Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus Bones?

Why do I have the feeling that this is like Geraldo finding Al Capone's vaults?
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/26/ap/national/mainD8NHK0FG0.shtml

"(AP) Filmmakers and researchers on Monday unveiled two ancient stone boxes they said may have once contained the remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but several scholars derided the claims made in a new documentary as unfounded and contradictory to basic Christian beliefs."The Lost Tomb of Jesus," produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron and scheduled to air March 4 on the Discovery Channel, argues that 10 small caskets discovered in 1980 in a Jerusalem suburb may have held the bones of Jesus and his family.One of the caskets even bears the title, "Judah, son of Jesus," hinting that Jesus may have had a son, according to the film."
There's more at the link.

I wonder if the heiroglyphics translate to, "I'm KING OF THE WORLD! WOOOOO! ....No. Seriously. I am."
Seriously though, finding a tomb with inscriptions labeled "Jesus" and "Mary/Miriam" is like stumbling into a cemetery today and finding a "Jennifer" and "Jason" side-by-side. It's totally likely that he did find a Jesus and Mary, side by side. That doesn't mean it's actually the biblical Jesus.
Sorry,...James Cameron stumbling upon Jesus is just funny as hell to me. So many snarky things I can say...so little time.

41 comments:

Paul said...

Bravo!
Lesser atheists may jump on the news and use it to provoke Christians.. but good on you for recognising this archaelogical find doesn't add anything new. Even on the incredibly small chance that it was actually Jesus's tomb, 99% of Christians would remain unconvinced.
Most importantly, Atheism doesn't need finds like this to substantiate its claims, because we're not the ones making the claims. Burden of proof is still on the theists.
Without overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the default position should always be "no, there is no magical sky fairy."

Saurian200 said...

...but several scholars derided the claims made in a new documentary as unfounded and contradictory to basic Christian beliefs."

It's contridictory to Christian beliefs? So, what? How is that a challenge to the findings.

Granted I don't actually believe they found Jesus' tomb. I have more than a few doubts that he ever even existed in any way. But, this quote demonstrates one of my biggest complaints about "biblical archeology."

Too often people go in with the presumption that the bible is without a doubt correct. You see this on the Discovery Channel all the time. The documentary will look at the evidence (no matter how weak, circumstantial, or nonexistant it is) to try and find some biblical location or the remains of some character.

But they always start with the presumtion that whatever they are looking for definitely, without a doubt does exist somewhere out there and that it just hasn't been found yet. They never consider the question, "is the biblical description accurate or was it just a story." They always assume the story is completely true.

If the claims are unfounded, that's a good argument against them. If the evidence is lacking, that's a good argument against them. If they simply don't match up with modern day religious beliefs, that's not a good argument.

That's just people trying to confirm their own beliefs rather than get at the truth.

Peter Mc said...

Your link from Pharygula comments is broken: an m missing in the url. You're missing fans, possummomma.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

Just cashing in on the controversy. Shock and Awe. Mind you it was this sort of thing that opened my mind up to other possibilities outside of my religion (ie Reading the Holy Blood, Holy Grail when I was 15).

It's ironic that my Catholic Education laid the foundations for my "de-conversion".

ceinwyn said...

I highly doubt they've found the biblical Jesus,if he existed; and I can't imagine how they could prove it, if they had. (he better hope he hasn't anyway, the church will have him killed)
I keep thinking though; if I'd lived at the time when Schliemann was using the Illiad to find Troy, I would have rolled my eyes.

A.Huerta said...

I've been a regular reader of this blog, and I've to say that I love the way you(and your daughter) think and how you write.

Regarding Jeebus' bones I'd like to share today's entry of Scott Adams' blog. It's quite hilarious.

Best regards!
A.Huerta

Russ said...

Even if it's not a hoax, I doubt they can provide a sufficiently convincing body of evidence to override my innate skepticism, I'm actually quite interested in how they structure the argument, and how thoroughly they have treated the uncertainties.

To me it's also of great interest how the faith crazies have already begun criticizing what they have not even seen. Their responses alone will provide months of chuckles even if they see it as a hoax.

Cameron and Jacobovici have something that they feel has merit unless it is simply a complete hoax which will no doubt be born out by the science community. If the money is right, people will do most anything.

I start from the skeptical position that I have no reason to think that the Bible is true. My skepticism bear is fully reared and it will take a lot to get past it. Though they might demonstrate that it is not a hoax, some of the analysis they need to have just to offer plausibility, let alone sound argument, seem to attract more bears instead of shooing away this one.

They need accurate census numbers. They need name distributions. The bones must be dated to the right time. The ossuaries must be dated to the right time independent of their contents. The writing on the ossuaries must be found to be original, not scratched on twenty years ago and allowed to age. The box marked "Jesus" needs to contain bones from a male, the box marked "Mary" needs to contain bones from a female, and so on. Do the bones in the box marked "Jesus" have the fabled nail holes in the appropriate places? These must all be consistent if it's not a hoax.

DNA analysis, if possible at all, could make the family connections: Jesus and Jose are sons of the Mary that Jesus was not allegedly married to, Jesus and the other Mary were the parents of their alleged son, the son was not the Jesus's brother and not the son of Jesus' brother. Assuming it's not just a hoax, data like this would lay the groundwork.

Once the above data are set down within reasonably tight error limits, and, once it is verified that none of them refutes the hypothesis, then the statistical argument can be assembled. Provided this does not prove to be a hoax, they will argue something parallel to this scenario: if someone found a document dated to that exact time signed by twelve persons named the same as the twelve disciples, it would lend support to a plausibility argument that its signatories were "those twelve" since the probability would be low for that to have occurred by chance. It would not prove it, though. These guys are doing the same thing just with different materials.

I'll be listening for what their assumptions were for determining name frequency and the like. Assumptions about the accuracy of any census data, considering we can't count people in the US accurately, will get my attention too. Who did the lab work? What dating methods were used for the ossuaries and their contents? Unless it's a hoax, this material will show up in various journals for years to come.

Personally, I'm far more interested in whether they chose to do whatever they did well, or are they simply perpetrating a hoax.

Regardless, of the quality of the work, Christian apologists are already weighing in on the side of hoax: if it had bones, it ain't my Jesus, by definition.

Adam H said...

the jesusfamilytomb.com website has a video of james cameron talking with statisticians about the likelyhood of all those exact names (more than just the 3 you mentioned) in that specific place at that particular age. it's a "slam dunk" according to the odds. don't knock what could be our best evidence against the bipedal spaghetti monster before we see the film. c'mon guys, let's stay optimistic!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Your link from Pharygula comments is broken: an m missing in the url. You're missing fans, possummomma.
I'm missing fans? Jeez, I'm having a hard time keeping up with the people already here. LOL

I didn't realize that the links were visible in Pharyngula. Goes to show how much I know.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

the jesusfamilytomb.com website has a video of james cameron talking with statisticians about the likelyhood of all those exact names (more than just the 3 you mentioned) in that specific place at that particular age. it's a "slam dunk" according to the odds. don't knock what could be our best evidence against the bipedal spaghetti monster before we see the film. c'mon guys, let's stay optimistic!



I guess my problem is that there are basically these empty boxes. I don't really care whose names are on the ossuaries. An empty box is an empty box. Maybe they stumbled onto the remains of a antiquated, Jesus Theme Park. The first "Disneyland" for Christians. Maybe these were like the packaging for relics? Ok. I'm sort of kidding. But, seriously... all avenues have to be examined. Were these boxes made prior to Jesus' death--- hell, even David Koresh had a will. And, all of this presumes that THESE ossuaries were for, or once held, *THE* Jesus. They've still not convinced me that there was *A* Biblical Jesus. They've certainly not convinced me that, even if he existed, he was divine.

The archeology is cool because it's some fucking really old ossuaries. The fact that the names match up to a fairy tale is kind of cool, but...cool in a "hmmm...what a coincidence." way- not, "James Cameron is re-writing history..." way. I mean, think about it. I like JC (not Jesus, James Cameron). His films are awesome. He did dive to the Titanic and shot some great footage of the ship. Then, he created an AWESOME movie...but the movie was still fiction. Cameron directs films that have to make money. He's concerned with the truth. He appreciates the relics. But, he also uses the truth and cool relics to weave better stories.

Yeah. I'd love for the Catholic Church to get "PWNed" over this. But, applying the same standards for everyone... the theory needs more evidence. Otherwise, it's kind of like stumbling into a post office storage unit, two thousand years from now, and finding a bunch of mailboxes with the names Bush, Rice, Smith, and Bob painted on the boxes. Does that mean you've just discovered the mailboxes of the presiden't cabinet? No! Until there's more evidence, you've just found some really old mailboxes with common names on the sides.

Russ said...

PMomma,

What comes to mind for me are some phenomena that throw statistics out the window.

Once such situation is like in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," where Gus is introducing the family to the in-laws(paraphrased): "This is Anita, Diane and Nick, and there we have Anita, Diane and Nick, these are Anita, Diane and Nick, Nick, Nick, Nicky ... and I am Gus." Families do these things. George Forman has four sons all named George Forman! In my own family, going back 10 generations, there has been an alternation of names for first-born sons, Charles, Russell, Charles, Russell, ... (I put a stop to it.) Without specific knowledge of family history, the statistician is working with bad data.

Already the web is abuzz with wild-eyed speculations. Will the fairy-tale be disproved?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

What comes to mind for me are some phenomena that throw statistics out the window.
Thank you for saying what I was trying to say.

If, and this is a big if, but IF legend is true, then it should surprise NO ONE that entire families would name their children, and subsequent children, after other generations. Of course, you could have a family with Jesi' (is that a plural Jesus?) and Marys and Judahs and what-not. Russ is absolutely right- there are some traditions that actually screw with the statistics. Your My Big Fat Greek Wedding example was spot on.

I also thought of it like this:
If you look at America, there's this huge list of possible names.
Ok. Now look at California. The top five names, for boys, included: ANGEL and JOSE! If you further restrict the demographic to county: our top county names were Jose, Jesus, Angel, Jacob, and Michael. I always joke around that I get to talk to TWO Jesus' on Saturdays... we have a crack, Guatamalan Olympic Lawn Team (otherwise known as: Golt!).

Names are an interesting phenomena. Depending on your location and time, names are highly influenced by the culture. Think of walking into a pub on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin? Do you think you're going to find any Joses? Not likely. Think you might find a Patrick?? Hell yeah!

So, is it really surprising that someone found some ossuraries with a bunch of names that happen to show up in the Bible? Not at all. In fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't!! Even a grouping of names... there were HOW MANY disciples?? Then you have Jesus' family names. The odds are significantly higher that you'd find Jesus and Mary, with Judahs, Pauls, Thomas', and Matthews, than NOT finding a Jesus and Mary with all of those names.

Anonymous said...

Paul, why would you applaud possummomma for once again bashing a Christian discovery?

Sean, thank you for calling me a bitch in the other post. Atheists attacking Christians is not new and we know that your words are meaningless in the end. God will judge us. In other forums possummomma lectures us on science and how reason is better than our ummoveable faith in GOD.

I hope God forgives you all for your blogs and your blasphemy. I clicked on all your links and I have seen you all for what you are. Slapping each other on the back like pride running amok. Its just vanity.

I hope those were the bones of the almighty Jesus. You would have to eat all of your words then.

proud to be an Atheist said...

Since annoymnous likes to keep spewing, I thought I would add a quote from Neal Boortz who is a radio talkshow host. I recently got an autographed copy of his new book "Somebody's Gotta Say It" for my husband. Anyway, he gets tons of hate mail, and guess which groups it comes from? Anyone? You guessed it, the Christians! In his book he states:
"I can tell you without equivication that throughout my 3+ decades of talk radio, the most vile, nasty, evil, cruel, vicious, irrational, and plain mean emails and letters I've received have come from people desperate to proclaim their status as devout christians."

I thought they were supposed to be the nice ones? Atheists are being told we don't have morals, we can't possibly be nice to others and yet they are the ones with all of this hatred and ugly words with nothing intelligent to say, other than, "You are going to hell, blah, Satan, blah." I say good, bring the bastard on! I can take the heat, I've lived in Arizona!Except if there is a hell, I think we are already living in it, having to put up with ignorant people like annonymous.

proud to be an atheist said...

My bad *anonymous*

I don't type as well when I'm irritated.

Paul said...

Anonymous: What I was applauding was that Possumomma was viewing the discovery with a healthy level of skepticism. Can we declare with any certainty that this is the tomb of Jesus Christ? Of course not. Can we categorically rule it out? Of course not.
At this stage, the only rational approach is to suggest that further inquiry should be taken.

Could you clarify what you mean by a "Christian disovery"?
Do you mean
A. 'a discovery made by Christians'
B. 'a discovery that supports Christianity'
C. 'a discovery related to Christianity'.
D. (something else?)

Until I can decipher your meaning, I can't hope to understand what you mean by possumomma 'bashing' it. At present, I am unaware as to how a discovery can be, uh, bashed.

Toni said...

Anonymous:

Here is a link to my atheist blog www.atheistrants.blogspot.com HAVE FUN!

And I actually agree with you... I do hope those are the bones of "THE" Jesus.

Don't you think it might disprove the whole "dead man walking" part of christianity. Unless he "rose from the dead" and left his bones behind. EEEEWWWW!!! DEAD SKIN WALKING.

Also, jebus being married and having children???? You all would owe Dan Brown a HUGE apology.

Matt D. said...

I hope those were the bones of the almighty Jesus. You would have to eat all of your words then.

I think someone hasn't thought this through. If, in fact these turn out to be the bones of "almight Jesus" then he certainly wasn't almighty and the resurrection/ascension - the very cornerstone of your faith, is false.

Now, I'm very skeptical and I don't really expect anything more from this than bluster and hand-waving, but if its true, it's certainly not a vindication for Christians.

proud to be an atheist said...

If it is anything at all, it was probably the work of Satan anyway.
To some, he is behind the dinosaur bones too, man does he have a sense of humor or what?! HA!

Anonymous said...

"Adam h" is right in both his approach to the evidence and his optimism that this tomb represents another concrete example of why skepticism towards Christian metaphysical claims are reasonable. This tomb needs only pass a test of reasonableness to be incorporated into a broader argument of skepticism.
Atheist in a mini van posted his original stupid analysis a day before the book "The Jesus Family Tomb" was released. Instead, you quoted CBS news which would be considered in a court of law hearsay because instead of quoting "The Jesus Family Tomb" you quoted CBS's summary of a book's summary. Christians are the ones running around with hearsay; Christians say that Jesus said something because someone else wrote it down in the new testament - thats hearsay - the same thing you're doing Atheist in a mini van. We Atheist pride ourselves on precision and the value of Ockham's razor, your original post is the Christian opposite - imprecise and outright dismissive. So let me get this straight, you're skeptical about how good the evidence is before reading the book (you never quote it) and before watching the Discovery Documentary? That means that your default position is, well, Christian.
It is true that we Atheists need good evidence (both empirical and rational) before we believe something to be true; so we should be hesitant to believe the "Jesus Family Tomb" corresponds to the Jesus of the new testament BUT that does not mean we should be dismissive outright. Lets read the book, listen to archaeologists (secular ones) and Biblical historians (from secular universities - 1 secular biblical historian that i know of is already behind the project, James D. Tabor) about their take on it.

Bifrost said...

If archeological evidence supported the claim that these bones belong to “The Jesus”, it would settle nothing. Considering how a lot of Christians dismiss the entire body of geological evidence for an old earth, dismissing the more tenuous archeological evidence for Jesus’ bones should be a piece of cake for them.

Russ said...

PMomma,

Sorry about the length. It's a dreary mid-Michigan mid-winter day and I wanted to try to connect with Anonymous. I needed some words.

To Anonymous,

In your post at 9:27 PM, you said, "Atheists attacking Christians is not new and we know that your words are meaningless in the end."

To what you said before the "and," I would assign a qualified true. I say qualified since you used, no doubt intentionally, the word "attack" which does not accurately represent PMomma's discourse on this topic. If you browse many of the Christian sites commenting on this, you will see that the way PMomma has treated this topic is comparatively respectful. She is far more open to allowing the evidence to speak for itself than are most Christians. Christians have much riding on this: bones or other body tissues imply that Jesus wasn't resurrected and that would raise so many other doubts. Still, you said, "I hope those were the bones of the almighty Jesus."

As you stated, atheists have, indeed, attacked "Christian ideas" ever since the first person said, "I am a Christian." Here, again, "attack" is not the right choice of words; "question," "dispute," "remain skeptical about" might more closely match the atheist approach in this regard. All of these alternatives suggest the noble ideas of testing our understanding or clarifying our position. It's honest. I'm certain, Anonymous, that you actually respect and employ this empiricist approach to knowing above all other, despite your claim about "ummoveable faith in GOD." For things that don't effect life or health, "faith" is fine, but when the health and welfare of you or your family is on the line, you will run to solutions from the natural world every time. Moral people don't pray over drowning babies, for instance.

When the house is on fire, you run. Why? When you're hungry, you eat. Why? When someone needs help you respond. Why? Aside from the simple pragmatism of caring for yourself or others, at your core, in your heart of hearts, you know God isn't doing anything, your "immovable faith in GOD" has no effect. You, the same as we atheists, want evidence. For your part, you claim the Bible is evidence. You claim improbable coincidences and medical misdiagnoses as miracles and thus evidence of God. You require evidence, just as we non-believers do, the principle difference being what we accept as evidence justifying a claim. We require a higher standard of evidence, which is not intended as and I hope not taken as an insult. If you ponder this point, Anonymous, you will likely find that in all areas of human pursuit - with religion, or more generally supernaturalism, being the only exception - you demand the same high-quality evidence as any rationalist, empiricist, materialist, atheist.

Think of how alike we really are in this regard. In all but one of the thousands of human endeavors requiring decisions, we all want the best evidence we can get and what we mean by evidence is pretty much the same. However, while the atheist wants to be able to apply the same requirement for proof to all areas of his life uniformly, theists, like you, Anonymous, want to claim a different proof metric for religious ideas.

Throughout Christian history, there have been many Second Comings. Thousands have claimed to be the Biblical Jesus returned, but how many of them would you have believed? Right now there are at least five men claiming to be Jesus the Son of God on the world stage and many more institutionalized for holding the same delusion. What would it take for you to be convinced of the veracity of the claim, "I am Jesus" by anyone? Notice, Anonymous, you would require that the claim be proven: You would demand evidence. You would not accept on "faith" that someone was Jesus, God, Allah, Jupiter, Mithras, or any of the tens of thousands of other gods that have come and gone during human history. Ironically, despite the vengeful wrathful powers claimed for most of them, no adverse consequences have befallen us.

Anonymous, a close reading of Christian history points to Christians themselves being their own greatest persecutors. Christian persecuted other Christians through physical violence: torture, beheadings, burning at the stake, endless imprisonment, mutilations, and so forth; through psychological persecution: unworthiness, threats of shunning, banning, hell and other non-existent horrors like demons, devils, etc; and, through abuse of language itself. For example, Christians adopted the Greek word meaning 'choice' as a term of vilification for other Christians who varied from orthodox thought. Think of that. The word they plucked from the Greek lexicon to denigrate and demonize each other means to exercise choice in one's life. Just as you, Anonymous, by adhering to a single sect out of the thousands of existing Christian sects are exhibiting "choice," so too are you practicing the Christian version of "heresy." That's right, choice, Anonymous, is heresy. By not choosing a different Christianity, you are a de facto heretic, by Christian definition.

With that in mind, I would assign a completely unqualified false to what you said after the "and": "we know that your words are meaningless in the end." In your own post, you demonstrate again and again that words bite hard, words leave marks and words somtimes scar; indeed, contrary to your own claim, you treat those words as though they have great impact and are thus, far from meaningless.

Your response, all by itself, was a way of saying, "That hurt." Using the qualifier "in the end" in no way deadens or defers the pain. That you responded at all means that you are experiencing discomfort here and now and are not looking ahead to "in the end." Not one of us is true granite against the barb; for each and everyone of us, a bee sting does, as is its intent, sting. The sarcastic, "Sean, thank you for calling me a bitch in the other post" clearly exposed that some hide was chafed enough for you to be put on the defensive. It's a natural enough response considering that words are not meaningless.

I, for one will assume that you did not mean that the words were meaningless as you attempted to strike fear into the hearts of your fellow heretics, - after all, we reject all the Christianities you do, you Christian heretic, plus one - with, "God will judge us." I think for you those words have deep meaning, but, here, where we expect people, including you, to haul in evidence along with their ideas, the phrase has no meaning, it holds no sway, since it can't meet our standard for acceptable evidence. Simply put: the things you credit to your god by faith, we see as non-existent or attributable to all-natural evidence-based causes. To us, Anonymous, your God idea has no merit since it does not meet the standard of evidence that you yourself undoubtedly use for everything but religion, the same standard you share with us. Since my sense of humor has been a bit anemic lately, I thank you for the irony supplement.

Anonymous, when you say, "Slapping each other on the back like pride running amok. Its just vanity," I must ask: what is the meaning we should take from that?

If "slapping each other on the back" means that we encourage each other, then I say, tongue-in-cheek, "Amen, brother." PMomma and many of the commentors on this site should be lauded: they have wonderful ideas expressed through engaging writing styles, with wit, intelligence and pizzazz. Your post, Anonymous, while I disagree with it, was fun to read. You've definitely got the sarcasm thing down. That's a compliment; sarcasm is hard to get right. You should be proud.

A psychologically healthy person seeks to have friends, and we choose(a heresy, I know) our friends, in part, based on commonalities. So, yeah, I hang with atheists, but I also hang with theists since, contrary to theistic conception, we have almost all of life's in's and out's, up's and down's in common, their theistic beliefs being an exception. I say claims, because it can't be overemphasized that they reject all of the gods that have ever been concocted except the one they bow to, whereas I, like other atheists, go one itty bitty little god farther. Every sane person seeks associations with those who support and encourage them. Admit it, Anonymous, you are no different.

Do you disdain pride? While labeling it as one of the Seven Deadly Sins seems to mesh well with a theologian's-eye view of the world, I say, we must look to it as a motivating virtue. That's right, virtue, not human-contrived sin. I for one teach my children to strive to do the things they do well enough that they can be proud of their work. That is my aim also, and I've done many things in my life for which I can be proud. What a meaningless existence it would be if a person had to say, "I've never done anything I can be proud of." Imagine an employer's response when a prospective hire says, "I never want to do anything I can be proud of." I hope PMomma takes pride from her work on this site. It brings great joy to many of us.

Anonymous, when you said, "In other forums possummomma lectures us on science and how reason is better than our ummoveable faith in GOD," I wondered if you have ever considered separately the impacts of science and religion on your life. If you resulted from in vitro fertilization, your very existence is due to science ferreting out the human reproductive process. Note also that when it works it works for atheists and theists, Christian and Muslim, devout and religious slacker alike. Faith plays no part. The drugs for increasing implantation rates of the fertilized egg work without appealing to anything supernatural. None of the sciences needs divine intervention to provide an explanation. Medicine, like all the sciences, has no chosen people, has no excluded people.

The superiority of the scientific view over the religious view can be seen in human conception. The reproductive sciences tell us many things that directly conflict with religious notions of the world. The one that fascinates me most is the fact that about 70 percent all fertilized human eggs are expelled from the woman's body either without being implanted at all or even after being implanted. Many religionists argue that life begins at conception, but, if that's the case, then humans have no importance to god since most humans, in zygote form, end up down the drain, so to speak. It fits the science of evolutionary biology, but not religion.

Ask yourself what the contributions of religion have been toward the betterment of man. I won't belabor the point, but you would do well to inquire after the facts. How would the world be different now, compared to, say, the fifteenth century if science had not come to prominence, if man had not begun to separate what was true from what he wished was true.

Anonymous, I'll end this with a final point: no two of us are exactly the same, but in the final analysis, most of our life experiences are common with the vast expanse of humanity: birth, growth, death, desire to learn, be part of something larger than ourselves, get slapped on the back, and return the slapping when it's appropriate. You and we atheists really are very much alike. We love our families, friends and neighbors as I'm sure you do. For any hope of a peaceful world, everyone must do their part and atheists do so out of reasoned choice. Consider the US with around 10 percent self-identified atheists. Life here would be quite horrific if the 30 millions atheists had morals at odds with the rest of society, theist or otherwise. We don't. Fact is, we have stronger marriages and much lower crime rates than theists to highlight just two from many objective measures of perceived moral significance where the numbers favor atheists. To us non-believers these simple statistics represent a fact: the theist's claim that god influences believers to behave more desirably toward all of mankind is demonstrably wrong. We choose not to adhere to an ideology proven not to work in mankind's favor. Atheists choose to live well with their fellow men because reasoned observation shows us that it works best for society. Indeed, if atheists were not good people, the world would be a truly terrible place to live for everyone.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

To borrow a phrase from Paul (first commenter),... BRAVO, RUSS!!

That was the best thing I've read today. *applauds* I hope that you are writing some of these things down on places other than my silly blog. They deserve space of their own.

I've got a particularly fun blog topic tonight... off to blog. ;)

Toni said...

Russ:

*STANDING OVATION*

Russ said...

Thanks PMomma, Thanks Toni,

I appreciate the slap on the back.

PMomma, in your response to me you said, referring to some of the ideas I shared, "They deserve space of their own." With that seed in mind, I have been wondering what it takes to maintain your blog.

Last November completely on a whim I ran through the blogspot setup and created the blog "Complete Materialist" (http://completematerialist.blogspot.com/). I put up two posts and have pretty much neglected it since. I'm concerned about the time and effort to maintain it, including the policing or mediating of commenter's posts. Any insights you could share would be helpful.

Some of my life experience and learning could be useful to others, and I'd like to share a bit of it on a blog, but if it takes too much time, I simply can't do it. If administration would overwhelm content, I'd prefer to lurk, and, only occasionally, when time and inspiration permit, offer up some possibly beneficial thoughts or ideas. That was the situation with my response to Anonymous: the time was available and I sensed that I had something worthwhile to contribute.

By choice, I gave up one of my rare blocks of non-preallocated time to respond to Anonymous, hoping to bridge what I see as one of the imaginary gulfs of misunderstanding artificially separating mankind into disjointed them's and us's. Natural balkanizers like language, culture, and geography do well enough to keep us from a general meeting of the minds, so we shouldn't seek to encourage or sustain divisions based on what really should be personal and mostly private matters like religious belief.

Thanks again, PMomma and Toni

Tpni said...

Russ:
Do what I do, blog at work. :) (kidding sort of)
www.atheistrants.blogspot.com
My work load comes and goes, there are times I am pretty much here to answer my phone if it happens to ring.

I don't however, link my personal blog I maintain much more to keep up with friends to my atheist blog because I don't want any fundie crazies stalking me there, some things are better left unsaid.

Best of luck on your blog. With your eloquence it would be quite a read.

Toni said...

And if I knew how to type my own name you would know I posted the coment above...

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Arg!
Russ, I had a long entry prepared for you- but blogger ate it.
So, now you get the short version. :)

As I have it set up now, I do very little maintenence/administrative stuff on this blog.

I'm actually not overly thrilled with blogger/blogspot. I prefer livejournal (where I keep a personal journal). But, I suspect I just haven't learned all of the ins-and-outs of this medium. For example: I've been told that I'm on a few blogrolls, but- pardon my ignorance- I have no idea what that really means.

I also find that there are several blogs I'd like to link from here, but I don't know how to change my main page to reflect it. Kazim did some linking for me, after P#1's big essay flurry. I wish there were someone who could teach me how to do more of that.

I'm also frustrated by the fact that they only way I can catch new comments is to go back and read each post. There's no blinky icon or symbol that tells me there are new comments. If anyone knows how I can remedy that, please share. :)

So, Russ... if you're like me and just want to blog as an outlet and maybe meet some cool people, then I say go for it! :) It, the blog, can stay as low key as you want it. Cheers!

*And, seriously, if someone else can explain this better or has advice, please share.

proud to be an atheist said...

http://blogrolling.com/

this should give you the info and instructions you need to create your own blogroll (list of links).

This is the one my husband uses and is happy with it.

http://fpffressminds.blogspot.com/

Here is his site if want to see what it looks like.

He plans on putting you on his blogroll, you were an instant hit!

proud to be an atheist said...

And to get new comments in your email...

Log into your blog, go to settings, then comments, there is a box that asks for an email address (it is at the very bottom). It will email you whenever there is a new comment. When you open the comment, there will be a link and it will take you to the post that the comment is related to.

Hope this helps

Toni said...

You can also go into your settings with blogger and set it up so that you can send an e-mailed blog to your own blog, if you don't have the time or desire to log into blogger.

If you need or want detailed help with that please e-mail me at trnetz@hotmail.com I would be happy to help you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Atheist in a mini van. said...

ANONYMOUS- You know what... I've spent the last ten minutes wondering if I should delete your comment. And, I may yet do so...

God gave us the miracle of medicine so that we may enjoy the fruits of his creation and take advantage of it.

Medicine is not a miracle. Medicine is a science!
Furthermore, by your logic, if medicine is the "fruit of his creation", then God also gave us knowledge to provide abortions and perform euthanasia. He gave us, as Russ pointed out before me, the science to create fertilized eggs and, therefore, blastocysts. How ironic that YOUR god gave society three things that would tear at the very fabric of said society. How ironic that YOUR god would would sanction these techniques that you so vehemently oppose. Nice God.

How dare you lump me in with all of you! I am different. I have the Lord.
Yes, Russ. How dare you lump her in with reasonable, rational, compassionate people? She's different, after all! The lord isn't the only thing you have, sweetheart. You've also got an incredibly inflated ego and any number of "issues" with reality.


That it God's will. It's not a lottery.
Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up. It is God's will that the majority of developing embryos die. It is God's will that doctors are allowed to fertilize more embryos than needed. *rolls eyes* So, lemme' make sure I understand you correctly: God allows waste.

The rewards of religion are easy to see. How about our country for starters? Why do you think the Pilgrims came here and made a life here desite all odds?

What about the Pilgrims? They were driven out of their home country by religious zealots, not unlike yourself. I have a counter-question: what delusional part of the Christian mind allows you to forget the fact that there were people in the Americas before your Pilgrims came?
The odds were actually very much in favor of the Pilgrims. For, you see, they brough gifts of cholera, smallpox, venereal disease, and tuberculosis to the Americas.
Not to mention guns, tobacco, and alcohol.
Furthermore, the original European settlers of the North American continent were motivated by MONEY! Ha! Kind of like Christians today.

I saw something possummommas myspace where she shows a picture of her baby sticking his tongue out in a formal picture.
You've got to be kidding me. LOL! You know. I was so tempted to pull the myspace link, but... leaving the link just makes you look even more stupid. On one hand, you violated my wishes for anonymity and privacy. Without thought, you outed something very personal to me, simply to fuel your own overblown sense of pride and bluster.

To borrow a popular internet cry: "OH NOZZZZZZ!" A picture of a six month infant sticking out his tongue. That's not disrespect, my dear, that's a six month old going, "hey look...I have a tongue." And, you're damn right I kept that shot!! It's adorable! I don't particularly care for a bunch of pictures where my children look like little God-bots with perfect smiles and expressions. I actualy like REALITY!
She put it out there for shock value.
LOL! Yeah... shock value. An infant sticking his tongue out- someone call the FCC. Do you have any idea how hard it is to take you seriously?

Possummomma claims that she's got a bad illness and will die soon. But her myspace does not look like a dying woman. Her video of her kids pictures show glee not the sadness you would see of kids who mother is very sick.
Yep. You're right. I should allow my children to get beat down by crushing depression over something that they have no control over. I'm a horrible mother for treasuring 'the now' and trying to keep things upbeat. As for my illness, you seem unnaturally focused on it. Get a life. I might be losing mine, but so are you... all humans are.

Kathryn said...

Dear PossumMomma, my guess is that the nice Christian lady has no children.

Oh, and no knowledge of the history of the US either. LOL

Wife swapping and polyamory! Christians NEVER do such things. Nope, no ministers who have gay lovers, or priests molesting young boys. Nope nope nope. All the atheists are bad.

I could go on, but why bother? The level of intelligence is self-evident.

Anonymous said...

Here is Anonymous' original post, sans the link to my myspace:

------------------------
Russ: For things that don't effect life or health, "faith" is fine, but when the health and welfare of you or your family is on the line, you will run to solutions from the natural world every time.

God gave us the miracle of medicine so that we may enjoy the fruits of his creation and take advantage of it.

Admit it, Anonymous, you are no different.
How dare you lump me in with all of you! I am different. I have the Lord.


70 percent all fertilized human eggs are expelled from the woman's body either without being implanted at all or even after being implanted.
That it God's will. It's not a lottery.


Ask yourself what the contributions of religion have been toward the betterment of man.
The rewards of religion are easy to see. How about our country for starters? Why do you think the Pilgrims came here and made a life here desite all odds? Religion keeps people moral and good. Without religion you'd be up to your eyeballs in evil. That is a better reward that science.

Fact is, we have stronger marriages and much lower crime rates than theists to highlight just two from many objective measures of perceived moral significance where the numbers favor atheists.
Atheists marriage may appear stronger on the surface but I know some atheists who engage in wife swapping and polyamory. One of those people posts in comments on this blog. That's an immoral act against God. Of course atheists have lower crime rates, the rest of us avoid them and create a nation where they can say what they want and have no fear of man's law. I can assure you that you'll find more atheists in God's prison- HELL!

You all worship just as much as a Christian does. You worship false idols. You worship a mother who doesn't seem to care that her daughter is on her way to being an atheist. I saw something possummommas myspace where she shows a picture of her baby sticking his tongue out in a formal picture. Why would a good mother keep such a picture? She put it out there for shock value. There's nothing sweet about a child who learns unrespectful manners at such a young age. I know you all think I'm kidding but I'm not. Possummomma claims that she's got a bad illness and will die soon. But her myspace does not look like a dying woman. Her video of her kids pictures show glee not the sadness you would see of kids who mother is very sick.
See for yourself. She is an attention seeking brat and you all are stupid for eating up her atheist ramblings. Anyone who is mortally ill turns to God for help.

Aimee said...

Anonymous

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Without science, there would be no medicine.

Give me a link that shows that the divorce rate is higher among Atheists.

Funny how people in prison suddenly find jesus.

And it isn't called worshiping Pmomma, what we have is respect for her. Respect for raising such thought provoking children, respect for being able to keep such a positive attitude while dealing with an illness and for being able to keep her kids happy during it. That takes courage, something you know nothing about.

"She is an attention seeking brat and you all are stupid for eating up her atheist ramblings. Anyone who is mortally ill turns to God for help."

And you are???? An attention seeking ______ (fill in the blank)? Maybe you need to pray to your god and ask him how to be a nicer person, let me know when he gets back to you on that one.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

And you are???? An attention seeking ______ (fill in the blank)? Maybe you need to pray to your god and ask him how to be a nicer person, let me know when he gets back to you on that one.


Oh oh! I wanna play fill in the blank!
Drama-whore?
Bitch?
Mindless twit?
So many possibilities...

Aimee said...

I was thinking of my new favorite word, fucktard.

Anonymous is an attention seeking fucktard!

Immature I know, but damnit, sometimes you just have to stoop to their level.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I was thinking of my new favorite word, fucktard.

That's a good one, too! LOL

Russ said...

My regards, Anonymous,

Thank you for responding. My post was rather long, as I fear this one will be, and I half expected that no one would wade through it. I appreciate you spending some time considering what I had to say.

In this post like the one I addressed earlier the meaning and sentiment etches much deeper than the words and tells a reader far more about you, Anonymous, than the words alone express.

By way of introduction, let me start by saying something about an affliction effecting all of humanity: ignorance. None of us is immune, and while I freely admit that I like most others should be granted a Doctorate of Ignorance, I think I have a different take on it than most. I'm over fifty years old, I've read more than five thousand books in my life by actual count, I've worked with Nobel Prize nominees and laureates in chemistry, biology, physics and peace. I have degrees in chemistry, mathematics, biology, and computer science. I've been an active participant in philosophy discussion and study groups for decades. I don't enumerate these things to boast in any way, it's mostly water under the bridge; I list them solely to highlight this: the list of things I know that I am ignorant of is extensive, and probably considerably longer than the list most others could make. So, when I speak of ignorance, I can speak with some authority.

When any of us speaks, we tell our listeners many things. We tell them, for instance, what we think we know, often harshly exposing it as very different from what we really know. Also, we frequently disclose what we don't know, what we don't see; that is, we uncover our ignorance. Baring our ignorance is one of the hazards we face when we assert anything, but the feedback we get should always provide an opportunity for growth. Beyond personal growth, however, when others can be effected by our misunderstanding, seeking assistance in stamping out our ignorance is the morally correct and honorable thing to do. For how this can be done, let's take a look at how science approaches it.

Think of ignorance in science as anything which could lead to misinterpreting results: personal limitations and biases, oversights and mistakes, errors in analysis, and poor understanding, to name a few. Also, recall that all results in science are provisional, and, thus, subject to change. It's paramount to understand that if this were not the case, if we couldn't change our views, we'd be stuck with alchemy instead of chemistry, astrology instead of astromony, witches brew instead of pharmacology, and bloodletting and exorcisms instead of medicine.

Changes in science represent advancements only if they justify our updating the way we see the world. Since science effects everyone and everything on the planet, moral considerations alone dictate that changes in accepted science should not be instituted on a whim, not on vague hopes or hunches, and certainly not out of preventable ignorance. So, over the centuries, science has developed into a culture the very foundation of which is the communal effort to reduce ignorance as far as possible.

The honorable attempt in science to root out ignorance is the process called peer review. Putting ones ideas, personal or scientific, to the test is a mark of strong character. Then, if the testing reveals a new way to see things, rejecting our old view and adopting the new one shows real intellectual honesty. Scientists embrace this intellectual honesty even though it requires enduring the great personal emotional strife of exposing cherished work to the harsh light of informed criticism.

You see, Anonymous, scientists make many implicit self-deprecating appeals when they put their work out for peer review. It's painful but they know they must if science is to progress. They welcome, invite in fact, expert critiques of their work. The appeals go something like the following. "I openly acknowledge that as a human being, I make mistakes; please help me find them." "I've made my best effort and I'm asking for others with expertise in this area to help me root out error in my work." Or, maybe, "Please help me to see beyond my own fallibility." They're not actually stated, but they are inherent to the process.

To make it explicit, science advances by employing two important ideas: scientists make concerted efforts to rid their work of errors through the humbling process of peer review, and they are receptive to changing their view of the nature of things when evidence demands. In brief, they have others check their work and they can change their minds. Scientist's work benefits us all, and they are deserving of our earnest respect, our sincere praise, and our heartfelt gratitude.

You started out saying, "God gave us the miracle of medicine so that we may enjoy the fruits of his creation and take advantage of it." Here, as I said in my previous post, we need evidence. I assume that you would use the Bible as evidence, so I, too, will use it. I'm not attempting to change your mind about the Bible, Anonymous, but I'd like you to understand how many of us atheists see it, and how it connects back to my introduction.

When you said, "miracle of medicine," I assume you meant the ability to discern the causes of diseases and reasonable therapeutic courses to deal with them. Christians claim that God is a loving father to us humans and is omniscient. As I see it both of these must be wrong.

Why did the loving father tell his children not to eat pork? Because it harbored disease. Why did God not tell them that pork cooked well-done is both safe to eat and way yummy? The people who invented God and wrote the Bible didn't know it, so God, the loving father, didn't either. Notice, Anonymous, that it was more than a thousand years from the time the contents of the Bible were voted on in the fourth century, and the time that microbes were discovered. When God opened his mouth in the Bible there was so much ignorance he uncovered. How many of God's loved children died horrible disease-ridden deaths because God the omnipotent couldn't offer basic hygiene tips like "wash your hands, kiddies." God is ignorant because his creators were ignorant. Bloodletting killed millions over the centuries, but the religious objections to assessing the data and changing their minds let the systematic murder continue. God never told anyone that various syndromes cause seizures - aha! demon possession. Envision what it would have been like for the millions who died chained to the walls of asylums due to epilepsy, or mental retardation. Imagine being burned at the stake because your diabetes or hypoglycemia caused you to hallucinate. Omniscient? Loving Father? God's "miracle of medicine?"

I implore you, Anonymous, to do the work of researching it. Read your Bible closely and critically. You'll see that a modern first grader was better informed than was God.

You continued with, "How dare you lump me in with all of you! I am different. I have the Lord." I said it because it is quite true. Anonymous, the differences between us are small, and frankly, overblown. If you moved in next to me at first at least we would be friends. Not knowing me, you would assume I was religious like you and things would be fine for a while. I would shovel the snow from your walk. Maybe fix that screen door. Help you acclimate to your new surroundings. Give directions to the grocery store. Then, one day the religion thing would come up, and, all at once, you would feel nothing but the loathing you express here. Do you not see how religiously insecure your comments here reveal you to be? You flash like as a neon sign highlighting how religion does not unite mankind but divides it. As I see it, you think your loving father has told you to behave as you do, but just like he was ignorant about medicine, so too is he ignorant about human relationships. For my part, I would gladly go on being a good neighbor, getting bats out of your attic, that sort of thing, even through your disdain.

Next, you stated, "That it[is] God's will. It's not a lottery." Anonymous, admit it, everyone invents their own version of "God's will." The Bible writers had military conquest as God's will. The Bible writers had the loving father killing every man, woman and child, except Noah's adult clan members. Think of it. God spares rattlesnakes, naked mole rats, and tarantulas, but not a single newborn infant was righteous enough to be saved. If that's the best that something all-powerful can do with his own children, I, and I'm sure many others here want no part of it. Seriously, Anonymous, can you look at that and find a non-barbaric moral lesson in it? What about Lott's God-sanctioned incest with his daughters? What about Lott offering his daughter for sexual entertainment to a mob to spare adult males from his household? Then, God considers Lott the only righteous one from the whole town. Where do you actually get your morals? Surely, you don't look to God as a moral exemplar? Clearly, God was ignorant of human moral judgement? God was ignorant of how we would evolve a superior moral system which outright rejects many of God's ideas. I beg you, Anonymous, read your Bible closely and critically.

Going on you say, "The rewards of religion are easy to see. How about our country for starters? Why do you think the Pilgrims came here and made a life here desite all odds? Religion keeps people moral and good. Without religion you'd be up to your eyeballs in evil. That is a better reward that science." Here, Anonymous, you need to compare your thoughts to reality, like scientists do, like most atheists do. Think of all the laws we have that conflict with Biblical teachings. Parts of the Bible read like a slave owners manual. Paul tells slaves to obey their masters. Clearly, slavery is endorsed by Christianity, but "this country for starters" has outlawed slavery. "This country for starters" has outlawed the gruesome criminal penalties commanded in the Bible. Read it closely. Think of the Biblical dictates we do not endorse. The Bible commands and gives examples of executing people on the Sabbath. We don't adhere to it and, indeed, we have criminalized all Biblically-commanded killing. Think of the simple contradiction of "Thou shalt not kill" and the hundreds of places in the Bible where people are commanded to kill. As a society we rightfully reject most of the Bible out of hand. We have created a superior morality.

As for religion keeping people moral and good, look at "this country for starters" compared to Sweden. Actually check this for yourself. We have boatloads more religion, but the Swedes have lower overall crime rate, lower domestic violence, lower child abuse, higher average education level, a national healthcare system - meaning they take care of each other better, lower unemployment, much higher personal assessment of happiness, lower drug abuse, lower alcoholism, lower abortion rate, the list goes on and on. The same holds true for Canada, England, Finland, Japan, and Australia and they all have only a fraction of the religious participation that the US does. I beseech you, Anonymous, look at the facts. Compare what religions tell you to the actual data. There's a night and day difference.

After that you comment, "Atheists marriage may appear stronger on the surface but I know some atheists who engage in wife swapping and polyamory. One of those people posts in comments on this blog. That's an immoral act against God. Of course atheists have lower crime rates, the rest of us avoid them and create a nation where they can say what they want and have no fear of man's law. I can assure you that you'll find more atheists in God's prison- HELL!"

In my considered opinion, Anonymous, the Bible tells me that God is not a good moral compass. Atheists have lower rates of criminality than theists because as "lower rates" implies, they obey man's law at a higher rate than theists do. Thats' why the numbers tell such an interesting story: when people leave religion behind, they are better citizens, better family members. Everyone knows of people they think of as undesirable. But, get your mind around this, Anonymous, almost all the crimes in this country are commited by Christians, including murder, child abuse and spouse abuse; almost all divorces are obtained by Christians.

Realize, Anonymous, all of the things you consider as moral are actually personal choices, you either choose to do them or you don't. If you looked at the numbers, you would no doubt conclude that the atheists were more moral than theists, including Christians. This should tell you something: Christians choose to be moral less often than atheists do. It's that simple. I'm not saying the religion causes it, but the numbers speak for themselves: religion does not help. As such, if you prefer moral people, you are far more like us than you are like Christians. Science tells us that.

At your, "You all worship just as much as a Christian does. You worship false idols," I must admit I chuckled to myself. Are you using the word "worship" as an insult, that is, are you telling us that it's acceptable for you to use the word "worship" to demean others? I must ask, Anonymous, do you think so little of the words associated with your religion that you wield them as insults? Here, I can tell you we do not worship in the supernatural sense.

Also, Anonymous, in no way do I "worship" PMomma. I can tell you this however, I've read her words on this blog, and I respect her more than I respect the fictional Biblical character of God. I don't worship PMomma, but from what she has shared about her family, about a general outlook on life, and about how she deals with the specific challenges that life has handed her, I can tell you that I admire her human spirit, the drive, the heart. For her courage to put her ideas before an oftentimes critical community and take the venom in stride, I hold her in high regard. Because she rejects religion - meaning she's probably a better person, parent and citizen - and because she models the application of knowledge and reason in such a positive way, I do set aside a certain special esteem for her.

Anonymous, concerning your statements concerning Baby Possum, I can only think of words like immature, childish, silly. It's an adorable photo of an adorable child. But, come to think of it, the tongue sticking out brings to mind most of the students from my graduate pattern recognition class.

If "Her video of her kids pictures show glee," was said to sway readers to demonize PMomma, you might want to rethink this. You may not know this, but studies from psychology show that any picture of happy children makes viewers think more highly of the parents. Fact. You're shooting your self in the foot here.

When you said, "Anyone who is mortally ill turns to God for help," Anonymous, you were wrong, plain wrong. As an example, Thomas Jefferson, yes, thee Thomas Jefferson, made his own version of the Bible, showing he had very little respect for Christianity. He took a razor and chopped out all of the stuff he thought was junk, making a considerably smaller and considerably less vile version. Near the time of his death he said that he had no hope and no fear, so, he clearly was not turning to God for help.

Anonymous, we're all ignorant, and you are no different in that regard. The conduct of an individual's life has many similarities to scientific peer review. We set ideas asail to see if they float. We keep the ones that make it, we chuck the ones that don't. We decide based on evidence.

Would you be able to challenge your minister or priest about doctrine? If not, why not? You use the same Bible, the words are the same, he/she is not any smarter than you. What's the difference? Simply this: you and your fellow churchgoers give your reverend authority over your life instead of relying on your own capacity to read and understand.

There are more than 20000 distinct denominations of Christianity. Some are atheist (that's right, nothing divine, no miracles, etc.), some say God sends people to hell, some say God doesn't send people to hell, some have doctrine, still others are catch-as-catch-can. The book is the same. What's the difference? The people. That's it. Remember, there is no standard for what constitutes Christianity or religion in general. Regardless of which sect you belong to, you are in the minority, and there are thousands of other Christianities telling you that you have it wrong. Atheists are not alone in rejecting your version of Christianity. Remember heresy.

If you choose, you can make up your own Christianity like Joseph Smith did with the Mormons, or Mary Baker Eddy did with Christian Science. You can make up a religion from scratch like L. Ron Hubbard did with Scientology.

I know it's comforting to be part of a group who share similar views, there's no denying that. It's comforting to have ready-made answers for all of the hard questions in life. But, as a fellow human being who really does have a great deal of compassion for others, I encourage you to analyze your Bible for yourself, don't just accept what the man making the money says. And, maybe occasionally, consider what if any of it is true. Think critically about it. Think about science and how the two conflict. If you clear-headedly subject them both to peer review, you will find science, hands down, offers mankind greater hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

[zendruid]

...the awed silence continues...

Anonymous, you may regard me as a non-threatening voice who wishes you well.

Please understand that Russ has just given us all, what I believe is the best exposition of the goals chosen by an enlightened atheist:

Truth;
Conscience;
Freedom;
Peaceful coexistence.

And I, as an exobiblical Christian, have no doubt that Jesus would approve.