Honor the Lord with Your Amygdala

November 25, 2019 § 11 Comments

The Oatmeal, an online comic by Matthew Inman, published an amusing and illuminating illustrated treatise on the “backfire effect.” This is the natural, and often sinful, cognitive bias that causes some to resist evidence contrary to their beliefs. The amygdala (the emotional core of our brains) goes into defense mode when we’re presented with “facts” we don’t like. The sin (my observation, not The Oatmeal’s) comes in when we reject ideas without utilizing our God-given reason, or when we spiral into an emotional tirade at the presenter.

Oatmeal GWUsing one of the examples in the comic, the suggestion that our beloved George Washington wore false teeth made from the teeth of slaves may illicit such a response. (There is evidence that Washington purchased teeth from slaves for false teeth, but it’s rather slim and inconclusive despite being presented here as “fact.” Or is that just my amygdala talking? You can investigate the sources cited in the comic yourself on that.)

The author says that the backfire effect “makes sense from an evolutionary perspective” and follows that up with an archetypal caveman scenario. But it also makes sense from a Biblical perspective. We are created to hold firmly to personal convictions. To believe. As fallen creatures though, we often let emotions get the best of us and set aside reason when our beliefs are challenged.

Because “we’re all going in the same direction”, the author concludes with the assurance that he’s “not here to tell you what to believe” before telling us what to believe: that it’s okay to stop, listen, and change. I’m not sure if the “change” encouraged is a change in how we respond—now that we know how our brains often handle new and unwanted information—or a change in our worldview when presented with new ideas about the world or ourselves. Both are good and healthy responses, the latter depending of course on the ideas.

In any case, the only reason to believe anything at all is if we are convinced that it’s true. This includes foundational or presuppositional beliefs, like the existence of God, or the tenets of naturalism, that we ultimately must accept or reject on faith.

Matthew Inman is neither shy nor particularly clear about his brand of atheism, but in this video he masks a sad, nihilistic worldview with plenty of jokes—some either profane, throwing shade at religious belief, or profanely throwing shade at religious belief—all while professing faith in “Jibbers Crabst”.

The overall aim of his post about belief seems to be the awareness of what’s going on when we learn new things, and realization that we don’t have to blow up at others who challenge our deeply held beliefs. Atheism and sarcasm aside, that’s an earnest and respectable goal.Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 9.54.06 AMSometimes the truth hurts. But the truth is meant to ultimately give us joy. The good news of the gospel—that Jesus Christ died to save sinners—begins with the bad news that we all are sinners who need a savior. There’s a classic example of new information that many an amygdala reject (1 John 1:9-10).

We should keep an open mind, even about our deeper convictions. But as G.K. Chesterton tells it, “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. Otherwise, it could end up like a city sewer, rejecting nothing.”

(The “classroom-friendly version” of The Oatmeal comic is linked above, but there is a “regular version” with some profanity that really isn’t a necessary or funnier way to make the point.)

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§ 11 Responses to Honor the Lord with Your Amygdala

  • No reason to reject because of the amygdala. There is more than enough reason to reject the claims of Christianity because they are not supported with evidence. Considering that Christians don’t agree on what they want to claim their god wants, says, has done, etc, why should anyone believe any of you if you can’t convince each other?

    • Hi Clubschadenfreude, thanks for commenting. Do you have any specific examples of Christian claims not supported by evidence? Disagreement among Christians is no more of a refutation of Christian theism any more than disagreement among atheists would be for atheism. It just means people disagree.

      • Christian disagreement is evidence that no true Christianity exists. Christians make contradictory claims of what their god wants, and what it has done and will do e.g. Christian theism. Atheists don’t disagree on atheism: the conclusion that there is no god. Your analogy doesn’t work very well.

        There is no evidence for Jesus Christ son of God nor of a resurrection. What Christians cite as evidence is the reporting of what Christians believed, not of the events themselves. If this is to be considered evidence, then every religion on earth is as valid as Christianity.

        We have no contemporary reports of the sky darkening, a major earthquake and the dead walking around Jerusalem during Passover. One would think that the Jews in Jerusalem would have noticed that. Christians don’t agree on when event supposedly happened. Why would they have forgotten this?

        We also have the problem that there is no evidence for the exodus (not one latrine has been found for a group of 600,000 men plus women children and animals wandering around an area half the size of Pennsylvania for 4 decades. We also have no evidence for the worldwide flood, which would have left one huge unlayered deposit over a large portion of the earth, having similarly shaped and massed objects in it from humans, to small dinosaurs to large ammonites, all in the same area. That’s how hydraulics work.

        Christians claim that the holy spirit has told them how to interpret the bible. Why do they get different answers ostensibly from this god, and how can we tell who is telling the truth, which everyone’s afterlife supposedly depends?

        • That’s special pleading. If “Christian disagreement is evidence that no true Christianity exists” then disagreements among atheists must mean no true atheism exists, in which case this has been a fantastically productive discussion thus far. 🙂

          Christianity hinges on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Anyone who denies that Jesus was God’s Son or His atoning sacrifice as described in the Bible is not a Christian. Christians can disagree over minor doctrines or details. Some atheists are also adherents to Buddhism or Hinduism, or claim to be atheists but are actually agnostics. Some atheists worship Richard Dawkins while others can’t stand him. You’re comparing the lowest common denominator for atheism, “the conclusion that there is no god”, to Christian disagreement over lesser points of theology.

          The truth is that none of that matters anyway, because whether or not adherents of a certain belief agree over all the details, or any of them, has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the belief itself. To argue such is to commit a form of the genetic fallacy.

          There is plenty of evidence for the resurrection (https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman/ ), Noah’s flood (https://isgenesishistory.com/90-minutes-of-evidence-for-the-global-flood/), and the exodus (https://patternsofevidence.com/2019/06/01/artifacts-show-biblical-exodus/) and other events described in the Bible. They just aren’t published by explicitly atheist sources. Might that be the problem for you? You ask how you can tell if a person’s interpretation or divine inspiration of what the Bible says is true or not. The answer is pretty simple: Read it and see. Again, an argument stands or falls based on its own merit, not what anyone says about it.

          If you would have started with the claim that there is no way to prove by scientific or empirical evidence that God exists or that He created the universe, I would have agreed with you. Christians hold to this conviction by faith, just like an atheist holds to their own presuppositional beliefs by faith. All ultimate (self-evident, a priori, axiomatic) convictions are necessarily believed without evidence. The evidence comes into play when we investigate whether these faith-held fundamental beliefs comport with the reality we can observe and test. Christian theism makes sense of the universe, life, intelligence, moral law, natural laws, uniformity, order and complexity, the laws of logic, etc. On atheism, and the absence of the creator God described in Bible, a mindless universe that began somehow with matter and motion can’t explain what we can observe and test. “By faith we understand…” (Hebrews 11:3).

          • Archon's Den says:

            Faith is the reason that people give, when they believe something without good reason.
            Don’t misunderstand. Blind belief in God and Jesus may be a good thing for you, if you want to be assured of salvation and eternal life, but I have never seen/heard a Christian offer a good reason why they would accept such a belief without some sort of external justification. Feel free to be the first. 🙂

          • Christians come to belief in a variety of ways, but they would all have to conclude that they did it for a good reason. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit ultimately leads people to faith in Him, but that He uses different people and circumstances to do that.

            Some respond to the simple logic and observation from the world we live in where designs require a designer, order requires an orderer, intelligence requires intelligent input, laws (natural, moral, logical) require a law giver, and they see the God of the Bible as a sufficient cause, whereas naturalistic alternatives fall short.

            Some believe because that’s what they were taught in their youth, and they verified the veracity of their faith later (this is in line with my experience).

            Some have an end-of-their-rope experience that drives them to discover a love and truth they hadn’t seen before when searching elsewhere.

            Some respond to the evidence of seeing another’s life changed by Christ.

            Some are convicted if their own sin and realize their need for a Savior.

            Some see billions lost in a grand worldwide “God delusion” who otherwise seem to live lives in reasonable sanity (eg. they don’t also believe in Santa Claus) and wonder if maybe, just maybe, they are the one missing something.

            That’s not a comprehensive list, but in any case, Christian theism isn’t “blind belief”——clearly they see something. But I wouldn’t expect an atheist to “see” a “good reason” for faith, because faith is what opens eyes to the truth (“By faith, we understand…”), and they’re already up against an atheistic bias for what would meet their requirement for “external justification” anyway. You would likely need to step outside of the bias first. I’ve never seen anyone do that in a blog comment, but feel free to be the first. 🙂

            Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

          • You evidently have no idea what special pleading is. Special pleading is when one wants to exempt one’s ideas from the standards you wish to put on others. Atheists only agree on one thing: there are no gods. We do not disagree on that, so there is no special pleading going.

            There are no atheists who worship Dawkins but please do show some if you want to make that claim. Being hindu is worshipping those gods so again, atheists can’t be god-worshippers.

            It’s always fun to watch a Christian claim that they only disagree about unimportantn things. Hmmm, you disagree about what parts of the bible are literal and are not. You disagree on what makes a Christian a Christian, and that involves baptism and how one accepts Christ as savior. You disagree on if there is a hell and a heaven and what those really are. You disagree on what sin is. All of these are not “unimportant” since you all attend different churches and won’t share your sacraments.

            You give a lot of links to information, and they all fail. We have no evidence for the resurrection. Christians don’t agree on where the tomb is, so why believe in a tomb at all, especially an empty one? We have no evidence for the flood, since there is no flood deposit all over the earth. We have layers when a flood doesn’t leave layers of distinctly graded different sediments. All of your sources are theistic, but nope, my problem is that your sources lie, not that they are by believers. LEt’s look at the claims about the exodus. Christians and Jews have no idea when the exodus happened and they make different claims about it. The stele mentions Israel. Yep, and a spider man comic mentions New York. Does this mean superheroes are in the city? No. The same with all of the other claims of “Evidence”, canals named for Joseph but having nothing to do with any bible nonsense, the Ipuwer papyrus not mentioning a single one of the supposed plagues. Yep, we know that there were believers, but the existence of believers doen’t make myths true, unless you want to agree that any god is as real as your god. Do you?

            All your claims depend on some magic and again magic has never been the answer to anything.

            No, atheists have no faith as you would claim a Christian does. I have no belief in thing that I do not have evidence for or trust for.

            I’ve read the bible and I’ve seen that Christians can’t do what the bible claims. I’ve seen that they all make different contradictory claims of what the bible “really” means and their arguments fail that they and they alone have the only correct version. So, now that I’ve done what you’ve recommended, and it didn’t happen like you said, why believe you again? Your argument failed on its own merit. No magic happened to make me agree with you.

            and nope, all convictions aren’t believed without evidence. That is the usual nonsense given by someone who needs to make believe that their ideas are unquestionable. You need this baseless assertion to make your nonsense work. Christian theism is no more believable than Muslim theism or Hindu theism ext for making sense of the universe, morals, etc. You all make the same baseless claims and you all insist that the others are wrong when they make the same arguments as you do. No reason to beleive any of you.

            by faith you have no understanding but blind acceptance. Please show evidence that your version of your god exists, not some vague “force” that the various cosmological, etc arguments argue for.

          • Thanks for your reply! I hope you had the chance to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving and a long weekend.

            These atheists might say you’ve oversimplified what atheists can believe. An interesting essay on Hindu and Buddhist atheists (https://qz.com/india/1585631/the-ancient-connections-between-atheism-buddhism-and-hinduism/) and another on the problem of Dawkins idolatry and the religiosity of humanism (https://aeon.co/essays/how-humanism-lost-its-way-in-a-charismatic-crusade). The parallel to “there are no gods” would reasonably be “There is a God”, something on which all Christians agree. But you apply specifics to the Christian standard that you don’t apply to atheism. That seems a lot like special pleading.

            But to be clear, essential doctrines (eg. Salvation by grace) that you include as disagreements among Christians leave those who deny them outside the Christian faith. So in that case you’re not talking about Christians disagreeing, you’re talking about people (including non-Christians/theists influenced by some form of Catholicism, Orthodox or Protestantism) disagreeing over what Christianity is. The Bible doesn’t generalize “Christianity” as the world tends to (John 3:16,17).

            But again, truth is truth independent of anyone’s opinion. If those claiming to be Christians happened to be in total and universal agreement, would you accept that as evidence for the validity of their belief anyway?

            This arbitrary preoccupation with disagreement seems to be a bit of a red herring, whereas it’s the substantial agreement in source documents that actually amounts to something. Near universal agreement among tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts attests to the accuracy of Biblical text over any other ancient historical document, where there are far fewer and far later extant copies. There’s no rational reason for discounting Biblical history, much of it which archaeology confirms, and the notion that an unknown tomb location=no empty tomb, or unknown exodus date=no exodus, doesn’t follow.

            Evidence of a global deluge can be found globally, as can flood legends that have endured in many parts of the world. Debated but evidentiary finds include marine fossils well above sea level, rapidly buried plants and animals (reptile tracks in sand dunes; trilobite tracks spanning multiple layers; polystrate fossils/tree trunks), rapidly deposited layers over vast areas (Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone of the Grand Canyon extends across the US/Canada to Europe; England chalk beds extend across Europe to Middle East, US, and Western Australia); apparent rapid erosion/no erosion between strata (Coconino Sandstone and Hermit Formations); and vast water reservoirs detected below the earth’s surface. Even where the evidence is inconclusive, there’s no cause short of evasiveness or rote antagonism to label it all a “lie.” That’s a rather silly perspective.

            Re: “Christians can’t do what the bible claims.” Agreed! The gospel message is predicated on the fact that ALL have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and can’t measure up to God’s righteous standard, which is why we need a Savior and Mediator in God’s Son (1 Tim. 2:5). That we “can’t” is actually what the Bible claims, because Jesus can and did.

            Re: “…atheists have no faith as you would claim a Christian does. I have no belief in thing that I do not have evidence for or trust for.”

            What do you mean by “trust”? You mean, like, faith? 🙂 What evidence do you have that leads you to trust in the basic rules of thought/laws of logic that you live by? You use logic probably because, at the end of the day, you think it’s logical to do so, but laws don’t come out of thin air. And they’re laws in that we didn’t make them up; we all follow them. Some may misunderstand some of them, but they are external because we all presume to apply them universally to all people in all places at all times. Your own worldview can’t account for why you rely on logic applied universally, but the Christian worldview can. Logic is part of the nature of God, in whose likeness we are created (Gen. 1:27) and who invites us to reason (Is. 1:18). Atheism has no recourse but to hold to logic by faith.

            The Bible also explains the origin of morality, which is also intuitively applied universally—we are innately moral agents as image-bearers of God, and moral truth extends from His nature. His law is, so to speak, “written on the heart” (Rom. 2:15). As an atheist, you can’t logically ground objective moral truth either, so you hold to your own moral principles on faith, and you expect others to follow them too.

            The Christian worldview also rationally accounts for the general reliability of our senses, what we all use to discern what is true and real. We reflect God’s likeness in this way also. And the Laws of Uniformity we take for granted in order to run experiments and make predictions don’t make sense on atheism either, but comport with a God who ordered and sustains nature (Gen. 8:22; Col. 1:17).

            Atheism requires that such laws and “self-evident” presuppositions about purpose, dignity, human rights, etc. derive from a mindless, lifeless, orderless, and purposeless void. How does that happen? It doesn’t, in our observation. Where’s the evidence justifying such blind faith assumptions? It’s fine to say “we don’t know” the answers to ultimate questions about origins and the like, but atheism doesn’t really do that. It’s anchored in confident assertions that can’t be reconciled with how the world works or how you actually live. Everyone has faith in their most basic beliefs. The object of that faith is what differs.

          • I looked at your links. The second is a philosopher making baseless claims that atheists worship Dawkins (nope, I don’t) and worshipping Darwinism(again nope, I don’t). This philosopher doesn’t’ want to “put religion and science at war” and tries to use the separate magisterial argument. The problem is that science has shown repeatedly that the claims of religion aren’t true. He claims this “Secondly, I am uneasy that Humanism puts human beings at the centre of things in a way that is reminiscent of religion, especially monotheistic traditions.” When humanism doesn’t do this. The philosopher is stuck on this Huxley fellow who I had never heard of until reading that article. Atheists aren’t worshipping him either. He also rails against the “new atheists” which are not new at all, if he had ever read Ingersoll, etc.

            As for the first, we have this stated in the article “While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment.” The author tries to make an argument for something called “functional atheism” which seems to be his opinion that “well, they don’t directly call on a god so they might as well be atheists.” It seems more appropriate to me to call people who have this attitude agnostics. That the article says this “ Although none of their original texts have survived, Buddhist and Hindu authors describe the Carvakas as firm atheists who believed that nothing existed beyond the material world.” Seems to indicate that hindus aren’t thinking of themselves as atheists or indeed as theists either.

            In that Christians themselves claim specifics and claim to apply them, I’m doing what they do. Atheists don’t believe in god or gods. Other than that, there is no specifics that “all” atheists do.

            Christians claim that anyone who doesn’t agree with them isn’t a Christian, and that is the no true scotsman fallacy. You want your particular doctrines to be what defines Christianity and so do those Christians you disagree with. Since you all call yourselves Christians, I’m stuck with that and it is Christians disagreeing with what Christianity is. Each Christian is sure that the bible supports them, so quoting scripture doesn’t work very well in trying to convince me that you have the only real Christianity.

            If Christians agreed, that would go a long way to showing that there might be a god. Same if they all interpreted the bible the same, this bible supposedly inspired/written by an omnipotent being. It should have no problem in getting its message across, right?

            There isn’t “substantial agreement” in the source documents, so no it’s not a red herring. If there were substantial agreement, that would not be an indication of anything magical going on or existing. Claiming substantial agreement is evidence for the truth of the story is like saying that since the copies of Dianetics all agree, then they must be true.

            There is plenty of rational reason to discount the bible as history since archaeology does not confirm one single essential event from the bible (unless you want to call the Babylonian Captivity essential, which I can go either way on). Archaeology for example shows that there was no exodus as claimed in the bible; the kingdoms of Egypt went along as normal, no loss of their army (you’d think their enemies would have noticed) or of their first born, or any of the other plagues at any time period Christians try to claim. We have no archaeological sites for the supposed 600,000 men, plus women and children and animals along their purported route. Archaeology shows that there were no fabulous palaces or temples, only buildings that are typical for the time period. Geology shows that there was no bible flood at any time Christians try to claim. So, yes, it does follow that the holiest site of Christianity being unknown is reason to not believe in the story and that no exodus date, and no artifacts from the Exodus migration are reasons not to believe the story.

            As a geologist, I know that there is no evidence of a global flood found anywhere. There are indeed many flood legends, and they unsurprisingly differ from the bible one. Civilization grow up around rivers and floods are destructive, so they get put into just-so stories to explain things like why there is evil, etc. There are fossil shells on the Himalays because of geologic uplift, not because a flood was 28,000 feet deep. Trilobites are found in several layers and they change as the layers get younger in time, so again, no flood put them there. Chalk can’t deposit in flood waters, and layers of sediment don’t form distinct layers that are graded from coarse to fine in flood waters. You can do an experiment yourself by putting various kinds of dirt in a clear container and then add water. Shake it up like the bible claims happened, and you’ll never get distinct layers like we see. Yep, there is areas of erosion and no erosion and that also doesn’t happen in a flood either. And no there are no vast water reservoirs under the earth’s surface. We have some water bound up in minerals but there are no magical caves full of water. For there to have been 28,000 feet of water rained out in 40 days, it would have had to rain 350 inches of rain an hour. For that to happen, the sheer heat that this would generate would have boiled Noah. These things show that creationists lie and they depend on people’s ignorance to spread this nonsense.

            The bible doesn’t say that Christians can’t do miracles because they sin. Jesus said that those who follow him will be able to do the miracles he did “11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me[e] for anything, I will do it.” – John 14. It doesn’t help to ignore what your bible says.

            No, I mean trust, not faith. Trust is built on knowledge. Faith, as defined in the bible, is believing without seeing. I have evidence that the basic rules of thought and laws of logic work. I have nothing to show your god exists. The laws certainly don’t come out of thin air. They come from humans; no god needed. Yep, my worldview can account for why I rely on logic applied universally. There is no evidence not to do so. In that the bible fails in logic, shows that there is no reason to think that this god has anything to do with logic. Most, if not all religions make the claim that their god is the creator, and none of you can show this to be true.

            Morality also has nothing to do with your god or any other god. There is no intuitive application of morality, we can see that in feral children. We also see that morality of humans has changed and happily so. We no longer are as vicous as the ignorant agrarians who had no problem with slavery and thus their god had no problem with it either. There is no objective morality and there is nothing to show that an objective morality would be any better than a subjective one. I don’t have “faith” in my moral code. I know it works well and it causes far less harm to others than your subjective morality that you want to pretend your god shares with you. Christians again don’t agree on what morals this god wants or has either.

            The Christian world view does not account for the general reliability of our senses. It makes up a story that a god created humans out of dirt, and this god was not very smart since it had no idea that an aardvark to a zebra wouldn’t make a “suitable helpmeet” for this human. Laws of uniformity? They only make sense without a god sincen they don’t allow for miracles and magic.

            Atheism doesn’t depend on orderless anything. That is another thing that Christians claim and no one ever says that is how the universe is. It is not some Dr. Seussian universe where anything can happen. That’s your universe with a god in it. There may have been a void or not, but again no god needed. How does the story in genesis happen? It doesn’t, not in our observation, so why believe in it? Where’s the evidence to support your blind faith assumption? And yep, it is fine to say we don’t know. IT isn’t fine when someone lies and says that they do know and they want everyone else to agree with them and their god that they made in their image.

          • Most atheists I hear from don’t take such an absolutist stance as you do when you say “there is no god”, but define atheism as a lack of theistic belief. Do you consider this the same as agnosticism? Thomas Huxley actually coined the term agnosticism because while he definitely lacked belief in God, he didn’t consider himself so dogmatic as to say with absolute certainty that God didn’t exist outside of his ability to know. Robert Ingersoll (“The Great Agnostic”) was actually a fan and friend of Huxley, but had different views of what it meant to be an atheist. Both authors I linked, who seem to be as convinced as you seem to be of their atheism, have different views too. That you claim your view is the right one in contrast to other atheists doesn’t prove that atheism (or agnosticism) is true or false. It just means that people are different.

            Re: “science has shown repeatedly that the claims of religion aren’t true.” Stephen Jay Gould was right about science and religion being separate “magisteria”/areas of inquiry, but wrong about there being no overlap. Science can’t possibly have anything to say about the existence of God, because science by definition is inquiry about the natural and physical world, and God by definition is supernatural (outside of nature) and not physical. The God described in the Bible is transcendent by nature, and as nature’s Creator and sustainer, transcends the boundary into nature. Science as a tool cannot transcend its own self-imposed boundaries as you’re suggesting that it does (https://godandneighbor.net/2018/03/10/the-limits-of-science-and-the-transcendence-of-god/).

            Christians don’t (or shouldn’t) say that anyone who disagrees with us isn’t a Christian. We say that anyone who doesn’t fit the Biblical definition of a Christian isn’t a Christian. The definition of Christian isn’t changed ad hoc (what the No True Scotsman fallacy requires) but fixed in scripture. What does change are people’s interpretations, some varying in hermeneutically insignificant ways (because people are different) and yes some are outright fallacious and disingenuous. We are given reason in order to use it, and it’s possible to look at a text, consider the original language, audience, and context, and know with reasonable certainty what it says, and thereby know what it doesn’t. Just like when we read anything else we want to understand, earnest study separates sound exegesis from unsound, and essential doctrine from non-essential. It’s not a mystery, unless you want it to be.

            Aside from minor differences and scribal errors (typically misspelled or missing words or numbering errors), there are no discrepancies between Biblical manuscripts that can’t be reconciled or demonstrated to be completely insignificant doctrinally. Well over 25,000 extant Biblical manuscripts (that agree with over 85,000 early church writings) written at different times in numerous languages collected from many different places coming together to tell a single story of falsehoods would require a kind of collaboration that doesn’t exist, even today.

            Evidence is always subject to interpretation according to a person’s worldview. You make some assumptions about the Biblical flood that are not in the Bible, and you’re assuming present conditions for a past that was likely different. Genesis 7:11 says “the wellsprings of the great deep burst forth” indicating that flood waters came from below as well as above, through fissures underground or in the ocean floor, possibly driven by water-saturated magma. Verses 6-10 indicate that because of rising flood waters, Noah and his family boarded the ark a week before the fountains burst and the rain fell (the former possibly triggering the latter), so the seas were already swelling from some preliminary outflow from the undersea crust. Such a geyser rupturing could account for the enormous “open wound” of missing crust in the Atlantic seafloor that covers thousands of square miles. “Some water bound up in minerals” doesn’t seem an adequate description for the “reservoir of water three times the volume of all the oceans” discussed here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25723-massive-ocean-discovered-towards-earths-core/. The water is mostly locked up in ringwoodite 450 or miles down. The upper mantle is relatively dry, but from this discovery we know mantle material can hold a lot of water, maybe water that contributed to the “fountains of the deep.”

            Also, the pre-flood terrain would have probably been very different than what it is now. Many of our high mountain ranges are likely caused by tectonic activity during the flood and a period of geologic instability afterwards, so the need for 28,000 feet of water and your estimates on the rate of rainfall are rather superfluous. A global flood as I hope you can imagine is not a typical flood in scale or behavior, and the resulting layering of sediment is probably not something you can recreate with a bottle of water and dirt. A combination of swelling oceans from erupting subterranean fissures with rainfall producing landslides and overflowing banks and the like would have at least at times churned and carried sediments in surges, burying things quickly. Overall though, flood waters would have risen slowly over about a 9 week period with intermittent deluges as river banks and other natural barriers gave way. This would predict distinct layers. Larger and more agile animals and humans that escaped flash flooding would have in general been able to make it to higher ground before succumbing to exhaustion or drowning. Trilobites, for example, whose *tracks* I said are found spanning multiple layers, were probably trying to climb through and stay above accumulating sediment before expiring and joining the fossil record.

            It seems strange to reject the Israelites’ desert wandering on the basis of a lack of archaeological evidence when there is apparently little to no archaeological evidence for the widely accepted migrations of Celtics to Asia Minor, Slavics into Greece, and Arameans across the Levant. Likewise, great battles between Anglo-Saxon and Brits, Arabs and Palestine, Persians invading Greece, and the Norman Conquest leave very little archaeological evidence despite being far more recent that Old Testament battles. We believe these events happened primarily because of historical records, which few doubt. I wouldn’t expect the Israelites to leave behind buildings or cities since they were nomads living in tents as Scripture describes. I wouldn’t expect to find “Hebrews” mentioned in Egyptian records; New World slaveholders didn’t record what part of Africa their slaves came from either. Egyptian records from the east Nile Delta, where the Hebrew slaves lived, are mostly missing, and Egyptian stone inscriptions were dedicated to worship and bragging, not for advertising embarrassing military losses. But surviving papyri do describe Semitic nomads in Egypt who worshiped Yahweh (Anastasi 6), the use of straw in mud bricks the slaves made as described in Exodus 5 (Ramesses 2, Anastasi 3 & 4), dated shortly before the Merneptah Stele, which describes Israel as a nation in Canaan as part of a list of military conquests. As far as the plagues, the Ipwuwer Papyrus mentions calamities in Egypt very similar to the descriptions in Exodus (http://www.creationicc.org/2018_papers/04%20Habermehl%20Ipuwer%20final.pdf). It’s also true that the Hebrew ‘eleph’ for thousand can also translate to clan, family, or squad, which would absolutely bring that 600,000 number way down, though I have not looked into that claim in depth. What I can say for certain though is that the Bible records these events, and considering how readily other less reliable written accounts of antiquity are accepted as true, there’s little reason to doubt the Biblical account of history outside of a particular worldview bias.

            In John 14 Jesus is addressing His disciples directly, and Christians indirectly. He gave power to His apostles (Verse 12) to perform certain miracles that He didn’t intend to give every believer. The “greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” has a longer view, works to occur after He is no longer there with them. The “greater works” are probably works in greater number, looking ahead to the church’s work in the future. In Verse 13 and 14, Jesus didn’t promise anything and everything we want. He said “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray on the basis of His authority and according to the will of God (who He claimed to be). “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14). In Matthew 7:8-12, part of HIs Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that a father knows to give his children gifts that are good for them. Kids often disagree because they don’t know what’s really good for them. Growing in a relationship with Christ means we become more familiar with what God wants for us, and we are to ask for these things. Words and context matter, and study yields comprehension.

            Re: “I have evidence that the basic rules of thought and laws of logic work.” Anyone can observe that something works, but that isn’t an explanation. That’s just pragmatism. If the fundamental principals of logic “come from humans”, how might they have first appeared without fundamental principals of logic already in place? The very first logical proposition in its most primal form made by humans would still need a pre-existing standard for logic to be considered logical. Ethics presents the same problem for atheism. The first act or thought humans (or our ancestors) ascribed moral value to would have required a standard on which to base that value, whether the perceived “good” (a value) was survival, reciprocity, or whatever the case may be. All kinds of self-evident, axiomatic “laws” are just assumed to be trustworthy because in your estimation, they are just there and seem to be a good system. Meanwhile, their origin and the way we apply them doesn’t make sense without God. They just “work”. Well of course they do. Logic and morality are an extension of God’s nature, which we intuitively use because we are made in His image.

            There is a difference between moral truth and how different people interpret moral truth, and you are equating the two. People can ignore or misunderstand any law, but that doesn’t change the truth of the law. Right and wrong don’t change over time, but of course culture can change. Despite what’s popular, child sacrifice was always immoral, it’ll be immoral 1,000 years in the future, and it would be immoral on Jupiter. We know this because we can’t make ourselves believe that even if we were part of cultures that practiced child sacrifice, that we would think it was okay. It’s as if we can’t even imagine a world where moral obligations are not universal because it never shows up in books or films or stories. Good and evil do, but we are expected to be on the right side. Aliens in distant galaxies should not share our moral values, but when they come to enslave us in stories, we always impose our moral values on them. Even when atheists rail against the “moral atrocities” of the God in the Bible, they do so because they assume that moral law is so universal as to encompass a hypothetical Creator of the universe. So we can’t pretend objective, universal moral obligations don’t exist. We prove they do by how we live. You have moral concern about the “harm” my morality might do, but why should your moral concern apply to me or anyone else unless you’re attempting to follow to a universal law about doing no harm? When atheist philosopher David Hume famously complained that writers often transition from “is” to “ought”, turning brute facts into moral “oughtness”, I doubt he realized he did it himself by claiming that it “is” an infraction that people “ought” not do. There’s plenty we don’t know, but there are certain things we can’t *not* know, like the existence and persistence of objective, universal, unchanging moral truth.

            The universe is not orderless, but quite the opposite. “Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity, is the *assumption* that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe” (Wikipedia). The Laws of Uniformity describe consistent patterns and order that we’ve learned we can rely on, but there is no naturalistic explanation for this. Uniformity is an “assumption”, therefore held to by faith. We can observe natural laws at work, but that doesn’t tell us why we think we can blindly rely on gravity, for instance, working the same way everywhere in the universe. On Naturalism, it shouldn’t. There is no sensical natural/evolutionary path from nothingness or a singularity to everything we are and can experience without a sufficient First Cause for intelligence, order, purpose, uniformity, laws, and senses we can rely on.

            We can’t pretend to reach our ultimate convictions by evidence. The way you describe trust is effectively no different than faith, though trust is typically thought of as a certainty that grows from evidence, IF evidence is available. Trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”, exactly how believers view faith, though coming to trust in something often begins with faith.

          • Well, since atheism means “no belief in god/s”, then the atheists you have met are a little confused. The reason that there is a word agnosticism is that it is not atheism, being unsure in if there are gods or not. Huxley may have been playing his cards to say he didn’t know for sure that some god didn’t exist, but it’s not to hard to show that the gods that humans worship are imaginary. A god outside of a humans ability to know isn’t the gods they worship, is it?

            Yep, Ingersol called himself an agnostic for a reason and I call myself an atheist for a reason.

            The claim of different magisterial by Gould was a great way to try to invent an excuse for this god to hide in. The Christian god supposed interferes with nature and the physical world, so trying to claim that this god isn’t in nature and is not physical ignores what the bible says about it. This is a common tactic by modern Christians since they realize that the god in the bible can be disproven and have to invent a new god that can’t be. There is nothing about this god being “transcendent” in the bible, again, it’s something made up by the Christians who have constantly invented their religion to avoid the problems science has caused for it.

            You’re likely right, that Christians shouldn’t say anyone who disagree with them isn’t a Christian, but they do it constantly. You all claim that anyone who doesn’t fit your interpretation of the bible definition of Christian isn’t a Christian. You all come up with different definitions. The definition isn’t at all fixed in scripture, and I know this quite well having had been a Christian and watching Protestants, Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox, etc attack each other. You all claim that your version is the only “right” e.g. “hermanuetic” version. You call each other fallacious and disingenuous, and none of you can do the healing JC and the author of James said you could. You all claim “it’s possible to look at a text, consider the original language, audience, and context, and know with reasonable certainty what it says, and thereby know what it doesn’t. Just like when we read anything else we want to understand, earnest study separates sound exegesis from unsound, and essential doctrine from non-essential. It’s not a mystery, unless you want it to be.” Without fail.

            It’s always bemusing when Christians want to claim that major disagreements in doctrine are “minor”. You disagree on what this god wants as morality, who is damned and who is not, on how one is saved, on what laws from this bible are to be followed and what are not to be, etc. Again, the number of bibles is meaningless when it comes to truth. All you have is a really bad argument from popularity fallacy.

            Christians make assumptions about the biblical flood that aren’t in the bible. I do not. And we have no evidence at all that the past is any different in physical laws from the present. There is no evidence for enough water to come from within the earth to cover the mountains either. Magma isn’t water saturated, again your ignorance about geology shows you attack something you have no idea about. No, the bible doesn’t say that the waters were “already outflowing from the undersea crust” ,but nice assumption there. There is no “open wound” in the atlantic sea floor created by a geyser, there is a mountain chain, assuming you are talking about the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. That article you gave has the word “ocean” in quotes, and it seems you didn’t actually read the article. Ringwoodite only can exist at pressure. There is no way for it to go back down and become a mineral again. The water would still be here. The problem with creationists is that they glom on to one bit of information and intentionally misrepresent it to support their false claims.

            No evidence that the “pre-flood terrain” would have been different than it is now. The terrain we have has been around for millions of years. There is no evidence at all that mountain ranges were formed during the flood, the results would have been quite different. Water acts like water and it would do the same in a regional flood as well as a global one, so again your claim is false. IF there were enough surges, then the rectangle boat of wood would have failed. “Overall though, flood waters would have risen slowly over about a 9 week period with intermittent deluges as river banks and other natural barriers gave way.” Quite an assumption that isnt’ in the bible at all there, so are you just making things up? Tracks from trilobites don’t span several layers. Trilobites were around for a very long time and evolved so they are in separate layers. And since we find trilobites between layers, your made up nonsense doesn’t work again.

            We have plenty of genetic evidence for the migrations of Celtics and other human beings. We also have plenty of evidence of Celtic pottery that we can follow. You again are ignorant in what actually is out there. That is again untrue that great battles leave little evidence since I can just go down the road to Gettysburg and find quite a bit as do archaeologists for Persia, etc. We believe those events thanks to historical records, contemporary records and archaeological relics. You seem to know very little about archaeology since they don’t look for tents, they look for latrines and middens. One would think that 600,000 men plus all their families and animals would leave latrines and middens, wouldn’t you?

            Funny how Christians insist that Hebrews are found in egyptical records and Yep, slavers did record from what part of Africa their slaves came from, there’s a whole database with where the ships came from with slaves (I’ll not put the link in since that can hang up posts but I can give it if you want). There is nothing that says where the slaves were, so you’ve made up the “east nile delta” claim. There were stele about disasters so you’d think that the Egyptians might have noted the “10 plagues” where all of their first borns died, and their entire army was destroyed. You’d also think that their enemies would have noticed. What we have are records that Egypt went along as usual, with nomads, not slaves, and mentions of Canaan and Israel there, not to be invaded and formed. The ipwuer papyrus doesn’t mention any of the ten plagues, so it’s not about the plagues.

            You of course also want to reinterpret your bible to ignore what it says and then claim it wasn’t “really” 600,000 people but fewer. Seems this bible isn’t nearly as clear as you claim it is when it is inconvenient for you. Tsk. The bible records myths, nothing more. Other ancient writings are considered just as unreliable, unless we have other evidence for their claims, just like the claims from the bible. There is no more reason to take them as history as to take your bible as history without more evidence.

            There is nothing in John 14 that says JC is addressing Christians at all since they aren’t there. There are Jews there, who thought they found their messiah. There is nothing that says that only the apostles were to be getting this power; you’ve made that up too and ignored what your supposed messiah said. He says this “12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. “ Not, “12 Very truly, I tell you, the ones here who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.“ And it’s absolutely wonderful that you try to ignore what the bible says when it is inconvenient. There is nothing that says that the works are “greater” in number, the word is “meizona” and it is used as greater as more powerful repeatedly in the NT e.g. greater love, greater sin, greater riches. Jesus didn’t say I’ll only answer if God already wills it. Again, you make things up. There is no kid disagreeing in in Matthew, it is saying that this god gives what is asked for, not anything else. Words and context do indeed matter and we can see you ignoring both as convenient. It’s fun to watch but it doesn’t work very well when I know the bible.

            I don’t need to assume your god exists to know that the laws of logic and thought work. That is your presupposition, and every theist makes it about their god. You don’t believe them, and I don’t believe you. The laws can have already been in place, and no god needed. You again presuppose these laws need your god. Nope, actions that are cooperative don’t need your god either, just a benefit so we humans repeated it. Animals have values too, what is beneficial and not, so no reason humans can’t have that too with no god needed. Feral children show that we don’t use morals and logic intuitively. We have to learn it. So you fail there too.

            You’ve yet to show any moral truth. Every Christian wants to claim the laws they’ve cherry picked out of the bible to be “moral law”, but they ignore the rest of those laws. So, yep, you guys change the truth of the law constantly by your “interpretation” repeatedly. IF things like genocide and slavery were always wrong, then this god allowed them to happen intentionally, being evil. If your culture practiced child sacrifice, and told you it was good, you’d and I’d do it without even flinching. We know this since you had no problem with your god asking it to be done and until I came to the conclusion that gods don’t exist, I accepted that nonsense too.

            We have a book that has that moral obligations aren’t universal and it’s called the bible. It has where something are considered moral by Jews and Christians and some aren’t. Again, you pick and choose what you want to follow from it, not all of it. There is no reason that aliens wouldn’t’ share the values we currently have as civilized first worlders. Those laws and morals benefit a civilization.

            Nope, we atheists, at least this one, doesn’t rail against the actions in the bible because there “should” be a universal morality, I rail at them because Christians and Jews accepted those things as a universal morality. So, I am not pretending that objective moral obligations don’t exist, I know this. I am following a morality far better than the god you claim to worship, that you did claim had morals that were objective and moral and still did genocide and slavery. The ought is failed by you and your imaginary god.

            You are right, the universe isn’t orderless, it has order and no god needed. There is an explanation of why there is uniformity, how the Big Bang happened, so again, no god needed. Uniformity is observe and thus held by trust in that observation, not faith which is belief in things that can’t be observed. We can know that we can rely on gravity since our experience has told us so, and that our science gives more evidence why. We have nothing of the sort for your version of your god. There is quite a sensical path from nothingness to a singulary to what we have now; your personal ignorance of this doesn’t’ mean it doesn’t exist. You rely on these things since you accept that GPS systems function, computers function, etc. No “first cause” needed, and certainly no god like yours needed since we have no evidence for this particular god at all.

            We can indeed reach our convictions by evidence. You just don’t like it because you have no evidence for your god. Trust is different from faith but again you don’t like that either so you need to say “effectively” when it is not true. We have no evidence for your claims but plenty for what we know and what we will know in the future. Your god is left behind. And if this is the case “Trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”, exactly how believers view faith, though coming to trust in something often begins with faith.” You’ve done a lovely job of shooting yourself in the foot arguing about definitions.

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