When they’re blinding you with science

Okay, it’s a Saturday and this post title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, having some fun with a popular 80’s tune, but there’s a point to my pun. I want to encourage Christians who are being bullied by aggressive anti-Christians who go on Christian blogs to “blind them with science.” 

They will tell you that you believe in ancient superstitions and magic, no more believable than believing in a flying spaghetti monster. After all, science has disproven “God.” There is no more need for your primitive and irrational mythology. Science has enlightened us superior beings from our darkened ignorance and has replaced God, taking its rightful role of helping us understand all valid reality and knowledge.

“I can smell the chemicals
Blinding me with science, science
Science, science!”
(from “She Blinded me with Science” by Thomas Dolby)

A case in point: A guy that goes by the YouTube moniker “Mathoma” talks about how he was dazzled by the pop science books of the New Atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris as a teenage, and soon became an atheist under their influence.

One of the points Mathoma makes (in a different interview) is that at the time he read the New Atheist’s books he was basically philosophically illiterate so he wasn’t insolated against that sort of rhetoric. Fortunately, he kept studying and thinking and eventually came out of the confusion and escaped atheism. He now puts together some great videos on explaining classical theism.

The Limits of Science

Science is a great tool as long as one uses it properly. And something you should know is that science neither accepts nor denies the possibility of the supernatural, as former Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, Eugenie Scott, said:

“Science neither denies nor opposes the supernatural, but ignores the supernatural for methodological reasons.”

Furthermore, as Nobel Prize winning biologist Sir Peter Medawar said, we must acknowledge that there are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.” (“The Limits of Science,” p.66)

These people have a refreshingly clear-eyed view of the purpose and limits of science. Unfortunately, this is not the case with a lot anti-Christians. Theirs seems to be more the secular “religion” of scientism.

It seems to me that some have simply switched from dogmatic Christian fundamentalism  to a dogmatic scientistic fundamentalism.

Here’s a short clip with biologist Praveen Sethupathy, Assistant Professor UNC School of Medicine, where he talks about the limits of science and the nature of biology. As a biologist, Sethupathy talks on the video about the question, “Are we more than our biology?” by sharing three lessons that he has learned:

  1. Biological science is very rarely about proof (like with mathematics or deductive logic), rather it’s more about accumulating evidence toward a reasonable, compelling, or likely explanation. It’s often more imprecise than people think it is.
  2. Biological science is constantly self-correcting and almost never closes the door on a possibility, even if it happens to defy present assumptions.
  3. Some questions that have arisen from work in genetics cannot be addressed by tools in genetics or biology.

Sethupathy goes on to say that we have to be careful not to extend the purview of science to beyond what it’s capable of addressing. The important point is that science does not constrain us to only look to science in search of our identity. Here’s the clip:

Bernardo Kastrup also talks here about the limits of science, addressing the “extraordinary aspects of reality that science cannot explain.” 

The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. So don’t let the roving despisers of Christianity buffalo you with science (or worse, scientism). Science and God are not necessarily incompatible. After all, we believe that God endowed humankind with the ability to discover His creation using science in the first place.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 NKJV)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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198 Responses to When they’re blinding you with science

  1. Nan says:

    True statement: The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.

    But neither can a book that was written several thousand years ago. Nor “testimonies” of dramatic “changes” in one’s life. Nor philosophers and/or scholars. Nor priests, pastors, elders, ministers, etc.

    The existence of a supernatural entity known by many as “God” is purely and simply a matter of belief.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Why can’t you accept testimonies of changed lives? They do in a court of law. It’s not infallible but it is considered evidence. We also accept and believe in aspects of science that will never be empirically proven and probably never actually observed.

      Yes, belief in a supernatural God is ultimately a matter of faith, just like anything we cannot empirically test or prove mathematically, but it’s not one without reason or evidence. It’s more than JUST a matter of belief.

      • Nan says:

        Changed lives can come about many ways … the fact that some want to believe or attribute the change as being related to a “god” is totally a matter of choice.

        And I simply cannot accept your statements that “belief in a supernatural God is … not one without reason or evidence.” The only “reason or evidence” that can be presented is totally based on the perspective of one who already believes.

        Even when I was a Christian, the only thing that convinced me God was “real” was my personal belief. Solid viable proof in a supernatural being is simply not possible. Maybe someday this will change, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, you don’t accept any evidence except for scientifically proven evidence?

        • Nan says:

          Nope … you’re not going to “entrap” me into your “scientific” arguments. It is my personal opinion that belief in the Christian God is just that. A belief. To my way of thinking, it is ill-conceived for anyone to point to anything that exists (or happens) and exclaim … God didit!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. Okay, I acknowledge your right to not believe in a “Christian God.” But that has nothing to do with the point I made.

        • Nan says:

          Man, you are really slick at switching things around. Seriously.

          My point … and I’m going to repeat it for clarity … is that I disagree with the statement I originally referenced The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.. I explained my reasons why I disagree. My reference to not believing in a “Christian God” was not intended to be

        • Nan says:

          Damn! Hit a “send” key by accident.

          … to be “specific.” However, from your many scripture quotes, it seems obvious this is the “god” you seem to be talking about. If you’re referencing a more “generic” god, then consider my comments related to same.

        • Nan, this quote (not from the 4th-century CE canonical New Testament) might help to… clear things up. 😉

          I’ve found that no amount of evidence, logic, or reason will convince someone who does not want to believe. And that’s what we must admit to ourselves. — Pastor Melvin Wild

        • Mel Wild says:

          My point … and I’m going to repeat it for clarity … is that I disagree with the statement I originally referenced The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.

          I got your point the first time. And that is just an opinion, and ironically, not a position that science itself can prove or disprove. But I will grant you your opinion. 🙂

        • John Branyan says:

          You cited Mel’s statement as “true”. Then you clarified that you disagree.

          Disagreeing with true statements is an odd practice, Nan. But whatever floats your boat…

      • KIA says:

        Testimonies of changed lives? Would you accept the testimonies of changed lives of Buddhists as evidence of the truth of buddhism? No wait… I know the answer to that question. You wouldnt.

  2. john zande says:

    The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.

    Of course it can, if you hold that your god has interfered in things like evolution… Which is something you believe. Indeed, regarding evolution, I asked you once:

    Do you accept that human beings are an entirely unintended product of an entirely unguided process, where mutations (and the environment in general) are random, meaning they are not adaptively directed, not goal-oriented?

    You strictly rejected this, arguing (without evidence) humans were intended, and the processes of evolution are NOT random, meaning not goal-orientated, not adaptively directed.

    Your position, Mel, holds that Yhwh’s tampering (*guidance*) should be seen, and be measurable, while holding to (ie. not contradicting) all the other characteristics you attribute to this entity.

    So, demonstrate Yhwh’s hand in evolution.

    For example, was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago (a bolide impact which ignited the biosphere and dramatically altered the environment, enabling the human evolutionary line) Yhwh’s work?

    Was the Great Oxygen Catastrophe 2.5 billion years ago which killed off virtually all life on earth, but created an oxygen-rich atmosphere which enabled multicellular life to take root Yhwh’s work?

    Were the Hox and ParaHox gene clusters Yhwh’s work?

    In short, where, when, and how did Yhwh “create” human beings?

    And a final question which really needs to be answered: if Yhwh’s purpose was to create humankind, why are we still evolving?

  3. Gary says:

    “The bottom line is this: science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. So don’t let the roving despisers of Christianity buffalo you with science (or worse, scientism). Science and God are not necessarily incompatible. After all, we believe that God endowed humankind with the ability to discover His creation using science in the first place.”

    This statement is 100% correct, as long as the term “God” refers to the Creator of the universe, and not to any specific deity of the Ancient World, such as Zeus, Jupiter, Allah, or Yahweh. Science cannot disprove the existence of a Creator, but science can and has proven claims about ancient deities time and time again. This is why human religions have repeatedly been forced to update their interpretations of the descriptions and activities of their particular god/gods in their holy books: Science has proven so many of the original “interpretations” of these claims false.

    • Gary says:

      Big typo: “but science can and has DISPROVEN claims about ancient deities time and time again.”

      i need to proof read my comments before I press the “enter” button or get better glasses.

      • Mel Wild says:

        I know what you mean! WP should be able to let commenters edit their own comments on other people’s sites. I suppose it’s technically complicated to do, but it sure would be nice.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I would basically agree with you, Gary. Thanks.

  4. Gary says:

    Here is the reason why I believe it is a complete waste of time for skeptics to debate theists regarding the existence of a Creator:

    Even if science one day discovers that something can come from nothing; that the universe most probably did suddenly come into existence billions of years ago out of absolutely nothing due to no external factor; theists will still claim that an invisible, magic-producing being had his invisible hand in the event.

    You cannot disprove to people who believe in the supernatural that the supernatural does not exist. Your only option is to try to convince these people that the evidence that the supernatural operates in our world today is very poor. And if the evidence for the supernatural acting in our world today is poor, why should we believe that the supernatural was extremely active in one small, isolated corner of the planet two thousand years ago?

    Even if a supernatural Creator supernaturally created the universe, all evidence points to this supernatural Creator forbidding the use of the supernatural in our universe.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Here is the reason why I believe it is a complete waste of time for skeptics to debate theists regarding the existence of a Creator:
      Even if science one day discovers that something can come from nothing; that the universe most probably did suddenly come into existence billions of years ago out of absolutely nothing due to no external factor; theists will still claim that an invisible, magic-producing being had his invisible hand in the event.

      And that would be a waste of time because that is not the classical theist argument at all. Whether the universe is eternal or not makes absolutely no difference to the argument. Aquinas actually argued that the universe was eternal. The anti-theist still has to answer the question, what causes the universe to continue to exist?

      The argument is also not contingent on the supernatural. We’re talking about the essential ordering of things in nature in our everyday experience.

      And this is why it’s probably a total waste of time to argue with anti-theists. They seem perfectly happy to embrace a totally incoherent ontology. They would rather argue about the paint job in a house and ignore the elephant in the room. The house has no foundation, so the whole thing collapses. And no amount of logic or proof will change their mind until they’re brave enough to admit this and be open to changing it.

      • Gary says:

        You missed my point, Mel. Even if scientists find a purely natural explanation for the origin of the universe and for your “what causes the universe to continue to exist?” it would not be enough for you. It will never be enough for you, Mel. It will never be enough because you and other theists will always claim that an invisible Creator had an invisible hand in it that science cannot detect..

        No matter how much science answers the question of how and why the universe, and in particular, living organisms exist, it will never be enough if one believes that another dimension (the supernatural) exists.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, but you miss the most important point, Gary. Science cannot discover the prime cause of the universe’s continued existence for methodological reasons. This is not a faith statement, it’s a matter of logical deduction. The universe cannot cause its own existence because it’s made of matter. And science cannot go beyond the natural world so it has no ability to answer the question. You are working from a materialist paradigm. You have to jettison your paradigm before you will ever be brave enough to admit that the prime cause cannot be material.

        • john zande says:

          The universe cannot cause its own existence because it’s made of matter.

          That is simply factually (and staggeringly) wrong… and you KNOW it’s wrong, so why lie?

          Matter comprises only 4.6% of the universe.

          The physics of this universe not only break down completely at Inflation, but also beyond the event horizon of black holes (physical bodies in this universe). We also now know that inside black holes are NOT singularities, but rather ringularities, because points can’t rotate. And what’s more, inside the ergosphere space and time are half-broken. What this potentially means (especially when dipped inside 11 to 26 dimensions) is anyone’s guess.

          So don’t lie, Mel. If you can’t tell the truth about the basic stuff, what hope is there for you to speak the truth about bigger things?

          And science cannot go beyond the natural world

          And there’s your MASSIVE presupposition of an artificial universe, repeated so many times you’ve forgotten it’s a presupposition.

          You have created a problem which simply doesn’t exist, Mel. As Sean Carroll said:

          “So the universe exists, and we know of no good reason to be surprised by that fact.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          The physics of this universe not only break down completely at Inflation, but also beyond the event horizon of black holes (physical bodies in this universe). We also now know that inside black holes are NOT singularities, but rather ringularities, because points can’t rotate. And what’s more, inside the ergosphere space and time are half-broken. What this potentially means (especially when dipped inside 11 to 26 dimensions) is anyone’s guess.

          Wow, Zande. You’re blinding me with science! And you’ve proven my point again. Thank you. I will just quote David Bentley Hart:

          It does not really matter whether the theoretical models they [Hawking, Stenger, Vilenkin, Strauss, et al] propose may one day prove to be correct. Without exception, what they are actually talking about is merely the formation of our universe by way of a transition from one physical state to another, one manner of existence to another, but certainly not the spontaneous arising of existence from nonexistence (which is logically impossible).

          As a matter strictly of ontology, however, none of these theories is of any consequence, because no purely physical cosmology has any bearing whatsoever upon the question of existence (though one or two such cosmologies might point in its direction). Again, the “distance” between being and nonbeing is qualitatively infinite, and so it is immaterial here how small, simple, vacuous, or impalpably indeterminate a physical state or event is: it is still infinitely removed from non-being and infinitely incapable of having created itself out of nothing.

          The bottom line: universe is clearly not fully actualized. It is composite, dependent, and whole host of other things that disqualify it from being subsistent existence itself. Sorry, your answer does not qualify.

          As Sean Carroll said:
          “So the universe exists, and we know of no good reason to be surprised by that fact.”

          And you think this is a satisfactory answer? The universe exists! There, that settles it! No need to think any further on it. We have no idea why we exist, but there’s no God! LOL!

          I don’t care to talk to you any more about until you have a coherent comment to make.

        • john zande says:

          And in the 13th Century you might have sounded quite reasonable presenting these positions which we now know were grounded in extreme—but excusable—ignorance.

          I’m sorry, but we’re not in the 13th Century, Mel, and you can demonstrate NOTHING to support the “problem” people in the 13th Century thought existed… But doesn’t.

          And good to see you simply ignored your lie regarding matter… there to be repeated again, and again, and again.

        • john zande says:

          the spontaneous arising of existence from nonexistence (which is logically impossible).

          Agreed, it’s an absurd idea, which is why NO ONE is making that argument… except for, of course, fundamentalist theists erecting straw men on the premise of an imaginary artificial universe. There was never “nothing,” which is precisely what the zero-energy universe math indicates.

          And FYI, what is “logical” to the human mind does not hold to the universe itself. Causes and effects can happen simultaneously. Quantum entanglement proves this, and the same physics at work in very, very small systems also works in much, much larger systems And this is before we even begin to examine that at the subatomic level time can go backwards. The future causes the past. Retrocausality. You can read about this in numerous articles, including Digital Journal’s “Scientists show future events decide what happens in the past” that details Professor Andrew Truscott’s 2017 delayed-choice experiments.

          So I’m sorry, but what appeared logical to a 13th Century eye is simply quaint and antiquated when seen from 2018.

        • john zande says:

          From the article:

          And now scientists have proven that, what is happening to a particle now, isn’t governed by what has happened to it in the past, but by what state it is in the future – effectively meaning that, at a subatomic level, time can go backwards.

          With this in mind, are you entirely sure you want to cling so desperately to the ludicrously flawed (quaint) knowledge available in the 13th Century, on which your entire positions rests?

        • Mel Wild says:

          With this in mind, are you entirely sure you want to cling so desperately to the ludicrously flawed (quaint) knowledge available in the 13th Century, on which your entire positions rests?

          LOL! So says the confused and incoherent 21st century atheist, or whatever you are. John Z, it would first help if you actually understood the argument. But you clearly don’t.

          AGAIN, the argument has NOTHING whatsoever to do with particles, entanglements, what happens in the future or the past, but I will nominate you as poster boy for “Blinding Us With Science.” (or should I say, buffalo us with science).

          I will quote this again from a 21st century classic theist. Not that it will make a difference…

          “As a matter strictly of ontology, however…no purely physical cosmology has any bearing whatsoever upon the question of existence (though one or two such cosmologies might point in its direction). Again, the “distance” between being and nonbeing is qualitatively infinite…”

          “The question of cosmology is an etiological question, it’s a question about physical states….The question of creation is ontological. It is the modal plausibility of the existence of any physical state at all.”

          “We might be able to explain the entirety of the universe, but that doesn’t mean we can explain its existence.” (David Bentley Hart)

          I don’t care to argue incessantly with you. This is getting beyond boring and annoying since you don’t care to even understand the argument. And you clearly don’t.

        • john zande says:

          And you are willfully ignoring what is being presented to you.

          To be expected, though. You’re not actually interested in learning anything, are you?

          Listen, Mel. If you wish to cling to a 13th Century understanding of reality, then by all means cling to it. If your beliefs only hold water in this medieval worldview, then I can appreciate why you don’t want to join us in the 21st Century. I get it, I do, I really do, but as you promote this disastrously erroneous understanding of reality, do appreciate that you are not only deliberately misleading yourself, but your readers as well, and that is not admirable. In fact, it’s quite an ugly thing to do.

        • john zande says:

          And Mel, what’s actually bothering you the most is that I do understand the argument. What’s bothering you is that I point how just wrong it is when we apply CONTEMPORARY information to it. What is bothering you is that I remind you that the whole thing rests on a MASSIVE PRESUPPOSITION which you cannot (and will never be able to) demonstrate.

        • john zande says:

          Do you honestly think this is a complicated (or even new) argument, Mel? Seriously?

          It’s just a hodgepodge of every deductive argument (cosmological, teleological, and ontological), ending with a basic monotheistic conclusion, which, incidentally, is rejected by virtually all Christian philosophers today… Not to mention it contradicts your earlier promotion of panentheism.

          Deduction is based on information at hand (around us), so your dismissal of contemporary data that drastically alters the fundamentals of those deductive tools is the height of intellectual (and personal) dishonesty. After all, is not the cosmological argument based entirely on how we see physical causation? If our understanding of causation (and the world in general) has changed, and changed dramatically, then you are simply being thoroughly and knowingly dishonest by presenting a ludicrously obsolete medieval understanding of cause and effect (and the world in general).

          Tantrums don’t change that fact, I’m afraid. In fact, your tantrums (completely ineffective on me) appear to be nothing but an attempt to GASLIGHT your less-informed readers.

          That’s a truly horrible thing to do.

          If you wanted to be honest about this whole subject, then make a genuine attempt to update the arguments, especially your favourite: the cosmological argument. Don’t just present a medieval understanding of reality and hope no one questions it. Bring it into the 21st Century. Be open about what a zero-energy universe actually means, and about the fact that the medieval understanding of time, matter, and chain causation simply no-longer apply. Be forthright about how this presents serious problems to the arguments coherency.

          Right there is the reason why these arguments hold no persuasive power today. No one has been able to update them to include our contemporary knowledge and keep them sounding reasonable.

          Perhaps you can be that person?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Like I said, you clearly don’t understand the argument. Pretty funny. But do carry on. You’re making my point beautifully.

        • john zande says:

          You get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning, yes?

          Of course you do. There is no other way. In fact, you keep repeating over and over and over again how your arguments are “coherent” because they’re based on “deductive reasoning.”

          So, I’m afraid, if the deductive tools are hopelessly flawed (rooted as they are in MEDIEVAL notions of time, space, matter, and causation) then so too is the reasoning, and, ultimately, the conclusion.

          As I previously said: Tantrums don’t change that fact, and your tantrums appear to be nothing but an attempt to GASLIGHT your less-informed readers.

          That’s a horrible thing to do, Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Tantrums? LOL! That’s hilarious. You seem to be the one coming unhinged here. And you’re STILL making stuff up.
          Again, you should understand something before you try to mock it. It wouldn’t be so embarrassing for you then.

        • john zande says:

          Yes or no:

          Do you get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning?

        • Mel Wild says:

          John Z, until YOU can explain the argument to me, there’s no need to go further here. Until then, I will get off your merry-go-round.

        • john zande says:

          Exactly.

          You get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning.

          Every one of my points stand. Your reasoning is based on a hopelessly flawed, disastrously obsolete understanding of reality.

          But as mentioned earlier: If you want to be honest about this whole subject, then make a genuine attempt to update the arguments. I’d be very interested to see that.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you want to be honest, you will show me that you understand the argument in the first place.

        • john zande says:

          All you’re doing is confirming my point.

          But if you don’t, in fact, get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning, then by all means say so.

          It would be an interesting admission.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You don’t have a point, John. Have a nice day though.

        • john zande says:

          And you be sure to enjoy the 13th Century.

          Just stop trying to fool people that you’re presenting an honest, contemporarily-accurate argument.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Enjoy your 21st century dogmatic scientistic incoherence.

          Just stop trying to fool people into thinking you know what you’re arguing against. You’ve clearly proven you don’t.

        • john zande says:

          Yes or no:

          Do you get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning?

        • john zande says:

          No answer?

          Thank you for proving my point.

        • john zande says:

          Can you bring the arguments into the 21st Century?

          How, for example, does retrocausality fit with the cosmological argument’s utter dependence on a one-directional chain of cause and effect?

        • John Branyan says:

          Please explain how the cosmological argument is dependant on a one-directional chain of cause and effect.
          Thanks!

        • john zande says:

          For it’s sheer stupidity, i’ll just ignore that question.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re ignoring it because you can’t answer it.

        • John Branyan says:

          The cosmological argument is not dependant on one directional chain of cause and effect.
          You’re making stuff up again.

        • john zande says:

          So you don’t understand the proffered reasons for a prime mover?

          Interesting.

        • John Branyan says:

          I understand that you make up stuff and pretend to be smart.

        • Mel Wild says:

          John B, Zande clearly doesn’t understand the argument. He’s proven that over and over again. He pretends he does by using the terms, and then engages in these pedantic and puerile tactics as a smokescreen, but he’s never bothered to understand it. He’d rather just argue incessantly. So having him try to explain this just confuses the issue for him.

          He actually thinks science can prove that there is no God, so he’s shown himself to be quite the dogmatic (scientistic) fundamentalist.

          But I will give him one thing. Zande is clearly the winner of the “Blinding Us With Science” award.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, that’s right Mel, it’s such a sophisticated and new argument no one on planet earth has ever heard of it. I mean, WOW, metaphysically ultimate, absolutely transcendent monotheism! A necessary prime mover!! How novel!!!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, you clearly don’t understand it. But carry on. You’re making my point beautifully.

        • john zande says:

          Yes or no:

          Do you get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning?

  5. Rebecca says:

    It seems to me that some have simply switched from dogmatic Christian fundamentalism to a dogmatic scientistic fundamentalism

    Hi, Mel, I sometimes read your blog, but seldom comment. I would like to ask for your opinion related to this statement. I’ve often noticed in the years that I’ve shared on the internet that those who are the most strongly convinced and vocal anti theists often come from dogmatic Christian fundamentalist backgrounds. I have beloved agnostic/atheists in my own family and among friends and acquaintances, but none seem particularly motivated or concerned to debate or disprove religious faith. Often, they will even affirm positive things that come from faith. There is just not this contention and stridency.

    Do you feel that there is a connection between religious fundamentalism, and anti-theism?

    If so, what is the connection, and what contributes to it? Hope this question is not too far off topic?:)

    I have my own opinion but would like to explore others.

    Thanks.
    Becky.

    • John Branyan says:

      Hi Becky,

      I know this is Mel’s question but I wanted to chime in. I think you are correct that a connection exist between anti-theists and dogmatic Christians. The link is fundamentalism. The atheist and legalistic religious person are cut from the same cloth.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Do you feel that there is a connection between religious fundamentalism, and anti-theism?
      If so, what is the connection, and what contributes to it? Hope this question is not too far off topic? 🙂

      Hi Becky. It is an interesting phenomenon that I hadn’t seen until I got into this. There does seem to be some connection. I have had the same experience as you. I also have agnostic and atheist friends who are not combative at all and affirm the many benefits of faith in God. It seems to me that extreme forms of fundamentalism (not all fundamentalism) is built on fear, us against them (defined by what they’re against), it’s polarizing, even angry and argumentative in nature. Also, studies show that the most fundamentalist aspects of religion are the most anti-science. Some of that may be because they take an almost wooden literal view of Scripture and see science as a threat to their faith in God.

      Most anti-theist arguments are directed at nominal mainline Christians or fundamentalists. Philosophically speaking, almost all, if not all, attacks are against Theistic Personalism and not Classical Theism. In fact, I rarely find that they understand the difference.

      But the bottom line is, if an argument led you into something, an argument can talk you out of it. So, I suppose this may be why they are the most susceptible. That’s my take on it anyway. 🙂

    • Interesting question, Rebecca. Christopher Silver, who himself is an atheist, did some research on different typologies of atheists for his dissertation. He first interviewed a large group of atheists and asked them a series of questions to get a sense of how they self-identify, then from there he developed six typologies, each with a description (link): Intellectual Atheist, Activist, Seeker-Agnostic, Anti-Theist, Non-theist, and Ritual Atheist.

      The second part of his study then asked a large sample size of atheists to self-identify with one of these typologies, asked them other demographic questions, and had them take a host of well-established psychometric tests (i. e. ones that measure Autonomy, Positive Relations with Others, Narcissism, Dogmatism, Anger Inventory, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness).

      The study found: Anti-Theist Type had the highest levels Narcissim, Dogmatism, Anger, were the least agreeable, had the least positive relations with people, but also had the highest levels of autonomy.

      You may also wish to check out this article on some studies done that get into more of the WHY this may happen: link

      And see this study: link

      • Mel Wild says:

        That’s fascinating. Thanks for your contribution to the discussion here.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Btw, my son is doing his dissertation on interpretative literature. He would probably like your blog. 🙂

        • Thanks. Do you know the topic of his dissertation?

        • Mel Wild says:

          It’s on interpretative literature in general. I don’t know the specific yet. He just started but I think his focus is on the mid-19th century literature. I will probably have more specifics when I see him this summer when he does some research near me. What’s interesting is that he just found out I’m a distant relative to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who, apparently, was instrumental in starting the discipline. My son will also be doing some research at Harvard where the archives are for some of that. It’s quite interesting, although it’s way out of my league. 🙂

      • john zande says:

        Interesting study, but there seems to be some skewed numbers in the sample. Very few respondents from the more populated northeast and west, huge numbers from the religious south: the bible belt.

        Fortunately, one of the many questions our empirical research was able to address was, “are all atheists angry, argumentative and dogmatic”? Our results lead us to answer that question with a resounding “absolutely not”! If any subset of our non-belief sample fit the “angry, argumentative, dogmatic” stereotype, it is the Anti-Theists.

        The overwhelming majority of anti-theists, which you draw attention to, were recorded in the south, which makes perfect sense in the US theatre as that is the concentration of fundamentalist (politically active) evangelicals that demonize “atheism.” One would only expect a large re-action to the radicalised world around them. I guess that played into the “anger” thing, which, again, is greatest in this group… No doubt because of the world they were raised in.

        Be interesting to see a global study.

        • I agree. I actually meant to point that out, but was rushed when I posted.

          The fact that most atheists of every type are over-represented in the South supports the claim that many atheists make that “atheists are merely responding to the aggressiveness of hyper-religiosity. If there was no religion, there would be no need for atheism.” On the other hand, the data from the study also seems to support the claim that many theists make that certain atheists are “fundamentalists” or “dogmatic” or “as aggressive and angry as religious fundamentalists.”

        • john zande says:

          Action – Reaction 😉

      • Rebecca says:

        Yes, very interesting.

  6. Ben says:

    The worst part of this blog post isn’t the content (which is going to rile some people up), nor is it the comment section. The worst part is that song is now stuck in my head. That’s inexcusable Mel. 🙂

  7. Gary says:

    Question for you, Mel: If Jesus can create the entire universe; if Jesus can perform all kinds of unmistakable supernatural acts for people in the first century to demonstrate and prove his divinity; why can’t he do one small unmistakable supernatural act for me to believe in him? All I ask is that he levitate my coffee table, three feet off of the ground, for sixty seconds (while I’m watching, of course).

    • John Branyan says:

      Levitating coffee tables can easily be explained by gravitational anomalies or hallucinations. If you show up squawking about seeing your coffee table float, I’ll dismiss your personal experience as religious nonsense.

      All you need is science, Gary.

      • Gary says:

        I didn’t ask that Jesus prove to you (or anyone else) that he is real, just me. If Jesus levitates my table, it won’t matter to me one iota what you think about my report of this event. I will believe. Period.

        Think about this, folks: If he wanted to, Jesus could perform an unmistakable miracle for each and every person on the planet. Jesus could do whatever miracle was necessary to cause each and everyone of us to be certain of his existence and powers. Why doesn’t he?

        • John Branyan says:

          Obviously, the reason Jesus doesn’t do parlor tricks on command is that he doesn’t exist.

        • john zande says:

          According to your book, Yhwh does indeed perform parlour tricks when asked, on cue, just to convince people of his existence. The altar challenge detailed in 1Kings is a veritable song and dance routine, complete with props and a sceptical audience.

        • John Branyan says:

          According to you, Yhwh doesn’t exist.
          That’s the same point I made to Gary.
          Get some new material JZ. You’re a broken record.

        • john zande says:

          I’m sorry your Bible gets in the way of what you want to believe.

        • John Branyan says:

          The Bible gets in the way of what YOU want to believe, sport.

        • john zande says:

          That doesn’t even make sense, but carry on…

        • John Branyan says:

          I believe the Bible is true.
          You do not.
          Sorry you can’t follow that logic.
          Carry on…

        • john zande says:

          Right, so you accept your god can (and does) perform parlour tricks on demand to prove its existence, as in 1Kings.

          Thanks for confirming my original point, and negating your argument against Gary.

          Well done, you lost twice simultaneously. That’s impressive.

        • John Branyan says:

          Right, so you accept that you haven’t a clue what the Bible says about proof of God’s existence as demonstrated throughout the entire book.

          Thanks for negating your argument (if that’s what it was).

          Well done, you lose every single time you comment. I’m not impressed.

  8. Gary says:

    Ok, so I am willing to believe but I insist that I be given good evidence to believe. Why is that wrong? Isn’t that why I have a brain? If I were asked to cross a deep ravine by walking over a rickety wooden foot bridge with multiple missing planks and many others full of obvious dry rot, would anyone criticize me for demanding evidence that the bridge is safe before walking over it? And if I was not given good evidence, would anyone blame me for refusing to cross this bridge and attempting to find another way across the ravine?

    Of course not. It’s called using your brain. Only when it comes to belief in the invisible Lord Jesus do Christians insist that we non-believers turn off our brains and take a leap of faith.

    Sorry, Christians, leaps of faith are not smart.

    Every one of the Eleven and Paul believed ONLY after seeing a “parlor trick”. So what is wrong with me insisting on seeing one? If God truly loves the entire world as the Bible claims he would present each one of us with convincing evidence of his existence, power, and our need to believe and obey to escape eternal damnation.

    But he does not.

    Use your brains, folks. Either Lord Jesus does not exist or he is a liar: he is not good, he is evil and capricious. He refuses to perform “parlor tricks” but he loves playing “Hide and Seek”.

    • If I may Gary, I have found this quote to be quite enlightening during Q&A’s here and other similar blogs…

      I’ve found that no amount of evidence, logic, or reason will convince someone who does not want to believe. And that’s what we must admit to ourselves. — Pastor Melvin Wild

      • Mel Wild says:

        If I may Gary, I have found this quote to be quite enlightening during Q&A’s here and other similar blogs…

        I’ve found that no amount of evidence, logic, or reason will convince someone who does not want to believe. And that’s what we must admit to ourselves. — Pastor Melvin Wild

        LOL! You really like repeating this quote, don’t you. It’s quite ironic, though, since you seem to want to reject logic and reason. A.B.G., right? 🙄😖🙄😖🙄😖

        But since you like to insert yourself in everyone’s conversation, let’s see what we can learn from the Q&A’s here. We have a “professor” who says we can’t know anything for certain; we can’t even trust the mathematics and logic that gave us the science behind the arguments he makes in the first place, so he apparently is himself a “reasoned contradiction.” (And he can’t explain his own existence, but we won’t go there right now). Of course, by your own argument, I have no reason to trust your cognitive faculties either, or that you will ever arrive at any semblance of truth, so why should we believe anything you have to say? Of course, that would be a “logical.” 🙄😖🙄😖🙄😖

        Got to love the absolute incoherence of it all (and all the emojis. too). But it’s not very enlightening.

        • As long as you keep the comments open Mel, I can appreciate some of the efforts toward learning and enlightenment, maybe even the dynamics of metaphysics, the supernatural or paranormal, or spirituality and what they are based on or not based on. Sometimes there is no need to comment; it becomes futile as your quote insists. IOW, show faith that your God will intervene. Let him speak. Let him work. 😉

          And btw, most of your personal interpretations of what I say and what several others here say you often (intentionally) misconstrue as Nan and others have told you, and in some cases you contend purely with your own biases. IOW, you offer no alternatives but your own. That is why I’ve often wondered why you even have the comments section open. Which also can be indicative of the depth of your faith in your God to do some speaking and working. Hmmmm. 😏

          Regardless, have a good day.

          P.S. If you like the emojis so much, I can provide the link to you. I particularly enjoy using them in content and blogs that are overly stuffy and too serious. 🤭

    • John Branyan says:

      “Ok, so I am willing to believe but I insist that I be given good evidence to believe. Why is that wrong? Isn’t that why I have a brain?”

      What makes you think there’s a reason you have a brain?

  9. Gary says:

    Little children love Santa Claus. During the holiday season, Santa and presents are all little children want to talk about. They write wish lists to dear ol’ Santa. They leave cookies and milk for Santa. Little children love Santa Claus! They believe in Santa Claus with all their hearts.

    But when little children grow up, they find out that Santa Claus is not real. They find out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. He is make-believe. He is a myth, a wonderful superstitious tale.

    So, imagine some adult asking a child who no longer believes in Santa Claus these questions:

    -Why are you angry at Santa Claus?

    -What evil sin has caused you to abandon your belief in Santa Claus?

    -You evil, stubborn sinner: No amount of evidence will ever convince you of Santa’s existence until you repent.

    -So, my friend, what will it take for you to believe in Santa Claus again?

    These are silly questions, aren’t they! And this is how former Christians, who are now non-theists, view similar questions about Jesus.

    • Mel Wild says:

      But when little children grow up, they find out that Santa Claus is not real. They find out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. He is make-believe. He is a myth, a wonderful superstitious tale.

      Of course. Yes, a child grows up to not believe in Santa Claus. But why is it that no one starts believing in Santa Claus as adults, yet there a literally millions of cases where adults start believing in God?

      It’s obvious to me that there’s something substantively different between the two. Adults don’t start believing in Santa because he isn’t real, but they will start believing in God because they’ve realized or experienced something that is real to them that no myth could ever do.

      So, imagine some adult asking a child who no longer believes in Santa Claus these questions:
      -Why are you angry at Santa Claus?
      -What evil sin has caused you to abandon your belief in Santa Claus?
      -You evil, stubborn sinner: No amount of evidence will ever convince you of Santa’s existence until you repent.

      Of course, that’s a bad response. And I would probably reject that if it were said to me that way, too. But that was not the intent of what I said that PT liked quoting several times. My point is that we will not be convinced by evidence or reason if our heart is not open to it. And that’s true for theists as well as non-theists. In the end, it’s really a heart issue, which is how we make most, if not all, important life decisions.

  10. Gary says:

    Hi Mel,

    You said, “Adults don’t start believing in Santa because he isn’t real, but they will start believing in God because they’ve realized or experienced something that is real to them that no myth could ever do.”

    Adults convert to very different supernatural belief systems all the time. Christian and Jewish adults have been known to convert to such odd belief systems as the Hari Krishna or even worse, the Heaven’s Gate cult. So the fact that some adults decide to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is alive and the Creator and ruler of heaven and earth should not be surprising.

    “they’ve realized or experienced something that is real to them that no myth could ever do.”

    Members of most religions and cults claim to experience incredible feelings, perceptions, and even supernatural events. So there is nothing unique about the feelings, perceptions, and alleged supernatural experiences of Christians. The real question is: How reliable are feelings and personal perceptions when it comes to questions of universal truths?

    • John Branyan says:

      “How reliable are feelings and personal perceptions when it comes to questions of universal truths?”

      Can you suggest an alternative method to personal perceptions for deriving truth?

      • Gary says:

        In matters such and love and choice of life partner (matters which affect only you), personal perceptions and feelings most definitely should play a role, but should they play a role in universal truth questions such as:

        -who is the Creator?
        -Did a first century Jewish preacher rise from the dead and ascend to “heaven” defying all the laws of nature? (In other words, can the laws of nature be violated?)
        -Is Jesus of Nazareth alive and ruler of the universe, and if so, must I believe and obey what the Christian holy book says about him or face some form of eternal doom? (must everyone on earth adopt the Christian world view?)

        If personal feelings and perceptions are highly reliable, then maybe they can be used to decide these universal questions. But, if studies demonstrate that feelings and personal perceptions are not very reliable, then I would suggest we should not use these methods to determine universal truths.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, believing in Christ is relational, experientially, much like falling in love and marrying your spouse. The other questions and “proofs” don’t determine whether someone believes or not, but they are helpful in coming to the point of faith (or justifying it). They just won’t make someone believe or not believe. Again, this is a heart issue.

        • John Branyan says:

          Again… What alternative method to perception should we use?

    • Mel Wild says:

      First, there is a lot of commonality between various spiritual experiences and religions. Christianity is not unique there. Second, matters of the heart are subjective to the individual, so we won’t prove it in an empirical or methodological sense. But, again, that does not necessarily invalidate the experience. Just like science will not prove why I decided to love my wife and spend almost my whole adult life with her, as opposed to hundreds of other women I’ve met in my life.

      • Gary says:

        Absolutely, but matters of the heart only involve you. If you make a wrong choice about a life partner, it will be you that suffers, not all the rest of us (humanity as a whole). But if Jesus of Nazareth is alive, ruler of the universe, and has commanded that every human being must believe and obey him or face everlasting punishment, then EVERYONE is at risk. That Jesus is Lord of the universe and that all must worship and obey him is a universal truth claim. It effects everyone. So should we believe this claim based on the feelings and perceptions of you, Mel, John Branyan, and others?

        Are feelings and personal perceptions valid methods of determining universal truths?

        • Mel Wild says:

          To quote C.S. Lewis, some people don’t see God anywhere, others see Him everywhere. Paul said His invisible attributes are clearly seen so we are without excuse. As I said before, there is evidence and logic, but a person still must be open and exercise faith.

          And, again, to decide not to believe is also an exercise in faith, based on what one accepts as “evidence.”

  11. Gary says:

    “In the end, it’s really a heart issue, which is how we make most, if not all, important life decisions.”

    I agree with you 100%. I do not love my wife and children because of evidence. I love them based on feelings and subjective perceptions. I did not select my career based on evidence but based on my personal preferences (emotions) and perceptions. But again, are feelings and perceptions the proper methods of establishing UNIVERSAL truths?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ha, I just made the same point about my wife! Agreed. If it were simply a matter of cold logic and reason, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 😊

      • Gary says:

        We wouldn’t be having this conversation if everyone agreed that feelings and personal perceptions are valid means for determining universal truth claims.

        I don’t think most people, when they really evaluate this question, will agree with you that the identification of the Creator can be determined by warm, fuzzy feelings and subjective perceptions of an invisible being living inside your body who occasional performs supernatural acts (acts which could very well be rare coincidences).

    • KIA says:

      Gary, mel once again, when pushed to the wall, retreats to feelings and Faith. Showing his pretensions of intellectual philosophical arguments to be the false equivalencies and frauds that they are. Well done.

      • Mel Wild says:

        LOL! I think you need to update your script.

        • KIA says:

          I’ll update mine when you start taking full ownership of yours without the false equivalency and midirection.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. Very funny. Maybe you should actually try conversing with people like an adult and say something meaningful instead of attacking them with baseless and puerile accusations from your shop-worn angry anti-Christian playbook. It gets a bit old.

        • KIA says:

          Conversing with you? Actually was, but any kind of honest discussion is fairly impossible with you so I don’t even try anymore.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Conversing with me? Is that what you call it? You mean when you make your rather snide “brother Mel” remarks for awhile and then suddenly go off the deep end in attack mode? Seriously, you sound unhinged. You should try actually explaining yourself sometime because I honestly have no idea where you come up with these accusations (other than you’re just parroting other angry anti-Christian fundamentalists). You might have more credibility then.

        • Nan says:

          HA! Pot and the Kettle meeting head-to-head. 🙃

        • Mel Wild says:

          Right, Nan. You’re above all of this, of course. 🙂

        • John Branyan says:

          HAhahahahahahahaha!
          HAHAHA HAAAAHAHAHAHAHAA!

          Go get him, Superman!

  12. Gary says:

    “To quote C.S. Lewis, some people don’t see God anywhere, others see Him everywhere. Paul said His invisible attributes are clearly seen so we are without excuse. As I said before, there is evidence and logic, but a person still must be open and exercise faith. And, again, to decide not to believe is also an exercise in faith, based on what one accepts as “evidence.”

    I’m not talking about the Creator. I know you prefer to focus on the question of the existence of a Creator God but I have already conceded the existence of a Creator in our discussions. I am discussing your belief that Jesus of Nazareth is still alive; that he is the Lord and Master of the universe; and that his invisible spirit dwells somewhere in your body where he gives you life guidance and sometimes performs acts of magic (“miracles”) in response to your supplications to him.

    Is it reasonable and rational for you to propose that these claims are true based on your warm feelings and subjective perceptions? I am not saying that I can prove that your feelings and perceptions are wrong, only that multiple studies have shown that feelings and personal perceptions are not reliable in determining universal truths.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, but you must answer the question of a creator in your own thinking before you can discuss the possibility of Jesus. Otherwise, it’s disingenuous to just “concede the existence of God” if you don’t actually believe there is a Creator. In other words, if you don’t “actually” believe in God, then the question of Jesus is irrelevant and I would be wasting my time. Each argument builds on this ontological foundation. You cannot separate the two from each other.

      And once the ontological foundation is laid, there are logical arguments for Jesus in particular, which I have made in many, many posts here, and probably will make in the future. But, even so, it’s not as simplistically cut and dried like you seem to think it should be. We are not talking about explaining something in nature, like a planet or even some being in creation. We are talking about something that, if God exists, would necessarily be far beyond our ability to fully grasp (this is the logical conclusion and the implications of something that would be Subsistent Existence Itself). But, we can find analogical language to give a reasonable explanation (which is one of the reasons we could give for the incarnation).

      But if one just wishes to dismiss the idea entirely, they are still left with the ontological incoherence of their unbelief, as I have tried to point out in recent posts. So, they can deny it all they want, but it doesn’t make it go away.

      • Gary says:

        “Yes, but you must answer the question of a creator in your own thinking before you can discuss the possibility of Jesus. Otherwise, it’s disingenuous to just “concede the existence of God” if you don’t actually believe there is a Creator”

        I believe that it is quite possible that something or someone initiated the creation of our universe. So it is not as if I am a Creator-denier; that I believe that a Creator does NOT exist. I am simply uncertain as to the existence of a Creator and uncertain as to the identify of this possible Creator.

        However, I am not uncertain about your god, Jesus of Nazareth, being the Creator. The evidence provided by Christians is very poor for this claim. Your best evidence is eyewitness testimony. The problem for you is that most experts no longer believe that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels, therefore we cannot be certain of which stories in these books are historically accurate and which stories are religious allegories. And asking us to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator based on your personal feelings and subjective perceptions is foolish in my opinion. Personal feelings and perceptions are fine for choosing a life mate, a new car, or a box of cereal from the grocery store shelf, but no one should be allowed to assert that his or her personal feelings and subjective experiences are confirmatory evidence of a claimed universal truth that everyone must believe or face some form of punishment, eternal or otherwise.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I believe that it is quite possible that something or someone initiated the creation of our universe.

          Okay, but this is skewed from the get-go. That is not the classical argument for God. We are not talking about someone initiating the universe, or even if it ever needed to be initiated. We’re talking about a motive force that must both sustain and exist independent of all other causation in the cosmos. To say that “God” (or “Subsistent Existence Itself”) is to say that he/she/it sustains your existence right now, and continues to do so in every moment, and even if there were no moments. In other words, if he or any part of the causal chain were interrupted, you would collapse into non-existence.

      • Gary says:

        “But if one just wishes to dismiss the idea entirely, they are still left with the ontological incoherence of their unbelief, as I have tried to point out in recent posts. So, they can deny it all they want, but it doesn’t make it go away.”

        So if I believe that a Creator of the universe very possibly exists, but I am uncertain as to his (her, their, or its) identity, I am “ontologically incoherent”? How is that? Must humans know everything with 100% certainty to have a coherent world view?

        • Mel Wild says:

          So if I believe that a Creator of the universe very possibly exists, but I am uncertain as to his (her, their, or its) identity, I am “ontologically incoherent”? How is that?

          It’s ontologically incoherent to say you exist but you have no explanation (or need no explanation) for your essentially-ordered continuing existence. You exist yet you have no explanation for “being.” That’s simply ontologically incoherent.

  13. Gary says:

    “And, again, to decide not to believe is also an exercise in faith, based on what one accepts as “evidence.” ”

    To decide not to believe that your warm, fuzzy feelings and subjective personal perceptions that a dead man lives inside your body are sufficient evidence to believe that he does, is not a matter of faith, it is a matter of reason.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Not quite. Again, you are dismissing subjective experience (and reasonable faith) as “fuzzy feelings.” But, to me, the existence of God is ubiquitously conspicuous in our everyday experience. This is why a child can embrace it, yet we never fully understand it. And if one has no explanation for their existence, they shouldn’t just dismiss something they don’t understand. Not to mention, you have to smuggle in a whole lot of ontological assumptions to even make it work.

      And I could just as easily contend that it’s incoherent and irrational to say we’re just mechanistic DNA machines, a result of random chance and matter that somehow spontaneously created itself, and makes conscious being and intentionality and love and a sense of beauty and wonder, and there is no purpose to our lives. That notion is not only demotivating, it violates our innate desire for transcendence and mystery and purpose and destiny. Sorry, that would never be convincing to me. That would take a blind leap of faith that I have no motivational desire to make.

      • Gary says:

        “Again, you are dismissing subjective experience (and reasonable faith) as “fuzzy feelings.” But, to me, the existence of God is ubiquitously conspicuous in our everyday experience.”

        Mel: I am NOT questioning the existence of a Creator God. I agree that there IS evidence for a Creator! We are talking about your assertion that a dead man from first century Palestine lives somewhere in your body, giving you life direction, and performing supernatural acts.

        You seem to be hiding behind the “Creator argument”. I have zero issue with the existence of a Creator. The existence of a Creator does not change or affect my world view in the slightest. But I’m curious: Why are you so fearful to discuss the evidence for your claim that an the invisible being, whom you believe to be the Creator of the universe, lives inside your body?

    • John Branyan says:

      Reason is not detached from personal perceptions. We reason based on our perceptions. Perception is always “personal”.

      Nobody is arguing that “warm, fuzzy feelings” are sufficient evidence for the Christian faith. When you invalidate the theist’s perceptions and experiences, you invalidate your own.

      • Gary says:

        No, my personal feelings and perceptions are of no consequence to the continuing operation of the inviolable laws of nature.

  14. Gary says:

    Mel: Here is what you are doing: You are asking modern, educated people to believe that your god, Jesus of Nazareth, is the Creator and ruler of the universe, and that he lives in your body giving you life guidance, based on 2,000 year old, alleged, eyewitness testimony and your personal feelings and perceptions.

    That is NOT good evidence, my friend.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Mel: Here is what you are doing: You are asking modern, educated people to believe that your god, Jesus of Nazareth, is the Creator and ruler of the universe, and that he lives in your body giving you life guidance, based on 2,000 year old, alleged, eyewitness testimony and your personal feelings and perceptions.

      If that’s what I was doing, I would agree with you. But, obviously, that’s a straw man. The fact is, many very intelligent people, including scientists, mathematicians, cosmologists, physicists, biologists, and other professors of leading universities, like Oxford, MIT, etc, around the world are coming to faith in Christ, and many who already believe are making very robust and cogent argumentation for Christ, so what you’re saying is simply a caricature of what is the truth.

      • Gary says:

        Do you or do you not believe that the spirit of a man who lived 2,000 years ago now lives inside your body?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I believe we are in Christ or, if you prefer, “Mind-at-Large” (Huxley). And because we are in the Cosmic Christ, we can have relationship with God through Him.

          I do not believe in Cartesian dualism or some “ghost in the machine.” That is not the classical concept of Christianity. That was invented during the Enlightenment.

      • Gary says:

        Scientists, mathematicians, cosmologists, physicists, biologists, and professors of other sciences of leading universities such as Oxford, MIT, etc., would never ask their students to believe in science “by faith”. Why?

        No, for all truth claims made by science ALL scientists would tell their students to examine the evidence and only believe what the evidence indicates. They do NOT ask their students to believe in Heliocentricity, for example, “by faith”.

        Even very intelligent, well-educated people can be superstitious. Religious belief provides a great deal of personal comfort and a sense of security for those who fear our dangerous, unpredictable world. An education does not automatically eliminate those primal fears.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, but intelligent people can also be deeply indoctrinated in scientism and believe incoherent and untenable worldviews like materialism. To simply reduce faith to superstition, a need for security, or alleviating “primal fears” is actually insulting these very intelligent people who have made reasoned decisions of faith.

          Something to consider. You totally tune thinking theists out whenever you make such vacuous statements.

  15. Gary says:

    “To say that “God” (or “Subsistent Existence Itself”) is to say that he/she/it sustains your existence right now, and continues to do so in every moment, and even if there were no moments. In other words, if he or any part of the causal chain were interrupted, you would collapse into non-existence.”

    I have no problem with that.

    I believe that it is very possible that a Creator exists who not only created the universe but sustains the universe solely by his (her/their/its) existence and that if this Creator were to cease to exist, the universe would collapse.

    However, if we are going to follow logic and reason, then we must also consider these facts: if a Creator exists, which I believe is very possible, then the evidence strongly indicates that he (male pronoun for simplicity) has ordained the following:

    -After the universe was created by his supernatural act, the laws of nature which he established are NEVER to be violated.

    -He is indifferent to the suffering and pain of humans and animals.

    -It is not important to him to be identified.

    So please explain to me how this proves that a dead man lives somewhere in your body???

  16. Gary says:

    “I believe we are in Christ or, if you prefer, “Mind-at-Large” (Huxley). And because we are in the Cosmic Christ, we can have relationship with God through Him.”

    So when Paul says, “…Christ in you”, Christ is not really “in” you, he is just everywhere in the cosmos?

    • Mel Wild says:

      “Christ in you” is a way of expressing our relationship. If we are in Christ, then Christ would also be interacting with our consciousness. In that sense, He is in us. You cannot separate the two. Of course, if you’re a dualist, this won’t make sense.

    • Mel Wild says:

      For a metaphysical background on what I mean, I wrote a post titled, “Christ, the Cosmic Mind, and Consciousness.”

      • Gary says:

        I think I understand: Jesus is everywhere and in everything in the cosmos. So to say that Jesus is “in you” is limiting. Jesus is everywhere.

        So you are saying that your feelings and emotions can detect the presence of this cosmic force. Do you believe that this cosmic force communicates with you? If so, how?

  17. Gary says:

    But how do you know that your cosmic sensations (feelings and perceptions) are of Jesus and not from some other cosmic force (or an invention of your subconscious mind)?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Okay, you ask a valid question but now we’re getting into something that requires a lengthy explanation and I don’t like typing on my phone so that may have wait for another time or separate post. 😊

      • Gary says:

        Let me expand my point so that you can see where I am coming from.

        We all use our feelings and perceptions every day to make decisions. I’m not saying that our feelings and perceptions should be ignored. Many times they are correct. All of us have probably met someone on a street who just gave us a bad vibe so we took steps to get away from that person even though the person made no threatening statements or gestures. “Vibes”, instincts, perceptions can be very useful for our survival.

        But my question is: are our feelings and perceptions accurate enough to use to determine the presence of invisible beings in us or around us and to identify that invisible presence?

        Mel has claimed that his Christian belief system is based on evidence and personal experiences. But the only evidence I see comes from ALLEGED eyewitness testimony from 2,000 years ago, and, personal feelings and perceptions, which experts say are frequently unreliable. That just does not appear to be good evidence for any claim, let alone the claim that Jesus of Nazareth, a man executed in the first century, is alive and well, ruling the universe from his throne in a place called “heaven”.

  18. Gary says:

    The use of philosophy to support the Christian belief system is a smoke-screen. Look at many Christian blogs today and you will notice that many of them spend most of their time discussing philosophical arguments to support Christianity and very little time “preaching” the Gospel. It is as if Jesus had commanded his disciples, “Go ye into all the world and convert them with complex philosophical arguments to prove the truth of my claims.”

    They’ve stopped using the simple Gospel message to convert non-believers. Why? Because Christians don’t want to talk about corpses walking out of tombs and levitating into outer space. That sounds silly, ignorant, and superstitious. They want to divert our attention from their ancient zombie tale with complicated philosophical arguments.

    It’s a ruse.

    Don’t buy into it.

    We skeptics should immediately concede the possible existence of a Creator and then go for the jugular: the very improbable historicity of virgins giving birth to man-gods and corpse reanimation.

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! In other words, if your materialistic worldview is untenable and your ontology is totally incoherent, and you can’t make a logical argument for what you actually believe, just parrot Bart Erhman with some textual criticism, and voila! Haha! Nice smokescreen.

      Of course, because we don’t believe in miracles, miracles cannot occur. There’s nothing circular about that argument! And what’s really funny is how so many anti-Christians call US irrational and illogical! Haha! That’s rich.

      And besides, your premise is bogus. The early church constantly debated with the pagans of their day with philosophical arguments and reason, including Paul himself.

      15 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you…. (1 Pet.3:15 AMP)

      8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. (Acts 7:8-10)

      6 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

      23 Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:23-28)

      Hmmmmm….Paul’s argument sounds like a classical philosphical argument to me.

      I do agree on one thing. The simple gospel IS powerful and DOES work when people’s hearts are open. We should receive the kingdom like a child. But when people are trying to buffalo and bully believers with pseudo-science and textual criticism, you need to deal with them in a more logical manner.

      • Gary says:

        Stop hiding behind your philosophical sophistry, Mel. I concede the existence of a Creator. Now, give me evidence that your first century Galilean peasant is the Creator.

      • Gary says:

        “Go ye into all the world and convert them with complex philosophical arguments.”

        Jesus must be rolling over in his grave.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nice cherry-picking of Scripture. Not too sanctimonious, are you.

          Jesus rolling over in His grave? LOL! Of course, you can show me where Jesus’ grave is, right?

    • John Branyan says:

      Can philosophy be used to support atheism?
      If so, how is it not a “smoke-screen”?

      Wouldn’t you agree, philosophically, that the scarcity of virgin births and reanimated corpses throughout history is what makes the gospel narrative unusual? If people raised from the dead all the time, Jesus wouldn’t be anything special.

      • Gary says:

        There is no such thing as a virginal birth or a reanimated corpse. You can verify this with your local physician.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, your local physician has all knowledge of all phenomenon in human history to be able to make such a conclusiont?

          Frankly, Gary, you’re starting to bore me. These vacuous arguments were fallacious when Hume gave them, still are with Ehrman. No need to regurgitate them here.

        • John Branyan says:

          That is not true.
          You’re throwing up a smoke screen.

        • Mel Wild says:

          This is where brilliant minds like Chesterton can shine a light to cut through the fog of the materialist circular reasoning of the likes of Hume and Ehrman and their ilk:

          “Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.” (G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”)

  19. Gary says:

    “Of course, you can show me where Jesus’ grave is, right?”

    Can you show me where Jimmy Hoffa’s grave is, Mel? Thousands of people/bodies are missing. That is not proof that any of them have been reanimated/resurrected and transported into the clouds.

    Seriously, let’s discuss the evidence for Jesus as the Creator. Start a new post and let’s discuss it.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You said Jesus was rolling in his grave. I’m asking you to prove it. That’s just as fallacious and ridiculously absurd as your questions.

      Let’s see…evidence that Jesus is creator? You mean physical evidence? So, how do you propose we do that? You’re basically asking me to give natural evidence in this natural world for the creator of nature. Right, whatever. This is a fallacious question, Gary. A category mistake. I won’t waste my time.

  20. Gary says:

    “The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them.”

    What type of evidence is he referring to? Is it objective evidence that everyone can collectively examine (such as all of us collectively watching a Cadillac levitate three feet off of the ground after praying to Jesus to perform this act) or subjective, personal evidence that only one person can experience?

  21. Gary says:

    Objective evidence refers to information based on facts that can be proved by means of search like analysis, measurement, and observation. One can examine and evaluate objective evidence.

    • Gary says:

      Subjective evidence refers to evidence that one cannot evaluate. One must simply accept what the person says or reject it. Testimony of the parties to a contract is subjective evidence.

    • Mel Wild says:

      In other words, physical or natural evidence for something categorically outside of nature. That’s what I thought. Fallacious category mistake. Your scientism is showing. We’re not talking about looking for Zeus or some demiurge.
      Again. you’re wasting my time.

      • John Branyan says:

        Don’t forget it was Gary who asked, “How reliable are feelings and personal perceptions when it comes to questions of universal truths?”

        Then he says, “Objective evidence refers to information based on facts that can be proved by means of search like analysis, measurement, and observation.” I’m pretty sure all that analysis and observation is going to require a lot of personal perceptions.

      • Gary says:

        I’m not asking you to prove that an invisible supernatural being (who defies all the laws and properties of nature) exists. I agree, that would be impossible to prove using objective evidence. What I am asking you to prove with objective evidence is that the transformed corpse of a real human being is now the Creator of the universe. Can you provide any objective evidence that a human corpse that was subject to the laws of nature suddenly transformed into a superhero-like body that was no longer constrained by the laws of nature?

        Do you have verified, corroborating eyewitness reports from multiple persons who claim to have witnessed the reanimation/transformation (“resurrection”) of this corpse? No. Do you have any verifiable tissue samples from this transformed body that we could examine under a microscope? No.

        All you have is alleged eyewitness testimony of post-death appearances of this dead person and your personal feelings and perceptions. This is weak evidence. First of all, tens of thousands of people throughout history have claimed that a recently departed loved one has appeared to them, touched them, eaten with them, etc. “But what about the claim that this dead person appeared to groups of people?” you will ask.? “They couldn’t all have been hallucinating the same hallucination, right?” I agree. Groups of people cannot have the same hallucination, but groups of people can and have claimed to see all kinds of crazy stuff. Ever heard of a Virgin Mary sighting???

        If a group of people today claim to have seen a six-inch tall, green, antennae-toting Martian, would most people today believe this claim even if it were made by multiple very sincere eyewitnesses who stories corroborate? No. But the credibility for your claim is even worse! The eyewitness status of your original claim (the four Gospels) aren’t even confirmed eyewitness testimony! Their eyewitness status is disputed by the majority of experts! So it is very possible that you do not have even ONE eyewitness claim regarding these alleged post-death sightings! I know you will disagree, but you cannot disagree that the eyewitness status of these claims (the Gospels) is disputed.

        The evidence for this claim is very, very weak, Mel and other Christians. If you want to believe it based on unverified, alleged, eyewitness claims and your feelings and personal perceptions, all power to you. But you shouldn’t be scaring little children and gullible adults into believing this tale under threat of everlasting torture!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you have verified, corroborating eyewitness reports from multiple persons who claim to have witnessed the reanimation/transformation (“resurrection”) of this corpse? No. Do you have any verifiable tissue samples from this transformed body that we could examine under a microscope? No.

          Are you serious? LOL! So, do you have verified, collaborating eyewitness reports, tissue under a microscope for every other figure in ancient history? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? Homer? By your ridiculous and anachronistic standard for evidence we should just go ahead and dismiss all of ancient history. Not to mention, you seem to be confusing modern empirical science with how we understand ancient history.

          The evidence for this claim is very, very weak, Mel and other Christians.

          It’s only weak because of your prejudice against it. Actually, considering the type of evidence we would expect from ancient historical accounts, our case is very strong. As former atheist, Antony Flew, said:

          “The evidence for the resurrection is better than any other for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity…” (Antony Flew, “Did the Resurrection Happen?”, p.85)

          Anyway, I already went over this ad nauseum before so I don’t care to go over all the same old arguments again.

          But you shouldn’t be scaring little children and gullible adults into believing this tale under threat of everlasting torture!

          Ugh…I’ve never heard that one before. Really, now you’re pulling out the “scaring children” card? So, how did I do that, Gary? And besides, should I be telling innocent children that their lives have no purpose or meaning and that they are just slaves to their DNA instead? Sorry, you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

      • john zande says:

        In other words, physical or natural evidence for something categorically outside of nature.

        And yet you claim Yhwh interacts with the natural world, performing PHYSICAL miracles, meddling in evolution, doing the altar challenge in 1Kings, etc.

        So, no, it doesn’t appear to be a “fallacious category error,” just an apologist being thoroughly disingenuous, moving the goal posts.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, it is a fallacious category error. All materialists do is deny any physical miracles as something else or unexplainable because they don’t believe in them.

        • john zande says:

          If there are “physical miracles,” then matter has been affected. That can be measured. So No, it’s just you being disingenuous and moving the goal posts to suit your daily apologetic needs.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Not necessarily. Those who don’t believe in them just explain away the change in matter. And calling people disingenuous just because they disagree with your myopic materialism is a vacuous accusation.

        • john zande says:

          Not necessarily?

          Sorry, Yes necessarily.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Whatever you say, Mr. Dogmatic Fundamentalist.

        • john zande says:

          Yes or no…

          Do miracles mean ordinary matter has been affected?

        • Mel Wild says:

          That was never the question. Yes, and you will just explain it away because of your prejudice against them.

        • john zande says:

          It’s the root of the point.

          If matter has been affected it can be measured. therefore it is NOT a “fallacious category error.”

          Good grief Mel, are you even capable of admitting you were wrong?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Good grief, John Z, can you ever admit you don’t understand something? So, you’re saying that matter being manipulated is God Himself then? No, it’s not God Himself. It just means that matter has possibly been manipulated by an OUTSIDE force, which this outside force could be God. But God Himself is not material. Get it? You will only find Him indirectly through His workings.

          So the issue is, when we look at MATTER being manipulated, you materialists will just dismiss it as “anything else but God.” THAT was the root of the point.

          So, yes, looking to find an immaterial and infinite God in a limited material world is a category error. And so you can just deny any of His workings in this world as something else.

          Anyway, I’m not getting on your merry-go-round again. Believe whatever you want.

        • john zande says:

          You do realise, don’t you, that all you’re doing is proving Gary’s point that the theist has nothing but subjective ‘evidence’… the point you were trying to dismiss.

        • John Branyan says:

          Are you referring to the same guy who has nothing but subjective evidence for gravity?

  22. Gary says:

    Correction: Christians do have one eyewitness claim of a post-death appearance of Jesus: Paul’s claim. However, Paul himself never describes what he saw in his appearance experience.

  23. Gary says:

    “Do you have verified, collaborating eyewitness reports, tissue under a microscope for every other figure in ancient history? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? Homer? By your ridiculous and anachronistic standard for evidence we should just go ahead and dismiss all of ancient history.”

    All history is based on probability. We believe that Julius Caesar very probably crossed the Rubicon. We believe that Alexander the Great very probably sacked the city of Tyre. Many other historical claims are not so certain. Was Columbus the first European to discover the New World? Maybe, but probably not based on recent research and archaeological discoveries.

    But what the above claims involving Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Columbus have in common is that these claims are mundane. The weren’t mundane in their day, of course, but if we find out through a discovery of additional evidence that Caesar did not cross the Rubicon, that Alexander did not sack Tyre, that Columbus was not the first European to set foot in the western hemisphere, what effect will these new discoveries have on the lives of people living today? Answer: Not much.

    But if the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth really did come back from the dead, transform into a superhero body with supernatural powers, and later levitate into space where he now sits on a throne as ruler of heaven and earth…THAT IS NOT MUNDANE!!!

    This is a very, very, very extra-ordinary claim with HUGE consequences to the entire planet. Modern, educated people demand a higher standard of evidence for such very extra-ordinary, very consequential claims. You can complain that this is unfair, but we call it being RATIONAL. Eyewitness testimony may be sufficient for car accidents and murder trials but it is NOT sufficient evidence for Loch Ness Monster sightings, Big Foot sightings, Martian sightings, or reanimated/resurrected corpse sightings.

    And we are not picking on just Christians. In some of the writings of the Romans, claims were made that the emperors were gods and that multiple witnesses watched them perform supernatural acts. Would we believe these claims even if a few Roman writers reported that over 500 people claimed to have seen the emperors perform these amazing feats? Of course not. We would require the same level of evidence for these extra-ordinary claims that we do of Christians and their extra-ordinary claims.

    Very extra-ordinary claims require better evidence than mundane claims. And I will bet that you follow this very dictum in your own day to day life.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Considering the nature of ancient history, we do have extraordinary evidence and witnesses for the resurrected Christ, as Antony Flew said, and a host of other types of circumstantial forensic evidence that would hold up in any court of law. It’s just not 21st century lab-verified evidence, which is preposterous.

      The point is, you won’t find the kind of evidence you’re demanding for anything in ancient history. It doesn’t matter what the nature of the claim is. You’ve have just created a condition that cannot be answered because of your naturalist prejudice against miracles. It’s a bogus demand.

      But, of course, believe whatever you want. But that dog won’t hunt here.

      • Gary says:

        The same experts who state that there is insufficient evidence to declare the resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact are the same experts who say that there IS sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus was a real historical person.

        The truth is, you refuse to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of modern, educated people have a higher standard of proof for extra-ordinary claims than they do for mundane claims. I will bet good money that even you follow this dictum in your everyday life. But you don’t like the suggestion that this same standard should be applied to your RELIGIOUS claims. That is what you don’t like. That is what you think is so unfair.

        But just think about what you are saying: You want anything and everything to be equally probable. If we follow your logic, then it is equally probable that all disease is caused by invisible demons as by microbes visible under a microscope. It is irrational! Life would be chaos if our society submits to your thinking. Some claims are just more probable than others, and those claims which are very extra-ordinary are by definition the least probable of all. Using your reasoning, if I wake up and cannot find my keys tomorrow morning, it is equally probable that a demon stole them as that I misplaced them.

        Your thinking is irrational. You may try to cover it up with a lot of complex philosophical arguments, but it is still irrational…and dangerous.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The same experts who state that there is insufficient evidence to declare the resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact are the same experts who say that there IS sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus was a real historical person.

          That means nothing. These same people don’t believe in miracles. Period. They have a prejudice against them, so they approach history with a naturalist bias and don’t accept anything that doesn’t fit into their worldview. They call it highly improbable, which is a nuanced way of dismissing something you don’t believe in. It’s nothing more than circular reasoning.

          Using your reasoning, if I wake up and cannot find my keys tomorrow morning, it is equally probable that a demon stole them as that I misplaced them.

          Nice straw man. You see, this is where you get absurd. I wouldn’t reason that at all. I would’ve thought I misplaced them.

          Your thinking is irrational. You may try to cover it up with a lot of complex philosophical arguments, but it is still irrational…and dangerous.

          Haha! That’s rich. Right, says the person who dismisses actual logical thinking as “complex philosophical arguments.” Sorry, you can’t hand-wave away your incoherent ontology and your myopic and narrow-minded naturalist worldview.

  24. Gary says:

    What is your evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator of the universe?

  25. Pingback: Dogmatism and the human delete key | In My Father's House

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