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The Almighty Buck Idle Science

Creationist Bets $10k In Proposed Literal Interpretation of Genesis Debate 1121

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-would-darwin-do? dept.
HungWeiLo writes "A California man who believes the literal interpretation of the Bible is real is offering $10,000 to anyone who can successfully debunk claims made in the book of Genesis in front of a judge. Joseph Mastropaolo, the man behind this challenge, is to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account. His debate opponent would be asked to do the same. They would then jointly agree on a judge based on a list of possible candidates. Mastropaolo said that any evidence presented in the trial must be 'scientific, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.' For his part, Mastropaolo has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and writes for the Creation Hall of Fame website, which is helping to organize the minitrial. It's also not the first such trial he's tried to arrange. A previous effort, known as the 'Life Science Prize,' proposed a similar scenario. Mastropaolo includes a list of possible circuit court judges to oversee the trial and a list of those he challenged to take part on the evolutionary side of the debate."
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Creationist Bets $10k In Proposed Literal Interpretation of Genesis Debate

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  • Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:24AM (#43299661) Homepage

    Chapter 1 - Male and Female are created simultaneously.

    Chapter 2 - Adam and Eve are created in that order.

    One of the two accounts must be false - they are mutually exclusive factual statements.

    Genesis is a collection of myths with no more truth to them then the parables.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:31AM (#43299707) Journal

    If that were the only discrepancy then that could easily be tied in a detail of the creation of man. how about the complete order of how things were invented in the two creation myths? one man was created on the last working day, while the other man was created first and he was seen to be bored so all the things were created in the world for him.

  • Re:6 days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:33AM (#43299721) Journal

    Yea the first day the earth was already there and light was created, of course it was a few days later when the sun was created so where did that light come from?

  • Ah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:35AM (#43299743)
    If nobody shows up for this nonsense and bets $ 10,000, it's proof that this religious believe system is true...
  • by Vornzog (409419) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:36AM (#43299747)

    The universe came into being 6 seconds ago, in exactly the state we see now, with all of our memories intact.

    Prove me wrong.

    Hint - it can't be done. You can always reintroduce the possibility of some omnipotent force. By carefully framing the question, proving it wrong becomes impossible. Instead, you have to unask the question. Western philosophy spent then entire last century trying to unask the premises Descartes set forth for exactly that reason.

    This isn't a scientific question, it isn't in a scientific arena, and any scientist thinking they can 'win' the debate/bet is on shaky ground. Not because the science is bad, but because it isn't about science at all...

  • Re:Three letters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:53AM (#43299813)

    I'm assuming you mean Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation [wikipedia.org]?

    I fail to see how that's any kind of proof against an ominipotent deity that can create an entire planet (and even a universe) out of nothing. Surely cooking up some uniform CMB wouldn't be difficult for such a deity.

    CMB may be consistent with the Big Bang theory, but it's also consistent with a deity that wants to fill his universe with CMB for whatever reason.

    That's the problem with trying to prove anything against an omnipotent deity - omnipotent means he can do *anything* including faking fossil records, making people suffer for no apparent reason (even young children), and filling the universe with CMB.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:00AM (#43299837)
    10,000$ could be much better off helping the poor. People starve to death with what $0.33 of food would nourish them. So 365days/year *.33food/day so approximately 100$ would keep someone from starving to death for a year. He could have saved 10 kid's lives for 10 years if he spent his money there. When talking of giving, Jesus doesn't want you to grandstand and boast about it though, and maybe that is all this guy wants to do.

    The modern Christian's life involves working at a moral job, living frugally and giving one's excess to the poor. Jesus says we'll always have poor, but he didn't say they'll always be starving to death. Outside of horribly corrupt regimes, world hunger could be something that this generation could solve if enough of us helped out some.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:02AM (#43299851)

    Why the HELL does not a single of you morons here get, that the whole thing is a trap with the WRONG BURDEN OF PROOF!

    We don't have to prove ANYTHING to that moron! He hasn't shown any observations supporting his claims yet, so they never were valid IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    No these IS NOTHING to unprove/unask. And there is no need either.

    The only problem is, that that complete moron's opponents are EXACTLY as much complete morons. They just happen to *believe* in the correct choice. Doesn't make them any less retarded. Typical US public "discussion" framing: There are only two sides, and they both are not only not right, but not even wrong!

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:10AM (#43299887)
    If you think those are the same account of events, then you're failing at both reading comprehension and history.

    As others have already elaborated, it's well established that the two accounts are from two different traditions. But even your own links describe a clearly different order of events, even ignoring whether Adam and Eve were created at the same time.

    Version 1

    25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

    26 Then God said, âoeLet us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.â

    Version 2

    18 The Lord God said, âoeIt is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.â

    19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

    In the first version it was animals first and then mankind, in the second version it was man first, then animals. (And then woman.)

    If you want you can accept them as two stories from two different traditions, one of which is literally true and one of which is metaphor, or you can accept them both as metaphor. But they can't both be literally true.

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:10AM (#43299891) Homepage

    There's a church near where I work that has a sign in the window: "Come in and learn the latest scientific evidence for Biblical truth!"

    I always smile when I see it, because they don't seem to realize they've already surrendered the epistemological war -- by admitting that weighing scientific evidence is the proper way to ascertain the truth (or falsity) of a claim.

    Sure, they can fight a rear-guard action for a while by looking for scraps of evidence that appear to support Scripture (or whatever their take on Scripture is), but unless God starts making public appearances is an independently verifiable, repeatable manner, then the church has already laid the groundwork for their own logical impeachment.

    The whole bedrock of religion is faith -- to believe that some things are true regardless of whether there is evidence for them or not. Once you've tacitly admitted that evidence is required, then faith is superfluous, and the church becomes just a group of extremely amateur scientists whose theories can't hold up under examination.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:19AM (#43299931)

    I wouldn't mind $10,000, but the whole exercise sounds tiring, and you know that the guy is going to try to wiggle out of paying, let alone losing, anyway.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin (412918) * on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:29AM (#43299963)

    True, but that's the most glaring [discrepancy].

    It's only a discrepancy if one fails to recognise that we are dealing with two separate myths. The fact that they are 2 separate stories will be obvious to any naive (in the sense that they have not since childhood been exposed to harmonising accounts) and objective reader. Even the deities are obviously different, and not merely by name.

    The second account is clearly the easier target from a scientific PoV. The most glaring internal (to that myth) problem comes in the 2nd 'verse' of this account, Gen 2:5, where we are told that plant life did not exist for two reasons. 1. YHVH-Elohim (a[n editorial?] joining of names that is soon abandoned) had not yet caused it to rain AND there was no man to tend the ground. So what we need to do to "disprove" this account is to show plant life growing independently of human cultivation. Not a big ask. More interesting is the question of what kind of culture could have given rise to a myth that makes such a presumption, which might seem absurd to forest based peoples for instance (HINT: Mesopotamian irrigation cultures).

    But to treat the 2nd account as Science, as a literal account of physical origins, is of course knuckle-headed. Worse still, it is simply to miss the beauty of the text, and its actual insight (which should be apparent to believers and non-believers alike, though both for different reason like to miss it) into the human condition. And (and this is why I find this difficult text so interesting), it's complex role as a witness to the origin of ancient near eastern civilisation.

    As you put it ... "nutjob."

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:32AM (#43299971) Homepage

    I was born in a Baptist family, a family which believes every word in the Bible is literally true and cannot begin to fathom the very possibility that any of it was false.

    And of course your family is 100% representative of not just Baptists in general, but the entire spectrum of Protestantism, from Anglicans (basically Catholics minus the Pope and the homophobia) to Calvinists to Quakers to Pentecostalists to...well, pick up a phone book and look under "Churches".

  • Re:Easy... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:35AM (#43299999)

    I don't agree with the arguments for a literal interpretation of Genesis (few outside the US do), but I do believe in Biblical inerrancy

    In other words, you have convinced yourself the logically impossible is possible. Congrats! Now you can do anything!

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:06AM (#43300175)

    Well, it is generally accepted that we are all matrilinearly decended from the same woman, Mitochondrial Eve, I think this pretty much scientifically disproves there being two women at creation, unless one mothered no daughters.

    No, it doesn't. Per Genesis, we're all matrilineally descended from Noah's wife.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:12AM (#43300199)

    There's nothing bigoted about it. He's merely pointing out that both faiths are wrong.

    On the other hand, Catholicism and Baptist churches are hate groups that discriminate against gays, women, non-believers, and--until relatively recently--people of other races. If they didn't get brushed off as "faiths" any sensible person would brand most religions as hate groups.

    Face it: ever since it was adopted by the Romans, Christianity has been by nature socially conservative and therefore on the losing side of social issues. Christianity is now nothing but a force of bigotry and evil in the world.

    Fuck Christianity. The only thing it has going for it is that it's not quite as evil as Islam.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ldobehardcore (1738858) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (siobud.nevets)> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:13AM (#43300201)

    we are all matrilinearly decended from the same woman

    WRONG!

    We are matrilinearly descended from many women, all of whom shared very similar/identical mitochondrial DNA. Their ancestors most likely had distinct mitochondrial DNA from mitochondrial eve as well. It absolutely wasn't one woman. Your mtDNA is not nearly as variable as chromosomal DNA. One reason is because it's smaller (fewer basepairs) than chromosomal DNA, another reason is that it is transmitted without recombination, only from your mother, which means that it doesn't change as quickly as chromosomal DNA. There are many strains of mtDNA, but many people have identical/nearly identical mtDNA.

  • by letherial (1302031) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:20AM (#43300237)

    fibs are often hard to string together...thats how you know they are fibs.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:23AM (#43300251)
    That only works if you ignore the literary style of the whole rest of the chapter. The past tense isn't specifically used in 2:18, it's used through tout the whole chapter. "Now the lord god had" is used repeatedly, and the two interpretations are "It's a literary way of saying 'now god is doing this'," or "the ordering of this story is a confused mess."

    In 2:18 God says he's going to make a helper for man. Then in 2:19 it talks about making the animals. Then in 2:20 it says that no suitable helper was found among the animals.

    Is your argument that God was talking about creating woman in 2:18 but got totally sidetracked in 2:19 and decided to try the animals first instead of creating something new like he had _just_ said he was going to do in the previous sentence?
  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Myopic (18616) * on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:40AM (#43300309)

    Not so fast, smartypants. It's not hard to refute any scientific evidence or argument when you can simply fall back on "nuh uh, because magic".

    God is magic. Magic does not falter in the face of reason or evidence. Therefore anything can be refuted with "nuh uh, God." You think just because the Bible contradicts itself (over and over and over) means that the Bible can't be literally true? "Nuh uh, because magic." See how easy that was?

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pranadevil2k (687232) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:43AM (#43300323)

    Isn't that a 'god of the gaps' fallacy? And doesn't that sort of make the idea of proving the book of Genesis false impossible? Nevermind that proving a negative, as a general rule, is impossible....

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:50AM (#43300349) Journal

    No one is going to be seeing that money, mark my words. It's a carnival game designed to prevent you from winning. It's not even fundamentally possible for the correct side, the science side, to win because the question is turned upside down. The creationists absolutely know this, which is why it's a very cleverly designed publicity stunt for their cause. No matter the outcome they'll get to trumpet to their followers that they stumped the scientists, while the scientists' explanations will be too subtle and erudite to make sense to the uneducated or those too eager to believe the Bible is literal truth.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:57AM (#43300377)
    Bigotry is thinking less of someone for their beliefs (or being). Thinking their beliefs are stupid while not thinking any less of the person who believes them is not bigotry.
  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:00AM (#43300395) Homepage
    Believing in reality is not necessary for reality at all. One of the most important aspects of reality is, that it is real. No faith needed. A wall is just there, and even if you stop believing in the wall, you will still hit your head if you try to run through it.
  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:05AM (#43300415) Journal

    Had he expressed hatred or prejudice based on their religion, like the AC above did with Islam...

    Fuck Christianity. The only thing it has going for it is that it's not quite as evil as Islam.

    ...that would be bigotry.
    You know... picking A religion as being "more evil" based on current political situation, when every single flavor of Abrahamic religion has uncountable crimes to answer for, and those others aren't much different either.

    Pointing out that all brands of Christianity are the same fairytale (only told a bit differently) is just telling the truth.
    Just like pointing out that all religions are evil as they teach the people to build their view of reality based on a delusion - basically, inducing billions with cognitive dissonance bordering on insanity.
    Meanwhile, staying politically correct and letting them carry on with their delusion without at least pointing out the most glaring flaws in it - that would be hypocrisy.
    Also, infliction of harm through inaction.

  • Re:Three letters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePeices (635180) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:19AM (#43300481)

    That's the problem with trying to prove anything against an omnipotent deity - omnipotent means he can do *anything* including faking fossil records, making people suffer for no apparent reason (even young children), and filling the universe with CMB.

    Sure, youre right, but do you know what it also tells us?

    That this God fellow is one hell of an evil lying monster.

    Faking fossil and geological and cosmic records, evolution and tons of independent, consistent physical evidence, all for the purpose of tricking us into not believing in Him, when the punishment for not believing is an infinite number of years of abject torture in some hell that will exist for a literal eternity?

    A monster of the highest order.

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:21AM (#43300489) Journal

    Abel is never identified as having a mate before being killed by Cain. Cain expressly has his own wife, though its not entirely clear where she came from, and following the chronology implied by the order of verses in Gen 4, by the time Seth is born, Cain has five generations of descendants.

    The second most likely explanation is that Cain's wife was from the "Other People", the Humans "created" on the 6th day of the Genesis 1 creation myth. This would have been before Yahweh decided to try the Eden experiment and make his own line of pet Humans at the end of the second creation myth.

    Of course, the first most likely explanation is that it is all USDA Grade A bullshit that never happened, and was just an attempt by primitive people to explain the world around them.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:40AM (#43300563) Journal

    This is why I have to LMAO at those that take the bible literally and only read English...hello, bad translations abound! The ancient languages had many words that had different meanings based on context, or similar but different meaning based on phrasing, they were rich, deep, and complex as hell and frankly modern English...isn't. Its like trying to carve the Venus de Milo by shooting a block of granite with high explosive rounds. Sure you might end up with kinda sorta a similar shape but all the little nuances? Not a chance in hell.

    At the end of the day though it truly saddens me that here we are in the 21st century and we still have hatred, bigotry, even murders, based on what some goat herders wrote on a sheep's ass a couple of thousand years ago to explain a world he didn't understand. i mean I can produce works just as old saying the sun is Ra in a chariot but we don't actually believe that, nor do we kill anybody who doesn't believe that, yet there are people getting slaughtered every. single. day. over the stupid shit written hundreds or even thousands of years ago by fricking goat herders. personally I think we'd all be better off if we threw every last book on the fire, just wiped it all from the face of history, because its obvious as long as it exists there are gonna be fruitcakes taking that shit seriously enough to kill.

  • Oink! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:55AM (#43300641) Homepage Journal
    The reason no one takes this idiot up, is because the odds are in the houses favor, and he knows it.

    Never wrestle with a pig. You will end up covered in mud and the pig will enjoy it.
  • Science? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:06AM (#43300685) Homepage

    If he claims creationism to be a science, then it's HIS job to disprove creationism. Not mine.
    He's the one that should be looking for contradicting evidence.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:15AM (#43300933) Homepage

    The reason no one takes this idiot up, is because the odds are in the houses favor, and he knows it.

    The whole "prove something isn't true" thing...it doesn't work that way.

    He can't prove the non-existence of any other mythological deities, the non-existence of the invisible pink unicorn in my garage, or even disprove my chocolate teapot in the heart of the sun theory.

    Are supposed to believe everything that can't be disproven?

  • Just $10,000? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:15AM (#43300937)
    Why not $100 billion? After all, this challenge is merely asking a person to prove a negative. Since that is a logically impossibility, the money cannot be won.

    An applicant might methodically go through the copious evidence demonstrating the geological age of the earth is billions of years old. Or expound on the multiple plausible ways that abiogenisis (life) may have occured. Or how evolution is both a fact and theory supported by multiple strands of evidence. Or that there is no evidence supporting the biblical creation story. Or that there are many similar creation myths of which the Bible is just one.

    And after this exhaustive presentation they still would not have proven biblical creation did not happen. They might have demonstrated beyond all doubt to a reasonable person that it was extremely implausible and unlikely, but they haven't proven it didn't happen. And if this "judge" is biased or following exact letter of the challenge, then the money will not be won.

    Carl Sagan's "The Dragon In My Garage [godlessgeeks.com]" essay demonstrates this point with a deliberately absurd example just to hilight the point. And contrast this challenge James Randi's $1 million challenge where applicants are not required to employ tortured logic - they perform a paranormal feat in a self evident way under agreed controlled conditions and they win.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:22AM (#43300961) Homepage

    The fact is that the Bible is chock full of metaphor and parable, and understanding what is literal and what is not requires education.

    God filled his book with logic traps to trick the people who want to believe in him?

    Only a Christian could come up with logic like that to justify all the mistakes and impossibilities in the Bible.

    It makes sense - "literal truth! Praise Jehovah!"

    It doesn't make sense - "Oh, that's a parable/metaphor. You need to be specially educated to understand that part."

  • Re:First clue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by David Wilcox (2859869) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:28AM (#43300979)
    Institutions providing a PhD in kinesiology (but not applied kinesiology) include Penn State, Michigan State University, University of Maryland, University of Southern California and the University of Minnesota, and those are just the first ones I saw with a simple Google search. In the case of Joseph Mastropaolo, his PhD is in the legitimate field of kinesiology, not the quackery of applied kinesiology. Here's the bio [josephmastropaolo.com] from his website. And in no way should my comments be construed as endorsement of this nutjob.
  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:24AM (#43301145) Homepage

    Don't worry, the major religions of today wont last forever. No one kills in the name of Zeus any more. Give it time.

  • by julesh (229690) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:55AM (#43301507)

    Good and evil are religious concepts

    [citation needed]

    Good and evil are concepts from the philosophy of ethics. Religions have a history that is deeply intertwined with that of ethics, as they typically attempt to prescribe an ethical code for their adherents, but ethics as a field does exist independently from religion.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smpoole7 (1467717) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @08:06AM (#43301573) Homepage

    > The ancient languages had many words that had different meanings ...

    So does English. "I bear" can mean that I'm a large furry animal with bad grammar, or that I carry something. (And try explaining the Greek aorist tense to someone whose language doesn't even include the concept.) :)

    The entire thread has been fascinating as a window into how people think, though. I wish life was as cut and dried and black and white as some here seem to think.

    Look: people can (and will) believe whatever they want. The best you can hope for is that they TRY to be as objective as possible: to acknowledge the bad AND the good. The only complaint I have about your polemic is that it totally ignores the latter. One example of millions (which I've used here before): the late Danny Thomas' devout Catholic faith created the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

    Some people are good. Some are bad. Some commit atrocities, whether in the name of God or secular humanism or atheistic communism. The fact is that Stalin and Pol Pot, both avowed atheists, managed between them to kill more people than Christians have managed to do since a guy named Jesus founded the thing 2,000 years ago. And in far less time.

    It amuses me that today's atheists are quick to distance themselves from these two guys, but they won't allow me (a Christian) to put distance between myself and, say, a guy like Fred Phelps with the Westboro Baptist Church. "Ah, you're all just whackjobs, what's the difference?" :)

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @08:09AM (#43301601) Homepage

    Fuck Christianity. The only thing it has going for it is that it's not quite as evil as Islam.

    So that whole thing about "do unto others as you would have them do to you" is, according to you, complete bullshit and not worth considering?

    Your point is so much irrelevant that I don't even know why I spend time answering it. Do you mean to say that "do unto others as you would have them do to you" is patented by Christians and nobody else should ever use it?

    Religions are a mix between a set of faith and a set of values. When we say it's complete bullshit we mean it as a whole, not that every idea ever produced by a Christian is bullshit.

    Grow up. Realize these are just fairy tales. You're probably big enough to decide for yourself what's good and bad. No need for a 2000 years old book for that.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @08:50AM (#43301867) Homepage

    Yes. However, the other guy does bring up a good point. There are such things as biblical scholars and they generally don't take the bible literally. This includes both Jews and Xians. Pretty much anyone with half a brain has gotten past the whole "word for word" idea a long time ago.

    Given the nature of the work, it's kind of necessary really. You either adjust or sound like some toddler from the bronze age.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @09:25AM (#43302143)

    You're probably big enough to decide for yourself what's good and bad.

    Sure, but I don't have the hubris to think that my uninformed whims and impulses are the best possible moral decisions anyone could make. So it's useful to have a handbook, even a set of fairy tales as you put it, to put things in perspective.

    I'm not asking you to come to Jesus or anything. I'm just asking you to dial back the contempt a little, and recognize that like it or not, that 2000 year old book of fairy tales has had a profound and enduring influence on Western civilization. And even to entertain the possibility that its influence was not all bad.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @09:37AM (#43302243) Homepage

    I'm just asking you to dial back the contempt a little, and recognize that like it or not, that 2000 year old book of fairy tales has had a profound and enduring influence on Western civilization. And even to entertain the possibility that its influence was not all bad.

    Well, that's where we disagree. I agree that the influence of the book wasn't all bad, but I claim the influence of the book did much more bad than good. The so-called "influence on Western civilization" is little more than holding it back.

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @09:47AM (#43302341)

    We may disagree less than you think. I think the bad influence comes not from the book, but from the people who thump it instead of reading it, and use that to justify whatever their baser instincts tell them. I'm not sure whether they outnumber the people who do their best to live by it, but their influence is probably more visible. :-(

  • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:55PM (#43306675)

    Being an atheist doesn't make you similar to Stalin or Pol Pot at all. In fact, being atheist doesn't make you anything but non-religious. Its more a dissociation with all faithful groups rather than association with a single.

    Making atheism into a religion is something I see faithful people do all the time. We're not believing in atheism. Atheism is not a religion. We don't celebrate atheistic holidays. There is no Pope of atheism (although if there was, he'd wear a way cooler hat than the real Pope). There is no literature that defines our values or beliefs. Nobody is getting tax-exempt status by being an atheist organization. There has never been a single war fought under the banner of atheism (because there is no banner!).

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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