flat earth some several centuries ago.

Here’s one of them.

The guy’s not an idiot, but he is a pompous, would-be know-it-all, with a bad case of the worst thing a would-be intellectual can have: a case of the intellectual blinkers.

Sometimes, these odd birds produce posts that are unintentionally hilarious. Here’s one. In the original post, the author, one John Zande, hoped to heap ridicule on Christianity by demonstrating how a Bible passage just proves the ridiculousness of Christianity.

Here’s the passage in question:

Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

Zande put a picture of a zebra next to that text, with the caption: “And that’s exactly how it happened.”

Now, I can’t tell you exactly how zebras and other animals got their distinctive markings, but I can tell you that a Christian has no problem at all with the idea that a Creator of a universe containing septillions of cubic parsecs, with an estimated ten trillion galaxies, each holding 100 billion stars (meaning: very approximately, a total of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars), each one an average of about 1.409 x 1018 cubic kilometers in size, just might be able to pull off a parlor trick that might determine how a few thousand creatures (at the time) got their markings.

Zande can’t see it though.

I directed you to that post for a reason. One commenter, a certain “LISTENER87” begins the comments section innocently enough by appearing to agree with the imagination-challenged Zande. She proclaims the post “completely fascinating,” and suggests that it implies that one “should read the entire chapter in context.”

Zande, apparently unaware that he’s being reeled in, simply agrees with, “Indeed. Who would have thought.”

Then, the commenter, in the very next post, throws a serious curve-ball, proving that Zande had actually not read the chapter in context. It’s got nothing at all to do with zebras, she says, it’s all about sheeps and goats. She suggests that Zande “try again.”

Oops.

Zande’s confused. He quizzes the one he thought was his new-found friend, but who now seems to have gone completely off the rails, and exposed him, Zande, for not actually knowing what he’s talking about.

Now, though, Zande’s on the hook. He’s already publicly treated LISTENER87 as a serious commenter and he can’t really take that back, so he has to deal with her. LISTENER87 turns out to be an even odder bird than Zande, which is going quite a way! The exchange is hilarious and every bit worth the read. I’ve reproduced it below for your entertainment. I’ve added some inline commentary [in square brackets and red font, as is my wont].

Here’s the exchange in question:

 

  • and no, unfortunately, after reading in context it was about sheep and goats. so, nope. that’s not how they got their stripes. try again. [Oops! Where did that come from?!? I thought you were my friend?!?]

    • Errm, so you agree sheep and goats get their striped and spotted pelts from mating in front of coloured sticks? [Hemmina, hemmina, hemmina… I thought you were my friend!]

      • i agree that it’s possible, because with faith anything is possible. i am Christian and i have seen a lot of miracles since i was born. [Now our LISTENER87 goes completely off Zande’s rails. Not to worry, though, she’s every bit as whackadoodle as Zande, so she really belongs here. She’s just whackadoodle in a wholly, different, way off-the-beaten-track kind of way! Read on…. read on.]

      • guess it doesn’t if you don’t want it reproduced. even if I can’t do it, my wife who is a witch might be able to. faith isn’t about religion… when someone puts that label on it, it is no longer faith – it is man. [Whoops! Oooooookay! She says “my wife who is a witch might be able to!” So, now we have a Christian lesbian, with a wife who’s a witch who can control the markings on sheep and goats!!! One can envision Zande doing the Brazilian (not his real country) equivalent of “wtf!!!“]

      • Can you come to Brazil?

        Your wife is a witch. That’s interesting. Wicca? How does a Christian square with a pagan? [Hemmina, hemmina, hemmina… I have to regroup. Quick!]

      • No, she isn’t Wiccan. [Oops! Huh? Will this LISTENER87 not let up?!?] She is a witch. it’s a separate thing although many people love to call her that. She actually really hates that term.
        It’s actually much more easier [Ummm.. “much more easier?” Yikes! Didn’t you and I learn to avoid this kind of construction in the third grade? Maybe it’s just a typo.] than you could imagine, do you have an e-mail. we could chat. ?

      • How is it easier than I think? If she can perform magic I think we (meaning the world) should all know. This would be remarkable news. [Zande trying to keep it together here]

      • it is easier because I see people as people, not as the masks they like to wear to identify them in specific groups. a lot of Christians I know (including my own parents) believe that you cant be gay and Christian. I’m that, too. they say you can’t be “unequally yoked” (this is in the Bible). I think the reason that it is in the Bible is because the one who said it knew it might be more challenging to individuals with different beliefs trying to support each other… but being human is about free will. so, for me, it’s easy. i see the magic inside of her, i see who she really is and i love her. so i don’t care what other Christians say about me. including the parents. i just keep doing me. and keep listening. i will never close my mind like many Christians have chosen to do.

      • Ah, understood. [Wow! What a relief! You disgorged a bunch of mumbo jumbo! I’m an atheist, I do mumbo jumbo! It’s what we do! Whew! I’m back on familiar ground here!] i thought you were talking about her performing magic. Good attitude. be nice if most so-called Christians thought the same way as you.

        Now, back to the magic. I’d love to see it. [Just to be sure to remake my bona fides with the other wackos out there!]

      • yeah, she enjoys casting spells and all that jazz. [Uhhhhhhh…huh? “She enjoys casting spells?!?”  I’m back in the soup again! Again, the Brazilian (not his real country) equivalent of wtf?!?] they usually work. [Wait, wait…what?!? Your wife’s “spells” usually “work?!?” Wtf?!?] she uses a lot of different herbs and such. [Whew! Okay. That explains it! 🙂 ] last year she did a love spell for a friend, that friend found a mate shortly after and has been with him ever since. [Ah! Had to be the spell!] some spells take longer than others to take effect, but it all depends on the person who she is doing the spell for. how much they believe in it is how much will happen. similar to my own faith when you think about it. I’m not sure when we can get to Brazil, we are in the US now. we want to go abroad, but don’t yet have the funds unfortunately. =/ [Ummmm… are we discovering LISTENER98‘s real motive? Wait, wait, wait… a Christian lesbian witch spouse wouldn’t stoop to something so crass as money-grubbing, would she?]

      • how much they believe in it is how much will happen

        Yes, that does appear to the magic ingredient in miracle-works. Does your wife work at hospitals curing the sick? [Zande’s attempt at cleverness. Too late, though. He’s already allowed this poor, strange LISTENER87 to demonstrate that she is part of the whole whackadoodle atheist-weirdo-zande-leftist-oddball-strangenik-nutball netherworld that Zande and others have constructed.]

      • my wife is working in mental health, she is a peer support counselor so she helps in that small way. [That’s about it…the reality of the “witch’s life.”] she hasn’t had as much faith as she used to, so I haven’t seen her do as much magic recently as she was. [A shame. The witch has lost her “faith” in her “magic.”] she SHOULD be doing more. she hasn’t been doing enough, but I know she herself is struggling with all she has on her plate. me, I am focusing more on homeless and those financially burdened. I am basically Robin Hood reincarnated. it’s a lot of fun, actually. [Aaaaannnnnd… back off the rails again! Presumably LISTENER87 was speaking metaphorically here, but with the previous, who can tell? Since Robin Hood is a myth, maybe LISTENER87 doesn’t really exist. 🙂 ]

Here’s some pretty good evidence to suggest that Chesterton’s pithy phrase — was correct: “A man who doesn’t believe in God will believe in anything. “(1)

Certainly, John Zande and his commenters will believe in anything. He’s shown it in that unintentionally hilarious post, and in the comments section.

— xPraetorius

Notes


 

(1)  – A paraphrase of the original: “When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.” As we’ve said before, athesim is nothing more than another faith. In fact, with all the evidence around contradicting it, atheism is one of the most powerful of faiths!

 

 

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314 thoughts on “Atheist Nutballs

  1. Hi Praetorian, hope you’re doing well. Honoured you thought me worthy of a post. I enjoyed your commentary of that rather bizarre exchange, although i do have to say I was aware of the dangling hook from the first moment. When the commenter went off into witchcraft I tried yo be simply polite. Still, your attached commentary was good. Well done. Making people laugh is a priceless gift.

    Curious though, ever thought you might be confusing simple mischievous humour with actual pointed critique? For example, here is an example of mischievous (albeit theologically accurate) humour.

    Whereas this, for example, is an actual take-down of your particular flavour of theism, exposing it’s bedrock absurdity in just ten short words.

    These are called “memes,” and their purpose is to artfully get an entire idea across with the greatest possible brevity. Humour helps here, as only humour can truly cut through gold-plated madness.

    1. They’re memes, and they’re stupid. Zande, you consider yourself an intelligent man, and you resorted to this kind of glib, superficial nonsense? Shame on you.

      In a reply below, I suggested that you avoid glib frooferies like your two graphics above.

      I remember listening to a radio program once in which the leftist announcer (they’re generally HUGELY intellectually myopic) on the left, bemoaned the fact that many baseball players point skyward after hitting a home run, in a gesture of thanks to God. The radio announcer, as scornfully as he could, sneered at what he considered the goofy silliness of the notion that God cared about the guy’s home run at all. In the announcer’s pinched, crabbed view of God, he couldn’t understand the concept that God cares about how everything affects everyone at all times.

      I’ve often told my children that if they keep one rule high in their awareness all through life, let it be simply: everything represents an opportunity to be closer to God. It’s up to us to find out how. Yes, the home run is something, therefore it’s somehow an opportunity to be closer to God, and yes, God cares about it. Pretty simple.

      You seem to think that a Creator would create a creation, then not (1) establish rules in which there would be consequences for His creations’ straying from the rules, and (2) not love them enough to put in place a way to come back to Him, and (3) be so petty and limited as to create a creation who couldn’t stray from Him. Interestingly those three things are exactly the same things we parents do with and for our children! Establish rules and explain and administer consequences, provide and communicate the way back into our good graces if they stray, and, train them to turn from us and go their own ways. It makes perfect sense that a Creator of the Universe would establish rules that we would both understand and emulate, simply because they make sense.

      Your view is as pinched, crabbed, limited, lacking in perspective and silly as the radio announcer’s. No wonder you’re an atheist!

      Best,

      — x

        1. I did that in my two other replies today. I also did it in the replies in which I indicated that all parents set up exactly the same quite commonsensical structure in their homes. No need to do it again.

          The graphics are the type of glib puffery that atheists like to point to by way of trying to show how clever they are, not realizing that it only makes them look silly and shallow.

          Best,

          — x

          1. You haven’t addressed the content of either of the meme, so please don’t try and pretend you have.

            If you can, then by all means detail your objections and demonstrate to me in a coherent manner where I am wrong.

            I eagerly await your response….

          2. I didn’t say they’re “wrong,” I said that they’re glib and stupid, which they are. They don’t say anything. The only correct response to them would be: “Yeah, so?”

            You could place any dad or mom in your first graphic and his or her kid on the other side of the door, give the dialogue to them and any reader would say, “Yeah? So what? He’s just being a good dad (or she a good mom).” Your graphic doesn’t say anything, and your supposed distillation of the graphic into ten words doesn’t say anything either.

            Nowhere in there do you explain why you, presumably, think the rules you mock are bad rules. Instead you first contradict your own so-called argument that there is no God, to try then to show that He, who doesn’t even exist, is really bad.

            Both the graphic and the distillation are incoherent, and don’t withstand even the slightest actual scrutiny, but are the glib bumper-sticker-type sillinesses that atheists use to congratulate themselves on their own cleverness.

            Best,

            — x

          3. they don’t say anything” except, of course, for demonstrating with crystal, clinical clarity the utter absurdity of Christian theology. In fact, it’s so absurd that 1,500 years of theological thought can be razed with ten short words.

            You could place any dad or mom in your first graphic”… Are we talking about any mother or father here?

            Both the graphic and the distillation are incoherent, and don’t withstand even the slightest actual scrutiny

            That’s interesting, considering you first wrote they’re not “wrong.” Do you often contradict yourself in the space of just 154 words?

            But by all means, since you’ve now so obviously changed your mind, scrutinise the memes and tell me where they are, in fact, wrong. Please go into detail. It shouldn’t be difficult as they are quite short.

            I look forward to reviewing your “actual scrutiny”

            You will be providing me your “actual scrutiny,” won’t you?

          4. Lol! I’ve watched you try this wriggling off the hook at IB’s place as well. You make an absurd assertion — eg, your two graphics — then expect others to be blown away by your surpassing cleverness, and when they’re not, you get all huffy, insisting that they respond to you in the precise way you want them to. It’s Zande SOP.

            First, since Christian theology is not absurd, there’s nothing that could demonstrate its absurdity with any kind of clarity at all, much less crystal, clinical clarity. Second, something that says nothing meaningful at all couldn’t possibly, and doesn’t, raze anything.

            Sorry, your graphics simply are not all that clever, and as I might have mentioned, don’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.

            As I mentioned before:
            (1) you don’t even say why what’s portrayed is a bad thing.
            (2) Your depiction is what anyone else would describe as good parenting.
            (3) Since you don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, you yourself don’t believe that the Jesus graphic even ever could have happened!
            (4) Since you don’t believe in God, you yourself don’t believe that the ten-word distillation graphic describes anything that is even possible.

            And, again, you misquote me. I never said, “they’re not wrong.” I said: “I didn’t say they’re not wrong.” There’s a major distinction. There is still plenty of room to say they’re wrong. I also said, “They don’t say anything.” Something that doesn’t say anything typically isn’t “wrong,” just devoid of any significant meaning.

            Your amateurish graphics can be interpreted only to say that (1) yes, God (who you believe doesn’t exist) established a universe with rules, and that (2) God (who you believe doesn’t exist) then provided us all with a clear way to redeem ourselves after we break the rules. To which the only logical response is, as I mentioned before: Yeah? So?

            I assume that you’ll respond to this, as is your wont, with something akin to: “You still haven’t answered my question! Tell me why it’s wrong!” That request is the same as saying: “Tell me why the people have six legs and wings! Since I never asserted that, I’d be under no obligation to defend it. Since I never said your memes were wrong — just stupid, meaningless, absurd and ridiculous — your request for a response is unanswerable… at least in a way that will satisfy you.

            You should abandon these philadelphia lawyer tactics, Zande. They make you look petty, narcissistic and churlish, and they make your viewpoint look stupid. You’re plainly not a stupid guy, but you argue like one.

            Now, I hope I don’t have to say “As I mentioned before” again. I’m going to name this post “Paris” after my adopted home town, so that when you ask me, as you surely will, to respond to something I’ve already responded to, I can say simply: “See the Paris post above,” and not waste any time on it.

            Best,

            — x

          5. And, again, you misquote me. I never said, “they’re not wrong.” I said: “I didn’t say they’re not wrong.”

            Good heavens you contradict yourself often. What you said was, word for word: “>I didn’t say they’re “wrong…. Precisely as I said, and which contradicted what you said 154 words later.

            Sorry, your graphics simply are not all that clever, and as I might have mentioned, don’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.

            Great, why the song and dance then? Let’s see your coherent, adult scrutiny. You seem to imply you can demolish these ever so simple memes, so do it…. Or are you simply happy making unfounded claims?

            As I said earlier: I look forward to reviewing your “actual scrutiny”

          6. Erm, no… How does that sound?

            So, how about you stop prancing about like a peacock and show me how, exactly, the memes are wrong?

            You are saying they’re wrong, aren’t you? So, show me….

          7. Wow! Stop being so defensive. You’re really emotionally attached to those meaningless, vapid memes!

            You’ll note that I never said they were wrong. Just stupid, meaningless, absurd, etc.

            For any other elaboration you might need, see the Paris post.

            Best,

            — x

          8. Great! Show me how they’re “stupid, meaningless, absurd”

            You’re found of making claims, but atrocious at actually backing that noise up.

            So, show me….

          9. Presumably you meant: “fond?”

            Okay.

            For the backup, see the Paris post.

            Don’t forget: the Paris post refers to other posts as well. So when I suggest you refer to “the Paris post,” you should also check out the other posts to which it refers.

            Best,

            — x

          10. Yes, fond. Thank you.

            And again, No, I’m sorry, but you’re seriously struggling to just maintain my interest here, so diving into another of your posts doesn’t exactly grab me as a particularly exciting endeavour.

            I’ll just accept your non-answer as the answer: the memes are spot on and demonstrate the absurdity of Christian theology.

            Thanks for the post dedicated to me, though. I’m flattered.

            Take care

          11. Lol! Good snark! Just that counting the words between one thing and another in a blog post is ummmm… a bit odd. Makes the one counting look like the aforementioned philadelphia lawyer.

            Zande, you’re a big one for “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin”-type arguments, and this appears of a kind with that tendency.

            I’ll leave you to guess whether or not I can count to 10, and whether or not I consider the feat impressive. 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          12. Sorry for the late entry here, but I needed to ask Praetorius if he was emphasizing the fact that John’s memes were absurd and meaningless but at the same time “You keep asking me to “show where they’re wrong.” That is, of course, exactly the wrong thing to ask since I never said they were wrong, but rather stupid and meaningless.”
            So, let me get this straight. John’s memes are true, but you simply think they are absurd and meaningless. The meme implies that the God thing is seriously invested in the human’s behavior, and the behaviors it is most invested in are those involved with how slavishly the human worships/adores/humbles himself before the God thing. So then while it is true that the God thing is seriously invested in being worshiped and adored by its humans, the idea that it is so invested is absurd and meaningless.

            OK, got it. No problem.

          13. Lol! Pretty incoherent, MW. I’ll try to distill it a bit and see if we can’t get some sense from it.

            I gather you’re confused as to what I said about Zande’s nonsensical “memes.” Well: he put up a picture that maladroitly depicted good parenting and from that drew a conclusion that Christinity is absurd. Talk about a leap of faith!

            I pointed that out for him.

            He then put up his nonsensical “ten words” that completely misrepresent Christianity and said that that also “proved” the “absurdity of Christianity.”

            His point, was a sloppy, third-grade, steaming mess of Stage 1 thinking, and I politely pointed that out to him as well.

            Did that help?

            Best,

            — x

          14. Praetorius, I did ask you to point out where the meme’s (ten words, for example) were wrong. You failed to do so. Now you say they “misrepresent” Christianity. OK, great, show me where and how.

          15. Lol! He’s baaaaaack! I figured that would bring you out of your spider hole! I have an errand to run, after which I’ll re-phrase your “ten words” so that they’re not the hot mess they are now. Oh, and then they’ll be true, and not a misrepresentation (though there might be more than 10 of ’em).

            Best,

            — x

          16. @MW: It occurs to me that I didn’t give you a thorough reply, so I’ll add a bit more. Again, your post was less than entirely well-composed and -presented, so I might have to do some slogging. You might give some consideration to editing a bit before hitting the “Send” button?

            You said:

            So, let me get this straight. John’s memes are true, but you simply think they are absurd and meaningless.

            Response:

            No. There are other alternatives to “stupid and meaningless” than “true.” One such alternative is: indecipherable. If he could have removed the stupidity and the meaninglessness from his imagery and expression, then one would be in a far better position to evaluate trueness or falseness. Otherwise, as the mess they are now, his “memes” are sufficiently incoherent as to say nothing of any value to anyone. Personally, I think they’re true as far as they go, but they don’t in any way lead to a conclusion that (1) there is no God, or (2) God is a sadistic being thriving on his creation’s suffering. (In the singular, because Zande kind of implied that the universe is some kind of integrated whole all suffering together.)

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            The meme implies that the God thing is seriously invested in the human’s behavior

            Response:

            The “meme” implies no such thing. If, that is, I understand this none-too-coherent formulation of yours. I think you’re trying to say that humans, and their behavior, are heavily invested in “the God thing” — ie a belief in the supernatural — such that they are the creators of God and not the other way round.

            If that meaning is buried somewhere in the incoherence of the thing, then maybe Zande should try to be more clear. As it is, only those already down the path of whackadoodle atheistic thinking would be able to discern such a meaning. Don’t forget that, as if to confirm that only the whackadoodle atheist can understand his “memes,” Zande then himself “created” a sadistic (but not evil) creator, a certain Zlork, who subsists on the suffering of his creation. In Zande’s fevered flight of fancy, Zlork turns out to be a rather pathetic “creator” who can’t exist without his tormented creations. And all this is derived from, or related to, his nonsensical memes.

            Finally, Zande’s Zlork myth is so riddled with contradictions that the whole mess falls apart rather readily under fairly routine scrutiny.

            Some good did come from Zande’s hot mess, though: I coined a new term that, I think, accurately describes Zande’s vast, windy diatribes filled with purplest prose and long, erudite-sounding words, all mashed up in a steaming, roiling pile of: fogwash.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            So then while it is true that the God thing is seriously invested in being worshiped and adored by its humans, the idea that it is so invested is absurd and meaningless.

            Response:

            Incorrect. It is true that God is seriously “invested” in being worshiped and adored by humans — what parent wouldn’t be so “invested?” — therefore the idea that He is thus “invested” is not absurd and meaningless. Zande never got there with his memes, though. Why? Probably because Zande views God as Zlork. Of course from that whackadoodle vantage Christianity doesn’t make any sense. But, in viewing God as a loving Creator, Christianity, and Jesus Christ, make perfect sense.

            From Zande’s view of God as Zlork, he had to contort himself to come up with the tortured reasoning that would (1) produce his silly memes, and (2) imagine that they made any sense.

            Atheists twist themselves up in the most intricate of knots, constantly falling afoul of Occam’s merciless Razor.

            Atheists are the flat-earthers struggling mightily to prove their unprovable preconceived notions about retrograde motion and earth’s relationship with the sun, by coming up with vastly intricate equations and formulations that “proved” that the sun revolves around the earth. Rather than simply imagine the earth orbiting the sun — the circumstance that makes all the nice equations behave and fall neatly into place.

            Like the flat-earthers, the atheists do their tormented best to Zlorkify all of creation, so that it will fit into their preconceived notions, rather than recognizing that they have a responsibility to try to understand creation as it is, not as they wish it to be. This forces them to come up with tortured, nonsensical “memes” such as Zande’s. They assume that this makes them seem all wise, and far-sighted, and visionary, when it all comes off as just dumb and incoherent. Like Zande’s memes.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            @MW, I hope this was a more comprehensive response to your post. I apologize if I misinterpreted some of your meaning, but if you go back and re-read your post, I suspect you’ll be more lenient with any misinterpretation I might have done.

            Best,

            — x

          1. Not exactly. You keep asking me to “show where they’re wrong.” That is, of course, exactly the wrong thing to ask since I never said they were wrong, but rather stupid and meaningless.

            You put up two graphics that say nothing more than: “God created a universe with rules, as well as a means to restore oneself to good standing if one breaks the rules.” Then you insist that you don’t believe in that same Creator. Then you further insist that this somehow demonstrates, “with crystal clarity” the absurdity of Christian theology. It demonstrates merely the absurdity of the memes you wasted so much time formulating and defending.

            Now, I’ve said all this before in this very thread, so see the Paris post for futher background.

            Why, after having publicly aired such vapid silliness would you suggest that I have a problem with substance?

            As for keeping your interest, I guarantee you will respond to this. Guarantee it! The Paris post refers back only to other posts on this thread, so you won’t have to exert any more effort than to travel up and down this page. Also, those who have difficulty understanding something also have trouble maintaining interest in the thing they can’t understand.

            Best,

            — x

  2. Oh, and i did reply to you over on Insanity’s post, but she is censoring my comments, so i guess you’ll never see what i said. Sorry about that, but she has authority there.

    1. Lol! I didn’t miss anything. Re-read the commentary in red, where I said, “now we have a Christian lesbian, with a wife who’s a witch who can control the markings on sheep and goats!!!” Apparently you missed that. 🙂

      Simple truth: Anyone can say he or she is a anything he or she wants at any time. Doesn’t make it so.

      For example, I recently had an exchange with one “Rautakyy” on IB’s blog. He was all convinced that Hitler was a “Christian,” because Hitler said he was. Then, when I pointed out that Hitler also said he was a socialist, Rautakyy all of a sudden didn’t believe him.

      Since we can’t get into anyone else’s head, I suggested a different standard for evaluation: Assess whether or not the individual’s life story and actions indicate adherence to a belief system. Under that standard, a means that specifically ignores the temptation to thinking that one has a magical ability to read minds, I suggested that the evidence points compellingly to the conclusion that Hitler was not a Christian, and was a socialist.

      Same thing here. LISTENER87 calls herself a Christian, then professes to believe in magic of some sort or another, and is married to a woman. These are pretty well-known non-Christian things. But, hey, what’s breaking a few rules among friends, eh? Well, simple: break enough of them, and you can’t really say with a straight face that you’re this or that anymore. Simple as that.

      Now, do we Christians get it right all the time? Of course not! But, what member of any group ever gets it all right? It’s pretty uncontroversial to say that humans are imperfect.

      I have more to write, but I’m really not at home, but am in the midst of an effort to improve the world somewhere else. 🙂 Makes it a bit hard for me to do the detailed replies I wish to do. I’ll try to do more this evening.

      Best,

      — x

      1. Hi Praetorius

        Doesn’t make it so.

        So you get to determine who is a True Christian™?

        I see…

        Hitler was a “Christian,” because Hitler said he was. Then, when I pointed out that Hitler also said he was a socialist, Rautakyy all of a sudden didn’t believe him.

        Well, Hitler was a Christian, that’s just a fact, and one can be a Christian and a socialist (although I’m pretty certain “socialist” was only in the party name, which Hitler didn’t found, merely took over), much like one (the vast majority of Christians, I’d say) can be a Christian and a secularist. The early church was, after all, practicing communists. Jesus espoused many socialist ideals, so I’m curious why you think being a Christian and a socialist to be mutually exclusive.

        To be honest though, I think Hitler was more an opportunist and a racist than anything else, and simply used whatever tools that were at hand to benefit his political ends. And anyway, Hitler wasn’t so bad… he did kill Hitler, after all.

        This, however, has nothing at all to do with the post at hand. Why are you even discussing this with me?

        1. You said: “So you get to determine who is a True Christian?

          Now, Zande, Zande… don’t go inventing things. You know that there’s nothing in what I posted that suggested that I get to determine who’s a true Christian.

          If you’re going to duke it out on intellectual turf, don’t resort to fabrications, putting words in others’ mouths or the irrelevant. It’s a waste of time and effort.

          I merely pointed out the obvious: there are many people who say they are many things, when sometimes they simply are not. Be it through willful deception, self-deception, error or other mishap, some people simply say they are things they are not. This should not be controversial.

          You said: “Hitler wasn’t so bad… he did kill Hitler, after all.” You should try to avoid the too-cute-by-half and the glib as well.

          My remarks on Hitler were to reinforce the point that there are people who say they are things that they are not.

          Our President, for example, pretends to be a free-market capitalist all the time, when it surely seems evident that he is not. However, since I can’t read his mind, then I have to go on the evidence that I have.

          Based on that, Obama is not a free-market capitalist, and Hitler, plainly, was not a Christian.

          Best,

          — x

          1. From Hitler to Obama… Why are you wandering all over the place? And I’m afraid there’s no such thing as a free-market capitalist. Corporatism killed Capitalism decades ago, but it is only now that people are beginning to see that.

          2. I like to use examples.

            Obama is a good example of someone who says he’s something that, it seems plain, he’s not.

            However, since I can’t see into his heart to know his beliefs, I’m left to conclude that either he’s not a free-market capitalist — as he says he is – or he’s really stupid, or poorly educated.

            Mind you, he holds no fewer than two diplomas from two Ivy League Universities, so it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that he’s very poorly educated. Columbia and Harvard have been turning out extremely expensively credentialed idiots for decades now.

            You and I might see eye-to-eye on the existence of free-market capitalism, but there are, indeed, many free-market capitalists around. I’m one of them.

            Best,

            — x

          3. You and I might see eye-to-eye on the existence of free-market capitalism, but there are, indeed, many free-market capitalists around. I’m one of them.

            No, you’re not. If you were, you’d sanction child labor, unrestricted chemical dumping in water supplies, unchecked air pollution, $1 minimum wage (or no wage at all, just food), no building regulations, no banking regulations, no insurance…

          4. How easy it is to get the left to reveal its own incoherence!

            The conditions you describe — “child labor, unrestricted chemical dumping in water supplies, unchecked air pollution, $1 minimum wage (or no wage at all, just food), no building regulations, no banking regulations, no insurance…” — are those of feudalism, which is simply socialism without the fancy words and the throngs of tenured professors.

            There is nothing of the free market in what you described. Want proof? If you were to mount a sincere, glitzy, celebrity-filled advertising campaign proposing the following thing: “Let me dump chemicals into your your water supply, and pollute your air!” how much of a market do you think you would find for your proposal? Correct. None at all. I suspect you’d find little or no market at all for your proposal even if you offered serious benefits in exchange for your chemical dumping and air pollution. The free market gets all that garbage out of it.

            The conditions you describe prevail today only in third world hellholes, all of which are … you guessed it: socialist countries. In any country where there is at least a modicum of ability to determine one’s own economic fate, there are none of the things you describe. Now, let’s see how things are in socialist China. How about socialist (but fascism is merely another flavor of socialism) North Korea? How about socialist Cuba? How about Africa? Hmmmmm… No free market anything in any of those countries!

            Oops! I forgot. Communist China did begin to relax government control over people’s economic lives and all of a sudden those things you decry above started to diminish! Even the massive pollution in Chinese cities!

            Go ahead find me anything resembling the free movement of capital — human and otherwise — under the feudal conditions you described.

            Best,

            — x

          5. Want proof? If you were to mount a sincere, glitzy, celebrity-filled advertising campaign proposing the following thing: “Let me dump chemicals into your your water supply, and pollute your air!” how much of a market do you think you would find for your proposal? Correct. None at all.

            Which is why dumping occurs illegally. If dumping reduces costs, as it does without any of those pesky environment regulations, then the product is cheaper, and by the free-hand-of-the-market the customer will resonate to the cheapest product of quality.

            Want to know why rare earths are only produced in China these days? Here’s a hint: no environmental regulations which make production prohibitively expensive. It’s a filthy process, and there’s just no easy way to do it cleanly in countries that have pollution standards.

            Want to know why your clothes are manufactured in Indonesia?

            So, I’m terribly sorry, but your rather feeble example is pure nonsense.

          6. If you re-read what you wrote, you’ll realize that you simply echoed, and therefore confirmed, what I said, and I thank you for that.

            You said, “If dumping reduces costs, as it does without any of those pesky environment regulations, then the product is cheaper, and by the free-hand-of-the-market the customer will resonate to the cheapest product of quality.”

            Incorrect. Consumers do not purchase goods or services solely on the basis of price. I said that same thing when I said you couldn’t find a market for toxic chemical dumping in rivers and polluting the air even if you were to offer a serious benefit along with the pollution. You didn’t disagree, so I’m figuring that you agree.

            You mentioned that there are “no environmental regulations” in China, and so the place is a dump. Yep. It’s a socialist country. Where there is no free market, there are no controls on the government’s doing anything at all that it wants to do. Predictably, the government does whatever it wants to do in China, and the place is a dump.

            In America, where there is a substantially freer market (not, I should hasten to add, a free market by any means), there is a huge demand for goods and services that are delivered in as environmentally responsible a way as possible. If the market were even freer in the U.S., then producers of goods and services would have to be even more responsible to respond to the market pressures.

            If the U.S. market were free, then companies would have to respond not to environmental regulations, but rather to actual market demand. Rather than simply comply with the law, companies would be forced to find ever better, more efficient, more cost-effective ways to deliver goods and services in a responsible way… or suffer the market consequences.

            As it is, though, manufacturers are insulated from market pressures to some extent, and have to abide only by the letter of U.S. law — which is a socialist-style market constraint — in order to be able to tout their good or service as “green.”

            Best,

            — x

          7. Consumers do not purchase goods or services solely on the basis of price.

            Depends on who the “end” consumer is, doesn’t it, and what the product is… and whether they’re educated as to the nature of the supply chain.

            Consider this: you have products A and B: just about identical in appearance and capacities. Product A is $100. Product B is $200. B is more expensive because they have used a rare earth produced in the US and purchased at an exorbitant price, whereas A utilises a Chinese rare earth, costing 10% of the US product.

            Without any market information available to end-consumer, will company A or B succeed.

            Listen, it looks good on paper, but a pure free market does not, and has never existed. For it to work it requires 100% market knowledge on the part of all parties concerned in the resource/supply/production/distribution/sale chain. That will never happen, which is why we have the compromise: social-capitalism. or, so we think.

          8. Hmmmm… You said:

            Consumers do not purchase goods or services solely on the basis of price.

            Depends on who the “end” consumer is, doesn’t it, and what the product is… and whether they’re educated as to the nature of the supply chain.

            Consider this: you have products A and B: just about identical in appearance and capacities. Product A is $100. Product B is $200. B is more expensive because they have used a rare earth produced in the US and purchased at an exorbitant price, whereas A utilises a Chinese rare earth, costing 10% of the US product.

            Without any market information available to end-consumer, will company A or B succeed.

            Listen, it looks good on paper, but a pure free market does not, and has never existed. For it to work it requires 100% market knowledge on the part of all parties concerned in the resource/supply/production/distribution/sale chain. That will never happen, which is why we have the compromise: social-capitalism. or, so we think.

            Let’s see what’s correct in all that. Let’s break it down…
            • Zande: “Depends on who the “end” consumer is, doesn’t it, and what the product is… and whether they’re educated as to the nature of the supply chain.

            x: This is correct. Market freedom, though, would tend to produce educated consumers, but, granted, not all of them. Just a whole lot more than we have now.

            -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* –
            • Zande: Consider this: you have products A and B: just about identical in appearance and capacities. Product A is $100. Product B is $200. B is more expensive because they have used a rare earth produced in the US and purchased at an exorbitant price, whereas A utilises a Chinese rare earth, costing 10% of the US product.

            Without any market information available to end-consumer, will company A or B succeed.

            x: One is tempted to say that, of course, Product A (presumably made by Company A) will sell better. However, your phrase: “without any market information” means that the companies and their products are not operating in a free market. The example, therefore, indicates that the companies and products are operating under conditions with a lot of artificial variables, rendering it impossible to draw any kind of meaningful conclusion. The answer therefore, is “Company A” with several pages full of disclaimers.
            -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* –
            • Zande: “Listen, it looks good on paper, but a pure free market does not, and has never existed.

            x: This is correct. But that makes it all the more compelling to say that we should give it a try. Every time, they are implemented even just a little market deregulation and market freedoms improve the economic situation. Every time.
            -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* –
            • Zande: “For it to work it requires 100% market knowledge on the part of all parties concerned in the resource/supply/production/distribution/sale chain. That will never happen, which is why we have the compromise: social-capitalism. or, so we think.

            x: This is also true, and further reinforces my point that we should now deregulate, and restore what market freedoms we can. Our country and Europe are rapidly declining, and their only hope economically is a hefty dose of free market reforms, or capitalism.

            And that would be a miracle! 🙂
            -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* -* –

            Best,

            — x

  3. If one can believe that the universe began to exist out of NOTHING without any CAUSE.
    If one can believe that life just emerged from dead matter, again for no particular reason and just by sheer dumb luck despite the odds for that happening by chance being something like 1 to 10^147, which is virtually impossible.
    If one can believe that one can trust one’s cognitive faculties despite these faculties being the result of a process that has survival as the sole selection criterium and not the recognition of truth.
    If one can believe in a fully deterministic view of the world and yet believe in the truth of one’s own views not being just the result of fully deterministic electromagnetic and chemical processes.
    If one can believe that there is absolutely no purpose to live, the universe and everything and hence, no morally right or wrong.
    If one can believe that there is no objective morality, no objective right and wrong and yet one whines about how bad and evil religion is.
    Then, indeed, one might just as well believe in black magic.

    1. Hi artaxes

      Not sure if you saw it or not in her comments, but LISTENER87 was actually a Christian. She says so right there. Now, I don’t know how she squares that with her faith in Jesus and Christian theology/dogma, but there it is, a Christian who is married to a witch.

      As per you reference to the first cause. May I ask, if you’re willing to give your god an exemption from the rules of causality, why won’t you grant that exact same exemption to the universe itself? Why one and not the other?

      1. Come on. At a time where men can be women, women be men and whites can be blacks just because they feel like it, why should that be a problem. I’ve even heared of atheists who feel like they are Christians and Christians who believe they are atheists. It’s called transtheism.
        Don’t tell me you’re one of those intolerant, bigots who would discriminate against transreligious people.
        In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t grant exemption to God.
        Whether you believe in God or not, one thing is sure. There can not be an infinite numbers of causes since that would lead to an infinite regress or to put it differently to a recursive function without a break condition. Therefore there must be an uncaused first cause.
        Everything that begins to exiist must have a cause.
        Unless you are a big-bang-denier you’ve got to admitt that the universe did begin to exist.
        some 13,5 billions of years ago.
        Because it did BEGIN TO EXIST, the universe must have a cause. It cannot be the first cause.
        But since you are willing to grant exemption to the universe, which means that the universe created itself without any cause, may I ask whether you would grant this poor gal the same exemption from the rules of causality?
        At least she is a part of the universe, if only a tiny one. Compared to the ability to create onself out of nothing without any cause, black magic seems like utter child play to me.

        1. Hi artaxes

          LISTENER87 actually says in her comments “i am Christian and i have seen a lot of miracles since i was born”. I think Praetorian missed that, too, so no harm done.

          Unless you are a big-bang-denier you’ve got to admitt that the universe did begin to exist.some 13,5 billions of years ago.

          Well, that’s not actually correct. Perhaps you’re not aware, but the BB has never been confirmed. It is still a hypothesis. A very strong hypothesis, granted, but still a hypothesis. The problem exists in that everything breaks down at Inflation, so the only honest answer one can give to the questions of origin is: “We really have no idea what was happening before Inflation.”

          But since you are willing to grant exemption to the universe, which means that the universe created itself without any cause, may I ask whether you would grant this poor gal the same exemption from the rules of causality?

          I would if I could. But to be clear, I’m not granting anything an exemption. You see, you’re entire first cause argument relies on the rules of causality being true and unbreakable, but in the same sentence you, the theist, then say “but my god is excused from this unbreakable rule.” Now, that’s fine. It’s nothing but a case of special pleading, but you can say that. It is, however, only proper then to explain why you grant this exemption to your particular god and not to, say, the universe itself. Why one and not the other? Why can one be eternal, and not the other?

          1. Nope, no special pleading. Your answer shows that you still don’t even understand what I said.
            Instead you keep attacking strawmen.
            Normally I would suspect that someone who does this either refuses to use his brain or that he is intellectually dishonest.
            In your case I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is just because you are so stuck in your atheist dogma that you cannot understand your opponent’s argument.
            So, one more time (Read slowly and carefully).

            Everything that BEGINS TO EXIST must have a cause.
            That means that things that NEVER BEGAN TO EXIST because they EXIST ETERNALLY or OUTSIDE OF TIME don’t need a cause.
            If something does exist eternally it wouldn’t make any sense that it has any cause.
            In fact it would be impossible that there is a cause for something that exists eternally or outside of time.
            If something exists eternally you can go back in time as far as you like and there would still be a prior point in time.
            That is the problem of infinite regress as far as a causal chain is concerned.
            Do you understand the problem of infinite regress? Put simply, it’s like a set of dominos with one tile representing the current moment. If the number of tiles were inifinite one could never arrive at the current moment.
            So, there are two kind of things.
            Things, which begin to exist and things which exist eternally or outside of time.
            Things that BEGIN TO EXIST must have a cause. It has never been observed that things just pop into existence out of nothing without any cause.
            Things that exist eternally or outside of time cannot have any cause. They must be uncaused.
            As a being that exists eternally and outside of time God is uncaused.
            You can agree or disagree with my premisses but I am fully consistent in my explanation which doesn’t need a special exemption for God. I am fully consistent in my argument.
            So, don’t give me your boilerplate, easy-to-memorize, standard atheist accusation that I supposedly need a special exemption for God. You can repeat it ad nauseam but that doesn’t make it true and, frankly, it isn’t a sign of terrific intellectual prowess.

            There are two candidates for the first uncaused cause. The universe or something outside of the universe.
            I’ve amswered you already why the unverse cannot be the first cause. Because the universe began to exist. Therefore it needs a cause outside of itself. You continuing to ask the same question I’ve answered already doesn’t make you look smart.
            The only reason why atheists exclude a priori a first cause outside of the universe (science itself does not exclude that) is because they cling to the religion of naturalism best described by Carl Sagan: “The cosmos is all that ever was, all that is and all that ever will be.”.

            The big bang theory is just one line of support for my argument. The laws of thermodynamics also preclude an eternal universe. An eternal universe would have run out of useful energy long ago and we would have maximum enthropy.

            The next one is hillarous.
            “We really have no idea what was happening before Inflation.”
            Yep, you have no idea what was happening but you are sure that the big-bang theory is not correct.
            That’s what I call logic.

            Here comes the next gem.
            “Perhaps you’re not aware, but the BB has never been confirmed. It is still a hypothesis. A very strong hypothesis, granted, but still a hypothesis.”
            In case you don’t know, EVERYTHING in science are models, hypotheses and theories since science cannot make absolute truth claims for the simple reason that scientific theories must be falsifiable.
            That said, there is much more evidence and confirmation for the big bang theory than there is for the theory of evolution or the claim of man-made global warming.
            Would you be as sceptical of evolution as you are of BB? Or are you hypersceptical of BB because it gives support to theism while accepting the much weaker theory of evolution because it happens to support atheism?

            And here comes the best.
            “You see, you’re entire first cause argument relies on the rules of causality being true and unbreakable”
            Whoa. You mean to tell me that the laws of causality are not true?
            You mean, things just happen without any cause all the time? Without any reason?
            Wow. If you really believe that, you can throw science out the window. The laws of causality are the very essence and backbone of science. You can’t do science without them. Seriously, if you truly believe that, you might just as well believe in the tooth fairy or, as I said, in black magic.
            Atheists make fun of theists for believing in God without any evidence and yet they are willing to believe that the rules of causality are not true despite the fact that it has never been observed that things just happen without any cause.
            If things just happen without any rhyme or reason, what’s the point of doing science anyway?

            Conclusion: It takes much more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God.
            I love science, reason and common sense too much to be an atheist.

            Anyway, thanks for entertaining us. So far, you have done nothing to show that the author of this post picked the wrong title.
            Other than that you seem like a nice person to me and I hope that you are not disappointed when I won’t respond to your comments or when it takes a very long time for me to do so.

          2. Hi artaxes

            Yep, special pleading. You haven’t answered anything. And you haven’t even gotten out of the gates because you have not proved the universe began to exist. To repeat the point that I made earlier: inflation wipes out any information that existed about the Universe before inflation. Except for the last 10-20-to-10-36 seconds of inflation (depending on the exact model parameters you choose), we have zero information in our Universe today about what happened prior to that.

            Now, Inflation hasn’t even been proven. There are many, many models, and if you’re going to quote Vilenkin (which I suspect you are) then let me stop you right here. As Vilenkin wrote in Inflationary Spacetimes are not Past-Complete:

            “Whatever the possibilities for the boundary, it is clear that unless the averaged expansion condition can somehow be avoided for all past-directed geodesics, inflation alone is not sufficient to provide a complete description of the Universe, and some new physics is necessary in order to determine the correct conditions at the boundary. This is the chief result of our paper.

            And as Alan Guth said:

            ”There is, of course, no conclusion that an eternally inflating model must have a unique beginning, and no conclusion that there is an upper bound on the length of all backwards-going geodesics from a given point.”

            And as Vilenkin’s new research partner, Anthony Aguirre, said:

            “Given eternal inflation, the universe may be free of a cosmological initial singularity, might be eternal (and eternally inflating) to the past”

            So, by all means, prove to me this universe had a beginning.

            And I’m afraid to say but you’re doubly not out of the gates yet, because the entire first cause argument, as I have already pointed out to you, rides on the unbreakable rules of causality. Well, those rules aren’t as fixed as you might like. When thorium-234 naturally decays into protactinium-234, the nucleus emits an electron. The electron wasn’t in the nucleus before, and it had no cause.

          3. “And I’m afraid to say but you’re doubly not out of the gates yet, because the entire first cause argument, as I have already pointed out to you, rides on the unbreakable rules of causality. Well, those rules aren’t as fixed as you might like. When thorium-234 naturally decays into protactinium-234, the nucleus emits an electron. The electron wasn’t in the nucleus before, and it had no cause.”

            Holy #%&$§§!!!
            You are indeed a nutball.
            Either you have no clue about radioactive decay or you are completely dishonest and think we are too stupid to see how completely utterly wrong you are.
            The electron does not pop out of nothing. When thorium-234 decays, one of its neutrons is converted into a proton and an electron which is emitted. The neutron loses mass in the process.
            Neither does this happen without a cause. It happens because of an unstable atomic nucleus with an excess of neutrons.
            If Beta decay would happen without a cause it would happen with all isotopes and with all elements equally frequently.
            No disrespect to your mother but using your logic, I could say that your mama emitted an embryo which wasn’t in her womb before and that it had no cause.
            Using your logic, I could say that you just popped out of nothing without any cause.
            Why should “no cause” be selective? No cause, means no cause. If there is no cause for a process A we should expect it to happen randomly and not just under specific circumstances.
            Furthermore, do you grant the privelege of popping out of nothing without any cause just to electrons or would you grant the same privelege to transistor radios and smartphones? Why can’t Ferraris, IPhones and Steaks pop out of nothing without a cause? Do I smell special pleading on your part?
            Seriously, you should stick to voodoo because your physics suck.

          4. Perhaps I was a little careless in my wording. Perhaps I was also a little careless in assuming that you would know what I was talking about. So let’s be clear: Determinism has been broadly rejected in physics. It is impossible to predict when a particular atom will decay. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics (the most popular among physicists) in fact quite clearly states says that some events at the quantum level “have no cause.” So, if you cannot prove premise 1 of the cosmological argument you haven’t gotten out of the gates.

            However, for fun, I’m going to grant you two free doors.

            First, I’m more than happy to grant you thorough causality. It makes no difference to the argument. You must explain why you grant an exemption to the rules of causality to your god, and not to the universe itself… and you have to do this without special pleading.

            Good luck.

            Second, and here is where it gets really fun: I am happy to grant you a Creator. I submit that this world was brought into existence by a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose nutritional, emotional and entertainment needs are satisfied best by the suffering which pervades all of Creation, and whose single-minded objective is to amplify His pleasure-taking over time. An existence, after all, without experiential growth—without accretion in those sensations considered the most stimulating and arousing—would be, at best, intolerable, and so as a matter of simple necessity the Creator must seek to maximise His pleasure over time, and this most basic of existential preconditions is explicitly and expressly exampled through the congenital, naturally self-complicating functions of Creation itself.

            Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement, arousal and nutritional satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

            Refute that

          5. @Zande: the refutation for your malevolent creator is easy, and there are many:
            • No such creator as you envision would allow an escape hatch — Jesus. Whether you believe in Jesus’ ability to bring salvation or not, He does bring healing, salving hope. No tormenting creator would allow anything like hope to the creation he is tormenting. Hope erases torment like nothing else in life.
            • No such creator as you envision would even have a point in making a creation such as you imagine. In your hypothetical, the creations would end up hating the creator. If you’re going to quote the people who have named your so-called deity the devil, then you have to use the rest of their belief as well: The devil you spoke of, craves the love of his (or her, let’s be fair) subjects, their worship not their hatred.
            • The creator you envision surely would understand that he would be creating a truly boring creation. It’s easy to get people to dislike, or to be suspicious of you. It’s not so easy to persuade — the only means possible — someone to love or respect you. What creator, who can do what you admit that your hypothetical creator did (see my post about the number of galaxies and stars) would then set out to make such a boring creation? By the way, I can presume to speak for your hypothetical creator, because you have presumed to get into his hypothetical head to know his motives.
            • Finally: your hypothetical can never be more than just a counter-balancing idea to the idea that the Creator is good and loving. Kind of an “Oh, yeah? Well I think he’s mean, so there!” To which the only logical response is, “So what?”

            You really do end up putting a lot of fluff out there to which the only logical response is, “So what?” Or, “Big deal.” Like your absurd and meaningless memes further up.

            There is plenty of written and oral historical record saying that God communicated directly with people, and told them that He had set up the universe according to one simple principle: Follow My rules, and be eternally happy. That simple principle makes obvious sense.

            Your hypothetical malevolent “creator” is counter-intuitive all the way through, leaving one to do nothing more than to say, “What would be the point?” It seems fairly obvious that neither a malevolent, nor a benevolent creator would create an entirely pointless universe.

            All your vast flood of attempts at erudite-sounding showoffery are nothing more than puffery and baseless conjecture. You’re just tossing stuff out there against the wall, apparently hoping people will think you’re smart, and bow down before your “crystal-clear” nuggets. Apparently hoping that something will stick. Nuggets that, as soon as one scrutinizes them, become murky, fogged-up and absurd. You’re flailing, pal! 🙂

            Those are just a few refutations, or counter-arguments (since you won’t view them as refutations). There are, of course, many, many more.

            Best,

            — x

          6. Not sure where this comment will land, but it is a quick observation re. -xp’s recent reply to jz.

            It was rock solid, but not solely because it disagreed with john’s short-sighted premise that God is really not that ‘good.’

            It is a good answer because it is true, clear, and proves that men TRY to make God in THEIR image. Not too smart.

            The entire comment was superb, and -xp’s point about ‘persuasion’ was pretty darn illuminating, and you were just handed a rare gift there jz.

            Oh how the light of day should be welcome in the midst of darkness..

          7. Thanks for your reply. I respect your effort and will give your point’s full attention.

            First up, forget Jesus. He simply does not exist in the capacity in which you think he exists. Now, don’t get me wrong, the wicked creator encourages the many, many Jesus’ of this world, the sages and so-named prophets. He encourages religious belief, and religion is given every opportunity to exist. It is, after all, an instrument which effortlessly causes tremendous friction inside the believer and between believers. It drives wondrous wedges between communities, and in those times when man sheds that thin veneer he calls ‘civilisation’ and returns to his primitive state of indigenous disorder it serves to inspire unforgiving violence by providing a moral justification for unchecked bloodshed. The existence of religious belief confuses and confounds men with profound internal inconsistencies. It is a dynamic compost, made only more persuasive by the fact that it is self-actualising, and self-explanatory. With these qualities religious belief is an extraordinary pretext for a single man to self-harm, and hoards of men to inflict harm on others, and while these are all appealing parcels of self-administered misery, the most potent and cherished service religion provides—greater than the aggregate of all private turbulences and public mayhems bundled together—is to distract men. Theodicies, therefore, are celebrated by The Owner of All Infernal Names.

            Second, Hope. Hope, observed Nietzsche in a moment of scandalous clarity, is the greatest of evils for it lengthens the ordeal of man. More important, however, than its contribution to quantity, hope—a derivative of both natural and moral good—is that essential element in focusing and personalising the quality of suffering, complicating existence in astonishing and oftentimes gorgeous ways. Indeed, above all other things, hope is that stimulative breath that inspires within those organisms capable of being inspired investment in a future sensed but not seen.
            It is, in simple expression, a self-authored contract to complication.
            Where hope exists so too does activity, and from the enormous perspective of The Owner of All Infernal Names, hope is to be favoured over ruin, dreams preferred over nightmares, for in the larger narrative—the only narrative that truly matters—it is hope and pleasant forecasts that is the surest possible path to the greatest possible harvest. Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed. Prospects and aspirations and expectations must be birthed and floated before they can be overwhelmed and drowned. Optimism must be established, plans mapped out, investments made and ambitious journeys launched before a thousand and one profitable little deaths can be delivered. A population must be fattened before it can be starved. One and a half billion people must be fed and protected to some degree of satisfaction—a precious few even allowed to live spectacular lives in idyllic settings free from any and all concerns—so the six and half billion thirsty, starving, sick, war-torn, homeless, and displaced can recognise and appreciate their sorrowful lot. Impossibly courageous adventures must have, at the very least, some scent of imaginable success or else the adventurer would never unfurl his incomplete map and wonder, what if…
            You see, by indulging His game, by giving it line and letting it run in unpredictable and creative directions, the Creator has ensured both activity and pleasure. Indeed, spoiling his quarry by letting it run must not only be the source of enormous enjoyment for the Creator, but it must also constitute a great portion of the holy writ underscoring the operation of His creation. What greater possible pleasure is there, after all, than letting your prey hope for an alternative outcome? What greater thrill is there than letting your victim believe it can win?

            Third, you said: No such creator as you envision would even have a point in making a creation such as you imagine.

            Of course He would, as His central ambition is to maximise His pleasure over time. To ensure satisfaction saturates His immeasurable essence the Omnimalevolent Creator has, self-evidently, structured His most notable of creations, the universe itself, to perform as a monumental pleasure generating mechanism: a conscientiously patient, meticulously clean, ferociously efficient complexity machine where the naturally unravelling consequences of its most basic of operations spawn forever deepening personalities of suffering there to be experienced by those increasingly complex contingent things that have no choice but be conjured from within.

            Fourth: a boring Creation? What on earth makes you think this is a boring Creation? From the Creator’s perspective suffering has existed since hydrogen screamed. From hard radiations to minds, digestive systems, knives, and psychological warfare, this is Creation’s single impulse. All things tumble mindlessly forward, accruing over time ever-increasing states of complexity, where complexity parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss. Indeed, it is seen that since the first protean cycles of this universe were spun up and let loose, the urge of all that which moves and interacts has consulted the future with a stubborn enthusiasm, cascading naturally forward, spilling out from the simplest and lightest towards the heaviest and most complicated. It is a contract to which all contingent things—whether they know it and like it or not—are hopelessly but faithfully dedicated; contrivances on an assembly line devoted to producing new contrivances—or variations on an existing contrivances—that are more adept, more skilled and more talented than the last generation at experiencing and distributing suffering.

            To your last point. You said: “Finally: your hypothetical can never be more than just a counter-balancing idea to the idea that the Creator is good and loving. Kind of an “Oh, yeah? Well I think he’s mean, so there!”

            Here, and with all due respect, you’re thoroughly confused. This is not a comparative exercise. The Owner of All Infernal Names does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit. He is the Catalogue of Catalogues, the source of all contingent things, and contrary to popular opinion and fantastic fictions, The Owner of All Infernal Names does not loathe what men, mice, mushrooms and microbes find enjoyable or desirable. The Creator is not necessarily hateful, vengeful, or even hostile, merely intensely pragmatic and thoroughly observant of His needs…. and despite being perilously unpalatable to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited, it is simply the case that the sensations of misery, suffering, confusion and anxiety are more full-bodied than affection, more secure than enchantment, more faithful than veneration, and spectacularly more enduring than any emotional surge inspired by some fleeting and momentarily exciting curiosity. Pain does not lie or betray. Misery cannot be counterfeited. And while suffering in all its delicious variety can be cloned and shared, it can never be legitimately faked or forged.

            As a final note, well might you ask, Why does The Owner of All Infernal Names consume suffering? Why does the omnipotent, omnipresent source of all things feast on sorrow and misery and confusion and anxiety and pain, and not love, compassion, goodness or kindness? Why create a universe that works instinctively towards greater expressions of mayhem and danger if a universe could be created that was driven towards forever expanding paradigms of peace and trusted security?
            It is a conspicuous and pressing question, yet well might one ask: Why does man consume oxygen? To cyanobacteria it would appear a filthy, grotesque, and unquestionably revolting diet. How else, after all, but with certain repulsion would one organism describe the dietary practices of another organism that consumes the first organism’s waste: its faeces?
            You, Praetorius, are consuming another organism’s faeces, but does this fact alter your appreciation of, and need for oxygen?

          8. Hi Praetorius

            I’m wondering, are you going to attempt a rebuttal, or do you concede The Owner of all Names is, in fact, the most likely explanation for this world?

          9. Lol! Zande the great fog machine! You can say less of any substance in more words than anyone I know! Someone once said of someone else: “he has nothing to say, and says it at great length.” In that brief, pithy phrase, he captured the essence of Zande.

            I confess, though, I’m somewhat hooked. Your post represents some of the best awful writing I’ve ever read, and makes me question why you use your obvious gifts in the service of such nitwittery.

            I wrote another post (here) on bad prose like this, and you just may have topped it. Do yourself a favor and read, and savor, the glorious awfulness at the other end of that link. (It even has a point-of-view with which I’m sympathetic!)

            So, because most of what you’ve written is purest fog, I’ll try to extract what I can of actual viewpoint in the midst of the moisty mist and mount a reply. (You’re not the only one who can produce bad prose! 🙂 )

            You said:

            First up, forget Jesus. He simply does not exist in the capacity in which you think he exists. Now, don’t get me wrong, the wicked creator encourages the many, many Jesus’ of this world, the sages and so-named prophets. He encourages religious belief, and religion is given every opportunity to exist. It is, after all, an instrument which effortlessly causes tremendous friction inside the believer and between believers. It drives wondrous wedges between communities, and in those times when man sheds that thin veneer he calls ‘civilisation’ and returns to his primitive state of indigenous disorder it serves to inspire unforgiving violence by providing a moral justification for unchecked bloodshed. The existence of religious belief confuses and confounds men with profound internal inconsistencies. It is a dynamic compost, made only more persuasive by the fact that it is self-actualising, and self-explanatory. With these qualities religious belief is an extraordinary pretext for a single man to self-harm, and hoards of men to inflict harm on others, and while these are all appealing parcels of self-administered misery, the most potent and cherished service religion provides—greater than the aggregate of all private turbulences and public mayhems bundled together—is to distract men. Theodicies, therefore, are celebrated by The Owner of All Infernal Names.

            Reaction:

            First: let’s keep in mind something important: You yourself, Zande, don’t believe any of your own hogwash, so this response is just an exercise in self-indulgence. This is all just a Zande derailment and I’m not actually arguing against something you believe, which shows your insecurity as regards your real beliefs.

            Next: Why should I forget Jesus? He existed, and simply because you say “he didn’t exist in the capacity in which I think he exists” doesn’t make that true. He did exist in the capacity that Christianity envisions that He existed (and lives) and that claim has as much validity as yours… as well as thousands of eye-witnesses.

            You said further that your hypothetical malevolent creator (in which you don’t believe in the first place, so you’re just making this all up as you go anyway) “created” religion in order to foster conflict and misery. Then your creator wouldn’t have allowed Christianity. Christianity’s explicit instructions are to love one another unconditionally regardless of the nature of your relationship with another. Christianity, and Christ, stand as clear rebukes to your hypothetical creator. Let’s give him a name, ’cause it’s a pain to write “your hypothetical creator.” Let’s call him “Zlork,” though his real name should be “Zande” in honor of his creator. However, “Zlork” bears no possible obscure references from which someone (except Zlork) could fabricate offense.

            No, Zlork couldn’t possibly have permitted Jesus or His message into any universe of his devising.

            You said: “It is, after all, an instrument which effortlessly causes tremendous friction inside the believer and between believers.” This is obviously incorrect. People “cause tremendous friction.” Just people. Those who cause tremendous frictions are those who tend to cause tremendous frictions. If some misuse Christianity as an excuse, that’s still the fault of the people misusing Christianity. If there were no religious belief, then these same people would simply use some other excuse.

            In the above quoted paragraph, from “The existence of religious belief confuses…” and on is nothing more than Zande fog and hogwash: fogwash.©

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Second, Hope. Hope, observed Nietzsche in a moment of scandalous clarity, is the greatest of evils for it lengthens the ordeal of man. More important, however, than its contribution to quantity, hope—a derivative of both natural and moral good—is that essential element in focusing and personalising the quality of suffering, complicating existence in astonishing and oftentimes gorgeous ways. Indeed, above all other things, hope is that stimulative breath that inspires within those organisms capable of being inspired investment in a future sensed but not seen.
            It is, in simple expression, a self-authored contract to complication.

            Reaction:

            This was incorrectly stated. Your paragraph should have started with this: “Hope, observed Nietzsche in a moment of scandalous clarity, which was wrong, is the greatest of evils for it lengthens the ordeal of man.” Others who were possessed of “scandalous clarity” were Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Charles Manson. In retrospect, their clarity of vision turned out to be wonderfully clear… and pretty stupid. Clear is not necessarily correct.

            Hope is a very real, very powerful salve to suffering, and Zlork never would have permitted it to exist. Because, of course, it can erase suffering entirely, engendering a sense of calm happiness, even joy, in the midst of what the outside observer would swear should be pure pain. You might call the owner of the hope delusional, but his happiness would be quite real, and Zlork would not have permitted it.

            The rest, after the quoted part, is just more fogwash.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Where hope exists so too does activity, and from the enormous perspective of The Owner of All Infernal Names, hope is to be favoured over ruin, dreams preferred over nightmares, for in the larger narrative—the only narrative that truly matters—it is hope and pleasant forecasts that is the surest possible path to the greatest possible harvest. Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed. Prospects and aspirations and expectations must be birthed and floated before they can be overwhelmed and drowned. Optimism must be established, plans mapped out, investments made and ambitious journeys launched before a thousand and one profitable little deaths can be delivered. A population must be fattened before it can be starved. One and a half billion people must be fed and protected to some degree of satisfaction—a precious few even allowed to live spectacular lives in idyllic settings free from any and all concerns—so the six and half billion thirsty, starving, sick, war-torn, homeless, and displaced can recognise and appreciate their sorrowful lot. Impossibly courageous adventures must have, at the very least, some scent of imaginable success or else the adventurer would never unfurl his incomplete map and wonder, what if…

            Reaction:

            Why say in 30 words what one can say in 1,000, eh? Anyway, to distill: Hope must be established in order for it to be dashed. Correct. Except for the fact that hope also, and quite clearly, contains something that Zlork could never permit: a roadmap to Zlork’s own defeat. The problem with your hypothesis, Zande, is that the human condition has done nothing but improve — with the inevitable fits, starts and regressions — since time immemorial. Salk defeated polio because he had hope that he could. If he had considered it a hopeless cause, he never would have embarked on it in the first place. However, he did, and as a result, vast human suffering was eradicated, wiped out.

            The human organism’s entire existence consists of a constant effort to improve its situation. Every cell of the human body does everything it does to improve its own situation, and in far greater than 99% of the time, both the human and his cells succeed overwhelmingly in all they do, contributing to the human organism’s greater happiness.

            The times where humans fail to achieve their goals is usually when those goals are abstract and the reaction to that failure is — read it well — entirely under the control of the human in question. Granted this is not the case where people scrabble for their next meal, but that terrible condition has been decreasing in the world for decades, and one can indeed hope, be optimistic even, that hunger will be defeated in the next several decades — if, that is, we can get rid of socialism in the world.

            Bottom Line: Malevolent Zlork could not possibly permit his creations such overwhelming success in their happiness-producing endeavors. Nor, most importantly, would she ever permit things such as the polio vaccine, or capitalism, or the gradual conquest of hunger, or the massive strides against disease, or abolitionism, or any of the other massive strides humanity has made toward just making life better. I know, I know, I know… every time we defeat something bad, it’s simply replaced by the next bad thing. The problem is that such a process leaves the world practically awash in hope, salving suffering, and bringing happiness all the heck over the place.

            Now, hope, like all things does have its downside: those who have hope can be tempted to complacency, and that happens quite a lot. However, having the proper reaction to hope is the responsibility of the one who has hope. That we humans get it wrong frequently should not be controversial.

            Now the final, unarguable, point: Zlork would never, ever, ever, not in a squillion years allow his creation to have complete control over its reaction to success and failure. Yet, there it is: happy people in the midst of conditions that any reasonable observer would conclude should produce only misery. Zlork could never have permitted that.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            You see, by indulging His game, by giving it line and letting it run in unpredictable and creative directions, the Creator has ensured both activity and pleasure. Indeed, spoiling his quarry by letting it run must not only be the source of enormous enjoyment for the Creator, but it must also constitute a great portion of the holy writ underscoring the operation of His creation. What greater possible pleasure is there, after all, than letting your prey hope for an alternative outcome? What greater thrill is there than letting your victim believe it can win?

            Reaction:

            This is just fogwash completely refuted by the fact that humans can defeat what you imply is hopelessness with mere perception and attitude. Your Zlork would have to be an inept “creator” indeed to have allowed all that into his universe.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Fourth: a boring Creation? What on earth makes you think this is a boring Creation? From the Creator’s perspective suffering has existed since hydrogen screamed. From hard radiations to minds, digestive systems, knives, and psychological warfare, this is Creation’s single impulse. All things tumble mindlessly forward, accruing over time ever-increasing states of complexity, where complexity parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss. Indeed, it is seen that since the first protean cycles of this universe were spun up and let loose, the urge of all that which moves and interacts has consulted the future with a stubborn enthusiasm, cascading naturally forward, spilling out from the simplest and lightest towards the heaviest and most complicated. It is a contract to which all contingent things—whether they know it and like it or not—are hopelessly but faithfully dedicated; contrivances on an assembly line devoted to producing new contrivances—or variations on an existing contrivances—that are more adept, more skilled and more talented than the last generation at experiencing and distributing suffering.

            Reaction:

            This is some of the best awful, meaningless writing I’ve ever read. I have to assume that you wrote this execrable prose on purpose, and applaud your success at producing such delicious dreadfulness. Of course, since it’s only further elaboration on the previous paragraph, it needs no response other than on the writing itself. Its sheer appalling lousiness needed to be acknowledged. Zlork would be pleased… if you even believed he existed.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            To your last point. You said: “Finally: your hypothetical can never be more than just a counter-balancing idea to the idea that the Creator is good and loving. Kind of an “Oh, yeah? Well I think he’s mean, so there!”

            Here, and with all due respect, you’re thoroughly confused. This is not a comparative exercise. The Owner of All Infernal Names does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit. He is the Catalogue of Catalogues, the source of all contingent things, and contrary to popular opinion and fantastic fictions, The Owner of All Infernal Names does not loathe what men, mice, mushrooms and microbes find enjoyable or desirable. The Creator is not necessarily hateful, vengeful, or even hostile, merely intensely pragmatic and thoroughly observant of His needs…. and despite being perilously unpalatable to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited, it is simply the case that the sensations of misery, suffering, confusion and anxiety are more full-bodied than affection, more secure than enchantment, more faithful than veneration, and spectacularly more enduring than any emotional surge inspired by some fleeting and momentarily exciting curiosity. Pain does not lie or betray. Misery cannot be counterfeited. And while suffering in all its delicious variety can be cloned and shared, it can never be legitimately faked or forged.

            Reaction:

            More Zande fogwash around idle speculation that constitutes “just saying things,” the general SOP of those who are without the ability to propose substantive arguments.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            As a final note, well might you ask, Why does The Owner of All Infernal Names consume suffering? Why does the omnipotent, omnipresent source of all things feast on sorrow and misery and confusion and anxiety and pain, and not love, compassion, goodness or kindness? Why create a universe that works instinctively towards greater expressions of mayhem and danger if a universe could be created that was driven towards forever expanding paradigms of peace and trusted security?

            It is a conspicuous and pressing question, yet well might one ask: Why does man consume oxygen? To cyanobacteria it would appear a filthy, grotesque, and unquestionably revolting diet. How else, after all, but with certain repulsion would one organism describe the dietary practices of another organism that consumes the first organism’s waste: its faeces?

            You, Praetorius, are consuming another organism’s faeces, but does this fact alter your appreciation of, and need for oxygen?

            Reaction:

            You said:

            “It is a conspicuous and pressing question, yet well might one ask: Why does man consume oxygen?”

            Reaction:

            Why might one ask that? I didn’t ask it. I don’t need to ask it. As an observer, I recognize that it’s a rule of our life. We follow that rule in order to continue to live. Asked. Answered. Your question focuses on the most irrelevant of trees, when there’s an entire forest out there that you’ve entirely missed.

            If you wish to give to oxygen the label “cyanobacteria fecal matter,” that’s fine; I label it: “oxygen.” Your attempt at distraction with an irrelevant question, doesn’t answer the other question: What’s Zlork’s point? Your Zlork is nothing more than pointless, idle speculation. Why would you engage in pointless, idle speculation? Simple: you don’t really have any arguments for your atheism. Your arguments all lack perception and vision, they fail the merest of scrutiny, and you need your trademark fogwash to cover up for that failing.

            One thing I have to give you, Zande: your fogwash is Veltmeyer-level fogwash. In honor of the crags near your Brazilian home, John’s Ande — the one that he can’t seem to get over or past — is a pinched, crabbed vision, lacking perception, scope and imagination.

            Finally: With your nonsensical memes and your preposterous Zlork, you spend an awful lot of time and effort concocting arguments you don’t believe: “God does absurd things,” to try to support an argument you do believe: “God doesn’t exist.” Surely you can do better than that to make your point?

            Best,

            — x

          10. Hi Praetorius, thanks for your reply. I appreciate the effort, although must say you haven’t actually presented even the beginnings of what may be considered a coherent counterargument. That’s a little disappointing, albeit expected. In the future, perhaps if you spent a little less time on juvenile insults, and more time on structuring your thoughts in an adult fashion you might enjoy some small degree of success in the things you set your mind to.

            That said, I’ll honour what you’ve done and address your points in tune. Hopefully your next attempt might produce something intelligible…. Maybe even challenging, although I strongly doubt that. But who knows, surprise me.

            I’m curious, though… Why are you only concerning yourself with matters of men? We are but one species, and a very new species at that. Creation is 14 billion years old, and suffering has existed since hydrogen screamed. Plants, like algae and fungi, are stained with a gentle but persuasive insanity known to all life, and can suffer in a form of chemical panic if starved of (or saturated by) water, nutrients and sunlight, if strip-barked, infested with parasites, or over-grazed. This is real. Located deep inside the plant genome, isolated within the first intron MPK4, lay three ancient genes (PR1, PR2, PR5) that have revealed to researchers that MPK4 is devoted to negative regulation of the PR gene expression. What this means is that plants not only experience suffering, they live in fear of it. This gene expression is anticipatory. It is what humans would identify with as a deep-rooted paranoia, a most ancient anxiety.

            Climb then above this first chorus of pain-aware life and the experience of physical and emotional torment only deepens with each ascending rung.

            Without a single neuron to call its own, protozoa can suffer in more intimate ways, and these tiny micro-factories are endowed with a primitive ability to struggle against their torture at the hands of, for instance, the parasitic Legionella pneumophila, notifying all observers that this most primitive breath of life knows it is suffering. Look at this world through an honest eye and it is clear that suffering is very nearly omnipresent. It is built into the very nature of all things, present and acting against even the shallowest expressions of what may be considered ‘happiness’ for billions of years before the first empathic thought was ever teased loose.

            Have you ever heard of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness? It’s remarkable. Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the declaration firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering. Indeed, the signatories to the declaration stressed that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish.

            So, Praetorius, why are you ignoring all this in your evaluation of Creation? Do the ethical horrors of nature embarrass you?

            Now, as John Fiske observed,

            “A scheme which permits thousands of generations to live and die in wretchedness cannot be absolved from the charge of awkwardness or malevolence. It is impossible to call that being Good who, existing prior to the phenomenal universe, and creating it out of the plenitude of infinite power and foreknowledge, endowed it with such properties that its material and moral development must inevitably be attended by the misery of untold millions of sentient creatures for whose existence their creator is ultimately alone responsible.”

            If it is impossible to call the Creator Good, as Fiske duly notes it is, then what remains by way of an explanation for this world is simple malevolence. Without need for excuse or elaborate theodicies, malevolence explains the world that is, and by the strength and rigidity of this explanation an imprint—an outline—of the Creator who cherishes His anonymity is revealed. It is the explanation that exists without need for an alibi, scapegoat, hastily arranged apology, or laboured advocacy. Where the Christian, for example, is forced to rescue an incompetent spirit who has, for one imaginative reason or another, lost total control of his creation, the gospel of the malevolent hand stands unchaste, uncontaminated, and inviolable. As an explanation for the world that has been, is, and will be, malevolence is complete. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a cover story or inventive pretext.

            To your points. And do please pay attention.

            Reaction 1

            You are forgetting that this is not a comparative exercise.

            You said further that your hypothetical malevolent creator … “created” religion in order to foster conflict and misery.

            No, I did not say that. Please read my words more carefully in the future. I said the Creator is pleased by religious beliefs because belief fosters both public and private turmoil. That is pleasing to Him. Rigid political opinions produce the same pedigree of turmoil. He is also greatly pleased when men invent imaginative theodicies, such as those espoused in Christianity. If man is busy inventing reasons for why evil saturates existence then he is not occupying himself with thoughts of rebellion.

            Christianity, and Christ, stand as clear rebukes to your hypothetical creator.

            Really? How so? Because someone spoke some nice words and made some promises? You are aware, aren’t you, Jesus didn’t say anything new or original. All his thoughts had been expressed by sages and poets and playwrights long, long before him. It’s a little baffling here why you would even suggest Christianity. It is, of course, the most bloodthirsty and violent of all religions. With religious justification Christians excuse themselves from all matters of common decency, and with wild abandon they are empowered to rejoice in their own perverted inhumanity. Celebrating the aftermath of the storming of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099, Cleric Raymond of Aguilers gleefully remarked:

            “In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses’ bridles, by the just and marvellous judgment of God.”

            What about Dena Schlosser who while listening to church hymns in 2004 cut off the arms of her 11 month year old baby girl because she claimed God had wanted her to do it as “an offering” before the apocalypse? Or what about Deanna Lajune LeNay who in 2003 bludgeoned her two boys to death because “God was testing her faith.” Or what about Julia Lovemore who in June, 2012, killed her 6 week old daughter by shoving pages of the bible down the child’s throat because she wanted her to ‘absorb’ the books message of love. Or what about the utter immoral negligence of Dale and Shannon Hickman who “faith healed” their newborn to death after refusing to seek medical attention because they believed their god would heal her? Or Bruce and Deborah Leonard who beat their son to death (over hours, mind you) in a church “counselling” session?

            Have you ever heard of Gary North, an American Christian Dominionist and “Tea Party Economist” who wants to reintroduce public stoning’s in American public squares? Yes, really. See his book, The Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments.

            Praetorius, libraries, dozens of libraries, could be filled with the incidents of Christian inspired barbarism, but as I have already said, this is not religious beliefs greatest benefit. The true value of belief is to distract men.

            Just look at yourself… Desperate (frantic, even) to not believe in The Owner of All Infernal Names. Your emotional insecurity ensures you’ll look for any other alternative explanation for this world. Your actions please our Creator. He is excited that you have intentionally blinded yourself.

            Reaction 2

            Hope is a very real, very powerful salve to suffering, and Zlork never would have permitted it to exist.

            I have already explained this to you. Hope is marvellous! Without it, men and mice would never throw themselves willingly into the future… Voluntarily complicating their own lives. If existential despair saturated our existence why would anyone do anything? You see, the Creator is thrilled that men strive to better themselves.

            In the perfectly degenerate eyes of a maximally degenerate being it is prospect and expectant optimism, not destruction, bankruptcy and wreckage that is the headwaters to the most fruitful entertainment and corrupted gratification down the line where the great rivers of life and culture branch off into a diverse delta of the deepest potential, for the more expressive life becomes, the more entangled, exposed and, ultimately, more vulnerable it is.

            Consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later.

            To the Omnimalevolent Creator, the cultured object is undoubtedly the more impressive, deceptively more vulnerable asset. Although seemingly blessed with some level of security unheard of to the wandering man—a primitive who shares his very living space with single-minded predators—the cultured man is, in the eyes of a degenerate being, a far more compromised stock that promises a greater return on investment. Dependency on systems entirely out of his control, and attachment to possessions from which he draws a sense of personal identity leaves the cultured man dangerously exposed to fluctuations in his living conditions whereby even tiny shifts in his circumstances are amplified in ways impossible for the wandering man to ever understand, or experience.

            The problem with your hypothesis, Zande, is that the human condition has done nothing but improve — with the inevitable fits, starts and regressions — since time immemorial. Salk defeated polio because he had hope that he could. If he had considered it a hopeless cause, he never would have embarked on it in the first place. However, he did, and as a result, vast human suffering was eradicated, wiped out.

            Great point! But you are failing to see the larger picture. You see, you believe there is a Problem of Good. There is no problem. Goods are nothing but passageways and pathways to greater expressions of evil.

            Here are four case studies to demonstrate this truth:

            Take the automobile and all those abstractions connected to this mechanised horse. What was the end of the world for stable hands and buggy drivers was the beginning of prosperity for automobile manufacturers and oil refiners. The old gives way to the new, and with the new comes more vibrant families of pain.

            In 1889 a total of 26 road deaths were recorded in the United States. By 2013 that number had exploded to approximately 35,500. Globally, that number stands at 1.24 million and the World Health Organisation predicts the body of carnage will grow to 1.9 million by 2020.

            Alone, the automobile has been an indisputable boon for suffering with deaths scattered across roads the world over, leaving physical, emotional and financial ruin in these little disasters wake. Safety innovations, however, such as airbags and seatbelts and better constructed cars and roads have seen many, many more bodies surviving these localised, personalised disasters. The result: in 2010, in the U.S. alone, 2,239,000 human bodies were shattered in road accidents, yet to the certain delight of The Owner of All Infernal Names, survived.

            In the final tally, instead of one dead motorist in 1990, there exists a living quadriplegic in 2014, forced to spend the rest of his life—decades—in a wheeled chair, unable to find work, and dependent on others for his very survival. In the mind of the Omnimalevolent Creator a cash cow has been created; a vigorous, energetic, sincere and dynamic product that will faithfully discharge all that which The Owner of All Infernal Names finds delicious, arousing, entertaining and, ultimately, fulfilling.

            The story does not however end with simple human ruin.

            It is estimated that 340 million mammals and reptiles and another 340 million birds are killed on U.S. roads every year—roughly 700 million lives extinguished every 365 days, not including the billions left injured, orphaned, and irreversibly maimed. The chronicler of this misery must also then consider the astonishing loss of habitat caused by new roads and highways, and the towns that have sprung up along them. The ombudsman of this engineered mayhem must also consider the billions of tons of pollution from combustion engines, the devastation of marine and coastal habitats caused by massive oil spills, and the killing of entire river systems through petrochemical dumping and runoff. Oil wars are yet another ledger altogether, its sickly black pages filled in by the biographer of this self-authored wreckage with the cases of societal turmoil and astonishing economic disparities that, ultimately, drives even more complex conflicts and political instability.

            Now, consider the benign keel in all its stunning usefulness—as conservative in its simplicity as it has been liberal in its philanthropy. In form and function the keel stabilises a water-going vessel by lowering its centre of gravity, biasing the boat to move in a forward direction and therefore enabling the crew to steer the craft, more-or-less, into the wind. Before its invention none rode the deep water and coastal boats remained close to shore, rarely venturing over the horizon as navigation was virtually impossible, capsizing was regular, and drowning’s inevitable. By drastically increasing a boats outward stability and navigational possibilities a new class of seafarer was born; seemingly more secure in their machines, but now exposed to the fresh new hazards of oceanic storms and rogue waves that would terrorise and drown tens of thousands in the centuries after that first Phoenician shipwright commenced her experimentations with lengths of flat wood. Despite these new dangers, seaborne trade routes were established, commerce flourished, cities expanded, technology was transferred, new lands were discovered, and a contemporary, innovative type of hell was brought down on indigenous peoples whose beaches witnessed the arrival of fantastic, god-like foreigners whose blood contained a zoo of exotic viruses that would kill millions. In its turn, new commercial routes enabled the spread of plagues, and new diseases were shipped around the world with ruthless efficiency.

            With the keel, wars became more common events as populations pushed up against one another and merchants vied for the most prosperous commercial veins where bureaucracy, taxation, and political intrigue found its most fertile bed. Empires were formed riding on the keel, population’s bloomed, arms races became the order of the day, natural habitats were decimated, and the inequality of wealth distribution created entirely new classes of the economically oppressed, including a vast, global slave trade. Consider then also the increased suffering of animals wrestled into the service of these new outposts; the enslaved beasts of labour, the herds bred for slaughter and pointless, bloody sacrifice. Consider the suffering of war horses run through with spears and left to bleed out on battlefields, or the Ox beaten into submission and destined to spend its entire life walking in a tight circle in the servitude of flour and bread.

            Indeed, in just the first 500 short years after the keel’s invention, this most basic of tools, so advantageous to some, unlocked a veritable treasure chest of new methods of suffering for others, and in its wake the latent size of the marketplace of unusual and unique pains doubled so many times perhaps only the Omnimalevolent Creator Himself could say.

            You mentioned Polio, but I can give you an even better example.

            It has been estimated that the German chemist and inventor of synthetic fertilisers, Fritz Haber, is responsible for saving up to 3 billion lives with his work. It is an astonishing figure when first viewed, a seemingly remarkable blow delivered to the cherished delights of uncertainty and scarcity, yet it is a number that conceals a darker, more pervasive truth.

            Like natural good, moral good must also be considered a means to greater evil, and in the larger narrative of a Creation working forever towards higher expressions of misery, Haber’s work has in fact created 3 billion harvestable lives that would otherwise be missing from the Omnimalevolent Creator’s debased ledger. Seen from another perspective, Haber’s extraordinary contribution has added billions, if not trillions of hours a year—created out of virtually nothing—to the Creator’s accounts in which the objects of His amusement and nutrition are now naked before the constant ravages of existence, and this opens a new and brilliantly fertile profit stream from which The Owner of All Infernal Names may drink from at his leisure.

            Now consider medicine in its broadest possible context. Through observation and stubborn ingenuity men have learned how to care for and repair broken bodies and treat certain diseases. Resultantly, the Impartial Observer records that child mortality rates have in the most recent handful of decades decreased dramatically across the globe, while average lifespans, especially those in industrialised nations, have stretched to lengths unimaginable to those who first dreamed of the modern health revolution. By this achievement man may briefly, and deservedly, celebrate his apparent mastery over the naturally corrosive effects of life itself.

            Consider then the truth: More bodies doing more things over a longer time can only be scored as a breathtaking augmentation of resources.

            A general population dying at 35 cannot, by and large, produce the same quantity or quality of suffering generated through the extended life of a general population dying at age 80 or 90. Here man has added 30 years—an entire generation—to the duration of his potential suffering, which in the eyes of a debased being is to be applauded as not only a marvel of market optimisation, but an almost miraculous, self-inflicted diversification in the greater portfolio of potential pain.

            By permitting the development and maturation of innovative methods and practices which abet bodily longevity the Omnimalevolent Creator has positioned Himself to reap 20, 30, or even 40 years more pleasure from His game; drinking in the pang of creeping irrelevance, the pain of crippling arthritis, the emotional distress of immobility, mental degradation, senility, the anguish of seeing friends and loved ones die early, the anxiety of financial and perhaps political insecurity, and the hopelessness of a life bookmarked by death and conscious annihilation. In no uncertain terms, ruinous ageing is an abhorrent stain on even the most spectacular of lives lived, often robbing an individual of their most prized possession, their dignity, and this gradual drip of irreversible decay and the misery born of it can only be seen as a boon for a being who thrives on tapping into increasingly complex veins of suffering.

            So you see, even though the Creator did not fashion Polio, He is immensely pleased that men have cured it.

            The cases are, clearly, as colourful and extensive as Creation itself. Market success, exampled through insistent—relentless—specialisation, brings blooms of new and innovative ways in which organisms can suffer and, importantly, inflict suffering on others.

            The chief purpose of Creation is not therefore misery alone, rather the accretion of suffering through the positive diversification of life and culture and technology over time, and for that to be realised then Creation must be seeded with the capacity to birth and nourish goods.

            The human organism’s entire existence consists of a constant effort to improve its situation.

            Affluence and success is marvellous! Consider again the differences between the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer and the 21st century cultured man. The struggle to persist and improve thrills the Creator! The more men have the more they can lose. With affluence also come the debased gifts born of abuse, misuse, and overuse. In the ten-year period from 1991–92 to 2001–02, addiction to opiate-based painkillers trebled in the U.S., and today twice as many Americans are dependent on or abusing prescription pain relievers as the number of people addicted to cocaine. Indeed, opioid overdoses now in fact kill more people than cocaine or heroin, yet such pungent blights which ravage the more chemically susceptible segments of any given population pales to the massive and non-discriminatory misery being brought about by the over prescription of antibiotics.

            This mindless overuse of the once almost magical corrective innovation has spawned, and is continuing to spawn, a garden of so-named superbugs: magnificent pathogens talented and virulent enough to decimate populations and ruin economies, as warned by economist and former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Jim O’Neill, who was tasked to review this emerging horror:

            “Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could be more than 10 million. The economic cost will also be significant, with the world economy being hit by up to $100 trillion by 2050 if we do not take action.”

            In launching O’Neill’s deeply troubling, spectacularly dark 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance findings, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, soberly remarked: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine.”

            In India, this “almost unthinkable scenario” is not some future terror to be feared like some ghastly ghoul who might or might not arrive tomorrow, but an immediate hell that is already being lived. Across the gravely overpopulated south Asian continent a “tsunami of antibiotic resistance” is presently killing tens of thousands of new-borns every quarter because once-miraculous cures simply no longer work, and in their 2014 report, The Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy researchers warn of having already found India-specific superbugs such as New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase 1 (NDM1) around the world, including France, Japan, Oman and the United States.

            Now the final, unarguable, point: Zlork would never, ever, ever, not in a squillion years allow his creation to have complete control over its reaction to success and failure.

            Please see the case studies cited… But I must ask, what on earth would give you that idea? The Owner of All Infernal Names does not interfere with evolution. Do you see supernatural intervention anywhere? No, because He does not dabble. He watches His creation unfurl, fascinated by its twists and turns. Indeed, isn’t the daringly explicit absurdity of the evolutionary process—its unstoppable, messy, painful, indifferent knocking on random doors—arguably, precisely how a malevolent architect devoted to maintaining His anonymity would go about His business, painting Creation with impenetrable naturalism.

            doesn’t answer the other question: What’s Zlork’s point?

            I have answered that: to maximise His pleasure over time. His pleasure… There are no two more important words in all of Creation. As I previously stated: This universe is nothing but a colossal pleasure generating mechanism: a conscientiously patient, meticulously clean, ferociously efficient complexity machine where the naturally unravelling consequences of its most basic of operations spawn forever deepening personalities of suffering there to be experienced by those increasingly complex contingent things that have no choice but be conjured from within.

            Creation exists to give pleasure to the Creator.

            Suffering augments and grows over time. This is an unprosecutable fact.

            So, as you can see, you haven’t even dented the thesis. It appears to me that you’re so used to presenting excuses for why things are not as they should be if Creation was fashioned by a benevolent hand, that you cannot recognise a coherent argument for why things are as they are… Free of any and all excuses.

            The malevolent thesis requires no theodicies. It requires no excuse.

            Here are some questions which might help you organise your thoughts a little better than you have so far achieved. Address these and you might, just might, be in a position to enter this conversation in a meaningful manner. To date, you’re just hollering from the side-lines…. but here’s hoping you can lift your game.

            Q: Why does the Creator cherish His anonymity? What possible purpose does His concealment serve?

            Q: Why are there no supernatural fingerprints on Creation? What possible purpose does this serve? Why paint Creation in impenetrable naturalism?

            Q: Why does Creation tumble hopelessly forward into ever greater complexity, when complexity births only deeper and broader expressions of suffering, anxiety, pain, psychosis, and loss?

            Q: Why has suffering existed before even consciousness?

          11. How you do prattle on, Zande! A veritable mountain of Zande fogwash in response to a post!

            I have to apologize for the tardiness of this reply. Out trying to make the world safe for democracy and all that. Not sure why… fat lot o’good it’s doing for us here in America! Though, I do still believe in it.

            Anyway, better late than never, eh?

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            You said:

            Hi Praetorius, thanks for your reply. I appreciate the effort, although must say you haven’t actually presented even the beginnings of what may be considered a coherent counterargument. That’s a little disappointing, albeit expected. In the future, perhaps if you spent a little less time on juvenile insults, and more time on structuring your thoughts in an adult fashion you might enjoy some small degree of success in the things you set your mind to.

            Reaction:

            Since, you haven’t yet produced a coherent point, I can understand why you would think that I haven’t produced a coherent counter-argument. However, I have extended to you the courtesy of dancing to your tune. Hence, you produce a bunch of incoherent fogwash, and I counteract it with reasoning. To the incoherent, the logical always appears nonsensical. It’s how, for example, in America our clueless political left-wing can perfectly sincerely label the perfectly moderate Republican Party as extreme right-wingers. They, the left, are so self unaware that they have no idea how far to the left they’ve lurched. So from their hard larboard perch they view obvious centrists as extreme rightists, while to their perspective-deprived eyes, moderate right-wingers are fringe extremists. Likewise, your Zlorkian fogwash is so incoherent that the coherent appears nonsensical. That dynamic undergirds the entirety of our exchange so far.

            One quick observation, by way of getting to know one’s interlocutor a bit better: Surely you know that there is no such thing as an insult, don’t you? Your response to that is less trivial than you might think, and might bring some light to some murkiness.

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            You said:

            I’m curious, though… Why are you only concerning yourself with matters of men? We are but one species, and a very new species at that. Creation is 14 billion years old, and suffering has existed since hydrogen screamed. Plants, like algae and fungi, are stained with a gentle but persuasive insanity known to all life, and can suffer in a form of chemical panic if starved of (or saturated by) water, nutrients and sunlight, if strip-barked, infested with parasites, or over-grazed. This is real. Located deep inside the plant genome, isolated within the first intron MPK4, lay three ancient genes (PR1, PR2, PR5) that have revealed to researchers that MPK4 is devoted to negative regulation of the PR gene expression. What this means is that plants not only experience suffering, they live in fear of it. This gene expression is anticipatory. It is what humans would identify with as a deep-rooted paranoia, a most ancient anxiety.

            Reaction:

            I concern myself with human beings, because I’m a human being.

            God communicated with human beings. God certainly concerns Himself with all his other creatures, but he allowed only humans the ability to place gradations of value on what all other living things perceive as merely fight or flight stimuli. Place food in front of a hungry dog, or hyena, or elephant, or blue whale, or tiger, or cat, or nematode, or paramecium and if it can, it will eat. Every time. No exceptions. Do the same with a human, and there are innumerable occasions when the human will not eat it. Saving the food for his offspring, for example. Dieting for another. Fasting, religious observance, a bet, sheer cussedness… whatever. Humans are absolutely and obviously distinctly different from all other species on the planet. In that difference is the ability to suffer… to place a value on a feeling or stimulus.

            As regards suffering, some animals do suffer, but, for example, a paramecium does not. Yet, if you were to put a grain of salt onto a slide on which there are several drops of water containing parameciums, you will see them all flee the growing circle of salinity around the grain. Then, as the drops of water grow saltier, you observe what appears to be “suffering” among the protozoa, as they succumb to the increasingly hostile environment. However, it’s really nothing more than the very same thing as happens when sunflowers turn toward the sun. Not to discount the miraculousness of it all, of course, but it’s not suffering.

            The BasicRule Paragraph:

            By the way, all your fogwash is completely and utterly wiped out by an assertion that I made a while back: If, as Christians assert, the basic rule for eternal happiness is simple, then all the suffering by anyone or anything fades to insignificance. God said, “Worship Me, have faith in Me, follow My commandments, and have eternal happiness.” Or, more simply: God said, “Worship Me and have eternal happiness.” That’s the basic rule. (Side note: Of course a creature who worshiped his Creator would have faith in Him and follow His commandments!) Do the math for me, Zande: What’s infinity (eternity) divided by, say, 100 (average lifespan, rounded up). The answer is easy: a non-zero number that approaches zero. That’s what all the suffering of all the creatures of all time that ever existed is: a non-zero number (it did happen, after all!) that approaches zero. Now, to re-make that point: let’s give all the suffering ever experienced by anything (to throw you a bone) or anyone ever a number: How about one septillion. Is that good enough? Nice, huge number — so huge that we all have trouble even fathoming it. Now, let’s divide that same infinity by one septillion, and come up with an answer. Oops. Yep, there it is again! It’s that same darned non-zero number that approaches zero! Darn! All that suffering was as nothing compared with eternal happiness. Almost as if the suffering was not as important as the living, and the worshiping of God.

            Let’s refer to that last paragraph as the “BasicRule” paragraph. I suspect we’ll have to refer to it from time-to-time. The only hope for your Zlorkian universe is in abolishing the rules of mathematics. Oh, and in proving that, contrary to all His assertions, God was just kidding, and really has the state of mind that you, the enlightened Zande — you who produce a graphic depicting a parent being a good parent and insist that it “demonstrates” the ridiculousness of Christianity — attribute to Him.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Climb then above this first chorus of pain-aware life and the experience of physical and emotional torment only deepens with each ascending rung.

            Reaction:

            No need to. Answered above.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Without a single neuron to call its own, and these tiny micro-factories are endowed with a primitive ability to struggle against their torture at the hands of, for instance, the parasitic Legionella pneumophila, notifying all observers that this most primitive breath of life knows it is suffering. Look at this world through an honest eye and it is clear that suffering is very nearly omnipresent. It is built into the very nature of all things, present and acting against even the shallowest expressions of what may be considered ‘happiness’ for billions of years before the first empathic thought was ever teased loose.

            Reaction:

            Already answered above, but let’s address your picturesque imagery.
            “protozoa can suffer in more intimate ways” — No, they can’t. Suffering requires awareness. You are observing a miracle called “life,” but you are not observing suffering in protozoa.
            “Look at this world through an honest eye and it is clear that suffering is very nearly omnipresent.” — No, it’s not. The same chemical reactions that a sunflower has are nearly omnipresent. If you are going to give to plants, protozoa and other non-human creatures the same feelings (“suffering:” it’s a value-infused word, outside of mere survival) as humans have, then you also have to observe the other creatures doing things counter to the idea of preserving their own lives. You never see, for example, suicide in any other creature than humans. Life seeks to preserve itself. It’s an observation that all biologists make at all times. It’s also something that has eluded explanation forever. Humans, though, know why they seek to preserve their lives. That makes them distinct from all other creatures. Plants don’t suffer. They experience chemical interactions of which they’re unaware, but which cause them to do whatever they can to keep themselves alive.

            Let’s call that one the BasicDistinction paragraph.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Have you ever heard of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness? It’s remarkable. Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the declaration firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering. Indeed, the signatories to the declaration stressed that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish.

            Reaction:

            “Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the declaration firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering.” — First, let’s establish one important truth: Anyone can “firmly assert” any scientific stuff they want, and many frequently do. It doesn’t make any of it true. Let’s remember that for some time, many were “firmly asserting” that the Earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around it.

            However, I can say with confidence that I believe, very sincerely, that no one should ever, ever induce needless pain in another living creature. For example: your examples of fauna above. There is no reason, for instance, to pull the wings off flies, to kill another animal unless you need it for sustenance, or to preserve your own life. But, you do no wrong in picking a flower. The flower doesn’t suffer. If the Cambridge Declaration, an example of perfectly unremarkable thinking, was an attempt to reduce needless pain in the world, then I’m all for it. However, the assertion that you presented — “the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering” — has no basis in anything but fuzzy good intentions. This is not to say that I’m against fuzzy, good intentions. It’s just that one shouldn’t base one’s entire worldview on them. I’m confident that you don’t, Zande. Why would you use them as the basis for any argumentation?

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            So, Praetorius, why are you ignoring all this in your evaluation of Creation? Do the ethical horrors of nature embarrass you?

            Reaction:
            See the “BasicRule” paragraph.

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            You said:

            Now, as John Fiske observed,

            “A scheme which permits thousands of generations to live and die in wretchedness cannot be absolved from the charge of awkwardness or malevolence. It is impossible to call that being Good who, existing prior to the phenomenal universe, and creating it out of the plenitude of infinite power and foreknowledge, endowed it with such properties that its material and moral development must inevitably be attended by the misery of untold millions of sentient creatures for whose existence their creator is ultimately alone responsible.” [Quick reaction: This is a tiny part of Fiske’s thinking. Fiske was an evolutionist, and this is frequently how evolutionists think. The above could also, equally validly, be expressed: “A scheme which permits thousands of generations to decide for themselves the condition of their own existence cannot be called anything but benevolent or loving. It is impossible to call that being Bad who, existing prior to the phenomenal universe, and creating it out of the plenitude of infinite power and foreknowledge, endowed it with such properties that its material and moral development permits the eternal happiness of all who inhabit it.” This defeats all your reasoning utterly. I need say nothing more, but I’ll indulge your inanity a bit more.]

            If it is impossible to call the Creator Good, as Fiske duly notes it is [As noted above, Fiske got it wrong. Or, at least, my way of expressing it is equally valid.], then what remains by way of an explanation for this world is simple malevolence. [Again, this is demonstrably wrong, or unsupported by facts or reasoning.] Without need for excuse or elaborate theodicies, malevolence explains the world that is, and by the strength and rigidity of this explanation an imprint—an outline—of the Creator who cherishes His anonymity is revealed. [Again, there is no indication anywhere that God cherishes His anonymity.] It is the explanation that exists without need for an alibi, scapegoat, hastily arranged apology, or laboured advocacy. [And yet you labor on and on with your endless out-of-left-field intellectualizations and fogwash] Where the Christian, for example, is forced to rescue an incompetent spirit who has, [That’s the point: the Christian is forced to do nothing. God needs no rescuing from the non-believers. The non-believers need rescuing from their non-belief, and their silly, omphaloskepsistic, self-obsession.] for one imaginative reason or another, lost total control of his creation, [Again, the point is that God didn’t lose control of us, but rather ceded control of our fate to us.] the gospel of the malevolent hand stands unchaste [Okay, I’ll concede that your “gospel” is unchaste. 🙂 Though it’s etirely possible that I’ve rendered it chaste, much to your, and its, chagrin.], uncontaminated, and inviolable. [Of course! What need is there to attack a fabulist’s fictions? That you produce, complicated, elaborate, multi-faceted fogwash doesn’t change the fact that it’s fogwash.] As an explanation for the world that has been, is, and will be, malevolence is complete. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a cover story or inventive pretext. [This is worth a good belly laugh, being your conclusion after page upon page upon page of cover story and inventive pretext!]

            Further reaction:

            See the “BasicRule” paragraph.

            Where do you get the silly idea that God cherishes His anonymity. He’s put Himself out there for all to see and for all to know and experience.

            The “Duh!” Paragraph:

            Pretend for me that due to an unfortunate accident, you lose all ability to use your senses. You can hear, see, taste, feel, smell nothing. Yet you remain fully aware of your existence. As your relatives and/or friends keep you alive in the hospital, would you pretend they don’t exist? Just because you then have no input — except your own awareness of your own life — from them, would you conclude that they don’t exist? Of course not! Your continued awareness proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they exist. Yet, you can have no experience of them whatsoever. Or can you? Your very awareness is your experience of them. In other words, your awareness of your existence is your only evidence of your family’s or friends’ existence, yet you have complete, perfect faith that they exist based solely on your awareness of yourself, and the fact that you have that awareness.

            Let’s say that some years later, your senses return to you and you climb out of your bed. Would you think that existence had somehow returned simply because your ability to experience its ever-changing reality returned to you? Of course not! No, quite sensibly, you’d conclude that someone, somewhere — someone who had always existed — had discovered something that had restored your senses to you.

            Let’s call that the “Duh!” paragraph. We might have to refer to it from time to time.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            No, I did not say that. Please read my words more carefully in the future. I said the Creator is pleased by religious beliefs because belief fosters both public and private turmoil. That is pleasing to Him. Rigid political opinions produce the same pedigree of turmoil. He is also greatly pleased when men invent imaginative theodicies, such as those espoused in Christianity. If man is busy inventing reasons for why evil saturates existence then he is not occupying himself with thoughts of rebellion.

            Reaction:

            “If man is busy inventing reasons for why evil saturates existence then he is not occupying himself with thoughts of rebellion.” — Man is too busy to occupy himself with thoughts of rebellion?!? on what planet have you been living?!?

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            You said:

            “Christianity, and Christ, stand as clear rebukes to your hypothetical creator.”

            Really? How so? Because someone spoke some nice words and made some promises? You are aware, aren’t you, Jesus didn’t say anything new or original. [Jesus was, of course, completely unprecdedented. His commandment to love all people unconditionally is unprecedented in the world. No, this was not produced by other playwrights — not in the context that Jesus presented it — ever before in the history of the world] All his thoughts had been expressed by sages and poets and playwrights long, long before him. It’s a little baffling here why you would even suggest Christianity. It is, of course, the most bloodthirsty and violent of all religions. With religious justification Christians excuse themselves from all matters of common decency, and with wild abandon they are empowered to rejoice in their own perverted inhumanity. Celebrating the aftermath of the storming of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099, Cleric Raymond of Aguilers gleefully remarked:

            “In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses’ bridles, by the just and marvellous judgment of God.” [And so, to condemn the most benign of belief systems, one which commands us all to love everyone unconditionally, you produce something from nearly 1,000 years ago? I’m pretty sure this declaration from Raymond of Aguilers was a “passion of the moment” type of thing. The commandment to love one another as oneself in the New Testament is unmistakable. That we, as completely fallible haumans, would get it wrong frequently is not controversial. Duh! (“Duh” paragraph #2?)

            Produce a thousand, a million>, such declarations from a million Christians, and it doesn’t change the fact that we’re all going to get it wrong from time to time. You should see how I reacted to 9/11! Then, after my cooler head had prevailed, I wrote a novel that allowed bin Laden to convert to Christianity and be redeemed.]

            What about Dena Schlosser who while listening to church hymns in 2004 cut off the arms of her 11 month year old baby girl because she claimed God had wanted her to do it as “an offering” before the apocalypse? [First reaction, not knowing the details: She was crazy. Nowhere have I tried to insist that Christians are immune to the mistakes, illnesses, diseases, character flaws, and insanities of anyone else.] Or what about Deanna Lajune LeNay who in 2003 bludgeoned her two boys to death because “God was testing her faith.” [First reaction, not knowing the details: She was crazy] Or what about Julia Lovemore who in June, 2012, killed her 6 week old daughter by shoving pages of the bible down the child’s throat because she wanted her to ‘absorb’ the books message of love. [First reaction, not knowing the details: She was crazy.] Or what about the utter immoral negligence of Dale and Shannon Hickman who “faith healed” their newborn to death after refusing to seek medical attention because they believed their god would heal her? [First reaction, not knowing the details: They were crazy.] Or Bruce and Deborah Leonard who beat their son to death (over hours, mind you) in a church “counselling” session? [First reaction, not knowing the details: They were crazy.]

            Have you ever heard of Gary North, an American Christian Dominionist and “Tea Party Economist” who wants to reintroduce public stoning’s in American public squares? Yes, really. See his book, The Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments. [First reaction, not knowing the details: He’s wrong, possibly crazy. Nor is he a member of the Tea Party. There’s no one in the Tea Party who takes that idea seriously. Produce a million more examples like this, and it doesn’t change anything. People get it wrong. People go crazy. Christians are people.]

            Praetorius, libraries, dozens of libraries, could be filled with the incidents of Christian inspired barbarism, but as I have already said, this is not religious beliefs greatest benefit. The true value of belief is to distract men. [See the BasicRule paragraph]

            Just look at yourself… Desperate (frantic, even) to not believe in The Owner of All Infernal Names. Your emotional insecurity ensures you’ll look for any other alternative explanation for this world. Your actions please our Creator. He is excited that you have intentionally blinded yourself. [Lol! Vintage Zande fogwash! Stating the perfectly unknowable — my state of mind — as fact. You’d make a great American leftist, Zande! From these assertions alone, I’m gathering that you’re also an environmentalist. A believer in what’s fed to you, without thinking of it, then taking it and running with it as far as your masters tell you to. (Apologies for the brief digression)]

            Reaction:

            Zande: “I have already explained this to you. Hope is marvellous! Without it, men and mice would never throw themselves willingly into the future… Voluntarily complicating their own lives. If existential despair saturated our existence why would anyone do anything? You see, the Creator is thrilled that men strive to better themselves.”

            You say hope’s purpose is to produce greater pain and suffering; I say it is to relieve pain and suffering. You point to the creator of hope, and suggest that he does it to produce more suffering; I point to what hope actually does. You say you can read God’s mind, a God who you say doesn’t even exist, and I point to what hope actually does, then you suggest that you have a better grasp of reality than I.

            There’s a simple point here, Zande: Let’s say that A creates B — then C, D, E, F… all the way through Zn. B wants to be the one whom everyone worships, so he attacks A by trying to steal away C through Zn. A produces A’s story, and B produces B’s story, and they go back and forth. None of that changes the fact that A created B, and therefore all the rules and everything for C through Zn.

            You’ve simply chosen to believe B’s narrative, with all its fogwash and flapdoodle, with all its flowery nonsense and erudite-sounding nitwittery. That’s all.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            In the perfectly degenerate eyes of a maximally degenerate being it is prospect and expectant optimism, not destruction, bankruptcy and wreckage that is the headwaters to the most fruitful entertainment and corrupted gratification down the line where the great rivers of life and culture branch off into a diverse delta of the deepest potential, for the more expressive life becomes, the more entangled, exposed and, ultimately, more vulnerable it is.

            Reaction:

            No one can waste more time with mounds of florid nonsense, than you, Zande! 🙂

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. [Quick reaction: Oh? How do you know this? While there was not “foreclosure” or “bankruptcy” back then, there was loss of home. And there was also, probably, anguish over the loss of home. You make the mistake of so many others of pretending to know what others think and feel. Others from whom you’re separated by either thousands of miles or thousands of years.] Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later. [Quick reaction: Hardly! He was probably able to experience the full range of human emotion, but didn’t have the same way to express it to himself or others. However, we can’t know that, being separated from him by millennia. I advise you not to fall into the trap into which so many fall, who accord near-deity status to mere scientists, who (with environmentalism for example) have proven that they are nothing more than fallible humans, prone to the same corruption and venality, as the rest of us. Some would say that scientists are even more prone to venality and corruption — holding the power that they do — than the rest of us. Environmentalism, the vast fraud that it is, represents evidence of this that is difficult to counter.]

            Reaction:

            See the BasicRule paragraph.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            To the Omnimalevolent Creator, the cultured object is undoubtedly the more impressive, deceptively more vulnerable asset. Although seemingly blessed with some level of security unheard of to the wandering man—a primitive who shares his very living space with single-minded predators—the cultured man is, in the eyes of a degenerate being, a far more compromised stock that promises a greater return on investment. Dependency on systems entirely out of his control, and attachment to possessions from which he draws a sense of personal identity leaves the cultured man dangerously exposed to fluctuations in his living conditions whereby even tiny shifts in his circumstances are amplified in ways impossible for the wandering man to ever understand, or experience.

            Reaction:

            Just repetition of fogwash that you already used.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said (quoting me):

            “The problem with your hypothesis, Zande, is that the human condition has done nothing but improve with the inevitable fits, starts and regressions. since time immemorial. Salk defeated polio because he had hope that he could. If he had considered it a hopeless cause, he never would have embarked on it in the first place. However, he did, and as a result, vast human suffering was eradicated, wiped out.”

            Great point! But you are failing to see the larger picture. You see, you believe there is a Problem of Good. There is no problem. Goods are nothing but passageways and pathways to greater expressions of evil.

            Reaction:

            Oops! Or to ever greater expressions of goodness. Since everything that ever happens represents an opportunity to be closer to God, then the correct interpretation of any phenomena is that it was for the good. If, that is, we choose to see it that way. Again, there’s that choice thing. We can simply choose to be happy and deny your Zlork any sustenance whatsoever. At that point, your fabricated “creator” would just go away.

            Your real problem, Zande, is that your Zlork needs people. You yourself said that he “feeds off suffering.” Well, Zlork, who is really your fabrication has made a “creation” that is more powerful than he is. Again, your entire Zlorkian edifice represents nothing more than the tired efforts of man trying to re-create God. And failing.

            No, God created man, then proved that He doesn’t need man — as your Zlork the Pathetic does — by giving man free will, and therefore the ability to turn from Him. God, however, has made it plain that He loves us — and therefore would have it that we experience no suffering at all — if we would but choose to follow the path that leads to eternal happiness.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            In 1889 a total of 26 road deaths were recorded in the United States. By 2013 that number had exploded to approximately 35,500. Globally, that number stands at 1.24 million and the World Health Organisation predicts the body of carnage will grow to 1.9 million by 2020.

            Alone, the automobile has been an indisputable boon for suffering with deaths scattered across roads the world over, leaving physical, emotional and financial ruin in these little disasters wake. Safety innovations, however, such as airbags and seatbelts and better constructed cars and roads have seen many, many more bodies surviving these localised, personalised disasters. The result: in 2010, in the U.S. alone, 2,239,000 human bodies were shattered in road accidents, yet to the certain delight of The Owner of All Infernal Names, survived.

            In the final tally, instead of one dead motorist in 1990, there exists a living quadriplegic in 2014, forced to spend the rest of his life—decades—in a wheeled chair, unable to find work, and dependent on others for his very survival. In the mind of the Omnimalevolent Creator a cash cow has been created; a vigorous, energetic, sincere and dynamic product that will faithfully discharge all that which The Owner of All Infernal Names finds delicious, arousing, entertaining and, ultimately, fulfilling.

            The story does not however end with simple human ruin.

            It is estimated that 340 million mammals and reptiles and another 340 million birds are killed on U.S. roads every year—roughly 700 million lives extinguished every 365 days, not including the billions left injured, orphaned, and irreversibly maimed. The chronicler of this misery must also then consider the astonishing loss of habitat caused by new roads and highways, and the towns that have sprung up along them. The ombudsman of this engineered mayhem must also consider the billions of tons of pollution from combustion engines, the devastation of marine and coastal habitats caused by massive oil spills, and the killing of entire river systems through petrochemical dumping and runoff. Oil wars are yet another ledger altogether, its sickly black pages filled in by the biographer of this self-authored wreckage with the cases of societal turmoil and astonishing economic disparities that, ultimately, drives even more complex conflicts and political instability.

            Reaction:

            See the BasicRule paragraph. A life of a trillion years is still nothing more than a non-zero number approaching zero compared to eternity. So is a life of but 19 years. Yes, we mourn the lost potential of the early death, but the Christian understands the much, much bigger picture. One year is the same as a hundred years is the same as a million years, compared to eternity.

            You then make the same mistake with the keel, etc. Yes, every human advancement can hold the potential for even greater destruction and suffering. Likewise, every human advancement holds within itself the seeds of Zlork the Pathetic’s destruction, as the creation chooses to use it for happiness and the greater good of all mankind. If, overnight, Humanity were to convert to Christianity, your Zlork the Pathetic would wink out of existence — even in your mind, as hunger, war and poverty disappeared shortly thereafter.

            Still…

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Now, consider the benign keel in all its stunning usefulness—as conservative in its simplicity as it has been liberal in its philanthropy. In form and function the keel stabilises a water-going vessel by lowering its centre of gravity, biasing the boat to move in a forward direction and therefore enabling the crew to steer the craft, more-or-less, into the wind. Before its invention none rode the deep water and coastal boats remained close to shore, rarely venturing over the horizon as navigation was virtually impossible, capsizing was regular, and drowning’s inevitable. By drastically increasing a boats outward stability and navigational possibilities a new class of seafarer was born; seemingly more secure in their machines, but now exposed to the fresh new hazards of oceanic storms and rogue waves that would terrorise and drown tens of thousands in the centuries after that first Phoenician shipwright commenced her experimentations with lengths of flat wood. Despite these new dangers, seaborne trade routes were established, commerce flourished, cities expanded, technology was transferred, new lands were discovered, and a contemporary, innovative type of hell was brought down on indigenous peoples whose beaches witnessed the arrival of fantastic, god-like foreigners whose blood contained a zoo of exotic viruses that would kill millions. In its turn, new commercial routes enabled the spread of plagues, and new diseases were shipped around the world with ruthless efficiency.

            With the keel, wars became more common events as populations pushed up against one another and merchants vied for the most prosperous commercial veins where bureaucracy, taxation, and political intrigue found its most fertile bed. Empires were formed riding on the keel, population’s bloomed, arms races became the order of the day, natural habitats were decimated, and the inequality of wealth distribution created entirely new classes of the economically oppressed, including a vast, global slave trade. Consider then also the increased suffering of animals wrestled into the service of these new outposts; the enslaved beasts of labour, the herds bred for slaughter and pointless, bloody sacrifice. Consider the suffering of war horses run through with spears and left to bleed out on battlefields, or the Ox beaten into submission and destined to spend its entire life walking in a tight circle in the servitude of flour and bread.

            Reaction:

            All of which is completely blown out of the water by the BasicRule paragraph, above.

            By the way, you do know, don’t you, that the “Columbus brought disease to the New World” myth has long been discredited?

            I’m with you all the way on being kind to animals. Thank goodness human innovation in technology has led to a lot less exploitation of animals as mere beasts of burden.

            An interesting note. If you were to take the most abused beast of burden you could find, and threaten it with something it knows will bring about its death, it will fight with every ounce of its remaining strength to remain alive. Yes, even though the beast doesn’t have words, it does “know,” in a way, that life, no matter the condition, is to be embraced and held onto. People know it too, but humans have also the ability to overcome the knowledge of the self-evident with fogwash. Animals don’t have the ability. Zande, you’re particularly good at self-delusion.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            You mentioned Polio, but I can give you an even better example.

            It has been estimated that the German chemist and inventor of synthetic fertilisers, Fritz Haber, is responsible for saving up to 3 billion lives with his work. It is an astonishing figure when first viewed, a seemingly remarkable blow delivered to the cherished delights of uncertainty and scarcity, yet it is a number that conceals a darker, more pervasive truth.

            Like natural good, moral good must also be considered a means to greater evil, and in the larger narrative of a Creation working forever towards higher expressions of misery, Haber’s work has in fact created 3 billion harvestable lives that would otherwise be missing from the Omnimalevolent Creator’s debased ledger. Seen from another perspective, Haber’s extraordinary contribution has added billions, if not trillions of hours a year—created out of virtually nothing—to the Creator’s accounts in which the objects of His amusement and nutrition are now naked before the constant ravages of existence, and this opens a new and brilliantly fertile profit stream from which The Owner of All Infernal Names may drink from at his leisure.

            Now consider medicine in its broadest possible context. Through observation and stubborn ingenuity men have learned how to care for and repair broken bodies and treat certain diseases. Resultantly, the Impartial Observer records that child mortality rates have in the most recent handful of decades decreased dramatically across the globe, while average lifespans, especially those in industrialised nations, have stretched to lengths unimaginable to those who first dreamed of the modern health revolution. By this achievement man may briefly, and deservedly, celebrate his apparent mastery over the naturally corrosive effects of life itself.

            Consider then the truth: More bodies doing more things over a longer time can only be scored as a breathtaking augmentation of resources.

            A general population dying at 35 cannot, by and large, produce the same quantity or quality of suffering generated through the extended life of a general population dying at age 80 or 90. Here man has added 30 years—an entire generation—to the duration of his potential suffering, which in the eyes of a debased being is to be applauded as not only a marvel of market optimisation, but an almost miraculous, self-inflicted diversification in the greater portfolio of potential pain.

            By permitting the development and maturation of innovative methods and practices which abet bodily longevity the Omnimalevolent Creator has positioned Himself to reap 20, 30, or even 40 years more pleasure from His game; drinking in the pang of creeping irrelevance, the pain of crippling arthritis, the emotional distress of immobility, mental degradation, senility, the anguish of seeing friends and loved ones die early, the anxiety of financial and perhaps political insecurity, and the hopelessness of a life bookmarked by death and conscious annihilation. In no uncertain terms, ruinous ageing is an abhorrent stain on even the most spectacular of lives lived, often robbing an individual of their most prized possession, their dignity, and this gradual drip of irreversible decay and the misery born of it can only be seen as a boon for a being who thrives on tapping into increasingly complex veins of suffering.

            So you see, even though the Creator did not fashion Polio, He is immensely pleased that men have cured it.

            Reaction:

            Lol! Your game here, Zande, and it’ is all just a silly game. is to try to turn all good things into ways to contribute to the greater bad, by providing more lives and more years to experience bad things, or by making people live longer to experience more bad things, etc., etc. In this way, you seek to make an undisprovable thing, to wit: If I save or prolong your life, I simply give you the chance to go on to experience more suffering. That is, indeed, correct. It’s equally true, though, that I give you the chance to go on to experience more joy, more ecstasy, more triumph. Your choice. And all that is a choice.

            The point is that all I really did, was to give you the chance. What you do with that chance is up to you. In fact, you could do your bit to starve Zlork the Pathetic by denying him the misery you say he so craves. Again, what a pathetic “creator,” who gives his creation the means to destroy him!

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            [You then follow with 10 paragraphs that are all nullified by the BasicRule paragraph, above]

            Reaction:

            One more quick thing: There is an expression in America: “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” It is equally true that: “‘Tis better to have lived than never to have lived at all.” No matter the conditions, no matter the level or length of suffering. The gift is not happiness, the gift is life, and the happiness is built into the gift. God simply gives us the additional, and vastly superior gift, of eternal life, therefore eternal happiness. If we but choose to accept the gift.

            It’s kind of funny, really, if it weren’t simultaneously so sad: all human suffering — poverty, war, hunger, cruelty, oppression — has been brought about by people, yet numbskulls and sophists like Zande try to fob off the blame onto God, or worse, to pretend that God doesn’t even exist. Zande the atheist here is trying to construct a clver edifice of imaginative fabrications that suggest that we should believe not in God, but in not God, because the only alternative, he implies, is to believe in a cruel, sadistic deity. The world is full to the brim with beauty, and grandeur, and nobility, and kindness, and uplift — except where humans muck it all up. The world could be full to the brim with all good things — with no exceptions — if humans would simply choose to follow Jesus’ way, and His word.

            We don’t.

            Too many of us fall into the web of complexity and convoluted, tortured ratiocinations, and head-spinning maundering such as what Zande has spun here. We think somehow that our attempts to grasp the complex and the intricate prove our depth and sophistication, instead of what they really show: our gullibility and pitiable need for the approval of others.

            Therein lies the great tragedy of mankind.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            [You then talk about superbugs, and Jim O’Neill and a whole bunch of irrelevant nonsense, none of which can withstand the withering glare of the BasicRule paragraph, above. Please don’t think I’m just glossing over this, but your examples are silly. The gift, under any conditions, is life. Happiness is built in, if we choose to take it.]

            Reaction:

            See above.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            In launching O’Neill’s deeply troubling, spectacularly dark 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance findings, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, soberly remarked: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine.”

            Reaction:

            O’Neill’s stuff was not in the least troubling… for someone with any kind of perspective. Superbug, schmuperbug… there is no real difference between a hydrogen bomb and a pistol to the person killed by either one. Your attempts to bring ever badder things into the mix are … irrelevant.

            And: Why would you quote David Cameron? Seriously. I think that if a thought were to appear near him, he would swat it away in terror.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Creation exists to give pleasure to the Creator.

            Suffering augments and grows over time. This is an unprosecutable fact.

            Reaction:

            I concede both of these points. But they’re incomplete.

            You forgot something: Creation exists to give pleasure to the Creator and the creation. I would offer the following proof: Go into the most benighted, oppressed area in the world, and offer to kill everyone in order to end their suffering. Tell me how many takers you’d get. Okay, you failed there. Having prevented your attempt to kill them, the oppressed and previously joyless would celebrate, and cheer, kneeling down to kiss the ground on wich they lived their oppressed lives.

            Now go into any area at all in the world and make the same offer. Rationalize away your failure to get more than a handful of volunteers all you want, you are forced to concede that in the hellhole that you describe, people want to live. Call them deluded all you want, people who want to live perceive happiness and joy in life, and perception is the real bringer of sadness. Yet, perception — always — favors happiness.

            You forgot something else: Suffering augments and grows over time. And happiness has been augmenting and growing — vastly more quickly than suffering — over the same time.

            Your Zlork the Pathetic is flailing, Zande.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Here are some questions which might help you organise your thoughts a little better than you have so far achieved. Address these and you might, just might, be in a position to enter this conversation in a meaningful manner. To date, you’re just hollering from the side-lines…. but here’s hoping you can lift your game.

            Reaction:

            Lol! Said the French from behind the Maginot Line.

            If I were to lift my game, the bottoms of it would be too far above you for you to see it. 🙂

            (btw, I love good snark)

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Q: Why does the Creator cherish His anonymity? What possible purpose does His concealment serve?

            Reaction:

            Answered. The Creator does not cherish anonymity. Never has. Nor has He ever concealed Himself. Don’t you ever just go out at night and look around you, Zande? I never knew or even met Charlie Kaman (who just recently died) but when I play my Adamas 2080 guitar, I say a quiet prayer of thanks for his life. I also say a quiet prayer of thanks when I go out and look at the Orion Nebula, or Jupiter, or Saturn.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Q: Why are there no supernatural fingerprints on Creation? What possible purpose does this serve? Why paint Creation in impenetrable naturalism?

            Reaction:

            I explained this in a previous post. (here) Synopsis: God could come down here, pick up 12 mountains, juggle them like Jason Garfield, and at the same time cure cancer, poverty, AIDS, rickets and acne with a twitch of His little finger, and as soon as He disappeared, many of those who had just seen Him would start to deny Him, and that it had even happened. Others would say: “Why didn’t He cure more stuff?!?” Still others would say, “Why didn’t He cure my thing?!?”

            The next generation, even fewer would believe, or more would demand why they hadn’t been made whole, and so on. The next generation, even fewer… and so on.

            Parlor tricks are always fun and exciting, but useless. At some point, you just have to have faith. God’s fingerprints are creation.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Q: Why does Creation tumble hopelessly forward into ever greater complexity, when complexity births only deeper and broader expressions of suffering, anxiety, pain, psychosis, and loss?

            Reaction:

            It doesn’t. Creation has done nothing but exist on a trajectory leading to greater happiness. It’s actually a bit of a paradox. When people suffer they cry out for help. God is help. When people are not suffering, they believe they no longer need God. Even when it is from God that the gifts came to alleviate suffering! It’s a lot easier to turn our backs on God when we’re not suffering than when we are. Yet, when we turn to God, we lose all suffering! Only a loving Creator could have made such a creation!

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Why has suffering existed before even consciousness?

            Reaction:

            It hasn’t. Without consciousness there is no suffering. You know this too. People often speak of precious moments away from suffering during sleep. Morphine is here to dull, diminish, reduce consciousness in order to reduce suffering. Without consciousness there is no suffering. The sources you gave who said that unmistakably things that are not conscious can suffer… are mistaken. See the “Duh!” paragraph.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            Best,

            — xPraetorius

          12. 8,000 words to say virtually nothing. Congratulations! You didn’t even attempt to mount a counterargument to the thesis’ central premise. That’s impressive!

            This remark, though, sums up your failure to conduct yourself at an adult level.

            ”I concern myself with human beings, because I’m a human being.”

            Then you are ignoring Creation. Period. Why do you ignore Creation? Does it embarrass you? Do you enjoy being blind? Perhaps you do, and this pleases the Creator. There is, of course, a calculating ingenuity in having men, above all other creatures, so carefully maimed, so blind, that they do not even know how to put a measure to their blindness.

            OK, you did attempt to answer the questions, so let’s at least address those.

            Q: Why does the Creator cherish His anonymity? What possible purpose does His concealment serve?

            Reaction:

            Answered. The Creator does not cherish anonymity. Never has. Nor has He ever concealed Himself. Don’t you ever just go out at night and look around you, Zande? I never knew or even met Charlie Kaman (who just recently died) but when I play my Adamas 2080 guitar, I say a quiet prayer of thanks for his life. I also say a quiet prayer of thanks when I go out and look at the Orion Nebula, or Jupiter, or Saturn.

            If you are saying Creation stands as a testament to the Creator then I would agree. It does, which is exactly what I have demonstrated. Standing as a testament, though, doesn’t encompass the Creator making Himself known. Does cancer reveal the Creator? Do floods, landslides, wildfires, diseases, parasites, decay and death? What does the Creator look like?

            Q: Why are there no supernatural fingerprints on Creation? What possible purpose does this serve? Why paint Creation in impenetrable naturalism?

            Reaction:

            I explained this in a previous post. (here) Synopsis: God could come down here, pick up 12 mountains, juggle them like Jason Garfield, and at the same time cure cancer, poverty, AIDS, rickets and acne with a twitch of His little finger, and as soon as He disappeared, many of those who had just seen Him would start to deny Him, and that it had even happened. Others would say: “Why didn’t He cure more stuff?!?” Still others would say, “Why didn’t He cure my thing?!?”
            The next generation, even fewer would believe, or more would demand why they hadn’t been made whole, and so on. The next generation, even fewer… and so on.
            Parlor tricks are always fun and exciting, but useless. At some point, you just have to have faith. God’s fingerprints are creation.

            “God could…” doesn’t address the question. And YES, God’s fingerprints have indeed stained Creation… as I have demonstrated. “Contrivance proves design,” accurately observed William Paley, “and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer. This is a key to my argument… and you haven’t touched it.

            Again, well done!

            Q: Why does Creation tumble hopelessly forward into ever greater complexity, when complexity births only deeper and broader expressions of suffering, anxiety, pain, psychosis, and loss?

            Reaction:

            It doesn’t. Creation has done nothing but exist on a trajectory leading to greater happiness. It’s actually a bit of a paradox. When people suffer they cry out for help. God is help. When people are not suffering, they believe they no longer need God. Even when it is from God that the gifts came to alleviate suffering! It’s a lot easier to turn our backs on God when we’re not suffering than when we are. Yet, when we turn to God, we lose all suffering! Only a loving Creator could have made such a creation!

            It doesn’t, does it? Are you suggesting a ringworm can suffer in more exotic ways than a human? In matters of potential suffering, a single 200,000 years old human being stood against a 550 million years old octopus—acutely aware of its suffering, yet unable to do much to alleviate its misery—is the structural equivalent of comparing the convoluted majesty of the International Space Station to a child’s paper and stick kite, and to then stand the octopus against the far more ancient 1.5 billion years old protozoa is to weigh the complexity of the kite to a dust mote caught up in a lazy afternoon breeze.

            Is not this universe a working example of what helium (the simplest atomic structure) can do in 14 billion years?

            As I have repeatedly pointed out to you, from heat and protons, to hearts, central nervous systems, minds and cluster bombs, this is Creation’s single compulsion, its one and only passion; a relentless passage from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where complexity—and the specialisation it affords—parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss. In the simplest possible statement: Creation is a vast entanglement apparatus—a complexity machine—whose single-minded mindless state of employment is geared entirely towards a greater potency and efficiency in the delivery and experience of misery and confusion, not harmony and peaceful accord.

            If this were not the case, if Creation’s stubborn obsession was in fact towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time, then observers of every kind would have already seen, collected and assembled immense libraries of hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. Such paradigmatic shifts would be exampled in a multitude of different flavours and pedigrees, including perhaps innovations like green chlorophyll-laced skin, rather than sharper, stronger, longer talons designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to more competently steal from another’s living flesh the proteins required to sustain the complex life which has no choice but to evolve and grow more complicated with every passing generation. In the earthly theatre the observer would witness nature favouring adaptations that promoted good will and kinship through simplicity, not the heaping on of rewards to those organisms that developed more devious weapons, cleverer poisons, or massive and prohibitively expensive brains capable of envisioning discrete parcels of manufactured destruction that could be thrown anonymously over horizons, or if deemed necessary, placed quietly inside a kindergarten to administer some near-future mayhem.

            Indeed, could any sincere, honest observer foresee a time in this world when an organism’s success might in fact be dependent on its politeness in asking permission to consume another organism? The thought is ludicrous. Creation is simply not orientated towards such outcomes. A lion will no sooner ask a gazelle for permission to eat it than a hoverfly larva will patiently await the milkweed aphid’s invitation to board its body and suck it dry.

            Why has suffering existed before even consciousness?

            Reaction:

            It hasn’t. Without consciousness there is no suffering. You know this too. People often speak of precious moments away from suffering during sleep. Morphine is here to dull, diminish, reduce consciousness in order to reduce suffering. Without consciousness there is no suffering. The sources you gave who said that unmistakably things that are not conscious can suffer… are mistaken. See the “Duh!” paragraph.

            It hasn’t? Would you like me to re-post all the examples I gave to prove it has? Do you honestly think only humans are conscious? Are you that daft? Based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance among neurologists of the Cambridge Declaration, and drawn from the conclusions of over 2,500 independent studies, Professor Marc Bekoff has since proposed an even broader declaration, a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience, where sentience—and by extension a total awareness of suffering—is defined as the “ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity.” It is a definition that would, Praetorius, reach out to include the modest—yet phenomenal—protozoa.

            Oh, but goes even deeper than this. Suffering is everywhere, a ubiquitous stain detailed from the most ancient of paranoia’s present in plants and bacteria, to sickeningly diverse menu of impossible phobias fighting for attention inside mammalian brains obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small, real and imagined. Only the careless observer would however assume that this already sickeningly robust catalogue of torment encompasses the true scope of suffering existent in this world. The index is broader, deeper, and far more alien than most outwardly honest observers could ever faithfully comprehend.
            Suffering existed long before life.
            500 million years before the first self-replicating systems encased themselves within walls creating a bubble of organised, captured anxiety, zircon crystals formed. Inorganic, yes, but their phonons (atomic vibrations) marked them out as a new category of thing; a thing that had a personality defined by heat, a distinct behaviour that could be altered, changed, bent, pressured, ruined, and ultimately destroyed. The quasiparticles that made up these crystals were emergent phenomena, an explicit nature seen in all microscopically complicated systems, all subject, therefore, to a most ancient, albeit thoroughly foreign flavour of suffering.

            Indeed, according to neuroscientists Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch, Zircon crystals were not just unique things capable of a peculiar pedigree of discomfort and death, but sentient. In their theory of Integrated Information, they assert that any system, organic or inorganic, that processes and integrates information experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, computer chips, even protons are all examples of such systems. Consciousness, Tononi and Koch assert, is integrated information, represented as Phi Φ, and the quantity—or body—of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information (Φ) generated above and beyond the information simply generated by its parts. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles.
            A peculiar, alien caliber of suffering existed long before life, and with life the degree and depth of suffering has only augmented, expanded, deepened, grown more competent, more pervasive, more convincing over time. Suffering blossoms with time. This is an unmistakable pattern. This is hard observational evidence.

            And so to conclude…. It’s official, you have bored me. There was only one thing you had to do, and you failed to do it: present a coherent, intelligible counterargument to the most basic premise of the thesis. To keep my interest in you would have to demonstrate, with examples and case studies as I have provided you, that the universe is not a complexity machine, and that complexity does not birth ever greater expressions of pain and suffering.

            Did you even attempt to do this? No… and that is where I stop wasting my time on you.

            Take care… and buy my book: The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature and Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator

          13. Lol! you made me fall off my chair laughing with that post, Zande! First you fabricate a malevolent creator, then you offer as proof of the reality of your phantasm, sentient crystals, suffering subatomic particles, dead things that hurt and, lest we forget, “foreign flavors of suffering.” Zande, what you’ve done is merely re-define in your own mind everything as suffering. Even happiness and hope! “Oh,” you say, “it’s because the next fall or tragedy, or defeat is that much more bitter by comparison!” When someone disagrees with your absurd premise, and refuses to come around to the wackiness, you accuse him of failing to act like an adult.

            Your basic premise is perfectly asinine because it’s nothing more than seeing what others call “x” and saying, “No it’s not! It’s y! So there!” You’re just a cantankerous old curmudgeon, and you’re so defensively and emotionally attached to your own cantankerosity (so much better than “cantankerousness,” don’t you think?) that you’ve brought it to your fevered musings on the metaphysical and the existential. Furthermore, you’re more dogmatic than anyone — even the most strident of enemies — ever accused the Catholic Church of being.

            So, without further ado…

            You said:

            8,000 words to say virtually nothing. Congratulations! You didn’t even attempt to mount a counterargument to the thesis’ central premise. That’s impressive!

            Reaction:

            Your problem, Zande, is that you don’t like it when those who disagree with you don’t respond as you want them to respond. You get all huffy and demand that they give you the response you want. You should look up the word “disagree” in the dictionary. What’s funny is that immediately after exhibiting that spoiled brat-type behavior, you then accuse me of “not conducting myself at an adult level.”

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Then you are ignoring Creation. Period. Why do you ignore Creation? Does it embarrass you? Do you enjoy being blind? Perhaps you do, and this pleases the Creator. There is, of course, a calculating ingenuity in having men, above all other creatures, so carefully maimed, so blind, that they do not even know how to put a measure to their blindness.

            Reaction:

            I ignore neither the Creator, nor His creation. He is infinite, so my attempts to “see” him would be futile. I can see parts of Him in His creation, and that will suffice until I can join Him, stripped of the physical limits that life imposes. That’s Christianity 101, John. Another “Duh!” paragraph?

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            If you are saying Creation stands as a testament to the Creator then I would agree. It does, which is exactly what I have demonstrated. Standing as a testament, though, doesn’t encompass the Creator making Himself known. Does cancer reveal the Creator? Do floods, landslides, wildfires, diseases, parasites, decay and death? What does the Creator look like?

            Reaction:

            Who cares what the Creator “looks like?” Seriously. I don’t. Do you care what the inventor of the cancer drug that saves your life looks like? I wouldn’t. Or, if I did, it would be a momentary curiosity only. What the Creator “looks like” isn’t relevant to anything important.

            I suspect that He couldn’t be represented in some three-dimensional form that could encompass Him anyway. The theorists of String Theory posit, what, some 15 dimensions? Since God is the Creator, He created, and exists on, all 15 dimensions. Go ahead, take a picture for me of a 15-dimensional anything, much less of someone who created septillions of cubic parsecs full of octillions of molecules, stars, galaxies, quasars, planets, moons, clusters, super clusters and one addle-pated Zande. Can’t find a 15-dimensional thing to take a picture of? Okay. I’ll accept a drawing. Go ahead. Make one, Zande.

            If you mean, “What does He look like, so He can prove his existence, and His worth, to me?” then the point is that He doesn’t have to prove his existence or worth to me, or to you. And, even if He did, people such as you would immediately start calling it a faked parlor trick immediately afterward. At some point — and this is always true of all things — you just have to have faith.

            For example: your entire crackpottery of a cosmology/theodicy is based on faith. Faith in your vastly expanded definition of suffering, for example. Faith in your ability to read your fabricated creator’s mind. Faith in the validity of the sources you’ve given. You know, the ones telling about the living, suffering rocks? Those sources.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            [Quoting me] It hasn’t. [My thesis: there is no suffering without awareness of the suffering. Hence, plants, for example, don’t suffer.] Without consciousness there is no suffering. You know this too. People often speak of precious moments away from suffering during sleep. Morphine is here to dull, diminish, reduce consciousness in order to reduce suffering. Without consciousness there is no suffering. The sources you gave who said that unmistakably things that are not conscious can suffer… are mistaken. See the “Duh!” paragraph.

            It hasn’t? Would you like me to re-post all the examples I gave to prove it has? [Re-post all you want. Your examples proved only that you’ve convinced yourself that the word “suffering” has the same meaning as “exists.” I can re-define the number 100 in my own mind to be a billion all I want, it won’t make me a billionaire just because I can put my hands on $100.

            You’re the Caitlyn Jenner of philosophers, Zande. Like Jenner who insists that he’s a woman merely because he says he is, you insist that things are the way you say they are merely because you say they are. Then you quote in support the authors of a bunch of crackpottery who insist that rocks live, feel, suffer and die as your evidence.

            One thing I will give you, Zande. Your idea makes it alright to behave in any way you can get away with in society. After all, what’s the point in being good, or generous, or altruistic, or kind, if absolutely everything leads to suffering anyway?]

            Do you honestly think only humans are conscious? [No, and I never said it either. Be careful, John…it’s the modus operandi of the uneducated, or the poorly educated, to try to tell others what they’re thinking.] Are you that daft? Based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance among neurologists of the Cambridge Declaration, [Like when everyone accepted that the earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around the earth? That same kind of universal acceptance? How about when people like the now defunct Kim Jong Il received 100% of the vote in various “elections?” That kind of universal acceptance? Did you know that the only thing that the American Psychological Association agrees on at 100% is that homosexuality is normal. Yet, I’ve spoken with many of their number who laugh and say simply, “Oh, we can’t say what we really think, we’d be drummed out of the profession.” Yet for public consumption they have “universal acceptance” of the “fact” that homosexuality is normal. Some have laughed and told me that it is the only “fact” in psychology, a discipline based entirely on theory. That kind of “universal acceptance,” John?] and drawn from the conclusions of over 2,500 independent studies, [Ooooohhh, aaaaaahhhhh… Studies! They’re never faked!]

            Professor Marc Bekoff has since proposed an even broader declaration, a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience, where sentience—and by extension a total awareness of suffering—is defined as the “ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity.” It is a definition that would, Praetorius, reach out to include the modest—yet phenomenal—protozoa. [And it wouldn’t be the first definition of its kind that would be wrong either. Bekoff sounds like a crackpot. Well, the community of “scientists” is awash in crackpots. See, eg, “environmentalism”]

            Reaction:

            See the red, inline reactions, above.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Oh, but goes even deeper than this. Suffering is everywhere [Only because you see it that way. But, as mentioned before, you see rocks as living entities that suffer.], a ubiquitous stain detailed from the most ancient of paranoia’s [presumably: “paranoias?”] present in plants and bacteria, [plants experience no paranoias. I’m using that meaning of the word.] to sickeningly diverse menu of impossible phobias fighting for attention inside mammalian brains obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small, real and imagined. [Incomprehensible fogwash] Only the careless observer would however assume that this already sickeningly robust catalogue of torment encompasses the true scope of suffering existent in this world. [More florid, incomprehensible fogwash. You really have to stop giving yourself free rein to blather on, Zande.] The index is broader, deeper, and far more alien than most outwardly honest observers could ever faithfully comprehend.[More incomprehensible fogwash.]
            Suffering existed long before life. [Hogwash. Fogwash. Without life, real life — not Zandean, re-defined “life” — there is no suffering. Duh!]

            500 million years before the first self-replicating systems encased themselves within walls creating a bubble of organised, captured anxiety, zircon crystals formed. Inorganic, yes, but their phonons (atomic vibrations) marked them out as a new category of thing; [Not really]a thing that had a personality defined by heat, a distinct behaviour that could be altered, changed, bent, pressured, ruined, and ultimately destroyed. The quasiparticles that made up these crystals were emergent phenomena, an explicit nature seen in all microscopically complicated systems, all subject, therefore, to a most ancient, albeit thoroughly foreign flavour of suffering. [There it is again. That “foreign flavor of suffering.” Suffering that is suffering only because John Zande says it is. Really, though, just a bunch o’piffle!

            John, John, John… don’t you realize how insufferable it is when someone engages in constant, transparent showoffery? You seem to want desperately for us all to think you’re smart! Okay, already! You’re smart. Your thesis is really dumb, but you’re smart. Now, can you drop the over-the-top florid prose and try to speak plainly? It can be entertaining to slog through your viscous Zlorkian flights of fancy, but too much is too much.]

            Reaction:

            Just a bunch of classic Zande fogwash. See the inline comments, above.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            As I have repeatedly pointed out to you, from heat and protons, to hearts, central nervous systems, minds and cluster bombs, this is Creation’s single compulsion, its one and only passion; a relentless passage from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where complexity—and the specialisation it affords—parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss. In the simplest possible statement: Creation is a vast entanglement apparatus—a complexity machine—whose single-minded mindless state of employment is geared entirely towards a greater potency and efficiency in the delivery and experience of misery and confusion, not harmony and peaceful accord.

            Reaction:

            Only because you perceive it that way. It all could be viewed also, as with a fractal, as simply the same simple pattern — things orbiting around other things — going from the imperceptibly small to the incomprehensibly enormous. With the same level of complexity at each level. Both in time and space. Except on our physical size level — where there are things like ummmm… humans. Speculation about things like suffering subatomic particles, living crystals, and other fabrications on all the other levels is nothing more than that: idle speculation.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            If this were not the case, if Creation’s stubborn obsession was [presumably: “were?” It’s important, and means something different. I am not stipulating that “Creation’s stubborn obsession is towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time.” I am asserting that Creation’s purpose is to worship God, and that that causes only happiness. The Creator doesn’t impose happiness, but rather puts a structure in place in which perfect happiness can be had if the person but chooses to take it.] in fact towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time, then observers of every kind would have already seen, collected and assembled immense libraries of hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. Such paradigmatic shifts would be exampled in a multitude of different flavours and pedigrees, including perhaps innovations like green chlorophyll-laced skin, rather than sharper, stronger, longer talons designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to more competently steal from another’s living flesh the proteins required to sustain the complex life which has no choice but to evolve and grow more complicated with every passing generation. [And yet, there are millions of evolutionary adaptations that focus on improving or saving the life of the organism without violence. It should be noted that none of these adaptations has ever been shown to have produced a new species.] In the earthly theatre the observer would witness nature favouring adaptations that promoted good will and kinship through simplicity, not the heaping on of rewards to those organisms that developed more devious weapons, cleverer poisons, or massive and prohibitively expensive brains capable of envisioning discrete parcels of manufactured destruction that could be thrown anonymously over horizons, or if deemed necessary, placed quietly inside a kindergarten to administer some near-future mayhem. [And yet, there is less suffering now than ever before. What you miss, Zande is that all things can be used for good or ill. A tool that is used to gather fruits more effectively, might also be used to stab someone. The bad comes from the intent to use something badly, not from the thing itself. Nor from the impetus to invent the thing. Heck, you could use a spoon to kill someone! But the spoon is still a useful, happiness-bringing innovation for all people.]

            Reaction:

            No. As mentioned before… it’s just as likely that the same level of complexity exists at all the levels. Speculation about complexity at all physical levels or at different eras is just idle, silly speculation. Besides, complexity has nothing to do with happiness or suffering.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Indeed, according to neuroscientists Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch, Zircon crystals were not just unique things capable of a peculiar pedigree of discomfort and death, but sentient. [A simple indicator that neuroscientists are not immune to becoming crackpots either.] In their theory of Integrated Information, they assert that any system, organic or inorganic, that processes and integrates information experiences the world subjectively to some degree. [Anyone can assert anything. Doesn’t make it true.] Plants, computer chips, even protons are all examples of such systems. Consciousness, Tononi and Koch assert, is integrated information, represented as Phi Φ, and the quantity—or body—of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information (Φ) generated above and beyond the information simply generated by its parts. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles. [Therefore all chemical reactions are “life” as well. Sorry, dropping an Alka-Seltzer into water is not a reason to run around screaming, “It lives! It lives!” 🙂 You’re way overthinking your initially ridiculous premise, Zande. According to your neuroscientists, then everything everywhere is alive, and then according to you, it’s all suffering, providing pleasure for your fabricated Zlork the Pathetic. Of course, since Zlork now has a nearly infinite supply of suffering matter — at least according to you — then he doesn’t need living things that, as you insist, amplify suffering. All he needs is more inanimate, but suffering, matter. We need to rename your beloved Zlork, from Zlork the Pathetic to Zlork the Pointless. He keeps doing pointless, contradictory, absurd things in your pointless, contradictory, absurd cosmogony.]

            A peculiar, alien caliber of suffering existed long before life, [Flapdoodle. Nonsensical twaddle. This is where your silly basic premise has brought you: to suggesting that where there is no life, yet still there is suffering.] and with life the degree and depth of suffering has only augmented, expanded, deepened, grown more competent, more pervasive, more convincing over time. Suffering blossoms with time. This is an unmistakable pattern. This is hard observational evidence. [No, as mentioned before, this is a bunch of preposterous hooey.]

            Reaction:

            See red, inline reactions, above.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            And so to conclude…. It’s official, you have bored me. There was only one thing you had to do, and you failed to do it: present a coherent, intelligible counterargument to the most basic premise of the thesis. To keep my interest in you would have to demonstrate, with examples and case studies as I have provided you, that the universe is not a complexity machine, and that complexity does not birth ever greater expressions of pain and suffering.

            Reaction:

            Lol! The ones with the feeble argument always say that! It never fails! You presented a nonsensical, incoherent basic premise — the universe was created by a malevolent creator who feeds on suffering — and petulantly whine that you don’t get back the response that you want. You provided no “case studies,” you provided a bunch of speculation from people who advanced a bunch of kookery and flapdoodle, consisting of suffering plants, self-aware rocks and suffering subatomic particles.

            Look, even if I were to stipulate to all that you say, then all you’ve done is so widen the definition of suffering that at its mildest, we also call it things like “euphoria,” “joy,” “happiness” and “ecstasy.” While you call it “suffering.” Okay. Whatever. That means also that a whole bunch of what you consider “suffering” is just not all that bad, or is really quite nice, thank you. In the middle, your “suffering” appears a lot more like “mild anxiety,” while on the other extreme, suffering — what everyone else understands as suffering — is really bad. Words are plastic. You just want them to be a lot more plastic than they really are.

            I bored you, JZ, because you proved to be of insufficient ability or vision to see that I had debunked you, and so you’re taking your ball and running to your mommy.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            To keep my interest in you would have to demonstrate, with examples and case studies as I have provided you, that the universe is not a complexity machine, and that complexity does not birth ever greater expressions of pain and suffering.

            Reaction:

            Then there was no point in keeping your interest. Your premise is nothing more than idle speculation, supported by a bunch more idle speculation, fueled by what appears to be a desire to show off your cleverness. There is no counter to idle speculation that you couldn’t then use idle speculation to contradict. At its very best, your premise is nothing more than an interpretation of reality that is no more valid than the exact opposite interpretation. You have hundreds, thousands! of stories, case studies, etc., to back up your interpretation. The opposite interpretation has millions of case studies, billions of eyewitness accounts, stories, examples supporting it.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Take care… and buy my book: The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature and Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator

            Reaction:

            Lol! I took a look at your book on Amazon. You really do take your own tommyrot seriously! One quick thing: You do know, don’t you, that it’s against Amazon’s rules to write your own reviews?

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            Best,

            — x

          14. 1. If you are a neuroscientist, and you have some criticism of Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch’s Integrated Information theory, then I would suggest you publish your learned opinion in a reputable journal. Let me know when its passed peer-review and I’ll read it with great enthusiasm.

            2. If you are a professor of biology, and you have some criticism of Bekoff’s declaration on sentience, then I would suggest you publish your learned opinion in a reputable journal. Let me know when its passed peer-review and I’ll read it with great enthusiasm.

            3. If you are a neuroscientist and/or biologist and you have some criticism of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, then I would suggest you publish your learned opinion in a reputable journal. Let me know when its passed peer-review and I’ll read it with great enthusiasm.

            4. When someone disagrees with your absurd premise, and refuses to come around to the wackiness, you accuse him of failing to act like an adult

            I was expecting an intelligible, formal rebuttal to the general thesis. Instead of counter arguments supported by physiological, biological, chemical and astronomical case studies, as well as real world social/economic/technological/cultural examples, I got nonsense on a stick which, in its totality, amounted to this: “I don’t like your thesis, and therefore it is wrong, nah, nah, nah!” So, yes, my observation of your adolescent performance stands.

            As I have already indicated, standing before you was three essential tasks, 1) demonstrate (with working examples) that this universe is not a complexity machine tumbling relentlessly forward from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, 2) demonstrate that complexity does not father a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss, and 3) demonstrate that the very constitution (the design) of this universe is not profound teleological evidence for the mind of a malevolent designer… an architect who so clearly cherishes His anonymity.

            5. All Proceeds from the sale of my work go to animal rescue and shelter here in Brazil.

            Take care

          15. Lol! I’ll address this in greater detail in a bit.

            However, you do realize, don’t you, that you just invalidated every argument you ever made, that didn’t come from the position of a peer-reviewed specialist in the related discipline?

            Since I presume you didn’t mean to do that, I’ll give you a mulligan on that one, and let you either retract it, or — since you’re likely way too proud to do that — we can pretend that it never happened.

            Now, a piece of advice, and a question:

            First, the advice: don’t fall for the “peer-reviewed expert infallibility” myth, John. If we all did that, then the earth would still be flat, and the sun would still be revolving around the earth.

            Second, the question: Why do you do the animal rights thing? Since all there is is suffering, why do you care? Your “explanation” for the universe permits all things, even — especially? — abuse of animals? Surely your Zlork the Pointless would revel in it.

            Best,

            — x

          16. then the earth would still be flat, and the sun would still be revolving around the earth.

            Actually, those beliefs held sway precisely because there was no peer-review, no mechanism to verify or formally challenge a claim. Your own bible says the earth is flat, and for how long was no one allowed to challenge that?

            Second, the question: Why do you do the animal rights thing?

            Because we have a duty to reduce actual suffering in this world… and to do so without the hope of reward, or threat of punishment.

            Now, if you intend to actually address the three points, and provide real world examples detailing unambiguous physiological, biological, neurological, chemical, astronomical, social, economic, technological, and cultural case studies to support your arguments, then I might entertain you for a little longer. If you don’t rise to the challenge, don’t expect a reply.

          17. John-
            -x has carefully met and thoughtfully exceeded your protests, and has given you a rare gift of time and attention. He has had the wisdom and patience of Job. Speaking of whom:

            The idea of a flat earth in scripture is due to an unreasonable and exaggerated liberty with scripture not being weighed against scripture.

            —-He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.—-
            This thought alone in the book of Job instantly demolishes any chance of ‘accidental life,’ speaks to the circle of the earth, and keeps a man from getting lost in his own interpretation apart from the whole of scripture.

            Elsewhere:
            –the corners of the earth-
            -the sides of the north–

            –It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
            And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
            Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
            And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

            Don’t you just love the idea of the perspective from above the earth, as well as the heavens being stretched like a curtain…and of course, there is always the circle of the earth, that which hangs upon nothingness. By the way, it is God who invented the circle.

            ‘By Him all things consist.’

          18. @ZAnde: your reply was still more Zande Fogwash, with a few contradictions thrown in.

            You said:

            [Quoting me:] then the earth would still be flat, and the sun would still be revolving around the earth.

            [Your response:] Actually, those beliefs held sway precisely because there was no peer-review, no mechanism to verify or formally challenge a claim. Your own bible says the earth is flat, and for how long was no one allowed to challenge that?

            Reaction:

            Incorrect. Those views were peer-reviewed by the peer-review mechanisms of the time. Yes, they were inadequate to produce the level of quality of science that one would hope to see.

            However, do you really think that we’ve done any better today? Look, again, at environmentalism. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific conclusions in which, it has come out, both the research that produced the conclusions, and the peer reviews were frauds. The entire “science” of environmentalism is exposed as junk science filled with politics and very little actual science.

            Try to challenge envirionmentalism today, and you meet with the very same reaction as during the time you so disparage, when the earth was believed to be flat. Progress? Nope. None at all.

            As regards the Bible stating that the earth is flat. I’m not aware of that passage, but for all practical purposes, at the time of the Bible’s writing, the earth was flat. Or, rather, its spherical nature had no effect on the day-to-day lives of the people. As far as you and I are concerned, the earth — again for purely practical purposes — is flat, and it is not inaccurate to say so. People speak, for example, of the “vast flatness” of the Great Plains, for example, knowing full well that the earth is roughly a sphere.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Second, the question: [My question to Zande:] Why do you do the animal rights thing?

            Because we have a duty to reduce actual suffering in this world… and to do so without the hope of reward, or threat of punishment.

            Reaction:

            Hogwash! When Salk did that by discovering the polio vaccine, you shot back that Salk’s discovery increased suffering, by allowing people to live longer, in order to suffer even more and for more years.

            Your attempts to “reduce the actual suffering” of this world, by your own words, do nothing but increase suffering. You expose yourself here either (1) as a sadistic, cruel lout, or (2) as a creative liar, or (3) as someone who has not bothered to think through his own worldview, and must defend it in ever more bizarre and silly ways. You’re reduced to arguing that curing polio (and therefore: smallpox, measles, cancer and other scourges) increases suffering, while defending animals from cruelty reduces suffering. Yeah. Right.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Because we have a duty to reduce actual suffering in this world… and to do so without the hope of reward, or threat of punishment.

            Reaction:

            I quote you twice here to bring up a crucial point: the only doctrine on earth that preaches this as an integral part of its belief system is Christianity.

            The Christian’s “hope of reward” comes from his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior — not from his being nice to others and to animals. The goodness and kindness of Christianity — toward all of God’s creations — are nothing more than the outward signs that one might be a Christian.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Now, if you intend to actually address the three points, and provide real world examples detailing unambiguous physiological, biological, neurological, chemical, astronomical, social, economic, technological, and cultural case studies to support your arguments, then I might entertain you for a little longer. If you don’t rise to the challenge, don’t expect a reply.

            Reaction:

            Lol! Having addressed all your points several different ways, I don’t need to do so again.

            I do counsel you, though, to jettison your slavish adherence to “case studies” and the reasoning of others. There is a time and place for all that, but not here.

            This particular forum doesn’t allow for each of us to read and review all the case studies and “real world examples” we each could produce.

            Let’s face it, there’s a simple truth: in this forum at least, you can produce case study after case study, and example after example, and I can produce a countervailing case study or example for each. We’ll get nowhere with that.

            In this forum, we’re limited to what we can produce from our own reasoning, that is persuasive or compelling. You’ve produced a couple of ridiculous memes that are nothing more than a different way to express good parenting, and you think this debunks Christianity. I demonstrated, using real world examples, images and reasoning that you were wrong.

            You have yet to produce anything to counter the debunking administered to your silly memes, or the spanking meeted out to your wacky, non-existent Zlork and his hunger for suffering.

            I would point out that in the above quote you indicated that I should use, among other things, “real world examples.” Yet, when I did — using Obama and others — you suggested that I shouldn’t do that. You’re not really a serious interlocutor here, Zande. You’re just making it up as you go along, because, it seems plain, you’re out of your league. Oh, and you’ll respond to this. I have a strong feeling you’re too proud to let such football-spiking go unsnarked to. 🙂

            I did get a chuckle out of the “don’t expect a reply remark.” That’s nothing more than the classic attempt to save face by the guy who’s been pretty well routed by opposing argumentation. I see it all the time. It’s the ol’ I’ve-been-soundly-beaten-but-don’t-want-to-admit-it-so-I’m-taking-my-ball-and-going-home-to-mommy” ploy. I see it all the time.

            Best,

            — x

          19. “Lol! Having addressed all your points several different ways, I don’t need to do so again.”

            No, you have not addressed these three matters. A review of your comments reveals that.

            Three points, as presented. Over to you…

            “Let’s face it, there’s a simple truth: in this forum at least, you can produce case study after case study, and example after example, and I can produce a countervailing case study or example for each. We’ll get nowhere with that.

            Then do so. Hypothesis’ have to be tested against observed reality. I have done so. You have not countered anything presented, nor have you even touched the central thesis. That thesis, therefore, stands unmolested. An omnimalevolent Creator best explains this world… an explanation that stands without excuse or creative theodicy.

            “In this forum, we’re limited to what we can produce from our own reasoning, that is persuasive or compelling.

            Absolutely not. Real case studies can be, and have been, presented. Facts are facts… they are enormously discourteous. If you have real world case studies you believe are persuasive, then present them and we will then test them against reality.

            So, you have three points before you.

            Riser to the challenge, or not.

          20. @John Zande:
            Wow! Again, you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a complete and utter nutball!
            Anyone with more than two brain cells who followed our exchange would understand your claims exactly as I did.
            You said: “The electron wasn’t in the nucleus before, and it had no cause.”
            This was in response to my previous comments where I said repeatedly that there cannot pop something out of nothing without any cause.
            As I’ve said, the electron does not pop out of nothing. When thorium-234 decays, one of its neutrons is converted into a proton and an electron which is emitted. The neutron loses mass in the process.
            Neither does this happen without a cause. It happens because of an unstable atomic nucleus with an excess of neutrons.

            Nope, you were not “a little careless”. You’ve said something really stupid and this is your attempt to divert attention from that embarassing fact.
            Anyway, you keep embarassing yourself. Honestly, I don’t know whether this is just dishonesty, stupidy or whether you don’t think the things you are saying through to their logical conclusion.
            You are stating “determinism has been broadly rejected”. So what?
            Aside from the fact that the question of determinism is by no means settled, just because we don’t know which particular neutron will decay at a particualar point in time does not mean that there is no cause for the decay. You are confusing determinism with causality.
            In chemistry for example we cannot predict what will happen to individual atoms and yet chemical reactions follow certain well understood laws that tell us why and when such reactions will happen for given quantities of certain elements.
            Lack of determinism does not equate lack of cause.

            But you don’t have to believe me. I suggest the following experiment.
            Take a dry, empty, 1 liter bottle made of glass and fill it with dry gun powder.
            Insert a fuse of 1.5 meter length into the gun powder.
            Put the bottle on a table and step 1 meter back.
            Light up the fuse.
            While you are watching the fuse burning, consider this: There is no living scientist on the planet who could DETERMINE which parts of the glass and which of the individual exploding gas molecules will hit you and when and where precisely they will hit you. There’s a good reason why the word “gas” stems from the Greek word “chaos”.
            According to you, because we cannot predict what will happen to individual atoms there is no cause for what will happen to these atoms.
            Well, when the ambulance arrives and the first responders ask you “What caused your injuries?” you can give them three answers, if you are able to say anything, of course:
            1. “There was no cause for my injuries.”
            2. “My injuries were caused by the explosion of a bottle that was filled with gun powder. The explosion just happened without any cause.”
            3. “My injuries were caused by myself by causing the explosion of a bottle that was filled with gun powder.”

            Now, if you still insist that lack of determinism means lack of cause you can repeat the experiment.
            After all, if lighting up the fuse is not the cause of the explosion and whatever happens to individual atoms then you can safely repeat the experiment as many times as you want.
            Good luck with that!

            Don’t tell me that you were careless again. You keep making stupid statements because you don’t even understand what you are saying. I guess, that’s because you don’t think before you write.
            Cause if you would, you wouldn’t make statements like this gem:
            “To repeat the point that I made earlier: inflation wipes out any information that existed about the Universe before inflation.”.
            How do you know? In order To know that information was wiped out you need to know that information was there in the first place. Using your logic I could claim that the unicorns we don’t find have been wiped out.

            You want to see proof that the universe had a beginning?
            It’s very telling that you don’t tell us what kind of proof you would accept. This way you can always dismiss whatever proof is brought up.
            But you don’t need to bother because, again, you didn’t even understand what you are saying.
            To prove that the universe had a beginning I would have to prove that there was a point in time T0 beyond which no time existed. In otther words: I would have to prove that before T0 time was non-existent. Does that sound familiar?
            I cannot prove that the universe had a beginning for the same reason you cannot prove that there is no god.
            Isn’t that what atheists are saying? That one can never prove the non-existence of something?
            And yet you as an atheist demand proof of the non-existence of time beyond a certain point.
            How embarassing. How silly.
            Even if we both could travel back in time using a time machine and even if we would hit a point in time beyond which we could not travel further, all that this would prove would be that our time machine could not travel further. It would not be proof that there is no time beyond that point.
            But don’t celebrate too early!
            For the same reason I mentioned, you cannot prove that the universe is eternal either. You cannot prove the non-existence or absence of a beginning.
            Science gives us the evidence and we have to decide what is the more reasonable, more likely of two alternatives.
            So far, most of the evidence points to a universe that had a beginning and just because we don’t know what happened in te first 10^-36 seconds does not mean that we have an eternal universe.
            Almost everything is possible but not everything is reasonable. I could claim that we are living ontop of a pizza pie and everything we see was an illusion. No one could prove me wrong. Is it possible that we are living ontop of a pizza pie? Yes!
            Is it reasonable to believe that? Absolutely not!
            And since you brought up the BGV theorem, given very few but reasonable assumptions it shows indeed mathematically that the universe must have had a beginning. At best, you could argue with the assumptions but not with the mathematics. But then you would have to show why the assumptions are not true.

            “It makes no difference to the argument. You must explain why you grant an exemption to the rules of causality to your god, and not to the universe itself… and you have to do this without special pleading.”

            I did explain it to you. You may not like my answer but you still asking for explanations makes you look stupid.

            As for your malevolent creator, that’s really a side show because you have no real arguments.
            xPretorious dealt extensively with the silliness of that argument.
            I just want to add a few things.
            This argument is silly because it does nothing to show whether God exists or not.
            It’s like saying: “Did Hitler exist? No, he didn’t exist because no leader can be that evil!”.
            But even if God was as you have depicted him, so what? There’s nothing really evil or nothing really bad about him unless you don’t believe in moral relativism but in objective morality which requires an objective moral authority (aka God).
            In order to accuse God of being evil, you need to presume the existence of God.
            Failed and silly argument #5123…
            If you want to tell us why God is evil on the basis of YOUR world view and NOT on the basis of Christian morality, go ahead. Good Luck!
            You keep insisting that no improvement in living conditions of humans on this planet is a real improvement. It’s according to you, just a prolongement of the suffering.
            Well, if that’s truly the case, why are you not living in some society in the jungle under stone age conditions?
            If all the civilization, modern technology and medicine is no improvement then living in a stone age society cannot be worse than your current living conditions. Quite the contrary. You could shorten the timespan of your suffering by decreasing your life expectancy. Wouldn’t that be great?
            Liar! You couldn’t live a week without your beloved internet and your smart phone. Truly, truly, you seem to enjoy your suffering that modern technology has to offer, greatly.

          21. “As for your malevolent creator, that’s really a side show because you have no real arguments.Pretorious dealt extensively with the silliness of that argument.”

            No, Pretorious hasn’t. If he, or you, were to address the thesis in a meaningful way (meaning after actually “reading” it, rather than simply assuming you know what is in it) you would have to confront three central points:

            1) demonstrate (with working examples) that this universe is not a complexity machine tumbling relentlessly forward from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity,

            2) demonstrate (with working examples) that complexity does not father a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss, and

            3) demonstrate (with working examples) that the very constitution (the design) of this universe is not profound teleological evidence for the mind of a malevolent designer… an architect who so clearly cherishes His anonymity, and has quite purposefully painted Creation in impenetrable naturalism.

            ”This argument is silly because it does nothing to show whether God exists or not.”

            Yes it does. It uses every one of your arguments for the existence of a Creator… you should read it and see if they sound convincing to you when thrown back with the same verve you throw them out.

            ” In order to accuse God of being evil, you need to presume the existence of God.

            I am assuming existence, and if you understood the thesis you would already know the Creator is not evil. “Evil” is a meaningless human word.

            So, if you think you can actually challenge the thesis in a meaningful way, then you have the three points above from which you can start. I would, however, suggest actually reading the thesis first, to avoid any further embarrassment.

            Good luck, I look forward to reviewing your efforts.

          22. You are a hoot, Zande! Let it never be said that you can’t dish out the pseudo-intellectual tommyrot as well as anyone on the planet!

            At the same time, I’ll keep this response brief, because you’ve long gone overboard with what I identified in another such exchange with a bunch who had the same abysmal level of argumentation: CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE (pr.: snorg). See the full definition here.

            Here’s the detailed breakdown of CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE. You’re guilty in particular of #’s 6: tries way too hard to be clever and 7: I covered it bunches of times before. I got tired of having to answer and re-answer and re-answer again the same things.

            So, without further ado:

            You said:

            1) demonstrate (with working examples) that this universe is not a complexity machine tumbling relentlessly forward from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity,

            Reaction:

            This request is just plain silly. “Complexity machine” is a nonsense label. First: What is a “complexity machine?” Second: Who decides what is complex and not complex. Where are the thresholds, and who decides what those thresholds are? Third: How do we know that things are more complex now than in the past? Or less? Or has the complexity simply moved around in time and space? The “answer” to your “point” is that it is unanswerable, and therefore, pointless. Like your beloved Zlork.

            One last thing: Your request is nonsensical on its face. One simply cannot demonstrate “with working examples” that something does not do something. That some cause does not have some effect. One can use “working examples” only to demonstrate that something does something else. Duh!

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            2) demonstrate (with working examples) that complexity does not father a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss, and

            Reaction:

            Yet another pointless “point.” The first reaction shoots down this “point.” However, to indulge you a bit, we must first untangle your pointlessly opaque prose. (“Affectionate expressions of pain?” [eye-roll] Puh-lease!) I gather you mean that the ever increasing “complexity” you think is happening contributes to ever greater suffering.

            Well, the language you use has values. This is important, because further on in your post, you explain that your Zlork is not “evil,” yet above you use negatively freighted terms such as “wretched,” and “fears,” “anxieties,” pain,” “ruin,” “toxins,” “parasites,” “ailments,” “psychosis,” “loss.” These are all terms that we humans invented to try to describe what we well understand to be bad, negative, disagreeable, repugnant things … things objectively on the “evil” side of the ledger. Things with a value. A negative value.

            So, while my first reaction above suffices to shoot down your “point” #2, your own contradictions here demolish your point further on in your post, that Zlork is not “evil.”

            As above, you request that someone prove that something does not do something else. That is a nonsensical request, and you should know that.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            3) demonstrate (with working examples) that the very constitution (the design) of this universe is not profound teleological evidence for the mind of a malevolent designer… an architect who so clearly cherishes His anonymity, and has quite purposefully painted Creation in impenetrable naturalism.

            Reaction:

            Same thing as above: One can’t use “working examples” to demonstrate that something doesn’t do something else. Furthermore, your request makes you guilty of #11 in the lexicon of CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE: Mind Reading. People without arguments are constantly guilty of this fundamental error. They pretend to know what someone else is thinking.

            Our American political left-wing is always accusing us Conservatives of having evil thoughts and desires as if they are actually in our heads knowing what we think and feel. It’s nonsensical, and they — and, apparently, you — believe it’s legitimate.

            First, you fabricate Zlork, then you tell me to try to read his mind! Well, in answer to your pointless “point” #3, Zlork doesn’t exist, therefore I can’t read his mind. I can give you no working examples of what a non-existent being is thinking, Zande, nor can you.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Yes it does. It uses every one of your arguments for the existence of a Creator… you should read it and see if they sound convincing to you when thrown back with the same verve you throw them out.

            Reaction:

            Your problem, Zande, is that you attempt to use someone’s points to try to show how they can lead to a Creator, but then you twist them to try to show that the creator is malevolent. (By the way, “malevolent” is in the same family of meaning as “evil.”) To do that you have to ignore countless actual quotes by people with real-life experiences of God and His messages calling us all back to Him in order to have eternal happiness.

            Furthermore, you have to ignore countless quotes from people who have had real-life experiences of God and His messages of infinite and unconditional love. A creator who loves His creation, does not — Duh! — establish a universal order based on His creation’s suffering.

            In turning our minds and hearts to our Creator, we learn that we will experience “peace that surpasses all understanding.” Well, if that peace surpasses all understanding, then it also surpasses our ability to express it in words, that are, by definition mere finite representations of our understanding.

            @Zande: you have now immersed yourself navel-deep in a quagmire of contradictions and CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE. I’ll keep responding to you — I ban no one — but I’m not going to repeat myself and say over and over again, what I’ve already said many times.

            You should probably find blogs run by more credulous people who might fall for your supercilious but, I must admit, rather impressive, fogwash. But, fogwash, flapdoodle and frivolous frippery it certainly is. Worse: it’s third-grade frippery. Your entire post above asks others to answer the unanswerable solely in the form of the request! That’s just silly. Either you’re just mailing it in now, or you ceased to have anything substantive to say a long time ago.

            You tie yourself in rhetorical and logical knots of contradiction and absurdity, wrap it all up in grandiloquent puffery, then ask others to tie themselves in the same knots. Then you get all righteously indignant when those others politely decline. After a while one has to recognize it, roll one’s eyes and just not waste too much time over it.

            If you peruse the above post and your responses, the most interesting thing I noticed were the points you allowed to go unanswered. For example: when I told you that your slavish love for “peer-reviewed studies and publications” invalidated all your points, by definition, that didn’t come from “peer-reviewed studies and publications,” you let that go unchallenged.

            There were other points like that as well. You do the usually tried-and-true trick of saying things like, “You didn’t answer this or that!” when, plainly, I did respond to everything you posted. You’ll note that my style is to copy and paste the entirety of your post into a text file, and then to respond to each and every point you make. Your only “logic” to say that I didn’t respond to something hangs entirely on the fact that you simply didn’t like how I responded. But, as you can see, I absolutely did respond … to everything. (except in this last post, where you have begun to repeat yourself, and to ignore responses already made to you)

            You on the other hand, as I mentioned above, cherry-picked the things to which you wished to respond throughout this interaction, leaving conveniently unanswered numerous points and assertions. It’s generally a tactic of the intellectually ammunition-deprived, or of the blissfully self-unaware, to do something, then to accuse the other of doing it.

            One final note: This might be a good time to bring this all full circle. The points you’ve made surely will appeal to people such as the “lesbian Christian who believes in magic and is married to a witch” whose confused post on your specious atheism-focused blog is something one quite reasonably would expect to see there. Sadly, she’s likely just just a confused, lonely girl, whose hard life and loneliness have her seeking out meaning in the words of any persuasive-sounding huckster she can find. In perusing your blog, I see that such confused people are your “flock.” People looking for someone who can spout billows and billows of fogwash and twaddle convincingly. Zande, you are the master of spouting billows and billows of fogwash and twaddle! I acknowledge your vast skills in that regard, but I don’t think it’s something you have reason to be proud of.

            Best

            — x

          23. Thanks for your detailed non-answer.

            I’ll give you this, you are skilled at dancing around what has been put to you, and delivering nothing but a hilarious word-salad.

            Let me know if you ever want to actually discuss teleology, OK.

          24. hi jz

            You will laugh this to scorn, but it is very difficult if not impossible to see something through spectacles that have lenses of pride.

            It’s like being unable to smell the lily of the valley because of a stuffed nose. The beauty is there, but one is restrained by his own deficiencies.

            It’s not an insult, just a verifiable observation tested and proven by time. By the way, the Creator has instilled in the flower something similar to the spirit. Can’t see it, can’t touch, can’t prove it, but by God, one can smell it by faith….and thereby prove it.

            As does the conscience know its maker.

          25. “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease.” (Dawkins, Richard, 1995, River Out of Eden)

          26. Yep, while countless millions are freely soaring above the earth, roaming the plains, giving birth, scampering with delight, enjoying the fruit of the earth, surviving and thriving and procreating, and many have shunned disease……….so does the world turn.

            Perhaps Mr Dawkins should spend more time in the daylight instead of loafing with owls.

            So are the facts of life.

          27. Yes or no, Colourstorm:

            Is the universe a complexity machine, marching instinctively from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity?

            Yes, or no?

          28. It appears you have inadvertently answered your own question j.

            I’m not aware of any ‘machine’ being made apart from intelligence. Whether it be a diesel engine or a wood burning stove, it bears the stamp of its creator.

            On the other hand, the Designer is well aware of how his machine will be used throughout its life. Complex, simple? Depends on the point of view.

          29. ”I’m not aware of any ‘machine’ being made apart from intelligence”

            Well, yes, and that is what we’re talking about, isn’t it, a Creator? And as William Paley so accurately said:

            “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”

            Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer.

            ”Complex, simple? Depends on the point of view.”

            No, it does not depend on a “point of view,” Colourstorm, so please don’t play dumb like Praetorius was.

            Is hydrogen less complex than helium? Which came first? What birthed the other? Is a 1.5 billion years old single-celled protozoa less or more complex than 200,000 years old, 7 trillion celled human being? Is the ancient Narcomedusae jellyfish with all of its 800 central nervous system neurons less or more complex than the more recently evolved field mouse with its 70 million neurons?

            As Philosopher and Evolutionary Biologist, Kelly Smith, wrote in his paper, ‘Manifest complexity: A foundational ethic for astrobiology?

            The large scale history of the universe strongly suggests a trend of increasing complexity: disordered energy states produce atoms and molecules, which combine to form suns and associated planets, on which life evolves. Life then seems to exhibit its own pattern of increasing complexity, with simple organisms getting more complex over evolutionary time until they eventually develop rationality and complex culture. And recent theoretical developments in Biology and complex systems theory suggest this trend may be real, arising from the basic structure of the universe in a predictable fashion … If this is right, you can look at the universe as a kind of ‘complexity machine’

            So, yes or no, Colourstorm:

            Is this universe a complexity machine?

            Yes, or no?

          30. Since you have erroneously attributed xpraetorious here as ‘playing dumb………..’

            I can therefore add nothing that would satisfy you.

            For when I speak of the ‘universe’ I include He by whom all things consist, He who said, ‘Let there be light.’ He who made great whales,’ He who made male and female, man and woman………..’

            Complex? To God, hardly.

          31. You are funny.

            Which was easier: for God to create the first man, or for Him to create the planets?

            Which is easier, to say ‘thy sins be forgiven thee?’ Or to keep His covenants with Noah, or Abraham? (careful here)

            Answer these, and your complex issue disappears.

            catch ya later.

          32. jz
            Your ‘yes or no’ questions are always designed to fail. I am not ignorant of certain devices.

            Out of respect for -xp, I’ll not accept the bait, perhaps he may have the patience or willingness.

            Then again, he may like my answer.

          33. Ah, the Zande fog machine! Still rumbling along, producing those nice, obscuring mists of pseudo-intellectual codswallop. Fortunately there are still many people out and about who aren’t overly impressed with pseudo-intellectual codswallop.

            John, you keep asking the question, then answering it, then expecting others to answer it. That’s just kind of silly.

            Okay:


            Your Question: Is the universe a “complexity machine?”

            The Only Possible Answer: Yes or no.


            Best,

            — x

          34. Oh, fer cryin’ out loud, Zande… the only possible response to a ridiculous question is a ridiculous answer.

            I’ll give you an example: Do you like the color blue? Yes or No? Seems like a good, ol’ fashioned “Yes or No question,” doesn’t it?

            Well, no… the correct answer is. Yes, sometimes. Then, depending on my mood, No. At those times, it’s possible that the very last thing I want to see is the color blue, while at other times, I might crave something blue in front of my eyes.

            So, the only answer to an improperly posed Yes or No question is: Yes or No. I gave you that answer, and you seemed to think that I had not answered you.

            Let’s be patient with you, Grasshopper. Here’s why your question is improperly posed.

            Your question is: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'”

            My first answer is: “What’s a ‘complexity machine?'” However, you seem to think you’ve adequately explained that.

            So, my second answer is: “Well then, a ‘complexity machine’ is whatever I choose to think it is.”

            Oops! Let’s be fair to you, Grasshopper! I’ll make a good-faith effort to use my best understanding of your definition of a “complexity machine.” Meaning I’ll do my best, based on the limited amount of substantive information you’ve provided, to guess what you mean by what seems like a nonsense concept. After all: how can a “machine” — a thing — generate an abstract concept like “complexity?”

            Well, I’m an engineer and an artist — among other things — and I recognize the close relationship between the conceptual (the idea) and the real (the thing), so I’ll take a stab at it.

            In that light, let’s assume that by “machine” you mean something metaphorical and abstract. But, you’ve used “the universe” — a real thing — as your machine! Still, I’m trying to play along with what sure seems like an Andean pile of Zandean absurdity (yes, I open myself up to charges of insincerity here, but, you have to admit, your absurd question has long since exposed you to that same charge as well 🙂 )

            So, to try to distill your meaning into something that can be responded to, I’m going to conclude that you mean that the universe is growing ever more complex. Okay?

            Oops! Your question was: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'” That can mean only one thing: You are suggesting that the universe is, itself, generating its own increasing complexity!

            Now, you have — in this very thread! — tried to suggest that rocks live and suffer, as well as protozoa, plants and everything else. So, perhaps you are trying to suggest that the universe — the stars, and space and dust and all — are really part of some infinitely, or nearly infinitely, massive living creature that is actively and busily “generating complexity.”

            Okay, then (sub-answer 1) I disagree with that. I believe that the universe is a non-living structure that houses living things, but that is not, itself, living.

            Okay, then maybe it’s a dead thing, or a non-living thing, that someone set in motion to generate ever greater complexity. Like a computer. I write computer programs all the time that I set in motion, that chew through trillions of pieces of data and that then generate a result set. Hmmmmmm. My computer programs take vast complexity and distill it into simplicity, maybe that’s not what you’re referring to.

            Maybe you’re referring to a non-living (using current definitions of life) computer-like thing that runs a program that takes inputs of level x of complexity, and constantly generates outputs of level x+y complexity.

            Okay, in that case, I disagree. (sub-answer 2) I believe that the universe is not a computer taking inputs of some level of complexity and and generating more complex outputs.

            I further believe that a non-living thing, absent inputs from a living source, can’t produce something greater in quantity than itself. A volcano, for example, can throw out vast quantities of stuff, but it doesn’t, nor do its chemical reactions, produce more stuff, or more complex stuff, where previously there was none. And, the results of a volcanic eruption are always “simpler” than before the eruption. Chemical bonds broken down, vast structures — trees, houses, animals, minerals — reduced to simplified component parts, etc.

            But, you say, the universe is adding complexity, and you use for support the idea that some have suggested that there seems to be ever more complexity and suffering on earth.

            Okay, so what happens if we stipulate to your conclusion that there is ever more suffering on earth?

            Oops! That’s just this little corner of the universe! What if in the rest of the universe, there is nothing but ever-increasing happiness? Darn! That would mean that, overall, the only possible answer to your question would be: “No,” the universe is not a ‘complexity machine,’ but rather a ‘simplicity machine.’

            In that case, I disagree (sub-answer 3): the universe could more logically be called a ‘simplicity machine,’ but I’m not yet sure that the universe is a machine.

            Merriam-Webster: “machine” – noun, ma·chine often attributive \mə-ˈshēn\
            • a piece of equipment with moving parts that does work when it is given power from electricity, gasoline, etc.

            • a vehicle (such as a car or motorcycle)

            • a person or group that does something efficiently, quickly, or repeatedly like a machine

            Each of these definitions presupposes (1) a creator, which shoots down your atheism. If the universe is a “machine,” then it had a creator. However, let’s not forget that you’ve chosen to switch tracks and posit a malevolent creator. (Again, indulging you, Grasshopper.) And, each definition presupposes (2) continuing inputs, that also presuppose a creator, and then an active input-giver. (Here’s what I used for a definition: http://www.merriam -webster.com/dictionary/machine)

            Based on all that, okay, we can use “machine” as a metaphor for “the universe.” Doesn’t make it true, but we can stipulate to it anyway.

            Still, since we can’t know about all those other corners of the universe today, then my little flight of fancy — where the rest of the universe is only adding happiness and simplicity — is mere speculation. Valid speculation, but speculation nonetheless (remember: it was you who told me, against my objections, not to consider only humanity in my thinking.). So (sub-answer 4) there’s no way of knowing; today at least.

            So, where are we: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'”

            • sub-answer 1: No
            • sub-answer 2: No
            • sub-answer 3: No
            • sub-answer 4: I don’t know

            Alright, alright! Let’s stipulate to all that you say (a charitable thing to do, I’m sure you’ll agree!), based on my interpretation of the question you’re trying so inaptly to pose: (1) the universe is becoming more complex, and (2) it is a machine, and (3) it, the universe, is generating the above-stipulated complexity.

            Then: (sub-answer 5) Yes! The universe is a ‘complexity machine!’ Whoo hoo!!! However, after all that, the only way to get to “yes!” is to stipulate to a bunch of things of questionable validity. For example if we stipulate that the universe is a machine then we utterly destroy your beloved faith in atheism! A “machine” has a creator.

            Oops!

            If we stipulate to increasing complexity, then we can’t get away from the compelling possibility that the universe is continuously accepting inputs from a living input-giver (trying to stay away from inflammatory words for you, Grasshopper!)

            Furthermore, if we stipulate to increasing complexity, there is no demonstrable relationship (beyond the relationship of all things to all other things) between complexity and suffering.

            Oops again! If we stipulate to all that you seem to be positing, then we simply are re-posing your question as something like the following: “If you agree with all my supporting conclusions ((1)the universe is becoming more complex, and (2)it is a machine, and (3) the universe is, itself, generating all that additional complexity) that lead to my ultimate conclusion (the universe is a ‘complexity machine.’), do you agree with my ultimate conclusion?”

            Well, the only way I can agree with your ultimate conclusion is to agree with your conclusions leading to it, and I don’t. Therefore, the answer to your question (sub-answer 6) is: No.

            Now, to sum it all up:
            So, where are we: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'”

            • sub-answer 1: No
            • sub-answer 2: No
            • sub-answer 3: No
            • sub-answer 4: I don’t know
            • sub-answer 5: Yes
            • sub-answer 6: No

            What’s the result of all that fun ratiocination?

            Well…

            Your question: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine? Yes or No?”

            The only possible answer to your question: Four “No’s”, one “Yes,” and one “I don’t know.” Otherwise stated: “Yes or No”

            Saaaaaayyyyy…where have we seen that answer before?!?

            Oh, yes… why, this very thread. Right here, in fact.

            Please don’t try now to pretend that your question wasn’t answered. If you do, then you demonstrate that all your flailing about is merest petty sophistry. Pouting that you didn’t get the answer that you wanted.

            Best,

            — x

          35. ”My first answer is: “What’s a ‘complexity machine?’” However, you seem to think you’ve adequately explained that.”

            Because I have. But allow me to simply repeat what I already wrote to Colourstorm:

            Is hydrogen less complex than helium? Which came first? What birthed the other? Is a 1.5 billion years old single-celled protozoa less or more complex than 200,000 years old, 7 trillion celled human being? Is the ancient Narcomedusae jellyfish with all of its 800 central nervous system neurons less or more complex than the more recently evolved field mouse with its 70 million neurons?

            As Philosopher and Evolutionary Biologist, Kelly Smith, wrote in his paper, ‘Manifest complexity: A foundational ethic for astrobiology?

            The large scale history of the universe strongly suggests a trend of increasing complexity: disordered energy states produce atoms and molecules, which combine to form suns and associated planets, on which life evolves. Life then seems to exhibit its own pattern of increasing complexity, with simple organisms getting more complex over evolutionary time until they eventually develop rationality and complex culture. And recent theoretical developments in Biology and complex systems theory suggest this trend may be real, arising from the basic structure of the universe in a predictable fashion … If this is right, you can look at the universe as a kind of ‘complexity machine’

            So, yes or no, Praetorius:

            Is this universe a complexity machine?

          36. Recognizing that I shouldn’t play your silly game, but that you are a guest here, so I’ll indulge you.

            Indications are that all your increasing complexities lead to the ultimate simplicity: the singularity known as a black hole. The black hole is, of course, all your beloved complexity squashed down into an entity of such total simplicity that even the very concept of complexity is squeezed out and eliminated.

            So, based on your question about hydrogen decaying to helium decaying to carbon, etc., etc., again, if you follow down that trail, you come only to vastly greater simplicity.

            The point being: your question has no point. I can “prove” to you that the universe is doing nothing more than becoming more simple (as the concept of entropy would suggest) and you think you can “prove” to me that it is becoming more complex, as the idea of atomic decay might suggest.

            Neither conclusion, though, can be taken from there to “ever greater suffering,” or to “Creator or no Creator,” or to “malevolent creator.”

            You long since lost the thread, Zande, to wit: your initial memes were absurd and ridiculous.

            That you then tried to drown the proceedings in a bunch of Zandean fogwash pointed only to insecurity in trying to defend the nonsensical memes.

            It was fun, though, I have to admit! 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          37. “So, based on your question about hydrogen decaying to helium decaying to carbon, etc., etc., again, if you follow down that trail, you come only to vastly greater simplicity.”

            Your understanding of even basic science leaves a lot to be desired.

            Hydrogen doesn’t “decay” into helium. It fuses (a positive process) into helium, becoming heavier and more complex. Helium then fuses into the heavier and more complex carbon, and so on… Or are you seriously suggesting the periodic table is a measure of decay, breaking down from the heaviest and most complex atomic structures to the lightest and least complex?

            This universe is nothing but a working example of what hydrogen can do if given 14-odd billion years to play with gravity and a few other very simple rules.

            So, in what order do we see emergent phenomena in this universe: from the least complex to the more, or from the most complex to the least?

            In what direction is Creation’s impulse? What is exposed to a greater variety of potential suffering: a 1.5 billion years old single celled protozoa, a 500 million years old Narcomedusae jellyfish with its 800 central nervous system neurons, or the more recently evolved field mouse with its 70 million neurons dedicated to a mosaic of anxieties, both real and imagined? Who is exposed to a greater variety of potential suffering: a 200,000 BCE hunter gatherer with his pocket-sized mobile culture, or a human (with the same number of neurons, 100 billion) in 2015?

            So, again,in what order, what sequence, do we see emergent phenomena arise in this universe: towards complexity, or away from it?

            “You long since lost the thread, Zande, to wit: your initial memes were absurd and ridiculous.”

            LOL! Did I perhaps miss a comment from you that actually talked about the real world history of this Creation?

          38. Whatever. Semantics. I’m not a physicist — yet — so I might not have used the proper vocabulary.

            The points remain the same. You’ve tried to drown the thread in a massive bank of nonsensical fogwash, and I brought it back around to the topic.

            You’ve left several million of my points unaddressed, and I addressed your three “points” up one side and down the other. That’s where we are now.

            Best,

            — x

          39. No, it is not a matter of semantics, or vocabulary. What you tried to claim was the polar opposite of what is true in this universe. You don’t get a mulligan on that.

            And so to repeat:

            This universe is nothing but a working example of what hydrogen can do if given 14-odd billion years to play with gravity and a few other rules.

            This universe instinctively flows from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity. This world finds ways to defeat entropy. That is life, and life persists, following the same rules (the same affinities) that all things. Indeed, on no less than 24 separate occasions, single-celled life on this planet leapt to multicellular activity. Over hundreds of millions of years, action potentials (so beautifully designed to be layered with more and more sensory tissue) become primitive nerve nets, which then further specialise into bilateral nervous systems that, in their turn, cannot resist the urge to then self-complicate into simple vertebrates with brains to register, sort, compile, and remember pain over longer and longer periods as vast neuron fields are stacked one on top of the other. A mind is born… obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small, real and imagined.

            Fact.

            So consider William Paley’s observation one more time: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”

            What then does this naturally self-complicating universe (a complexity machine) tell us about the disposition of its Creator?

          40. Yep. Just semantics. Nothing more.

            And since the universe is not necessarily self-complicating, and is and is not a “complexity machine,” then your all your fog of unanswerable questions allow no more insight into the disposition of the Creator than His own words, which, thank goodness, we have.

            Maybe a better question would be: why do you bother with all the silly mumbo-jumbo, when you have God’s word?

            Best,

            — x

          41. Do you find evading straightforward questions put to you intellectually stimulating?

            Let’s try it one more time, shall we?

            So consider William Paley’s observation one more time: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”

            What then does this naturally self-complicating universe tell us about the disposition of its Creator?

          42. The universe is not necessarily self-complicating. Therefore, Paley’s conjecture (not an observation) holds no implications whatsoever pertaining to the disposition of the Creator.

            As regards your upcoming repetition of the question: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'” The answer is, as it always has been: Yes or no.

            Don’t forget that you are expending/wasting all these fun little blog ergs discussing a Creator who you believe doesn’t even exist.

            Best,

            — x

          43. “The universe is not necessarily self-complicating.”

            Great, demonstrate that it’s not. That is, of course, what we’re all waiting for, isn’t it….

          44. @JZ: You said:

            This universe instinctively [As mentioned before, the universe is only a non-living container. It has no instincts. Your language and concepts are so silly, John, and you seem unable to prevent yourself from typing the most transparently false inanities.] flows from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity. [So you think. It’s just as valid to conclude that the universe is heading toward the ever simpler. Or even to be unable to draw a conclusion either way. 🙂 ] This world finds ways to defeat entropy. [See? You get to say silly stuff about science too! Obviously, entropy is never defeated. That’s third-grade stuff. And, I’ll let you have another mulligan on that one.] That is life, and life persists, following the same rules (the same affinities) that all things. Indeed, on no less than 24 separate occasions, single-celled life on this planet leapt to multicellular activity. [This is theory. It is not fact.] Over hundreds of millions of years, action potentials (so beautifully designed to be layered with more and more sensory tissue) become primitive nerve nets, which then further specialise into bilateral nervous systems that, in their turn, cannot resist the urge [Oops! Here you go again…giving urges and impulses and purpose to things without brains or the ability to have purpose.] to then self-complicate into simple vertebrates with brains to register, sort, compile, and remember pain over longer and longer periods as vast neuron fields are stacked one on top of the other. A mind is born… obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small, real and imagined. [No, a mind is not born “obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small.” Sorry. It just isn’t.]

            Fact.

            Wrong.

            Your whole fogwash-filled mess above is jam-packed with nothing more than, speculation, unproven theory, opinion and conjecture. It is not “fact.”

            Best,

            — x

          45. ”on no less than 24 separate occasions, single-celled life on this planet leapt to multicellular activity. [This is theory. It is not fact.]”

            You really should read more. Here’s the opening words in a nice, easy-to-read article for you by Jef Akst for The Scientist, 1st of January, 2011: “From Simple to Complex

            ”Given the complexity of most organisms—sophisticated embryogenesis, differentiation of multiple tissue types, intricate coordination among millions of cells—the emergence of multicellularity was ostensibly a major evolutionary leap. Indeed, most biologists consider it one of the most significant transitions in the evolutionary history of Earth’s inhabitants. But single-celled organisms have stuck together or assembled to spawn multicellular descendants more than two dozen times, suggesting that maybe it’s not such a big leap after all.

            Fact.

            “So you think. It’s just as valid to conclude that the universe is heading toward the ever simpler. Or even to be unable to draw a conclusion either way”

            LOL! Another impressive handwave, but unfortunately for you, you don’t get-away with a handwave here. Not anymore.

            This here, Praetorius, is where you have to start acting like something other than a name-calling, tantrum-throwing juvenile, and present a coherent, intelligible, factually-based counterargument.

            Put some meat finally to your words. Please. Your evasions have long-since passed the point of being unbearably pathetic. Show me hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous, and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. Present real-world examples demonstrating these paradigmatic shifts that, in-turn, illustrate a clear and unmistakable transition towards a genuine and permanent reduction in the variety and potency of suffering available to all contingent things over time… You have 13.8 billion years to look at.

          46. Lol! You are funny, John!

            Your quote puts the conclusion directly into the camp of theory:

            ”Given the complexity of most organisms—sophisticated embryogenesis, differentiation of multiple tissue types, intricate coordination among millions of cells—the emergence of multicellularity was ostensibly a major evolutionary leap. Indeed, most biologists consider it one of the most significant transitions in the evolutionary history of Earth’s inhabitants. But single-celled organisms have stuck together or assembled to spawn multicellular descendants more than two dozen times, suggesting that maybe it’s not such a big leap after all.

            “ostensibly” (one meaning: outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended [www.dictionary.com]) means the author was hedging his bets in case he was wrong.

            I got a kick out of this passage of yours:

            LOL! Another impressive handwave, but unfortunately for you, you don’t get-away with a handwave here. Not anymore. [Lol! Lengthy, detailed responses don’t constitute “handwaves,” John. Again, you simply don’t like the responses you get, so you dismiss them as “handwaves.” You do this all the time. Your implication is that anyone who disagrees with you is doing so only from ignorance or bad faith. I assume you’re a young man, because that characteristic is one of immaturity, and tends to diminish with age. I also got a kick out of your telling me what I can and can’t do on my own blog. It doesn’t bother me, mind you — I’m impossible to offend — but I hope you’ll understand when I decline to dance to the ridiculous tune you’re playing. 🙂 ]

            This here, Praetorius, is where you have to start acting like something other than a name-calling, tantrum-throwing juvenile, and present a coherent, intelligible, factually-based counterargument.

            I get a definite kick out of your calling me names (name-calling, tantrum-throwing juvenile) in order to tell me to stop calling names, which I don’t do in the first place. If you read back, you will see that I have never characterized you as anything but smart. I called your thinking dumb, as it certainly seems to be in this and other forums!. And I have called your above “memes” a bunch of things, but I’ve never called you names.

            You also said:

            Put some meat finally to your words. Please. Your evasions have long-since passed the point of being unbearably pathetic. Show me hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous, and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. Present real-world examples demonstrating these paradigmatic shifts that, in-turn, illustrate a clear and unmistakable transition towards a genuine and permanent reduction in the variety and potency of suffering available to all contingent things over time… You have 13.8 billion years to look at.

            My reaction: No. I’ve already answered your questions. The conclusions you posit are nothing more than a collection of theories, musings, what-if’s and, frankly, kind of wacky conjecture. You would demand that I respond to your living, suffering crystals and rocks nuttiness with “real world examples demonstrating paradigmatic shifts.” Lol! How do you argue with a man who ignores real world observations to such an extent that he believes in living, suffering rocks, and can construct an entire, elaborate, rhetorical infrastructure to support a “creator” who hates his creation so much that he demands endless suffering from every molecule of that creation?

            You would suggest that I present to you real world stuff to counter that?!? Seriously?

            You’ve already completely ignored anything resembling reality in coming up with all that tommyrot in the first place! You did, after all, suggest that I believe in living, suffering rocks, as well as tormented protozoa, all of which lack any brain that could even house the concept of “suffering.”

            Oh, but you insist! It’s because, you see, it’s their molecules that are suffering! There we go: suffering sub-atomic particles!!! (It was for the alliteration — leave it alone.)

            I’ll give you this: you’re a bright dude, and you have a vivid imagination, but your thinking is as dotty as a Jackson Pollock painting, and makes about as much sense. (Hint: I’m not a Pollock fan. 🙂 )

            It should be noted that silly, inane thinking, such as you’ve so promiscuously exhibited here, is the luxury of the intelligent, but the prison of the weaker intellect. You don’t have a weaker intellect, so there’s no excuse for you to exhibit such inane maundering.

            @JZ, I enjoy this back and forth with you, and I’ll continue it as long as you wish, but don’t pretend anymore that your entreaties for response have gone unanswered.

            Best,

            — x

          47. The conclusions you posit are nothing more than a collection of theories, musings, what-if’s and, frankly, kind of wacky conjecture.

            The conclusions presented here are backed up by facts. Feel free to disprove them. That is what we’re waiting for, isn’t it?

            I’ll take your latest non-answer (one in a tiresome series of non-answers and evasions) to mean you cannot take this conversation further.

          48. Lol! That’s kind of rich coming from someone who has received dozens of answers to his questions — even the nonsensical and irrelevant ones (to wit: is the universe a “complexity machine?”) — and can’t get himself to budge from: “You never answered me!

            Best,

            — x

          49. @John Zande:
            “No, Pretorious hasn’t. If he, or you, were to address the thesis in a meaningful way (meaning after actually “reading” it, rather than simply assuming you know what is in it) you would have to confront three central points:”

            Thesis? What the hell is your thesis? You wrote a lot of huff, puff, mambo and jambo. It’s a joke.
            A thesis consists of the following:
            – Clear definitions of the terms used.
            – The thesis consisting of as few clear sentences as possible. These sentences should not be ambiguous.
            – The evidence for your thesis.
            – An explanation why the evidence is best explained by the thesis.

            Since you are not able to clearly articulate your thesis, I’ll do it myself.

            Thesis: The creator of the universe is a perfectly wicked (aka evil), malevolent creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation.

            Evidence:
            1. Suffering exists. Suffering is unavoidable. suffering is ever increasing.
            2. Complexity is increasing, thus, suffering is increasing.

            Since you’ve told us that “evil” is just a meaningless human word, we can safely throw out the epithet “pefectly wicked” which reduces your “thesis” to:
            The creator of the universe is a malevolent creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation.

            What you have completely failed to do is to explain why the evidence is best explained by your thesis.
            You wouldn’t need to explain how it follows from your evidence that your thesis is the best explanation if and only If there is no otherlogical or reasonable explanation than your thesis.
            Example:
            Evidence: Johnny has shown no vital signs for a week and is decomposing.
            Thesis: Johnny is dead.

            The fact that you didn’t bother to even give an explanation why the existence or increase of suffering is best explained by your “thesis” tells me that you think that there can be no other logical or reasonable explanation than your thesis.
            That, of course, is pretty stupid, as we well see later.
            Your thesis goes like the following example.

            Evidence: Johnny Rich has got 1 billion bucks.
            Thesis: Johnny is a greedy capitalist who enjoys nothing more than sucking out the money from other people, making them poor and himself ever more rich and powerful.

            The problem with the thesis is that while it is possible that it is true the thesis is not necessarily true because there are other equally possible explanations for the evidence.
            Explanations like “He inherited the money just a year ago” or “He’s a brilliant inventor who invented an affordable drug that increases the human life expectancy by an average of 40 years, giving people great value for their money” or “He is incredibly lucky. He won 10 millions at the lottery. He invested all the money in stocks of a startup company whose stocks went up by a factor of 100 one month later.” or “He’s a gifted manufacturer who produced stuff that people wanted so badly that they waited in lines for days”.
            We could make a pretty long list but that should suffice to make the point.

            Even if I would accept your “evidence” as true I can give you an alternative, better explanation for the “evidence”.
            The creator of the universe (aka GOD) is perfectly good and he created the universe not because He has any needs but because of His own free will. A being that is omnipotent and powerful enough to create a whole universe out of nothing could satisfy any needs it could possibly have intstantly by Himself and wouldn’t depend on other beings to satisfy them. After all, how silly would it be to create other beings to satisfy his needs. What? The created beings have something He has not?
            Now, to the heart of your “thesis”.
            When God created the world and when He created humans he could have made us robots who would do always the right thing.
            He could have created us as beings who could not cause suffering to other beings.
            He did not. Because He loves us so much He gave us the greatest of all gifts: free will and freedom.
            If you are a parent and you truly love your kids you will understand. Would you want your kids to be robots who can only do always the right thing or would you want them to be free and to freely choose to do the right thing?
            Not only does God love us so much but He wants us to experience love. Love, real love (agape) can only exist with free will, with freedom.
            You cannot force someone to love someone or something.
            But with the freedom God made it possible for us to make wrong choices and to do evil things.
            He gave us His rules for how to live a good, rightious life but we are often choosing to ignore those rules, thus creating suffering for ourselves and for other beings.
            We could extend the principle of freedom even down to the microscopic level, allowing all organisms the freedom to develop and grow.
            God would be indeed evil if he would allow suffering without a good reason but God has a perfectly good reason to allow suffering because he wanted His creation to be free and experience love.
            That explains the suffering all around us.
            Furthermore, life is not only a series of suffering and pain. It is balanced out by the good things of life that we all enjoy.
            Most people when given the coice, would choose to extend their life span even knowing that suffering is unavoidable.
            There must be something inherently good in life that most creatures seek to prolong it.
            You are living proof of that. Given that you are an atheist with no hope of an afterlife,it is remarkable that you haven’t yet comitted suicide.
            For the life of me, I cannot imagine a perectly wicked creator who would allow His creation even one bit of joy, luck, happiness and all the other good things in life. A perfectly wicked creator would make this earth a hell with NOTHING BUT pain, suffering, agony and despair.
            One word about free will. You cannot counter that argument, saying something like “We are just bilogical machines, fully controlled by our genes and the laws of physics in a fully deterministic way. Free will is just an illusion.”.
            Nope, you have yourself closed that door by saying “Determinism has been broadly rejected in physics”.

            If you still think that allowing or even causing suffering is itself sufficient evidence that the person doing this can have no other motive than enjoying others to suffer then you are complete whacko.
            Consider the following examples:
            Nurses sticking needles into people’s arms in order to vaccinate them, causing them suffering.
            Surgeons cutting through people’s flesh every day, causing them suffering.
            You’re not really going to tell me that the only possible reason they cause suffering is just because they enjoy it or they somehow need other people to suffer, do you?

            As I said, as an argument for or against the existence of God, your thesis is silly and worthless.
            You see, it doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of God if we think He is evil, malevolent or whatever.
            Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of God if we think He is good and benevolent.
            Whether we like something or not does not count as proof or evidence.

            I have shown that allowing suffering to happen or even causing suffering does not neccesarily mean that the one doing this has bad intentions or enjoys the suffering.
            I have shown you a better, more reasonable explanation why suffering exists in the world even with the assumption that your “evidence” was true.
            My explanation would explain even growing suffering. More free creatures, more suffering.
            I didn’t even have to refute your “evidence”.
            If you want to maintain your “thesis” you have to show why your explanation (on the same “evidence”) is true and mine is not.
            Specifically you need to show why an omnipotent being has any needs he cannot satisfy by himself.

            You failed to demonstrate why a creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation is the best, most reasonable explanation for the existence of suffering in the world.
            Your “thesis” is an utterly pathetic joke.
            As I have said, I don’t need do refute your “evidence”.
            But being the nutjob that you are, I suspect that you would still cry: “refute my evidence!”
            All right. Let’s have some fun.
            It is YOU who refuted already your “evidence”. You just don’t know it yet because you don’t even know what you’re saying. That’s because you’re not thinking about the logical implications of your statements. This is the reason why you are constantly saying the most stupid things without even knowing it.
            Let’s begin with the term complexity.
            Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we would have an objective, clear definition of complexity.
            In order to determine whether comlexity is increasing or decreasing we need to to quantify complexity.
            Which brings us to the next question: Is the complexity that exists in the whole universe at any given moment finite or infinite?
            If it is infinite then we can neither measure it nor can we quantify it.
            If it is infinite then it can never increase. In mathematics infinity is not a number but infinity is used to determine limits of functions or series.
            For example the function f(x)=1/x has the limit or limes (short lim) of 0 for x->infinity.
            There are rules for how to deal with infinity in mathematics, rules which make a lot of sense.
            Two of these rules are: infinity+k=infinity and infinity-k=infinity where k can be any number. That makes a lot of sense because if you add any number to infinity the end result would be still infinity. No number can be greater than infinity. It follows logically that if you add any number to infinity the end result cannot be greater than infinity.
            So, for an universe with ever increasing complexity to work, complexity has to be a finite quantity at any given moment.
            Furthermore, an ever increasing complexity is a function of time where f(t)0.
            In order to determine how much time it would take to reach a certain comlexity C we need the inverse function of f(t).
            Let’s call this inverse function invf(C) where you put in complexity and get as a result the time that it would take to reach that complexity.

            Now comes the funny part.
            You’ve asserted that the universe existed eternally in the past.
            Even if we could objectively define, quantify and measure the complexity of the whole universe and even if we would have the two functions I’ve described, If the universe did in fact exist eternally in the past, it wouldn’t matter how big the current complexity of the universe is.
            Any given complexity, no matter how big, would have been already reached an infinite amount of time ago. That, of course, makes your assertion of ever increasing complexity impossible.
            Remember! The complexity of the universe has to be a finite quantity. Therefore it can not be greater than infinity.
            We can show mathematically that an universe that existed eternally in the past cannot grow constantly in complexity over time.

            f(t)<f(t+delta)

            invf(f(t))<invf(f(t+delta))

            t<t+delta

            if t is inifite we have:

            infinity<infinity+delta

            This violates our rule infinity+k=infinity

            This means that infinity<infinity+delta is FALSE.

            Congratulations! You've blown again your own argument out of the water!

            If your assertion that the universe did exist eternally in the past is true then your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex is false.
            If however your assertion that the universe did exist eternally in the past is false then your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex is by no means proven but at least possible.
            If you drop your assertion of an universe that existed eternally in the past then you confirm my assertion that the universe had a beginning which supports my cosmological argument.
            If you don't drop your assertion of an universe that existed eternally in the past then you shoot down your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex.
            Bottom line: Your assertions cannot be both true at the same time. Either one or both of them are false. You decide which of these you are going to throw out the window.
            Have a good time!

            Now, I can understand why you would assume my assertions for the sake of argument in order to prove your "thesis".
            But to present something as EVIDENCE which according to oneself is impossible, one has to be absolutely clueless or completely dishonest or totally insane or mentally ill or simply John Zande.

          50. Hi Artaxes

            Thanks for the comment.

            If I may, I do find it thoroughly intriguing when people claim they know exactly what is in the thesis without actually reading the thesis.

            If you really want to understand the thesis, and review the myriad of evidences and the over 170 publishes papers and field studies cited in the work, I would suggest you actually read the book: The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of Our Omnimalevolent Creator.

            Now, although I appreciate your comment, and thank you for taking the time to pen it, I’ll be brief here in addressing your points because I have a post up to help people like you and Praetorius actually structure your rebuttals. That post does, however, present an incredibly abridged version of the general thesis, reading:

            In its most trimmed down presentation, that thesis presents a diverse library of evidences which support the conclusion that this world was brought into existence by what a human mind would call a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose arousal and stimulatory needs are satisfied best by the suffering which pervades all of Creation, and whose single-minded objective is to amplify His pleasure-taking over time. To these ends, the Creator has (demonstrably) structured His most notable of creations, the universe itself, to perform as a monumental pleasure-generating mechanism: an intelligently designed, deceptively natural, appallingly efficient complexity machine where the naturally unravelling consequences of its single instruction—to diversify and specialise—parents an increasingly complex variety of potential, physiological, and psychological suffering there to be experienced by those increasingly complex contingent things whose participation in existence was never solicited …. Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement, arousal and stimulatory satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

            I assure you, your Johnny Rich example is thoroughly wrong.

            Free Will most certainly exists. Good most certainly exist. The Problem of Good is not a problem. Good is not something distasteful to the Creator.

            And yes, the word “evil” is misdirecting. The best possible way to describe maximum evil (our Creator) is “thoroughly pragmatic.” He did not, however, “create” us. We are evolved, just like everything else. The thrill is in the creativity.

            “As I have said, I don’t need do refute your “evidence”.”

            Well, yes, you do. That’s how this works.

            I do not claim this universe is eternal. It was created and a single instruction whispered into its cardinal recesses.

            Complexity is simply the passage from the simple to more involved, more embellished, more intricate, diverse, sophisticated. Which is more complex, hydrogen or helium? What parented the other? Is a 1.5 billion years old single-celled protozoa more or less complex 550 million years old Narcomedusae jellyfish? Which is exposed to a greater variety of suffering? Who is exposed to a greater variety of suffering: a 200,000 years old hunter gather with his pocket-sized mobile culture, or a modern human?

            So, as I said, I have a post up, The Teleology Challenge, which I hope you pop-over and engage in a meaningful way. Linked below. I would like that very much. Unlike many other apologists for an alternative, albeit unsupportable hypothesis, you have the skills to structure coherent thoughts. I’ve invited Praetorius over, but it seems he’s a little shy (perhaps frightened) after his failures here.

            https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-teleology-challenge-2/

          51. Ok, it seems that the wordpress editor swallows some characters.
            Here are the mathematics again.

            omplexity is a function of time where f(t)0.

            f(t)<f(t+delta)

            which is equivalent to invf(f(t))<invf(f(t+delta))

            which is equivalent to t<t+delta

            if t is inifite we have:

            infinity<infinity+delta

            This violates our rule infinity+k=infinity

            This means that infinity<infinity+delta is FALSE.

          52. Great post, artaxes… If you don’t mind, I thought I might piggy-back on some of your excellent thoughts. My additions are in-line with your text, in [brackets and red font]. I also made a few edits that I think you might have made if you’d had the chance to see how your post would look on the blog. WordPress is a “fire-and-forget” interface and that is frequently frustrating as I post something and then can’t go back and edit it. The only option is to send another post telling of the correction you would make if given the chance. Any changes I made are in red, and you can tell me if you’d like me to change something back. Without further ado, below are your post (in black type) and my additions (in red).

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            @John Zande:
            “No, Pretorious hasn’t. If he, or you, were to address the thesis in a meaningful way (meaning after actually “reading” it, rather than simply assuming you know what is in it) you would have to confront three central points:”

            Thesis? What the hell is your thesis? [Well said!] You wrote a lot of huff, puff, mambo and jambo. It’s a joke. [Well said again! This is the famous Zande fogwash that I identified further above in this post. Zande seems to think that a vast blizzard of words filled with erudite-sounding phrases represents compelling argumentation. I called it “fogwash,” but you also called it by its proper name: “huff, puff, mambo and jambo”]
            A thesis consists of the following:
            – Clear definitions of the terms used.
            – The thesis consisting of as few clear sentences as possible. These sentences should not be ambiguous.
            – The evidence for your thesis.
            – An explanation why the evidence is best explained by the thesis.

            Since you are not able to clearly articulate your thesis, I’ll do it myself.

            Thesis: The creator of the universe is a perfectly wicked (aka evil), malevolent creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation.

            Evidence:
            1. Suffering exists. Suffering is unavoidable. suffering is ever increasing.
            2. Complexity is increasing, thus, suffering is increasing.

            Since you’ve told us that “evil” is just a meaningless human word, we can safely throw out the epithet “pefectly wicked” which reduces your “thesis” to:
            The creator of the universe is a malevolent creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation.
            [One cavil: I think you have to remove the word “malevolent” as well. Dictionary.com has the below as the definition for “malevolent.”

            1. Wishing evil or harm to another or others; showing ill will; ill-disposed; malicious:
            His failures made him malevolent toward those who were successful.
            2. evil; harmful; injurious:
            a malevolent inclination to destroy the happiness of others.
            3. Astrology. evil or malign in influence.

            ———————————————
            You’ll note the word “evil” in all definitions of the word “malevolent.” Well, if “evil” can’t be used to describe Zande’s zlorkian “creator,” then that renders contradictory and ridiculous even the very title of Mr. Zande’s book: “The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of Our Omnimalevolent Creator

            Or, as Zande might say: “Oops.”

            Other than that, I think you’ve accurately distilled Zande’s flood of fogwash into a workable and usable summary. Absent your useful distillation, what Zande’s written so far is just so jam-packed with fluff and attempts at showoffery that it’s perfectly unusable.]

            What you have completely failed to do is to explain why the evidence is best explained by your thesis.
            You wouldn’t need to explain how it follows from your evidence that your thesis is the best explanation if and only If there is no other logical or reasonable explanation than your thesis.

            Example:
            Evidence: Johnny has shown no vital signs for a week and is decomposing
            Thesis: Johnny is dead.

            The fact that you didn’t bother to even give an explanation why the existence or increase of suffering is best explained by your “thesis” tells me that you think that there can be no other logical or reasonable explanation than your thesis.[Well said! At no point did Zande explain how increasing complexity — if we stipulate to it — inevitably leads to increased suffering. If I might take a stab at it on Zande’s behalf, he seems to be indicating that increasing complexity, via evolution (because he seems to admit to no actual creation), leads inexorably to greater sentience. Therefore, the more complex being has a greater awareness of suffering.

            This might be a good point to bring up one thing that Zande has consistently left out, that represents a major hole in all that he says. That hole completely debunks Zande’s entire thesis. As mentioned above, he seems to be indicating that greater complexity leads to greater suffering. If that’s true, then the following can’t be denied: greater complexity also leads to the awareness of greater opportunities for joy and happiness. Zande seems to recognize that his thesis is in trouble here by tap dancing around things like the eradication of polio with the idea that increased lifespans and better health lead only to greater opportunities for suffering. Uhhhh… Okay. But it also leads to ever increased opportunities for joy and happiness.

            Just as we’d have no concept of “day” if there were no “night,” happiness, would seem to need something that we might call “not happiness” (“suffering,” if you will), or at least the absence of happiness (also called “suffering?”), in order even to understand that there is such a thing as happiness! In other words, it’s just as likely — more likely even, since the entire human condition yearns and strives toward ever greater happiness — that suffering exists only to serve, by contrast, ever increasing happiness. With our free will, we’re free to ignore the opportunity for ever greater happiness, as Zande seems to have done, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

            And that would mean that Zande is simply wrong.

            Again: Oops.

            The following thesis seems also to be true, and seems also to debunk thoroughly Zande’s thesis of constantly increasing suffering: The nature and quantity of suffering — at least for all earth creatures — seem to be the same. What more pain or discomfort is there now, in any one individual or creature, than were present in the past? Oh, there are ever new and different ways to inflict suffering, but that suffering is the same in nature — either physical pain or some variation of unhappiness — as it’s always been. While every day we see some dramatic new way to reduce suffering and, most importantly, to increase happiness. Pain reducers, disease cures, vast new ways to entertain and enrich ourselves emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

            You said it well in another portion of this post: “Most people when given the choice, would choose to extend their life span even knowing that suffering is unavoidable” I think you understated it a bit. I think that “most people” means “well above 99% of all people.” I think we can agree on that number, yes? If so, then nearly all people would do whatever they can to remain living, no matter what the future might hold for them. That doesn’t indicate a thing — life — that offers nothing but ever-increasing suffering.

            It cannot be denied that the actual quantity of pain and suffering in the world today is, on average, a whole lot less than in months, years, decades and centuries past. As the western world smooths out the physical misery that has visited mankind throughout history, can anyone doubt that, eventually at least, the rest of the world will embrace those palliatives, and further dramatically reduce suffering throughout the world? We’ll never get rid of it completely – we need it in order to understand happiness better — but we will reduce it to manageable levels.

            Zande gets it actually exactly backward: He says that ever greater comfort and happiness, disappearing diseases, ever-reduced pain and misery, increased lifespans … all serve ever greater suffering. Wrong. Suffering is present to provide ever increased awareness of, and opportunities for, happiness.

            Zande’s swiss cheese thesis and sub-theses have so many holes and contradictions in them, that you could drive a fleet of semis through the whole bedraggled mess.]

            That, of course, is pretty stupid, as we well see later.

            Your thesis goes like the following example.

            Evidence: Johnny Rich has got 1 billion bucks.
            Thesis: Johnny is a greedy capitalist who enjoys nothing more than sucking out the money from other people, making them poor and himself ever more rich and powerful.

            The problem with the thesis is that while it is possible that it is true, the thesis is not necessarily true because there are other equally possible explanations for the evidence.

            Explanations like “He inherited the money just a year ago” or “He’s a brilliant inventor who invented an affordable drug that increases the human life expectancy by an average of 40 years, giving people great value for their money” or “He is incredibly lucky. He won 10 millions at the lottery. He invested all the money in stocks of a startup company whose stocks went up by a factor of 100 one month later.” or “He’s a gifted manufacturer who produced stuff that people wanted so badly that they waited in lines for days”.

            We could make a pretty long list but that should suffice to make the point.

            Even if I would accept your “evidence” as true I can give you an alternative, better explanation for the “evidence”.

            The creator of the universe (aka GOD) is perfectly good and he created the universe not because He has any needs but because of His own free will. A being that is omnipotent and powerful enough to create a whole universe out of nothing could satisfy any needs it could possibly have instantly by Himself and wouldn’t depend on other beings to satisfy them. [Well said!] After all, how silly would it be to create other beings to satisfy his needs. What? The created beings have something He has not? [As Zande might say, “Oops.”]

            Now, to the heart of your “thesis”.

            When God created the world and when He created humans he could have made us robots who would do always the right thing. He could have created us as beings who could not cause suffering to other beings.

            He did not. Because He loves us so much He gave us the greatest of all gifts: free will and freedom.

            If you are a parent and you truly love your kids you will understand. Would you want your kids to be robots who can only do always the right thing or would you want them to be free and to freely choose to do the right thing?

            Not only does God love us so much but He wants us to experience love. Love, real love (agape) can only exist with free will, with freedom.
            You cannot force someone to love someone or something.

            But with the freedom God made it possible for us to make wrong choices and to do evil things.
            He gave us His rules for how to live a good, righteous life but we are often choosing to ignore those rules, thus creating suffering for ourselves and for other beings.

            We could extend the principle of freedom even down to the microscopic level, allowing all organisms the freedom to develop and grow.
            God would be indeed evil if he would allow suffering without a good reason but God has a perfectly good reason to allow suffering because he wanted His creation to be free and experience love.

            That explains the suffering all around us.

            Furthermore, life is not only a series of suffering and pain. It is balanced out by the good things of life that we all enjoy.
            Most people when given the coice, would choose to extend their life span even knowing that suffering is unavoidable.
            There must be something inherently good in life that most creatures seek to prolong it.

            You are living proof of that. Given that you are an atheist with no hope of an afterlife,it is remarkable that you haven’t yet committed suicide. [Yep. Equally surprising is that there aren’t tens of millions with the same impulse around the world. Yet these suicides aren’t there.]

            For the life of me, I cannot imagine a perfectly wicked creator who would allow His creation even one bit of joy, luck, happiness and all the other good things in life. A perfectly wicked creator would make this earth a hell with NOTHING BUT pain, suffering, agony and despair.
            One word about free will. You cannot counter that argument, saying something like “We are just biological machines, fully controlled by our genes and the laws of physics in a fully deterministic way. Free will is just an illusion.”.

            Nope, you have yourself closed that door by saying “Determinism has been broadly rejected in physics”.

            If you still think that allowing or even causing suffering is itself sufficient evidence that the person doing this can have no other motive than enjoying others to suffer then you are complete whacko.

            Consider the following examples:
            – Nurses sticking needles into people’s arms in order to vaccinate them, causing them suffering.
            – Surgeons cutting through people’s flesh every day, causing them suffering.
            – You’re not really going to tell me that the only possible reason they cause suffering is just because they enjoy it or they somehow need other people to suffer, do you?

            As I said, as an argument for or against the existence of God, your thesis is silly and worthless.
            You see, it doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of God if we think He is evil, malevolent or whatever.
            Neither does it prove or disprove the existence of God if we think He is good and benevolent.
            Whether we like something or not does not count as proof or evidence.

            I have shown that allowing suffering to happen or even causing suffering does not necessarily mean that the one doing this has bad intentions or enjoys the suffering.

            I have shown you a better, more reasonable explanation why suffering exists in the world even with the assumption that your “evidence” was true.

            My explanation would explain even growing suffering. More free creatures, more suffering. I didn’t even have to refute your “evidence”. [I might add that I think it’s plain that the total suffering on average — at least among people on earth — is dramatically less than it has ever been.

            It’s important to note a distinction that Zande does not account for. For that we need an example:

            Let’s imagine a society with 1,000 people. That society has a law: Each person is granted, and may possess, exactly 100 marbles. No more, no fewer. At that point, the society has 100,000 marbles. Now, the 500 couples have two children each, doubling the population of the society. Each child on the day of his birth receives his 100 marbles.

            Afer the arrival of the children, the following statements are all true:
            • The society has more marbles. (The society as a whole has 100,000 more marbles for the 1,000 new children.)
            • The society does not have more marbles. (Each person has the same amount of marbles as before.)

            So: to paraphrase the question over which Zande has obsessed at such great length: is the society richer in marbles? Yes or No? Well, the answer is: Yes (total marbles) or No (average number of marbles)

            Now my hypothetical society enacts a “marbles tax” and takes 10 marbles from each person, and reduces the number of marbles a person can have to 90. In the meantime, the society welcomes 500 new children into their midst. After the arrival of the children, the following statements are all true again:
            • The society has a lot more marbles (There are more people, each owning 90 marbles.)
            • The society has fewer marbles (Each person has only 90 marbles, compared with the 100 before the “marbles tax.”)

            Now, let’s examine Zande’s question again: is the society richer in marbles? Yes or No? Well, the answer is, again: Yes (total marbles) or No (average number of marbles) The real answer to Zande’s question, as I might have mentioned before is, as precisely as can be stated: Yes or No.

            Now take my hypothetical society and imagine infinite people, and the ability to buy, sell and trade marbles, as well as the ability to manufacture new marbles. Let some time pass, some new children arrive, some older people depart and the like. In other words, a universe much like our own. Let’s re-visit Zande’s question once more: over time, and with the arrival of some, and the departure of others, is the society richer in marbles? Yes or No? Well, the answer is: Yes (total marbles if the society increases in number, and the manufacture of new marbles takes place) or No (for those times when the average ownership of marbles decreases. And because, as you indicated below, you can’t increase or decrease infinity. Infinite people, each having some average, non-zero, number of marbles, equals infinite marbles, a “quantity” that cannot be increased or decreased.).

            Again, the only possible, complete answer to Zande’s question — “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?’ Yes or No?” — is: Yes or No. As stated before.

            All I did with my hypothetical is to use, instead of complexity, marbles that obviously can be quantified or measured. Substitute complexity back into the hypothetical and we see that Zande’s question has been answered again and again and again and again and again. He just didn’t like the answer.]

            If you want to maintain your “thesis” you have to show why your explanation (on the same “evidence”) is true and mine is not.

            Specifically you need to show why an omnipotent being has any needs he cannot satisfy by himself. [Yep. When we say that “life is a gift,” that implies a giver, and a giver has motives for giving. The giver of a “gift” has, by definition, a good motive. Else, it’s not a gift. The giver of a “curse,” though, has malevolent motives, again by definition. Zande thinks that life is a gift. If he thought it was a curse, he would eliminate it, and himself. However, thank goodness, Zande still lives, so there is no other possible conclusion than that Zande himself doesn’t believe what he’s saying.]

            You failed to demonstrate why a creator who enjoys the suffering of his creation is the best, most reasonable explanation for the existence of suffering in the world. [Good summary!]

            Your “thesis” is an utterly pathetic joke.

            As I have said, I don’t need do refute your “evidence”.

            But being the nutjob that you are, I suspect that you would still cry: “refute my evidence!”

            All right. Let’s have some fun.

            It is YOU who refuted already your “evidence”. [Yep. We noticed this too.] You just don’t know it yet because you don’t even know what you’re saying. That’s because you’re not thinking about the logical implications of your statements. This is the reason why you are constantly saying the most stupid things without even knowing it. [As well as the reason for the swiss cheese rationales, with the truckloads of contradictions and holes.]

            Let’s begin with the term complexity.

            Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we would have an objective, clear definition of complexity. [Quite a big concession on your part, I might add. Zande has never provided a real definition of “complexity,” just examples of elements becoming other elements.]

            In order to determine whether com[p]lexity is increasing or decreasing we need to to quantify complexity. [Good point. Increasing-decreasing, more-less, higher-lower — all imply the ability to quantify and to measure. What would be the Units of Measure for complexity?]

            Which brings us to the next question: Is the complexity that exists in the whole universe at any given moment finite or infinite?
            If it is infinite then we can neither measure it nor can we quantify it. [To quote Zande again: “Oops.”]

            If it is infinite then it can never increase. In mathematics infinity is not a number but infinity is used to determine limits of functions or series.

            For example the function f(x)=1/x has the limit or limes (short lim) of 0 for x->infinity.

            There are rules for how to deal with infinity in mathematics, rules which make a lot of sense.

            Two of these rules are: infinity+k=infinity and infinity-k=infinity where k can be any number. That makes a lot of sense because if you add any number to infinity the end result would be still infinity. No number can be greater than infinity. It follows logically that if you add any number to infinity the end result cannot be greater than infinity.

            So, for an universe with ever increasing complexity to work, complexity has to be a finite quantity at any given moment.
            Furthermore, an ever increasing complexity is a function of time where f(t)0. [Another good point. Implies that “complexity” might be increasing … for now. But it might decrease later, having who knows what result as it pertains to happiness.]

            In order to determine how much time it would take to reach a certain complexity C we need the inverse function of f(t).

            Let’s call this inverse function invf(C) where you put in complexity and get as a result the time that it would take to reach that complexity.

            Now comes the funny part.

            You’ve asserted that the universe existed eternally in the past.

            Even if we could objectively define, quantify and measure the complexity of the whole universe and even if we would have the two functions I’ve described, If the universe did in fact exist eternally in the past, it wouldn’t matter how big the current complexity of the universe is.
            Any given complexity, no matter how big, would have been already reached an infinite amount some amount of time ago. That, of course, makes your assertion of ever increasing complexity impossible. [I think you mean that infinite time implies infinite complexity, by definition (given that you can somehow measure the abstraction “complexity”), meaning that, again by definition, there is no possibility of increasing complexity. I might add that if there are infinite distances in the universe, that implies infinite complexity also.]

            Remember! The complexity of the universe has to be a finite quantity. Therefore it can not be greater than infinity.
            We can show mathematically that an universe that existed eternally in the past cannot grow constantly in complexity over time.

            f(t)<f(t+delta)

            invf(f(t))<invf(f(t+delta))

            t<t+delta

            if t is inifite infinite we have:

            infinity<infinity+delta

            This violates our rule infinity+k=infinity

            This means that infinity<infinity+delta is FALSE.

            Congratulations! You’ve blown again your own argument out of the water! [I think I corrected a couple of typos above (the strikeout text). Again, the limitations of the otherwise pretty good WordPress interface!]

            If your assertion that the universe did exist eternally in the past is true then your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex is [mathematically at least] false.

            If however your assertion that the universe did exist eternally in the past is false then your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex is by no means proven but at least possible.

            If you drop your assertion of an universe that existed eternally in the past then you confirm my assertion that the universe had a beginning which supports my cosmological argument.

            If you don’t drop your assertion of an universe that existed eternally in the past then you shoot down your assertion of an universe that becomes ever more complex.

            Bottom line: Your assertions cannot be both true at the same time. Either one or both of them are false. You decide which of these you are going to throw out the window.

            Have a good time!

            Now, I can understand why you would assume my assertions for the sake of argument in order to prove your “thesis”.

            But to present something as EVIDENCE which according to oneself is impossible, one has to be absolutely clueless or completely dishonest or totally insane or mentally ill or simply John Zande.

            [With all that said, it should be further said that there is built into life itself all that we need for complete happiness: That is: faith in, and love for, God, our loving Creator. The sure knowledge that eternal happiness awaits the faithful man or woman takes the sting out of any and all suffering. That particular palliative is available to all regardless of circumstances, at all times.]

            Best,

            — x

          53. Whoever said this universe is infinite?

            Not me, that’s for sure… But it’s nice to see you guys think you know what the thesis is all about.

            Now, as I’ve already said, I have a post up just for you.

            I hope you’re not afraid of commenting there.

          54. Take a look at my marbles example, and you will see, again, that the only possible response to your question: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?’ Yes or No?” Is: Yes or No .. as stated several times before.

            I’ve taken a look at your post, and when I have a chance, will send you something. I had to skim it due to time constraints, but will read it in greater depth when I can.

            At first glance, however, I didn’t see anything different from what I’ve already seen. Again, you chose a forum — blog posts and responses — that are ill-suited to housing a debate with recourse to obscure sources and authors.

            You keep trying to get me to play a ping pong match on a soccer field, Zande! That I would decline to do so simply doesn’t mean that you whipped me at ping pong. Which, by the way, you wouldn’t be able to do either! 🙂

            All that being the case, I see no reason to engage in such a debate, except to remind you, yet again, that it’s inappropriate to try to get me to play ping pong on a soccer field.

            Give me your thoughts and your ideas, and let me decide whether I find them persuasive or not.

            At this moment, I don’t have the time to research the credibility of your sources and your authors.

            Best,

            — x

          55. Your marbles example is nonsense as you are ignoring the presence of free energy which, in the earthy theatre, is the sun.

            You’ll have to lift your game from silly Creationist arguments if you’re going to keep my interest.

            I look forward to seeing a more articulate and directed (possibly even meaningful?) response over on the linked Teleology Challenge.

          56. How is the universe not infinite? Physically? Age-wise?

            Or, are you saying that you simply haven’t said that the universe is infinite?

            What do you think of the universe? Is it infinite? If so, in what way?

            Remember, if you say that the universe is infinite, then complexity is infinite (since all things exhibit a non-zero level of complexity), therefore not increasing, which debunks your alleged belief that the universe is a “complexity machine.”

            If the universe is not infinite, then can you say where its boundaries, or its limits, are?

            If you can say where the boundaries or limits of the universe are, how do you know? If you say that there is a physical limit to the universe, then how would you respond to the question: “What’s beyond that?”

            If you say there is a chronological limit to the universe, how would you respond to the question: “What’s after that?” Or: “What was before that?”

            Can you say of what nature its boundaries or limits are? Physical? Chronological? Other?

            Best,

            — x

          57. I’ve never claimed the universe is infinite… and I have no idea where you two got that idea from. Period. It’s amusing to see, though, that you were so successful and celebratory in slaughtering your Straw Man 😉

          58. Maybe you didn’t pronounce yourself on the infinity or finiteness of the universe, John, but the questions is relevant.

            The status of the universe as infinite or as finite is relevant in that if you believe that it’s infinite, then you can’t make any arguments without taking that into account. And, it represents a potential dagger at the heart of your notion that the universe is constantly increasing in complexity. Mathematically that would be impossible in an infinite universe. Therefore, you do have to pronounce on whether you believe that the universe is infinite … or not.

            And, if you believe the universe to be finite, then you need to pronounce on where (or when, to be fair) you think the limits are.

            Back to your other question: is the universe constantly increasing in complexity?

            Well, as you say, going from simple element to more complex element and so on, seems to favor greater complexity. However, astronomers all seem to think that all the stars in the universe — absent some other outside force — will eventually swallow up those complex compounds and structures into a very simple structure called a dwarf star, or a neutron star, or a black hole.

            If you look at black holes, you could say that they are vastly massive simplicity machines.

            While, you say, in nice calm solar systems like our own, we are busy generating additional complexity, there’s a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy busily simplifying everything.

            Apparently your hero Paley forgot to take that into account… Or did you selectively quote him?

            Anyway, the only possible answer to your question — “is the universe a ‘complexity machine?'” — is: Yes or No. I’ll give you the additional: it’s impossible to know.

            Furthermore, it’s impossible to link complexity, whether increasing, decreasing or staying about the same, to levels of happiness or suffering in any creatures.

            Even if you were to try to make that link, you couldn’t avoid the possibility that you could make the exact same link — at least logically and rhetorically — to joy and happiness.

            No matter what, I could make a million statements — on the order of “more than 99.99% of all creatures when faced with an attack that threatens to end their lives, fight with all they have to prevent that fate” — that all would seem to point to an unavoidable conclusion that all creatures great and small absolutely love life, and that the thought of losing it, causes them sadness — at a visceral level. Not the thought of keeping it.

            Best,

            — x

          59. Is this particular universe infinite? No. Not in any practical sense. This particular universe has a useable service life. The Age of Stars will end. One may consider, then, this universe (this particular canvas) as a timed game. We are but one of perhaps multiple ‘games’ in play, but each of these games will end. Perhaps it will be a hot death in some great crush when all matter is recalled, or perhaps it will be a cold death when all the hydrogen that ever existed is eventually spent (as one day it will surely be) and the last stars extinguish for what the human mind perceives as forever. At that time, this once vibrant and vast cosmic sheet will conceivably be tossed aside, flung onto a pile where perhaps millions, billions, or even trillions of other discarded, empty, now cold and dark universes lie in an appalling Godly midden—a supernal mound of cosmic refuse.

            ”I’ll give you the additional: it’s impossible to know.”

            No, it’s not impossible to know. We can, and do, measure it. The predominant tendency of all things is toward increasing complexity. This is fact. Of course, eventually, the game will end. In the course of that game there will also be reductions in complexity in certain cases. Mass extinction events are a clear example. It can however be argued that such occasional catastrophes are demonstrably necessary to in fact spur growth and stimulate new shoots in much the same way an orchardist triggers growth in his trees through aggressive pruning. Here the orchardist purposefully targets diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, and structurally unsound or unwanted tissue so as to train and coax the plant to greater health, vibrancy and output. As noted by anthropologist, Roger Lewin:

            “…there have been tremendous bursts of innovation…in the history of life, mostly in the wake of mass extinctions. For instance, following the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago, in which an estimated 96 percent of existing species perished, the rate of innovation almost matched that of the Cambrian. But the innovation was principally variations upon existing themes; no major new themes were added. In the Cambrian, by contrast, innovation was largely at the level of producing new themes, with variations upon them being relatively minor.” (Lewin, R., 1993, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, University of Chicago press, pp.65)

            “Even if you were to try to make that link, you couldn’t avoid the possibility that you could make the exact same link — at least logically and rhetorically — to joy and happiness.

            That is what I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting for you to do 😉 Before you attempt this, do consider the following:

            Of all predatory attacks on prey it is estimated only 19% achieve a success rate higher than 90%. The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).* What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley and his theologically-minded cohorts and accomplices were wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

            *See

            Geerat J. Vermeij, 1982, ‘Unsuccessful Predation and Evolution,’ The American Naturalist, Vol. 120, No. 6, Dec., pp. 701—720

            El Hage, et al., 2004, ‘Impaired memory following predatory stress in mice is improved by fluoxetine,’ Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry Vol. 28, pp. 123 – 128

            Zoladz, Phillip R. 2008, ‘An ethologically relevant animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder: Physiological, pharmacological and behavioral sequelae in rats exposed to predator stress and social instability,’ Graduate dissertation, University of South Florida

          60. You said:

            Is this particular universe infinite? No. Not in any practical sense. This particular universe has a useable service life. The Age of Stars will end. One may consider, then, this universe (this particular canvas) as a timed game. We are but one of perhaps multiple ‘games’ in play, but each of these games will end. Perhaps it will be a hot death in some great crush when all matter is recalled, or perhaps it will be a cold death when all the hydrogen that ever existed is eventually spent (as one day it will surely be) and the last stars extinguish for what the human mind perceives as forever. At that time, this once vibrant and vast cosmic sheet will conceivably be tossed aside, flung onto a pile where perhaps millions, billions, or even trillions of other discarded, empty, now cold and dark universes lie in an appalling Godly midden—a supernal mound of cosmic refuse.

            ”I’ll give you the additional: it’s impossible to know.”
            No, it’s not impossible to know. We can, and do, measure it. The predominant tendency of all things is toward increasing complexity. This is fact. Of course, eventually, the game will end. In the course of that game there will also be reductions in complexity in certain cases. Mass extinction events are a clear example. It can however be argued that such occasional catastrophes are demonstrably necessary to in fact spur growth and stimulate new shoots in much the same way an orchardist triggers growth in his trees through aggressive pruning. Here the orchardist purposefully targets diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, and structurally unsound or unwanted tissue so as to train and coax the plant to greater health, vibrancy and output.

            As noted by anthropologist, Roger Lewin:
            “…there have been tremendous bursts of innovation…in the history of life, mostly in the wake of mass extinctions. For instance, following the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago, in which an estimated 96 percent of existing species perished, the rate of innovation almost matched that of the Cambrian. But the innovation was principally variations upon existing themes; no major new themes were added. In the Cambrian, by contrast, innovation was largely at the level of producing new themes, with variations upon them being relatively minor.” (Lewin, R., 1993, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, University of Chicago press, pp.65)

            “Even if you were to try to make that link, you couldn’t avoid the possibility that you could make the exact same link — at least logically and rhetorically — to joy and happiness.

            That is what I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting for you to do 😉 Before you attempt this, do consider the following:
            Of all predatory attacks on prey it is estimated only 19% achieve a success rate higher than 90%. The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).* What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley and his theologically-minded cohorts and accomplices were wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

            *See
            Geerat J. Vermeij, 1982, ‘Unsuccessful Predation and Evolution,’ The American Naturalist, Vol. 120, No. 6, Dec., pp. 701—720
            El Hage, et al., 2004, ‘Impaired memory following predatory stress in mice is improved by fluoxetine,’ Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry Vol. 28, pp. 123 – 128
            Zoladz, Phillip R. 2008, ‘An ethologically relevant animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder: Physiological, pharmacological and behavioral sequelae in rats exposed to predator stress and social instability,’ Graduate dissertation, University of South Florida

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            Is this particular universe infinite? No. Not in any practical sense. This particular universe has a useable service life. The Age of Stars will end. One may consider, then, this universe (this particular canvas) as a timed game. We are but one of perhaps multiple ‘games’ in play, but each of these games will end. Perhaps it will be a hot death in some great crush when all matter is recalled, or perhaps it will be a cold death when all the hydrogen that ever existed is eventually spent (as one day it will surely be) and the last stars extinguish for what the human mind perceives as forever. At that time, this once vibrant and vast cosmic sheet will conceivably be tossed aside, flung onto a pile where perhaps millions, billions, or even trillions of other discarded, empty, now cold and dark universes lie in an appalling Godly midden—a supernal mound of cosmic refuse.

            Reaction:
            You really can’t stop yourself, can you, Zande — from doing these vast, grandiloquent rhetorical flights of verbal fancy? Or from quoting irrelevant source materials unsuited for this forum.

            I don’t mind it, but I then figure that I have a moral responsibility to sum up all the fluff into something that can be responded to more concisely.

            Here’s the translation: The universe is not infinite. It goes from age to age, each of which eventually ends somehow.

            It should be noted, however, that in your characterization of the universe as not infinite, you then describe a universe that sure seems infinite. After all even if there are trillions of universes — all discarded, or functioning, or waiting to be created, each is but a subset, no? of the entire universe.

            However, that’s neither here nor there… my insistence on the question was… to pose to you a ridiculous question, like your constant refrain: “Is the universe a ‘complexity machine?’ Yes or No?” The point: it’s a ridiculous question, as is my insistence that you had to answer my question about the infinity, or not, of the universe.

            You didn’t have to answer the question (despite my assertion that you did). It was a perfectly absurd question with equally defensible answers of “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know,” “No one can know,” “No one can ‘know'” (note the quotes), “God knows,” and “I don’t care.”

            Therefore, there would have been no valid point in taking a stab at actually answering the question, and you would have been perfectly correct to point that out to me. At which point, I’d have come at you from the “See? See? That’s the same as with your accursed “universe as ‘complexity machine’ mantra!” The point: as much as you think you walked everyone into a rhetorical trap with your infernal (get it? 🙂 ) question, I did the same to you (which you’ll, of course, deny). Both “traps” were silly.

            So, back to the real point: I don’t see the suffering that you do. Anywhere. I pointed it out in a post where I indicated that of all that any creature endeavors to do — either autonomically or intellectually — he/it succeeds at it vastly more than 99.999% of the time. Each “success” of which adds to the creatures general happiness and contentment. The first statement is a simple statement of fact. The second statement is subjective based on my assumption that a creature’s happiness is enhanced each time it succeeds at something it attempts. Not really all that bold an assumption. Less bold than, say, living rocks, or suffering crystals, plants and protozoa.

            You point out to me that the various creatures of the world spend the vast majority of their time in “fight or flight” mode, and that the scientists see high concentrations of chemicals that “cause suffering.” Yet, you use the word: “suffering.” It’s an unscientific word. A word freighted with value and subjectivity. It means that you interpret a creature’s condition at the time in a negative way. A scientist is not allowed to make that judgment. Even when a creature tells you he/it is suffering.

            You, or the scientist, may see suffering, but there is joy there as well. In equal measure. Has to be. Try to understand huge happiness without understanding vast suffering. And vice versa. Those who suffer mightily don’t wish to suffer only a little, they wish to suffer not at all.

            “Suffering,” “joy,” “happiness,” “sadness…” all subjective things. All outside of the realm of the scientific. Make all the measurements you want, you still can’t use those words. Ever. And call yourself a “scientist,” that is.

            I play golf, so I truly understand suffering. Yet, I play whenever I can, and I go joyously to the golf course! Why? I love it! I can’t wait to get to the golf course… where I experience frequent frustration, anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, annoyance, irritation, letdown, chagrin, disillusionment, disgruntlement, discomfiture, vexation, discontent, exasperation, resentment, unhappiness, anxiety and sometimes despair. Much more often, by the way, than I experience triumph.

            And why? Because (1) I know what I want to do on the golf course, and (2) I so frequently fail to do it. Yet, few things cause me greater happiness than to head to the golf course. Only (1) being with my son and daughter and (2) playing my guitar, bring me greater happiness.

            If I tell you that for some people suffering proves the existence of joy — because: if joy requires suffering, then the reverse is true as well — and that all you have to do is to find the joy, you can’t put forward any possible arguement against that. And — if you want to count this as a small concession, please feel free — I can’t counter the idea that joy requires suffering in order for the organism experiencing it to be aware of it.

            Suffering? Happiness? Joy? Ecstasy? Nothing more than your choice. Want to be happy? Okay, go ahead. Want to suffer? Fine. Your choice. Think the universe is full of suffering? Okay, but you don’t have to be. Look over there! It’s a supermassive black hole that, if you were to fall into it, would turn you into atomic soup in a blink. Oh, well. So what? Life’s short… but eternity’s not. God is in charge of eternity, and He has offered you the choice. The good news, Zande: it’s never too late.

            The point: You looked out on the universe and saw vast (potentially infinite 🙂 ) suffering, and I looked out at the same universe and saw the joy that suffering requires in order for anyone even to understand the concept of suffering.

            Which perspective is right? Mine, of course.

            The other point: At great length, you and I have simply debated the question: “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” Do not go all silly and indignant over the “half” thing… that’s the way the axiom is expressed.

            You were looking for “real-world examples?” I hope you don’t mind that I used yours (as well as a golf example).

            Best,

            — x

          61. Hi Praetorious

            Listen, I’m curious. Are you ever going to actually mount a coherent counterargument with facts to back up your increasingly boring screeds?

            ”The point: it’s a ridiculous question”

            We’re well passed it being a question, Praetorius, so do please stop your nonsense. We have established the universe is, in fact, a complexity machine. It is a mechanism performing in a thoroughly predictable manner, self-complicating over time, flowing from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity.

            Now, if you think you can falsify this observation then do so. Seriously, you’re boring me to tears! Present your counter evidences or just concede the point.

            ”I pointed it out in a post where I indicated that of all that any creature endeavors to do — either autonomically or intellectually — he/it succeeds at it vastly more than 99.999% of the time.”

            LOL! Make figures up much? Cast your eyes upward, you’ll see I gave you some figures which contradict this nonsense. Let me refresh your obviously challenged memory here:

            Of all predatory attacks on prey it is estimated only 19% achieve a success rate higher than 90%.

            Mmmm, where’s the 99.999999%, Praetorius? LOL! Now, to review this figure which ruins your nonsense claim, please see Geerat J. Vermeij, 1982, ‘Unsuccessful Predation and Evolution,’ The American Naturalist, Vol. 120, No. 6, Dec., pp. 701—720.

            Now, as that passage went on to read, which you so obvious ignored:

            The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley and his theologically-minded cohorts and accomplices were wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

            Oh dear. Looks like your point is shown to be utter nonsense in just this one example. And yes, I referenced that information above. Enjoy reading the papers given.

            ”You, or the scientist, may see suffering, but there is joy there as well. In equal measure. Has to be.”

            Really? Got facts to demonstrate that? Of course you don’t, because here is your nonsense yet again. Writing blanket statements is easy, Praetorious… How about you try backing these “words” up with facts, like I do? Demonstrate this “equal measure.”

            ”If I tell you that for some people suffering proves the existence of joy — because: if joy requires suffering, then the reverse is true as well — and that all you have to do is to find the joy, you can’t put forward any possible arguement against that.”

            Of course I can! Are you really that daft? You are merely replicating William Paley’s disastrous attempt to explain how maximum evil could not exist:

            “If he [the Creator] has wished our misery he might have made sure of his purpose, by forming our senses to be so many sores and pains to us, as they are now instruments of gratification and enjoyment: or by placing us amidst objects so ill-suited to our perceptions, as to have continually offended us, instead of ministering to our refreshment and delight. He might have made, for example, everything we tasted, bitter; everything we saw, loathsome; everything we touched, a sting; every smell, a stench; and every sound, discord.”

            Read the following carefully, Praetorius:

            Self-evidently, for it to be intelligible and consequential, an animal must be capable of knowing it is suffering, and it cannot know this unless it has a peak point of pleasure established at some moment in the past against which it can gauge the depths of its misery in the present. If the Creator had made everything men saw loathsome, everything he touched, a sting, every smell, a stench, and every sound, discord, as Paley proposed evil would surely do, then neither men nor beast could possibly ever distinguish the beautiful from the deplorable, the warm caress from the sharp bite, the aromatic from the stench, and the sweet harmony from the obtuse noise.

            How could one be offended by bitterness if all liquids were bitter? How could the elderly experience the terrible blights of immobility, perennial pain, mental degradation and the noisy rampage of senility if they had not once run free as young men and women? How could a single human being recognise the unspeakable terror of cancer or total war if that same human being had not first savoured the joys of good health and peace? How could a lioness understand the dangerous agony and vicious loneliness of ostracism if she had not first experienced the thrill and safety of the pride? How could the long eared jerboa appreciate the anguish of drought if it had not first tasted the delights of the wet season? Could one of psychologist Harry Harlow’s doomed rhesus macaque monkeys have known the true and utter destructive horrors of being trapped inside his experimental ‘pits of despair’ if it had not first known the freedom of movement and the pleasures of communion? Indeed, how could a once healthy mind lose itself if it had not first known itself?

            As I have repeatedly informed you: The Problem of Good is not a problem. Good does not exist. Good has never existed, not as something distasteful or hurtful to the Creator. Good is not a wave of dissent, a rebellion growing inside Creation like some determined cancer, a tumour. Good is neither a disease nor a corruption, for good is not the equal and opposite of evil but rather an evil unto itself. It is a flavour of evil, a dialect, or perhaps more accurately, a variation in temperature there to be experienced in those moments when there appears to be a temporary reduction of perceptible suffering. Good is a mechanism to greater expressions of suffering.

            Is that clear to you now? I doubt it. I doubt it because the extent of your objections here have been nothing but emotional protests, but sadly for you, emotional protests do not affect the veracity of thing in the real world.

            Your fantasy world (for which you have no facts) has been shown to be a pantomime… repeatedly.

            Now, once again, I have presented the Teleology Challenge for you to engage. Regretfully, it however appears you are simply too afraid (or perhaps too intellectually confounded) to engage it. However, if you think you can rise to the challenge, if you think you actually have something meaningful to contribute, in contrast to your laughable word salads on display here, then here, once again, is the link.

            https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-teleology-challenge-2/

          62. Lol! I’m not all that interested in keeping your interest, Zande. But, it is fun to bounce you around, since you long ago stopped being a serious interlocutor.

            Anyway, I accounted for “free energy” with my third example.

            You long ago lapsed into silly “angels on the head of a pin” argumentation. Artaxes and I try frequently to bring you back into a real debate, rather than these silly evasions.

            Best,

            — x

          63. @John Zande
            You said: “If I may, I do find it thoroughly intriguing when people claim they know exactly what is in the thesis without actually reading the thesis.”

            This is the short description from Amazon.

            It has been said that in a universe which simultaneously contains obscene levels of seemingly meaningless misery, and creatures endowed with the capacity to know it is meaninglessly miserable, that only two explanations face all facts: the Christian position, which suggests this is a good world conferred by a benevolent being who has man’s best interests at heart, but which has—for one reason or another—gone terribly, terribly wrong; and that of dualism, which proposes that there exists two equal and independent powers (one good, the other bad) pushing everything, and that this universe is the battlefield over which these opposing forces wage an endless war. Both theses are conspicuously incomplete, the first moreso than the second. This world was never good, never peaceful, never without suffering, pain and anxiety. There was never an armistice between all living and not-so living things, nor can evidence be found to suggest there ever was—or still is—a loosely balanced war tumbling across Creation with the advantage swinging between the forces of light and happiness, and those of darkness and misery. Fire has always burned flesh, water has always drowned babies, and Creation has only ever exhibited but one impulse, one motive, one direction: towards increasing complexity, where complexity—across all systems, animate and inanimate—corresponds precisely to the degree and depth of potential suffering available to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited. Clearly, both theses are deeply and deliriously deficient, and yet at the same time both are, however, also stained with enough half-truth to at the very least indicate a third, more consistent, more durable, demonstrable, enormously distasteful, but ultimately unavoidable alternative: that this world was brought into existence by a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose nutritional, emotional and entertainment needs are satisfied best by the suffering which pervades all of Creation, and whose single-minded objective is to amplify His pleasure-taking over time. Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement, arousal, and nutritional satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

            I think, I’ve distilled the core of your thesis pretty well. Are you going to tell me that this text does not accurately represent the essence of your thesis?
            If that’s the case you’re either deceiving potential buyers or your an abysmally lousy writer who isn’t even able to formulate succinctly the essence of his own book.

            You said: “If you really want to understand the thesis, and review the myriad of evidences and the over 170 publishes papers and field studies cited in the work, I would suggest you actually read the book: The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of Our Omnimalevolent Creator.”

            I sure as hell will neither buy nor read your book.
            I don’t need to wade through 150 pages and fry my brain with the incoherent, inconsistent and selfrefuting ramblings of a mentally sick person.
            There are some very few atheists who I respect as debators and I would consider reading their works even if I would radically disagree with their views but after all the intellectual junk you have emitted here I will definitely not read it.
            Reading such garbage would be the equivalent to psychological torture.
            I’m sure you’ll find other readers and buyers who don’t mind being left dumber then before after having read your book.
            Seriously, reading a phone book would be more intellectually stimulating and useful.

            I don’t need to read your book because It just takes a look at the short description to see that your methodlogy is fatally flawed.
            1. One can never prove with absolute certainty that a person did something because of a certain motive unless one knows the person’s mind.
            2. It just takes a quick look to see that there are other possible explanations why God would allow suffering, even increased suffering. At best you can offer further evidence that suffering exists and increases.
            3. You failed to demonstrate why and how it follows from the existence of suffering that God needs His beings to suffer or that He enjoys their suffering.
            4. Moreover, I offered an alternative explanation which is more reasonable than yours.
            5. The burden is on YOU to show why your thesis is the best, most reasonable explanation.

            You said that I need to refute your evidence.
            Are you THAT stupid? No, I don’t! Even though your “evidence” is very shaky, the cardinal problem is not your “evidence” but your flawed methodogy.
            I could make the following thesis.
            Pigs can fly.
            Evidence: The sky is blue.
            Now, can you refute that the sky is blue? UNDERSTAND?
            For a thesis to be viable not only has the evidence to be true but the one making the thesis needs to demonstrate how it follows from the evidence that the thesis is the only possible explanation or, failing that, to demonstrate how it follows from the evidence that the thesis is the best, most reasonable explanation. You did neither.

            You failed to answer my objection that shows that your thesis is not reasonable.
            An omnipotent being could satisfy instantly any need it could possibly have.
            Here’s another objection.
            The creator of the universe did either
            a) exist eternally in the past.
            or
            b) is a being outside of time. He created not only space and matter but also time.
            If a is true, you mean to tell me that He waited zillions and zillions of years to create a universe for His entertainment and for other needs. How could He bear all those years of boredom and unfulfiled needs? Yeah, sure.
            If b is true, not anly is time absolutely meaningless for the creator but also such notions as entertainment needs.

            So, I won’t deal with your stupid thesis anymore until you can answer my objections and until you can show us compelling reasons why your thesis is the best, most reasonable explanation for your “evidence”.
            The burden of proof is on YOU.

            You said: “I assure you, your Johnny Rich example is thoroughly wrong.”
            That assurance is as much worth as Bill Clinton’s famous assurance. I think that my analogy was spot on.

            You said: “Free Will most certainly exists. Good most certainly exist. The Problem of Good is not a problem. Good is not something distasteful to the Creator.

            And yes, the word “evil” is misdirecting. The best possible way to describe maximum evil (our Creator) is “thoroughly pragmatic.” He did not, however, “create” us. We are evolved, just like everything else. The thrill is in the creativity.”

            WOW! Are you taking drugs?
            Selfrefutation: a problem that is not a problem. Ouch!
            Good exists? If there is no evil than there can be no good.

            You said: “I do not claim this universe is eternal”.
            What? Are you freaking kidding me?
            It was you who callenged my statement that the universe had a beginning. You even demanded evidence that the universe did not exist eternally in the past. Was that another John zande?
            We’ve come full circle now. After you coudn’t refute my premisses for my cosmological argument you went on your sideshow with your pathetic thesis.
            Now you have ceded the second premise of my argument.
            What about your other objections to my argument?

            You said: “And I’m afraid to say but you’re doubly not out of the gates yet, because the entire first cause argument, as I have already pointed out to you, rides on the unbreakable rules of causality. Well, those rules aren’t as fixed as you might like”

            Well, I hope you realize that if you maintain that objection then you can kiss good bye to your thesis.
            Why? Because if that was true then things could just happen without any cause, things such as suffering and increased complexity.
            Funny, isnt’t it?
            If things can just happen without any cause then it would be stupid to accuse the creator of the universe as the cause for all the misery you are so vividly describing.
            You’ve to drop that one too in order to save your “thesis”.

            You said: “Complexity is simply the passage from the simple to more involved, more embellished, more intricate, diverse, sophisticated. Which is more complex, hydrogen or helium?”

            Wow! Your thinking is as clear as fog and your logic as sharp as a rubber knife.
            For God knows how long you are talking about complexity and yet you cannot even make your mind up what complexity really is.
            if Complexity is simply the PASSAGE from the simple to more involved, more embellished, more intricate, diverse, sophisticated then it is a PROCESS.
            And when you ask “Which IS more complex, hydrogen or helium?” then you are implying that complexity is a STATE.
            Big difference! You want us to refute your “complexity machine” theory when you cannot even make your mind up what complexity is? Gimme a break!

            I’ve adressed your points sufficiently and there is no need to discuss your “thesis” further.
            There is no need to continue this nonsense. Your responses so far give no reasons to believe that you can come up with something serious.
            Anyway, due to time constraints and project deadlines I won’t be able to answer your nonsense, at least this year, even if I wanted to.
            I sure as hell will not buy your book or drive the traffic on your website up.
            Everything you said so far can lead only to four conclusions: You are either abysmally stupid, totally clueless, completely dishonest or mentally ill.
            I’m now dead serious and I’m not saying this to insult you. I believe that you are mentally ill and that you should seek professional help.
            Many years I have lived in a small town with a big psyhiatrical clinic nearby. It was unavoidable that I came to know many of the patients and to learn about their deseases. I came to know both people outside and inside the clinic. People suffering from paranoia, psychosis, neurosis, schizoprenia, depression, alcoholism and drug addictions.
            From the way they walk, look and hold their hands I can tell when they are drugged with neuroleptica, a group of drugs.
            I know a person, very near to my heart, a gifted, intelligent person who suffered from schizophrenia. That person exhibited the same symptoms as you do. Talking to you is like talking to multiple persons and at times I’m having trouble figuring out to which of the many Johns I’m talking to. There’s good news though. Modern medicine can help you a great deal and allows you to live a normal life.
            I wish you from the bottom of my heart that your mental health improves.
            Talking to mentally ill persons, even to the ones you love, is an incredible drain on one’s soul.
            That’s why I’m not going to continue the discussions further.

          64. Hi artaxes

            Do you feel better after that little screed?

            I’ll ignore most of your comment as tantrums are best left alone. I will, however, address three of your staggeringly poorly thought-through points.

            3. You failed to demonstrate why and how it follows from the existence of suffering that God needs His beings to suffer or that He enjoys their suffering.

            LOL! So, you’ve read the book then to make this outlandish statement? The short answer though is, Yes, I do demonstrate it, and rather convincingly, if I may say so. It draws its conclusions from physics, cosmology, astronomy, biology, geology, meteorology, genetics, chemistry, ethology, ecology, palaeontology, immunology, neurology, physiology, sociology, economics, and even traditional theology, and cites over 170 published papers to support its central arguments.

            Feel free to read it and present a formal, intelligible rebuttal.

            4. Moreover, I offered an alternative explanation which is more reasonable than yours.

            Hardly. Your explanation is nothing but a creative excuse which attempts to explain why your clearly incompetent spirit has lost total control of his creation. The strength of my thesis is that it does not seek to find excuses for why things are not as they should be if matter had been persuaded to behave by a benevolent creator who has lost total control of his creation, rather it presents a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator. God, by definition, is maximally competent, and to propose anything less is simply preposterous. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken. We must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator. The explanation I present exists without need for an alibi, scapegoat, hastily arranged apology, or laboured advocacy. As an explanation for the world that has been, is, and will be, malevolence is complete. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a cover story or inventive pretext.

            Which, then, is the stronger theory: the one that makes vague sense only if a creative cover story (a pretext) is attached to it, or one that requires no defence at all?

            5. The burden is on YOU to show why your thesis is the best, most reasonable explanation.

            My goodness, does being asinine come naturally to you, or is it something you have to work at daily? Yes, the burden is on me, which is why I wrote a book proving my conclusions. The title of that book: “The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature and Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator.”

            Somewhat self-explanatory, wouldn’t you say? LOL!

          65. @JZ: Please allow me to interrupt with two small questions which, though small, require explanation.
            1. You state (in bold) that “things are not as they should be” and that “things are as they are.” Please describe how things ought to be and cite the sources for your belief. Upon what do you base your belief that things ought to be a certain way?
            2. Your proposed thesis does not allow for any being other than God to effect the universe in any way. Please explain.

          66. Hi Madblog

            ”Please describe how things ought to be and cite the sources for your belief.”

            I’m surprised you’d even have to ask this. Your entire religion is built around the single notion (claim) that things are not as they should be, that creation is diseased and in need of a cure. Creation was made perfect, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31), and “For everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4). The assertion (Psalm 100:5, for example) is also made that Yhwh is perfect and perfectly good, which is then supported in Mark 10:18, “No one is good except God alone.” A perfectly good, perfectly loving Creator would Create perfection, correct?

            ”God Himself is good; that is, He is everything that God should be—the ideal person, the sum total of all perfection. There are no defects or contradictions in Him, and nothing can be added to His nature to make Him any better. He is excellence to an infinite degree, possessing every desirable quality, and therefore of inestimable value. God is good.

            Because God is Himself the highest and greatest good, He is also the source and fountain of all other good. He does good things. He extends His goodness to others. It is His nature to be kind, generous, and benevolent, to demonstrate good will toward men, and to take great pleasure in making them happy.”

            https://bible.org/seriespage/20-god-so-good

            Maximal good and maximal love (married to maximal power) could have no tolerance for suffering and evil. None. The greatest logical problem facing your religion is, therefore, the problem of evil, which has inspired a rich and forever expanding library of imaginative theodicies: man-made excuses for why this inherent and appalling contradiction exists in the world… a world that is not behaving as it should be (or once did).

            Your religion, Madblog, is built upon the notion that Creation is broken, which is an admission that Yhwh is incompetent and has lost total control of that which he created. It’s not a particularly persuasive proposition.

            ”2. Your proposed thesis does not allow for any being other than God to effect the universe in any way. Please explain.”

            What an odd question. Is your religion dualistic in nature? Is Satan the equal to Yhwh? The Owner of All Infernal Names does not share His Creation with any other comparable spirit. He is the source of the All, and He is perfect, maximally efficient, maximally powerful. He is mistake-free and maximally competent. Creation has not malfunctioned, as yur particular religion proposes. The program is running precisely as designed. Creation is unfurling exactly as desired by the mistake-free Creator. All things, though, effect Creation. He does not interfere, allowing the game to unfold in thrillingly unpredictable ways. This is why there are no supernatural stains on Creation. There is, however, no problem of good. Good is neither a disease nor a corruption, for good is not the equal and opposite of evil but rather an evil unto itself. It is a flavour of evil, a dialect, and just as matter and energy are different forms of the same thing, interchangeable (E=mc2), so too is good and evil.

          67. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I asked YOU how YOU decided that A. things are not as they should be, and B. what way they ought to be. And C. How you validate your conception of the way they ought to be.

            I already understand, according to Christian belief and Scriptures, not only how things are not as they ought to be, but why. I didn’t need you to explain MYYY beliefs, but yours.

            I’ll give you a hint on the second question. Could it be that beings other than God (human beings ) might have had some effect upon the created world?

          68. I never said things are not as they should be. That is precisely my point. It is you who proposes things have gone awry and the Creator is thoroughly incompetent. I’m saying things are precisely as they should be.

            “Could it be that beings other than God (human beings ) might have had some effect upon the created world?”

            Yes, that is your excuse. I have no need for such excuses to explain this world.

          69. I see. Then you surely enjoy and revel in the way things are…you’re trying to say that you are totally down with the mass murder, war, hate, destruction and “evil” which, as you say, really IS the way of the Universe, as it was meant to be. Correct?

          70. For this world to make (still) incomplete sense, you are forced to proffer an excuse for an incompetent spirit who has lost total control of his creation. My thesis explains the world without a creative (manmade) cover story, so ask yourself: which is the stronger, more rational and likely explanation for this world: the one that requires an excuse just to even be vaguely plausible, but hardly convincing, or the one that doesn’t?

          71. But I’ll cut right to the chase here. Given your premise, you must either: A. be perfectly content with the “evil” universe you see around you, or B. Justify whence you obtained a concept for a universe which is different from the one (you say) we have.
            And that is a problem for your premise.

          72. As the magnificent Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine said:

            Facts are facts. They are enormously discourteous. They do not revere old books, they do not stand in awe before old beliefs. They do not bow before famous ancestors. They are simply the stuff out of which reality made, and the final judge of truth.”

          73. @jz

            You may have a case as to your rabbi hero friend………….to unsuspecting and itching ears,…fortunately there are MORE excellent facts before whom your legendary rabbi fails.

            There are a few minor details. There is this thing called ‘death.’ There is the inescapable fact of ‘sin,’ try as you may to re-word it.

            Then there is always the genealogy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which proves David’s greater son. So yep, facts are extremely discourteous to a mind full of bias. It’s like a man searching the desert for robin eggs. ‘See, nothing here.’

            You are your friend are looking in the wrong places and calling your results ‘truth.’ Then again, maybe sand and camels may lead you to the Creator of both.

          74. Since your only response to my attempts at discourse is to tell me what you think I believe and how it conflicts with your pet theory, I will finish my point without your input (which would have been welcome.)
            Either you are the most happy and contented person on the planet because this evil, malevolent universe is as was planned by its sadistic creator and you, a preprogrammed cog in its machine, also act, feel and think according to his malevolent plan;
            Or you must explain how an evolved being (you), in a universe which is acting in every part according to its Cruel design, are able to conceive of anything not-evil, not-malevolent, not cruel…something which is what I might call “good”. I understand that part of your thesis is that good is just another flavor of evil, but it is you who are begging the question.
            How does your preprogrammed-for-evil brain, or anyone else’s, get the notion that there might be another way for the universe to be?
            And by the way, where does any human mind or heart imagine or conceive that there is a difference between good (whatever word you would like to sub) and evil (whatever word you would like to sub)?
            Put it this way…how are you able to write a book declaring that all is evil IF all really is evil? How would one notice?

          75. Madblog, don’t get angry that your excuse conflicts with reality, and seriously don’t get angry at facts. Facts are facts.

            “How would one notice?”

            Now you’re asking the right question.

            Self-evidently, for it to be intelligible and consequential, an animal must be capable of knowing it is suffering, and it cannot know this unless it has a peak point of pleasure established at some moment in the past against which it can gauge the depths of its misery in the present. If the Creator had made everything men saw loathsome, everything he touched, a sting, every smell, a stench, and every sound, discord, as Paley proposed evil would surely do, then neither men nor beast could possibly ever distinguish the beautiful from the deplorable, the warm caress from the sharp bite, the aromatic from the stench, and the sweet harmony from the obtuse noise.

            How could one be offended by bitterness if all liquids were bitter? How could the elderly experience the terrible blights of immobility, perennial pain, mental degradation and the noisy rampage of senility if they had not once run free as young men and women? How could a single human being recognise the unspeakable terror of cancer or total war if that same human being had not first savoured the joys of good health and peace? How could a lioness understand the dangerous agony and vicious loneliness of ostracism if she had not first experienced the thrill and safety of the pride? How could the long eared jerboa appreciate the anguish of drought if it had not first tasted the delights of the wet season? Could one of psychologist Harry Harlow’s doomed rhesus macaque monkeys have known the true and utter destructive horrors of being trapped inside his experimental pits of despair if it had not first known the freedom of movement and the pleasures of communion? Indeed, how could a once healthy mind lose itself if it had not first known itself?

            Now, while destruction through calamities (manmade and natural) may indeed be stunningly profitable windfalls for The Owner of All Infernal Names, it is natural, internally motivated growth, not ruin, that is the most secure and assured route to the fullest possible optimisation of pleasure, and for growth to be fertile and lasting, for it to exhibit an expansionist impulse, it must be driven by that rich compost which serves two masters: ‘hope.’

            Where hope exists so too does activity, and from the enormous perspective of The Owner of All Infernal Names, hope is to be favoured over ruin, dreams preferred over nightmares, for in the larger narrative—the only narrative that truly matters—it is hope and pleasant forecasts that is the surest possible path to the greatest possible harvest. Where hope is fertile the trinkets of the Creator’s amusement are compelled forward, and they move not because they are being instructed to move, but rather because they perceive from where they stand a degree of safety, security, and predictability ahead. Whether real or simply anticipated, safety and stability stirs in the more forward thinking of individuals thoughts of greater investments in future enterprises. Larger, bolder, longer-term investments are made (families, cultural infrastructure, exploration, empire building) and this appropriately services the Omnimalevolent Creator’s hunger to see the fields over which He will take his profit ripen and diversify in new and fascinating ways.

            Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed. Prospects and aspirations and expectations must be birthed and floated before they can be overwhelmed and drowned. Optimism must be established, plans mapped out, investments made and ambitious journeys launched before a thousand and one profitable little deaths can be delivered. A population must be fattened before it can be starved. One and a half billion people must be fed and protected to some degree of satisfaction—a precious few even allowed to live spectacular lives in idyllic settings free from any and all concerns—so the six and half billion thirsty, starving, sick, war-torn, homeless, and displaced can recognise and appreciate their sorrowful lot . Impossibly courageous adventures must have, at the very least, some scent of imaginable success or else the adventurer would never unfurl his incomplete map and wonder, what if…

            None of these little thrills and delightful pleasures would be possible in the absence of hope. Without it, life, in all its varied expression, would be stunted. It would lack all creativity, and without inventiveness, without vision and imagination and ambition, the most tasteful pockets of Creation would quickly succumb to friction and fall into an antithetical malaise of inactivity.

            By however indulging His game by giving it line and letting it run in unpredictable and creative directions the Creator has ensured both activity and pleasure. Indeed, spoiling his quarry by letting it run must not only be the source of enormous enjoyment for the Creator, but it must also constitute a great portion of the holy writ underscoring the operation of His creation. What greater possible pleasure is there, after all, than letting your prey hope for an alternative outcome? What greater thrill is there than letting your victim believe it can win?

          76. What you have to understand, Madblog, is that suffering is not merely the abrupt delivery of violence and death. Its greatest and most valuable expression is in dashed hopes, ruined dreams, perennial pain, torment, confusion, misunderstanding, prolonged anxiety, recovery, repair, exhaustion, and, eventually, full bodily capitulation in a drama where warm survivors, not cold victims, are more valuable to our Omnimalevolent Creator.

          77. LOL there is definitely no anger here.
            You do project, don’t you?

            Please explain how a totally malevolent and cruel Creator is able to create even the illusion of good, joy, pleasure.

            AND you still have no answered my challenge. How is a created being able to critique his creator by applying criteria that neither he nor the creator possess?

          78. Who said our Creator is cruel? He is neither hateful, vengeful, or even hostile, merely thoroughly observant of His needs.

            Good is not illusion. I have already explained this to you. If you won’t read my comments you’re going to bore me very, very quickly.

            What criteria do neither the created or Creator possess?

            Now, you have not answered my question to you. Will you now?

            Which is the stronger, more rational and likely explanation for this world: the one that requires an excuse just to even be vaguely plausible, but hardly convincing, or the one that doesn’t?

          79. The one that doesn’t…that’s the one where a good God Created the universe good, the one lovingly explained for us in the Tanakh and the Christian Bible.

            I did not say good was an illusion, or that you said it was. It is you who should read carefully.

            If your description of your god doesn’t receive the appellations cruel, malevolent, etc. then I begin to see your confusion.

          80. Zande: do avoid the gratuitous insults, please. You may attack what a person says, but not his intelligence or character or anything else about him.

            Best,

            — x

          81. So anyway…I’ll ask in a more palatable manner (didn’t know there were so many triggers)…

            Please explain how a totally malevolent Creator is able to create even the illusion of good, joy or pleasure, (in order to please himself by allowing us to suffer.)

            AND you still have not answered my challenge. How is a created being able to critique his creator by applying criteria that neither he nor the creator possess?

          82. I find it hard to believe that you aren’t playing dumb…this is Apologetics 101 and I’m quite sure you’re familiar. But I’ll play just a little more.
            Given a god whose sole interest is self-satisfaction at the expense of his creations, an “omnimalevolent” being; given that this being has created a universe and sentient beings which cannot but reflect his character and is running smoothly and without error according to his omnipotent will, which is that his sentient creations suffer; how does one of his perfectly-according-to-his-design creations find within himself a different criteria for judging this god, one which he could not have obtained from his god, a criteria which includes items like; justice, love, selflessness, mercy, kindness?
            Where does the man obtain these items which are within his mind or heart with which to critique his god?

          83. Madblog, you seriously have to stop trying to shoehorn your pantomime belief system into this mix. We are not “created.” We are evolved inside a universe stitched along a few basic rules and let loose. In this timed game, our Creator does not interfere. Ever. This, Madblog, is a part of the thrill of His existence… to be surprised and entertained as Creation evolves in thoroughly unpredictable ways.

            Our Creator does not seek to be known, which is why Creation is painted in impenetrable naturalism. There are no supernatural stains quite on purpose. Notions of justice and love and kindness are thoroughly explained through evolutionary processes, and their existence is welcomed by our Creator for they are mechanisms to greater, more refined, deeper expressions of suffering. I have already explained all this, and your patent ignorance here of what has already been explained is evidence you lack the emotional and intellectual capital to engage this subject as an adult.

            But keep believing in your pantomime reality. Your belief makes the Creator pleased. He is thrilled (genuinely thrilled) that you cling to some alternative explanation for the nature of this world. He wants you to work against existential despair. He wants you to throw yourself into the future. He wants you to hope and to dream. He wants you to self-complicate and self-harm with your carefully managed delusions… for just as long as you are distracted by these sweet smelling phantoms of your own invention, you are not occupying yourself with thoughts of rebellion.

          84. —-for just as long as you are distracted by these sweet smelling phantoms of your own invention, you are not occupying yourself with thoughts of rebellion—- says jz

            Perfect. You have finally said something I agree with. But like the madness of the prophet when speaking of himself……………..

            that’s right, as long as YOU are distracted………….YOU are not occupying yourself with thoughts of rebellion…

            ‘Stubbornness is as idolatry, and rebellion is as witchcraft.’ There’s a whole lot of this going on these days. Fact is jz, believers have a standard for absolute truth, while you and like minded souls have nothing but guesses.

            This must terrify you, so much so for you to see God as you do. But seriously john, you are trying to extend a conversation to give credibility to your claims in which there are none. You are trying to win a ‘game’ where your team has lost, the bleachers are empty, and the lights have been turned off.

            God and His word have never lost.

          85. Thanks for that, Colourstorm. I am, however, compelled to remind you that you’re “truth” requires a creative cover story which you deploy to rescue an incompetent spirit who has lost total control of his creation. It’s a ludicrous proposition, I’m afraid to say. God doesn’t make mistakes, which is why my thesis is the only rational explanation for this world… An excuse-free explanation that towers above your excuse-riddled pantomime.

            What sort of fool would believe in a god that requires a defence… an excuse?

            But as I told Madblog, keep believing. Your actions please our Creator. He wants you to believe in these incompetent spirits of your own invention. He is thrilled that you defend this bungling, amateur klutz you call Yhwh with such vigour, for He does not seek to be known to you. All He wants of you is to self-complicate and self-harm, just as you are doing.

          86. Take note that I have not insulted you, only asked simple and easily answered questions regarding your narrative. Your belief system is apparently not one which promotes non-essentials like self-control or kindness.
            As for rebellion, I am occupied with thoughts of that about every 2.5 seconds. Such is my nature. But the God is serve is merciful, patient and interested in my well-being to a far greater measure than I am myself.

            The god you describe in your last response surely exists, but we clearly are not talking about the same god. The one you mistake for the True God has been known by other names from the beginning, and your utter fascination with him is not healthy. Take my advice and take up another hobby. Thus endeth my part of the exchange. Have a nice day.

          87. Lol! Surely you see the nitwittery involved in claiming as fact the highly dubious notion that “we are not created.”

            Only funnier when in almost the very next sentence you talk about “our Creator.”

            Then, you accuse mb of believing in a “pantomime reality!”

            Zande, your preposterosity (my coinage) grows at the same pace as your incoherence. This last was an embarrassingly buffoonish post.

            Best,

            — x

          88. Good question there, MB! I don’t see where Zande’s “vision” has a response to it. I expect some hemming and hawing, and a massive bank of fogwash. One thing is certain about Zande: he can lay it on thick!

            Best,

            — x

          89. @X

            I don’t mind you using my post at all.
            You’ve made some very excellent additions which I cannot address due to time constraints.
            There’s only one point where I feel the need to clarify.

            My point with regards to infinity is actually a very simple one.
            Assume we could measure the complexity of the universe right now.
            Let’s say the complexity was 1000 complexity unit or CU.
            We would put that value into our inverse function invf(C) and would get the time it takes to reach that complexity.
            Let’s assume invf(1000CU)=20 billion years. It would take 20 billion years to reach the current complexity.
            If the universe did exist eternally in the past then it doesn’t matter how long it would take to reach a certain complexity. Since time would have no starting point the universe would have reached that complexity already an infinite number of years ago.

            Unlike John’s hypothetical complexity there is something real I’ve briefly mentioned in my case for a universe that had a beginning. It’s the second law of thermodynamics which simply put states that the free (or useful) energy of the universe is only decreasing and the entropy (amount of disorder) is only encreasing.
            As with complexity, it wouldn’t matter how much free energy the universe has. The universe would run out of free energy at some point in the future. If the universe had an eternal past (no beginning) it would have already run out of energy long ago.

            One last point about science and faith..
            Our atheists friends love to claim that there is science which doesn’t require faith but only evidence. And then there is religion which requires faith.
            Wrong! Science DOES require faith! Actually it requires BIG faith!
            Actually it makes some BIG assumptions.
            These are basic assumptions which science needs to operate.
            These basic assumptions are UNPROVABLE.
            1. The universe is intelligible.
            2. We can trust our intelletual faculties to give us a true picture of reality.
            While only o few loons would disagree with these two assumptions, the next one is more ambitious.
            3. The laws of nature.do not change.

            The third one is the backbone of science. If the laws would change over time we could for example not calculate the orbits of the planets for the next year.
            Everytime we make such calculations for the future (or for the distant past) we have faith that the third assumption is true.
            And yes, I have faith in these assumptions. I believe they are true.
            That said, I want to paraphrase the brilliant scholar John Lennox : “The laws of nature are descriptions.”
            With regards to miracles and laws of nature I recommend this short little video

          90. Your post is wonderful, artaxes! Just wonderful! For example:

            One last point about science and faith..
            Our atheists friends love to claim that there is science which doesn’t require faith but only evidence. And then there is religion which requires faith.
            Wrong! Science DOES require faith! Actually it requires BIG faith!
            Actually it makes some BIG assumptions.
            These are basic assumptions which science needs to operate.
            These basic assumptions are UNPROVABLE.
            1. The universe is intelligible.
            2. We can trust our intelletual faculties to give us a true picture of reality.
            While only o few loons would disagree with these two assumptions, the next one is more ambitious.
            3. The laws of nature.do not change.

            The third one is the backbone of science. If the laws would change over time we could for example not calculate the orbits of the planets for the next year.

            On. The. Nose.

            Love the video! That has to be inconvenient for atheists! A professor of Mathematics at Oxford is a believing Christian! There are, of course, many, many scientists who are strong believers as well.

            Best,

            — x

          91. It would appear from this comment that you know exactly what Dark Energy is, and why the universal expansion is increasing in speed. Wonderful, let me know when your astonishing paper is published, and when you’ll be picking up your Nobel Prize.

          92. That, coming from a guy whose physics are messed up, is funny.
            Any idiot can write a book. Do I need to mention names?
            I’ve not seen your Nobel Prize either.
            Which of my statements are false? Put up or shut up!

          93. LOL! You’re quite quick to anger, aren’t you?

            But seriously, as it’s so obvious that you know these things for certain, I’d like to know when you’ll be picking up your Nobel. I bet the world’s cosmologists are desperate to talk to you!

            Just between you and me, though… What is Dark Energy, and why is the universal expansion increasing?

          94. More huff and puff from you.
            I’ll get my Nobel Prize at about the same time you will get the Inverse Darwin Award for reducing the quality of the human gene pool.
            Stupid questions deserve stupid answers but I guess you don’t even know why your question is stupid.
            You want to show your stellar credentials? Go ahead! Bwahaha.
            I won’t answer to your hot air since I’ve no time for fluff talk
            You’ll find out what I know or don’t know if you want to refute anything I’ve said. Go ahead, make my day. Until then bye, bye.

          95. Oh, but I’m deadly serious. Please, please, please tell me what no cosmologist on the planet knows, but obviously you do… What is Dark Energy, and why is the universal expansion increasing in speed? What is driving this phenomenon? Considering the two teams who discovered this in ’98 got Nobels, you’re a shoe-in for explaining it!

          96. Yep, more fluff.
            Sorry, no time for nonsense.
            My offer stands.You want to refute me? Go ahead!
            Sorry, you have to cure your wounded ego elsewehere.
            Good night.

          97. OK, I’ll just wait for your paper to be published, then. Know what journal you’ll be publishing in? I’m betting your phone must be ringing off its hook with invitations!

          98. Lol! Zande, are you still obsessing over published papers and the like? They can be worth a lot, or worthless. Again, there’s no point in trying to use them to make a point. Any sources I might pick you would find somehow inadequate, and would likely insist that it would prove my own inadequacy. That would be kind of a pointless exchange, now wouldn’t it?

            Best,

            — x

          99. The most likely explanation for the world is Xenu. John do you not see? This is what you want. Your whole book is about following Xenu.

    2. Hey Johnz.

      I am a better golfer than Tiger Woods. There. I said so.

      Sarcastic of course, but a baker is known by his bread. ‘Rebellion is as witchcraft,’ says the good book, and there are a whole lotta people running around in circles without brooms, but the net result is the same.

      Your claiming that Hitler was a ‘christian’ is a blow so low, that I’m puzzled how you could stoop to such a perverted depth. ‘You shall know them by their fruits’ is a truth that any caveman can understand.

      But you are in more capable hands than myself at this site. There is still time to get out of the quicksand.

      1. Hi Colourstorm,

        So you, as well, get to choose who is a True Christian™?

        I see….

        As for Hitler, please enjoy the read of just a sample of the evidence:

        “I believe today I am acting in the same way as the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lords work!”
        -Adolf Hitler, speech delivered in 1936.

        “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith…. We need believing people.”
        -Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933

        “We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

        “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

        “Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition.” -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf

        “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

        And these are excerpts from a speech made by Hitler early in his career taken from a book called My New Order, a collection of some of the more significant speeches he made from 1922-1941 (edited by Raoul de Roussy and published by Reynal & Hitchcock). In this speech Hitler proclaims his devotion to the Christian religion, thus laying the basis for the support he eventually obtained from the Roman Catholic and Lutheran religious establishments of Germany. The speech was made on April 12, 1922:

        “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.

        “In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison.

        “Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.

        “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.

        “And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness and misery.

        “When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and exploited.”

        1. You are going through entirely too much trouble there john.

          I am quite familiar with angels of light……….the forked tongue is usually a dead giveaway.

          So then by their fruits ye shall know them. Can bitter water and pure flow from the same faucet?

          Are light and darkness travel companions who share the same booth?

          And in case you ate not familiar, ‘angels of light’ are punitive.

          1. ‘are not familiar……………’ evil workers, workers of iniquity as it were. They transform themselves into ‘angels of light.’

            Quite a transformation there that Mr. Hitler………….

        2. Lol! Zande: I’ve told you that there are people out there who say they are things which they are not. It’s also true that there are people who get things very wrong. It’s also true that there are wackos out there. I suspect that someone like Hitler falls into all three categories.

          You’re another dude who is content to take the word of a monster that he’s not a monster and that he’s doing good. Sounds kind of silly to me.

          The sheer strength of faith that atheists exhibit is just weird!

          Best,

          — x

    3. Well said, artaxes! No need for morality of any kind if there are no eternal consequences.

      Atheists through history have chosen their own morality for themselves, and the world has suffered heavily for it. Oh, some choose a morality that resembles Christianity, but it’s probably because they want to stay out of trouble. Adhering to, say, the Ten Commandments, will generally keep you out of trouble with the authorities and your neighbors. But there’s nothing in their minds to keep from changing their minds today or tomorrow or in the next five minutes, and becoming a monster.

      Possibly a good example: Stalin. When his first wife died, he said: “This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.” Drama of the moment? Or candid revelation of his real reaction to her passing? His subsequent acts were certainly consistent with the statement.

      Anyway, an atheist can have morals like Play Doh. They can, and often do, take any shape at any time and for any reason of the atheist’s choosing.

      Best,

      — x

      1. Well said, artaxes! No need for morality of any kind if there are no eternal consequences.

        So, let me get this straight: you’re admitting here that you only do good because you fear punishment.

        Interesting….

        1. Again, you need to stop with the inventions, Zande. Are you trying to interact seriously here or not? Why the word “only?” Such a silly limitation; a symptom of the same pinched view that an atheist must have in order to support his faith.

          Do you consider the consequences — to yourself and others — when you do something? Anything? Of course you do. Are those consequences your only consideration? No, of course not. Why would you pose such a nonsensical question?

          Here’s a hint as to how you could have posed that question more intelligently, and less waste-of-time-ly: “To what extent do the consequences of your actions determine your decision whether or not to act?”

          Best,

          — x

          1. Hi Praetorius

            Moral (ethical) behaviour roused by a religious threat of punishment or hope for reward doesn’t make one a good person… It makes them a fearful, self-serving person.

          2. If, indeed, that’s his only reason for being moral/ethical.

            However, one should learn in life that good/moral behavior works on all levels; the practical as well as the theological, as well as the philosophical.

            By the way, nature punishes those who break the rules as well. Go ahead and walk off the edge of a cliff. Believe or disbelieve in the law of gravity all you want, you will experience the consequences of it.

            The laws of God are all around us, and nature echoes them. When someone doesn’t walk off the edge of a cliff, we don’t call him a fearful, self-interested person, we call him sensible and wise.

            When we obey God’s rules it might be because we’re fearful and self-serving, but it might also be because we’ve recognized the good sense and wisdom in them.

            Furthermore, there’s nothing wrong with the fearful, self-serving person obeying God’s rules while he grows in his faith. After a while, he can recognize the wisdom in God’s rules and stop being fearful and self-serving, to become a sincere heartfelt follower of God’s rules. A Christian.

            The really great news: you and I don’t have to trouble ourselves with it. What’s in a man’s heart is known only to himself and God.

            As I might have mentioned a bit above: anyone can say he ‘s anything he wants to say he is, and at any time. It doesn’t necessarily make it so.

            But God knows.

            Best,

            — x

  4. One more quick thing about miracles, Zande: we’re so inundated in them every day, that we now yawn at the most truly awesome things. The things that happen to us every day beat odds that make the PowerBall (an American lottery) look like a sure thing.

    Imagine the odds against any one raindrop hitting you right on the noggin. Trillions to one. Yet when you go out in a rainstorm, you get soaked.

    If you were to spend a billion years, you probably wouldn’t be able to take just one of those drops and land it successfully on a noggin you were aiming for. Bring that down to the numbers involved in molecular interactions, then to the numbers involved in the interactions of galaxies. Some scientists theorize that frequently when galaxies collide, not a single star of the two galaxies collides with another. Two clouds containing billions of stars “crash” together and not one collision? Holy mackerel!

    I know, I know… the law of large numbers, and the distances, and all that, but the point is that the miraculous is all around us, and nowadays people demand of God that He do parlor tricks in order to “prove Himself.”

    If you were placed in such a circumstance, wouldn’t you just say, “For crying out loud, look around you!”

    Don’t you, Zande, ever just look around you, just go outside one evening at sunset and look around you, and reel back in awe at the sheer grandeur, the quadrillions of cubic parsecs of magnificence, of sheer, jaw-dropping, can’t-remotely-in-a-million-years-take-it-all-in awesome miraculousness of it all? What a shame if you don’t. Or won’t. Or can’t.

    Then to think it was all just a purposeless accident sure seems silly in that context.

    The “magic” you seemed to be asking LISTENER87 to encourage her “wife” to perform is likely an attempt to do parlor tricks, to read tea leaves, or divine the future with Tarot cards or some such nonsense.

    This is a truth of atheists: they are unable, or unwilling, to see the miraculous, even when it whacks ’em upside the noggin.

    Another truth: atheists demand that God prove himself, then when He does each day, they deny the proof. They don’t simply look around themselves. It’s all right there.

    Another truth: atheists’ “vision” is full to overflowing with glib nostrums that cause them to nod knowingly to each other, thinking, “look just how clever we are! “but that don’t stand the merest of scrutiny. Ex.: the silly graphics above.

    It’s sad, really.

    One last thought about LISTENER87, the so-called “Christian” lesbian married to the “witch”: neither Colourstorm nor I presume to be the arbitrator of her status as a Christian. That’s between LISTENER87 and God.

    Both CS and I will, though, presume to pray for her, for her salvation, for her eternal happiness and for that of the woman she thinks she’s married to. All while we’re doing the same for ourselves, and for you.

    Best,

    — x

  5. Having plowed through this I am now quite mentally tired. However, while I am perfectly willing t acknowledge your right to completely dismiss John Zande’s thesis with impunity, may I ask, please, what is the source of your belief in a god?

  6. Apologies, Ark… your comment went into the “to be evaluated” area, and I’m not sure why. I don’t put too many restrictions on what I allow through automatically.

    I, or someone, will respond to this in greater detail later — as you can probably imagine, my writers and I are kinda busy at the moment — but wanted to be sure to acknowledge your contribution.

    Best,

    — x

      1. Oh, and — I forgot to mention the key ingredient! — faith.

        Because, no matter who you are, you always arrive at the question you cannot answer for your child, when she says, “Why?”

        Best,

        — x

  7. Hi, Ark! The answer is probably disappointingly simple: Yes, The Bible, and also personal experience. The teaching of The Bible allowed me to be open to the experience of God. Remember, He doesn’t force you to be with Him in any way. We seek Him at all times of our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not.

    In all my studies, Jesus shines like a beacon to all mankind as the only one who has said — no ambiguity, no subtlety that might escape the less attentive, no artifice or duplicity: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemy, love all people unconditionally (the only possible way to love all people).

    He was history’s one true radical, and what He said, so simple, so accessible for anyone and everyone, rings true both because of its obviousness, and because of its at-first-glance nonsensicalness.

    When you realize, though, at second, third and fourth glance, that Jesus’ words are the prescription for the abolition of war and injustice, and man’s inhumanity to man, you realize that you’ve discovered something and Someone truly unique in history.

    Oh, and in further answer to your question: some deep and enlightening personal experiences. God does intervene directly in each person’s life. Here is a true statement in summing up my life: Every single solitary prayer that I have made — and there have been thousands — has been answered. Frequently not in the way I asked for at the time of my prayer, but in a way that was either better, or absolutely correct, at the time I realized that my prayer had been answered.

    What’s saddening is to see the people who don’t believe in Jesus’ divinity trying to tear Him down, and make Him somehow into a bad person. Here was a man who preached universal, unconditional love of each and every man and woman for each and every other man and woman, and people like Zande try to turn Him into something malevolent.

    Best,

    — x

    1. Sadly, personal evidence does not count. It is purely subjective. But you know this already, I;m sure. But it worked for the character Saul of Tarsus, of course.
      Then again, much of what he wrote – whoever he was- was interpolation and fraud.

      The god of the bible is a capricious monster.
      Furthermore, Yahweh was formerly a Canaanite god and the Israelites simply dusted him off ,forced him to divorce his mother and stuck him on a pedestal.

      Also, the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction and is regarded as such by every leading biblical scholar and archaeologist and historian on the planet.
      Of course , I dismiss apologists, such as Habermas, Licona Craig and their ilk, as they are simply punting a doctrine of irrational indoctrination.

      1. @Arkenaten: Surely you recognize that this post of yours is feeble. However, let’s give it a run-through, shall we? (Again — I have a simple rule: I treat each post which arrives here as sent in good faith; even when, like this one, they thud on my doorstep like a misplayed medicine ball.)

        You said:

        Sadly, personal evidence does not count. It is purely subjective. But you know this already, I;m sure. But it worked for the character Saul of Tarsus, of course.

        Response:
        Lol! Personal evidence is, of course, subjective! And it’s all that we have.

        When a scientist says, “Eureka! I have made this measurement and that observation and that proves the other thing!” the report of his objective findings (assuming he’s on the up-and-up. See, eg: “Man, Piltdown” 🙂 ) are all personal evidence. So are all subsequent reports by all others who attempt to replicate the original findings. Even those reports done for vast audiences. Watch a show called “The Carbonaro Effect” sometime to see whether large audiences can be duped by smooth performers. Bottom line: personal evidence is subjective… and completely dispositive, because at some point we have faith that what is being reported to us is in good faith.

        Personal evidence, as you say, “doesn’t count” and it’s all we have. Oh, well… even an atheist has to have faith. Actually, an atheist has to have more faith than a Christian, or any other theist — the atheist is willing to bet the rest of eternity that he’s right in his unbelief! The vast irony of it all: God may prove him right.

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        You said:

        Then again, much of what he wrote – whoever he was- was interpolation and fraud.

        Response:
        More funniness, Ark! I’m glad to know that you are the arbiter of what happened thousands of years ago! I’m sure your sources are better than mine, and ColorStorm’s and theancieants’ and any others’. Did you manage to sneak a video recording (not that that could ever be faked!) or an audio recording (not that that could ever be faked!) down through the centuries? What a find you are! The man who knows what happened thousands of years ago, while we’re still trying to piece together what happened five years ago! And we have video and audio of that!

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        You said:

        The god of the bible is a capricious monster.

        Response:
        Well, it’s interesting to see where you part ways with zande, anyway. Zande says that his Zlork is not a monster, because there’s no room even for the concept of good or evil (therefore: of “monstrousness”) in his vision.

        However, God is not a capricious monster; rather man allowed himself to be a capricious monster. That much ought to be pretty easy for you to understand. However, you used the word “capricious” (Merriam-Webster: governed or characterized by caprice : impulsive, unpredictable) so let’s go with it. Where did God act impulsively or unpredictably? Nowhere. Ever. In fact, He has always — Old Testament and New — acted with vast patience, and complete predictability, giving people chance after chance after chance to turn around and change their ways, until, finally, He gave us all the ultimate gift, the ultimate second chance: Jesus Christ. There’s no caprice whatsoever in The Bible on the part of God. On the part of man? All the time. All over the place. Time and time and time and time again. Again, this is pretty basic stuf, Ark. Surely you’re aware of it? If not, it’s kind of sad that one would have to point it out.

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        You said:

        Furthermore, Yahweh was formerly a Canaanite god and the Israelites simply dusted him off ,forced him to divorce his mother and stuck him on a pedestal.

        Response:
        Oof! Ouch! More of Ark saying that He Knows The REAL Truth About Stuff That Happened 2,000 Years Ago! Lol! Okay, Ark. You tell us all! However, please no video or audio recordings from thousands of years ago. Okay? As mentioned somewhere else, they can be easily faked. Absent those video and audio recordings, though, I guess you’re stuck with the same types of sources as the rest of us. If you’re saying you believe your sources and not mine, then you’re simply saying you have faith, and that you place your faith in sources that are different from mine.

        Well.

        I guess we have to go with competing beliefs, then, don’t we? Since none of your sources, and none of mine are objective, but rather subjective personal evidence (Your words. Boy, I’m glad you brought that up!), then our sources are equal in kind and in value. Oh, and I have my own personal evidence.

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        You said:

        Also, the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction and is regarded as such by every leading biblical scholar and archaeologist and historian on the planet.

        Response:
        Wow! Hold on while I call my friend the Pope and see whether he, a renowned biblical scholar, believes the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction. Hold on while I check with a bunch of Christian and Jewish biblical scholars, to all of whom it would come as rather startling news that they believe the Pentateuch to be simply historical fiction. Someone should notify them!

        Ah, those “leading biblical scolars archeologists and historians!” Goodness gracious, there’s a freighted word! “Leading?” I wonder who’s being led by whom, Ark.

        There is, of course, no such thing as a “leading” biblical scholar or archaeologist or historian. There are only biblical scholars, archaeologists and historians.

        If by using the nonsense word “leading,” you meant “famous,” or “prominent,” then you should have used those words. But, I suspect you didn’t because that would mean what we all understand: To become famous or prominent in the world today, you absolutely do not have to get there through honesty, integrity, or, good gracious, any adherence to truth. So, your assertion contradicts itself from the get-go. Worse, are you telling me that these “leading” solons are in possession of sources that are superior to yours and mine? Have they unearthed those 2,000 year-old and more video and audio recordings that are not faked? If so, why were we not made aware of them?

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        You said:

        Of course , I dismiss apologists, such as Habermas, Licona Craig and their ilk, as they are simply punting a doctrine of irrational indoctrination.

        Response:
        Dismiss away, Ark, dismiss away. Was this last intended to make you seem intelligent and learned? And not pompous? If so, it didn’t quite get there. Please refer to the post in which I said that we shouldn’t be trying to debate competing studies, bodies of work, and the like. There are forums for such things, but this is not one of them.

        – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

        Anyway, best to you and yours, Ark. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

        — x

        1. Wow you take all that time to answer my comment, offer not a single reasonable rebuttal and can’t even offer a single piece of meaningful evidence.
          This is the core foundation of indoctrinated fundamentalists.
          That you would scoff at the notion that there is any historical veracity to the Pentateuch merely illustrates [deleted: gratuitous insult].
          Only
          [deleted: gratuitous insult] and biblical literalists hold any stock on the Pentateuch being anything other than geopolitical myth.
          Next you will be pleading a case for Moses and the Exodus, Adam and Eve and Noah.
          You are, sadly simply
          [deleted: profanity], [deleted: gratuitous insult].
          Truly, religious fundamentalists of your ilk are the
          [deleted: profanity] scourge of the earth – morons to the last.

          I do not celebrate Thanksgiving.

          1. @ xp

            Love the highlighted ‘red.’ Certainly emphasizes the so-called ‘intellect’ of the godless mind; an example that fence sitters should pay attention to.

            If these attempts at discourse are an indication of ‘learning………..’ I’ll pass.

            ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…………’ Yikes. I could only imagine what was said……….then again, I’ve seen it before.

          2. For the rest of you, did you notice how quickly Ark degenerated into a frothing mess?

            I was never anything but polite and courteous with him. I pulled no punches about his post, which was silly and nonsensical.

            But he did, after all post it out there for all the world to see. One shouldn’t post what one is not willing to defend.

            If you see someone react as you’ve just seen Ark react, then you can be sure that the one doing the lathered, sweaty, eye-bulging, vein-popping is pretty much out of arguments.

            Zande must be thinking, “With friends like Ark…” Yeesh!

            Best,

            — x

          3. I don’t need to defend it – the best scholars in the world have already produced the evidence, and if [Deleted: Reason #4] then this is your problem – not mine.

            As for your relgious fundamentalism – [Deleted: Reason #4][Deleted: Reasons #1, 3, and profanity].

          4. Ah! It’s no longer the “leading biblical scholars archaeologists, etc.,” it’s the “best scholars in the world!” At least now you’re getting something we can use! “Leading” is a nonsense word, but “best” indicates that there might be some basis for comparison.

            So, how is it that these scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? There are an awful lot of really good scholars who agree with me. I think my scholars are the best. And yes, one reason is because they agree with me.

            Oops! Darn! We’re tied again, Ark!

            Except that I haven’t yet reduced my arguments to the equivalent of a foot-stomping, red-faced, illiterate, juvenile hissyfit.

            I hope you can do better.

            Best,

            — x

          5. So, how is it that these scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? There are an awful lot of really good scholars who agree with me. I think my scholars are the best. And yes, one reason is because they agree with me.

            “Best” would represent Professors, especially Israeli’s who have led digs across Israel and tghe Sinai, such as Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, who says quite plainly: “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years.”

            Or Professor Magen Broshi, archaeologist at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, who ssys: “There is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.”

            Now, could you tell us who your “good scholars” are?

          6. Let’s see if we can help you with this, Zande:

            I’ll take the fluff and silliness out of your post, and we’ll see what remains that’s worth addressing in this forum.

            Here’s your post:

            So, how is it that these scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? There are an awful lot of really good scholars who agree with me. I think my scholars are the best. And yes, one reason is because they agree with me.

            “Best” would represent Professors, especially Israeli’s who have led digs across Israel and tghe Sinai, such as Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, who says quite plainly: “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years.”

            Or Professor Magen Broshi, archaeologist at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, who ssys: “There is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.”

            Now, could you tell us who your “good scholars” are?

            Now here it is again, with the proper edits in place:

            So, how is it that these scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? There are an awful lot of really good scholars who agree with me. I think my scholars are the best. And yes, one reason is because they agree with me. [No edit required: quoting me.]

            “Best” would represent Professors, especially Israeli’s who have led digs across Israel and the Sinai, such as Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, who says quite plainly: “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years.” [Reason(s) for editing: #12, 16, 19. Oops! Not the forum for playing dueling experts and studies and the like. I think I’ve pointed this out before, so reason #7 is in here too. I believe that I asked Ark for why his experts were best, not who they were. I don’t care who they are. I don’t care who your experts are either, just as you don’t really care who my experts are.]

            Or Professor Magen Broshi, archaeologist at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, who ssys: “There is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.” [Reason(s) for editing: #7, 12, 16, 19. Oops! Not the forum for playing dueling experts and studies and the like.]

            Now, could you tell us who your “good scholars” are? [Reason(s) for editing: #12, 16, 19. Oops! Not the forum for playing dueling experts and studies and the like. And, of course, reason #7… Been there; done that. (See? I can talk cool too! 🙂 )]

            So, what’s left of any substance in your post that’s worth responding to? Let’s see:

            So, how is it that your scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? There are an awful lot of really good scholars who agree with me. I think my scholars are the best. And yes, one reason is because they agree with me.

            You quoted me here, so I’ll respond to that: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

            Best,

            — x

          7. Your post:

            So, who are your “good scholars” Praetorius?

            I’ve asked this three times now. Will I have to ask it a fourth time? [Reason(s) for edit: #2, 7]

            Even though there was nothing of substance in your post, I’ll grant you an answer: Yes.

            Best,

            — x

          8. I see. So you don’t actually have any reputable scholars… Just evangelicals like Kitchen and Bryant Wood, the Young Earth Creationist from the inerrantist Associates for Biblical Research.

          9. Helping you out again, Zande:

            You said:

            I see. So you don’t actually have any reputable scholars… Just evangelicals like Kitchen and Bryant Wood, the Young Earth Creationist from the inerrantist Associates for Biblical Research. [Editing reason(s): #2, 7, 11, 14, 18]

            Darn! I really wanted to respond to that one too!

            You sure do like to engage in irrelevant showoffery, don’t you? It’s entertaining, if irrelevant.

            Best.

            — x

          10. Uhhhh… huh?

            As you well know, I back everything up, requiring the likes of you 🙂 to dissemble, evade, shuck, jive, bob, weave and engage in all manner of rhetorical tommyrot. However, I’m kinda turned around with all the back and forth. I think I answered everyone, but I’m not sure.

            Best,

            — x

          11. @ Jz-

            You remind me of a guy who stands on the midfield after his team has lost….crying there were errors in the refs decisions, crying that the clock ran out, crying that there were ‘mitigating circumstances’ which caused his loss………one excuse after another;

            so unwilling to face the facts, so willing to ignore the score, while he shouts through the megaphone that there is no evidence the score is reliable………..after all, it’s all in the past, and subject to obscurity…..meanwhile, everyone in the stands knows the home team lost, and they quietly went home.

            There has been given you a rare gift in his post, don’t be so quick to dismiss it.

          12. Thanks for the CS, but I believe it was Praetorius who made the claim, so I was just hoping he could actually back this up. I’d hate to think he was lying.

          13. Ouch! Tough one there, Ark! We can help you out though. You said:

            So, how is it that these scholars are the best, Ark? Because they agree with you? [No editing required: quotes me.]

            No, [Deleted: profanity] because I agree with them. Because they have demonstrated that the evidence supports what they say, unlike a [Deleted: profanity] like Habermass or Licona who simply make [Deleted: profanity] up as they go along. This is what pre-suppositonal apologetics is all about.
            HOw come you haven’t figured this out yet?
            [Editing reason(s): #1, 2, 6, 12, 16]
            Dp youy by chance get a discount on your William Lane Craig membership fees? [Editing reason(s): #1, 2, 6, 12, 16]

            This is why when Licona said the story of the Dead Saints going ”Walkabout” in downtown Jerusalem was not meant to be taken literally in his 2010 book people likely Geisler almost shot their bolt in apoplexy and the result – Licona was fired. [Editing reason(s): #2, 3, 12, 18] [Editor’s note: Darn, Ark! I really wanted to respond to how Licona’s firing entirely disproved everything I, and everyone who thinks as I do, hold so dear! Oh, Licona, Licona! How could you get fired, and thereby invalidate all the thinking of so many through all those centuries?!? … 🙂 ]

            Now, you can either hitch your wagon to [Deleted: profanity] like these guys or look at the evidence produced by genuine archaeologists who have spent most of their lives in the field. People like Devers, Herzog and Finkelstein. [Editing reason(s): #12, 16]

            Or how about scholars like Collins; as head of the Genome Project the findings [Editing reason(s): #6, 12, 16] [Deleted: profanity] on the Original Couple nonsense. [Editor’s note: Darn again, Ark! I wanted also to talk about how the Genome Project contradicts all that stuff that The Bible says about DNA!]
            There goes Adam and Eve the Garden of Eden,original sin and the whole crock.
            Ooops, now poor Jesus can’t trace his lineage back to Adam can he. Oh dear.
            [Editing reason(s): #6, 12, 16 – Note: This was a close call, in that I would not mind responding to the point, but it was based on a passage that was edited out due to editing reason #16: “resorts to esoteric sources and information whose validity can’t be verified in the context of this blog conversation,” and so was invalid on its own merits. I decided to adhere to my own rules and ignore the substanceless passage.]

            Even theologians like Ray Brown were mature enough to acknowledge that stuff like the Virgin Birth were not be considered literal. [Editing reason(s): #2, 7, 16]
            [Deleted: gratuitous insult]

            You can either get a life and grow up or stand hand in hand with the terminally stupid.
            You and Colorstorm and all the other
            Fundamentalist
            [Editing reason: gratuitous insult] [Deleted: profanity] will suit each other nicely. [Editing reason: #4]

            I think yu ought to letyour 12 year old read thread like this insrtead of subjecting him t the crass [Editing reason(s): #9, 10, 11, 17] you might promote. [Editing reason: #4]

            Tell me, do you tell him he will be going down (Edited out rough language) if he doesn’t accept your god as his ‘Saviour”? [I left most of this in, even though it’s a clear violation of editing reason #1. Are you sure you haven’t been drinking, Ark? I mean, like drinking a lot. That last, and the previous, are pretty illiterate passages.]

            Well.

            After cleaning up this particularly illiterate and irrelevant passage, there wasn’t really anything substantive worth responding to. I’ll wait for Ark to produce something that’s not quite as awful as this. Wow! Lots of mulligans for the atheist crowd this weekend! Do you guys go out and get sozzled on a Friday evening or something?!? 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          14. Sweet!

            Do you have any recordings I can listen to? Or, do you have any recordings that you could point me to that I might appreciate?

            As you might have surmised, I’m a guitarist and a fan too.

            Best,

            — x

          15. No recordings, merely an amateur.
            For classical, you could try listen to Victor Villadangos. His interpretation of Piazolla is outstanding.
            Jazz and rock … phew the list is endless and I have no doubt you have heard most, if not all.

          16. I’m merely an amateur as well. Remember the word “amateur” is rooted in the word, “Love.” Sometimes the very best are the “amateurs,” meaning the ones who love something so much that they allow themselves to become very good at it.

            I’ve been told that I’m very good, but I remain an amateur. I have heard Piazolla This is outstanding. Is this what you meant? I don’t play fingerstyle, but I do play this style (here) and (here), as well as other styles.

            I love the guitar and all it can do!

            Best,

            — x

          17. Waiting for? I don’t follow?
            I listen to most of these, though haven’t listened to much of Steve Hillage, and have music by many.
            I once saw Stanley Clarke at Eric’s in Liverpool on his first European Tour. Ray Gomez was superb.

          18. Waiting for? To play together.

            We can do it by long distance recording. You’re conversant with recording software, right? Doesn’t have to be anything more sophisticated than a computer mic, and Audacity software.

            Best,

            — x

          19. Praetorius

            you do know, of course, that censorship is the surest sign of weakness. By censoring Arks comments, you are admitting that you cannot answer his points.

          20. I agree that censorship is one sign of weakness. That’s why I don’t do it.

            I will occasionally edit posts so that, as mentioned in my post submission guidelines, my 12-year old son can read them.

            I don’t censor out meaning. If, I’m not going to respond to something because it ‘s just CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE, then I strike it out, and give the reason for the edit. I don’t censor it.

            After a while, I don’t feel a responsibility to repeat what I’ve already said, or to respond to the substanceless or the nonsensical.

            Ark’s posts were inappropriate for a family audience, so the offending parts of his posts had to go. You’ll note that the post, and whatever meaning could be salvaged after editing out the inappropriate, remained.

            If a commenter lacks the intellectual firepower, or the self-discipline to argue politely or courteously, then I don’t care if making their work adhere to my very reasonable submission guidelines, also shows their output for the ridiculosity or ludicrosity (my coinages; I rather like them.) that it is.

            Best,

            — x

          21. It’s okay, John.

            [Deleted: profanity] like this are too dumb to recognise genuine evidence which is why it is so much more fun to swear at them! [Reason for edit: #4]

            He won’t let his 12 year old read this stuff? Hilarious. Really, so very funny. [Reason for edit: #1, 6]
            It might corrupt him reading someone to tell his dad he is an ignoramus. [Reason(s) for editing: #4]
            Yet reading all the rape, incest, barbarism , genocide,rape, slavery, murder, misogyny etc, in the bible is uplifting and a demonstration of Yahweh’s love for every 12 year old. [Reason(s) for editing: #7, 12, 16]

            When one is dealing with [Deleted: profanity],
            no amount of evidence will change their warped indoctrinated POV so, why not have a bit of fun? [Reason(s) for editing: #4]

            They actually don’t deserve the truth, [Reason(s) for editing: #1, 6, 19] and f Jesus of Nazareth was truly divine and came again it is [Deleted: profanity] like these that would nail the [Deleted: profanity] to a tree all over again.
            [Deleted: profanity].

            Well.

            Not much of substance to deal with here, eh, Ark? 🙂

            Tell me, did you ever graduate from high school? 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          22. @ xP

            What a clever usage of editing skills. And btw, just a masterful wrap of a discussion in which God has yet to lose a thing, nor lost a wink of sleep Well done.

          23. @ the stone god

            You are correct; no ‘gods’ showed up, but certainly the One in whom you live, move, and have your being, is not surprised at your revelries, and knows all about the collected filthy words cloaked as speech.

            So while you munch on your peanuts in derision, and as you pass the chips in rebellion, and as you drink the wine of pride, do know that this God above all still extends grace to you.

          24. Ah … ’tis my favorite [Deleted: profanity] friend, the [Deleted: gratuitous insult] lion.
            How the [Deleted: mild profanity] are you, this glorious, warm and sunny god-filled Sunday? CS

        2. If you’re saying you believe your sources and not mine, then you’re simply saying you have faith, and that you place your faith in sources that are different from mine.

          Curious, what are your “sources,” Praetorius?

    2. “He was history’s one true radical, and what He said, so simple, so accessible for anyone and everyone, rings true both because of its obviousness, and because of its at-first-glance nonsensicalness.”

      LOL!! This is classic! Do you seriously believe Jesus was the first person in history to say these things? Really?

      Let us review the Golden Rule: The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

      How about treating people well?

      Lao Tzu, said it this way: I treat those who are good with goodness. And I also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained

      Zhuangzi said it this way: Do good to him who has done you an injury.

      Rishabha said it this way: My Lord! Others have fallen back in showing compassion to their benefactors as you have shown compassion even to your malefactors. All this is unparalleled.

      Mahavira said it this way: Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity, and greed by contentment.

      In Hinduism its said this way: A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault?

      And Siddhartha Gautama said it this way: Conquer anger by love. Conquer evil by good. Conquer the stingy by giving. Conquer the liar by truth.

      Praetorius, you can give me any passage you think is original to Jesus and I will show you you’re wrong. Guaranteed.

      1. Jz
        You have consistently been proven to be lacking in any degree of seriousness in a discipline that you despise.

        Some time ago, a post was written that silenced your mouth (it’s a good thing to have silenced mouths) regarding your petty claim that the Lord was ‘no body special…….’

        But since I’m here, His name is called the Word of God. NO ONE else claims that name by right.

        ‘By Him all things consist………………..’ Yes, the stars……..the orbits………..atoms……..This is said of NO ONE else.

        ‘Lazarus…………..come forth…………….’ NO ONE else has foretold this mans death, as well as calling him from the grave.

        ‘I Will rise again the third day………….’ NO ONE else has risen by His own power.

        He said to the raging seas: ‘be still…………’ And immediately there was a great calm……….’ NO ONE else has authority over nature.

        ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee…………….’ Yeah, yeah, I know, some others have said it………..and in their pride have fell short…………..but NO ONE else guaranteed it by a death which put them away………..and risen again to prove it.

        NO ONE else is seated at the right hand of God………..awaiting………….

        NO ONE else is the central theme of the scriptures of truth. Read the book by Mr Asch @ ‘The Apostle’ and see for your self if this One was no body special.

        Stop embarrassing your self before a world wide audience.

        1. Hi Colourstorm

          “Some time ago, a post was written that silenced your mouth (it’s a good thing to have silenced mouths) regarding your petty claim that the Lord was ‘no body special”

          News to me. Can you provide a link to this obviously highly impressive post?

        2. According to zande, the words ‘evil’ & ‘good’ do not exist… apparently neither does the word ’embarrassed’.
          I’ve said before he’s been outed here as THE “superstitious naked ape” yet somehow zande keeps waving in glorious ignorance to the crowd totally unaware of his nakedness.

          It doesn’t say much when a man has not the capacity to see that he has lost his own argument a l o n g time ago (and over and over again since).

          Now ark has decided to join in with his deceitful and tired argument of “Pentateuch is simply historical fiction and is regarded as such by every leading biblical scholar and archaeologist and historian on the planet”.
          Has the laughter died down yet.

          He was rebuffed here: https://moduspownens.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/atheism-is-not-a-lack-of-belief/ but in true ark and zande fashion they keep trudging along demanding answers already given to them time after time.

          x-P (& artaxes) thanks for an interesting article and an even more illuminating dialogue. Mr. zande could not help himself in tirelessly demonstrating the absolute accuracy of the articles’ headline. Of greater importance to me was the unmasking of jz as the superstitious naked ape.
          I believe your grace and eloquence have confounded jz, so he still believes he has a leg to stand on and that he’s somehow dressed in royal cloth.

          Great work and stay blessed. I’ve learnt a lot.

          1. I’ve said before he’s been outed here as THE “superstitious naked ape”

            Outed? LOL! Um, was I hiding the fact? Click on my name, it goes to my blog. Surprise!

            Ancients, Praetorius is too afraid to pop over to my blog, but I hope you will to take up the Teleology Challenge.

          2. Ohhh… zande…of course everyone knows that’s your blog.

            This is what I meant:
            – zande, currently you’re naked; you’ve been unceremoniously denuded (your whole philosophy laid bare); yet, like the naked emperor, you strut around- doing a victory dance, no less- completely oblivious to the fact you’re totally exposed with no meaningful defense.

            – you’re an evolutionist, so clearly you’re still an ape, and now a very naked ape.

            – superstitious as in your bizarre and unreasonable beliefs of the Creator and also of your created creator Zlork, resulting from your (willful?) ignorance.

            So there you have it zande. I’m sure your blog name was meant to mock Christians, but as it turns out, you zande are a “superstitious naked ape” and THE biggest one at that.

            Why should x-P pop over to your blog when he’s already decimated your little world view here.
            Zande, you built your house (beliefs) on sand. A greater force has swept away your house including its foundation. What could I possibly have to contribute to your “Teleology Challenge” except to humbly offer my Christ as a sure foundation to you for the future storms that will come.

            Have a blessed week zande.

          3. Hi Ancients

            Well, you actually used the word “outed,” twice in fact, so its clear you really stepped in it. But don’t worry, i don’t kick people when they’re down.

            So there you have it zande. I’m sure your blog name was meant to mock Christians

            Actually, No. I’m afraid Christians just aren’t that special. Sorry. Superstitious belief is very much universal among us risen apes. It is, at its core, an irrational mistake in cognition where we observe one event (B) happening after another event (A) and assume A is responsible for B.

            So, will I see you over on my Teleology Challenge? I hope so… Stephen Law tweeted about it yesterday and there’s been some interesting exchanges. Who knows, you migth even be able to muster something intelligible?

            https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-teleology-challenge-2/

          4. I agree ancients, the post by modus and the ensuing comments laid to rest the lame excuses of that strange doctrine called atheism, which is a fancy word for unbelief.

            and yep, -x’ps excellent and in depth post, comments, and artax points were all weighted with reason and rock solid wisdom. Waaaaay too much good stuff. Loved your ‘laughter died down yet….’ Really, as if a few termites could gnaw away at the iron of scripture. Moses never lived. Please.

            And tkx too for the right hand of fellowship. All the best back atcha and to the good brethren and sisters nearby.

          5. God Bless you CS.

            I found this quote by CS Lewis I think you’ll like and it ties in to what we’ve observed in these dialogues.

            “Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”

          6. Nice. ‘Hours in a mile?’

            Ha, if we answer a fool according to his folly, then ‘a crocodile’ would be a good answer……………..

            and there is a very good lesson why the Lord was mute before Pilate when asked ‘what is truth?’

            If he only had ears to hear. But yep, I did appreciate this. tkx

          7. Just a couple of quick comments:

            – @theancients: thank you for your wonderful contributions! I appreciate your perspectives, and especially while I’m here in my extended stay in the third world necessitated by the atrocities in Paris.

            – @zande: You frequently display a fatal flaw in your “debating”(1) style: You frequently ignore important salvo after important salvo after important salvo — and then continue on in the same vein that the important salvo invalidated.

            – @zande: I enjoy good snark and good taunting every bit as much as the next guy, but claiming that I’m “afraid” to visit your blog is amateurish on its face. You can’t read my mind, discern my motives or have the slightest clue as to why I haven’t responded to the post on your blog yet. So, your little tantrum did not constitute good snark. “Mind reading” is a sign of intellectual laziness; most frequently an attempt to cover for feeble argumentation or weak logic. It’s on the order of: “Oh, you don’t believe y? Then you must be thinking z!” No, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking or feeling. Then you’ll know. Do you consider yourself an intelligent man? Do you consider yourself learned on your topic? If so, avoid the mind reading. If not, please feel free to keep on pretending you know what others are thinking or feeling. On both this topic and the previous, please see if you can up your game. A bunch.

            – @zande: Thanks for pointing out the others who said some of the things Jesus said. I apologize for walking you into that little trap. I sincerely didn’t mean to, but this forum, while good for exchanges such as these, is unsuited for “dueling manifestos.” As a result, I did give an abbreviated reply. However, you can’t say that I didn’t warn you. Theancients and ColorStorm have given you and Ark a sampling of why Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are absolutely unprecedented and absolutely unique in the history of the world. Your little bit of showoffery, though, was noted and appreciated.

            Best,

            — x

            Notes:


            (1) The scare quotes are there, because, at the risk of falling afoul of my own proscription against mind-reading, I’m wondering whether you actually came here to debate, or for some other motive. Your posts are such off-the-wall, out-in-left-field silliness that one wonders whether you take them seriously. However, I have a simple rule: unless told otherwise, I assume that everyone comes here in good faith, so I’ll continue to humor you. I do need to point out, though — like the whole “complexity machine” jag you were on for so long, and the mind reading — what you post here has been for some time so crammed full of holes, windy puffery, obvious feebleness, and needless haughty grandiloquence that it all smacks of desperation. Not debate. (“crammed full of holes…” — I rather liked that!)

          8. No tantrum, merely stating the observed facts. You won’t take the Teleology Challenge because you know you can’t. That fact has been made perfectly clear here in this thread.

            I apologize for walking you into that little trap.

            LOL! So, you agree then that Jesus didn’t say anything new or original. You’re right, he didn’t. It had all been said before, and more often than not, said much, much better. Odd, don’t you think, that you believe this person was a god, but he couldn’t say a single new or original thing?

          9. Zande, Zande, Zande… more mind-reading, right after I suggested that you stop. I’ll help you with your post a bit (see edits below), so that we can see if there remains any substance after getting rid of the fluff.

            You said:

            No tantrum, merely stating the observed facts.[Reason for edit: You stated no “observed fact.” You may say that I haven’t yet taken your “challenge.” You have no way, short of the supernatural in which you don’t believe, to know whether or not I will.] You won’t take the Teleology Challenge because you know you can’t.[Reason for edit: you don’t, and can’t know whether I will or can take your “challenge.”] That fact has been made perfectly clear here in this thread. [Reason for edit: If the previous sentence is false on its face, then this sentence, as a follow-up, is false as well, by definition.]

            Reaction:
            Substance of the paragraph: “No tantrum.”

            My reaction: Okay… however your attempt at an insult (I’m impossible to offend, by the way, so you shouldn’t waste your “breath.”) sure resembled a tantrum, but I’ll take your word for it that it was not a tantrum.

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            You said:

            I apologize for walking you into that little trap. [No edit: you quoted me here.]

            LOL! So, you agree then that Jesus didn’t say anything new or original. You’re right, he didn’t. It had all been said before, and more often than not, said much, much better. Odd, don’t you think, that you believe this person was a god, but he couldn’t say a single new or original thing? [I could have struck this out as well, as already responded to several times — #7 in the list at the end of this reply, an element of CoMIRSUS(LiMiR)MOMOPE (search for “Editing Reasons”), but then all that would be left of your post would be: “No tantrum.” What fun would that be? Sooo…(see below)]

            Reaction:
            At last! Something to respond to!

            Well.

            I never said that Jesus said anything original. Nor did I ever imply that He was under any obligation to do so. You seem obsessed with putting requirements on Jesus. He was however, perfectly unique. And perfectly original. His entire life, and all that He said, were lived and said claiming divine authority. His life, death and resurrection — note that that’s how Christians speak of Him — constitute an entirely unprecedented and unique, and yes, perfectly original, person and phenomenon in history. You’ll deny it, as is your wont, but that won’t make it any less true.

            For the others reading this: I don’t want to lose sight of the silliness of Zande’s trying to force Jesus to jump through Zande’s hoops in order to “prove” Himself. Jesus has no responsibility to prove Himself, and if He did, He certainly proved on the cross anything He needed to prove to anyone. Then, when He rose from the grave, the proof was complete.

            The sophists and philadelphia lawyers like Zande and Ark will always respond with some variation of: “Oh, yeah? Well what about this?!?” Like: the perfectly irrelevant “Jesus never said anything original” bit. Well, of course not! He was here to convey to us, and to embody, God’s already existing, already clearly stated Word. Jesus was never trying to differentiate Himself from His Father.

            So again, Zande, Jesus was under no obligation to say anything original. Whether He did or not — with the love everyone unconditionally thing, or the love your enemy thing, or the don’t throw that stone thing — is up to interpretation. After all, He did use only language to convey His thoughts. I’ve always said: if you have two people and two words in the same room, then you really have four words there. Jesus used the common currency of communication — language, so He was constrained by the limitations of language. However, if you put together all the elements of his communication — the time, the place, the person Jesus, the people, the circumstances, the words and deeds — then it was, of course, perfectly unique. I admit, however, that’s unfair to you, by defining uniqueness in too granular a fashion. However, you then have to admit that you defined uniqueness in insufficiently granular fashion. I prefer my granularity, of course. All while asserting that Jesus was under no obligation to say anything unique in the first place! Whew! It’s tiring trying to maintain the courtesy to respond to irelevancies! (Note, by the way, irrelevancy is #2 in the Reasons to Edit a post, at the bottom of this reply.)

            Zande, you and I both know that Jesus, and all that He stood for, were, and remain, absolutely unprecedented in human history. There is, likewise, no other story like the Bible in its entirety. You’ll deny that as well, because, if your past is any indication, that’s what you do. You’re like a hungry gerbil presented with a food pellet: You eat it. Every time. No exception. You leave no room for the choice to turn down the pellet and explore another path.

            Next time, Zande: Turn down that food pellet! You might gain some sorely-needed perspectives.

            The path you should have explored, after concluding (whether accurately or not) that Jesus had said nothing original: Was Jesus under any obligation whatsoever to say anything new and original?” The answer: Of course not! God had already said it clearly and plainly long before.

            Zande: you’re a clever dude, but you have a really silly tendency sometimes to underthink something, and then to waste vast ergs of intellectual energy in overthinking the conclusion that resulted from your original underthinking!

            Oof! No wonder you get all flustered and post what sure seem like defensive tantrums! Who could blame you? Then, you get even more snarky when others decline to follow you down the same rabbit hole or, worse, point out the rabbit hole to you. As mentioned before, I enjoy good snark as much as the next guy, so if you can’t contribute substantive posts or argumentation, please at least provide good snark.

            Best,

            — x

            Notes:


            Below are the reasons for which I might edit your post, as I had to edit Ark’s. If your post exhibits any of the characteristics shown below, I might have to edit it. Please note: I will never ban your post, or you, from my blog. Regarding your language: please try to remember that I allow my 12-year old son to read this blog.


            (1) stupid
            (2) irrelevant
            (3) nonsensical
            (4) gratuitous insult
            (5) racial slur
            (6) tries too hard to be clever
            (7) I covered it bunch of times before
            (8) responds to a post containing these things
            (9) wrong on the face of it
            (10) statement is unknowable by the one making it. Mind reading.
            (11) mind reading
            (12) pseudo-intellectual poppycock
            (13) personal anecdote, of limited scope and extent, meant to prove a point across entire peoples.
            (14) misstates something I said, then draws some conclusion from the erroneous statement.
            (15) I know you are but what am I
            (16) resorts to esoteric sources and information whose validity can’t be verified in the context of this blog conversation.
            (17) Idle speculation for no relevant purpose
            (18) Evasion to distract from addressing the real points
            (19) Even if it were true, it doesn’t affect the argument one way or another. Shorthand: So what!
            (20) Says the same thing I said right back at me.
            (21) Personal sentiment irrelevant to the topic.
            (22) Why? Because You say so? Who the heck are YOU to make that determination?


          10. So again, Zande, Jesus was under no obligation so say anything original.

            If you say so, but it is a tremendously odd fact that this person you consider a “god” (the creator of the universe, no less) would bother to sojourn to earth, and gather audiences to whom he could speak, and say quite a lot, but in all that time, and in all those words, not say a single new or original thing, or express a new or original thought.

            It’s fascinating, but if you don’t find it strikingly curious, then so be it… Good for you.

          11. You said:So again, Zande, Jesus was under no obligation so say anything original.[No edit required: you quoted me.]

            You said:If you say so, but it is a tremendously odd fact that this person you consider a “god” (the creator of the universe, no less) would bother to sojourn to earth, and gather audiences to whom he could speak, and say quite a lot, but in all that time, and in all those words, not say a single new or original thing, or express a new or original thought.[Reason for edit: #7]

            You said: “It’s fascinating, but if you don’t find it strikingly curious, then so be it… Good for you.[Reason for edit: #7]

            Zande: the only substance left in your post was when you quoted me — “So again, Zande, Jesus was under no obligation so say anything original.” — so it is to that that I will respond: Ummmm… okay, that’s correct. Jesus was under no obligation to say anything original.

            Best,

            — x

          12. Agreed, no obligation. Absolutely. Just staggeringly odd that he didn’t have a single original thought to impart… Being the Creator of the Universe, and all 😉

          13. Not odd at all… Since He was here to spread the Word that already existed, it would be even more bizarre if He were to have tried to differentiate himself from His Father.

            Remember the ol’ “not one jot and tittle” thing, Zande?

            Whether or not He had an original thought, we can’t know. He likely did.

            We do know that He was here to reiterate what had already been iterated (a little software development lingo there).

            Best,

            — x

          14. Remember the ol’ “not one jot and tittle” thing, Zande?

            I do, yes. It means Jesus supports human slavery and believed children should be stoned to death for cursing their parents. It also means Jesus was well into animal sacrifice. Have you sacrificed a lamb to Jesus recently, Praetorius? You should, he’s pleased by the smell of burning flesh. (Gen 8:20-21)

            Whether or not He had an original thought, we can’t know. He likely did.

            Name one

          15. Lol! I’ll help you out a bit:

            I do, yes. It means Jesus supports human slavery and believed children should be stoned to death for cursing their parents. It also means Jesus was well into animal sacrifice. Have you sacrificed a lamb to Jesus recently, Praetorius? You should, he’s pleased by the smell of burning flesh. (Gen 8:20-21)

            Whether or not He had an original thought, we can’t know. He likely did.

            Name one [Reason(s) for edit: #7, 12, 16, 19]

            That leaves only: “I do, yes. It means Jesus supports human slavery and believed children should be stoned to death for cursing their parents.” (Note: this was a gift to you, because it violates editing reason #’s 3, 6, 9 and 12 — were you skipping by threes for some obscure reason, Zande?)

            Lol! That one’s too funny. If you really think that Jesus, who suggested that they not toss stones at the adulteress, believes in stoning children — for any reason — then you’re either (1) colossally ignorant, or (2) you’ve entirely given up trying to make any kind of serious argument whatsoever.

            I will, as I am prone to do, grant you a mulligan on this one, because your post demonstrates a rather cavernous ignorance of Christianity in not seeing the continuity between the Old and New Testaments, and in not seeing the differences.

            So, yes, Zande, here is your third mulligan. You’re welcome. This mulligan comes with a warning, though. I can’t hand out too many more before it just becomes ridiculous. (My warnings are rarely all that tough. 🙂 )

            Best,

            — x

          16. If you really think that Jesus, who suggested that they not toss stones at the adulteress, believes in stoning children — for any reason — then you’re either (1) colossally ignorant, or (2) you’ve entirely given up trying to make any kind of serious argument whatsoever.

            What happened to the the ol’ “not one jot and tittle” thing, Praetorius?

            Changed your mind? 😉

          17. Not at all, Zande… Why do you ask?

            I’m just speculating here, but you don’t really study this stuff seriously, do you? Your questions are too elementary, too ignorant, for someone of your (I’m guessing) years, to indicate that you actually take your objections seriously, and that it’s not all just a funny game for you.

            Someone actually knowledgeable in Christianity would have known the answer to all your basic questions long ago.

            There are questions you could pose that would prove to be a challenge, and those questions are the ones I pore over, and yes, that test my faith.

            But, your questions — and especially your rationales — are of the third-grade variety — things like: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I welcome them, because they make me revisit to myself the things that were easy to resolve in my mind and heart. So, I thank you for that.

            This post is a test, Zande… will you pass it? 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          18. If you doubt the consensus view that the Pentateuch is historical fiction then please, feel free to offer evidence for the following.
            Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
            The Flood
            Moses, the Egyptian Captivity, Exodus and conquest of Canaan.

            Please quote sources.

            I eagerly await your reply.
            Thanks.

          19. If you doubt the consensus view that the Pentateuch is historical fiction then please, feel free to offer evidence for the following.
            Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
            The Flood
            Moses, the Egyptian Captivity, Exodus and conquest of Canaan.

            Please quote sources.

            I eagerly await your reply.
            Thanks.
            [Editing reason(s): #7]

            Oh, and there is, obviously, no “consensus view” that “the Pentateuch is historical fiction.” This should be so howlingly obvious as to be unnecessary to say.

            Best,

            — x

          20. Sorry, I thought the reference to consensus meaning every genuine historian was implied.

            However, I will amend because of your theological sensitivities.
            If you have a genuine historian and/or archaeologist who has been peer reviewed and also been on an actual dig then please feel free too identify and illustrate their view with evidence that these events actually took place.
            Again, I eagerly await your response.

            Oh, and for what it’s worth, the trope …. Absence of evidence etc will not wash. Just to warn you in case you were thinking of laying this on the table.
            Carry on …

          21. Lol! You do know, don’t you, that your entire post gets an editing reason #7, don’t you? That’s the one where I’ve (or someone has) addressed it many times before.

            Best,

            — x

          22. If you wish to continue to [Deleted: profanity], then there is little point in continuing this nonsense.
            You have simply showed yourself up as a fraud and a rather silly person.

        3. ColorStorm: Thank you for this really nice summation, and for the reference to “The Apostle” I absolutely loved the book. Asch puts you right back in the time shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, and right with Saint Paul as he did his many and vastly consequential journeys around Europe and the Middle East.

          Best,

          — x

        4. ‘I Will rise again the third day………….’ NO ONE else has risen by His own power.

          First: you have no way of verifying that Yeshua said these words.
          Second: If he was dead how could he raise himself? Which simply means he wasn’t really dead.

          1. #1. Of course I do. I did.
            #2. Herein lies your own dilemma.

            ‘No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.’

            The very evidence you ask for………….is the very evidence you deny. You do not have enough hammers ark to put a nick in the anvil of truth.

            But forget what I say, this post and the comments by the host and others should keep you busy for quite some time.

            Have a great day as you seek the more excellent way.

          2. The only thing you can claim as evidence is the bible.
            The first gospel, ”Mark” has no resurrected Yeshua, merely an empty tomb.
            Biblical scholars acknowledge the ending to ”Mark” was tagged on- an interpolation – and this is reflected in notes in all modern bibles.

            You, and every Christian, have to take the resurrection on faith, not evidence, even though those that are considered experts in the field of biblical study acknowledge it is simply another piece of pseudonymous writing.

            #2 I have no dilemma, trust me on this.

          3. @ ark (aka the stone god)

            C’mon tell the truth, the devil gave you three dollars or a bunch of Euros to play dumb. You chose the wrong man to suggest guile in Saul of Tarsus, then Paul the apostle.

            Do pray tell speak of another man with his spiritual and mental prowess who has defended the Lord of heaven, as well as the scriptures of truth from Genesis and beyond; linked with a life of peril and glory………………..and a pen such as the world has never seen…………in such a manner………………and unequalled………………..all with the motivation of that operating system called Love………….

            Your embarrassment knows no limits. We’re done here.

          4. If it were not for your obvious indoctrination I would suggest your disingeniousness knows no limits.
            Therefore, one could take pity on such a perspective as yours’.

            The day you present a reasoned, well thought out argument for your position, I am fully confident you and I will be able to have a fruitful discussion.
            However, until that time …

          5. Lol! Pretty feeble, Ark. However, I’m a nice guy, so I’ll clue you in as to why it’s feeble.

            You said:

            If it were not for your obvious indoctrination I would suggest your disingeniousness knows no limits.
            Therefore, one could take pity on such a perspective as yours’.
            [Editing reason(s): #6, 10, 11, 17, 19. The best one is #19: Even if I were the most indoctrinated puppet there ever was, that doesn’t change whether what I say has merit or not. Why don’t you address that, instead of obsessing over whether I’m a this or a that (Creationist, etc)? ]

            The day you present a reasoned, well thought out argument for your position, I am fully confident you and I will be able to have a fruitful discussion.
            However, until that time …

            Of substance, that leaves: The day you present a reasoned, well thought out argument for your position, I am fully confident you and I will be able to have a fruitful discussion. However, until that time …

            Reaction:
            Okay.

            Best,

            — x

          6. The comment was addressed to Colorstorm.
            Somewhat bad mannered you butting in, don’t you think?
            I thought you said you had no ego issues yet you seem to want to jump inovery discussion.

          7. Oops. My apologies. I didn’t make the connection. Correction noted.

            Nope. No ego issues. Just missed the connection. You should make the effort not to jump to unwarranted conclusions. 🙂

            Best,

            — x

          8. You said:

            The only thing you can claim as evidence is the bible.

            Reaction:
            No, but it’ll do for the moment.

            You said:

            The first gospel, ”Mark” has no resurrected Yeshua, merely an empty tomb.
            Biblical scholars acknowledge the ending to ”Mark” was tagged on- an interpolation [Editing reason(s): #6, 12, 16, 19]and this is reflected in notes in all modern bibles. [Editing reason(s): #9, 10, 12, 19]

            Reaction:
            There they are again! Those wondrous “biblical scholars!” Are they the “leading” ones this time? Or did you go straight to the “best” ones? 🙂

            Well.

            That sure salts it, eh?

            And there they are, all those learned “scholars,” having nothing more than all the same evidence as you and I have, and drawing the conclusions that they draw, just like you and me. Only in this case, they believe as Ark does! You see, that’s what makes them “leading,” or “best.” When — who knows? — they could be just schlocks, out for making a buck as an “expert” for the easily-duped. Or what they say might just be useless according to Editing Reason #19. Whatever. I’ve made mention — several times — that this is not the forum in which to play dueling studies, or manuscripts, or “experts.” At least not on the topic at hand!

            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –
            You said:

            You, and every Christian, have to take the resurrection on faith,

            Reaction:
            Correct! At last you said something both substantive and obviously correct. By the way, you believe all that you believe purely on faith as well. You simply place your faith in your favorite so-called “experts.” You don’t even place your faith in all experts, just the ones you like. Just a bit of confirmation bias there, Ark? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂
            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –
            You said:

            You, and every Christian, have to take the resurrection on faith, not evidence

            Reaction:
            I covered the first part already… the “not evidence” part is incorrect, though. Obviously. We have all the same “evidence” you and your so-called “experts” have. Same stuff exactly. And all of it is “evidence.”
            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –
            You said:

            …even though those that are considered experts in the field of biblical study acknowledge it is simply another piece of pseudonymous writing. [Editing reason(s): # 3, 6, 12, 16]

            Reaction:
            Oooooo…there they are again! Those great so-called “experts!” But only the ones that Ark likes! Well, we’ve been down this path, so I’ve simply edited the passage to take out any obvious fluff.
            – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * –

            Best,

            — x

          9. You said:
            The only thing you can claim as evidence is the bible.
            Reaction:
            No, but it’ll do for the moment.

            Then maybe you should simply present the evidence you have rather than continuing to hand wave and write such long posts/comments?
            Seriously, what is there to lose? And , believe it or not I am always interested in different perspectives.
            I will await your evidence, rather than expend unnecessary energy replying to the rest of this comment.
            Your call…

          10. Lol! Out of curiosity, I had to see what you linked to, Zande. It’s your meaningless “ten words” … for sale! On canvas, metal or in other forms! You sell ’em for upwards of fifty bucks! Depending, of course, on which form the mark, uhhhh… the victim, ummmm… the “customer” chooses.

            I almost fell out of my chair! If you sell any of those, you demonstrably prove David Hannum’s words: “There’s a sucker born ever minute.

            And you accused me of favoring, shall we say, unscrupulous economic practices! You really should be ashamed of yourself!

            Oops! I forgot. Atheists are okay with defrauding people. After all, they don’t believe in any rules, except those they choose to believe in, according to the whim of the moment.

            Best,

            — x

          11. You should know that if you click on your silly graphic, you go — at the risk of giving you further business 🙂 — here.

            At which one can, if one is one of the aforementioned suckers, purchase your meaningless ten words for $47, plus, presumably, shipping and handling.

            Best

            — x

          12. OK, you’ve officially confused me. That’s my photobucket. It’s where you upload photos/graphics which can be used here on WP. None of it is for sale, so where on earth are you getting that idea from, let alone the price of $47? LOL!

          13. Ahhh, I see what you’re talking about now. Not me, nothing to do with me, didn’t even know that was there. i guess that’s an independent advertiser selling their “framing” wares.

          14. Just a quick note, Ark:

            First: Our way of knowing that Jesus said those words is every bit as good as all this so-called “evidence” you keep pretending you have. We all have only eyewitness accounts, documents, all the usual stuff that anyone can have from 2,000 years ago. In other words, we have every bit as much evidence, by definition, as you and all your fancy so-called “experts.”

            You admitted it.

            Second: You are correct: He was not dead. However, for all the rest of the world, He appeared to be dead, so the phrase — “came back from the dead” — is perfectly valid, as everyone at the time believed Him to be dead. You’ll hear “Rose from the dead,” “Came back from the grave,” “Rose from the grave,” and others as well. All equally valid.

            You’re picking at truly insignificant nits here, Ark.

            Hint: normally, I’d edit out your entire comment for editing reason #19: “Even if it were true, it doesn’t affect the argument one way or another. Shorthand: So what!

            Best,

            — x

          15. First: Our way of knowing that Jesus said those words is every bit as good as all this so-called “evidence” you keep pretending you have. We all have only eyewitness accounts, documents, all the usual stuff that anyone can have from 2,000 years ago. In other words, we have every bit as much evidence, by definition, as you and all your fancy so-called “experts.”

            The gospel writers were anonymous. They were not eyewitness, and there are no eyewitness accounts. And there is not a single piece of contemporary evidence for the character, Jesus of Nazareth.

            Second: You are correct: He was not dead. However, for all the rest of the world, He appeared to be dead, so the phrase — “came back from the dead” — is perfectly valid, as everyone at the time believed Him to be dead. You’ll hear “Rose from the dead,” “Came back from the grave,” “Rose from the grave,” and others as well. All equally valid.

            See my comment regarding the tagged on end to ‘Mark’’.
            You have faith and nothing else. And the character, Saul of Tarsus had no knowledge or belief in a physical resurrection.
            I reiterate. Faith. Nothing else.

          16. In other words the same thing you have. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m glad we can finally agree on something, Ark.

            Oh, and we have bunches of eyewitness accounts as well. Those are kind of cool.

            I do find it interesting that you’ve concluded that the eyewitnesses who wrote The Bible were not, indeed, eyewitnesses. Did they not have eyes? Did they somewhere say that they were writing fiction?

            Or is this just you pretending again that you have some special view on What Actually Happened, where no one else has?

            Oops! All you have is faith. Faith in your beloved “experts” and your esteemed (by you, apparently) “biblical scholars.”

            These people are nothing more than your priests, Ark. Why are your priests better than mine? Oh, and those who adhere to the belief system of your priests — you know, atheists? — murdered more than 120 million people in the last century alone. Some priests you got there, Ark!

            Best,

            — x

          17. Okay,take this step by step.
            I have no problem with this and we can then try to iron out any issues we have.
            Do you have a link to a biblical scholar that will confirm the claim that the gospels are written by eyewitnesses, please?
            I can then assess the basis on which such a claim is made.
            Just one link. I don’t mind who it links to providing you consider them a reputable biblical scholar or historian.

      2. Praetorius, you can give me any passage you think is original to Jesus and I will show you you’re wrong. Guaranteed.

        Challenge accepted!

        1.”Blessed are the cheesemakers.”

        2.”Have I got a big nose, mum?”

        3.”Why can’t we go to a stoning?”

        4.”You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anyone. You have to think for yourselves!”

        That’s four original Jesus sayings lifted directly from the Gospel of the Miscreants.They even made a movie of it totally not directed by Mel Gibson.
        You see,John? Your argument has more holes in it than a Galilean fisherman’s net,
        Why don’t you simply accept Jesus as your saviour, John? You know you want to, right?

          1. You really don’t know from where these Jesus sayings come from?
            My goodness me, you have led a sheltered life.
            Where are you from, Gilligan’s Isle.

          2. A quick assist for you, Ark. Not sure why… guess I’ve taken a liking to you. But, then I tend to like everyone. Even Zande! Yikes!

            Anyway – Here’s how your post should look:

            You really don’t know from where these Jesus sayings come from?
            My goodness me, you have led a sheltered life.
            [Editing reason(s): #5, 6, 7, 17, 19]
            Where are you from, Gilligan’s Isle. [Editing reason(s): #5, 6, 7, 17, 19… good snark, though.]

            It would be pointless to respond beyond this, though, since you don’t read it.

            Best,

            — x

          3. Well, you are either suffering form some form of mental illness, which is a bit sad, of simply telling porky pies.
            Consider how many comments you address with:
            A quick assist.
            You spend half you time editing comments, [Deleted: swearing].
            How on earth do you think you can possible devote any time to actually thinking abut the comments and providing a proper answer?
            Yes, one horse pony, most definitely.
            Shetland as well – small.

          4. Lol! Are you left with only snark now, Ark? If so, please make it good snark.

            Listen, you told me that you don’t read what I write. Pray tell, why would I waste one more moment writing anything beyond very brief replies out of courtesy?

            I’ve mentioned I have no ego here, and that’s true. You can feel free to taunt all you wish, you won’t hurt my feelings, or goad me into doing more than the bare minimum in response to you. I went to a lot of effort on your behalf, and you — to quote you — merely waved your hand at it. I can’t see any reason to do more, can you? Logically?

            Best,

            — x

          5. You are left with only hand wave now, xp, so make it a good edit.

            I told you I skip scanned.

            You do have ego and you are too blind to see it – or egotistical.

            You have not been able to offer a single reasoned argument have not been prepared to offer a single link to a scholar you like so why the [Deleted: profanity] should waste my time with a humongous [Deleted: profanity] like you?
            Those that lurk will see you for what you are.
            [Deleted: gratuitous insult].

  8. I have reread some of the thread and you delete (edit) for reason # 7 – ”I (have) covered it (a) bunch of times before

    For the sake clarification could you please link to where you have covered the issues I have raised, especially those concerning the Pentateuch and in particular Moses and the Exodus etc.
    Thanks.

          1. sure:
            Response:
            More funniness, Ark! I’m glad to know that you are the arbiter of what happened thousands of years ago! I’m sure your sources are better than mine, and ColorStorm’s and theancieants’ and any others’. Did you manage to sneak a video recording (not that that could ever be faked!) or an audio recording (not that that could ever be faked!) down through the centuries? What a find you are! The man who knows what happened thousands of years ago, while we’re still trying to piece together what happened five years ago! And we have video and audio of that!

          2. Ah.. the old Ken Ham approach – ”Were you there?”‘
            Actually, science doesn’t quite work like that.
            There is what is called the Settlement Pattern.
            This reveals evidence of how Canaan was settled, and it was internal not by the arrival of 2 million desert wanderers.
            You are not going to suggest humans and dinosaurs co-existed I hope? Or that dinosaurs were non-meat eaters before The Fall? I sincerely hope you are not that credulous.

            Meantime, why not read a bit of Israel Finkelstein or William Devers?

            Or even Francis Collins. He’s Christian, like you.
            But he believes in evolution, though. Do you?

          3. Before dismissing the question, you should at least ponder it.
            Were any of us there? = NO

            So whatever “evidence” any of us choose to believe, we ALL do so on faith/trust (and that includes you Ark).

          4. I trust in the methodology of the experts in their field, who have shown they do not put any presuppositional beliefs before evidence.
            This I acknowledge and admire.
            Even archaeologists such as William Albright, as brilliant as he was, was eventually forced to recognise that his dating methodology did not tie up with biblical chronology.
            Science won the day.

            So I ask, once more, what evidence have you got to support your (biblical ) claims?

          5. this is also another.
            “Response:
            Oof! Ouch! More of Ark saying that He Knows The REAL Truth About Stuff That Happened 2,000 Years Ago! Lol! Okay, Ark. You tell us all! However, please no video or audio recordings from thousands of years ago. Okay? As mentioned somewhere else, they can be easily faked. Absent those video and audio recordings, though, I guess you’re stuck with the same types of sources as the rest of us. If you’re saying you believe your sources and not mine, then you’re simply saying you have faith, and that you place your faith in sources that are different from mine.

            Well.

            I guess we have to go with competing beliefs, then, don’t we? Since none of your sources, and none of mine are objective, but rather subjective personal evidence (Your words. Boy, I’m glad you brought that up!), then our sources are equal in kind and in value. Oh, and I have my own personal evidence.”

          6. Well, as you were not there when ”Creation” took place, nor do you have any videos and Yahweh sure as hell heck doesn’t have a Facebook page, then I guess we are in a similar boat on this score.

            So what have you got to back up your claims?
            Pray, do tell. I am all ears.

          7. Eureka!
            you’ve finally gotten it, my friend.

            this is gem you’ve finally found: “Since none of your sources, and none of mine are objective, but rather subjective personal evidence (Your words. Boy, I’m glad you brought that up!), then our sources are equal in kind and in value. Oh, and I have my own personal evidence.”

          8. No, you are woefully mistaken.
            Evidence does not support the biblical perspective in this regard.
            So, do you believe that dinosaurs and humans co -existed, yes or no?
            And what evidence do you have to support either belief?
            Furthermore, how literal do you interpret the bible?
            Adam and Eve for example?

          9. Sadly, personal evidence does not count. It is purely subjective. But you know this already, I;m sure. But it worked for the character Saul of Tarsus, of course.
            Then again, much of what he wrote – whoever he was- was interpolation and fraud.

            This was what said. XP fluffed out my words a bit, as you can see.
            So still waiting for the authority that backs you biblical claims, please.

  9. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.’

    – Denonn. L.E., Egner. R.E. Ed. 1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell London, United Kingdom: George Allen & Unwin (1962) p. 595

    You gotta love religion, right? 😉

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