Hi Kyle, here is my response to your response
to your answers
to my questions
H: That you would consider such questions
about your eternal fate "useless and boring" only substantiates my point that
"most of these believers seem not to take these beliefs very seriously, insofar
as they don't seriously examine [..] the nature of the afterlife that they claim
to believe will constitute essentially the entirety of their conscious
K: Well, inasmuch as I don’t think I can change it or alter
it in any way for my advantage, I must plead ‘guilty’ for the charge of not
really contemplating what my afterlife will be like. In my view, I have done all
I can to get into heaven, which is a place that will assuredly be pleasant
anyway. Should I worry about whether or not I’ll be able to play golf in heaven?
I don’t really think so. [..] So, it is untrue that I ignore the topic of
afterlife, but it is true that I don’t really care whether or not I bowl a
perfect 300 in heaven.
It's a misrepresentation of my point to pretend
I asked whether you could play this sport or that in heaven. My point is that,
like most Christians, you seem to blithely rely on
vague "assurances" that Heaven will be
"pleasant", without contemplating how you will actually be spending your time
K: there is heaven and there is hell. If I end up
in heaven there’s a good chance that I’ll be more happy than if I ended up in
hell. Beyond that, the issue becomes quite tedious for me.
that heaven is tedious no matter how you think about it, and I claim that its
tediousness is inconsistent with your belief that it exists at all.
On the other hand, I would like for you to give
me a good reason why I should worry about what sort of activities will be in
Heaven or Hell.
I just did: if any imaginable activities in heaven
or hell seem implausible, that weighs heavily against the plausibility that
heaven or hell actually exist.
H: You either do or do not have an explanation
for why the marketplace of ideas (especially in academia) does not endorse what
you claim is an objectively compelling case. Labeling the issue as an "argument
from authority" does not excuse you from explaining this fact about the
K: Actually, correctly labeling your argument as a logical
fallacy completely and thoroughly excuses me from explaining your so-called
"fact". You can continue to ignore the simple truth that your claim is logically
fallacious if you wish, but that does nothing to change the fact that your
"argument" is not even a valid argument by any means.
your word, not mine. I never said academic non-consensus is an "argument". I
said it is a fact about the universe, that my worldview can explain and that
yours does not. Also, the academic marketplace of ideas is no single
"authority", but rather the self-correcting aggregation of all
the relevant authorities.
K: Of course, in order to answer your
already-refuted "argument", I could just list a whole bunch of "non-rational"
factors for disbelief, as you are prone to do.
Such factors can
easily explain individual cases of nonrationality, but a mere list cannot
explain an alleged systematic failure in the academic marketplace of ideas.
(Your attempt to handwave toward an explanation demonstrates your recognition of
your need to explain the academic non-consensus.)
K: In any case it is entirely unsubstantiated for
you to claim that Christianity is not endorsed as objectively compelling by the
"academia". There happen to be quite a few Christians in the upper level of
education, so your blatant characterization of Christianity as countering
intellectualism is entirely unfounded.
A clumsy misrepresentation
of my position. I didn't say that the academic consensus declares Christianity
false; I simply said that it fails to agree with you that Christianity is
So it looks like your "argument" is unsupported
by facts, is refuted by your own (faulty) methodologies, and is logically
fallacious. If I were you I would develop better
Academic non-consensus is an indisputable fact. My
methodology explains individuals, not the academic consensus. I never claimed it
was an "argument"; it's merely a fact that my worldview explains and that yours
does not. Please do not put quotation marks around words that aren't
K: I have recently addressed this, actually, and
my article dealing with nonbelief is now found HERE
The existence of your essay completely undermines your claim above
that you are excused from explaining academic non-consensus. Your essay
hinges on the obviously false assertion that
though the Argument from Nonbelief may be
evidence for the individual who feels that they have not been provided with an
opportunity to know God, it can never be considered evidence to another
You then list six possible factors that might explain
individual non-belief, but you make no attempt whatsoever to explain systematic
non-belief by the academic consensus on topics like creationism and the
historical evidence for the resurrection. Your essay goes on to
The ironic thing about the Argument from
Nonbelief is that the only way somebody can ever truly claim that they have
unfair reasonable nonbelief is if they have lived out their entire existence and
are now dead! Of course, dead men aren’t able to argue against the existence of
God, so no man alive is able to fairly claim that the existence of God should be
doubted because He would not allow reasonable nonbelief.
to thank you for this marvelous example of Christian doublethink. I'll be adding
it to my list of examples of how Christianity is in headlong intellectual
retreat, and increasingly resorts to such unfalsifiable arguments.
H: Do you have any reasons you could share as to
why it's not "important right now" to understand the conditions that will govern
well over 99.999999% of your conscious existence?
K: My reason is that
there is absolutely nothing I can do to affect the situation I receive in my
afterlife (beyond the simple distinction of being in heaven or
Again: trying to understand the afterlife may not affect the
nature of your alleged afterlife, but it could very easily affect whether you
find an afterlife plausible in the first place. Thus it's quite understandable
why you would want to avoid thinking about it.
H: 1. If you believe that the evidence for your
god(s) is compelling, how do you explain that it is not accepted by so many
otherwise reasonable people?
K: Firstly, there are quite a few
reasonable individuals who do accept the existence of God. Therefore, the
question could be turned around against atheists- "if you believe there is no
evidence for God, then why do so many otherwise reasonable people believe in
1. No, the question is asymmetric, because atheists don't
assert the existence of an omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent being who
desires that humans recognize the truth of atheism.
2. You blatantly
distorted the question. I asked about "compelling evidence for your
god(s)", you asked about "no evidence for God". I never claimed there is "no
evidence for God".
3. Even if you had properly asked about "compelling
evidence for the non-existence of god(s)", your point would fail because I do
not claim that the atheist case is as compelling as you claim the Christian case
4. The existence of theism in the absence of God is obviously far
easier to explain than the existence of atheism in the presence of God. Theism
stems from the human propensity to take any mysterious phenomenon as an
indication of supernatural intentionality. Primitive humans invented
supernatural explanations for:
- the daily cycle of the Sun; the motions of the Moon and planets;
- the seasons; rivers, currents, winds, thunder, lightning, precipitation
- the genesis, design, and diversity of life; success in farming and
- the human mind; evil, misfortune, disease, pestilence, war, and death.
5. As theists like to point out, theism provides hope of eternal
reward, hope of justice for the unjust, and a convenient moral compass for those
who can't figure out morality for themselves.
6. Despite theist
complaints about atheistic "pride", theism plays on human vanity, whereas
atheism has a much more humble view of human nature. For details, see my essay
on the subject.
7. Religion is a meme-complex that has many features
designed to ensure its own survival: mandates to procreate, mandates to
indoctrinate, strictures against competing ideas, etc. For an analysis of the
Bible as a self-replicator, see here
K: Of course, it is totally ridiculous for you to
claim that atheism is supported because of intelligent atheists, yet turn around
and claim that Christianity is not supported by intelligent Christians (since
the Christians are obviously brainwashed!). The double standard here is quite
You utterly fail to identify any such double standard.
Instead, what's fascinating is your blatant misrepresentation of my position. I
never said Christians are "obviously brainwashed". You fail to quote my
position, so allow me: "Many Christians (including ministers and
priests, and theologians
) convert to atheism even though while still
Christians they had been well-versed in Christian apologetics. By contrast, it
is very hard to find atheists who converted to Christianity even though while
still atheists they had been well-versed in the arguments against Christianity.
If the best atheistic arguments against Christianity are better than the best
Christian arguments against atheism, then such an asymmetry is precisely what
one would expect."
K: Almost all the factors you list could
potentially be used to ‘psychologize’ an atheistic individual.
kidding; that's why I said "most people (and even most atheists) don't have a
worldview chosen rationally and without undue influence by such non-rational
K: This is why your Freudian method of
psycho-evaluation is ultimately useless
(If you think anything
about my analysis is "Freudian", it just shows how much you know about
psychology.) The utility I claim for my analysis is plainly stated above.
You apparently cannot dispute it, or even bring yourself to correctly construe
H: Most people (and even most atheists) don't
have a worldview chosen rationally and without undue influence by such
K: Exactly correct, because there is absolutely no
way to suppose that a person could actually live his or her life without being
affected by one of the factors you list.
The question isn't about
being unaffected; it's about being "without undue influence".
K: Is there any way, you suppose, for a person to
live their life without suffering from some sort of loss
one, had led what could only be called a charmed life up to and well beyond my
conversion from Christianity to atheism.
K: Is it possible for a person not to be
influenced or given an "example" by a parent or peer in the entire course of
The question is "undue influence"; you again fail
to address my actual position.
H: That's why it's interesting to measure
worldview adoption rates among people professionally trained to rationally
evaluate worldviews -- namely, philosophers. I have yet to find any statistics
on this, but I would expect that a majority of professional philosophers are
atheists or agnostics.
K: And even if they were all atheists, I would
fail to be impressed with their finds, particularly if they use the same methods
you do. Psycho-evaluation does nothing to refute the evidence for the existence
A blatant strawman. I never said or implied that the
asymmetry of conversion is or ever was a significant reason for my atheism, let
alone the atheism of philosophers. My point remains unaddressed.
H: It's also interesting to consider atheists
having documented long-term experience with both sides' arguments who later
converted to Christianity purely because of comparing those arguments. Steve
Locks has an impressive list of professional Christian deconverts, but I cannot
find a verifiably well-versed atheist who's gone over to the other side.
K: This is all self-serving jargon, as your criteria for being a
"well-versed atheist" is ridiculous.
There is zero jargon in the above;
each term is used for its obvious common-sense meaning. Your use of name-calling
against my positions suggests that you cannot answer them.
K: For example, in your evaluation of ASA Jones’
conversion, you claim the following:
"Jones may have been familiar with anti-Christian
arguments, but she seems to have lacked the philosophical knowledge necessary to
anchor those arguments."
K: So, according to you, Jones wasn’t a
"well-versed atheist" because, despite knowing the atheistic arguments, she
lacked the knowledge to "know" that these arguments are obviously
A blatant misrepresentation. You dare not quote my detailed
evaluation of Jones' philosophical knowledge:
Jones' mistake is a common one
: as she
found out later, life's most important questions
are the domain not of science,
but of philosophy. [..] [Jones writes "Science had done nothing to answer
the questions that raged in my head."] These questions are all in the domain of
(philosophy of value), and can all be given reasonable answers
without reference to any god(s). [..] [Jones names only one atheist
philosopher, Sartre.] Sartre's philosophy, like most Continental
, indeed contains much nonsense. [..] "Life is meaningless"
is a vague statement. Life indeed
has no completely-objective purpose or meaning, but it simply does not follow
that all proposed
purposes or meanings
in life are of equal (or no) value. Jones'
philosophical investigations seem to have been misguided. [..] Philosophy is by
definition the "biggest picture", and there is little evidence here that Jones
saw its best canvases.
Instead of answering or even quoting the
above, you merely assert:
K: It should be quite apparent to the objective
onlooker that this is simply self-serving.
What is apparent is that
Jones gives no evidence of having had any acquaintance with even the basics of
humanist philosophy. All she says of her investigations is that she tried
several other atheist philosophers who tried to
assign meaning to a life created by chance and I decided that they were all full
of crap. If our life is the result of randomness and chance, it is meaningless,
no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
This is the
totality of Jones' self-report of her philosophical investigations. This clearly
justifies my conclusion that "she seems to have lacked the philosophical
knowledge necessary to anchor [anti-Christian] arguments".
K: I could just as easily claim that individuals
on Steve Locks’ list were not really "True Christians".
Christian on that list could in her conversion story cite only one (discredited)
Christian philosopher, and dismissed the whole of Christian moral philosophy
with a two-sentence assessment that it was "all full of crap", then you could
indeed say she had not been a well-versed Christian.
K: In any case, I don’t understand what you are
trying to prove with this "many Christians deconvert"
"Argument" is your word, not mine. If you want to
understand my point, you might consider reading my words: "It remains possible
that I might someday encounter superior Christian arguments (or consider the
usual ones so). One way to evaluate this possibility is to investigate whether
atheists having long-term experience with both sides' arguments ever later
convert to Christianity purely because of comparing those arguments."
K VERY few people are brought up atheist. So it
is entirely expected for there to be more Christian deconverts.
never claimed to have statistically significant samples, and indeed call the
evidence "anecdotal". My point isn't that there are "more" Christian
deconverts; it's that I can't find any
relevant atheist deconverts.
H: It seems that having substantial and
verifiable experience with the standard atheist arguments against Christianity
makes atheists immune from conversion, whereas being a professional Christian
does not confer the analogous immunity.
K: Hmmm…Perhaps this is because
"professional" atheists are not objective?
Why would "professional"
atheists be any more non-objective than professional Christians? Academia
is full of well-versed atheists. The ministry is full of well-versed Christians.
The latter sometimes convert, but the former seem not to.
K: Do you honestly think I am concerned over the
fact that very few or no "hardcore" atheists are converted as the result of
apologetics? Of course not,
"Hardcore" is your word, not
mine. My point is clearly stated: "If the best atheistic arguments against
Christianity are better than the best Christian arguments against atheism, then
such an asymmetry is precisely what one would expect. The best arguments of
atheism would then tend to inoculate their atheist hearers against Christianity,
whereas the best arguments of Christianity would be generally unable to
inoculate their Christian hearers against atheism." If this state of
affairs does not make you "concerned", that doesn't surprise me.
K: I would not expect them to
Feel free to share the reasons for your expectation -- assuming
your "not objective" query above isn't the only reason you have.
K: Besides, I have previously shown that your
"well-versed atheist turned Christian" criteria are useless and hopelessly
You "showed" no such thing.
H: I have no problem admitting that a reasonable
and rational person could (mistakenly) be a Christian, but I've yet to meet a
Christian who could admit the existence of such an atheist.
K: Well, here
is one. I will admit the possibility of a reasonable and rational atheist. More
on this later.
I hope so. Above you basically assumed that 1) every
living reasonable and rational atheist will be given sufficient evidence before
death, and 2) nobody has ever died a reasonable and rational atheist. This is a
delicious piece of unfalsifiable doublethink.
K: I am using factors such as bias and pride as
examples of what could POTENTIALLY have an adverse affect on reason. I, however,
admit that these factors are equally applicable to both
Actually, factor 13 (desire for hope in divine reward) is
not applicable at all to atheism.
K: You, on the other hand, seem to think that you
can undermine my theism because you can list a few such factors.
few"? If you can think of any other possible nonrational factor that could
influence a person into becoming Christian, I invite you to identify it.)
Your conclusion about what I think is unwarranted.
K: Not so, because your futile approach would
also "refute" atheism.
"Refute" is your word, not mine. I presume
you mean that this approach -- auditing the possible nonrational basis of belief
-- might apply to belief in atheism as well as theism. Of course it does.
However, that symmetry does not preclude the possibility that you might
reject a nonrational belief in theism and then acquire a rational belief in
K: I don’t think that I "explain away" your
atheism or undermine it in any way with these factors, but I am merely pointing
out that it is possible that certain factors are causing you to fail seeing the
I've not heard of any such nonrational factors --
including my list of 13, and your list of 6 -- that can plausibly be said to be
a significant cause of my conversion to atheism.
K: The existence of such factors undermine the
Argument from Nonbelief, which is peppered through your entire article as well
as your current response.
Such factors can easily explain
individual cases of nonrationality, but a mere list cannot explain an alleged
systematic failure in the academic marketplace of ideas to recognize the
objective truth of Christianity.
H: Why do so many people claim that the evidence
for some other god(s) is compelling?
K: Of course, bias plays a huge role
in this because religious believers naturally want to believe their own
H: So why should I believe that such bias does not explain
your own belief?
K: See above.
"above"? You talked about non-believers,
K: I am not denying that these factors
could play a role in my reasons for belief. I am merely pointing out potential
reasons why one’s thinking with regards to religion could be
You talked about why it could be skewed toward non-belief.
You said nothing new about why people who want to believe in a god don't believe
H: 3. Why doesn't it worry you that belief in
your god(s) correlates so highly with parental belief in your god(s)?
Who ever said it didn’t worry me? Of course, just because I think it is a
concern does not mean I should apostatize to atheism immediately. Unfortunately,
I can never know what it is like to be raised in a non-Christian family.
H: You can study other religions and get to know people raised outside
Christianity. The best antidote to Christianity -- aside from reading the Bible
-- is the comparative study of religion.
K: Currently I am studying
religions outside Christianity.
I still can't tell how significant
you find it that belief in your god(s) correlates so highly with parental belief
in your god(s). That's understandable; I've never heard of a Christian
apologist seriously addressing this issue.
H: (As you say on your site, "My number one
recommendation is not to read the Bible.")
K: Also, the quote you
mention was misinterpreted by you (which is my fault as it was written poorly).
I have now deleted that statement in the article. What I meant was that I did
not feel reading the Bible was the MOST important thing, or the "top
recommendation". In any case I totally support reading the Bible although I note
in my article that reading the Bible by itself is probably not going to change
your atheism (for good reason). I thus believe that apologetics is more
important, in general, than merely reading the Bible.
Ah, so you
admit that fallible arguments by fallible men are more convincing than the
divinely-inspired revelation -- and direct quotations -- of your god(s)?
Thank you for this admission of the incompetence of the revelatory efforts of
H: 4. What other thesis so important and
compelling (e.g. heliocentrism, evolution) defied general consensus for this
K: Once again, another vague attempt at an argument from authority
or argumentum ad populum. Consensus is not the important thing- the important
thing is the truth (which happens to be on the side of the Christians).
H: The lack of consensus for Christianity is a fact which my thesis
explains and yours apparently does not. Explaining facts is what truth is all
K: See above, where I demolish this argument three times
To review, your fail to give an answer to my "what other
thesis" question, and you offer no explanation of the non-consensus.. (Is this
non-effort of yours the sort of apologetics that you just said above is "more
important than merely reading the Bible"?)
H: My point is that there is something seriously
wrong with your claim that the evidence for Christianity is objectively
compelling, because you cannot name any other objectively compelling thesis that
defied consensus for so long, and you admit that your thesis will in fact never
be able to compel a consensus.
K: Perhaps you’re right, but of course no
other "objectively compelling" viewpoint (such as a round earth or a
heliocentric universe), directly relates to the innermost emotions of the human
being. Religion tends to be an emotional topic, so it is unfair to compare it
with other objectively compelling viewpoints which involve little or none of the
On the contrary, religion is by your thesis the most important
topic, and there exists an
omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent agency that wants
us to believe in it and that will watch
us suffer eternal torment if we don't. By contrast, no deities are out trying to
convince us of heliocentrism, and nevertheless effectively everybody does. Thus
I am indeed "right" that there is something seriously wrong with your claim that
the evidence for Christianity is objectively compelling.
K: In any case, I find it rather humorous that
atheism is (according to you) an "objectively compelling thesis", yet it has
totally and completely failed to establish consensus! Whoops. According to your
logic, atheism is refuted [..] So, I suppose you are going to have to admit that
your logic is faulty or you are going to have to give up on atheism
Bzzt. Sorry, but I've never said that atheism is an
objectively compelling thesis.
K: I think it is possible that a person is a
reasonably mistaken atheist, as I explain in the article HERE
. Yet, God’s
kindness is not compromised because he ensures that every person receives
sufficient knowledge of Him sometime during their life.
Do you seriously claim that nobody has ever died a reasonable atheist?
Does the fact that I'm a reasonable atheist mean that I'm guaranteed not to die
H: 1. Do you think there will ever be any
compelling new evidence for your god(s)?
K: Well, the evidence is
compelling enough already, but I do have a feeling that even more evidence will
become available. For example, an up-and-coming argument for the existence of
God based on quantum indeterminacy is being formulated and defended.
You're confusing evidence and arguments. Quantum indeterminacy is old evidence,
and no argument based on it could ever compel belief in the divinity of a Hebrew
carpenter from a remote Roman protectorate.
K: I never said I was trying
to prove the deity of Jesus Christ based on quantum
I asked about "your god(s)" -- Yahweh and Jesus.
Arguments for abstract atheism do not qualify as "compelling new evidence for
your god(s)". Again: is more evidence for Yahweh and Jesus likely, or
K: Rather, I think it is a good argument to
support the general existence of an omnipotent God. Your implied request that my
argument "prove" Jesus is also God is not fair.
If it's unfair,
it's only because you gave an invalid answer to my question. Feel free to
K: Yet I see that you apparently have no response
to the actual argument.
You presented no argument, and you yourself
admit that this hypothetical argument is off-topic as it's not about your
K: Probably He sees little reason to perform
"Little reason"? You seem to forget the
alleged omnibenevolence of your god(s), and the viciously unjust eternal torment
you claim is reserved for those who do not believe the evidence.
K: due to the consistent and constant rejection
of Him by the people of this Earth.
The "rejection" obviously
wouldn't be so "consistent and constant" if "the people of this Earth" were
granted the same front-row miracle seats as were a privileged few during a few
select periods in the ancient Near East. If the "rejection" is now so
"consistent and constant", then why not a new Flood? How "consistent and
constant" would this rejection have to be for a new murderous Flood to be
H: In addition, after the resurrection of Christ
there is most likely little need for widespread miracles.
resurrection was such an efficacious miracle, why wasn't it done earlier, and
why has its effectiveness drastically worn off just as mankind acquired a
scientific grasp of biology, cosmology, and history?
H: 3. Will there ever be scientific confirmation
of the efficacy of prayer to your god(s)?
K: Perhaps. I have heard of a
bunch of literature that claims praying can help the healing process.
Admittedly, I haven’t checked into it, but it is a possibility. However, nobody
ever said that God would answer prayers all the time. This seems to be a
misunderstanding on the part of Holtz.
H: Your god doesn't have to
answer prayers "all the time" for their efficacy to be confirmed. If prayers
make a difference, that difference is measurable. If prayers make no measurable
difference, then reason tells us that prayers don't work.
don’t work only when you define the purpose of prayer as "getting what you say
Again: your words, not mine. I merely stipulated that
prayers make a measurable difference. If prayer "perhaps" will some day
verifiably make a measurable difference, then why hasn't that evidence already
been provided by your god(s)? Why should I suffer eternal torment for
being denied such verification, whereas future skeptics might enjoy scientific
confirmation of the efficacy of prayer to Yahweh?
K: In any case, it is entirely unclear that God
answering all prayers would be a good thing.
prayers" is your strawman again, blatantly repeated even after you quote me
correcting it above.
H: 4. Will there ever be archaeological
corroboration of the miracles your holy text?
K: I don’t see why not. It
has happened before [Jericho], it could happen again.
H: Jericho is of course not a case of objectively
compelling scientific corroboration of any miracle. By this standard, you
apparently admit that mainstream archeology textbooks will never report such
K: Sorry, I misread the question. I didn’t see that you
requested a "miraculous" event to be confirmed. But see Glenn Miller’s article
for some interesting discussion on the parting of the Red Sea
asking for peer-reviewed archaeological corroboration. Let me know when you find
H: What if Ahura Mazda started answering every
Zoroastrian priest's prayers, and speaking telepathically to every human, and
re-arranging the stars and galaxies to spell out his name? If this wouldn't
convert you, then your belief is truly unfalsifiable.
K: Well I suppose
that if the aforementioned events took place, I would
H: What if there were found compelling
archaeological evidence that all the relevant revelation-based religions were
false or fraudulent?
K: I might, however, give up on Christianity if the
evidence against it were too strong.
H: 3. Is your belief in god(s) unfalsifiable?
H: And yet you have not described any possible
empirical evidence that could falsify your belief.
K: [..] empirical
evidence of something coming from nothing for no reason [..] Empirical evidence
that it is plausible or even possible for a cell to emerge from inanimate matter
would be nice. This is the sort of empirical evidence which would falsify belief
Interesting -- the sort of miracles that would make me
believe in god(s) are what you claim would falsify your belief in them!
Requiring miracles to falsify your belief in miracles means that your belief in
miracles is unfalsifiable.
H: Your article does not address a single one of
the twenty natural phenomena that used to be attributed to divine intervention,
nor do you dispute that "in the past, your god was used to explain the gaps
caused by the absence of a naturalistic understanding of physics, astronomy,
meteorology, agriculture, and physiology. Most of these gaps began closing after
K: Actually, your "science will eventually reveal a
naturalistic explanation" portion of the argument was deferred to an entirely
new article. At the time you were reading my God-of-the-gaps article, I did not
have it linked. I do, however, deal with the Argument from Scientific
words you quote here are not mine.) Your article makes a basic mistake about the
level at which the identified argument operates. It's not an argument that gods
don't exist; it's an argument that there will be increasingly fewer gaps in
science on which to hang claims that gods can explain the gaps. The trend
of course cannot prove that gods don't exist, but it indeed undermines
confidence in the argument that the current gaps in science are evidence of
H: I am quite confident that archeology will not
produce any finds confirming anything supernatural in the biblical account.
Indeed, it would be unfair for your god(s) to provide better evidence to future
people while condemning me to eternal torment for rejecting the current evidence
K: Please see my article HERE
for a general
discussion of the Argument from Nonbelief as well as a discussion of possible
reasons God may have for not providing a ridiculous amount of evidence for His
None of your hypotheses for why nonbelief may be
unreasonable apply to me -- see my
, and my article about pride
The existence of even one non-unreasonable non-believer demolishes your primary
response to the argument from nonbelief. Your claim that reasonable
nonbelievers might all be given evidence on their deathbeds is hilariously
Your point about "coercion" and "automatons" is
refuted by your own scriptures. There are
numerous persons that the Bible claims were granted direct first-person
eyewitness of Yahweh or his miracles, starting with Adam and continuing beyond
the Apostles. The Bible repeatedly admits that many of these eyewitnesses
nevertheless retained enough free will to reject or deny the Lord: Satan, Eve,
Pharaoh, the Israelites in the desert [Ex 32:8], the Pharisees [Mt 9:34,
12:13-14, Mk 3:5-6, Jn 9:16-34, esp. Jn 11:48, Lk 6:10-11, 14:4-6], the
villagers of Korazin, Bethsaid, and Capernaum [Lk
11:20], various Jews
[Jn 10:32, 12:37], disciples of Jesus [Jn 6:66] -- and of course Peter and Judas. Jesus is even
quoted admitting that people have witnessed his miracles and still rejected him:
Thus Christianity's own sacred texts incontestably refute the contention that
first-hand evidence of God must "coerce" belief.
H: Who disputes the evidence that Caesar was
assassinated? Who disputes the evidence that Rome defeated Carthage? Who
disputes the evidence that Jerusalem was sacked in the first century?
Yes, and who disputes the sphere shape of the Earth? Oh yes, the Flat Earth
Society! If this proves anything, it is that compelling evidence can always be
Thank you for putting yourself in the same category as
the Flat Earth Society. :-)
K: Also, I am quite sure that you are an opponent
of Young-Earth Creationism. Yet, all the supposed evidence you may advance would
probably not convince a YEC that evolution was true.
ignore the premise of my question, which was that "the origin of life has been
thoroughly explained by molecular biology". Thank you for allying yourself with
those who would deny evolution no matter how well we stipulate that is has been
K: So, I’m afraid that once again you must admit
that objectively compelling evidence (even as defined by you!) does not always
lead to acceptance.
I didn't ask about a hypothetical unreasonable
young-Earth creationist, I asked about you.
K: Actually, the supposed evidence for evolution
is anything but "widely accepted". A huge portion of the population does not
believe that evolution actually occurred. There goes your "it must be widely
accepted" criteria flying out the window.
Bzzt. I did not
claim that evolution is currently as "widely accepted" as I hypothesized it will
H: b. [T]he origin of life has been thoroughly
explained by molecular biology;
K: This is seriously doubtful,
especially considering the dismal state abiogenesis theories are currently in.
H: Despite your embrace of rationality, you seem here to be wishing that
humanity does not continue its inexorable progress in explaining biology. Then
again, since you are a creationist, you probably do not consider modern biology
to be progress.
K: I have no problem with biology, but I will take your
response as an obvious acknowledgement that Abiogenesis theories are currently
looking quite grim.
I don't debate creationism, because the secular
peer-reviewed literature is so univocal on this subject. I defy you to quote a
peer-reviewed secular biology reference text claiming that there is no prospect
for a non-supernatural explanation of the origin of life.
K: After all, you don’t even offer any reasons
for me to think that Abiogenesis is true, let alone possible.
question was hypothetical. Is your official response that you consider the
non-supernatural origin of life to be impossible? Would this be logical
impossibility, metaphysical impossibility, nomological impossibility, or
K: You would prefer to blindly hope that the
"future" of biology will uncover this mystery. Unlikely indeed, since history
has repeatedly only ruined theories of life from non-life, as I document HERE
you admit that intellectual history can provide (or undermine) confidence in
empirical arguments of a certain form, which contradicts the central thesis of
the article you cite. At any rate, my anticipation of progress in biology is no
"blind hope", but rather a clear-eyed evaluation of the facts.
your claim of "repeatedly", your article only cites one theory of life from
non-life that has been "ruined". The ruined theory of Spontaneous Generation
doesn't count against evolution, because it was formulated in ignorance of
genetics and metabolic biochemistry. (By contrast, ruined god-of-the-gaps
theories count against your current god-of-the-gaps theories, because a gap is a
gap is a gap.)
K: I simply fail to have such an optimistic
attitude towards the proposition that chemicals can mix together and, by
themselves, create a complicated cell capable of reproduction.
this is your understanding of the current theories of the origin of life, then
maybe I should make an exception and debate this with you! A better
summary is as follows:
The methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen sulfide on the early Earth would
have been readily combined by lightning, heat, or ultraviolet radiation into
organic molecules like amino acids, sugars, and nucleic acids. Clays or other
mineral surfaces may have served as catalysts or concentrators for
polymerization of these organic molecules. Nucleotide phosphates could have
spontaneously assembled into polynucleotides, which then would be templates for
further such assembly. Errors in copying could have led to a population of
various replicating polynucleotides. Some polynucleotides could have weakly but
selectively bonded with particular amino acids to construct various proteins.
Any polynucleotide whose associated protein helped catalyze that
polynucleotide's assembly would have preferentially reproduced. Mutually
catalyzing cycles of protein synthesis could have caused the evolution of
Cells may have arisen as proteinoid microspheres forming spontaneously and
helping maintain concentrations of proteins or enzymes which themselves made
microsphere formation more likely. Cell division and reproduction may have
developed from the tendency of some microspheres to rupture (perhaps after some
form of growth) into two or more spheres. Natural selection would favor those
resulting spheres that retained a complement of nucleic acids, proteins, and
enzymes sufficient to continue the sphere's cyclical catalysis, which would at
some point be considered the metabolism of a spherical cell.
H: The Teleological proof is undermined by
unrelenting progress in reducing the number of those initial parameters and by
anthropic arguments for why they should allow the development of life and
K: Yet, as long as the reality of a life-supporting
universe is relatively unlikely (as a result of blind chance), we have an
objective reason to believe in the existence of God.
ignored my point about anthropic arguments, which you apparently need to
K: You’re "science will one day solve the
mystery" approach is nothing but an excuse and a bit of a
The true cop-out is to say that the existence of even one
unanswered question in science means that there must be gods or ghosts or
faeries or elves or leprechauns. By contrast, I unflinchingly face the fact that
there are limits to what the human mind currently
and can possibly
H: The soul thesis is of course already
disproved; the question is merely the extent to which theists still try to find
room for god(s) in the shrinking gaps of neuroscience. You are wise to have
given up on this.
K: I haven’t looked into this issue closely enough, but
in any case I don’t find a good reason to respond to your blanket statement.
H: AI would further disprove the soul
K: I will admit that such an occurrence would undermine belief in
a soul severely.
H: Intelligent non-angelic beings with no
designated saviour would further undermine the Christian notion of original sin
and the need for salvation.
K: Not necessarily so, as it could be that it
is only the human race that is plagued by original sin and
I said non-angelic. Christian doctrine is undermined
whether they're sinless and deny your god(s), or are sinful and unsaved.
H: The Teleological Argument would by hypothesis
have dwindled to just a shadow of the Cosmological Argument, saying that god(s)
chose the universe's boundary conditions and then left it alone. The gaps in
science have closed to such an extent that wise Christians have abandoned all
reliance on those gaps.
K: I don’t "rely" on "gaps", and once again all
of your charges are handily refuted in my article HERE
article only addresses a strawman argument that god(s) are conceptually
incoherent or beyond the ability of science to evaluate. Reasonable
atheists accept that god(s) could be scientifically proven. There is only
one clause in your article that even begins to defend the idea of using god(s)
as explanations: "the origin of the universe seems to require the
characteristics of God". The bottom line is that there is a gap in
humanity's current cosmology and biology, and so you hypothesize a gap-shaped
god to fill it. Humans have been doing this for millennia, and you're no
K: There is nothing irrational about using God as
an explanation for a given phenomenon when all other explanations lack logical
force and coherency.
God(s) can indeed be the best explanation for
a logically possible set of evidence, but we are not faced with such a
K: Since when is it a requirement of Christianity
to have "non-trivial prophecy fulfillment"? This is not a doctrine of any sort.
If it is true that there are no such prophecies, I don’t really see it as such a
OK. Again, you're wise to write off Christianity's
traditional apologetic investment in alleged prophecy fulfillment.
K: These are three factors which may override
God’s wish for all to know Him:
"a.) Free will. God wishes to allow humans to
have free will. If humans didn’t have free will, then they would be nothing but
This argument is already demolished above.
K: b.) Love and respect. If God made people know
that He exists and He offers Salvation, they may accept that belief. However,
they would not necessarily love God.
It hardly makes your god(s)
more lovable and respectable to unfairly deny us the evidence that he provided
so freely to so many people in the past.
K: c.) Justice. If God made or overly coerced
individuals to believe in Him, then they may accept Salvation not out of love
and respect for God, but out of self-motivations.
Here you just
assume the false premise you labeled (b) above. On the contrary, it's clearly
unjust for your god(s) to have more vanity than compassion.
H: this implies that Hell would involve no
physical (i.e. bodily) torment.
K: That would be my
Just as I suspected, you are yet another Christian who
doesn't have the stomach to defend the traditional Christian doctrine of Hell.
H: It's odd that you're not sure about
Satan's role in Hell. Most other orthodox Christians seem to believe that the
perfect and inerrant revelation of Yahweh and Jesus has included such
K: The perfection of the scriptures is only compromised if for
some reason it is claimed that perfect scriptures must contain clear and
unambiguous reference to the activities of Satan in Hell.
claiming that they "must contain clear and unambiguous reference"; I'm claiming
that they DO contain vague and ambiguous reference. There is a moral obligation
on your god(s) to be clear about the stakes involved here. That obligation has
clearly not been met.
H: Heaven indeed sounds pointless, especially if
it's a narcotic stupor of the eternal present.
K: How do you know it will
be pointless, especially since you have not experienced it?
are myriad things that I haven't experienced that I can know would be pointless.
Narcotic stupor is one of them.
K: Satan, I imagine, will not inflict any sort of
suffering on you. Satan will get it the worst of all in Hell. But Hell will be a
place of evil human beings and severe intellectual and emotional
There are evil human beings here on Earth, but the rest of
us have well-understood means of dealing with them. If I end up in Hell I won't
regret my moral superiority to your god(s). Any regrets I have will be like the
regrets of those who stand up to mafia extortion and then pay the price for
H: if Hell consists of net torment for me, then
I'll enjoy constantly reminding your god(s) of the immorality of abandoning me
to eternal torment simply for rationally evaluating the available
K: In Hell (if you end up going there, which I am not sure
It sounds like you're a little squeamish about seeing someone
like me end up in a place like Hell. Listen to your conscience; it's telling you
that the myths of your parents need not veto your rationality.
K: you will probably realize that your atheism
WASN’T compelling, and that you ignored the clear calling of God.
didn't say atheism was "compelling"; I just said that Christianity wasn't.
I guess your putting words in my mouth like this is how you subconsciously try
to rationalize my unjust fate.
K: Yet, as you state here, you will continue to
reject God once you are in Hell, giving Him little choice but to leave you
separated from Him.
Thank you for here tacitly admitting that the
irrevocability of damnation is unjust. Another unconscionable doctrine of
Christianity lies abandoned in the dust...
H: Given that even most Christians can't stomach
defending the idea of eternal torment as a just punishment for the sin of
mistaken rationality, I seriously doubt that many of my loved ones would
consider it justified.
K: But you have an undefended premise that you are
in Hell because of "mistaken rationality".
thesis is quite well-defended.
K: Firstly, you don’t go to Hell for disbelief in
Jesus Christ, you go to Hell as the result of sin.
No, the humans
in your alleged Heaven are all alleged sinners too. The difference between them
and me is my rational doubt about a secretive danger-avoiding family-resenting
faith-healing slavery-tolerating unpublished schizophrenic bastard carpenter in
the rural outback of a peripheral province of a regional empire.
K: Secondly, there is no way for me to know that
your disbelief in God is truly "mistaken rationality".
tight, that's a pretty fragile reed for you to cling to.
K: Not that I wish to claim you are a liar, but
do you honestly expect me to disbelieve (therefore denying what I have come to
believe rationally) merely because you claim that your disbelief is for purely
"Merely"? Feel free to ask me about some
other strawman positions that I don't hold -- and don't forget to include
include more indications of faux exasperation like "honestly".
K: Thirdly, there is no way for YOU to know that
God is not going to, in the future, provide you the evidence required to come to
rational belief in Him.
Hee hee! Thanks for reminding me of your
universal-deathbed-revelation thesis, I needed a good laugh.
K: God, like me, realizes that worrying about
what sort of activities we perform in Heaven is ultimately insignificant
compared to the issue of how we live our life on Earth.
irrational to claim that the nature what constitutes asymptotically your ENTIRE
conscious existence is "ultimately insignificant".
H: If there is room for intellectual creativity
in Heaven, why would anyone pursue it? God has all the answers anyway, and
intellectual advances over time are meaningless in the narcotic stupor of the
K: I doubt that we will instantly become "omniscient"
while in Heaven, so there will always be more knowledge to
I said nothing about "instant omniscience". I asked about
pursuing intellectual creativity.
K: But I don’t understand why any of this
matters. In Heaven there is peace and joy. What more does one really need to
know about it?
Nothing, if one is in the habit of unquestioningly
accepting fairy tales. But "happily ever after" isn't quite detailed
enough of a sales pitch for some of us shoppers.
H: So are boring and annoying and stupid people
transmogrified in heaven to not be so, or is everyone else just brainwashed into
not caring about such traits in others?
K: Not brainwashed at all, but
[..] extremely close presence of God [..] will all be accepting of others [..].
If that is brainwashing, then I am fine with it.
into not caring. OK.
K: that those individuals who accept Salvation
(Christians) will find themselves in Heaven in such close proximity to that
which they admire (God) that they will have no motivation for sin, hatred, or
evil in any shape or form. No brainwashing involved there.
Jesus makes everyone's personality flaws just disappear -- whether by snapping
his fingers or by wiggling his nose or by bringing us into his "close proximity"
-- why are some of these techniques brainwashing and others not?
H: So after a lifelong exclusive partnership and
raising a family together, one's heavenly relationship with a spouse is no
different than that with any other person? This of course implies such severe
mental surgery on one's personality and identity so as to question whether
heaven is happening to the same person one was on Earth.
K: No, because
you will be the same person yet with much more intimate knowledge of everyone
else’s being as well as an unparalleled closeness with God that will result in
endless affection for all other humans.
So the millions of
Christians who fantasize about reunion with loved ones in Heaven have all
managed to misinterpret your god's perfect and benevolent revelation in
precisely the same way?
K: Since when has increased knowledge (in this
case knowledge of other persons) involved the "mental surgery [of] one’s
Normal and gradual increases in knowledge are
different in kind from instantaneous and all-pervasive modifications of all of
one's interpersonal knowledge and tendencies.
K: I would imagine that the soul will develop in
heaven as the result of experiences that take place there. So, their souls will
have pretty much a "blank slate" for the most part, so it is up to the
individual to decide what kind of person they want to be.
is possible, then why do your gods ever incarnate humans on Earth and thus
abandon so many of them to damnation? Why ever create Earth, when your
gods could just populate Heaven directly?
K: jokes are infinite because they relate to the
surroundings and situations humans find themselves in. Since these situations
and surroundings are infinite, there is the potential for an infinite amount of
There are only finitely many jokes that can be written in
ten thousand words of English or less. Are you claiming that people in Heaven
will be telling each other million-word jokes?
H: So it's possible that some people in heaven
could reach the limit of their understanding, and face an eternity of never
being able to master e.g. quantum physics?
K: Perhaps it is impossible to
attain 100% math knowledge in heaven. Either way, I think this issue is of
Just as I thought: the narcotic stupor of the
eternal present makes nobody care about understanding anything.
K: My guess is that there will always be new
stuff to learn.
So people in Heaven will be able to learn
arbitrarily many things?
H: 12. Will others in heaven know (or be able to
learn) embarrassing things about your life? [..] This is yet another point
on which heaven involves either brainwashing or selective amnesia.
K: What then do you mean by being "embarrassed"?
If you mean feeling ashamed, I don’t see why the presence of God as well as
intimate knowledge of other human beings couldn’t lead to lack of embarrassment,
without directly affecting free will in any way.
I didn't mention
"free will". I said "brainwashing or selective amnesia".
H: Will the worst moments in heaven be better
than the best moments -- the most enlightening, accomplishing, or orgasmic -- on
K: Actually, my guess would be no.
Hmm, sounds like I
might have more fun in my watered-down Hell than you'll have in your
K: God’s presence will wipe away our shame, which
is not brainwashing, especially considering that it was a choice on the human’s
part to accept Salvation and spend eternity by God’s side.
brainwashing not brainwashing just because it's voluntary?
K: (Actually, I find your sarcastic comment
rather ironic, as it appears to me that it is YOU that is requesting that God
"wipe[s] away your drool". Consider before when you expressed discontent at God
for not providing an irrefutable prophecy. It seems that YOU are the one that
wants to receive special treatment.)
I just want to be fairly
treated like a rational adult, with the freedom and responsibility to control
and improve my thoughts and actions. I don't consider this "special treatment",
and I never asked for my drool to be wiped. I merely asked if that was a part of
Heaven's shame-wiping package, as opposed to a standalone service.
H: Are you getting the point here that, for
beings whose personality structure is shaped by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics,
an eternity of anything will seem pretty pointless?
K: I doubt that an
eternity of happiness would be "pointless". If you are happy, then you are
content. It is impossible to grow tired of being content because then you would
no longer be content.
You're merely defining Heaven as
non-pointless here.Your attempt to do so is contradicted by the well-known
psychological fact that human happiness has more to do with the first derivative
of one's situation than with the absolute value of one's situation.
K: I imagine each day in Heaven is enjoyable, but
some days are probably better than others.
How could any day in
Heaven be as good as the first one? How could any day after the trillionth
be anything but excruciatingly dull? (You're better off reverting to your
earlier claim that there is no sense of time in Heaven. Timeless stupor is
better than eternal boredom.) (By the way, why did your god(s) fail to clarify
whether Heaven is timeless or not?)
K: Once again I must ask why any of this
If you think this discussion is pointless, just wait until
you get to Heaven. After your first billion years or so you'll be desperate for
diversions as marginally interesting as this.
H: With God there to settle disputes, could
people ever disagree over any question of philosophy or history or (former
earthly) politics?. Will there be any possible way to create new knowledge or
H: Given the omniscience of your god(s), why
would anyone try to discover anything instead of just asking for the
K: Perhaps because, as you seem to imply in your article,
obtaining knowledge by oneself is satisfying.
What kind of learning
satisfaction do you seriously think you'll be having in your trillionth year in
Heaven? And do you realize that a trillion years is nothing when compared to
JUSTNESS OF HELL
K: I will realize that your punishment is just
and fair, and that God did all He could to rescue you from it.
he could"? Thomas got to examine a reincarnated man's wounds, but all I get are
error-prone manuscripts of decades-old hearsay about a Torah-thumping Hebrew
carpenter who can reasonably be inferred to have been a delusional
K: Sounds like good evidence to me.
don't even dispute that your god(s) clearly could have given me better
K: In no way would I be joyous of your
Why? True justice is to be reveled in, but your basic
human decency won't let you endorse the barbaric cruelty of your parents'
K: I would also probably realize that you still
I never said I "hated" your god(s); another subconscious
rationalization on your part? I scorn the barbaric cruelty of your
religion's mythical deities, but don't delude yourself into thinking that I have
some personal grudge or animosity against them.
K: so it would be impossible for God to bring you
Thank you for again tacitly admitting that the
traditional irrevocability of damnation is unjust.
K: Believe me when I say that I don’t like the
doctrine of Hell. In fact, I often wish Christianity wasn’t true just so that
some individuals don’t end up in Hell.
I suspect that your basic
human decency will eventually lead you to deconvert from Christianity.
Until then, I don't envy you your cognitive dissonance here.
WHAT IF GOD
K: I said that objective morality is impossible
unless God exists. See HERE
says] Whatever God decides is right or wrong is the way it
Sorry, that's subjective, not objective. Nothing in your
article resolves the Euthyphro Dilemma.
K: I would still have within me a moral code
given to me by God.
If his moral code is objective, you could
re-derive it. If it's subjective, you could re-create it on your whim instead of
K: Of course it is possible to act morally
without the sanctions of Heaven and Hell imposed.
K: A lot of pointless questions, and quite a few
emotionally-charged implied arguments, as well as a fair amount of (implied)
You've not successfully diagnosed a single
logical fallacy on my part.
K: You, however, seem to have deep emotional
problems with the concept of Heaven and (especially)
Oh? Which of us here said that he "often wishes" his
worldview "wasn't true just so that some individuals don't end up in Hell"? We
evidently share a basic human decency that leads to feelings of revulsion at
such monumental injustice, but I wouldn't call such decency an "emotional
problem" -- for me at least.
K: You have a deeply mistaken view about Hell,
and why some people end up there
Your rejection of traditional
Christian doctrine does not constitute a "mistake" on my part.
K: But not believing in God because you don’t
think Hell is fair is like closing your eyes on the highway with a semi-truck
coming your way.
I never said I disbelieve in entity X because
entity X is unfair. Rather, I disbelieve in the Christianity's positing of
a benevolent deity, because the deity described in Christian scripture is
obviously not benevolent. In fact, I've said
it's far more likely that Yahweh exists and is malevolent than that Yahweh
exists and is benevolent.
H: I disavow any "implied" argument from
authority, and merely note that you don't have an explanation for why your
"compelling evidence" for Christianity is in practice so uncompelling.
your argument is STILL an argument from authority, no matter how much you wish
Nowhere in my "Questions for Theists" do I claim that
these questions constitute an argument that Christian theism is false. You may
wish I did so claim, but I challenge you to quote such a claim.
are not argument from authority, except insofar as I
cite over 100 biblical verses as an authority against Christian doctrine.
However, I will say that the validity of the a worldview ultimately depends on
its ability to consistently explain the available evidence, and my Questions for
Theists concern facts about the world -- including non-belief by the marketplace
of ideas -- that my worldview can explain and Christianity cannot. You can
wish away these facts about the world all you want, but they will
K: Simply "disavowing" a fallacy makes it appear
that you aren't really interested in solid argumentation, but rather interested
in supporting your case by using emotional and fallacious
My arguments against Christianity stand unrefuted, and
my related challenge
to Christian apologists stands unaccepted. I'll put my record
of fair and
responsive argumentation up against that of any Christian apologists on the
planet. You've not successfully diagnosed any fallacy in my arguments, and if
defending your worldview causes emotional conflicts for you, that is a matter
for you and your conscience.