oxford christian union dawkins
Freedom of Religion

Richard Dawkins: Oxford’s Christian Union is “predatory and nasty”

The ‘Oxford University bans Christian Union’ story has gone half way round the world, and it really shouldn’t have. Oxford’s Cherwell newspaper originally carried it: ‘Christian Union banned from Balliol freshers’ fair‘, which was kind of true, but swift enquiries to primary sources established a number of factual errors (or journalistic ’embellishments’) in order to sell copy, so it didn’t seem worth writing about. But then the Guardian waded in with ‘Anger as Oxford college bans Christian group from freshers’ fair‘; and the Telegraph with ‘Oxford college bans “harmful” Christian Union from freshers’ fair‘; and the Times with ‘Balliol College Oxford bans Christians from freshers fair‘, etc., etc (Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Daily Express, The Tablet, Premier, Christian Today…).

This is Balliol, for Pete’s sake, where John Wycliffe, The Morning Star of the Reformation, was once Master (not to mention sundry bishops); and outside whose doors some eminent reformers were burnt at the stake. It has its own chapel, like most Oxford colleges: its very foundational ethos was Christian (and unlike some colleges [like St Antony’s], it hasn’t converted its chapel into a library or a gym).

Talk about Chinese whispers… (can one still say that, or is it now considered racist?).

Firstly, Balliol College banned nothing: it is highly unlikely that anyone with any authority in the College even knew about the matter until it hit the press. Secondly, the JCR (Junior Common Room – the term for the whole undergraduate population of a college) didn’t ban anything: it was a small faction of its organising committee. Thirdly, when the JCR as a whole heard about the actions of the secular zealots, they passed a unanimous motion (yes, unanimous) that such illiberal behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated and could never be repeated. Fourthly (and rather most importantly), the Balliol Christian Union reps were very happy with the amicable resolution and didn’t want any further publicity.

Enter the eminent and renowned Professor Richard Dawkins.

Predatory: preying naturally on others; seeking to exploit others.

Nasty: very bad or unpleasant; behaving in an unpleasant or spiteful way; damaging or harmful.

‘Nasty’ is a valid opinion. Quite a few of Professor Dawkins’ own students find him thoroughly unpleasant, and they are entitled to do so, and he is entitled to shrug his shoulders.

But ‘Predatory’ is dangerous.

Oxford University prides itself on its excellent student support: the health and welfare of its student body are paramount:

The University is committed to maintaining a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all members of the University community are respected. The University has a network of Harassment Advisors in colleges and departments and runs a dedicated harassment line.

For a senior faculty member, as Professor Richard Dawkins is, to accuse the Oxford Christian Union of being ‘predatory’ is really rather concerning. It means they are preying on the weak and vulnerable; exploiting loneliness or depression; manipulating, intimidating, abusing or misusing their power and position.

Richard Dawkins says the Oxford University Christian Union is harassing, not pastoring; that they are effectively bullying students into salvation.

According to the University’s own Policy and Procedure on Harassment, Professor Dawkins should not merely tweet about this to his 2.46million followers:

4. Those in positions of authority, such as heads of division, heads of department, chairs of faculty boards and their equivalents, have formal responsibilities under this Policy and are expected to familiarise themselves with the Policy and Procedures on appointment. All heads of department and equivalent, and all other managers, have a duty to implement this Policy and to make every effort to ensure that harassment and victimisation do not occur in the areas of work for which they are responsible and, that if they do occur, any concerns are investigated promptly and effectively.

It is his duty to ensure that students are not preyed upon by nasty, malicious groups like the Christian Union. He has a duty to report their behaviour so that it can be investigated “promptly and effectively” to ensure swift justice for the victims. Has he done this? If not, why not? Is he not in breach of his University’s own Harassment Policy? He says the Christian Union is not merely predatory, but notoriously so. So it is manifestly a chronic problem of which he has himself been aware for many years, if not decades.

And what has he done about it?

Is it not his duty to ensure the health and welfare of the student body, even if doing so must mean that he sides with the “pompous idiocy” of Balliol’s ‘safe space’ zealots of secularity?

Or is he embellishing the truth – you know, impugning and defaming Oxford’s respectable and valued Christian Union – just to wade in on the story, boost his personal profile, and gain a few thousand more Twitter followers?

Pompous idiocy, indeed.

  • Father David

    Looks like a little Anglo-Catholic Common Sense might leaven the Evangelical lump which is Oxford University’s Christian Union.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      But the trouble was caused by the secularists…not the Christian Union. However, I understand that, from your point of view, the Christian Union is more likely to be ‘Far Right’ and the secularists ‘Far Left’ and so more aligned to your own views. Just an observation…

      • Father David

        Dear lady, the Christian Union is more likely to be Evangelical rather than Catholic, so your Left and Right spectrum is a diversion. Just an observation.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          I only do it to annoy… well, to tease little, dear Revd. David.

          • You are a naughty priest teaser, Mrs P.

          • Father David

            You little cream cake in a bustle, you! “Naughty but nice!”

    • David

      Always put the facts before your prejudices, please !

      • James60498 .

        I am not sure it’s reasonable to expect a Corbyn supporter to know any facts. Or indeed to want to know any.

        Be fair!!

    • donadrian

      The CU in my college rarely if ever came to Chapel and were rumoured to be praying for the chaplain’s conversion.

      • Father David

        And was their prayer answered?

  • Gregory Morris

    There is no show without Mr Punch….I mean Dawkins.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Common sense, not Common Purpose, has prevailed. Rejoice!

    • Norman Yardy

      Amen!

  • David

    At an institutional level this mistake from a prejudiced subset was soon rectified, but then along comes publicity seeking Mr Dawkins, who clearly seems to have relished an opportunity to spew out venom at anything Christian. This tells us much more about Mr Dawkins than anything else …..

    • Jon Sorensen

      “to spew out venom” unlike Christians?

      • Little Black Censored

        Yes, unlike.

        • Jon Sorensen

          You should leave your house and see the real world and venture outside Christian run website to see the reality. He is a challenge for you; Read every article Friendly Atheist publishes in next 7 days and then tell me that Christians don’t “spew out venom”

          You might have lost the touch in reality 😉

  • CliveM

    From Professor Dawkins point of view, all evangelism is predatory and nasty. Remember the Church or Christianity has no place in his world, our role it to shut up and die off.

    I’m glad the witness in Balliol College upsets his.

    • magnolia

      From his point of view only his social Darwinism and beliefs that once you die there is nothing is worth trumpeting. Quite why he wants to convince people of such a miserable hopeless belief system is beyond me, as if his own misery needed to others into his miserable hopeless vortex drained of meaning. That is the real predatory behaviour, and I guess it could be illustrating the dictum that we often, albeit subconsciously, see in others, not necessarily correctly, things which annoy us about ourselves.

      • CliveM

        Ever since Christopher Hitchens died, Dawkins has been a busted flush., trading on past glories. All the adulation went to his head.

      • Sarky

        Miserable and hopeless???
        Why can’t christians understand that we’re anything but. When you realise this life is your one chance, you make the most of everything. Live your life and enjoy it instead of worrying about what may or may not happen at the end.

        • Anton

          If you can. It’s enough for you at the moment, and I’m glad of that but you do not speak for every atheist. May you live long!

          • Sarky

            Not long, just well!!

          • Anton

            Long enough to change your mind.

          • Richard B

            Amen Anton, we need time to become wise in choosing our post-mortem status.

          • Sarky

            I’ve chosen mine.

            ‘Not available’.

          • Richard B

            Not an option, as you’ll eventually find out for yourself

          • Sarky

            Or not.

          • Richard B

            Whyever should you miss all the fun! I was pompously anti-christian but was very fortunate to discover my grave mistake just b4 being consigned to that pit. So why should it be different for anyone else? As you’re well-informed then you won’t get away with ‘I never knew’!

          • Sarky

            Can’t think of anything worse than sending every minute of every day, for eternity, praising god.

          • Richard B

            That’s what I thought too when one of the ’walking dead’ like you (ie brain
            works but spirit’s disconnected). After an encounter with Jesus Christ, re-born
            and immersed in His Spirit and having been in Father’s presence, then absolutely nothing else compares. Your idea of continual worship doesn’t necessarily apply imho because there’s other aspects of everlasting life.

            We’ve chatted about this previously so won’t waste more time. You’re intelligent yet even an Iranian ex-Hezbollah terrorist knows far, far more than you. You probably won’t want to, but try 15 mins of his remarkable video starting from 7 mins mark > https://videopress.com/v/0EiwstSd

        • magnolia

          “Ah, half the hour is past! ’Twill all be past anon!”

          The end is a moment like all the others, and when one is there….it matters. Besides which until a person has come to terms with death it is hard to bring up children and become the old lion/ess and give the young lion/ess proper space without resentment. I doubt whether this happens without a belief in eternal life.

          Do you get the greatest enjoyment in life from posting here when you do? Greater than any possible alternative? Is there at least one other motive?

          • Sarky

            I don’t resent giving my cubs space, i see it as job done. I dont resent their youth, i look forward to hearing of their adventures while having a few of my own.
            No ulterior motive for posting here, just offering an alternative.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I don’t worry abut what will happen at the end, to me…. I know that my redeemer liveth, and have his promises to lean on.
          I do care about what will happen to those such as you, for your rejection of the Truth will bring about a sad eternity indeed. I wish it were not so.

          • Sarky

            Good, because it isn’t so.

          • Navarth

            The atheist position is predicated on contempt for the sum of human history. It’s fundamentally dishonest because each man is very small. Dawkins is a third rate academic because he lacks the humility to recognise his own ignorance.

          • Little Black Censored

            How is he an academic at all? Is his office privately funded?

        • Little Black Censored

          That accounts for the happiness, optimism and broad sympathies consistently exuded by your comments on this blog.

    • Sarky

      Your role is to shut up and die off.

      A role you are fulfilling beautifully.

      • CliveM

        Well clearly not if Mr Dawkins has a problem with the CU.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Dawkins would obviously make an exception for “evangelism” for the “gospel” of atheism.

  • Anton

    Dawkins does a fine job of discrediting atheism, given how he comes across. Another reason to support free speech!

    • David

      Yes his behaviour discredits many of the more moderate atheists. He’s shot his own bolt !

    • magnolia

      Little less than the face of Jeremy Bentham, which the BBC had the grim tastelessness to show the poor public on HIGNFY. I guess any institution that could employ Savile with his varied penchants isn’t a great afficionado of good taste; nevertheless….

    • Jon Sorensen

      Christians are upset – Dawkins must be doing something right!

  • carl jacobs

    Who are the “weak and vulnerable”? Those who cannot face the reality that their lives have no intrinsic purpose. Religion preys upon these helpless victims by offering the illusion of meaning. The healthy and the strong stare into the face of meaninglessness and laugh. At least so long as their stomachs are full.

    • Anton

      It’s worse than meaninglessness. It means that they live in the belief there’s nobody who can forgive their sins.

      • Busy Mum

        Even worse than that….’What sins?’

        • Anton

          I was going to reply that most people still reckon murder is wrong. Then I thought of abortion.

          • Busy Mum

            The operative words are ‘most’ and ‘still’.

            I wonder for how much longer?

            One of my daughter’s uni housemates last year told her that murder is wrong just because it ‘feels wrong’. She was unable to answer when my daughter asked her why her feelings should trump somebody else’s feelings that might tell them murder ‘feels right’. Murder (excluding abortion) was the only wrong thing in existence, in her opinion.

            An interesting exchange taken from George Borrow’s ‘Bible in Spain’:

            Spanish bookseller: ‘In the days of the friars, this church was one of refuge, to which if the worst criminals escaped, they were safe. All were protected there save the negroes, as they called us liberals.’

            Borrow: ‘Even murderers, I suppose?’

            Bookseller: ‘Murders! Far worse criminals than they. By the bye, I have heard that you English entertain the utmost abhorrence of murder. Do you in reality consider it a crime of very great magnitude?’

            Borrow:’How should we not? For every other crime some reparation can be made; but if we take away life, we take away all…..’

            Bookseller: ‘The friars were of another way of thinking; they always looked upon murder as a friolera; but not so the crime of marrying your first cousin without dispensation, for which, if we believe them, there is scarcely any atonement either in this world or the next.’

        • Sarky

          Whats sin??

          • Busy Mum

            The reason Jesus came.

          • Sarky

            To sort out a problem he created.

          • Busy Mum

            He forbade Adam and Eve to eat of the tree….

          • Sarky

            Today he would be sued for negligence for leaving something so dangerous within easy access.

          • Richard B

            And the bailiff that devised their eviction ended up leg-less!

          • Busy Mum

            I think God values personal responsibility.

          • Richard B

            Implies freedom of choice – tut tut. Life would’ve been better as a robot – none of the sin bother us and no need to ‘buy’ us back from the ‘bailiff’, none of the silliness of being part of a family, Mum – or of God’s family and getting to sit on dad’s knee!

          • Busy Mum

            Interestingly I have read many accounts where people have given vent to their desire to be an animal – or as you say, a robot – in order to avoid their accountability to God.

          • Richard B

            Have never heard of that; it just popped into mind as an amusing way of refuting Sarky’s nonsensical notions. As God’s got a sense of humour perhaps it came from Him?

    • Sarky

      I totally refute your suggestion that atheists can only be so because nothing bad has happened. As you know I’ve seen plenty of bad times recently and god has never entered the equation.

      • carl jacobs

        And if you lived in Ukraine in January 1933?

        • Sarky

          I dont.

          • carl jacobs

            Exactly my point. Do you know what was happening in Ukraine in January 1933?

          • Sarky

            Irrelevant. I didn’t live then so cant possibly comment how i would/wouldn’t react.

          • carl jacobs

            So you can handle anything but any context you haven’t experienced is irrelevant. In other words, your assertion is stark naked and you don’t want to examine it in the light. Yes. That’s understandable.

      • Chefofsinners

        I agree. Atheists are those who are too weak to face the truth of their own sinfulness and need.

        • Sarky

          No. We are strong, we don’t need a supernatural crutch.

          • Chefofsinners

            God is no crutch. To know God you must first face and know your own weakness, to confess your failure and sinfulness. That is too painful for most. The benefits only flow once the courage of faith has been exerted.

          • Sarky

            Weakness, failure and sinfulness??
            Thats not how i live my life. No wonder you lot are so miserable.

          • Chefofsinners

            You live your life avoiding the truth. I am the least miserable person I know.

          • Sarky

            I havent avoided your ‘truth’, I have examined and discarded it.

  • This is splendid news!
    If Dawkins considers the C.U. ‘predatory and nasty,’ that is high praise indeed! It means that it is working well and fulfilling the Great Commission.
    If the Gospel wasn’t being promoted and if students weren’t being saved, he wouldn’t be so exercised about it.
    Generally, I believe that C.U.s up and down the country are doing an excellent work.. ‘For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth…..’ (1 Thes. 1:8).

    • TropicalAnglican

      Yes, I agree with you, I was about to write in support of the university Christian Unions. I personally know of at least 2 people who came to Christ whilst studying overseas, and heard the testimony of a bishop who was an engineering student when he became a Christian. He told us about the fear he felt about having to tell his father (phone calls were expensive then and scolding time accordingly limited, so his enraged father vented all his frustration onto a tape and mailed it).

      In late 2014, I attended a retreat for overseas graduates. The speaker said, “We owe the West an inestimable debt for bringing the gospel to us.” He added that it was now our duty to bring the gospel back to Europe. A mission trip to France was already in the works, and someone with a ministry in Sweden shared with me about the concerns he had for that country.

      I have also heard about Christian Unions being defunded simply because their constitution required the president to be a Christian.

      These are strange times indeed.

    • Jon Sorensen

      Just remember that the Great Commission is a later addition to text by people long after JC’s death and Christianity does not seem to be progressing well in the UK…

      • Really?
        I am staring at the textual apparatus for Matthew 28:16-20 and there seems to be no controversy over those verses save whether “Amen” is added at the end.
        Luke 24:46-49 and Acts 1:7-8 both seem to be similarly robust.
        And we are currently living in the greatest period of world-wide expansion of the Gospel in world history.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Your textual apparatus does not have Jewish texts and if Jesus told this to his followers why does Acts 10 show that this point was still arguing after Jesus death. Note how Mat 28:19 baptism formula with Holy Spirit is not what first century Christians used. Mat28:19-20 were added quite late.

          “And we are currently living in the greatest period of world-wide expansion of the Gospel in world history”
          Weird, Islam and non-belief are also in the greatest period of world-wide expansion….

          • The point of non-Jews becoming Christians was not being argued over in Acts 10. Multiple O.T. texts speak of the Gentiles coming to the Messiah (e.g. Isaiah 49:6). Peter’s error, corrected in Acts 10, was that he thought the Gentiles would have to become Jews first.
            The difference between the baptismal formulas in Matthew 28 and Acts is simply down to metonymy. All churches I’m aware of baptize in the Name of the Trinity.
            There is no evidence whatsoever that Matt 28:19-20 was added later or that it conflicts with any other portion of Scripture.
            And 100 million Chinese have become Christians since the 1970s, presumably from atheism. Some tens of millions of dalits have become Christians in recent years, presumably out of Hinduism. Where the 100 million or so new African Christians have come from I’m not so sure, but they’re there. I don’t know whether the millions of South Americans who have left Roman Catholicism for Christ count, but they’re there also.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Acts 10:34-36 shows Peter did no know about the Great Commission. Why would he still be wondering about his? And why in Acts 11:2-3ff other were not aware of the Great Commission?

            The difference between the baptismal formulas in Matthew 28 and Acts is *NOT* simply down to metonymy. Eusebius in Church History quotes Matthew 28:19 as “Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name” (not Trinity). Just like Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5 and 22:16 “in the name of Jesus Christ”. Text was changed when Trinity was introduces. Many modern Pentacostals baptise in the name of Jesus (not trinity)

            “There is no evidence”
            Well did you look the Jewish text? The path to get rid of bias is trying to falsify ones own position, not trying to ignore clues.

            “100 million Chinese have become Christians since the 1970s, ”
            The population of China has increased by 500 million since 1970. So there are 400 million more non-Christians there.

            “presumably from atheism.”
            Superstition, ancestor worship and other religions were/are strong there. Being officially atheist does not make people atheists

  • Anton

    This is Balliol, for Pete’s sake, where John Wycliffe, The Morning Star of the Reformation, was once Master… and outside whose doors some eminent reformers were burnt at the stake.

    I can’t imagine who His Grace has in mind…

    Three pioneers, all made in Cambridge, burnt in Oxford.

    20 days to go to the Reformation’s 500th!

    • Dolphinfish

      يوم النكبة

      • Anton

        For whom?

    • Dominic Stockford

      We’re having an evening service on the 31st. I hope others are too – bringing prayer and praise to the day.

      (Oh, and a sneak preview – look out for the Telegraph on that day. Can’t say any more, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

      • Tony Phillips

        We’re dressing up as Star Wars characters, making Jack O’Lanterns and going from door to door looking for chocolate.

        • Dominic Stockford

          How sad.
          Even more sad that you admit it.

          • Tony Phillips

            Well, the Reformation is a very sad occasion. It fractured the unity of western Christendom, bolstered the formation of modern nation-states and made fertile the ground for modern secularism.
            Thus the chocolate.

          • Anton

            Secularism is an abuse of the freedom that began to be won at the Reformation.

          • Dominic Stockford

            ‘Western Christendom’ aka Roman Catholicism, had no unity in Christ, merely a physically and viciously applied uniformity. It professed ‘peace, peace’ where there was no peace – something God condemns outright. The ending of such a false unity was a jolly good thing.

            However, why your opinion on that should inspire you to go out dancing with the Devil is utterly beyond me.

  • Murti Bing

    Talking of ‘predatory’ behaviour, I can honestly say I never paid any heed whatsoever to all those nasty rumours about a certain prominent, Oxford professor and his predilection for nice young female students. Honestly, I didn’t…

  • Ray Sunshine

    I read a few pages of one of Dawkins’ books once, just standing up in a bookshop. It left me with the impression that he was just rehashing what Bertrand Russell had written nearly a century earlier, with the difference that Russell made a much better job of arguing his case convincingly.

    • Anton

      The key to Dawkins is that he is a controversialist. He was a controversialist in genetics long before he started talking ill-informed nonsense about religion. Yet he won’t debate William Lane Craig. There is little doubt that he is scared of doing so.

      • He seems to pick the weakest and worst examples of his (Christian) opposition to discredit the whole. He does not do what any debater with integrity ought to do which is to engage with the best arguments/face of the opposition and demonstrate their flaws. Indeed, he hides from the best.

    • Jon of GSG

      Ditto. About three paragraphs and I suspected he doesn’t really understand Christianity at all. But I think his public utterances since then have proven it beyond doubt. At least he’s even-handed though: I haven’t come across anything to suggest he really understands any religion.

  • magnolia

    Predatory and nasty? More usually (bar the odd theological spat) marked by thoroughgoing earnestness, mildness, singing accompanied by guitars, forever passing plates with food on to another, any other….. and the desire to find a loving spouse.

    Those who believe in the survival of the fittest and Social Darwinism are the champions at the law of the jungle, surely?

  • Royinsouthwest

    In the distant pass Dawkins did scientific research but then he gradually became more and more of a populariser of science until he was given a chair as a professor for the public understanding of science.

    He could have used that position to raise public awareness of the evidence, it’s strengths and weaknesses , or even the paucity of evidence on matters of public concern, e.g. mad cow disease, chemical additives in foodstuffs, the risks of nuclear power, climate change, spin offs from pure scientific research etc. Instead he used his academic sinecure as a platform for promulgating atheism.

    • David

      Moreover he assumes he has competence in matters outside his specific science. So his books show a baleful lack of knowledge of philosophy which makes for cringing reading. Basically his arrogance leads to over confidence. But his embarrassing books must have made him much money.

      • Dominic Stockford

        You are right, he writes about things on which he knows nothing. His output on God is a particularly obvious such topic.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Sour Grapes? He seem to have move the human conscience to science and reason. He might know more than you think…

      • Jon Sorensen

        People who dont like his work call them “embarrassing”, but he and millions of people are proud of those and lives have changed better. Check out how many copies of God Delusion has been downloaded in arabic!

        • Albert

          There are lots of things I don’t like. I don’t call them embarrassing because I don’t like them. Dawkins is embarrassing because he calls his book The God Delusion, when the most obvious delusion in the book is his own, that he is writing about God.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Hindu Gods, Allah, Jahweh, Zeus, Thor, Mithras, Isis, Osiris, David Koresh…. people believing in a truckload of imaginary “Gods” and you think it is Dawkins who is confused. Outside your Theists bubble everything is much clearer and actually make sense…

            And yes I get it. It’s all other people that are Delusional but your God is real. Sure!

          • Albert

            Well this is of course the irrationality of atheism. The atheist thinks that every type of God does not exist (even the ones we haven’t thought of). That’s an enormous claim. But you miss the point. Dawkins does not even address the God he thinks he is attacking, namely the God of Western classical theism. That’s a pretty serious fault. Moreover, he attempts to deal with this from a scientific, not a philosophical point of view, which is just a category mistake. To make matters worse, your average atheist can’t see the problem.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Dawkins does not even address the God he thinks he is attacking”
            You have not read Dawkins. If you had you would know better…

          • Albert

            I haven’t read lots of Dawkins, but I have read enough to be able to defend the statement. If you knew about classical theism, you would defend the statement too.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Well defend your statement:
            “Dawkins does not even address the God he thinks he is attacking”
            He has debunked Gods of all religions, theism, deism, pantheism, panentheism, unicorn etc in his books, interviews and speeches. Surely you know he is all about evidence. And he points out that amount of evidence we have…

          • Albert

            Fine. Dawkins seems to think that God, if he existed would be a part of the universe. He has no grasp of the arguments, and even claims that the teleological argument is the only one in regular use today. Says Michael Ruse, who is a decent atheist philosopher:

            unlike the new atheists, I take scholarship seriously. I have written that The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist and I meant it. Trying to understand how God could need no cause, Christians claim that God exists necessarily. I have taken the effort to try to understand what that means. Dawkins and company are ignorant of such claims and positively contemptuous of those who even try to understand them, let alone believe them. Thus, like a first-year undergraduate, he can happily go around asking loudly, “What caused God?” as though he had made some momentous philosophical discovery. Dawkins was indignant when, on the grounds that inanimate objects cannot have emotions, philosophers like Mary Midgley criticised his metaphorical notion of a selfish gene. Sauce for the biological goose is sauce for the atheist gander. There are a lot of very bright and well informed Christian theologians. We atheists should demand no less.

            So he can see Dawkins is rubbish and ignorant. Christians can see it. Why can’t you?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Dawkins seems to think that God, if he existed would be a part of the universe”
            No. He is well aware of WLC “outside space and time” argument which he dismissed as there is no evidence

            Dawkins is not perfect but not “rubbish and ignorant”
            Ruse is a philosopher who “Try to understand how God could need no cause”. For Dawkins who is a scientist this is a moot point until you show good evidence of the existence of God. For scientists this is like arguing what colour is unicorn’s nose…

            Ruse says “Christians claim that God exists necessarily”
            Not true. Some say this but not all. There a many including ignorant view on this. Most Christians that I have met have never mention this.

            Ruse says: “Dawkins and company are ignorant of such claims”
            I think Dawkins actually mention this in God Delusion so he at least knows the claims

            Ruse says: “[Dawkins] can happily go around asking loudly, “What caused God?”
            That is always the good question to ask Christians. You can see their brain melting. Have you seen WLC to answer this 😉 When people only ask one causal step, he melt and tells that you can’t ask this because it leads to an infinite regressing. LOL

            I like Ruse, but if what you wrote is correct I think he has missed the mark. Dawkins has make a lot bigger impact in the world that Ruse, not to mentions Dawkins’ books are easier to read and follow.

            Once people leave religions they tend to gain a clearer and broader view of life and humanity. Part of this could understanding that Dawkins is not “rubbish and ignorant” while being populist.

          • Albert

            No. He is well aware of WLC “outside space and time” argument which he dismissed as there is no evidence

            Good grief you are ignorant. WLC may say that, but it is not his argument but simply the doctrine itself. The issue here is not whether God is real, but whether the idea of God Dawkins attacks is the idea of God in Western Classical theism. Now to say there is no evidence, by which is meant scientific evidence is just a category mistake. Since such a being would not of course be part of science, since science only deals with things in space and time…obviously. LOL.

            For Dawkins who is a scientist this is a moot point until you show good evidence of the existence of God.

            Yes, but the idea of God is dealt with in philosophy, not science. That’s the point! The man who expects science to prove God’s existence is just making another category mistake.

            For scientists this is like arguing what colour is unicorn’s nose…</i.

            That's your third category mistake. The concept of unicorn can exist without any unicorns existing. Otherwise, the statement "Unicorns have a horn on their noses" would be meaningless unless there were any unicorns. So the question of the concept (colour of horns) is different from the question of existence. This is so basic, it's painful.

            Not true. Some say this but not all. There a many including ignorant view on this. Most Christians that I have met have never mention this.

            It is the classical view of God, and it is that view Dawkins needs to tackle, if he is to take on the idea of God.

            That is always the good question to ask Christians.

            It’s a not a good question to ask Christians, as it only shows that the person asking it is pig ignorant, and actually quite stupid.

            Have you seen WLC to answer this 😉 When people only ask one causal step, he melt and tells that you can’t ask this because it leads to an infinite regressing.

            I have seen him answer this, it is pathetically easy to answer. If you frame your causal principle, you would have to do so around some kind of contingency (beginning, change etc.), now if God does not have any contingency, then obviously he doesn’t have any cause. You do know they teach this to 13 year olds in this country?…ROFL

            I like Ruse, but if what you wrote is correct I think he has missed the mark.

            No, you have just failed to understand any of this. Do you seriously believe that a proper philosopher can’t come up with your kind adolescent questioning?

            Dawkins has make a lot bigger impact in the world that Ruse, not to mentions Dawkins’ books are easier to read and follow.

            Yeah, and Hitler made a bigger impact that Dawkins. And why is that? For the same reason that Dawkins has done well: because people are stupid and they fall for ignorant stuff. Some people even fall for ad populum fallacies.

            Part of this could understanding that Dawkins is not “rubbish and ignorant” while being populist.

            Dawkins may be a great scientist for all I know (although I doubt that such a sloppy thinker could be) and I am told that his theories are not good, not least because there is too much emphasis on the gene, to fit the evidence. However, he is ignorant and stupid on philosophical matters. What can one say of those who can’t see this?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “whether the idea of God Dawkins attacks is the idea of God in Western Classical theism”
            I already said he has done this, but you keep on asking it again.

            “Now to say there is no evidence, by which is meant scientific evidence is just a category mistake”
            Christians claim that their God was and still influences our time and space so it is not a category mistake. WLC argument was that God came to our time and space. But if you claim that God is not in our time and space and does not communicate with our time and space how did you get the information that God exist?

            “but the idea of God is dealt with in philosophy, not science. That’s the point”
            You do like to exclude science. Good for you

            “The man who expects science to prove God’s existence is just making another category mistake”
            That is not how science work. We expect evidence.

            “It is the classical view of God, and it is that view Dawkins needs to tackle, if he is to take on the idea of God.”
            No he don’t “need”. He can take scientific approach if he wants

            “”What caused God?” is a not a good question to ask Christians, as it only shows that the person asking it is pig ignorant, and actually quite stupid”
            See how you had an emotional reaction and needed to insult me. Clearly you don’t have a good answer to this and it is nice to see you Christians react emotionally to a logical problem you have.

            “Do you seriously believe that a proper philosopher can’t come up with your kind adolescent questioning”
            Well you couldn’t. You resorted to insults. And no proper Christian philosopher can’t do it either. Otherwise you would have said but you can’t.

            “For the same reason [as Hitler] that Dawkins has done well: because people are stupid and they fall for ignorant stuff”
            A bit harsh. Remember more educated people tend to be atheists.

            “Dawkins may be a great scientist for all I know and I am told that his theories are not good”
            Which one of his scientific theory is not good, or did you not bother to do fact checking?

          • Albert

            “whether the idea of God Dawkins attacks is the idea of God in Western Classical theism”
            I already said he has done this, but you keep on asking it again.

            Yes, you have asserted he has done this, but since you manifestly don’t understand either, that doesn’t get us anywhere.

            Christians claim that their God was and still influences our time and space so it is not a category mistake. WLC argument was that God came to our time and space. But if you claim that God is not in our time and space and does not communicate with our time and space how did you get the information that God exist?

            This is muddled on several levels, but I’ll cut straight to the final question. Even if there was nothing from God, it would still be possible to see God exists, by the contingency of the universe. Are you actually having this conversation with me without knowing what Aristotle said about all this?

            You do like to exclude science. Good for you

            I did not exclude science. I acknowledged that science had limits. This is obvious. Go into any university in the world. Do any have subjects and departments which are not science? Yes, they do. Therefore, science has limits.

            That is not how science work. We expect evidence.

            And what sort of evidence would you concede is evidence for God?

            No he don’t “need”. He can take scientific approach if he wants

            Science deals with physical things and their processes. God (if he exists) is not a physical thing or a process. Therefore, science does not deal with God.

            See how you had an emotional reaction and needed to insult me. Clearly you don’t have a good answer to this and it is nice to see you Christians react emotionally to a logical problem you have.

            Can you not see that you are insulting me, while misunderstanding everything. The question you ask, is pathetic, it shows such a spectacular misunderstanding of what the word God names, that it is astonishing anyone should ask it while being so condescending as you. And I have given a very clear response to your question, which you have just ignored, while saying “clearly you don’t have a good answer to this”. Anyone literally anyone can see that is not true.

            Remember more educated people tend to be atheists.

            Actually, people who are educated in this part of philosophy tend not to be atheists.

            Which one of his scientific theory is not good, or did you not bother to do fact checking?

            I made it clear I was referring to the views of others. I am not a scientist and therefore am hardly up to the fact checking.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Even if there was nothing from God, it would still be possible to see God exists, by the contingency of the universe”
            This is hand waving without evidence. Why don’t you provide evidence how it is possible to see God exists?

            “I acknowledged that science had limits”
            But don’t assume religion/revelation/magic has answer to what science can’t answer… This is your mistake

            “And what sort of evidence would you concede is evidence for God?”
            Any good evidence that can not attributed to some random unicorn. How about you give us your best one? Just one, the best one.

            “Science deals with physical things and their processes. God (if he exists) is not a physical thing or a process. Therefore, science does not deal with God.”
            Wrong. There has been plenty of double blind scientific studies about supernatural. Even done by Christians. So science can deal with supernatural.

            “Actually, people who are educated in this part of philosophy tend not to be atheists.”
            Actually. My claim still stands. Surely people who study philosophy or religion are more likely to be religious. Other find it boring.

            “I am not a scientist and therefore am hardly up to the fact checking.”
            Typical Christian attitude. Making claims without fact checking, getting their ideas from apologists who also don’t do fact checking, and being sure they are right. This is like waterwheel claim clustermess.

          • Albert

            This is hand waving without evidence. Why don’t you provide evidence how it is possible to see God exists?

            If something is contingent, then it is reasonable to suppose that it needs a cause. That’s not hand waving, it’s just reason.

            But don’t assume religion/revelation/magic has answer to what science can’t answer… This is your mistake

            No it isn’t and I haven’t said that. That’s just your ignorance and prejudice. In matters of science I do not believe that religion/revelation/magic will provide an answer. But in matters of metaphysics I’m not silly enough to think that physics will provide and answer. That appears to be your mistake.

            Any good evidence that can not attributed to some random unicorn.

            The existence of all physical universes obviously cannot be attributed to so random unicorn. My question about evidence is getting into the category error that seems to run through your position: is it only scientific evidence that you will accept?

            Wrong. There has been plenty of double blind scientific studies about supernatural. Even done by Christians. So science can deal with supernatural.

            And how are these measured? By looking at physical effects? If you answer yes, you have not falsified my point, if you answer no, then you are not talking about science.

            Actually. My claim still stands. Surely people who study philosophy or religion are more likely to be religious. Other find it boring.

            Or may be they just realise that the basis for atheism is weak. As for “more educated people”, I’ve studied at three UK universities. They are incredibly secular places, and it is not surprising that people are affected by that. But what most “educated” people do not have is the philosophical and religious understanding that would make them reasonable in the opinions they hold. So what if someone who is educated in (say) music theory is more likely to be an atheist. Music theory does not make one less ignorant of the philosophical issues surrounding God.

            Typical Christian attitude. Making claims without fact checking

            I never made a claim that Dawkins was not a great scientist. I said this:

            Dawkins may be a great scientist for all I know (although I doubt that such a sloppy thinker could be) and I am told that his theories are not good, not least because there is too much emphasis on the gene, to fit the evidence. However, he is ignorant and stupid on philosophical matters. What can one say of those who can’t see this?

            So 1. I doubt Dawkins is a great scientist because he is a sloppy thinker. That position stands.
            2. I am told that his theories are not good. That claim also stands. And BTW, I get that from scientists I know, not from Christian apologists.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “The existence of all physical universes obviously cannot be attributed to so random unicorn”
            Why are you close minded. Unicorn was outside our space and time by chose to enter her creation.

            “is it only scientific evidence that you will accept?”
            I said before. Just provide your best evidence whatever it is

            “And how are these measured? By looking at physical effects?”
            Looking at the effect and outcome of praying sick people to get better. Christian studied christians, pier reviewed double blind. For example one funded by Templeton.

            “But what most “educated” people do not have is the philosophical and religious understanding that…”
            You don’t need religious [whatever that means] understanding. Do you understand Mithraism?

            “1. I doubt Dawkins is a great scientist because he is a sloppy thinker. That position stands.
            2. I am told that his theories are not good. That claim also stands. And BTW, I get that from scientists I know, not from Christian apologists.”
            1. Evidence-free thinking. You just don’t like his atheism.
            2. fact checking free thinking. Who are this scientists you read who commented Dawkins’ work?

          • Albert

            Why are you close minded. Unicorn was outside our space and time by chose to enter her creation.

            It’s nothing to do with being closed minded, but clear minded and actually reading what people write. I did not say the unicorn is outside our space and time, I said

            The existence of all physical universes obviously cannot be attributed to so random unicorn

            Now that would mean that the unicorn is outside of all space and time. Now if you say that you can conceptualise such a unicorn I say that you can’t without contradiction.

            I said before. Just provide your best evidence whatever it is

            Curious how you don’t like answering questions. My issue here is what is the measure of evidence or reason for God. It cannot be scientific, for the decision of what constitutes a measure is itself philosophical, not scientific.

            Looking at the effect and outcome of praying sick people to get better. Christian studied christians, pier reviewed double blind. For example one funded by Templeton.

            I think the evidence is unclear, but that proves nothing. No one in their right mind would claim to prove God in this way, or only in this way, so, even if it is a failure, it would be the height of irrationality to draw your conclusion from it.

            You don’t need religious [whatever that means] understanding.

            If you are rationally to critique something, you do need at least a basic understanding of what it is that you critique. And this is lacking.

            Do you understand Mithraism?

            No, and it is just silly to think that is relevant. After all, if Christianity is true then Mithraism is false. So I don’t need to know much about Mithraism, I just need to know enough about it to see that if Christianity is true, Mithraism is false.

            1. Evidence-free thinking. You just don’t like his atheism.

            No. This is just you engaging in evidence free arguing. I’ve read enough of Dawkins to know that he is he a sloppy thinker. Obviously it is not just his atheism that causes me to say that, since I have recommended Ruse who is an atheist. You just don’t like the idea that some people can see through a man whom you hadn’t seen through.

            2. fact checking free thinking. Who are this scientists you read who commented Dawkins’ work?

            People I know in real life. As a matter of interest, what is your education?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “My issue here is what is the measure of evidence or reason for God. It cannot be scientific, for the decision of what constitutes a measure is itself philosophical, not scientific.”
            Blah, blah, blah… so no evidence only hand waving again.

            “I think the evidence is unclear, but that proves nothing”
            Evidence is clear if you read the studies. “Proves” are in math not really in science.

            “If you are rationally to critique something, you do need at least a basic understanding of what it is that you critique. And this is lacking.”
            No you don’t. If the premises or foundations are incorrect, I don’t need to “understand” the details of your/all religion. You should know this. I guess you can’t rationally to critique Mithraism or other religions then according to your world view.

            Now look at this train wreck of your world view:
            1. “If you are rationally to critique something, you do need at least a basic understanding of what it is that you critique”
            2. “I don’t need to know much about Mithraism”
            3. “Mithraism is false”

            That sums up religious mind 😉

          • Albert

            Blah, blah, blah… so no evidence only hand waving again.

            I never said no evidence. I am asking you what standard of evidence you would accept. Are you saying that the only rational basis for believing anything is scientific evidence?

            “Proves” are in math not really in science.

            As I have demonstrated elsewhere, you aren’t up to having a discussion about the use of the word “proof” in English. Especially as you use it differently yourself.

            No you don’t. If the premises or foundations are incorrect, I don’t need to “understand” the details of your/all religion.

            Which is of course not what I claimed. I said nothing about details, I said:

            If you are rationally to critique something, you do need at least a basic understanding of what it is that you critique.

            The basics are necessary, because otherwise, you will not know what it is that is being said. For example, you don’t need to know the doctrine of the Trinity, to see that it will not do, as you earlier thought, that the existence of the universe could be attributed to a unicorn. That was just a basic (if hilarious) failure to understand the topic. I notice you have quietly dropped that contention – perhaps you have understood something.

            I guess you can’t rationally to critique Mithraism or other religions then according to your world view.Now look at this train wreck of your world view:
            1. “If you are rationally to critique something, you do need at least a basic understanding of what it is that you critique”
            2. “I don’t need to know much about Mithraism”
            3. “Mithraism is false”
            That sums up religious mind 😉

            Which is an illiterate thing for you to say, as I had just answered that point already. I said:

            After all, if Christianity is true then Mithraism is false. So I don’t need to know much about Mithraism, I just need to know enough about it to see that if Christianity is true, Mithraism is false.

            Now if you are going to come up with a similar argument (e.g. If science is true, then Christianity is false), then let’s hear it.

            Anyone coming to this thread is going to see you constantly (i) failing to understand points that are being made, therefore (ii) failing to address those points that have been made and finally (iii) making points that have just been answered.

            You really don’t representation rationality, I’m afraid.

    • Jon Sorensen

      Atheism was only one of his “raise public awareness” but clearly the most successful. Getting rid of superstition and false religion helps humanity and science

  • russedav

    Dawkins usual infamous delusions of godhood, having rejected the real God.

    • Sarky

      Which real god? There’s quite a few to choose from.

      • Anton

        You’re a polytheist? Five minutes ago you were an atheist!

        • Sarky

          You’re an atheist too. I just believe in one less god.

          • Chefofsinners

            You have your Gods: Your family. Money. Pleasure.

          • Mike Stallard

            To Sarky not CoS: …and perhaps your (sacred) self?

          • Sarky

            I don’t worship any of those things.

          • Chefofsinners

            They are the object of your effort, affections and dreams. That’s worship.

          • Sarky

            No its not.

          • Chefofsinners

            Suppose God was the object of those things. You’d be a Christian.

          • Sarky

            That’s a bit of a leap.

      • Royinsouthwest

        No, there is just one real one.

        • Sarky

          Depending on where you were born.

  • John

    Doctor Dawkins has long protested about Christians promoting beliefs without supporting evidence. Well, let him provide evidence to back up his accusation of ‘predatory and nasty’ behaviour. If there is none, he should withdraw his defamatory comments and apologise unreservedly.

  • Chefofsinners

    The very existence of a Christian Union at Balliol is a deep inconvenience to Dawkins and his disciples. They constantly seek to promote the narrative that only the stupid and uneducated actually believe that stuff.
    Yet the ancient words of Archilochus remain true: The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      But, in your estimation, which is the hedgehog and which is the fox?

      I have looked up Archilocus, and I still can’t be sure whether or not his fox is a classical version of Wile-E-Coyote.

      • Brian

        Dawkins would have to be the hedgehog. EVERYTHING bar nothing is ‘explained’ by him as the mindless, unplanned, undirected and essentially unintelligent outworking of impersonal causal ‘laws’ (which came whence?) which did not (and could not) have us in mind (there being no mind at work cosmically) but simply ‘unrolled’ (the m,eaning of ‘evolution’) to produce this world – even giving us brains, languages and conceptualities to work this out (even though on evolutionary terms we have no warrant for believing evolution, since everything is ‘directed’ [by whom? by what?] to one end only: survival of the fit organism.

        • Chefofsinners

          No. The fox is those who are wise by the standards of this world. The hedgehog is those who know God. Their one big thing is bigger than all the smaller things will ever amount to, and will always triumph.

      • Ray Sunshine

        And who, then, has been cast as Wile E. Coyote in this episode? Who has ended up crushed by a falling boulder or has been blown sky high? Collectively, I’d say, the editors of The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Daily Express, The Tablet, Premier, and Christian Today. Luckily for them all, they’ve got Archbishop Cranmer to extend a helping crozier and put them back on their feet.

      • Chefofsinners

        The Christian knows one thing which is bigger than all.

  • Norman Yardy

    Persecution is a sign of God at work.

  • HedgehogFive

    I remember Professor Dawkins exclaiming on television that not only are humans descended from apes, but:

    “We ARE apes”.

    To which a Hedgehog would reply:

    “But your ancestors left the Evolutionary Union!”

  • Mike Stallard

    Thank you so much for telling the truth here: it is something that has really got up my nose. The ghastly new political appointment of the Head of the National Trust as the new Master seemed like the last straw…

  • Dominic Stockford

    I always seek to get into the refectory at Balliol if I am in Oxford, simply to see the painting of Wickliffe, which is rather sadly hidden away right at the far left hand corner from the entrance. Given that he is also effectively the author of modern English you would have thought they would give it a rather greater pride of place.

    (On one occasion I sneeked in when no-one was supposed to go in, avoiding variegated foreign students in order to sneek my peek).

    • *gasp*
      Trust you’re not venerating an idolatrous image.

      • Dominic Stockford

        No. Reminding myself of a marvellous man to whom you also owe so much, and re-invigorating myself for the fight. I need to gird my loins so that when my turn comes I will be able to face with fortitude the vicious fires which were visited upon so many good Christian men by some bunch or another….

        I believe that the picture is actually erroneous in its portrayal of him, just as are all your supposed images of Jesus.

        • Well may you lions always remain suited girded (i.e. your pants tightened).

          This image, albeit erroneous, reminds you “of a marvellous man to whom you also owe so much” and you meditate on these things when you view it. So then you treat it is an icon to call to mind his contribution to salvation history (as you see it). How is this different to sacred imagery and portraits of the saints, Our Lady and Our Lord?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I don’t pretend that it actually portrays him, nor that it is him in some way, nor that it holds some ‘sacredness’, nor do I offer prayer to him, or worship him ‘through it’. Indeed, if the portrait was to be destroyed by someone I would be sad that an old artwork had gone, but wouldn’t accord it any significance beyond that.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Did you leave a message for him?

          • And neither does Jack pretend an image of Our Lord actually portrays Him, nor does he offer pray through such an image. It facilitates prayer – just as your pilgrimages to Wycliffe’s image calls to mind his life and death. The religious respect we show sacred images is respect for the subject of the art, and not the object itself.

          • Dominic Stockford

            “It facilitates prayer – just as your pilgrimages to Wycliffe’s image calls to mind his life and death.”

            Two different things entirely. I do not claim seeing the painting facilitates prayer.

          • Prayer takes many forms. You never thank God for Wycliffe’s life and work when you are there? You never meditate on his legacy? You want the portrait to have a “rather greater pride of place.” These pilgrimages to his portrait don’t strengthen your resolve?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I didn’t say it re-invigorates me – please read more carefully.

          • This is what you wrote:

            Reminding myself of a marvellous man to whom you also owe so much, and re-invigorating myself for the fight. I need to gird my loins so that when my turn comes I will be able to face with fortitude the vicious fires which were visited upon so many good Christian men by some bunch or another….”

            Sounds like these pilgrimages and meditations give you inspiration.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Thank you for demonstrating the truth of my previous comment – as you quote i said “re-invigorating MYSELF”. NOT “that the visits re-invigorate [me]” as you have quoted. Very different.

          • Disingenuous at best.

            “Reminding myself of a marvellous man to whom you also owe so much and re-invigorating myself for the fight.”

            You linked your pilgrimages to this portrait (one yo describe as “erroneous”) which remind you of his achievements and with your spiritual reinvigoration.

            What’s the problem with this? It’s perfectly acceptable and understandable behaviour. Nothing you need to defend.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Being unable to see the clear difference between the two things (what I am alleged to have said by you, and what I did in fact say) tells me why you simply don’t understand salvation as it is taught by the bible – saved entirely by the finished works of Christ, and not by anything whatsoever that I do or ever have done..

          • Your words, as quoted, are a matter of record. You go on pilgrimage to a portrait of a man you admire, gaze upon it, gird your loins and become strengthened for the fight and some anticipated martyrdom.
            It’s you who have failed to grasped what prayer is and how images of spiritual heroes who have gone before can raise our minds and hearts to God.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Although I am a Protestant I think that Jack has a point in this debate. My grandparents were staunch Protestants (although they regarded themselves as Christians first and Protestants a distant second) who never travelled outside Britain, and had few possessions but in addition to their Bibles and hymn books one book which they valued greatly was a book of prints of flowers that grew in the Holy Land. It wasn’t so much because they liked flowers, although my grandmother certainly did like them, but for the reasons that Jack elucidated.

          • Anton

            Why not direct your critique a little farther east at the Orthodox practice of praying ‘through’ icons? What this means, according to the Orthodox’ own words, makes me shudder.

          • Not sure that is entirely accurate. As Jack understands this the Icon is actually a manifestion of a prayer.

            In the Orthodox Church an icon is a sacred image, a window into heaven. An image of another reality, of a person, time and place that is more real than here and now. More than art, icons have an important spiritual role. The Icon is “theology in imagery, the icon expresses through colour what the Gospel proclaims in words”.

            Nothing here about “praying ‘through’ icons”:
            http://antiochian.org/icons-eastern-orthodoxy

          • Dominic Stockford

            yes. Muchly so.

          • Don’t you think the absence of any physical description of Christ in the gospel record is significant? After all graven images of the true God were as forbidden as images of false gods. I find your arguments to support icons special pleading for what runs against the grain of Scripture. Like Gideon’s ephod, Aaron’s golden calf and Jeroboam’s calves. Images that were intended to bring God closer and enable worship were a sinful snare that God resolutely opposed. No doubt the reasons for God’s opposition are many but one surely is the ease with which the object becomes the subject.

          • Sarky

            It’s hard to describe someone who didn’t exist.

          • You must distinguish between someone who doesn’t exist and someone you cannot see. A blind man cannot see the sun but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

          • Sarky

            No, but he can feel the sun on his face and know it exists.
            You have no such proof.

          • Anton

            Wouldn’t make a very good novelist would you?

          • Sarky

            Nope. But luckily for you, the people who wrote the bible were.

          • Anton

            Prove it.

          • Sarky

            That ones in your court. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          • Anton

            Which of us made the assertion that the people who wrote the Bible were novelists?

          • There’s your error, right there: “the fleshly was superseded by the spiritual, the visible by the invisible.” The Incarnation transforms the natural; the visible and invisible are reunited in Christ and restored to perfection. It doesn’t just forensically cover it – Christ enters and changes. The Word became flesh.

            To argue that images of Christ and the saints is idolatry is a misunderstanding of what the Bible says about their purpose and use. God forbade the worship of statues; He did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts – you have cited the passages.

            In Ezekiel 41:17–18, the prophet describes “graven” (carved) images in the idealised temple he was shown in a vision. He writes, “On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.”

            During the plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites, God told Moses to “make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).

            Note, one had to look at the bronze statue of the serpent to be healed, which shows that statues could be used ritually, not merely as religious decorations. Gideon’s ephod, Aaron’s golden calf and Jeroboam’s calves, were false gods and the images were worshipped as intrinsically powerfully. Catholics use statues, paintings, and other artistic devices, to recall the person depicted. Catholics also use statues and imagery as teaching tools. In the early Church they were especially useful for the instruction of the illiterate. Do you use pictures of Jesus and other Bible pictures for teaching children at Sunday School? Catholics also use statues to commemorate certain people and events. Is a three-dimensional nativity scene at Christmas idolatry?

            God forbids the worship of images as gods, but he doesn’t ban the making of images. If he had then religious movies, videos, photographs, paintings, and all similar things would be banned. It is people adoring a statue as a god that is prohibited. Thus, when people did start to worship the bronze serpent as a snake-god, the righteous King Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kgs. 18:4).

            Early in its history, Israel was forbidden to make any depictions of God because he had not revealed Himself in a visible form. Given the pagan culture surrounding them, the Israelites might have been tempted to worship God in the form of an animal or some natural object (e.g., a bull or the sun). Later God did reveal Himself under visible forms, such as in Daniel 7:9, and some Protestants make depictions of the Father under this form when they do illustrations of Old Testament prophecies. In the Incarnation of Christ, God showed mankind an icon of himself. Paul said, “He is the image (Greek: ikon) of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Christ is the tangible, divine “icon” of the unseen, infinite God. When God made the New Covenant with us, He did reveal himself under a visible form in Jesus Christ. For that reason, we can make representations of God in Christ.

            To wrap it up, then.

            The Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566) taught that idolatry is committed “by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them.”

            The current Catechism says: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’”

          • Dominic Stockford

            Hit the nail there, thank you. I’m sure he’ll still try to ‘philisophise’ his way out of it though.

          • Dominic Stockford

            It is not a sacred image.
            On my way up to London every so often I make a point of looking out for Amyand Park Chapel, the thought of the good and faithful Christians there being a comfort and an encouragement. It is not a sacred building.
            Further in I make a point of looking out for the MI5 building, the thought of those people there working to defend us and our freedoms from vile foreign infiltrators being a comfort and an encouragement. It is not a sacred building.

    • Anton

      Been to Lutterworth church? That’s worth it too. They have the chair into which he collapsed while celebrating Communion around Christmastime in 1384 and died a few days later. 44 years later the Catholics dug him up as a heretic, burnt his corpse, and threw the ashes into the River Swift at the bottom of the hill; it is very obvious where as the old road goes straight down the hill to today’s bridge. As the chronicler Thomas Fuller wrote in the 17th century,

      They burnt his bones to ashes and cast them into the Swift, a neighbouring brook running hard by. Thus the brook hath conveyed his ashes into the Avon, Avon into the Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of John Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which is now dispersed the world over.

      • Ever touched the chair, Anton?

        • Anton

          No. But I was the only one of my bunch of tourists (not pilgrims, note) who was willing to sit in the seat of the ancient synagogue at Capernaum, which we believed at the time that Christ has sat in. (The synagogue is actually a little younger, I learnt later.)

          • These visits are motivated by historical interest and sight seeing, devoid of spiritual content? The same as say a walk around Buckingham Palace.

          • Anton

            I wish to walk where Jesus walked but I don’t believe I get any holier for it. The trip was a great aid and inspiration to Bible study. And it is wonderful to see the Jews back in the land they were promised forever.

          • Of course, visiting Israel would be a wonderful and awesome experience.

          • David

            Capernaum. I was content merely to wander its little lanes, to dislike the flying concrete monstrosity that won some design award I think and savour the scene. But most of all I marvelled that I was touching the very stones that Jesus himself had touched.
            There’s nothing a well led tour of the Holy Land, informed by a theologically trained tour manager, to bring alive the Biblical stories and draw us closer to Christ. Capernaum in northern Galilee is the most beautiful part of that generally dry and dusty land.

          • Anton

            That flying concrete monstrosity says more about the appalling force of will of the organisation that erected it.

          • David

            I forget who that was as I didn’t take much notice of the “who”, so appalled was I by such an ugly and irreverent design. It is one of worst desecrations of an historic and spiritual archaeological site I’ve seen. I was deeply offended as both a Christian and Town Planner.

          • layreader

            As long as the tour doesn’t include all the tourist tat in Jerusalem, where some people slaver over all 159 Stations of the Cross (some exaggeration there, but I lost count after the first 12). But Galilee does speak for itself, despite a church being thrown up there for everywhere Jesus so much as told a parable. The Church of the Multiplication, for example, not a monument to maths, but the location of the loaves and fishes miracle. Even so, the view of the Lake in most directions hasn’t changed in 2000 years,

          • There are 14 Stations of the Cross, each one depicting and calling to mind an aspect of Christ’s passion and death. Their object is to help the Christian make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. One pauses at each Station, considers it and reflects on what Christ suffered and offers prayers.

            The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem and a desire to reproduce the Via Dolorosa and trace Jesus’ steps. Jack believes the practice originated with Franciscans. Their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, held the Passion of Christ in special veneration.

            The “kiss” given by pilgrims is a sign of love for Christ, sorrow for the depth of His suffering and also an act of reparation for our sin and the sin of the world that crucified Him.

            This act of devotion is not to be scorned at.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Please explain why this tortuous ritual involves ‘praying’ to Mary as an essential part of it?

          • You’re an ex-Catholic priest, perhaps you could explain it. Surely you learned this during your time at seminary.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Even when I was lost I never saw the point of praying to a sinful creation, when I could pay to the perfect Creator.

          • Then you never really understood the Catholic faith, the concept of the “Communion of Saints” or accepted the Apostles Creed.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Nowhere in the Apostles Creed are we enjoined to pray to the creation rather than the Creator.

          • Who “prays” to creation?

            “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

            Perhaps you could explain what you were taught about the Communion of Saints?

          • Dominic Stockford

            If you pray to Mary you pray to (a/the) creation, rather than to (the) Creator.

            The unity of all sincere believers. Simple really.

          • No, Catholics pray to Mary and other saints for intercessionary assistance as we believe them to be in perfect union with Christ, in Heaven, and in the presence of God. You really should know all this given your seminary training, even if you now reject it and chose to misrepresent it.

            And the “Communion of Saints, as understood universally for 1500 years, is the unity of all believers in Heaven (Church Triumphant), on earth (Church Militant), and those in purgatory (Church Suffering). Were you really not taught this dogma of the Church? Or did you always reject it? If so, one wonders how you could go through a valid ordination service. Once again, accept it or not, you should at least understand this.

          • Dominic Stockford

            So,
            a) You admit that you pray to the created rather than the Creator. The Bible has a something to say about that – and it doesn’t support you.
            b) Exactly what I said. Though you choose to phrase it in a different way, and the nonsense about purgatory is not something I would agree with.

      • Dominic Stockford

        I really must do some time. It would be a jolly good day out. I reckon I could do it in a day, and have time there. Any good pubs for lunch?

  • Guglielmo Marinaro

    Actually, although I regard his language as somewhat hyperbolic, I think that Dawkins probably does have a point. I remember from my own personal experience when I was a student (not at Oxford) that once you got into the toils of the Christian Union it was by no means easy to escape.

    • Anton

      Colditz was it?

      • Guglielmo Marinaro

        No, not quite. But if you once allowed yourself to be persuaded to go to one of their meetings and then decided that it wasn’t for you, they’d keep on pestering you. You had to be quite forceful to get them to leave you alone.

        • Sarky

          Sure you didn’t accidentally stumble in on the scientologists?

          • Brian

            You don’t stumble into them – you Cruise into them! 🙂

          • Pubcrawler

            Only if you step into the closet.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, quite sure. However, some of my fellow students were injudicious enough to accept the Scientologists’ invitation to come in and submit to a “free personality test”, giving their addresses to which the results could be posted, and were thereafter pestered with letters telling them that they needed urgently to be “cleared” – for a considerable fee.

          • Sarky

            Audited??

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I think that’s the right word; it seems to ring a bell. I think that a person was a “pre-clear” before being “audited” and then became a “clear”. But it’s quite some years ago now, so I can’t swear that I’ve got the jargon right.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Some decades ago I was wandering along a street in Soho when I was approached by a couple of scientologists who made the same offer to me. Because I had nothing better to do and was curious as to what the result of the test would be I accepted the offer. I forget exactly what the result was but I think the test was marked on a scale ranging from +100 to -100, or something like that. My score was terrible, something lower than -90 showing that I too urgently needed to be “cleared.” However I did not take them up on that offer and I did not receive any letters. Perhaps they had not started asking people for their addresses before taking the test when I took it.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, I don’t know exactly what the routine was, because I never went for the personality test myself, but my fellow students must have given their addresses, since the letters from the Church of Scientology arrived at their hall of residence. The envelopes were readily recognizable: I got used to seeing them in the pigeon-holes in which students’ mail was placed every day.

  • Inspector General

    Guilty secret here. An Inspector is warming to Richard Dawkins. He’s rather an amusing fellow, using the full meaning of that word, and in him, one sees a kindred spirit. He is prepared to come out with it in full, not hold back, and risk his head on the block come what may. Do you know, not many are that way inclined these days, most especially those scoundrels who politic supposedly on our behalf.

    One can say you know where you are with him. He’s not concealing a fist behind his back. It’s right there in front of you, which saves you wondering if you might get thumped or not. The answer is you might, so no point in hoping you definitely won’t.

    • Anton

      Yes, he has a good written style and he aims directly at his targets. That’s about all the positive I can say for him, though.

      • Inspector General

        It’s the way he swings his bat, so to speak. One cares nothing for the XI he’s turned out for…

        • Are you suggesting he is a “batty boy”?

  • Brian

    According to the philosophical naturalist Evolutionist Richard Dawkins, the driving force of life is Unplanned, Unfeeling, Uncaring Evolution -in which one species preys upon another. To call a group ‘Predatory’ and ‘Nasty’ simply means it is following the Law of Nature – so how can this be considered as finding a fault?

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Biology, like any other science, tells us what happens. It does not tell us how things ought to be nor does it tell us what we should or should not do. The Laws of Nature are descriptive, not prescriptive. Dawkins has said explicitly that the last thing that he would ever want is a society based on the model of Darwinian evolution.

      • Albert

        If everything is reducible to laws of nature then there is no ought.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Some would argue that right and wrong ARE laws of nature – I think that I would – but they are not the kind of laws of nature that are discoverable by science.

          • carl jacobs

            You mean like the obvious and essential complementarity between male and female?

          • *opens his bag of popcorn and settles down*

          • carl jacobs

            Oh, no you don’t. The front is that way. Get your butt on the line.

          • No, no, no.
            This your opportunity to shine in the art of persuasive dialogue and engagement as opposed to launching an inter-continental ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead at your opponent.

          • carl jacobs

            See. You have a constrained view of things.

            Fighters, you’re cleared in again, just do the best you can
            The situation’s all fouled up, beyond the help of man.
            Just bomb the general area, and when the smoke clears out,
            Well, we’ll just count the bodies, and let God sort ’em out.

            From your Friendly FAC

          • Jack will provide DAS.

          • carl jacobs

            So …ummm … Jack. Do you put kisses at the end of texts? I hear that’s a thing in Britain.

          • Anton

            Careful, Carl. An ‘X’ can also mean “wrong” in implicit contrast to a tick which means “right”.

          • Jack always tries to convey a sentiment of affection in texts and emails – a “sign of peace”, if you will. He tends to end them “With warm regards” or “God Bless”. He saves his kisses for his wife, female children and female close friends. One doesn’t want to risk any misunderstandings in these confusing times.

            With warm regards …. .xxx

          • carl jacobs

            It’s just that the subject came up in this TV show called “Very British Problems” so I thought I would ask.

            Btw. I think you might be confused.

          • You think?!
            xxx

          • carl jacobs

            Must be another Very British Problem.

          • What other insights have you gleaned from this program, Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            It’s a British program, Jack. I’m just doing culturally sensitive research. However, I have learned that Brits aren’t thrilled to be invited to other people’s houses. As the man said when his wife tells him of their pending dinner date:”Just tell them I died. That way we never have to go.”

          • Probably an American friend ….

          • carl jacobs

            Oh, and evidently “We should have a drink sometime” means “I don’t ever want to see you again.” Unless of course or means “We should have a drink sometime.”

            It’s all very confusing.

          • It’s more a class thing rather than a “British” thing. It also varies by region. Then add tone and body language.

          • CliveM

            It’s more the men, the wives love the invite. Or at least mine does!

          • carl jacobs

            GU is a worthy and articulate commentator

            With that assertion I absolutely agree and have said as much in the past.

          • Albert

            Upvoted just because it made me laugh.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            If you mean that humanity comprises people of two sexes, males and females, and that only heterosexual (male-female) sexual behaviour can result in procreation, then those are both simple scientific facts.

          • And no laws of nature (Natural Law) governing relationships between men and women, as sentient, rational and self aware beings, that “are … an intrinsic part of reality” and establish how we “ought” and “ought not” to behave?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            If you are saying that, as with other kinds of behaviour, some sexual behaviour is morally right and some is morally wrong, I have no problem with that.

          • And the male and female aspect? Relevant? Not relevant?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Relevant to what in particular?

          • Relevant to any “ought” about sexual relationships.
            Are there any basic universal precepts of natural law that ought to be adhered to? What would be the “right” conditions under which choices to engage in sex acts “should” take place? And why?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, the male and female aspect is certainly relevant to heterosexual relationships, which is what most sexual relationships are. It is indeed a sine qua non of such relationships. It is obviously not relevant to homosexual relationships, which are by definition same-sex.

            As to the other questions that you raise, I’m still not absolutely certain what my own views are, but I tend to think along the same lines as the late Fr Herbert McCabe OP who once wrote that rather than “Sex is bad unless…” his attitude was the more positive one of “Sex is good unless…”

            What are your views?

          • That sexual relationships and genital activities serve a purpose for mankind’s common good and that whether they are “good” or “bad” depends on whether they conform to this purpose.

            And yours?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            That sexual relationships and genital activities serve more than one purpose.

          • Anton

            That’s true: male-female bonding within marriage (Genesis 2:24) and the procreation of children (1:28).

          • And they are?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            As Anton has said, male-female bonding and procreation. That refers to heterosexual relationships of course. In the case of gay relationships it’s same-sex bonding, and procreation obviously does not apply.

          • This then rules out casual sex for pleasure and desire as immoral?
            By reason, can procreation and bonding be separated?
            Isn’t the male-female bonding accompanying genital activity a necessary condition for stable family life for the rearing of children following procreation?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I don’t think that casual sex can be approved of (although, to be frank, I regard it as pretty venial compared to, for example, the sexual abuse of children and adolescents, whether by clergy or by other adults).

            Can procreation and bonding be separated? Yes, they obviously can be, because they are in the case of gay relationships (and in not a few heterosexual ones too). Whether that is in accordance with reason is a different question. Some people might say no. I would say yes.

            I would say that the traditional male-female marriage is, all other things being equal, definitely the best environment for children to grow up in. It’s the environment in which I grew up and I wouldn’t have wanted it otherwise.

          • “Can procreation and bonding be separated? Yes, they obviously can be, because they are in the case of gay relationships (and in not a few heterosexual ones too). Whether that is in accordance with reason is a different question. Some people might say no. I would say yes.”

            Morally separated?

            Then Jack would be interested in hearing a natural law argument in favour of same sex genital activity – or for that matter, any sexual activity that is not generative, e.g. masturbation, bestiality, paraphilia .etc.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Morally separated? I don’t see why not.

            I have never really bothered to cook up a natural law argument in favour of same sex genital activity, nor do I see any particular need for one. It’s sufficient for me that I see no cogent argument against it. Most normal people, whatever their sexual orientation, just sensibly get on with living their lives, without first seeking a “Nihil obstat” in the form of a knock-down natural law argument.

            Although I don’t think highly of masturbation, I’d say that in itself it’s a fairly innocuous activity. Do you object to bestiality solely on the ground that it’s non-generative? If we could somehow succeed in making it generative – “Science is always making wonderful improvements in things” (Oscar Wilde) – would that make it a sound scheme?

          • Assuming that there is moral order in the Universe and there is an “ought” concerning genital activity, then there will be a logical and rational argument supporting same sex activity discoverable through reason.
            The purpose of sexual activity is to procreate and the physical bodies of men and women are designed to facilitate this. The sexual drive encourages this as does genital activity, being pleasurable. The result of sexual activity is propagation of the species. Human offspring require stable care to meet their physical and emotional needs if they are to develop. Sexual activity between mates builds intimacy and closeness through self giving, as does raising children, and affords children with reliable care in a loving atmosphere. Couples grow old together, relying on each other and the care and support of their children.
            Satisfying sexual desire through genital coupling, bonding and stability, and mutual care, are all interrelated and men and women “ought” to direct them towards the purpose of sex for which their genitals have been designed – the procreation and raising of children of their species.
            Masturbation, sodomy (in its full sense), bestiality and paraphilia satisfy the sex drive, be pleasurable and might promote bonding but they are in contradiction to nature, being non-generative and “ought not” be practised.
            There is no natural law defence of same sex genital activity or any other outside of a permanent male-female relationship fulfils nature’s purpose and these are a wrongly directed use of genital organs which “should” be ordered towards reproduction and the propagation of the human species.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, that’s a matter on which your thinking and mine don’t converge, and are clearly not going to.

          • You could put forward an alternative viewpoint. You’re a moral person with ethics and Jack is assuming you’re a Christian.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            What’s the point? You start from the premisses that only sexual behaviour which is procreative, or at least potentially procreative, is morally legitimate, and that apart from that any bonding has no value and is “contrary to nature”. Fine, but those are not assumptions that I see any reason to make, and so I don’t make them. What does “contrary to nature” mean, anyway? In common parlance it generally refers to unnecessary and officious attempts to interfere with the way things are. A gay relationship is certainly not such an attempt. However, if by that phrase you mean “contrary to the way that things would be if I ruled the world”, then again that is fine, but it is no concern of mine.

            I note that you don’t answer my question about whether you object to bestiality solely on the ground that it’s non-generative.

          • “You start from the premisses that only sexual behaviour which is procreative, or at least potentially procreative, is morally legitimate ….

            It’s not Jack’s premise – just the way nature is.

            ” … and that apart from that any bonding has no value and is “contrary to nature.”

            Not any bonding – just genital sexual activity as an aspect of this.

            “What does “contrary to nature” mean, anyway? In common parlance it generally refers to unnecessary and officious attempts to interfere with the way things are.”

            Well, no. We started this exchange because you suggested there is morality in nature. Surely such “ought’s” will apply to the basic and fundamental natural act of sex.

            “However, if by that phrase you mean “contrary to the way that things would be if I ruled the world”, then again that is fine, but it is no concern of mine.”

            Jack doesn’t and has no wish to rule the world. What Jack is interested in is hearing a defence of same sex genital activity outside of male and female sex.

            “I note that you don’t answer my question about whether you object to bestiality solely on the ground that it’s non-generative.”

            You seriously wanted an answer? There are a number of grounds to object it from natural law. Basically, it is an act driven solely by selfish sexual desire and gratification, being absent of any complementarity or mutuality; it crosses the divide of species, and thus contradicts the purpose of both “participants” generative organs; and, obviously, it lacks love and the consent of one the “participants”, a prerequisite of all human sexuality.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            To say that something is “just the way nature is” implies that it is an objective fact in nature. But it is not an objective fact in nature that the only sexual behaviour that is morally legitimate is that which is procreative, or at least potentially procreative. It is a belief – a belief which you are free to hold, but which I see no good reason to hold.

            You confirm that you maintain that any genital sexual activity that is not part of heterosexual marital bonding has no value, from which it follows that any sexual activity that is part of homosexual bonding has no value. Again, that is a belief which you are free to hold, but which I see no good reason to hold.

            If, when you speak of “morality in nature”, you mean that right and wrong are natural concepts, then yes, I do believe that. If by “contrary to nature” you mean wrong by the standards of such natural morality, which is what you seem to mean, then no, I do not accept that homosexual behaviour per se is contrary to nature in that sense. (Nor, I would add, do I see any other meaningful sense in which it is contrary to nature.)

            You say that what you are is interested in is hearing a defence of same sex genital activity. I don’t myself see that it needs any defence. However, I will quote something that the late C.S. Lewis said about friendship. (I don’t share the view that has been widely held, and perhaps still is in some quarters, that he was a brilliant apologist for Christianity, but when he was talking simply about the realities of everyday life he often talked very good sense.) He said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself.… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” I would say exactly the same about gay sexual relationships.

            Thank you for giving your reasons for objecting to bestiality. As I had suspected, you object to it, not solely because it is non-generative, but for other reasons as well, which don’t apply to ordinary consensual gay relationships.

          • “To say that something is “just the way nature is” implies that it is an objective fact in nature.”

            The natural law argument concerning the discernible purpose and the design of men and women to procreate, form close selfless bonds and to raise children is rationally unassailable.

            “But it is not an objective fact in nature that the only sexual behaviour that is morally legitimate is that which is procreative, or at least potentially procreative.”

            It is an objective truth arrived at through observation and through reason and logic. It becomes a “fact” and an objective moral imperative for this reason and is supported by evidence if the consequences of living against these laws of nature are demonstrably harmful.

            “It is a belief – a belief which you are free to hold, but which I see no good reason to hold.”

            Not a “belief”, if you mean by that it is arrived at without reference to the natural order. It is a belief if one also holds that God has revealed the truth about His will for how we should live in Scripture. And He is clear about what constitutes sexually moral and immoral conduct.

            “What may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:19,20).

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            It is a fact, rationally unassailable because it is empirically unassailable, that by far the majority of men and women are sexually attracted to people (although obviously not to all people) of the other sex. Naturally they tend to form heterosexual (different sex) relationships and to procreate.

            It is equally a fact that a small minority of men and women are attracted to people (although obviously not to all people) of the same sex. Naturally they tend to form homosexual (same sex) relationships, which, as we all know, do not result in procreation.

            Homosexual relationships are obviously not against the laws of nature, in the sense in which that phrase is used in the natural sciences: if they were, they would not be possible. That, of course, doesn’t tell us whether they are morally right or wrong. Plenty of things are morally wrong, no matter how “natural” they are in that sense, but I see no cogent reason to suppose that homosexual relationships are. I do not agree that the proposition that they are morally wrong is “an objective truth, arrived at through observation and through reason and logic”. It is a belief, which people are entitled to hold if they wish. I don’t hold it.

          • And God’s revelation?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            God’s revelation of what?

          • Sexual relationships.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I see no reason to doubt that God is happy about gay relationships, even if you’re not.

          • Not what He says in scripture – but then you reinterpret this.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            It is clear that the biblical writers – the very few, that is, who mentioned the subject at all – disapproved of homosexual behaviour. Some have questioned whether they were talking about all homosexual behaviour in any circumstances, but even if they were, I don’t consider us bound by their opinions.

          • TSawesome

            Thank you.

          • TSawesome

            Do you always speak in the third person?

          • TSawesome

            Bingo.

          • Relevant to considerations that ought to guide human behaviour in their choices concerning sexual acts. What kinds of reasoning should be involved and what ought people comply with – morally speaking.

          • Albert

            I wonder what you mean by that.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I mean that the natural sciences do not tell us what is morally right or what is morally wrong.

          • Albert

            Yes, but and that is clear, but you also said Some would argue that right and wrong ARE laws of nature – I think that I would. I am trying to understand what you mean by that.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            What I mean by that is that some would claim that the concepts of moral right and wrong, while they are not laws of nature in the sense in which that term would be used in the natural sciences (e.g. Ohm’s Law, Boyle’s Law, the Law of Moments, the Law of Constant Composition), they are as much an intrinsic part of reality as, for example, the concepts of logical and illogical.

          • Albert

            Yes and I agree. But in what sense are they intrinsic parts of reality? Are you speaking of Platonic forms, for example?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            No, I know nothing whatever about Platonic forms.

          • Albert

            So how then are they intrinsic parts of reality?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, I can’t claim to know, just as I can’t claim to know how the concepts of logical and illogical are parts of reality. It just seems to me that they are. Of course you are free, if you wish, to say that they are mere words that don’t denote any objective reality, and while I wouldn’t agree, I couldn’t prove you wrong.

          • Albert

            Well I suppose I’m not asking you to demonstrate them. I’m asking you to explain what you mean by saying they are intrinsic parts of reality. I don’t think the parallel with logic is really precise enough, in that regard. I can’t even think without logic, but I can think without morality. Therefore, it seems to me that it is evident that logical truths exist (in some sense), but I am unsure what you even mean by saying moral truths are an intrinsic part of reality, let alone whether that would be true.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Well, the concepts of moral right and wrong seem to be more or less universal, although there is disagreement on whether some things are in the former or the latter category. But if someone maintains that, even so, those concepts are not an intrinsic part of reality, as I have already said, I can’t prove him/her wrong.

          • Albert

            Yes, I’m not arguing against such concepts. I suppose I am asking “What is metaphysically necessary if there are moral laws?” To take a parallel example – if I said that I believed that bodies exist, I would surely have to believe that some kind of space exists. If I believe that change occurs, I must surely accept that some kind of time exists. Truths about reality follow from the categories I believe exist in reality. So if I believe that morality exists, then what must I believe about reality? That’s the kind of thing I’m getting at. So the concepts are not in doubt at all, or their universality. Rather the existence of such concepts is the starting point for asking about the nature of reality.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            So if you believe, as you apparently do and as I also do, that morality exists, then what exactly *does* that necessitate believing about reality?

          • Albert

            It depends on what one means by morality exists. If one means that there are abstract moral truths, then a mind exists in order for them to exist. If one means that there is inherent objective goodness in reality that we can forge moral truths to defend, then something some absolute goodness must exist on which the goodness found in reality must depend.

          • magnolia

            The difficulty is what disciplines you regard as properly scientific. For instance observation of animal behaviour shows clear instances where one animal’s behaviour is frowned upon by the community, and said animal is ostracised for anti-social behaviour until he or she conforms. There is also strong evidence that many animals sense ghosts, and shy away from evil (or deranged) people, grieve for -and even have rituals for- the dead. We are only perhaps in the early stages of mapping (higher) animal morality

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Such observations, in so far as they are accurate, tell us what animals do. They don’t tell us what animals SHOULD do. Still less do they tell us what WE should (or shouldn’t) do.

          • Brian

            ‘Nature’ generally means the study of the physical world (both living and non-living); hence the title of the scientific journal. I doubt that morality can be studied by the methodologies appropriate to the physical sciences (observation, measurement and experiment); at best you could come up with a phenomenology of the mental life, as people described their experiences and feelings. But there are whole realms of knowledge which are not significantly open to the ways of the physical sciences, e.g. logic, aesthetics, mathematics, history and theology. One of Dawkins’ great weaknesses is his ignorance of (and arrogance toward) philosophy and metaphysics (as well as physics).

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Whether or not it is a weakness, it is not a weakness in his views on evolution.

          • Albert

            …while having very strong philosophical and metaphysical opinions.

      • carl jacobs

        Of course. He can’t justify any morality but fang and tooth and claw in evolutionary terms. The problem is that he has no authority to judge between competing moral systems any other way. So ultimately he is hiding fang and tooth and claw behind a mirage of moral assertions.

        In his world, nothing ultimately matters but the power to impose one’s will.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          No, Dawkins certainly can’t justify any morality in evolutionary terms, nor can anyone else. If, however, that is intended as a criticism of him, it is not a valid one. He has never claimed that the theory of evolution can justify morality. Still less has he claimed that it should dictate morality; on the contrary, he has explicitly repudiated any such claim. Evolution can give us no more information about morality than the laws of physics or of chemistry can. To quote the late Cambridge philosopher C.D. Broad:

          “If we have any moral obligations, then natural science can throw no light whatever on those of them which are *fundamental*. At most it might support or refute certain derivative and secondary moral rules which profess to tell us how to carry out our fundamental obligations in certain specified kinds of situation. No conceivable development of any of the natural sciences could be relevant to the question whether a person ought or ought not to love his neighbour as himself.” (Relations of Science and Religion, 1939)

          • Brian

            1939 was indeed a strange year to be writing about morality! But the logical positivists had their high water mark around that time and they were in Cambridge as well. But Elizabeth Anscombe was around in Oxford then, as was C. S. Lewis, and in 1941 he produced his ‘Abolition of Man’, still one of the finest popular essays on moral objectivity and deontology.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Whatever, I think that what Broad said in the passage that I have quoted was correct, and that it is as correct in any other year as it was in 1939.

          • Brian

            I would probably agree with you. I think what I was getting at was that when logical positivism was popular, adherents thought they had explained away metaphysics, religion and ethics as strictly non-sensical and meaningless. However, logical positivism collapsed as a philosophical movement in the 1950s and once again the case was made that metaphysics, philosophy of religion and ethics were restored as meaningful discourses. The problem for atheists (of whom there were and are quite a few in philosophy departments) was what kind of ethics was possible in an atheist world. Some have indeed tried to develop a kind of moral philosophy consistent with atheistic evolutionism and have usually settled on some kind of utilitarianism focused on survival of the species as the summum bonum. This often entails an interventionist or totalitarian state, such as we see in Communist China. Dialectical Materialism must agree with Darwinian Evolutionism as a correct account of reality.

      • Brian

        If the nature of Reality is a set of impersonal and inevitable physical laws, instead of a Mind with self-consciousness, will, desires and values (in other words, all the characteristics of personhood), then the word “ought” is quite quickly shown to be meaningless – or to denote nothing more than emotivism. An atheist who is thinking straight MUST be an emotivist in ethics (people like G. E. Moore understood this, so did Ayer) – and on the emotivist’s reckoning, it’s only one emotion against the other, against an unfeeling, impersonal backdrop of reality. The only way words like ‘good’, ‘bad’, right’, ‘wrong’, ‘justice’ etc can have any purchase other than our emotions (even our group emotions) is if they refer to something extrinsic to ourselves (i.e. either an eternal cosmic order of ‘Dike’ as the Greeks believed or a transcendent personal Lawgiver as the Bible declares).

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Whether or not that is so – and I would not say that it is beyond dispute – none of it affects the fact that, if the mechanism of evolution be indeed a law of nature, it is simply that and nothing more. It is not a moral principle or a moral justification for anything, any more than, for example, the law of gravity is, nor has Dawkins ever claimed that it is. He has, in fact, explicitly repudiated any such claim.

          • Brian

            For Dawkins, ‘laws of nature’ are only observed regularities in the physical world. A ‘moral principle’ can only be a cultural practice that comes and goes and is replaced in the march of time. For the atheist, it has no extrinsic or objective existence.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I am not a spokesman for Dawkins, but I think that you are probably right when you say that that is the sense in which he would use the phrase “laws of nature” – if indeed he does use it.

            On the other hand, it is far from clear that the view which you have outlined of what “a ‘moral principle’ can only be” is a necessary corollary of his way of thinking. It is even less clear to me that it is in fact his position. Can you actually quote him to that effect?

          • Brian

            Can I quote him on this? No, I haven’t seen him venture into moral philosophy. I was simply drawing out the logical conclusion of Dawkins’ philosophical naturalism. This can be stated simply as follows. 1. Only physical things exist. 2. Ideas are nothing other than brain states. 3. When that brain state ceases, the ‘idea’ ceases. 4. ‘Moral principles’ are nothing other than brain states held at particular times by a number of brains which will end when those brains have ceased to function. As you can see, this is clearly an ontological theory about the nature of reality – and not one that I accept. I believe in the existence of abstract objects (like numbers, laws of logic, metaphysical properties etc). I believe in the existence of these objects because I think they are the ‘rationes aeternae’ of the transcendent Mind of God. Atheists struggle with the notion of abstract objects, and this is a lively topic in contemporary mathematics: where numbers are concerned, there are nominalists and anti-realists.

          • Anton

            Did you see the discussion a few threads back about Morris Kline’s book “Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty”?

          • Albert

            It’s worth pointing out that Aristotle was more empirical than modern “laws of nature” scientists. All we observe with “laws” is that things have a tendency to act in particular ways: we do not see that there is a law that determines that they must. This is a much more accurate way of describing nature. Now if all we see of natural regularities is just that they have a tendency to act in particular ways, how on earth can it be a law of nature that we must behave in certain ways? But natural law, that’s another issue entirely…

          • Brian

            A scientist who thinks about the matter carefully (and perhaps many are not concerned to delve into this fundamental question) will admit that the ‘laws of nature’ are perceived regularities that he doesn’t see an exceptions to; but it is easy to slip from this to saying ‘it is IMPOSSIBLE to deviate from this regularity’. If asked why, he cannot do other than shrug his shoulders. He will say there is a ‘cosmic speed limit’ of 300,000 km/s – but cannot say why it cannot be other than this. If this is a question that science cannot answer, it does not make any less interesting or worth considering. But modern science seems to work on the assumption that the world is a closed system which should allow complete predictability of future states and explanation of previous states. But this doesn’t really stack up against the strange world of quantum physics.

          • Anton

            Please don’t invoke quantum theory as the source of the sense of human choice. They are very different ontologies and the leap in that argument is enormous. There is no way to tell whether the quantum mechanical description of a collection subatomic particle corresponds to a human being.

            Just because quantum theory doesn’t predict deterministically doesn’t mean that a deeper theory won’t be found to which the quantum predictions are probabilistic averages. What has been discovered in the last 50 years is that such a deeper theory has some unexpected properties. But such is research.

          • Brian

            I wasn’t invoking quantum theory for that purpose. My understanding of human beings is dualistic. I do not know how mind and body interact. I was simply noting that science at presents seems to operate with two different paradigms: strict causality and probabilism.

          • Anton

            In physics, at least, causality means no more than time-ordering. Probability is simply inductive logic made mathematical, and as such a generalisation of formal deductive logic understood by Aristotle and made mathematical by Boole.

          • Albert

            The only necessity that exists is logical necessity, as Wittgenstein says.

    • David

      Yes your logic is faultless. But it shows what a contradictory man he is with such confused thoughts.

    • Jon Sorensen

      If you had actually read him you would understand his actual position, not your own strawman. Dawkins deals with evolution and “social Darwinism” many times yet Christians want spread misinformation to glorify their God hypothesis. Sad.

      • Go on then, please explain the good news of Dawkins to us. Free us from our bondage and ignorance. Share with us the revelations of “selfish genes” and “replicators”, the wonders of “evolutionarily stabilising strategy”, and the awesomeness of “cultural evolution” driven by “memes”.

        Jack’s paying attention ….

        • Anton

          Yes, regardless of the truth or otherwise of genetic Darwinism (and I am not poking up a discussion), social Darwinism is both scientifically erroneous and morally evil. The latter should be obvious, the former is demonstrated by the fact that entire human cultures have radically changed their moral behaviour on a timescale of far too few generations for the cause to be genetic discrimination.

          • We might be rapidly “evolving” …..

          • writhledshrimp


            I have posted this before, I can’t quite believe I haven’t imagined it.
            Dawkins presumably wishing to become a meme, but looking like a wally.

          • Brian

            Why is it ‘morally evil’? If there is no Judge and external standard of behaviour by which humans will be judged, what does it mean to ‘condemn’ behaviour? The fact that human cultures have changed their moral behaviour has NOTHING to do with genetic discrimination but the religious values they have espoused at the heart of their cultures. Cultures are value-systems, not biological systems.

          • Anton

            We are in full agreement.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Accepting reality, science and reason is better than magical thinking, faith based position and superstitions. Rejecting magical thinking leads to better outcomes for societies

          • Brian

            Has Linus reincarnated? Everyone who does his homework knows that:
            1. Christianity has always repudiated magic (read Acts of the Apostles)
            2. Reason is metaphysical, not scientific – but is affirmed by Christianity because Christ is the Logos.
            3. Modern science was born in the matrix of Christianity: Kepler, Newton (dodgy on Christology), Bacon, Copernicus, Clerk Maxwell, John Rae, Robert Boyle etc etc etc.
            4. Science is only possible because of Christian presuppositions about the world.

          • Anton

            Well put. Jon and Linus were both around here and clearly distinct in the past, however.

          • Jon Sorensen

            1. LOL like a magical apron, is that text book magic from Harry Potter?
            2. “because Christ is the Logos”. LOL logos copied from other religions and reworked in John.
            3. “Modern science was born in the matrix of Christianity”. LOL Science declined in Dark Ages 350-1250CE. Christianity hindered scientific progress. Of course you can name famous scientists or inventions between 350-1250CE, but you won’t because you can’t. so LOL
            4. “Science is only possible because of Christian presuppositions about the world”. Science does not need or required incompatible Christian magical thinking. Christians scientists ignore their God when they do science. so LOL

          • Albert

            LOL Science declined in Dark Ages 350-1250CE

            No that’s just ignorant. Let’s take how things were powered – obviously central to everything. The ancient donkey or slave driven quern produced about one half horse power. The Roman horizontal waterwheel slightly more, and the undershot vertical about three horsepower. The Medieval waterwheel was as much as forty to sixty horse power.

            Small wonder that the amount of water wheel ballooned during the Middle Ages, and this drove not only the wheels, but also generated the technology, gears etc. which goes straight from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. This is just one example.

            Science does not need or required incompatible Christian magical thinking. Christians scientists ignore their God when they do science. so LOL

            Sorry, why do Christians ignore God when they do science? LOL!

          • Anton

            Ask him why did science emerge in the only civilisation to have a Christian worldview!

          • Albert

            Quite. These people think that prior to science it was reasonable to think that the universe operated in an ordered way even though there was nothing to give it order. They also don’t realise that it was ancient assumptions that held back Medieval science.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You should read Vedas to understand what others thought about universe and order.

            I like your idea that Christians Medieval science was held back by “ancient assumptions” while selling the idea that Christianity revolutionised scientific thinking. And curiously Muslims got their science further than Christians by 1000CE by ignoring Christian thinking. Funny how your mind works

          • Jon Sorensen

            Remember Muslim world science passed Christian world by 1000CE. And BTW why did science not emerge in eastern Europe which was more Christian that west/north Europe…

          • Jon Sorensen

            Interesting. Which waterwheels do you refer to and which century? Waterwheel was not a new innovation and its improvement/development happen also in India, China, Islamic world and in pagan Europe. Please let me know.

            I actually know couple of new inventions by Christians in Dark Ages, but there were very few. Waterwheel development was slow improvement process and there are some Christian agriculture related development/improvements.

            So can you name any new innovation or a famous scientist/inventor 350-1250CE? It should be easy if you are right?

            “why do Christians ignore God when they do science”
            Because Christianity is incompatible with science

          • Albert

            Interesting. Which waterwheels do you refer to and which century? Waterwheel was not a new innovation and its improvement/development happen also in India, China, Islamic world and in pagan Europe. Please let me know.

            I’m surprised you don’t know already given how evidently knowledgeable you are. Here’s a useful quote from a book that just shows your position is prejudice Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages by Gies and Gies. They discuss the evolution of the waterwheel and its expansion particularly in the 800s. One Abbey alone in France lists 59 waterwheels, and then they say:

            By the tenth century, the water mill had achieved a status and value far beyond what it had possessed under the Roman Empire.

            The key move was making a horizontal over wheel. In contrast, Chinese waterwheels, like those on the periphery of Europe and everywhere east of Persia, were typically horizontal

            The whole book bustles with examples of technology that was a great development over the ancient world. From shipbuilding to armour, from castles to cathedrals to bridges we see advances across the era. Now when you consider that ought to have been a culturally backward time because of the decline of Rome and vacuum that was created, that’s actually quite remarkable and it is dimwitted to deny it or to misdiagnose what is going on.

            Now you ask for names. But this just reinforces the sense of your ignorance. Surely, it is the technology that counts. Say Gies and Gies:

            Today…the innovative technology of the Middle Ages appears as the silent contribution of many hands and minds working together. The most momentous changes are now understood not as a single, explicit inventions but as gradual imperceptible revolution- in agriculture, in water and wind power, in building construction, in textile manufacture, in communications, in metallurgy, in weaponry.

            Of course, you can maintain your 18th Century Gibbonesque view if you want to, but it has been falsified and scholars now see Christian theology as central to the Medieval picture of development. Lynn White points out that, in Christianity,

            Man shares in great measure God’s transcendence of nature. Christianity in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions…not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends

            And this of course is exactly what we find with science in this period. Where Medieval science is held back it is usually because they follow the assumptions of the ancients (e.g. Aristotle), which they usually end up overthrowing eventually. So despite the political chaos that accompanies the decline of empires, and despite the pagan ideas that held up the science of the time, we see huge strides in technology and science. That’s because of Christianity as White points out.

            Now I asked you to defend your claim that Christians ignore God when they do science and you answered

            Because Christianity is incompatible with science

            That’s not a defence of the original statement, it is barely more than a restatement of it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            RE “horizontal over wheel” What I can find is that:
            “M.J.T. Lewis dates the appearance of… the horizontal-axle watermill to around 240 BC, with Byzantium and Alexandria as the assigned places of invention.
            “Chinese water wheels almost certainly have a separate origin, as early ones there were invariably horizontal water wheels. By at least the 1st century AD, the Chinese of the Eastern Han Dynasty were using water wheels to crush grain in mills and to power the piston-bellows in forging iron ore into cast iron.”
            “the first known horizontal-wheel in such a type of mill is from the Irish Little Island (c. 630)”
            Why would you claim that this is a Christian invention?

            “Now you ask for names. But this just reinforces the sense of your ignorance”
            Not really. See how Brian was bursting to give names. 350-1250CE did not produce any significant inventors, but suddenly after that you can name truckloads of them. There were none – so Christian apologist tell asking it is ignorant. That is dishonest. And if you can’t even name them how do you know these people were Christians? Europe was still full of pagans!

            “Christian theology as central to the Medieval picture of development”
            They were the best developing torture equipment, sure 🙂

            “Christianity in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions…not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends”
            Well this is not true. Augustine who was one of the most influential Christians was against science and exploring the nature, and only modern Christians revisionist like you think what you wrote.

            “we see huge strides in technology and science”
            This is handwaving. What are these “huge strides” by Christians. C’mon tell us already rather that claim that those existed.

            Christians ignore God when they do science. Just read the scientific papers they write. Those always assume God/devil/ghost/angels/prayer did not interfere with their study. Just read any of them.

          • Albert

            Why would you claim that this is a Christian invention?

            My mistake, I mispoke, and typed horizontal, it is the vertical over wheel I was meaning (see my later correction). Vertical over is much better than horizontal or vertical under. I don’t know whether Christians got there first on this, but the pagans had it, then it is odd that they didn’t use it more. Either way, you arguments fails here. I

            Not really. See how Brian was bursting to give names. 350-1250CE did not produce any significant inventors, but suddenly after that you can name truckloads of them. There were none – so Christian apologist tell asking it is ignorant. That is dishonest. And if you can’t even name them how do you know these people were Christians? Europe was still full of pagans!

            No, no, no. I didn’t claim I could name them. I claimed a development in Christian Europe, as a result of culture. My argument is unaffected by the implausible assertion that every invention was actually made by someone who happens to be a pagan. And it’s silly to say that Europe was full of pagans through this period. After all, did I not actually speak of an Abbey. Not many pagans in abbeys, in my experience.

            They were the best developing torture equipment, sure 🙂

            Your argument was about science, not torture. You have claimed that Christians were not responsible for technology in this period. Very well. Obviously, the torture equipment, by your argument, was made by pagans.

            Augustine who was one of the most influential Christians was against science and exploring the nature, and only modern Christians revisionist like you think what you wrote.

            Thank you for telling that Augustine was one of the most influential Christians. But this argument is hopeless for several reasons. Firstly, the discipline of science as we know it didn’t exist then. Secondly, anyone who reads Augustine sees he is very educated in matters of observation and astronomy. Thirdly, Augustine was clear that scripture should not be interpreted in a way that is contrary to observation. Fourthly, Augustine actually used observation to overthrow silly pagan things like astrology. Fifthly, Augustine may not have liked spending too much time in this kind of sphere because he thought there were better things to do, but that is not the same as being opposed to it. Sixthly, insofar as the statement “Augustine was against science” makes any sense at all (which it doesn’t) it would have been because of his dualism arising from his Platonism, which is of course, a pagan philosophy. Seventhly, it is a bizarre inductive leap to go from “Augustine was against science” to “therefore Christians throughout this era were against science.” The Church sometimes simply disagreed with Augustine, and usually on the grounds that he was too dualistic (i.e. pagan). Finally, Augustine’s views on “science” do not overthrow the argument I gave, since I quoted

            Christianity in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions…not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends

            Now Augustine contributed to that dualism of man and nature etc., and so, whatever his views on “science” itself, his thought would still have shaped a scientific outlook in others.

            only modern Christians revisionist like you think what you wrote.

            Gies and Gies are not Christian revisionist. They are just Medievalists. You just make your claims up and pretend they are true.

            This is handwaving. What are these “huge strides” by Christians. C’mon tell us already rather that claim that those existed.

            I went on to quote historians making that point (face palm).

            Christians ignore God when they do science. Just read the scientific papers they write. Those always assume God/devil/ghost/angels/prayer did not interfere with their study

            Of course they do. Science works on the assumption that nature is working as God made it, rather than being altered by supernatural agents. That’s a Christian assumption, based on the idea of the Logos.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Looks like “M.J.T. Lewis dates the appearance of the vertical-axle watermill to the early 3rd century BCE”. Note: this is before Jesus was born. This is not Christian Dark Ages invention. You said that you “don’t know whether Christians got there first on this” but claimed that is an Christian invention. REALLY?

            So you can’t name a single Christian Dark Ages invention or Scientist. You got caught giving false info and giving credit to Christians from pagan invention. Yet you declared that my arguments fails here. Typical Christian apologist dishonesty. Typical.

            “I didn’t claim I could name them. I claimed a development in Christian Europe, as a result of culture”
            Still dancing around this one too. No – you just can’t name any. A bit honesty here please.

            “Gies and Gies are not Christian revisionist.”
            So how come they claim vertical waterwheels are Christian invention. Are they lying for Jesus?

            “I went on to quote historians making that point”
            C’mon tell us already rather What are these “huge strides” by Christians rather than face palming?

            “Science works on the assumption that nature is working as God made it”
            Wrong. You have no ideas what science is.

          • Albert

            “M.J.T. Lewis dates the appearance of the vertical-axle watermill to the early 3rd century BCE”.

            And therein you show spectacular ignorance of the issue. I did not claim anything about a vertical water wheel. It was the vertical over wheel that I made a claim about. I am perfectly aware, that there were vertical wheels before, but they were typically and perhaps exclusively (I don’t know) underwheels. But if they did preexist the Christian era, why did they not spread? You said Christianity suppressed science, and yet, if they preexisted Christianity, it would apparently be pagans who suppressed it. And in any case, I’ve pointed out, Medieval developments made it far more powerful. At this rate, you will say that no one who has worked on antibiotics after Fleming was a scientist, which would be an astonishingly bad (if hilarious) argument.

            This is not Christian Dark Ages invention.

            Serious historians do not use the expression “the Dark Ages” because they now know it wasn’t dark.

            You said that you “don’t know whether Christians got there first on this” but claimed that is an Christian invention. REALLY?

            Where did I claim this was a Christian invention? Your claim is that this period was without science or technological development. But I’ve already falsified that over and over again. And anyway, why do you keep banging on about waterwheels

            This whole business of being able to name the technicians who made these developments has been dealt with already. Two things are evident: 1. These developments took place 2. I can’t name the technicians. Now for your claim to be true, you need 1. to be false. If you seriously think that you can demonstrate 1 to be false from 2, then you need to have the honesty to give up any claim at all that you are a man of reason.

            So how come they claim vertical waterwheels are Christian invention.

            Where did I say that they did?

            C’mon tell us already rather What are these “huge strides” by Christians rather than face palming?

            What, you want me to type out the whole 358 pages of their book, and then type out the other books on the subject? I gave you a list of things that they came up with as a summary. But you’re such a fundamentalist, nothing will convince you you are wrong.

            Wrong. You have no ideas what science is.

            I was making a metphysical statement of methodological naturalism, as seen from a Christian perspective. 1. God makes nature. 2. Nature operates according to certain regularities. 3. Science studies those regularities. Now of course, science itself is only about 3, but there’s is plainly no difficulty in doing that for someone who believes 1 & 2. Or if you think there is, say how.

          • Jon Sorensen

            ” It was the vertical over wheel that I made a claim about”
            What I read: “the overshot wheel appears for the first time in a poem by Antipater of Thessalonica, which praises it as a labour-saving device (IX, 418.4–6). The motif is also taken up by Lucretius (ca. 99-55 BC)”
            Note that vertical over wheel was invented BEFORE Jesus was born. Do you have any other claims about water wheels as Christian invention?

            You said that you “don’t know” about waterwheels you claim were christian inventions but claim that I’m the ignorant. Nice!

            “Serious historians do not use the expression “the Dark Ages” because they now know it wasn’t dark.”
            Serious historians or you can’t name a single scientist nor significant invention by Christians 350-1250CE. (there are actually couple, I admit). If those are not the Dark Ages should we call them Scientific Disaster Ages?

            “My argument is unaffected by the implausible assertion that every invention was actually made by someone who happens to be a pagan.”
            I don’t care about “every invention”. Just name ONE SINGLE significant!

            “did I not actually speak of an Abbey. Not many pagans in abbeys, in my experience.”
            Yes you did, but we already established that your Abbey’s waterwheel invention was a hoax. Remember. It was invented before Jesus was born.

            “Your claim is that this period was without science or technological development. But I’ve already falsified that over and over again. And anyway, why do you keep banging on about waterwheels”
            You haven’t given any example. You brought up waterwheels and now we know that claim was hoax. Just name on Christian invention already.

            “These developments took place 2. I can’t name the technicians. Now for your claim to be true, you need”
            What developments? please no waterwheel again?? Funny you can’t name any person but you can name truckload of them before and after the Dark Ages. What does that tell you?

            “Where did I claim this was a Christian invention?”
            We where talking Christian invention so why did you bring up waterwheel?

            “you want me to type out the whole 358 pages of their book, and then type out the other books on the subject”
            No. Just tell us already the most significant invention or advance.

            “I was making a metphysical statement of methodological naturalism, as seen from a Christian perspective”
            Yes. And I told you that it was nothing to do with science. Science in independent of Mormon/Anglican/Islamic/Scientologists/Mithraism perspective. Like I said: Christians ignore God and your fictional Christian perspective when they do science. Just read the scientific papers they write. Those always assume God/devil/ghost/angels/prayer did not interfere with their study. Just read any of them.

          • Albert

            Note that vertical over wheel was invented BEFORE Jesus was born. Do you have any other claims about water wheels as Christian invention?

            I never claimed it. Will you stop repeating obvious falsehoods. I have repeatedly said I don’t know. I said that it was only in Christian Europe, not under the pagans, that it developed in use and in efficiency. Here’s your argument

            1. Christian Europe in era X is only scientific if Albert can name Christian scientists or Christian inventors in era X.
            2. Albert cannot name…

            But the first premise is painfully false, as I have repeatedly pointed out. If over wheels existed in the ancient world, why did it take the Christian world really to develop them. Your problem is you mistake science for invention. Since that premise is false, your whole argument is falsified. But you keep on with it, either because you cannot follow the argument, or because, you cannot concede it.

            Yes you did, but we already established that your Abbey’s waterwheel invention was a hoax.

            I never made that claim.

            What developments? please no waterwheel again?? Funny you can’t name any person but you can name truckload of them before and after the Dark Ages. What does that tell you?

            I gave two long lists:

            From shipbuilding to armour, from castles to cathedrals to bridges we see advances across the era. Now when you consider that ought to have been a culturally backward time because of the decline of Rome and vacuum that was created, that’s actually quite remarkable and it is dimwitted to deny it or to misdiagnose what is going on.

            And a quote from Gies and Gies:

            Today…the innovative technology of the Middle Ages appears as the silent contribution of many hands and minds working together. The most momentous changes are now understood not as a single, explicit inventions but as gradual imperceptible revolution- in agriculture, in water and wind power, in building construction, in textile manufacture, in communications, in metallurgy, in weaponry.

            Now as for names, the period doesn’t have many names per se. A few bishops, a few kings. It was called the Dark Ages, not because it was dark or nothing was happening, but because we have little record from this period, relative to other periods. This was partly because of the decline of Rome. Any sensible person can see that would cause cultural problems for a while.

            Yes. And I told you that it was nothing to do with science. Science in independent

            You asserted that, but show no understanding of the fact that science rests on metaphysical underpinnings. Of course, those underpinnings are not science themselves, since science is about physics not metaphysics. A Christian metaphysics as at least as compatible with science as an atheists’ metaphysics.

            Those always assume God/devil/ghost/angels/prayer did not interfere with their study. Just read any of them.

            This is where you just look very silly. You seem to think that God creating means God interfering with his creation. But that isn’t what it means.

          • Jon Sorensen

            ” I said that [vertical over wheel] was only in Christian Europe, not under the pagans, that it developed in use and in efficiency”
            I already showed it was invented and developped by pagans BEFORE Jesus.

            “Christian Europe in era X is only scientific if Albert can name Christian scientists or Christian inventors in era X”
            I never claim this. It’s straman. But there were no Christian scientists…

            “you cannot concede it”
            LOL. You haven’t been able to name a single Christian invention or scientists AND I need to concede 🙂 Funny

            Christians were building castles, bridges and cathedrals, but what new innovations did they come up with while doing that?

            “because we have little record from this period, relative to other periods”
            True. We know Christians destroyed scientific works by overwriting them with religious texts, but we know we lost some scientific knowledge.

            “Any sensible person can see that would cause cultural problems for a while.”
            RIGHT. a cultural problem… not a Christian problem… talking about bias.

            “A Christian metaphysics as at least as compatible with science as an atheists’ metaphysics.”
            No it is not. No scientist always assumes “Nature operates according to certain regularities” like you claimed. Unless in your world randomness is regularity.

            “This is where you just look very silly. You seem to think that God creating means God interfering with his creation.”
            Christians do claim prayer works and devil works. I guess you don’t believe in it. So why does this make me look very silly. Does God harten people heart?

          • Albert

            I already showed it was invented and developped by pagans BEFORE Jesus.

            No you haven’t. You’ve shown that it was created then, not developed. It’s the development that counts. Your whole argument is so bad, that even if it is correct, it undermines itself, for if the technology was there, why was it not used more often?

            You haven’t been able to name a single Christian invention or scientists AND I need to concede

            But you haven’t defended your claim that that is a rational standard. Invention is obviously not the only standard by which someone can be said to be a scientist.

            Christians were building castles, bridges and cathedrals, but what new innovations did they come up with while doing that?

            There you go. You’ve not done any reading. Belisarius created floating mills to accelerate the current of the Tiber. Medieval shipbuilders reversed the Roman way of building so as to be more efficient. The ship at Sutton Hoo had an advanced technique, which reversed Roman methods and avoided the Roman need for hard to find long planks. In the 12th Century, St Benezet and his religious order of bridge builders, created new techniques in bridge building, in which the taller arches needed less support during construction than the Roman ones, which mean that their piers needn’t be as wide, this made the bridges more stable against erosion – the principle problem of instability. Flying butresses enabled heavier churches, where conventional Roman buttresses were unsuitable – they were also beautiful. In time, churches became taller, while the introduction of oxides made stained glass colours truer. Presumably, I don’t need to keep giving evidence?

            True. We know Christians destroyed scientific works by overwriting them with religious texts, but we know we lost some scientific knowledge.

            Examples, please?

            RIGHT. a cultural problem… not a Christian problem… talking about bias.

            Yes, if the political structure collapses, the culture declines. Obviously. Therefore, a reasonable person already has a sufficient explanation and does not need to introduce religious reasons.

            No it is not. No scientist always assumes “Nature operates according to certain regularities” like you claimed. Unless in your world randomness is regularity.

            Oh dear. Randomness is based on prior regularity. But even if it were not, scientists would still have to presume regularity, otherwise they would not be able to make predictions beyond what they could see, e.g. when water will boil, when an eclipse will occur. You don’t really understand philosophy of science, do you?

            Christians do claim prayer works and devil works. I guess you don’t believe in it.

            I can claim both that the world normally operates according to certain regularities, and admit that there could be exceptions on rare occasions. Where’s the contradiction? As Francis Collins says Miracles thus do not pose an irreconcilable conflict for the believer who trusts in science and who sees the natural world is ruled by laws. If, like me, you admit that there might exist something or someone outside of nature, then there is no logical reason why that force could not on rare occasions stage an invasion. It’s possible that you know more about science and religion than Francis Collins, but I doubt it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “It’s the development that counts”
            LOL. I guess you have to claim that when you have no inventions with “Your whole argument is so bad”. Your position is with NO inventions…

            “But you haven’t defended your claim that that is a rational standard”
            Now that you are backed in the corner with “standard” kneejerk, remember to also demand that we define the meaning of the words, like all the good apologists. Pathetic.

            ” Belisarius…”
            Was a general, not scientist not inventor

            “Randomness is based on prior regularity”
            So what causes a single atom to decay? Or what regularity do you assume in tunneling?

            “You don’t really understand philosophy of science, do you?”
            LOL. you don’t understand science at all.

            “I can claim both that …”
            You can claim anything but your assertion is evidence-free

            “As Francis Collins says Miracles thus do not pose an irreconcilable conflict for the believer”
            And no evidence of Thetans do not pose an irreconcilable conflict for the scientologists… Cognitive Bias is amazing thing. Remember how Collins had his conversion experience. So profound and logical.

            “It’s possible that you know more about science and religion than Francis Collins, but I doubt it.”
            I know not to believe a hypothesis [miracle] without evidence. Collins knows this in his scientific work but ignores that when it comes to religion. You need to be inconsistent to be religious.

          • Albert

            Your position is terribly irrational. Firstly, your premise about invention is demonstrably false. A culture can be scientific and technological without inventions. Secondly, your inference from “Albert does not come up with examples of invention in this period, therefore there were none” is an example of an inductive leap of absurd proportions. Since I am hardly a scholar of this period, and I know little of anything of it. Thirdly, as I have pointed out there were inventions in this period. Different kinds of bridges, and buildings, ship building etc. Your claim remember is that this period was opposed to science (or something like that), and that claim is just false. And where’s your evidence?

            Was a general, not scientist not inventor

            LOL! So if I refer to Gregor Mendel as the father of genetics, you will say “He was not a scientist, but a priest”! The issue is not their professions, but their inventions! You just don’t get the idea of different cultures, do you? In those days, they didn’t typically position themselves as scientists (such a person simply did not exist, he would be a philosopher) or inventors. Instead, you just had people making stuff works. Probably, you deny Gutenberg was an inventor on the grounds that he was a printer.

            So what causes a single atom to decay? Or what regularity do you assume in tunneling?

            I said nothing at all about causes, I spoke of bases. In order for a single atom to decay, other things need to remain regular. For example, time must remain regular. Gravitational forces must remain regular etc.

            You can claim anything but your assertion is evidence-free

            Your assertions have been typically evidence free. But my point was a philosophical one: it is logically possible to admit both regularity and rare exceptions. Believing in the one does not exclude belief in the other, and your position would appear to require that contradiction. To prove this point, I can admit both that lots of things need causes, but that at the quantum level, some things appear not to need those causes, but seem random.

            And no evidence of Thetans do not pose an irreconcilable conflict for the scientologists… Cognitive Bias is amazing thing. Remember how Collins had his conversion experience. So profound and logical.

            Of course you have contempt for Collins, but that might say something about you. Does it not occur to you that you might yourself be subject to cognitive bias?

            I know not to believe a hypothesis [miracle] without evidence.

            The issue is whether it is impossible to believe in science and believe in the possibility of miracles. Now if you will not accept a hypothesis without evidence, prove this one:

            “Science shows miracles are impossible.”

          • Jon Sorensen

            “premise about invention is demonstrably false”
            I haven’t said any premises. I only pointed out that you can’t name a single Christian invention in Dark Ages and now you are upset. Saying “A culture can be scientific and technological without inventions” is just nonsense apologism…

            “Albert does not come up with examples of invention in this period, therefore there were none”
            This is lie. I told you I know couple.

            “I have pointed out there were inventions in this period”
            No you haven’t. Just handwaving

            “In order for a single atom to decay, other things need to remain regular. For example, time must remain regular.”
            This is nonsense. Time doesn’t have to remain regular. Time run a different speed on earht’s satellites, but atomic decay is same. Read about Twin paradox to get basics right.

            “Gravitational forces must remain regular”
            WUT? Gravitation force even varies on earth depending on your altitude. You just don’t understand science.

            “Does it not occur to you that you might yourself be subject to cognitive bias”
            We all are. Note that Collins uses scientific method and critical thinking in his work, but creates loopholes for his religious thinking.

            “The issue is whether it is impossible to believe in science and believe in the possibility of miracles”
            Of course it is possible to believe that. People believe in Holy Spirit and Thetans.

            “Now if you will not accept a hypothesis without evidence, prove this one: “Science shows miracles are impossible.”
            You don’t understand science. Science does not “prove” thinks. It provides the best model of reality we currently know. You can dismiss evidence free assertions…

          • Albert

            I haven’t said any premises. I only pointed out that you can’t name a single Christian invention in Dark Ages and now you are upset.

            Now come on, you are also trying to draw a conclusion from that fact.

            Saying “A culture can be scientific and technological without inventions” is just nonsense apologism…

            Obviously not. If it is about development or implementation of inventions then it is clearly scientific. You rather crudely reduce science to invention.

            This is lie. I told you I know couple.

            I think you have a problem with English. If I say something which is untrue, that doesn’t mean I am lying. Moreover, if you think there are inventions then your case begins to crumble.

            No you haven’t. Just handwaving

            Yes, I did. Here:

            Belisarius created floating mills to accelerate the current of the Tiber. Medieval shipbuilders reversed the Roman way of building so as to be more efficient. The ship at Sutton Hoo had an advanced technique, which reversed Roman methods and avoided the Roman need for hard to find long planks. In the 12th Century, St Benezet and his religious order of bridge builders, created new techniques in bridge building, in which the taller arches needed less support during construction than the Roman ones, which mean that their piers needn’t be as wide, this made the bridges more stable against erosion – the principle problem of instability. Flying butresses enabled heavier churches, where conventional Roman buttresses were unsuitable – they were also beautiful. In time, churches became taller, while the introduction of oxides made stained glass colours truer. Presumably, I don’t need to keep giving evidence?

            You then say:

            This is nonsense. Time doesn’t have to remain regular. Time run a different speed on earht’s satellites, but atomic decay is same. Read about Twin paradox to get basics right.

            How do you know if that time changes speed if no time remains regular? Time changes when viewed from other perspectives which are regarded, for the purposes of observation, as fixed.

            Gravitation force even varies on earth depending on your altitude. You just don’t understand science.

            Oh for goodness’ sake. Obviously, gravity is different depending on mass etc., but the point is that the formula remains the same. Thus gravity will always be the same in identical circumstances. You’ve got a pigeon grasp of all this.

            Note that Collins uses scientific method and critical thinking in his work, but creates loopholes for his religious thinking.

            For example? And while you’re on that, perhaps you could give me the example I asked for earlier:

            We know Christians destroyed scientific works by overwriting them with religious texts, but we know we lost some scientific knowledge.

            You then say:

            You don’t understand science. Science does not “prove” thinks. It provides the best model of reality we currently know. You can dismiss evidence free assertions…

            I think you don’t understand how the word proof operates. Obviously what you say here is true. But the word proof has different levels of meaning. The level of proof in a courtroom would be insufficient in maths, which is different a philosophical proof, which is different from how the word is used in everyday English parlance.

            For example, you said this:

            This proves that you have not read him and do not understand his points.

            Now even the statement had been true, no serious reader would think that had been proved by a mathematical or scientific standard.

            Now the issue is that you only want to accept things on the basis of scientific evidence (assuming this is your position). So I am asking for the scientific evidence that miracles are impossible. Now instead of answering that question, you’ve decided, rather implausibly, to pick at my words and complain that I have used them as you have used them.

          • Albert

            As Anton has said, Linus and Jon are different. But it’s odd that just as one goes, another arrives.

          • CliveM

            Hmmm………

            Also noticed that when Linus disappeared in a stop, as was his won’t, Jon appeared.

            It maybe coincidence.

          • Albert

            But Linus is long winded, Jon is often concise.

          • CliveM

            On balance I believe not. However I am a little suspicious of his cod English, as if he is trying to hide something.

          • Albert

            I think he’s from Norway.

          • Pubcrawler

            Yes, they’re different people. Linus, for all his faults, at least had an in-depth grasp of what he was talking about, and could never, in all his incarnations, bring himself to write such dreadful English.

          • CliveM

            He certainly implies something Scandinavian .

          • Jon Sorensen

            Funny how Brian left when you ask him tough questions….

          • Albert

            Accepting reality, science and reason is better than magical thinking, faith based position and superstitions.

            That would be a philosophical judgement, would it not?

          • Brian

            Well, certainly an ecumenical question.

          • Jon Sorensen

            It’s magical

          • Albert

            Oh it’s a magical judgement that you are espousing. I have to correct you there. This proposition:

            Accepting reality, science and reason is better than magical thinking, faith based position and superstitions

            is most certainly a philosophical judgement.

          • Jon Sorensen

            obviously

          • Is that a preamble to the explanation Jack requested?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Jack was not paying attention I guess

      • Brian

        I have read him – and I know he dislikes Social Darwinism. What he cannot establish is *why* we should oppose the social outworking of a ‘law of nature’ other than the fact that he dislikes it. If there is no transcendent Lawgiver and Judge, then morality is entirely imminent to a species, a group – or even an individual. Atheist ethics can only be based on utilitarianism and emotivism. It insists, however, in trading moral currency it has declared worthless. Very sad – and dishonest.

        • Jon Sorensen

          You have not read Dawkins. If you had you wouldn’t think he would call religious people “Dulls”.

          He has established why we should oppose Social Darwinism, but you don’t seem to like his answer. Just because you think he “cannot” has no base on reality. Again do your homework. He talked about this in one of his speeches.

          No point to talk about “transcendent Lawgiver and Judge” if we can’t establish her existence. And have an idea where she got the law or her nature. Apologist always run away when this is asked…

          Atheist ethics doen’t have to be based on utilitarianism and emotivism. If you had read only a little bit of atheist philosophers you would not state this. Even 2mins of Googling would have saved you from this embarrassment

          If anything is “Very sad – and dishonest” it is your claim of knowing anything about atheism or ethics

          • Brian

            Once again you are wrong, Jon. I have read Dawkins – not all of his oeuvre but he is very repetitive. And you have misunderstood my comment on his inability to come to terms with Social Darwinism. Again, do your homework and you will save yourself a lot of embarrassment. You may not be able to establish God’s existence – but that’s your problem. I’m sure the list of things you don’t know is very long. But there is no shame in that – you are a finite being after all. One of the things you don’t know is me and my history, so a little humility would serve you well. The fact is, I have taught some ethics at A level and undergraduate level as well as in adult education, so I have more than a smattering of knowledge on this. I know also about the atheist ethics of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer (I had to do a seminar paper on him in my undergraduate days decades ago) – I find both of them repulsive and no foundation for social ethics. The atheist social alternative is almost always utilitarianism. Kantian deontology has featured in social policy – but Kant’s ethics is (in spite of himself) religiously based.
            A word of kindly advice, Jon: avoid making ad hominem comments about people you don’t know.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Typical lying Christian; claims to have read Dawkins and claims that Dawkins implies religious people to be ‘Dulls’. That is a lie and you have not read Dawkins. Shame on you. And when I call out your false claims – you double down. Same on you.

            You never taught ethics at A level. Any Christians with basic knowlegde of ethics would know not make ad hominem with straw men. If you actually know anything about ethics – shame on you

          • Anton

            Whereas atheists have no trouble making ad homs by setting up straw men, I discern.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Some do some don’t – Shame on people who do. So what?

          • Anton

            Shame on yourself is what, in that case!

          • Jon Sorensen

            Just point out where I did those without evidence

          • CliveM

            Still as big a prat as ever.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Calling out false claims and Christians get salty. I bet you did not do fact checking but sided on false claims too.

          • CliveM

            On absolutely no evidence you call someone a liar. I need no lessons from you.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Dawkins didn’t imply religious people to be ‘Dulls’. It’s a lie. Just like your claim “On absolutely no evidence” is a lie

  • Darter Noster

    I remember some unpleasant, even predatory sorts in the Christian Union at Oxford, of which I was not a member, but then I also remember some extremely unpleasant and predatory members of the OU Conservative Association, of which I was. Some members of the Labour society were top notch people and others were chippy, cultish Marxists biting the hand that was feeding them. My own religious home, Pusey House, was frequented by some wonderful people, some incredibly irritating people, and some people I wouldn’t have got into a lift with.

    That’s life, and university life in particular – a huge melting pot of all sorts of people, most of whom will grow out of their lingering adolescent foibles in years to come.

    Most OICU members I encountered were thoroughly decent, occasionally single-minded, people about whom the worst that could be said was that they enjoyed the hands-never-below-the-armpits worship style at St Aldates.

    For a senior faculty member, especially, to disparage a large and diverse student society in that way is deeply wrong and unfair, even though some people within it answer to his description.

    • magnolia

      Most of OICCU (Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union) would- for accuracy’s sake- have come from other churches, some even mostly attending college chapels,, since it potentially includes all evangelicals, plus some others, so Baptists, Methodists, Vineyard, and various community churches would be in the mix.

      Furthermore it seems quite an exaggeration to say “hands-never-below-the-armpits” not least because it is biologically impossible given the way blood circulates the body! An occasional raising of the arms is the most the average human body can- and does-muster!

    • Arden Forester

      I’ve just looked up St Aldgates – https://staldates.org.uk/about/whos-who

      A casual glance would not place them in the Church of England. Each to their own.

  • Albert

    Cracking post. But I’m still unclear about what did happen.

  • Let me get this straight. Richard Dawkins, whose theory is that human existence in particular, and biodiversity in general, depend heavily upon predation, believes that predation is bad?

    Richard Dawkins, who believes that at the bottom of the universe there are no real moral truths with objective standing, and that the universe is ultimately a place of “pitiless indifference”, criticises people for being “nasty” ?

    So, he proves once again that his own views 1) don’t make sense on their own terms and 2) are parasitical upon Christian assumptions in order to have any meaning.

    Alternative conclusion: can someone so illogical really exist? https://david.dw-perspective.org.uk/da/index.php/writings/does-richard-dawkins-exist/

    • Jon Sorensen

      “Richard Dawkins, whose theory is that human existence in particular, and biodiversity in general, depend heavily upon predation, believes that predation is bad”
      You should read him to understand. No need to set up straw men

      “Richard Dawkins, who believes that at the bottom of the universe there are no real moral truths with objective standing, and that the universe is ultimately a place of “pitiless indifference”, criticises people for being “nasty” ”
      Again you should read him to understand. No need to set up straw men

      “So, he proves once again that his own views…”
      No. This proves that you have not read him and do not understand his points.

  • Inspector General

    A message of appreciation to Cranmer for ridding his site of Linus

    One hopes we can quickly return to being a gentlemen’s club of the erudite, with of course lady contributors, at the earliest .

    Such is the fate of the disruptive. We are given example of why the disruptive have no place in the heaven Christ talked about. No place for those who mock and curse the Almighty, otherwise it would hardly be the destination us world weary mortals would seek. To wit, a heaven or even haven.

    Thank you Cranmer

    • Admit it, Inspector, you’ll miss him. Who will you direct your anti-homosexual rants at now?

      • Inspector General

        One will not. Ghastly individual he be.

        They were not ‘rants’ but robust helpful advice…

        Besides. It is every Christian’s duty to point out the inadequacies of a lifestyle based on gross indecency with a stranger…

        • “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

    • Tout Va

      Être con comme un balai.

  • Anton

    So you’re a prophet.

    • Sarky

      Maybe!!

  • Chefofsinners

    Despite his obvious failings, I love Dawkins. I would like to spend all eternity with him, and I’d be willing to die to make that possible.
    – says the God he calls a Delusion.

    Dawkins has many more words in print than God, but so much less to say.

  • carl jacobs

    The blog wouldn’t be the same without the Inspector. He’s like that uncle who always wears a plaid suit and a paisley tie to family gatherings. You know. He’s the guy who says he hates the cat but the cat knows better. He just has to be there.

    • Sarky

      The drunk uncle at weddings!!!

      • Dominic Stockford

        He’s like that chap played by Paul Whitehouse!

    • Sitting in a corner armchair, smoking a pipe and drinking a whiskey, sharing his wisdom with young children gathered at his feet.

      • Brian

        Sharing his pipe and whiskey with them as well! He’s nothing if not generous with his vices.

      • carl jacobs

        [Ahem] “Children, did I tell you how I escaped from 10,000 screaming bandits in the Khyber Pass? [Ahem] I was leading a small detachment of policemen in search of the notorious outlaw, Ali Bigh…”

      • Inspector General

        Supercilious smartarse

    • Chefofsinners

      The blog won’t be the same without Linus. He’s like that uncle who always wears a rubber leotard and a leather collar to family gatherings…

      • CliveM

        You’re right it won’t be the same, it already seems much improved.

        • Tout Va

          Avoir la tête dans le cul.

      • …. the one jealous of the bride’s dress and the attention she gets, who pukes, urinates and defecates in the midst of the celebrations and shouts obscenities and abuse to all and sundry.

        • Chefofsinners

          You demean your orifice.

          • Tout Va

            Quoi! Quelle horreur! Quels imbéciles!

            Wot ‘av yoo dun to pour Linus?

            Engueuler quelqu’un comme du poisson pourri!

        • Tout Va

          Avoir un pet de travers.

      • Question: If Chef were a guest at a wedding who would he resemble?

        • CliveM

          Did you mean to say ‘Chef’?

  • layreader

    Dawkins, why worry about him? The one thing he won’t like is not being talked about, so why give him all this publicity?

  • michaelkx

    If any one is
    Predatory it is Professor Dawkins, in his opinion all Christians are
    deluded, and mentally weak. Can I just point out to Professor
    Dawkins that Einstein believed in God, so did Clark Maxwell, Faraday,
    and Newton, two of which did lay preaching for most of there life’s.
    So if that is being deluded, and mentally weak , count me in. May I
    humbly ask the Professor why he does not ridicule the Islamic faith
    as he does the Christian?

    • Anton
    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Yes, Dawkins does indeed believe that all Christians are deluded. He believes the same about all Muslims, believing Jews, Hindus, Spiritualists etc. Can you quote me any pronouncement of his that they are mentally weak (which is a different thing)?

      • Anton

        Look, we all believe that anybody who disagrees with us about anything is deluded; that’s not a big deal !

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          No, you’re right; of course it isn’t. What I’m asking for is substantiation of michaelkx’s assertion that Dawkins has opined that all Christians are not only deluded but mentally weak. I wonder when he’ll provide it.

      • Brian

        He has tried to popularise the term ‘Brights’ for those who agree with his atheism, which means that those who don’t are ‘Dulls’!

        • Chefofsinners

          Most of them are Blefts.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Typical Christian apologist lies. You haven’t done your homework or you are spreading a lie. Dawkins supports Dennett’s proposal what religious people could be called and it is not “Dulls”

          • Jonathan

            Bye bye Jon. Blocked.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Typical Christian behaviour. When I call out Brian’s lie about Dawkins, Jonathan does not want to check what Dawkins actually said but blocks the truth. I bet blocking the truth is why Jonathan is a Christian 😉

    • Jon Sorensen

      Please do your home work. Einstein was a Jew who said “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.” So much for “believed in [your] God”

      I guess you think all Muslim scientists are deluded…

      • Anton

        Einstein was not an atheist. He was a deist. (I am crediting you with knowing what that means; if not, you can look it up.) His sentence which you quote is not incompatible with deism.

        • Brian

          I am not sure if Einstein was actually a deist. Somewhere he has aid he believed in ‘the God of Spinoza’ and there is a long controversy about what Spinoza thought: was he a pantheist or panentheist?

          • Anton

            He was entirely convinced that there was an intelligence who ordained the laws of physics, and entirely sceptical that this intelligence took any interest in the affairs of man. As a physicist and aware how misquoted he often is (Jon actually got that quote right), I’ve looked quite hard into this. Do remember re the Spinoza thing that a man may change his mind during his life.

      • michaelkx

        Muslim scientists No I do not what made you think that?

        • Jon Sorensen

          I didn’t know you are a Muslim and you believe what Mohammed told us

  • Jon Sorensen

    Christians are so scared of Dawkins that even when Dawkins defend them, Christians need to make up a bad story about it. Looks like Dawkins rules..

    • Until you respond to Carl Jacob’s invitation to offer a Christian answer to this question:

      “OT is all about ethnic cleansing being God’s will,” as “Well theology is easy to do..”, and yet, “There is no such thing as “Christian theology,” you really have no credibility on this weblog.

      The exchanges demonstrated that actually when you pass judgement on Christians, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      https://archbishopcranmer.com/charlottesville-white-supremacists-anti-american-anti-christian/

      • Jon Sorensen

        There is no single “Christian answer” nor “Christian theology”. Why don’t you tell us some doctrine that all Christians agree?

        • We all agree on the answer to the question you raised. So, go on, have a stab at presenting the Christian answer as you understand it. Or are you all hot air and ignorance?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Whenever I ask
            “Why don’t you tell us some doctrine that all Christians agree?”
            Jack runs away…

          • But, dear Jon, you are the expert on theology and Jack is seemingly ensnared in a web of deception. Please inform me of the answer to the question you posed in order to facilitate Jack’s recovery. If you can’t, then Jack must conclude you don’t know what you are talking about.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Run away Jack. This is too hard for you

          • Anton

            Yes, getting you to answer tough questions is very hard.

          • CliveM

            Also an exercise in futility.

          • carl jacobs

            When confronted in the wild, atheius arrogantus will fluff itself into a big ball in order to make itself appear more threatening to its adversary. It hopes thereby to distract its adversary long enough to escape.

          • Jon Sorensen

            When Jack can’t answer Jon’s question a hero Carl comes blame Jon. Well done

          • carl jacobs

            Whatever. You make excuses to avoid answering a simple question and then project your own incapacity onto Jack in order to hide what you have done. The best defense is a good offense. Do you think people can’t see this? You don’t know what we believe and so you make wild accusations that do nothing but demonstrate your own ignorance. And then you presume to quote Scripture at us in an attempt to instruct us.

            And I didn’t intercede for Jack. He doesn’t need my help. I was just describing what you are doing. It ain’t no mystery.

            Btw. Omnipotence.

          • Jon Sorensen

            LOL; what simple question am I now avoiding? And what am I hiding? What are these “wild accusations” you refer to?

            Tell us all already without running away

          • carl jacobs

            I won’t conform to your script, Jon.

            What are these “wild accusations” you refer to?

            Good grief. Go re-read this subthread yourself.

            Tell us all already without running away

            I have no reason to run away from you. You don’t frighten me. You don’t threaten me. You don’t cause me distress. I wonder sometimes why you come here, but that is your affair. You should try to post without intentionally trying to alienate people, however. The smug superior condescension gets old.

          • Jon Sorensen

            No, you won’t conform to my script. Whenever I ask you a simple question you through a tantrum and refuse to answer a question because we both know that you painted yourself in an intellectual corner.

            Your last paragraph seems to be a existentially scared Christian rant. Maybe is the reason that is knocking with a doubt in your beliefs

    • carl jacobs

      In point of fact, I never think about Dawkins unless he gets mentioned on this weblog. Atheism as a world view is not a significant existential threat. It’s too obviously a positivist assertion of man’s autonomy.

      • Sarky
        • carl jacobs

          What has that to do with me? I was talking about myself. As a Christian, I don’t consider atheism to an exceptionally coherent worldview. So I don’t spend time stressing about it.

          That fact that people in rich safe comfortable countries find atheism attractive is not surprising. People love the idea of moral autonomy. It’s the instantiation of “I shall be as the Most High God.” I’ve said many times that atheism is a luxury purchased by the rich.

          Should Venezuela come to the UK, I suggest you duck.

          • Sarky

            Not surprising though is it. If you’re living in sh#t and you’re promised an afterlife flowing with milk and honey, the chances are its going to be an attractive option.
            It has nothing to do with a love of god and everything to do with a better future.

          • Chefofsinners

            Living in Shepton Mallet isn’t so bad.

          • carl jacobs

            Thank you for conceding that your worldview is only viable to the extent that people avoid facing the consequences of the pressupositions that undergird it. You have no answers. Your system only works so long as nothing forces you to ask the requisite questions. I have been telling you this for months.

          • Sarky

            And I’ve told you i have been forced to ask the requisite questions recently…and it makes no difference.

          • carl jacobs

            When you face what the Ukrainians faced, then come back and talk. You have never faced the kind of dislocation I am postulating. Hobbes said that the life of man was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. For most people most of the time, that’s a true statement. You don’t seem to appreciate how sheltered you are from that reality simply because you have the good fortune to live in a Western bubble.

          • Sarky

            So your life has to be total crap to even consider christianity??

            That speaks volumes.

          • carl jacobs

            I’m still trying to find the part of this argument that isn’t a non-sequitur.

            What I said was that your world view becomes non-viable once the externals that sustain it are removed. Since you live wholly in the material universe, you implicitly levy requirements on your external environment to make your life comprehensible. If those external conditions disappear, you can no longer provide answers to the questions that need answering. (Questions like “Why do I matter?”) I can answer those questions in both circumstances. You can’t.

          • Sarky

            Yes i can.

            Having religion doesn’t give you a monopoly on meaning.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, actually it does. You live. You die. It ultimately doesn’t matter what happens to you. You will be driven by your world view to find meaning in experience. You can’t find it in yourself because you don’t have either the power or the authority to establish it in the face of your circumstances. This is why I asked you about Ukraine. This is also why you said it was irrelevant and refused to consider it.

          • Murti Bing

            “I don’t consider atheism to an exceptionally coherent worldview”

            That’s because it isn’t. Proof is demanded, but never offered. Logic is claimed, but never used.

          • Sarky

            We’re not the ones making extraordinary claims.

          • Murti Bing

            Really? You might want to think about that a little bit more.

          • Chefofsinners

            Also, if Peking comes to the UK, duck.

      • Jon Sorensen

        But many have converted from religion to reality because of Dawkins. But of course not all – like you.

        • Anton

          You have the stats?

          • Jon Sorensen

            The UK seems to more secular than ever…

          • Anton

            You can show they all stopped going to church because of Dawkins?

          • Jon Sorensen

            LOL

          • Anton

            You said that “many have converted from religion to reality because of Dawkins”. Can you provide any evidence for that statement?

          • Jon Sorensen

            You can listen to Dawkins comments on mail he gets of if you listen to Atheist Experience sometime people comment their reasons. It doesn’t seem to a coincidence that God Delusion raised the people awareness of atheism and use of critical thinking, and at the same time non-belief is growing fast.

          • Pubcrawler

            Anecdotal. Pfft.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I was asked to provide “any evidence” and when I provide the goal post is moved. Typical Christian apologist mindset… 🙂

          • Pubcrawler

            You were previously asked for stats, which you declined to provide. Until you do, you are being evasive.

            Oh, and stop making sweeping generalisations about the ‘typical Christian mindset’, it’s making people think you’re Linus. And frankly you couldn’t hold a candle to him.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I never claimed about stats. It was Anton who wanted them. But do you want stats of the UK religious decline (which you can google) or do you want stats of conversion because of Dawkins (which I claimed no stats, but peoples testimonies)?

            I don’t know who Linus is nor what he has to do with me or my comments.

            To my experience you act like “typical Christian mindset”.
            1. I was asked for evidence.
            2. I provide evidence
            3. You dismiss it by moving the “goal post”
            I see this all the time talking to Christians

  • W.A. Jones

    Any time I read about Dawkins’ pompously trashing Christianity from on high, I think about the “What if you’re wrong?” question asked by a young student some years ago. The rant he delivered — “What if you’re wrong!” — is the sign of an easily offended jerk who likes to hear himself talk but doesn’t care much to answer even a simple — but deep — question without ridiculing the questioner.

  • Don Benson

    From a faith point of view, Christians within the church suffer a lot less from atheists who argue their case from outside it than they do from the doubters and manipulators amongst their leaders within it.

    There is a certain amount of justifiable reason about atheism, more so about agnosticism, which Christians should respect because none of us knows to whom God has yet to reveal himself. But, without God as a sure and certain reference point, science and reason alone have limits. (I realise that’s a circular argument which only makes sense to those who have experienced the revelation of God!)

    But surely the Church of England, for example, should be capable of fielding leaders in the public square who are willing and able to offer the world, without obfuscation, a better glimpse of how God relates both to what we know of science now and what is mankind’s deepest longing for an eternal destiny in his love and how that can be received and what it means for how we should live.

    And that, for sure, can never be answered by the kind of grovelling to zeitgeist morality and studied uncertainty which characterises much of what the public are ever likely to hear from the church at present. It could be said that, in these circumstances, Richard Dawkins has a point even though his approach can be abrasive at times.

    • Brian

      I am no longer much in touch with what goes on in Church of England theological education, but I have thought for a long time that Anglican clergy and teachers need to be effective apologists and explainers – and I wonder if many could answer the kind of questions an intelligent sixth former raises from his or her RE & Philosophy class. The Oxford Centre in Apologetics connected with Ravi Zacharias does good work in this area and William Lane Craig has a wide following. But I really don’t know whether the C of E at large is equipping its ministers to be good popular apologists. I suspect the newer charismatic churches (New Frontiers) and reformed churches may be doing more robust work here. Sometimes I think the abysmal standards in RE teaching at GCSE (and even more abysmal textbooks) may be serving to inoculate British youth against Christian faith.

      • Anton

        I am in no doubt that the textbooks do. It is often quite subtle but very definite.

      • Rhoda

        There are plenty of biases in much RE teaching. In lessons about Easter week the stories of Jesus cursing the fig tree and throwing over the money changers’ tables were chosen as the events to focus on for the Monday of Holy Week, giving the impression that Jesus was bad tempered as there was no real explanation of why.

        A further problem is that Abraham’s two sons Ishmael and Isaac are shown on a family tree with Judaism associated with Isaac and Islam with Ishmael. Jesus and Christianity rightly spring from the former but the impression is given that Islam started with Ishmael, not with Muhammad as we believe (he is not on the figure), and not with Adam as Muslims believe. There is also a complete absence of the bellicose verses of the Quran.

        • Ray Sunshine

          I’ve never understood the logic of calling Islam an “Abrahamic” religion because of Ishmael. Is there any connection at all between Ishmael and Mohammed? The Arab peoples claim to be descended from Ishmael. But as far as I can see, that argument explains nothing about Islam . Ishmael lived 2,500 years or so before Mohammed. In terms of religion, that would make him, at best, the patriarch of the ancient Arabian polytheistic religion which Islam boasts of having utterly eradicated and then replaced.

          • Murti Bing

            There is no rational link. One may as well posit a link between Simon Magus and Scientology.

          • Ray Sunshine

            But we regularly hear about “the three Abrahamic faiths”. There must be somebody out there, somewhere, who (a) genuinely accepts that there are three of them and (b) can produce an argument to refute what I’ve been saying about the 2,500-year gap.

          • Chefofsinners

            Islam is the deception by which the Arabs claim to be heirs of the blessings, promises and land given to Abraham. Hence its popularity. They count the Pentateuch as scripture but they deny crucial facts. The most succesful falsehoods are always those which are close to the truth.

          • Ray Sunshine

            But the underlying assumption that there is some kind of religious connection between Ishmael and Mohammed doesn’t even come close to the truth, does it?

          • Even so this wouldn’t necessarily rule it out as an “Abrahamic” religion. It could be one, as posted above, but a heretical one. Does Judaism consider Christianity an “Abrahamic” religion? It depends on your definition.

          • Ray Sunshine

            I have a vague recollection, from years ago, that the expression “Abrahamic faiths” was first coined as a label for Christianity-plus-Judaism, “our older brother”, and that quite some time elapsed before it occurred to anyone that the category ought to be expanded to make room for Islam as well.
            But, as I said, that really is nothing more than a vague recollection. I can’t produce any hard evidence to back it up. Not on the spur of the moment, anyway.

          • Do all three share these common doctrines:

            [T]he unity and omnipotence of God. The attributes of God …. : the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone ….

            (coupled with)

            [T]he immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.

            .

          • Chefofsinners

            They do. Ultimately, the term ‘Abrahamic’ is not one that I would jealously guard, or even want particularly. I follow the one who said ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’

          • IanCad

            The immortality of the soul is not a Biblical teaching. It is pagan to its boots and is the very bedrock of Spiritualism.

          • Chefofsinners

            Ah, there you go again Ian. The problem with your pet heresy ‘the soul is not immortal’ is that it’s going to take a very long time for me to prove you wrong.

          • IanCad

            Hardly a “Pet Heresy.” The belief in the IOS is entirely based upon Hellenistic superstition and is directly contradicted in the Bible. As more and more people study the controversy, so most abandon the primitive superstition that has lined the pockets of greedy churchmen and besmirched the character of God.

          • Chefofsinners

            Good to see you taking it for a walk again. Do you worm and de-flea it regularly?

          • IanCad

            For someone smart enough to come up with – “Thaw – God of Global Warming,” you should be able to offer some cogent argument in your own behalf to refute the doctrine of Annihilationism.
            I should note the late, (un)lamented Linus seemed all square with the belief in Hell. Didn’t believe anything else though.

          • Sarky

            He didn’t believe in hell. He just used it as a stick to poke people with.

          • IanCad

            I’m not so sure Sarky. Most non-believers I know seem to recognize no inconsistency between dissing the Creator and embracing the notion that somewhere, someday there is a great pit of eternal flame awaiting errant (Those who disagree with us) souls.

          • Anton

            Sarky’s right, Ian. If Linus believed in hell then he’d have been concerned to avoid it.

          • IanCad

            Linus was so enamoured with his absolute inerrancy that Hell would not be a concern for him but a very fitting destiny in which to consign most of us who post on this blog. Thus, deep down, he believed in it.

          • Anton

            OK, I’ll play it your way… given that you think he believed heel was real, who do you think he believed were the criteria for who goes there?

          • IanCad

            Any who disagreed with him. Most notably those who confessed that man should not lie with man.

          • Sarky

            I don’t believe in hell. Its a medieval instrument of control.

          • IanCad

            A very profitable instrument of control, and one that more and more mainstream Christians are rejecting for the fiction it is.

          • Rhoda

            Jesus said,” .. do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
            (Matthew 10:28 )

          • IanCad

            Rather hard to glean any support for IOS from this verse, Rhoda. At least, as far as I understand it. Jesus is talking about the judgment of God who can destroy the souls of transgressors, a far worse prospect than mortal man’s destruction only of the body.

          • Anton

            No, that’s Purgatory.

          • Chefofsinners

            We did all this before. You ended up admitting I had a point as I recall.

          • IanCad

            Along with the other mighty of this blog you make many points. I do not however, recall any referring to the superstition of IOS to be of much merit.

          • Chefofsinners

            We got to the question Brian raised above about the souls under the throne in Revelation 6:9-11.

            Likewise there are Moses and Elijah, who conversed with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. And the bodies of holy people raised to life when Jesus died (Matt 27:52).

          • IanCad

            The LORD is quite capable of raising the dead, as in the case of those raised to life during the Crucifixion. They would then have eventually died and buried, awaiting the Resurrection.. Elijah and Moses had already been translated to Heaven.

          • We’ll all know soon enough.

          • Brian

            Or not – if Linus is correct. (He isn’t.)

          • Ray Sunshine

            “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). What does Jesus mean, if the thief has no immortal soul?

          • IanCad

            The thief was given a promise that day. He will not enter Heaven until the Resurrection.

          • Ray Sunshine

            So you’re saying the adverb “today” qualifies the verb “I tell”, rather than the verb “you will be”, is that it? “I’m telling you today that [at some unspecified future date] you will be with me in Paradise.” If Jesus had left out the word “today”, the meaning would be exactly the same: “I’m telling you that [at some unspecified future date] you will be with me in Paradise.” Well,well! I freely confess that that’s a possibility that had never crossed my mind. However, please take a look at this. The Bible Hub website lists 25 different English translations of this verse (link below) and every single one of them has unambiguously opted for the usually accepted meaning of Jesus’ words. You’re up against some pretty tough opposition there.

            http://biblehub.com/luke/23-43.htm

          • IanCad

            Particularly of note is the Douay-Rheims (among others)rendition of the verse which essentially make Christ a fibber. He did not enter Paradise “Today, or, This Day.” Not until three days after Gethsemane did He ascend to His Father.
            The prime villain of the piece is the placement of the comma before “Today” instead of after, thus distorting the verse from a promise of certainty to one of immediacy.
            There was no punctuation in the original texts and in harmony with long established error the mark was placed accordingly.

          • Chefofsinners

            Jesus was not a ‘fibber’. As He died He said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Only His body was in the grave.
            And the comma is not misplaced. Jesus made 70+ ‘Verily, verily’ statements, and there are no others where He also added ‘today’ for further emphasis.

          • Pubcrawler

            Greek word order conventions also better support the traditional interpretation.

          • IanCad

            I’ve thunk and I’ve thunk and I’ve thunk over your post Chef and it still makes little sense to me.
            Of course there is no dispute about His words to God; and indeed, the word “Today” is an emphasis on certainty and that only.

          • Chefofsinners

            It’s like this: Jesus entered His Father’s presence, in spirit, when He died. HIs body ascended after His resurrection. So it was no ‘fib’ to say to the thief ‘today you will be with me in paradise’.
            The word ‘today’ is clearly not intended to add certainty. The words ‘verily, verily perform that function. The word ‘today’ can therefore only mean that Jesus’ words would be fulfilled that day.

          • Anton

            What of the Rev 6:9-11 passage please?

          • IanCad

            The language is symbolic. There are no souls under the altar. The passage relates to those who have died through persecution for their faith in Christ.
            Similarly, we have the blood of Abel crying out for justice. Symbolic terms again.

          • Brian

            ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ’ (Phil 1.23) doesn’t really make sense if there is no experience of being with him.

          • IanCad

            Absolutely, but there will be no perception of time between the grave and the resurrection.

          • Brian

            That’s a rationalisation. What do you have in Revelation but souls before the Throne of God not yet resurrected?

          • Anton

            Great question!

          • Not pertinent to whether is a “new” religion of a heretical perversity of Christianity. It is a Christian doctrine and most certainly was at the time Islam was born.

          • Brian

            It’s also Platonic – and Plato’s thinking was different from the popular religion of his day. I think it is more due to Plato that this idea took root in Christina theology. There is also the Hellenistic teaching in the Wisdom of Solomon. Post-mortem survival is taught by the New Testament – though this is not the same as ‘immortality’ sensu stricto.

          • Anton

            You’d better define “soul”.

          • IanCad

            Material substance and the breath of life.

          • Anton

            Nobody is disputing that our present bodies die and rot, though.

          • Brian
          • Ray Sunshine

            Thank you, Brian! Durie certainly sheds a bright light on the use and misuse of the term. He stops short of pinning down the origin of the expression to a specific place and time, but the finger of suspicion points strongly, I think, at Massignon, even though Durie mentions his name only once, in passing.

          • Murti Bing

            Yes. Odd, isn’t it?

            Personally, I think you’re spot on. There is no link.

          • Brian

            The so-called ‘Abrahamic Faiths’ was a meme created, I think, in the 1960s by a Roman Catholic scholar whose name escapes me, as a political act intended to encourage harmony in the Middle East among Jews and Muslim and Arab Palestinians. As a historical or theological concept it’s fairly useless. Abraham is recalled in Christian theology as ‘the father of all who believe’ but he doesn’t have a central or controlling significance in any religion. Nevertheless, modern textbooks in comparative religion now like to talk about ‘Abrahamic religions’ and ‘Indic religions’, as if these terms were self-evident typologies. But why only three? Why not five – adding Mormonism and Bahai’ism? Or 6 if we include Ahmadiyya, since purist Muslims deny they are Muslims?

          • Anton

            The three “Abrahamic” religions have in common the Old Testament (although Islam edits it a bit to prioritise Ishmael over Isaac, while claiming that the Jews have done the editing), and in particular the doctrine of creation. That is a lot in common when compared to the faith systems encountered further east.

            That said, the main usage of “Abrahamic religion” today – regardless of the origin of the term – is by Islam’s “useful idiots”, ie Islam’s secular fellow travellers who hate the culture they were brought up in, the West.

          • Brian

            Here is an interesting paper by an Anglican pastor and scholar on the background of the term (from Massignon and Moubarac) and how it has been used by Muslim advocates in the West: http://www.newenglishreview.org/Mark_Durie/The_Abrahamic_Fallacy/

          • Ray Sunshine

            Thank you! That sheds a bright light on the use and misuse of the term. You mention a “Roman Catholic scholar” as the possible originator of the expression. I wonder whether that might be Louis Massignon, whose writings are said to have strongly influenced the section of Nostra Aetate dealinjg with Islam. Lurie mentions Massignon’s name only once, in passing, but there’s more about him here:

            http://www.covenant.idc.ac.il/en/vol1/issue2/pryce-jones_print.html

          • Islam is a corruption of Christianity with origins in some early Christian heresies that denied the Divinity of Christ and the Triune God.

            Mohammedanism was a : that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. It vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was – not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing. It differed from most (not from all) heresies in this, that it did not arise within the bounds of the Christian Church. The chief heresiarch, Mohammed himself, was not, like most heresiarchs, a man of Catholic birth and doctrine to begin with. He sprang from pagans. But that which he taught was in the main Catholic doctrine, oversimplified. It was the great Catholic world on the frontiers of which he lived, whose influence was all around him and whose territories he had known by travel which inspired his convictions. He came of, and mixed with, the degraded idolaters of the Arabian wilderness, the conquest of which had never seemed worth the Romans’ while.

            He took over very few of those old pagan ideas which might have
            been native to him from his descent. On the contrary, he preached and insisted upon a whole group of ideas which were peculiar to the Catholic Church and distinguished it from the paganism which it had conquered in the Greek and Roman civilization. Thus the very foundation of his teaching was that prime Catholic doctrine, the unity and omnipotence of God. The attributes of God he also took over in the main from Catholic doctrine: the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone. The world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits in rebellion against God was a part of the teaching, with a chief evil spirit, such as Christendom had recognized. Mohammed preached with insistence that prime Catholic doctrine, on the human side – the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.

            https://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/HERESY4.TXT

            Are all Christian/Jewish heresies “Abrahamic” religions is probably the real question.

          • Anton

            This is tosh. Islam is far more a corruption of Judaism than of Christianity. Both deny the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.

          • Given that Christianity is the perfection of Judaism, not a separate faith, it’s a moot point and not one squabbling over.

          • Anton

            He’s guessing (“it seems”), based on the high respect accorded to Jesus by Muslims while denying his divinity. It’s possible, but far from the only possibility.

          • The Arians also high respect for Jesus whilst denying His Divinity ….. as did the Nestorians who drew a distinction between His human and divine nature ….. and then were Gnosticism and Manichaeism floating about too.
            [Thank God for Constantine and the Catholic Church, ensuring orthodox Christianity was developed and spread throughout the known world]

          • Anton

            Let’s not overdo this, and I am not dissing John of Damascus; I am saying only that “it seems” shows his modesty in admitting that he’s guessing.

          • That’s not how the clause “it seems” is generally used. It is a shortened version of stating that something appears to exist or be true. Not categorical but not a “guess”.

          • Anton

            Let’s not put too much weight on a translation. He is expressing doubt.

          • Pubcrawler

            He isn’t. I can find no grounds for this ‘it seems’ in the Greek text.

          • He has no doubt about the Christian heretical roots of Islam or that Mohammed synthesised Christianity and Judaism, and mingled it with fables and false doctrines, including the Arian denial that Jesus was Divine.

            Aquinas also acknowledged Mohammed drew heavily on Christian texts and beliefs. He wrote: that Mohammed “perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments.”

            So not, as you claim, “This is tosh.”

          • Anton

            There is no doubt that Muhammad knew something of the OT and the NT. How, from whom with what fidelity, and to what extent he altered what he had heard, is all total guesswork. And even that is supposing that the quran is verbatim from the lips of one man, when the earliest written full versions we have are from several generations later. You can pretend to a certainty that you don’t have if you like, but it won’t be reputable scholarship.

          • Pubcrawler

            That’s the translation. The Greek implies much greater certainty.

            https://archive.org/stream/patrologiaecurs62migngoog#page/n390/mode/1up/

          • Anton

            Thank you. It’s the sentence that runs across from column (not page NB!) 763 to 766 in the Latin, but I take it the Greek is what John of Damascus actually wrote. Is the Latin faithful to the Greek? “Quodam” certainly doesn’t express hesitancy.

          • Pubcrawler

            It’s pretty good, yes. Slightly irksome that the scan in that link crops off the left half-dozen characters of the Greek, but I’ve found a better copy here (click the link marked Titulus, scroll to page 45):

            http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/04z/z_0675-0749__Iohannes_Damascenus__De_Haeresibus_(MPG_94_0677_0780)__GM.pdf.html

            Even so, the significant word is right in the middle of the line. You don’t write δῆθεν if you’re hedging or uncertain.

          • Brian

            I incline to agree. Islam has much more in common with Judaism than Christianity but it has also defined itself over against Christianity and included some Christian elements. Thus it both misunderstands and repudiates the Trinity, at the same time as giving honoured status to the Virgin Mary and affirming that ‘Isa’ (Jesus) is a sinless prophet born of virgin birth. However, it also denies his divinity and his crucifixion, while affirming in some way his Second Coming. The real historical origins of Islam are hard to pin down and I don’t know how the Quran is historically related to Muhammad (this is a very lively question in western scholarship). I think it likely as the Arab armies swept through the Christian lands of Syria and Egypt, they absorbed some heretical Christian opinions (such as Monophysitism). Or these ideas may already have been current in Christian Arabs in the Hejaz. But there were also many Arab Jews in the Hejaz, and I think these were the primary source of Muslim thought. The first Christian commentator on Islam was the very perceptive John of Damascus in the 8th century.

          • “Islam has much more in common with Judaism than Christianity.”

            Take Jesus the Christ, strip Him of His divinity, accept the Virgin Birth, then claim the Crucifixion was a “shadow Jesus”, springe in a few fables and untruths, shake it all about, place in an oven for 20 minutes, and you arrive at Islam.

          • Anton

            Here you are neglecting the extent to which Muslims accept the Hebrew scriptures.

          • We’d never have Christianity (which “accepts” Hebrew scripture) without Judaism. It’s the heretical construction placed on both that’s the issue – the most significant part being the perversion of Christ’s place in salvation.

          • Simon Platt

            Deny the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth? So, in a way, did Nestorius. And no one doubts that Nestorianism is a Christian heresy. And Nestorianism was expunged from the Roman empire, and fled east. Many people in earlier times did consider Islam to be a Christian heresy, and many people trace at least some of its beliefs to the Nestorianism formerly widespread in the middle east, so I think it’s unfair to characterise what Jack and EWTN have to say as “tosh”.

          • Well, in addition to disputing Belloc’s account, he’s arguing with two great theologians – Saint John Damascene and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

          • Anton

            So if you have them in your corner, it should be easy for you to come out and knock my argument down…

          • What argument? “We just don’t know” isn’t an argument.

          • Anton

            Aquinas probably was relying on the same sources as Gibbon when the latter mistakenly said that Islam was “unlike Christianity, born in the full light of history” (almost verbatim). Scholars today have chipped away at centuries of accreted tradition and when they look at the extant early sources it is clear that little is really known about what went on and that several alternative hypotheses all lead to the same outcome that we know.

          • Anton

            I think Nestorius didn’t deny Christ’s divinity. That was an inference from his views about Mary. But propositional logic fails when applied to the Trinity. Nestorius’ opponent Cyril exploited that fact to blacken Nestorius.

          • Simon Platt

            I find the ancient Christological heresies very confusing. And that’s partly why I wrote “in a way”. My understanding, such as it is, and I was reading about this yesterday, by coincidence, was that Nestorius taught, or was condemned for teaching, that there were two “persons” in Christ, and that the divinity did not die, etc. (That does sound very like it might have influenced early Moslems.)

          • Anton

            People divided needlessly over HOW Christ was both fully divine and fully human while agreeing that he was. That is not something we could ever work out and we were not told in scripture. It should have been left at that. The folly of trying to go beyond scripture had a terrible consequence, for the Christians in Egypt were divided over this issue when the first Muslim army came through. How different might history have been?

          • Ray Sunshine

            Please see my reply addressed to you, about half a dozen comments down from this one.

          • Manfarang

            7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,
            8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.
            Jesus encountered Arabs.

        • Busy Mum

          Agree re RE teaching, but I think it’s important for children to understand that animosity against the Jews did not start with Mohammed.

      • dannybhoy

        It seems to me that the National Festival of Light marked a watershed moment in British Christianity… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationwide_Festival_of_Light
        Then there was a view of saving faith which was based on the perceived authority of the Bible, a generally understood view of morality, and reasonable intellectual arguments which once accepted, led to receiving God’s salvation through Christ a reasonable proposition.
        In fact the National Festival of Light was probably the last gasp of a traditional coherent Christian community in the face of a burgeoning secular and amoral society.

        As a result of the ‘failure’ of that event to change anything, it seems to me the Church retreated into itself, and faith became more and more of a personal ‘inner thing’, based on personal conviction, and independent of external realities.
        A ‘faith in faith’ if you will.
        I think it was this that allowed the liberal factions in the Church to grow in numbers and influence, so that we now see a Church led by men whose Christian faith is based more on their feelings about social justice and the rights of minorities, Faith is whatever you want it to be.

      • not a machine

        Yes something I have been thinking for may years , however apologists are very entertaining show pieces , and I am not sure how apologists fit in with what Jesus actually said , I mean beware of the leven of the Pharisee was something jesus seemed to point out. I often forget my self that it would seem we are left with “the holy spirit” and I ponder if appolgetics can go there ?

      • Dominic Stockford

        The little encounter I have had with New Frontiers leads me to believe that this is not the case.

        • Rhoda

          Would you elaborate please?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I have, as I say, very little contact – but what it has does not convince me that they have apologetics as a strong suit. They seem very good on what they believe, but not so strong on arguing/debating it – which to me is the heart of apologetics.

  • Brian

    I’m grateful to whoever it was (Carl?) who informed me how to block individuals. I’m generally glad that agnostics and atheists would want to dialogue on this site and can find this constructive, but when someone resorts to a superior tone (‘Do your homework’) or insults (‘Typical Christian liar!’) or calls me a liar, it has not become a respectful or useful exchange. So I have blocked a contributor who claims to know more about my own life, reading and employment than I do. Since I am so evidently mistaken about myself, I do not want to burden him with having to correct all my errors.
    As an aside to this, thinking of our departed Linus and his co-religionist, why do atheists so often get angry and abusive toward Christians? If they think they are morally superior to Christians (and I have never met one who didn’t think he was – and it is a male habit, female atheists have better manners), why aren’t they more gracious, kind and understanding? They are ‘Brights’, after all. I expect better of you atheist chaps!

    • Anton

      It’s a selection effect – the ones who come here are mostly looking for a fight. (Sarky comes across as good-natured though.) Some of my best friends are atheists.

    • Navarth

      It’s rare indeed to encounter an educated atheist. It’s all about posturing and credulity and half-witted memes. At best they’ve read some popular science best seller designed for public consumption (e.g. Dawkins). Very few atheists have a classical education: very few atheists have languages: very few atheists have any knowledge of (or interest in) history. Even fewer have a real background in physics or mathematics.

      • Sarky

        You mean we are pretty much like the general population??

      • Anton

        The research community in physics and mathematics is more atheist than religious, although the proportion of Christians is higher than in the general population.

      • Manfarang

        Somewhat dated now.“Humanism and the Culture of the Professions: A Study of the rise of the British Humanist Movement 1954-63” which involved collecting as much demographic information about its membership as possible. The latter required a postal survey and hence a questionnaire was sent to all registered members of the British Humanist Association, The Ethical Union and The Rationalist Press Association, the results of which revealed that humanists tended to be male, young to middle-aged, married, with some experience of further education, and characteristically employed in the professions.
        Colin Campbell’s ‘Toward A Sociology of Irreligion’ was republished in 2013.

      • Simon Platt

        To be fair, very few of the population as a whole have a classical education, languages, etc.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Maybe it is next-to-impossible for a man to be a complete atheist. There still remains the residual belief the he himself is God’s gift to women.

    • CliveM

      Arguing with Jon is a total waste of time. If he was to say something is black and you prove it to be white , he’ll tell that’s what he said all along. You’ll notice he uses LOL a lot, typically when he doesn’t have an answer.

      • Pubcrawler

        Yup.

        • Anton

          LOL

          • Chefofsinners

            LOL

          • ROFLMAO ….

          • Chefofsinners

            LOL

          • BOGOF

          • Pubcrawler

            LOL

            (Is that right? I’m new to this game. And I might have had one or two ales.)

          • Ignoramus et ignorabimus.
            Lol

          • Pubcrawler

            Gaudeamus igitur iuvenes dum sumus.

            O… eheu!

          • Chefofsinners

            Caesar adsum jam forte
            Brutus aderat
            Caesar sic in omnibus
            Brutus sic in at

          • Chefofsinners

            hic!

    • The Duke of Umberland, England

      Many of the best and deepest atheist thinkers are living in fear of you Christians. At night the terrible tension is tearing the fabric of their souls.

      “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.

      “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

      The Last Word, by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997

    • Yes, our ‘friend’ Jon appears to substitute abuse for discussion.

  • Albert

    My dog is happy. He’s an atheist too.

    • Anton

      You are his god.

    • Sarky

      That’s why he’s happy.

      • Brian

        Be careful – The Hound of Heaven may catch you!

        • Sarky

          Lassie?

          • Chefofsinners

            I think God wants to follow Him…

          • Anton

            A nice drink in my local curry house.

        • He’s under observation ….
          Atheists are less harmful than heretics.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            From Thomas Cranmer’s second collect for Good Friday:

            . . . have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: . . .

    • CliveM

      That’s interesting how do you know?

      • Albert

        Because I made him up.

        • CliveM

          So the creator gets to determine the ‘faith’ of his creation? Is this a nod towards Calvinism/pre destination? Will your dog be condemned to eternal damnation because of this?

          • Albert

            So the creator gets to determine the ‘faith’ of his creation? Is this a nod towards Calvinism? Will your dog be condemned to eternal damnation because of this?

            No, no, and no. 1. It follows from the nature of dogs that they have no faith. Thus his atheism comes not from his creator, but from the fact that he is a dumb animal. 2. Therefore, this says nothing about Calvinism, only about dogs. 3. The dog will not be condemned to eternal damnation, because dogs do not have immortal souls.

          • But …..
            Dogs are dumb.
            Calvinists are dumb.
            Calvinists are dogs.

          • Chefofsinners

            Sorry, but is anyone taking these dogs for a walk? They need regular exercise.

          • They run themselves around in circles enough as it is.

          • Brian

            I think you are confusing them with the ‘Dominicanes’ – the ‘Domini canes’ as they were known – and the great dogged hounder of Martin Luther, Peter Canisius. If only he’d been a Dane as well!

          • The Order of Preachers – founded to preach the Gospel and to oppose heresy, famed for its intellectual tradition.

            The Hounds of the Lord.

          • Brian

            Yes, they had a burning desire to oppose heresy – oh, you weren’t expecting that …

          • Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi.

          • carl jacobs

            Yep. That’s a pretty good example of the quality of argumentation typically produced by Jack. We will need to provide him with some remedial instruction.

          • Better?
            Dogs do not have the capacity to comprehend theological truth.
            Calvinists do not have the capacity to comprehend theological truth.
            Therefore, Calvinists are dogs.

          • carl jacobs

            No, it’s still a logical fallacy. Your premises are false and you use them to reach an invalid conclusion.

            Consider this example:

            Premise 1: Catholics are wrong.
            Premise 2: Atheists are wrong.
            Conclusion: Catholics are Athiests.

            Even though both premises in the above are true, the conclusion is false. A Catholic is not an atheist just because he is wrong.

            Here is a valid argument.

            P1: Carl is a Comedic genius.
            P2: A comedic genius always tells funny jokes.
            C: Carl always tells funny jokes.

            See? Now we have true premises being used to reach a conclusion that is both valid and true.

          • Ah, got it.
            P1: Carl is a daemonic genius.
            P2: A daemonic genius always spreads error.
            C: Carl always spreads error.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s a valid argument. But Carl is not a background process not under the direct control of a user. Neither is a software module properly categorized as a “genius”. And if a software module “spreads error” you probably should go back to unit testing. So your syllogism may be valid but it’s also incomprehensible.

          • As you know, Jack prefers the use of Latin when dealing with malign spiritual forces.

          • carl jacobs

            Latin is a dead language, Jack.

            Btw. In case you haven’t heard, the USMNT didn’t qualify for the World Cup. The Soccer Community in the US is waiting for the collective outpouring of shame and embarrassment and anger from the US population. It’s coming. Any day now. Just you wait …

          • Latin is an ancient language that is not subject to ongoing “development” or revision. It remains the official language of the Holy See. The Rite of Exorcism is only said in Latin. One reason is that there is no approved translation yet. Another reason is that the Devil hates Latin as it is the universal language of the Church.

            [Will Trump declare war on Panama? Will he dispatch the CIA to “consult” with he referee? Was it a Russian plot? It can’t possibly be because the art and skill of the game of football is beyond Americans]

          • Ray Sunshine

            When they’re out of it, they console themselves by pretending it’s of no importance. Instead of the World Cup, they switch to calling it “the Rest of the World Cup”.

          • carl jacobs

            Journalist: “What do you think about the US Men’s National Team losing?”

            Typical American: “The who?”

            J: “The US Men’s Soccer Team.”

            TA: “Oh. They were playing a game or something?”

            J: “A match. Yes, they didn’t make it through the CONCACAF Qualification Rounds.”

            TA: “The what? Conca…? Is that some kind of Coffee Shop in Seattle?”

            J: “No, it’s a soccer region that FIFA set up to make it easy for the Americans to qualify for the World Cup.”

            TA: “Oh. The World Cup. I’ve heard of that. Part of the Olympics isn’t it? But who is Fifi?”

            J: “You don’t pay much attention to soccer, do you.”

            TA: “Well, not right now. ISU upset Oklahoma last week as a 31 point underdog. Who has time for soccer?”

          • Ray Sunshine

            J: “No, it’s a soccer region that FIFA set up to make it easy for the Americans to qualify for the World Cup.”

            Nice one, Carl. That says it all, really..

          • carl jacobs

            Well, it’s true. FIFA must be slitting its wrists right now. TV revenues won’t be quite what it expected.

          • Terry Mushroom

            An interesting point that I’ve heard before. Would you care to expand

          • It’s not a serious proposition, although some exorcists subscribe to it.

            Translations of Latin into local languages are fraught with difficulties and tend to become ‘politicised’. Even if one manages to achieve a sound translation that all agree upon, local usage and dialects mean translations become out-dated as “living” languages change. Look at what Americans do with English. Being “dead” means it is fixed.
            When contending with Carl, its best to use a tried and trusted language.

          • Terry Mushroom

            You’re right. Speak slowly and clearly to Americans and smile to indicate when you’re joking.

          • carl jacobs

            Being “dead” means it’s not a language that is presently used in any culture. It’s “fixed” in the same way a corpse is fixed.

          • Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

          • Pubcrawler

            Me aspicis?

          • No “fixed” in the way Truth is fixed – admittedly this a concept hard for a Protestant to grasp.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, yes. I can see how a changing shifting endlessly malleable language could be a good metaphor for the the RC conception of Truth. But it’s all hypothetical in relation to Latin since people stopped speaking it centuries ago. You should choose an actual living language for your metaphor. Like French. It even has its own magisterium to protect the language from corruption. And France still considers itself the center of civilization. Perfect fit.

          • Brian

            That’s fine – but please don’t use any dog Latin.

          • Canis Latinicus if you please.

            Cane mala, non biscoctus

          • You’ve obviously never owned a dog. Dogs are not dumb. Ergo you are a specie-ist bigot.

          • Blame Albert, YG ….

            Jack has owned three dogs and loved all three. However, he never heard any of them discussing theology. Perhaps they had implicit faith in Jesus and will therefore enter Heaven.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, yeah. “Some of my best friends are dogs.”

            Anti-Doggist Canophobe.

          • Catophobic sizist.

          • carl jacobs

            The French prefer cats, Jack. And poodles.

          • They eat dogs in China, Korea, and Vietnam.

          • carl jacobs

            Is that your way of side-stepping your French affinities?

          • You lack honour.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s for your own good, Jack.

          • You relativist consequentialist.

          • carl jacobs

            Eh? Where did that come from and where is it going? Are you channeling Sarky all of the sudden?

          • You promised Jack you would reveal his French “connection”. Now you use it against him and claim it’s for his own good. This is treachery.

          • carl jacobs

            I was talking about CATS! And Poodles! You accused me of Catophobia. I was implying that you are a CAT person, and that being a CAT person is an inherently French quality. In other words, I was saying that catophobia is a good thing because its opposite is French.

            I had completely forgotten about this other stuff you are bringing up.

          • It was there lurking in your subconscious waiting an opportunity to strike.

          • CliveM

            HJ

            we all knew. You let it slip years back.

          • Chefofsinners

            And in German-speaking Switzerland, where cats are also eaten.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Cynophobe, please.

          • Brian

            My pedantic heart barked for joy at your etymological purity. Remember also that for the cynophile Carl, to call another a Cynic (< kunikos) is high praise.

          • They shall enter heaven: a heaven without dogs is inconceivable.

          • Is that a binding proposition: “by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a self evident dogma”?

          • Brian

            What about the Cat-holic Cat-echism?

          • Jack doesn’t acknowledge the authority of AoC. His dogma is all doggerel to him.

          • Anton

            My karma has run over my dogma.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Couldn’t agree more, Your Grace!!! Mine was an Angel … a special messenger from God to help all she met along the way.

            Btw: if mine enemies care to call me a ‘bitch’ – well, they know not what they do! If being a ‘bitch’ makes me a fraction as good as she was, I’ll be proud 🙂

          • dannybhoy

            And what’s more they’ll be able to clean up after themselves..

          • Chefofsinners

            His Grace is a Cavapoo man, I believe. I have Cockapoos. But either way, as our host likes to say, skubalon happens.

          • dannybhoy

            I believe a standard poodall gives an owner more kerb cred..

          • Chefofsinners

            I had Irish Wolfhounds before. I’m over kerb cred.

          • Slanderer: they are F1 Cockapoos, KC certified.

          • Chefofsinners

            Right, um, apoologies then. They look a bit thin but mine are F1b.

          • They race cars?!

          • Anton

            They race cats?

          • CliveM

            I hadn’t really seen eternity as poo bag in hand, clearing up after dogs. Perhaps we shouldn’t publicise this.

          • Brian

            You’re barking. Read Rev 22.15.

          • Surely only those dogs who return to their own vomit.

          • Anton

            A heaven with small dogs, at least, is INconceivable.

          • carl jacobs

            I checked. A Cockapoo is at the lower range of the “Real dog” scale but it’s still on the scale. The French connection is distessing however.

          • Sounds to Jack as though this breed of dog is confused in the elimination of waste department.

          • Chefofsinners

            Otherwise, what would all those Korean Christians eat?

          • Anton

            I recall you mentioning the death of one of them around Christmas a year or two ago, I think.

          • CliveM

            But is lack of awareness atheism? I thought atheism required a rejection? Are the 1day old babies atheists? Hmmm, is Martin right about them?

          • Sarky

            Of course they are. Theism requires indoctrination.

          • carl jacobs

            Sarky’s Helpful Glossary of Useful Apologetic Terms.

            Indoctrinate: verb. Instruction performed by people I don’t agree with.

            Teach: verb. Instruction performed done by people I agree with.

          • There’s no personal culpability for “invincible ignorance”.

          • CliveM

            Can something will limited or no awareness be an atheist?

          • Is anyone really an atheist?

          • CliveM

            Yes.

          • Brian

            I don’t know about that …

          • Do you want to?

          • Albert

            Good point, I hadn’t thought of that. My hypothetical dog is a soft atheist. He doesn’t believe in God, but he doesn’t actually hold the view that God does not exist.

          • Brian

            No, no, and no! 1. Of course dogs have faith. They are the epitome of faithfulness. That’s why so many as called ‘Fido’. 2. The dumb shall praise Him, the lame shall leap for joy! 3. C. S. Lewis speculated about the after-life of animals in ‘The Problem of Pain’. And he hadn’t even read Evelyn Waugh’s ‘The Loved One’. (Well, to be fair, it hadn’t yet been written in 1941.) 4. Oh hang on, I’ve just read Revelation 22.15 – no dogs allowed. Albert wins.

          • Brian

            No, he will only go to curgatory.

          • Chefofsinners

            How long is eternity in dog years?

          • Brian

            Only one-seventh of human eternity. It’s infinity divided by 7 – the answer is 42.

          • Chefofsinners

            No. The answer is: the more you lick it, the longer it gets.

          • Tout Va

            Ooo la la …..

          • carl jacobs

            All dogs go to heaven. It is their destiny. It goes without saying what happens to cats.

            Note. Rat dogs are not dogs. They are a species of rodent.

          • CliveM

            Lap dogs? Do they get in as an act of charity?

          • carl jacobs

            A lap dog is a rat dog. “Fufu” is a rodent.

          • CliveM

            Oh I thought you meant terriers!

  • Chefofsinners

    Which is why so many women are atheists.

    • He’s alright if they’re visually impaired ….

  • Inspector General

    Here’s something for Richard Dawkins to fully explain…

    This is not the Inspector’s beloved New Mouse And Wheel, but it is a 15th century hotel bar in Gloucester, and the Inspector is no stranger to this room. A visit this week, and he was reminded of this. CCTV shows a fellow putting a pint down on an old bar table. Keep an eye on that pint…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/gloucestershire/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8706000/8706656.stm

    • Pubcrawler

      I’ve been there. No ghost dared touch my pint, I can assure you!

      • Inspector General

        There should be video footage of it happening.You may need to access it on the net direct

        • Pubcrawler

          No ghost touches my pint and lives to tell the tale.

    • Anton

      Right on the edge of the table wasn’t it?

      I say I say I say! Can you name the three counties that have never won the cricket championship?

      • Inspector General

        No

        • Anton

          I’ll take that as answering the latter question. Northants, Somerset and Gloucestershire. Keep off the cider lads!

          • Chefofsinners

            Also Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Bristol, Oxfordshire, Greater London, Isle of Wight, Merseyside etc., etc.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Ah yes, but then they’ve never entered it….

          • Anton

            What does the phrase “first class cricket” mean to you?

          • Chefofsinners

            What does ‘cricket’ mean to you, grasshopper?

          • Anton

            The One True Game.

          • Chefofsinners

            Yes. First class cricket is my unfulfilled ambition. Either my leg spin wasn’t quite accurate enough, or I was too lazy.

          • Anton

            Join Leicestershire. Although membership is generally undertaken for the purposes of watching cricket, the counties typically retain small print saying that members are liable to be drafted to play. Leicestershire have come bottom of the county championship 6 times in the last 9 years, winning no matches on 3 of those occasions including the season just completed. Turn up at Grace Road (aptly named) and you’ll never have a better chance.

          • Chefofsinners

            Alas, it can never be. I’m a Somerset supporter to my boots.

          • Pubcrawler

            In which a device to protect the balls was invented a century (give or take) before one to protect the head. That’s what I call priorities!

          • Anton

            And yet the only fatality in first class cricket due to a ball bowled striking the batsman’s head was of a man wearing a helmet, Phil Hughes:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_accidents_in_cricket

            (Darryn Randall’s match was not first class and he too was probably wearing a helmet – I’ve not checked. George Summers died before the notion of first class cricket was formalised although MCC vs Notts was as high a standard as you could get in 1870; on the other hand the pitch in question had been the subject of frequent complaints.)

          • carl jacobs

            Elegantly dressed boredom punctuated by inaction?

          • Chefofsinners

            I’d like to argue, but this cravatte needs adjusting before my next nap…

  • not a machine

    re post mmm the prof who claimed he was on firm ground,my view of prof Dawkins has changed over the years ,of course when he first decided to publish his thesis ,it was pretty devastating for a largely unsuspecting religious believers , who perhaps couldn’t match his details and eloquence of thought .Of course what turned out to be atheist philosophy , glammed up as a question levered around stition penetrated the church and other faiths and he took on the resultant combat in his own guerilla type way, where you were either able to pose a smarter question to him or not .I include my self in those who have not spent a long time in any sort of high academic atmosphere , so I perhaps look casual to such peoples sharp suite .So it might seem that only the intellectuals can only really understand where we should be , and prof Dawkins is in a small class , with believers , who understand that he may be outlining truth and feel tasked with changing the unintelligent people , to new shiny non faith people .
    Post the god delusion , despite its force , it hasn’t really moved on , yes it has been embellished ,perhaps strengthened where it is strong , but when you get to near the mountain top of Prof Dawkins basis thesis ,you find the view of what is below rather worrying and your probably a bit exhausted having to consider what he proposes. So prof Dawkins is a good work at atheist philosophy , some very strong points ,still a philosophy and perhaps does a neat trick of comparing philosophy in construct as being the same thing as the Christian faith , although I can see the Christian can does the same trick making a faith seem like a philosophy .There are number of other cultural changes which I don’t think prof Dawkins has ever addressed , which are perhaps coming after his thesis , so for now yes a very intellectual work ,he took a lot of stick for it , but in fairness he was about a nobs trophy from the backs of faith believers , but in the end his thesis is encountering erosion , because things have moved on , however I caution that I am unsure if the synthesis or any synthesis of what seems to be left will be helpful , even though it will be the sort of material the intellectuals wish to dine upon .Myself I don’t have a particularly devastating critique of the God delusion , he has thought about questions different to myself and has gone through high education process , he had me for while , but am confident his followers will not make the same progress he managed .
    not post related : for those that follow brexit , the announcement of er stalemate , was for me (oh for goodness sake they cant even find a way out of there own soddin behemoth) , however my grumbles aside am surprisingly happy at where we are , the exposure of deceivers is a bit painful , and after the initial shock perhaps we understand political camouflage ,is different to being lite or just not very good .
    It does look a little house of cards , but perhaps not unexpected , Mr Juncker feels he can let his belt go a few notches (there is good dining around Brussels) and manages his generosity of thought , rather poorly in my view , but there we are .
    Basically I am ok with it ,at the moment , although if some political careers have been well played as sleepers for these moments , what will they do if they lose the argument ??

  • David

    I remember reading somewhere that some of the most famous male atheists were often deeply disappointed with the own fathers, making it very difficult for them to believe that they had a Father in Heaven.
    certainly, the only one of my childhood friends, who is now a convinced atheist, had a father, who through no fault of his own, could have been regarded by the son (my friend) as a disappointment. Sorry I could not have been more specific, but I thought it was worth saying in case anyone else can develop the point.

    • Simon Platt

      Crikey! I hope I don’t disappoint my sons. At least, not too much. Disappoint them, I mean, not hope. I hope it very much.

    • Sarky

      My father is a christian and not the least disappointing.

    • Dominic Stockford

      I have a member of my congregation whose father was a martinet – this gives him difficulty in grasping the loving side of God.

      • Sarky

        His father was a puppet worked by strings???

        • Dominic Stockford

          Not a marionette, but a martinet – “a person who demands complete obedience; a strict disciplinarian.” Normally used as a descriptor of those who are ‘over-zealous’ with such discipline.

        • dannybhoy

          Dohhh..
          Clever but no cigar.

      • David

        Yes I’ve heard that said before too.

      • Guglielmo Marinaro

        I’d have thought that a parish priest/rector/vicar/minister etc. who was a martinet would be more likely to have that effect.

    • Jon Sorensen

      I remember reading that too. Was that based on studies or anecdotes? Did it speculate the reason fatherless people were more likely be atheists?

      • “Fatherless people”?

        Lol.

        • Jon Sorensen

          It’s a book
          Faith of the Fatherless Book by Paul Vitz

          • *gasp*
            You’ve read a book – or just the fly sheet?

          • Jon Sorensen

            I haven’t read the book or fly sheet. Only heard someone talking about it. That’s why I asked the questions. I thought David would know.

          • Anton

            He wrote an interesting biography of Freud.

      • David

        I did not read it as part of my formal theological studies but my private reading rebutting the Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”, I think. The writer was commenting on the lives of the famous, early atheists connected to the French Revolution and the so called Enlightenment, perhaps Rousseau or similar ?

  • Chefofsinners

    No, just kidding. Martinet is like Martin, only smaller.

    • Pubcrawler

      So a cottage martin rather than a house martin?

      • Chefofsinners

        More of a Martin Luther Prince.

  • Inspector General

    “By the devil I was tempted
    And many jugs I’ve emptied
    I felt so rejected
    I didn’t wanna go away
    Half my life has been awasted
    By the booze I’ve tasted
    But the demon I have faced it
    And sent him on his way”

    Blue Mink

    “.or he’d have got me in the end”

  • Dominic Stockford

    Yes Sarky, look it up.