Archived blog post

Hurrah for the not very good spammers!

Posted by Ben on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 | Permalink

For they will provide easy blog posts whilst I try to de-busy my life.

Excerpts from an email I received at the address you see above and to the left:

My name is Mr.Abudullah Wazari from Kuwait, and my late wife (Dr)Mrs. Sarah Wazari Abudullah , she worked with shell petroleum company in South Africa for twelve years before she died in the year 2003 after a brief illness....When my late wife was alive she deposited the sum of 12 Million (Twelve Million U.S. Dollars) with International Diplomatic service company in Malaysia which is still under the safe keeping.

Now am undergoing a serious sickness that resulted to be stoke and cancer problem...Having known my condition, I decided to donate this fund to mosque, Islamic school authority or better Muslim individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here . I want this fund to be used on, orphanages and widows propagating and to promote work of almighty Allah, the word of Allah and to ensure that the house of Allah is maintained...I don want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision.

Indeed it is a bold decision to invite me to invest your oh-so-plausible fortune, Mr. Wazari. One would have thought that if you want this money to be used to promote almighty Allah and not in a manner you deem ungodly, you might want to steer clear of email addresses picked up from a website called Religion is Bullshit.

Comments [ hide comments ]
Ben -

You never got round to answering whether or not you think an atheist is "someone who does not accept the truth of the existence of God"?

Sure it was just an oversight...Here's your opportuniy to put that right.
field, 15.02.2006, 9:11am #
1/ this is nothing to do with crap spammers
2/ you're starting to sound like an arrogant shit.

An atheist has no belief in any deities. That's it. Why is that so difficult to understand?
The "truth of the existence of God" ...? If the existence of God(s) could be proven, there would obviously be no atheists.
And anyway, which particular God are we referring to here?
Tim, 15.02.2006, 1:00pm #
Some advice from Hinder:

Go home and get stoned, make love instead of misery.
RHF, 16.02.2006, 12:23am #
Tim -

It seems a simple enough question to me and I expect to most people (at least non atheists). I am just trying to understand Ben's position. He seems to want to say that an atheist is someone who doesn't have a faith-based belief in God. This ignores (a) the fact firstly that not all believers in God do so out of faith and (b) secondly that atheists do not by and large act as though a faith-based belief is all they are concerned about (in fact they usually make positive recommendations for non-belief as do Jonathan Miller and Richard Dawkins).

Your approach also ignores the fact that neo Darwinian evolution (I'm not talking about the fact of genetics) can't be "proven". The evidence for it is mostly circumstantial. Most people find it credible because it is reasonable and explains something that would otherwise be unexplained. That is my stance vis a vis belief in God. It is a perfectly rational explanation for things that are otherwise inexplicable.

As to which God we are talking about I could equally turn around when you say you believe in "evolution" and ask you what you mean by that since there are 57 varieties.

For the purpose of this disucssion I would be happy to define God as a self-sustaining creator of the cosmos which is not bound by the cosmos.

Given that my question occurred towards the end of the most successful thread ever I would have thought that Ben would have been keen to answer the question or create a new thread to continue the interesting discussion.

RHF - If you mean flirt with cannabis psychosis - count me out!
field, 17.02.2006, 8:40am #
I like the song by Hinder, \"get stoned\".
Good advice for women. If they went home and got stoned, then wouldn\'t be so much misery in marriages.

Right on!!!
RHF, 18.02.2006, 12:25am #
There are several problems with your reasoning.
First you speak of a "faith" based religion as though there were any other kind. No evidence for any of the outrageous claims of any religion exist. The term faith based religion is redundant. You claim that this "god" exist beyond the rational world, that he exist "beyond the cosmos". And yet you claim this anyone who believes in such a thing is "perfectly rational." It is irrational by definition. You can't have it both ways.
You speak of evolution as though it were an answer. Science does not provide conclusive answers. It provides the best explanaion based on observable facts. It is always open to review/change/update.
To say there are 57 varieties of evolution is simplistic. With such complex questions there are of course gaps and disagreements. That's what science does, it fills in those gaps and helps brings about agreement. Religion has failed to do either despite all it's claims.
You say "For the purpose of this disucssion I would be happy to define God as a self-sustaining creator of the cosmos which is not bound by the cosmos." Since reason is the most powerful tool we puny humans have, it doesn't seem fair to ask us to throw it aside and continue the discussion.
Jim, 18.02.2006, 2:09am #
God exists for people, who believe in God, because they fear the alternative. Atheists who used to be religious overcome their fear. Some have said that Atheists have no moral compass, nothing to hold them back from doing bad things, but Atheists know that the lack of an after-life makes life more precious, a greater thing to lose than if there was some kind pleasurable after-life. I see no Christians rushing to this after-life they hold so dear. I still see only fear. I have never met a Christian who knew how their "movement" continued after Jesus died. All they know is what the KJV says, and even that knowledge is limited to what they hear in Sunday School. I believe that if Christians examined early church history, there would be fewer Christians today. They have no idea of how their own beliefs developed or why they believe the things that they do, all they know is that they are supposed to. It may be that they do not want to disappoint their parents who brought them up to be Christians.

Do they even know what it means to be a Christian? Or are they Paulists. Jesus did not come for the Gentiles; he came for the Jews. He was a Jew; his "lost sheep" were Jews not Gentiles. He did not come to change the law, but to fulfill it. He came to change the temple, not to save the Gentiles. That came with Paul. The Christian movement was dying, the Jews refused to accept it. Paul saw this; he feared that his movement was moving to extinction. The first change he made to Jesus' mission was to accept the Gentiles, but to do that he had to remove the Jewish element from his religion. He removed the requirement of circumcision and later other Jewish practices to make it more attractive to the Gentiles, he knew that is where his, and his church's, future lay since it was rejected by the Jews.

So, Christians, ask yourself this...are you a Christian Jew as Jesus intended or are you a Paulist whose movement is so far from what Jesus intended that Jesus himself would not recognize what is done in his name. The Apostle Paul never met Jesus in the flesh; there are no writings from his disciples. The entire New Testament was written over a period of hundreds of years after Jesus' death. None of who knew Jesus personally. We may never know if those writings we have in the New Testament were copies of other writings done by those who actually knew Jesus. Whose religion are you following? I suppose it remains that everything you believe in has to be believed by faith alone. And for some of us Atheists, that is just not enough from a Supreme Being who is silent.

If Christians can accept that God spoke to the authors of the books of the Bible, that God ordered the deaths of thousands of people in the old testament, men, women and children because they happened to live where God promised the ancient Hebrews they could live, then why not believe that God spoke to the mother in Texas who claims that God ordered her to kill her own children? Or, why not believe that God told a Palestinian to blow up a street corner? It is the same God that you and the Palestinians share. Why can you not accept any claim by anyone who says God talks to them? Much like the words of Jesus, you pick and choose what you believe in. You are either born to a church and a system of beliefs or you actively choose to change. You stand on the street corners and proclaim your faith, you pray aloud in Church so that others can hear, and even if you don't mean to, pride influences you which is contrary to what Jesus said to do. Go into your closet and pray.

If you are really Christians then do what Jesus said, "Give up everything, and follow me." But you don't. You cling to everything, including life, involving yourselves into the affairs of others and historically have been the most violent and criticizing of those who do not believe the same way, as though there is some kind of shame in letting others be or striking out defensively as though you are ashamed that you do believe. You can't seem to turn the other cheek, and can't seem to remember that he who is without sin is the only one who can throw stones. Free yourself from fear, your God does not like those who say one thing and do another. Remember your reward is in heaven and not in this life, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, if you do a good deed, keep it to yourself. These simple precepts is what makes a Christian a Christian, but I have only seen Paulists who are a corruption of what Jesus wanted.

I'll remain an atheist and if you decide to remain Christian or Paulist it doesn't matter to me as long as you leave your beliefs where they belong, as a matter of your own faith, in private where Jesus wanted it, and not use your faith as an advertising slogan for yourself or whatever denomination or religion you follow.
JGJ, 18.02.2006, 6:16am #
Jim -

You can't simply assert something you approve of is true by definition. Or rather you can but you won;t earn much respect byh doing so. I could assert that God was true by definition (as some religious philosophers in teh past have done). It wouldn't be a very frutiful discussion. What you have to show is that belief in SOME type of God is irrational or impossible. If for instance I said that I believed that God was 3 day old kitten that lived in a basement on the Kind's Road and that this kitten had created everythign 3 days ago, that wouldn't be a very credible belief. However, I am talking about the basic idea of a creator God as opposed to the basic idea of a creation that came into existence out of nothing. I think the former is actually more rational and credible.

I have no objection to people choosing to be atheists. We all have to make a choice about our lives and they are not necessarily more immoral belivers - although I think perhaps they are more susceptible in many case to some vices (e.g. a belief in the perefectibility of mankind and a disdain for our spiritual dimension).
field, 18.02.2006, 12:36pm #
Jim - On your first post, I think you are confusing rationality with the observable cosmos. The two aren't necessarily co-terminous. We coudl for instance be rational about characters in a Dickens book even though they don't exist in the observable cosmos.

You might not like the evidence for religion but it is there and it persaudes some people, rather than any leap of faith. What you are saying is the evidence is bad, faulty not to be trusted. But since you won;t argue the point you can't prove that.

Having said that later you do seem to argue on the basis of some evidence re Paulism. One arguemnt I would put to you is if the Pauline gospel - with its message for gentiles - was so far removed from the Jesus message, why did St. Peter who knew both accept it? Also, remember that at the time many gentiles were attached to Jewish synagogues. Paul wasn't really saying gentiles should necessairly operate outside the synagogue system. He was arguing for changes in the system.
field, 18.02.2006, 3:45pm #
I think your confusing Jim with me, JGJ, though my name is Jim, I'm not the same guy.

Peter didn't accept it outright. He balked on what Paul accepted in the conversion of Gentiles and initially took back the agreement he had made with Paul once he was face to face with old-school Jews in the Gentiles presence. Paul considere Peter a hypocritePeter was obviously ashamed at what he was doing and had second thoughts. Those Gentiles that were attached to the Jewish synagogues were part of the Diaspora Jewish communities, who were facing criticism from traditional Jews for being too un-orthodox and giving up much that was considered Jewish by adopting Hellenistic ways.

Back to Peter and Paul. "For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?""

"So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12) Jesus did not intend to lead his fellow Jews away from being Jewish:" 'Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.' "(Matthew 5:17)
Jesus was only dissatisfied with the ritualism and fine points of Jewish law that seemed to him to be hypocritical. Jesus didn't teach anything remarkably new at the time, he adopted a myriad of beliefs from the Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and the Essenes and put them all together in a new form. The idea of an after-life was adopted from the Persians by the Jews and by the time Jesus arrived it was widely accepted that there was one, though not by all. Jesus was more concerned with the inner person than with the outer (visible) person that the rabbis of his day were concerned with. Even when Jesus healed a leper he instructed him to keep to Jewish tradition and present himself to the priest at the temple and offer sacrifice as Moses had commanded.
And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them."

It was the Pharisees at the Apostolic Council that opposed allowing Gentile converts into the new Christian Church unless they were circumcised. It was a an issue that was brought up by the church in Antioch and an issue to which Peter agreed, converts could not be saved unless they were circumcised. This led to the first confrontation between Peter and Paul, and when Peter conceded to Paul and later recanted on that agreement it set off a new storm of debates.

So you have to ask yourself, how can this have anything to do with Jesus? It is clearly an issue that Jesus did not cover otherwise the argument would have lasted all of 2 seconds. Instead it was an issue tackled by Paul, hence, "Paulists." If he wasn't arguing that Gentiles should operate outside the synagogue system, then what was he arguing for? Christians would be Jews today but that is not the case because of Paul. The changes he was arguing for does put the Gentiles outside of the Jewish system. The Diasporic Jews (who greatly outnumbered the Jews in Jerusalem) that he was associated with, mostly for money to send back to the poor in Jerusalem, were his main target for his message, not the Gentiles. The Gentiles were the first problem. And the Gentiles eventually became his main target since that became a new and even larger opportunity for cash.

As far as evidence goes, it's such a relative term and subject to one's own opinion when it comes to definition. Evidence for the existence of God by being the only logical excuse for the existence of the universe is as old as the hills and quite hollow. A cat is a cat because it is a cat.

The First-Cause Argument
The Natural-Law Argument
The Argument from Design
The Moral Arguments for Deity
The Argument for the Remedying of Injustice
The Ontological Argument from St. Anselm

There have been plenty of responses from philosophers so much greater than I that I won't sit here and repeat them. I type more than I should as is. My suggestion is to read some and then ask me to prove a point. Start with some Bertrand Russell since it is what you seem to be interested in arguing about. It will save me from repeating the age old arguments.
JGJ, 18.02.2006, 8:07pm #
I've read plenty of philosophy over the years including old Bertrand. A clever chap obviously but not much regarded as a philosopher now. Any man who could lurch from being a full blown pacifist to arguing for the unprovoked use of the atom bomb against the Soviet Union and then back to a kind of unprincipled pacifism must be suspect!

I think it was he who argued that the objection of the first cause argument applied to the concept of God as well (what created God then?) but it seems clear to me that it doesn't since that is what the God concept argues: that there is an uncaused first cause.
field, 19.02.2006, 4:04pm #
He also argued that it is entirely plausible that since you can claim that God doesn't have a cause then it is possible that the Universe does not have a cause as well, it has always existed. What was it he said? The inability to conceive of a universe without a first cause is due to a limited imagination. Of course the same could be said about God, our limited imagination on his nature is as equally baffling as the universe, thus a stalemate and as usuall it takes us back to faith, which you cannot argue or debate since it is based upon personal experience.

That's the problem with religious debates, they always come back to faith since neither side can prove or disprove the existence of God. All atheists can say concerning God is that the burden of proof is on the Christian who tries to convert the Atheist. Atheists have no missionaries and usually don't try to recruit more people to atheism. Atheism is a natural course whilst religion is more of a recruitment operation which sometimes does good things and at other times uses deadly force.

It is easy to blame Christianity as a whole for the crimes of its members since they are "supposed" to believe the same things and be a unitarian movement, hence the several apologies by the Catholic Church. Whereas with atheists, we have no common credo, no symbol to stand under and are more individual.

As far as Bertrand goes the same could be said of Christianity, most notably the Catholic Church, they preach love and peace and look at some of the things they have done. Don't you think that would make them suspect as well?
JGJ, 19.02.2006, 8:12pm #
Last point first - yes of course I think the Catholic Church is suspect when it comes to matters of rational debate.

The idea of the atheists being more divided than xtians is slightly risible I think. Also do you mean uniform rather than unitarian.

As for this insistence that a belief in God can only be held as a matter of faith, that is pure faith on your part. The evidence suggests otherwise. It is clear - because philosophers have done it for centuries - that one can discuss the God concept rationally. Secondly, it is clear that any God concept must in some sense be compatible with the broad scientific consensus.

As I have argued, the God concept appears to me to be much more compatible with science than the idea that the universe popped into existence out of nothing.

Russell's argument that the universe coudl have existed "forever" predates the big bang theory and the scientific discoveries that followed. A permanent cosmos has been undermined by science not religion.

There is in fact a CLEAR difference between the concepts of an eternal God and an eternal cosmos. The cosmos seems to work purely on laws of cause and effect in the context of the space-time contiuum. To say that the universe is eternal means that one must accept the reality of infinity. I for one don't. It is an entirely contradictory concept and not one that has ever been shown to have a real existence outside the realm of mathematics.
field, 20.02.2006, 3:45pm #
I guess I'm confused about which God you are referring to. Is this the Christian God you are referring to? The one represented in the Old and New Testament or is it just the New Testament God or some other God being who is just a creator, or some other concept?
JGJ, 20.02.2006, 6:11pm #
out of interest, if one refuses to accept the reality of infinity, where does your eternal god slot into your thinking?

Have a read of this, and answer the questions at the end, if you've a spare minute
Ben, 20.02.2006, 9:59pm #
I thought that at first Ben, but Field's God reality is different (and conflicts) from his views on our (the one we live in) reality.

Field said: "There is in fact a CLEAR difference between the concepts of an eternal God and an eternal cosmos."

I believe he is saying that the laws of physics and nature and our concept of infinity do not apply to God, and yet, by using these laws, which is the basis for or rationalism, we can discuss the nature of God which he suggests by saying "one can discuss the God concept rationally" and "God concept must in some sense be compatible with the broad scientific consensus."

If there is a "CLEAR difference between the concepts of an eternal God and an eternal cosmos" or God's infinity and our infinity and it can be discussed rationally and through science, how could you (or would you) provide the "CLEAR" evidence of God's eternal existance without using our concept of infinity or laws of physics and nature?
JGJ, 20.02.2006, 11:18pm #
Second attempt at post so much shorter:

Infinity as a concept supposed to apply in time and space (sequential/additional) cannot operate outside space and time.

The God concept has been treated by philosophers and serious theologians for centuries. No need to try and tie down to cultish/tribal/historical notions of God.

My argument is that teh alternative to rational theism is less rational and less credible. That's why I was pointing out that an eternal cosmos is irrational (unless you believe infinity in time and space really does exist).
field, 23.02.2006, 5:51pm #
Well, I'll tell you Field, the more I read about M-theory the more I would have to agree on some parts of what you are saying. Our time-space grows as the Universe grows, hence, it had a beginning and an origin, but M-theory can't be contained in a nutshell that small. Also, M-theory has yet to say anything that would support a "creator" in it all. M-theory makes the place we live in so much larger and at the same time, it makes us much smaller, you could even say, "infinitely smaller" in the broader picture.

I think I understand you now. You're a spiritualist who believes in the philosophical possibility of a supreme being rather than what one would call a religious devotee.
JGJ, 23.02.2006, 6:51pm #
Yes - I'm certainly not a religious devotee, although I see the value of some religious practice and myth in the same way I see the value of Dickens or Shakespeare or Joyce or Beethoven.

Is M theory multi-verse theory?
field, 24.02.2006, 1:16pm #
Yea, M-Theory is Multiverse Theory, Mother-of-all Theory, it has a few names. It is what took string theory to 11 dimensions instead of 9 or 10. At first, it wasn't very popular, string theorists thought it was crap. But now, they realize that string theory doesn't work without it.

I'm the same way about religious practice, person to person, I don't argue religion with a Christian unless they want to. I have been told by a few that I made them better Christians by getting them interested in reading the Bible. Go figure.
JGJ, 24.02.2006, 2:24pm #

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