Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cliffe Knechtle fact-check

I thought this was very well done. I especially enjoyed it because I recently watched a debate between Matt Dillahunty and Cliffe Knechtle, and I was just astonished at how clueless - or, perhaps, downright dishonest - Knechtle was.

He didn't reply to Dillahunty's points, but rather pretended that he'd said something different. Now, a strawman argument might be common in political campaigns (though I don't like it then, either), but to me, if you can't reply to your opponent's actual point, I have to assume that you don't have an answer.

And when he got to... Well, I don't want to get into that debate, since I'm not posting it here. (It's more than an hour and a half long, including questions.) But I was left with a very poor opinion of Cliffe Knechtle, and this video clip just seems to confirm it.

(Seriously, Knechtle is either a complete moron or an incredibly dishonest jerk. I'm astonished that he has any followers at all - at least, if they've ever heard him debate.)


Ben Weaver said...

He debated Matt again in October and was even more infuriating to watch than last time. The thing that gets me about him is that, as you said, he doesn't address the question put to him, his responses were just baseless assertions and emotional appeals mostly complete non sequiturs, and yet he is so damn SMUG about it. I find his arrogance both sickening and ironic, considering how bad his arguments were.

WCG said...

Yes. I disagree with Christian apologists, but I want to hear what they have to say. Unfortunately, it tends to be a complete waste of time. Certainly, I'm astonished at how useless Cliffe Knechtle is. That's the best they can do?

It's not even entertaining. In fact, it's insulting. How in the world could someone like that have followers?

Thanks for the comment, Ben.

J.P. said...

Typical Athiest observations... Knechtle is much brighter and much more honest, and he usually wins. Who is the moron ?

WCG said...

You're right, he's not a moron. I think he's wrong, but I don't think he's actually stupid. (Like the vast majority of believers of every religion, I think he just believes what he was raised to believe, and what he really, really wants to believe.) And to his credit, he's apparently acknowledged the mistakes which were pointed out in this video. (I assume you've watched it?)

I don't know if Knechtle "usually wins" or not. Debates are, after all, about appealing to an audience. I'm sure his supporters usually think that he wins. When I've seen him debate, though, I was left with a very poor opinion of him.

Look at this video clip, as an example. It's not so much that Knechtle was wrong in his facts (though he was wrong) as that he was misleading, anyway.

There were no scientists 2000 years ago, no news media, no television cameras, not even the printing press. People writing 150 years after Jesus Christ - or even just 50 years after - were simply relating stories that they'd been told (and frequently embellishing them to make them even better).

Note that there were far more stories than we have today, because the Catholic Church spent a thousand years or so eagerly rooting out 'heresy,' destroying everything that didn't agree with what they wanted to believe. And much of the stuff they kept turns out to have been a later forgery.

Yes, many people believed in those stories 150 years later, just like many people believe that George Washington chopped down his father's cherry tree. But that doesn't mean anything. We've got better evidence that Elvis Presley returned from the dead than that Jesus did.

Did you watch this video clip? Please comment on that. We have no contemporary sources for Jesus even existing, let alone doing anything magic. Now most (but not all) scholars think that there really was a historical Jesus, instead of him being just a fictional character in popular stories, but they're all over the place after that.

Like many apologists, Knechtle tries to convince audiences that there's evidence backing up his own particular religious beliefs. There isn't. That's why believers never come to a consensus about what's true and what isn't, because their beliefs almost always depend on how they were raised as children (and, in any case, on what they really want to believe).

Anonymous said...

The wisdom of man is foolishness unto God, unless someone has had a "road to Damascus" type of experience. The whole debate becomes pointless. Arguing with someone who has not experienced Gods love and grace, is like having an argument in a different language. Glory be to God, that he has hidden such things from the wise and revealed them to children.

WCG said...

So, please tell me, Anonymous, how you distinguish "Gods (sic) love and grace" from delusion and wishful-thinking.

You're not infallible. You're not claiming to be infallible, right? So how do you know your feelings - because that's all you're talking about - aren't simply a matter of delusion and wishful-thinking?

You recognize that delusion and wishful-thinking exist, correct? Don't you think that's why people raised to believe in other gods feel that their religion is true? It's only in your own religion where you accept feelings as being valid.

And why in the world would any god, as you claim, hide things from the wise, revealing them only to children? Why would ignorance and gullibility be a requirement in order to hear your god's message?

Doesn't that make you even slightly suspicious? As soon as someone tells me that I can't use my brain, that it's necessary to be ignorant, gullible, and faith-based in order to acquire some incredible knowledge, I know that's a scam. How could it be anything else?

Unknown said...

CLiffe, never gets angry (what I define as angry), except when a calm nice, gentlemen said what you said: "he just believes what he was raised to believe, and what he really, really wants to believe"

Ty Ryan said...

(another anonymous) I've delt with alot of witchcraft and seen demons, scare living $@#t out you. There is a spiritual realm. I hated God's guts, passion, but He was the only one that saved me from it all. Of course I was confused: "which God are you? Buda, Muslim, Jesus. He made evident that He was the Jehovah/Jesus kind.

WCG said...

I notice that you didn't address any of my points, Anonymous. Whether Cliffe Knechtle gets angry or not,... I really don't know why that's even pertinent.

WCG said...

Demons? Really? Witchcraft? There are always other explanations.

But you wouldn't expect me to believe a completely unsupported claim like that, anyway, would you? Would you believe me if I claimed to have seen leprechauns? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Off-hand, I'd guess you were raised Christian, rather than Buddhist (since you don't know how to spell "Buddha," and you think that he was supposed to be a god) or Muslim (since their god is "Allah," though that's just the Arabic word for "God").

And if you "hated God's guts," you must have already believed that he existed. We atheists don't hate 'God' - or any other gods, for that matter. We just don't believe they exist in reality.

Anonymous said...

I think that the true Atheist accepts that after death comes nothing.The consequences of that belief has to be then accepted by the Atheist.
One smaller point is that its suprizing how vigourously Atheists pursue the telling of the "truth" as they see it considering that their view says that its a waste of time as truth doesnt exist after life.Also as it is impossible to prove that God doesnt exist why just say I dont know whether God exists or not rather than I dont believe their is a God.
Also as an Atheist you have to accept that you cannot hate as to hate indicates that that hate is either an evil force or that it isnt an evil force and its ok to hate if you want too.
A true Atheist would by extension of their beliefs say that Cliffe Knechle is just a fool and I wont waste my time debating or refuting him as it is wasting the only thing I have which is time as after this life is nothing,
One of the main pointers to me that the Atheist has doubts over their beliefs is that they debate so much with others and so intensely.The other main pointers for me is that I have never heard an Atheists like Matt Delahunty ever say that they have "doubts" over what they believe.
The writers of the bible clearly understand and demonstrate doubt which is a normal human trait but not the Atheist. All other people who believe anything that I know have doubts.
If Atheists believe that God doesnt exist in reality then they only believe their is one reality that is the here and now,so live life to the full drink dance and be merry dont worry who you walk over,kill or rob(once you dont get caught) as after death their is nothing
I dont think anyone really believes that.
Yours and Happy New Year Hugh

WCG said...

Thanks for the comment, Hugh. I'll number your points, so I can try to cover each one:

1. "their view says that its a waste of time as truth doesnt exist after life."

No, that's not true. Reality (which is what "the truth" means, in that usage) will still exist, whether I exist or not. Certainly, other people will still exist.

It's not just about you as an individual, is it? Other people do matter. The people who live on after we die do matter - to me, at least (and to you, too, I suspect).

2. "Also as it is impossible to prove that God doesnt exist why just say I dont know whether God exists or not rather than I dont believe their is a God."

Good point. There are two ways I can respond to that. First, can you prove that leprechauns don't exist? Of course, not. So if someone asks if you believe in leprechauns, do you say, "I don't know"?

Obviously, we don't require 'proof' that something doesn't exist. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to disbelieve in leprechauns, werewolves, or vampires - or anything else, for that matter.

No, we generally require evidence that something does exist before we believe it. Isn't that the right way to do it? Why should we believe in leprechauns or gods without evidence?

But the other thing is, you're talking about two different things. Knowledge and belief aren't the same thing, not at all. It's possible, don't you agree, to believe things that aren't true? Obviously, that's belief but not knowledge.

I'm an agnostic atheist, in fact. I'm agnostic, because I can't know that gods don't exist, no more than I can know that leprechauns don't exist. But I'm also an atheist, because I don't believe the claims that they do. (Why not? No good evidence.)

3. "as an Atheist you have to accept that you cannot hate"

Huh? What do gods have to do with hate? Hate is just an emotion, like love, fear, envy, etc. Hate is just a feeling - one of many we evolved as animals - and not really something we can choose deliberately. (Could you choose to hate the moon, if you wanted to?)

I have no idea what hate has to do with gods, but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with hating, either. Don't you hate slavery? Don't you hate rapists? Again, I have no idea what that has to do with atheism.

(continued in next comment)

WCG said...


4. "A true Atheist would..."

Hugh, as soon as you start a sentence off like that, you're going to be wrong - guaranteed! An "atheist," by definition, doesn't believe in a god - any god. That's all. There's no such thing as a "true atheist," because you're either an atheist or you're not.

We atheists have nothing else in common, necessarily, so you can't say what "an atheist" would do, either. Atheists have no beliefs in common - not any beliefs that aren't shared by every human being, at least. We have no dogma, no priests, no holy texts.

I'm an atheist because I'm a skeptic. But not all atheists are skeptics, I'm sad to say. After all, it's possible to believe in leprechauns and still be an atheist. (I don't know of any atheists who do, but "atheism" is only the disbelief in gods. Period.)

Personally, I see how much harm faith-based thinking does to my country and my world, so of course it isn't a waste of time to argue against it. Plus, I find it interesting. All my life, I've wondered how people can believe this stuff, just because they were taught it as children. It's fascinating to me.

Finally, how could I have any confidence in my own beliefs if I never heard contrary opinions? I welcome your comments, because I want to hear your arguments. If I'm wrong, I want to know it, so I can change my mind. (Not just about religion, either.)

Of course, I've been awash in a sea of Christianity my entire life. No Christian has ever been able to back up his beliefs with evidence, and it seems obvious that, worldwide, most people just believe whatever fairy tale they were taught as children. They believe it because they really, really want to believe it. Still, I could be wrong.

6. "live life to the full drink dance and be merry"

Yes, exactly. This is the only life we'll ever have - and it's all too short - so enjoy it.

"dont worry who you walk over,kill or rob(once you dont get caught)"

So, you enjoy hurting people, Hugh? I'm sorry to hear that. I don't. Hurting people would make me feel terrible. I don't add "murder, rape, and rob" to "eat, drink, and be merry." Why would I?

But you're right. If you like to hurt people, you only have other people to worry about. If you actually do hurt people, I hope you get caught and imprisoned, but if you escape human justice, you'll escape justice.

(Note that I think it's unlikely you'll have a good life, anyway, if you take pleasure in other people's pain. Treating other people well usually pays dividends. In general, we each do better when we all do better.)

Of course, I don't really think that you like to hurt people. So why would you think I do?

But you're arguing about consequences now, anyway, not about the truth of your beliefs. OK, so you'd better believe in Allah, because if you don't, there will be no punishment after death, right?

That's ridiculous. And it's just as ridiculous when it comes to any other god, too. Besides, reality may not be exactly as we prefer it, but believing in fantasy doesn't make it real.

Our prisons are filled with Christians, not atheists, so I see no reason to think that your argument is correct, anyway. Besides, according to Christian mythology, even Hitler could be enjoying Heaven, if he just repented before he died, right?

But, either way, that has nothing to do with whether or not Heaven actually exists. Do you have any evidence that your god actually exists, Hugh? Or is that just what you were taught as a child?

Happy New Year to you! And thanks again for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Well even though its a total waste of your time replying to me thank you all the same lol
Take the point on Atheist versus True Atheist
I would like to make a few things clear that you wouldnt get from Cliffe for instance.
I dont believe in God because I heard it as a Child,I dont believe in God because I checked out all the historical documents related to the bible,I dont believe in God because of Evolution teaching or because of a young Earth teaching and neither does any other true Christians(in christianity you can have true christians and false christians)
I dont believe in God because I go to Church etc
I could go on......I believe in God because 26 years ago I was in a desparate place in life and I called out to him and he revealed himself to me.All of the other stuff I learned later although coming from a Catholic Backround I knew a few of the stories.
All the historical manuscripts etc wouldnt make me believe if I lived to be a million.God is the God of the Desparate and if you were never in a place in life where I was you wouldnt probably call on him.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked me what is most important thing that God has done for me.I didnt have to think for a moment,its purpose hands down its purpose.Once I knew I had a purpose things began to change.
When it comes to you how am I to convince you that God exists?I cant Scientifically so I have to answer the questions that you have like historical evidence,the existance of evil.evolution etc but they are only for you they have absolutely nothing to do with why I believe.All of that stuff is important so we may give a rational answer to other rational minds but it has nothing to do why I believe.I tested him out in utter desparation and all of a sudden I knew he existed.It was like opening shutters.
Now when it comes to purpose Atheists have a clear problem.I had no purpose I could event one so I was hopeless where as you were lucky enough to be able to latch on to something that gave you meaning for your life,I wasnt so the Atheist had no answer for me.
As for Justice Idi Amin Slaughtered thousands of people in his own country Uganda a mean and ruthless killer no good in him and fled to Saudi Arabia where he died peacefully with his family.Their was no justice here on earth for those poor people.
The Atheist if he is being fair would have to say either lets get the justice system so advanced that that wont happen again(something we all know is impossible and highly improbable)Even it was possible its too late for Idi Amins Victims.
Its clear that Adolf Hitler didnt change his ways right up to his death.
To be consistant the lesson from the Atheist is if you get away with it rape abuse murder so be it their is no consequences.
I think why you dont enjoy hurting people is not just that you were taught not too but because their is an inate understanding among all peoples in the world that certain things are always wrong.
One more point If I am wrong in what I say to people I May have caused damage to those people why they live on this planet but anyway their going to die and become fertilizer or maybe I may have helped them by what i said and they become fertilizer.If you are wrong and their is a God and their is a heaven and their is Justice and these people have missed out because of what you have said then that really is sad....
On hate and Atheism
Their can be healthy forms of hate like hatred of crime like rape murder etc but their can be unhealthy forms of hate like the hatred of black white oriental people(which is evil)if evil exists where did it come from and is the force behind evil intelligent.If evil doesnt exist then you have to except that its my choice whether I commit crimes or not and you cant say anything to me,except I hope your caught
Also their is no shawshank redemption from Atheism.A rapist cant get redemption neither a conman a prostitute or a murderer heaven forbid an abuser.No way to make amends no hope to become a normal functioning human being.
On Doubt just that you never commented on it.Why does the Atheist never doubt that they might be wrong,
The bible clearly deals with doubt as a both a reality and a problem.Does the Atheist ever doubt?Be careful how you answer lol Its a trick question I have to admit lol WCG nice talking to you tried to give you my side of the story as honestly as I can and respect to you that you have also Hugh

WCG said...

"I believe in God because ... he revealed himself to me."

So why doesn't he reveal himself to everyone? Does he prefer to torture people in Hell? Is it just that, occasionally, he feels pity for an individual here and there and decides to demonstrate that he really does exist? (But only to them, of course.)

The story of Paul in the Bible is like that. Supposedly, Saul/Paul persecuted Christians until he had a vision of Jesus. But why didn't Jesus reveal himself to everyone in the world at the same time? He's a god, right? He's supposed to be able to do that.

Now, if there were no gods, the Bible story is exactly what you'd expect. In a completely natural world, you'd expect that the occasional person would have a hallucination so vivid as to cause him to change his life.

When you're talking about whole populations of people, there's absolutely nothing remarkable about that. As I say, we would expect that in the complete absence of gods.

Your experience seems to be similar. I can't know for sure, of course - and that's the whole point. Why doesn't 'God' reveal himself to everyone in the world? He can do it. He's supposed to be omnipotent. And if he did that to everyone, at the same time, it would get the whole world's attention.

Obviously, it's not a problem with us. Supposedly, Saul/Paul wasn't a believer before he had that vision. He didn't cry out to Jesus in desperate circumstances. Heck, according to the story, he persecuted Christians. Yet he was the only person to get a vision that would presumably have saved everyone on Earth from Hell.

No. Instead of something really remarkable, we just have anecdotes from the occasional Christian. Even if I accept your story at face value - an anonymous account that supposedly happened 26 years ago - it's still indistinguishable from delusion and wishful-thinking, and that's my whole problem with faith-based thinking in the first place.

After all, would you accept that Allah exists as the Koran describes him and that Islam is the only true religion, if a Muslim told you of a similar experience? Of course, not.

In both cases, any halfway intelligent god would know that. And with either religion, why would the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the Universe do something that's exactly what we would expect if gods didn't exist?

Occasional stories like yours - from pretty much every religion - are what an atheist would expect. That's exactly what we'd see in a world with no gods. If an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent god did exist, then he'd demonstrate his existence to everyone in a way that was unmistakable.

I'm sorry, Hugh, but not only is your anecdote unconvincing, it actually backs up my stance, not yours. It's exactly what we'd expect - occasionally - in a world with no gods.

PS. I'll respond to your other comments in separate reply, since this one is long enough already, huh? Thanks for the comments!

WCG said...

OK, part two:

"Once I knew I had a purpose things began to change."

Hugh, why do you need someone else to give you a purpose? If you want a purpose, why can't you decide that for yourself?

Also, Muslims can think that Allah has given their lives a purpose, too. Obviously, thinking that a god has given you a purpose in life doesn't make any of it true, necessarily. After all, nearly all religions have similar, but contradictory, beliefs.

"The Atheist if he is being fair would have to say either lets get the justice system so advanced..."

Yes, exactly. We need justice now, on Earth, because it won't happen, otherwise. Human justice will never be perfect, but we need to make it the best we can, because it's all we've got.

Now, the Christian, if he is being fair, would say that there's no need for a justice system, since 'God' has got that all taken care of. Why bother having a justice system at all, since God has it covered?

And murder? Why would a Christian care if people get killed? "Kill them all and let God sort them out," right? In Christian mythology, they haven't lost anything. According to Christians, death isn't the end. Indeed, according to you people, this life isn't even an eye-blink compared to the eternity which follows.

So why do you care if people are killed? What have they lost? Eternity is still eternity, whether you die as a baby or at an extremely advanced age.

For both reasons, it's atheists who have reason to be concerned about justice and about defending people from harm, not Christians. Why should it matter to Christians at all?

"I think why you dont enjoy hurting people is not just that you were taught not too but because their is an inate understanding among all peoples in the world..."

Well, among most people in the world, yes - the vast majority, but not everyone. A small minority do enjoy hurting people. (Of course, most people can convince themselves to hurt other people for a good reason - what they think is a good reason, at least - but that's a different issue.)

Again, that's exactly what we'd expect in a natural world where human beings evolved as social animals. It's not what we'd expect in a world where a god created everyone. Why would he create sociopaths, after all?

But for the vast majority of us, our dislike of hurting people is both innate and taught. Our ancestors never thought there was anything wrong with beating a slave. Heck, it's even promoted in the Bible. But we've learned better since then, and few people these days accept slavery, whatever the Bible says.

"if evil exists where did it come from and is the force behind evil intelligent"?

Yes and yes. At least,... it depends on your definitions, of course, but I'd say that evil comes from human beings and that human beings are intelligent. But again, that mostly depends on your definition of "evil" (and "intelligent," for that matter).

"If evil doesnt exist then you have to except that its my choice whether I commit crimes or not"

Why? I'm sorry, Hugh, but that makes no sense at all. Maybe you're using some weird definition of "evil"? But, in any case, I don't have to accept anything.

"A rapist cant get redemption... No way to make amends no hope to become a normal functioning human being."

Why not?

I don't know about "redemption," because I don't know what that means, exactly. It seems to be some kind of religious idea?

So whether a criminal can be "redeemed" or not is something I can't say (since I don't understand the question), but criminals can certainly attempt to make amends and become "normal functioning human beings"? Why not?

[Dang! I've run out of room again! OK, Part 3 will follow, then.]

WCG said...

Part three:

"Does the Atheist ever doubt?"

Doubt what? Maybe you mean something different by "doubt" than I do?

I'm not infallible. I can be wrong - not just about gods, but about everything. No matter how sure I am that I'm right, I could always be mistaken. That's a given.

At the same time, I'm more confident about some of my beliefs than I am about others (although I usually just reserve judgment if I have no reason to be confident).

I'm confident of my disbelief in gods, just as I'm confident in my disbelief in leprechauns, werewolves, and vampires. I could be wrong, certainly - about all of them - but I'm still confident enough in a practical sense.

I don't worry that gods, leprechauns, werewolves, or vampires do exist, if that's what you mean by "doubt."

You may disagree with my including 'God' in that list, but that's exactly how I feel about it. All four seem equally imaginary to me, and although I could be wrong about any of them - I never think otherwise - I see no reason to think that I am.

Does that answer your question? I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "doubt." According to the dictionary, doubt is "uncertainty or lack of conviction." I don't lack conviction, not at all. But we can't be absolutely "certain" about anything.

There's always the chance, however small, that we could be wrong. About everything, not just gods.

Again, Hugh, your arguments in most of this seemed to be all about consequences - not whether or not a god actually exists, but the consequences if he, she, or it doesn't.

But the consequences aren't the important thing here. Either way, we do have to live with the consequences of reality. So I'm mostly concerned with determining what that reality really is.

Thanks again for commenting.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
On Purpose I had no purpose and I couldnt make one up unlike you.
If you do make one up or find one it as an Atheist is for this life only and has no lasting value because it goes down with the fertilizer.
Where Jesus is differente than lepruchans werewolves etc is what Cliffe Argues
Hes an Historical Figure and the Bible is clearly representing itself as an historical document.Also lepruchans etc are clearly made up and are not expected to represent anything that is real.
But those arguements are for you as I said I believe because I experienced God.
If you talked to Paul and asked him why he believed in God He wouldnt say that I looked at the historical evidence and I Concluded that it must be true,no he would say I was walking down the road to Damascus and I had an Experience with God thats why I believed.
I cant scientifically prove God exists but you cant prove scientifically he doesnt.If I say I believe in God because of science that is blind faith but if you say that I dont believe in God because of Science that is blind faith also.
Redemption is a second Chance not to rape or murder but to be transformed by God to live a normal healthy life.
Atheism cant deal with so many issues
Atheism is no good to the rapist or murder or thief,its no good to the bereaved either Sorry Mrs so and so youve lost your only son but dont worry his existance is ultimately meaningless and hel be fertilizer soon.
It also has hall marks of a religion,it has preachers and scribes like Mark Dellahunty,it has a faith as it cant prove that God doesnt exist.It does have organisational structures too like forums etc

Anonymous said...

On Justice you know right well it will never be perfect but is it just tough luck on IDI AMINS victims?What do you say to them?
Why does God not reveal himself to everyone?
That can only be answered if you take into account sin and it origins(their is no secular answer for the want of a better way to put it)An all knowing all seeing all powerful god chooses because of original sin and free will to limit his power.God delights in Faith which is something that is unseen.Man choose to kick him out of their lives and so doesnt have the same relationship which was full revelation before original sin.God will not force himself on anyone that doesnt want him.
On doubt its important why are you an Atheist rather than an agnostic?
100% of the time when I look at something thats is made like a table I know that it had a maker.When you look at something complex and perfect their must be doubt that it didnt have a maker.
Being an Atheist is saying I know their is no God How?Their is no scientific process that can be measured to prove God exists or doesnt exist so it has nothing to do with science.So either belief in God or Not believing in God is just a belief/faith system.
Being an agnostic is saying I dont know does god exist which is a more reasonable position in my opinion.An agnostic recognizes doubt whereas you would find it difficult to repeat these words:Their are times when I doubt that I am right about whether their is a God.
An agnostic would have no problem with that which is far more realitic.
On time and eternity it is better to think of time as created deminsion where eternity is outside of time.
On slavery is not promoted in the bible in fact william wilburforce who was the driving force behind abolotion used the bible to show that it wasnt but just misquotations from poeple who want to make money.
Paul says about a runaway slave when he writes to Philemon the owner take him back not as a slave but as brother in Christ.
The old testament had a system of Jubilee where you would become a slave(not the 21st century defination of slave) to pay of a debt that you couldnt pay.On the 50th year all debts were forgiven and that person could choose to remain in service or not.These slaves came from all walks of life and were not just poor labourers.The 50th year was called the year of Jubilee and I think if their was one law in the Old Testament that would work and should be implemented again is the year of jubilee where poor people would be forgiven their debt,as the bible puts it so no man could have an advantage over the other
I hope i covered most of the response thanks Hugh

WCG said...

"an Atheist is for this life only and has no lasting value"

Is nothing worthwhile if it doesn't last forever? What you do in this life will affect people long after you're dead.

Of course, nothing lasts forever. But improving people's lives still has value - to me, at least. Besides, reality exists whether you like it or not.

"Hes an Historical Figure and the Bible is clearly representing itself as an historical document."

The Bible is religious propaganda, not a historical document. There might have been a historical Jesus - we don't even know that for sure - but there's zero evidence that any of the magical stuff actually happened.

The Bible is full of stories primitive people told each other - stories that were undoubtedly changed in the telling and which eventually got written down by anonymous authors, edited by anonymous editors, and compiled by a committee. But every religion has its myths. Christianity is no different.

"If you talked to Paul and asked him why he believed in God"

Why Paul? One guy has a vision? As I said before, that's exactly what we'd expect if there were no god. Human beings do have hallucinations (if the story was even true in the first place, which we don't know). Pretty much every religion relies on such things.

But a real god would have the ability to give everyone the same vision at the same time. Why would your god save one person from Hell, one person who persecuted Christians back then, but that's all?

Indeed, if your god wants people to be 'saved,' giving every person on Earth the same vision at the same time would demonstrate that he actually exists. Isn't that what he wants?

It makes no sense if your god exists, but it makes perfect sense if there are no gods. Occasional people with visions and other 'supernatural' experiences is exactly what we'd expect in an entirely natural world.

"I cant scientifically prove God exists but you cant prove scientifically he doesnt."

Nonsense! Can you "scientifically prove" that leprechauns don't exist?

I never asked you for proof, anyway - just for evidence. And I certainly don't have to 'prove' that your god doesn't exist. I'm not making the claim here; you are.

"Atheism cant deal with so many issues"

Again, you're talking about consequences, not about whether or not your beliefs are true.

I could argue your points about consequences, but why should I? Reality exists whether we like it or not. I know you don't like it, but what you like has nothing to do with what exists.

WCG said...

"What do you say to them?"

What do you say to them, Hugh? "I'm sorry that you're burning in Hell, but your parents taught you to believe in the wrong god. And hey, the guy who killed you is burning right there with you! That's got to cheer you up, right?"

Again, reality exists whether you like it or not. But I'd say that atheists have an advantage in that situation. We don't have to be hypocrites, at least.

"God delights in Faith which is something that is unseen."

God wants people to be gullible? In fact, he so wants people to be gullible that he'll torture them in Hell - forever and ever - if they're not? Oh, but he loves us, right? LOL

Why would a god want people to be gullible? That makes no sense. Heck, why would a god even care if people believed that he exists or not?

Certainly, demonstrating that he exists (which he did for Paul and for you, supposedly) would not violate free will in the slightest. (Certainly, if you believe in Satan, he knows that God exists, right? But according to Christian mythology, he could still rebel.)

But human beings, yes. Human beings often have many reasons to encourage gullibility in other human beings. Gullible people are more likely to believe what you say. Gullible people are more likely to do what you want them to do.

Encouraging gullibility is very definitely something human beings might do. (And note that it was human beings who wrote the Bible.) But a god? No, Hugh, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

"God will not force himself on anyone that doesnt want him."

Oh, you don't believe in Hell, then?

"Being an Atheist is saying I know their is no God"

Wrong. Being an atheist is just not believing in a god. Please recognize the difference. Sure, no doubt some atheists might say they 'know' there isn't a god. But atheism isn't actually about knowledge at all, only belief.

Agnosticism and atheism aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, I'm an agnostic atheist, myself. I don't believe that gods exist, but I don't claim to 'know' that, beyond any possibility that I might be wrong.

Of course, I'm an agnostic about everything, not just about gods. I don't believe that we can be absolutely certain - with zero chance that we could ever be mistaken - about anything.

Luckily, we don't need "absolute certainty," huh? But that's why I ask for evidence, rather than proof. One of the reasons, at least.

[Again, I'll have to continue this in a separate reply.]

WCG said...

"So either belief in God or Not believing in God is just a belief/faith system."

Nonsense! Is not believing in leprechauns a "faith system"? I don't say that leprechauns can't possibly exist. I just say that I don't believe they do, because of the complete lack of good evidence.

If the disbelief in leprechauns was a "faith position," it would have to be the refusal to believe in leprechauns despite the evidence. And that's not my position at all - not for leprechauns or gods.

Of course, normally, "faith positions" are beliefs, not the lack of belief. But you already know that, don't you?

"An agnostic would..."

You keep telling me what agnostics and atheists would or wouldn't do, and what they think, but you're neither. Why not let me tell you what atheists and agnostics think, since I'm both?

Even then, I can only speak for myself, but at least I wouldn't be pretending to speak for people I disagree with (thus making a strawman to argue against).

Anyway, I already replied to your question about doubt. Did you not read it?

I could always be wrong - I know that - but I don't think that I am. (If I thought my beliefs were wrong, I wouldn't believe them.) If you want to change my mind, just show me the evidence.

I'm confident in my disbelief, but I know I'm not infallible. Is that "doubt"? You'll have to decide that for yourself.

"The old testament had a system of Jubilee where you would become a slave(not the 21st century defination of slave)..."

Heh, heh. Yeah, nice try. Or have you not actually read the Bible?

Yes, there were debt slaves. And there were various rules about keeping Jews as slaves. But there were also ways around those rules. (For example, a male slave would have to abandon his wife and family if he wanted to go free. If he wasn't willing to do that, he'd be property forever.)

More to the point, however, those rules, as feeble as they were, applied only to Jewish slaves. The Bible specifically recommends enslaving foreigners, so slave-owners wouldn't have to worry about such things.

The slave-owners of America's South were Christian, and they knew their Bible. And they were definitely following that Bible when they bought and kept slaves. Don't try to pretend differently.

Now, sure, the Bible is the big book of multiple choice, written by multiple authors and filled with contradictions. Thus, apologists can often find something with which to argue their position, no matter what it is.

In this case, according to the story, Paul met a runaway slave, and he sent the slave back to his master. Still, the slave was Christian apparently, and that mattered to Paul.

But there's nothing about that story which even hints that slavery itself is wrong. At best, Paul is sympathetic to one particular slave.

And again, there are many passages in the Bible which demonstrate a complete acceptance, and even approval, of slavery. And no, it wasn't all debt slavery, and all slaves didn't automatically go free after seven years or 50 years, either one.

The Bible supports slavery. Period. America's slave-owners knew their Bible - better than you do, apparently. I'm very glad that some Christians decided to reinterpret their holy book on that subject (as Christians regularly reinterpret whatever has become a problem for them), but that doesn't change the facts.

Thanks again for the comments, Hugh.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bill
Martin Luther King Jnr didnt let it get in his way that his ancestors his grand parents I think were slaves.,enslaved by white people who used the bible to enhance their own ends.Instead he could tell the difference between christianity and Christ.He could tell the difference between them and became a pastor,preacher and civil rights leader.Many many african americans are in the same situation.
Their is no one that claims Lepruchans are real and no one puts forward any evidence to prove that,its a genre of writing fiction.The bible is a genre of writing that has various styles one of them is historical narrative.It mentions real places leaders etc. so its an historical document.

Anonymous said...

Here is the verse in Leviticus and a definition of why God instituted it.
Just because people didnt follow Gods law doent mean he doesnt exist or that Jubilee was wrong.

Leviticus 25:10 “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”
Every 50 years was to be a year of Jubilee throughout all the land. The Jubilee year had huge economic, social and family implications. During the Jubilee, slaves were to be set free. The land was to be restored to its original owner, and families were to be reunited. The year of Jubilee would restore the families and free the land from the bondage of debt as all mortgages were canceled. The purpose of this year was to break the oppression over the people

I suppose no harm done in your way of thinking anyway they are in the ground and these slaves are nothing now just manure.
God did not encourage slavery but continually limited it like in Leviticus.
I just have to go will look at your other points shortly thanks h

WCG said...

"Martin Luther King Jnr ... could tell the difference"

Martin Luther King, Jr. was raised Christian (like you, I imagine?). If he'd been raised Muslim, he'd almost certainly have believed in Islam, instead.

Indeed, his father was a minister, too. You see, for a century or more, the only leaders African-Americans were allowed to have were Christian ministers.

Racist white southerners - Christians all - would murder any other black leaders and would not allow black people to gather together anywhere but in Christian churches. (Even black churches weren't always safe. But they were the only option black people had - generation after generation.)

The main reason why the black church took such a leadership role in the civil rights struggle (although there were non-believers who took part, as well) is because there were no other established black institutions. Racist white Southerners - Christians who used the Bible to justify their murderous racism - had made certain of that.

"It mentions real places leaders etc. so its an historical document."

Yeah, right. The Harry Potter books mention London, so I suppose that they're a historical narrative, too? The Spiderman comics mention New York City - and real government leaders - so everything else in the Spiderman comics must be true, as well?

It is common in fiction to mention real places and real events, in order to make the book seem more realistic. It's common for a work of fiction to claim to be documented fact, too - for the same reason. Of course, in religious propaganda, there's an added reason for such claims.

The Bible is the claim. Now, you just need some evidence to back up that claim. Do you have any? If not, why should I believe the Bible any more than I believe the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, or any other religious text?

You're trying to pretend that the Bible deserves special treatment, but the only reason you believe that is because the Bible is your holy book.

I'm not going to just assume that the Bible is true. If you want me to accept anything in the Bible (and Christians can't even agree with each other about most of it), you have to demonstrate that it really is true.

WCG said...

"Here is the verse in Leviticus"

Sure. I've read it. But I like how you pick out one verse from a massive book like the Bible, and then explain it (since even Christians can't agree with each other on what the Bible means).

But did you read any further than that? It's abundantly clear that those rules (which no Christian follows, as far as I know) only apply to Jewish slaves (and there are other places in the Bible where even Jewish slaves can be property forever).

But you don't even have to leave Leviticus. Heck, you don't even have to leave Chapter 25! Didn't you even read the whole chapter?

Try verses 44-46:
44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

Right there, it tells you to buy foreign slaves (even of the foreigners who live among you, so that definitely includes native-born slaves), that you can own them as property forever, and that those previous rules apply only to the "children of Israel" who are enslaved.

Hugh, that's the problem with cherry-picking what you want to believe from a book as large, and as contradictory, as the Bible. But at least you should read the whole chapter, don't you think?

"I suppose no harm done in your way of thinking anyway"

Why? As usual, you have it exactly backwards, don't you? In my way of thinking, this is the only life we have, so of course it matters.

In your way of thinking, on the other hand, why does it matter at all? For those slaves, their lives on Earth were a tiny blip in eternity. According to you, they still exist (burning in Hell, no doubt) and they'll always exist.

So what does it matter how bad their life on Earth was? If they weren't Christian, that's nothing to how bad their life is now, right? Even the worst slave-owner couldn't torture them as badly as God is torturing them now.

And if they did happen to be Christian, well, it's lucky for them that their life on Earth was short, isn't it? At any rate, no matter how bad it was, what does it matter when you've got eternal bliss afterwards?

That's your way of thinking, certainly not mine! To me, this life matters.

"God did not encourage slavery"

Nonsense! Not once does the Bible condemn slavery. Not once did Jesus speak out against it. Your god had the perfect opportunity to tell people that slavery was wrong. Instead, he recommended that people buy foreigners as slaves.

Christians like you often point to passages which limit, to some extent, what Jews can do to fellow Jews who are slaves. Even then, there are loopholes. (The Bible is certainly not consistent.)

But the God of the Old Testament doesn't give a crap about non-Jews. He makes that abundantly clear. Certainly, neither the Old Testament God nor the New Testament God has any problem with slavery.

"I just have to go will look at your other points shortly"

No problem, Hugh. This does take a lot of time. I enjoy it, though. I hope you do, too.

Thanks again for commenting. If you get really bored, you might check out my Bible commentary. I didn't get very far. Leviticus was incredibly boring, and Numbers started off even worse. I'd like to get back to it some day, but I don't know if I ever will.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,Got waylaid
God Progressively limited slavery and those verses showed that he began to put rules on the practice.It was man you began slavery not God.God began to limit them.
The New Testament says that in Christ their is neither jew or gentile slave or free male or female.Christ came and broke all those barriers.
What about Atheist Slave Owners?What do you say to them?I know they will say to you its none of your buisness this is the reality I created for myself and if you dont like it tough.Ultimately these slaves have no value anyway they are just fertilizer.
Martin Luther King was a very intelligent man and for anybody to say he believed in Christ just because his dad did is totally wrong.You can only be a Christian if you decide, anyone who is a Christian without a making a decision to do so may be part of Christandom but is not a Christian.
China is the fastest growing Christian country at the moment a country that has been commumunist since the war and that persecutes and kills Christians.These people are not Christians because of their Parents or Society.Peter Paul and all the early Christians were not Christian because of their parents either.
Martin Luther King looked at what the Christians wrongly did in the South and New the difference between Christandom and Christ.Christ had not a racist bone in his Body he went to the Samaratian when he was not meant too.
Atheism is a belief System that has huge limitations.If I ask you what proof or evidence can you produce to prove Atheism is correct,You couldnt produce any historical or scientific evedence.Their is not one repeatable test or historical document.. Compares to Christianity which has historical writings and secular writings to show that Jesus existed.(Even though that is not why I believe in him as I said earlier)
Atheism is a belief system that is evangelical in nature and that should be a total contradiction but isnt.Atheists should realize that time is the only thing they have and not waste it like Mark Dellahunty does debating Cliffe Knechle.
I didnt look at the above video so I didnt get to see what it was about but Ive watched a good few of Cliffe Knechles Videos and he covers almost all the points you brought up much better than me Bill,id be interested to see what you think about his answers to your points because Im sure I havent been as systematic or as thoughtful in response to you as he would.
I kinda get it though now Atheism rightly or wrongly is an intellectual pursuit with the rational mind at its center and it explains why Atheists debate and spread their ideas.The rational should look at those stupid fools believing in God wasting their time trying to spread their truth why would I do that when I know their is no God.For I know after death thier is nothing I will leave them at it and spend my time on what I think is important.But because its an intellectual thing they have to for the want of another word bounce it off people including other Atheists.
An Atheist cant be an Atheist on their own they have to have what we call a Church to belong too..Thanks for the discussion Bill Hope you have a Great 2016,Yours Hugh

Anonymous said...

P.s Bill
Leaving Atheism and Christianity aside
What do you think of Jubilee as an idea.That all debts etc would be forgiven after a period of time and in a way you could start a ground level again,a second chance.Would it be beneficial to fellow man,would it cut poverty or help the poor slow down greed.Could it be implemented in this modern world?Just wondering ...Hugh

WCG said...

"God Progressively limited slavery"

I can't even imagine where you got that, Hugh - certainly not out of the Bible.

I know. You don't believe that slavery is a good thing. You do believe in a good god. Therefore, you've got to rationalize away the Bible's support of slavery.

That's all it is. If your god had thought that slavery was bad, he could have said that in the Bible. He could have prohibited slavery just as he prohibited eating bacon and shellfish.

Of course, Christians might have weaseled around that prohibition, too. But it still would have been in the Bible. Slavery existed in Christian nations for far longer than it should have because the Bible clearly supports slavery.

"What about Atheist Slave Owners?"

What about them? I don't even know what you're asking there, Hugh.

We atheists don't have an all-powerful, all-knowing magic being on our side, telling us what to do. We have to figure it out for ourselves.

And atheism has nothing to do with slavery. Nothing. So I really have no idea what you're asking.

"Atheism is a belief System that has huge limitations."

Sorry, Hugh, but you're wrong. Atheism isn't a belief system at all. Is it a "belief system" to not believe in leprechauns, especially without any good evidence that they exist?

"The rational should look at those stupid fools..."

Hugh, there's no shortage of stupid fools in the world. In general, yes, I think it's a bad thing to believe what isn't true - or, at least, to believe what you have no good reason to think is true.

But that's not the problem. The problem is that people generally act based on what they believe. And that can be a big problem when their beliefs aren't true.

I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember, but I never advertised that fact. Finally, though, the Bush Administration convinced me that I had to stand up and be counted. Faith-based thinking was a disaster for my country and my world, especially as the faith-based became more and more an organized political force.

I had to stand up as an atheist American, because we are not a "Christian nation." We are a nation of diverse beliefs - with a Christian majority, sure, but also where freedom of religion and the separation between church and state are fundamental rights.

America is not a theocracy, and I didn't want us to become one.

It's not just Christianity. More generally, it's faith-based thinking. The Republican Party has become entirely faith-based, rather than evidence-based. Republicans even deny established science.

When I was a kid, I figured that it didn't matter if people believed in foolish things that just made them feel better. But if you believe one thing by faith, where do you stop?

Increasingly, the faith-based don't stop. This was absolutely disastrous for America during the Bush years, and in the Republican Party, it's just getting worse and worse all the time. Reality seems to mean nothing to the faith-based.

"An Atheist cant be an Atheist on their own"

Heh, heh. I can't be an atheist on my own? Hugh, I never knew a single other atheist all the time I grew up - not one. (Obviously, that was long before the internet.) I never even met another atheist until I went to college, and that was just in passing.

But couldn't I say that about Christians, too? Why can't you be a Christian "on your own"? Why do you have to establish churches? Why do you need everyone else to be a Christian, too?

The fact is, we're social animals. For the most part, we human beings don't do anything "on our own." We're social animals, and we naturally get together with other people similar to us.

WCG said...

"What do you think of Jubilee as an idea."

Hugh, I don't have any more time right now, so I'll make this quick. Off-hand, I see no reason for a Jubilee. It just seems like it would complicate everything for no reason.

Debts already end when we die. If the estate can't pay them off, that's the end of it. Only corporations live forever (or theoretically so). And as I say, it would hugely complicate the task of getting a loan, wouldn't it?

Why do you think that would be beneficial? How, exactly, would it cut poverty or help slow down greed?

In Saecula Saeculorum said...

Debate is ultimately pointless, unless you have seen or felt something of God personally how can you believe, even if you want to; words are dry. Religion, Near Death Experiences, ghosts / demons, Exorcisms, certified Faith healings; there's a LOT of weird stuff out there, some is attention seeking or madness but a sizeable chunk still remains unexplainable, a supernatural. I've had 2 personal events I can't logically explain (a premonition & an instant healing from despair after a desperate Prayer, 'peace that passeth all understanding' apparently. It's great) I'm a natural cynic but I know there's 'something' & Christianity best fits as an explanation, after years of seeking, tho' I still have many questions & I'm not keen on religion - but that's no use to you as proof, you need your own. If you're genuinely interested, pray to God for knowledge, help?

Bill Garthright said...

In Saecula, I disagree that debate is pointless, though I'll admit that it doesn't usually change any minds - not immediately, certainly.

But how do you tell a personal experience of 'God' apart from delusion and wishful-thinking? We know that delusion and wishful-thinking exist, and I daresay that even you don't believe all of the "personal experiences" of other gods.

Furthermore, just because you've had a "personal event" you "can't logically explain," how does that mean not just "god," but a particular god? Would you accept the personal experiences of Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, and other faith-based people as a good reason to believe in their gods?

And tell me, does this god you believe in happen to be the same god you were taught as a child? Do you come from a Christian background? Did you celebrate Christmas and Easter as a kid? Was your community and/or your nation largely Christian?

Worldwide, the overwhelming majority of religious people believe in the particular god and the particular religion they were taught as children. When they experience "weird stuff," as you put it, they naturally attribute it to the god they were taught to believe as children.

Yes, there are converts - in every direction - but they're relatively rare. That's just one reason why feelings are unreliable if you're concerned about the truth of your beliefs.

Since I am concerned about the truth of my beliefs, I'm evidence-based, rather than faith-based. I don't want to just "feel" that something is true, since it's always easy to believe what we really, really want to believe. That's why I require evidence.

Thanks for the comment, but I can't believe claims made without good evidence backing them up - not Christian claims, not Muslim claims, not Moonie claims, no claims will convince me without good evidence that those claims are actually true.

John Cashin said...

I think they had two debates, which are both on Youtube and both more or less went the same way, I have to agree on the whole with what many have said about Cliffe Knechtle.

Even though I like Cliffe most of the time as a person and he makes hats off effort to defend his faith, his arguments are all terribly flawed and sometimes he can be a bit of a mental bully, which I don't like about him, that might work with students when he is on campus but that won't cut it with skeptics like Matt Dillahunty.

Cliffe didn't give me anything in either of those debates that supplied me with good reason to change my mind regarding my doubts about Gods existence and the Bible being his so-called word.

I think Matts position is a lot firmer and he gave a much better defense of his ground, which in fact, is also my ground, I'm an atheist myself and like Matt and most atheists, I'm not going to claim certainty, as in, I am sure no God exists.

I am not sure that no God exists, I am just not convinced that one does and have been given insufficient reason to believe with any degree of confidence that there is any God, that's my position, I would be happy to change my mind but it will take a lot more that strawman arguments from Cliffe or any other believer, it would probably take some kind of divine manifestation and I can't say I've seen much of that so far, I only wish I could have some experience like that, must be great to think you have had a divine supreme being show himself to you, many thanks.

John Cashin

Bill Garthright said...

Thanks for the comment, John. I rarely blog anymore, but I'm always glad to receive comments on existing posts. Of course, I can't say much about your comment, because I agree with you. :)