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For just one example of the waffle and dodge approach, this clip from 1.10.



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Discussion (97)¬

  1. HPB says:

    Damned Infidels using the word of god to ridicule the, erm, word of god…

  2. Danish+Cartoon+Lover says:

    One of the best ever

  3. Ephphing brilliant!

  4. freethinkin franklin says:

    how is any theist fit to be a juror? if they can convince themselves their holy books are true and factual, they can convince themselves of anything… tip your bar maid

  5. Nassar Ben Houdjs says:

    The life of a Muslim lacks in quality
    When the get stoned for certain frivolity
    Stoned not meaning a trip sky high
    But a big rock in the eye
    Love and peace are proved this way quite certainly

  6. IanB says:

    As ever the hammer hits the nail.

  7. John B. Hodges says:

    It should be recalled that these rules are in the Law of Moses also. The first seven of the Ten Commandments all carry the death penalty. Chapter and verse here:
    http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/the-uncensored-ten

  8. Ron Murphy says:

    I do hope @mehdirhasan subscribes.

  9. There are many verses in the Bible that instruct to follow man’s laws. The most famous is Luke 20:25 :He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” There is also Romans 13:1-7. When I was on jury duty I saw a fellow juror actually point these verses out to another juror who was hesitant to convict an obviously guilty defendant. Of course, with Salad Bar Christians http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/20429/abcs-evangelical-christians-2/ there is no predicting what verses they will embrace and what they will ignore. Actually, there IS, as they embrace verses condemning homosexuality, but ignore those against eating shrimp. A common tactic, when faced with dilemmas like this is to say that Jesus came and the “old law” is no longer in effect, when in fact, Jesus stated the opposite in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Oh, those pesky Bible Facts! :).

  10. W. Corvi says:

    Yes, cosmicstargoat, I’ve often wondered why they aren’t calling for a constitutional amendment against bacon-cheeseburgers. Plus, it is clear in the bible that the Jews are the chosen people, not christians, not Americans, and not the New England Patriots. Yet they go on acting like they are. A fundie neighbor said the Jews broke the covenant when they didn’t accept jesus as savior, but that would mean either god can’t see the future, or he made a mistake.

  11. NSPike says:

    I know this has been covered numerous times here, but I have to say:

    Nassar – I love your limericks for various reasons; sometimes they’re genuinely insightful and I wonder if I could come up with something as good. Other times (this being one of them) the metre is so far off the standard limerick form that it’s just ridiculous! What confuses me is that the content of them hints at a decent level of intelligence, but a quick reading of the poem yields a much better way of writing it. Is it some private joke that none of us have ever ‘got’ that keeps them being written as they are?

    Could this one not have been:

    The life of a Muslim lacks quality
    When they’re stoned for frivolity
    Not stoned as in high
    But a rock to the eye
    Love and peace ‘proved’ quite certainly

    ?

  12. Markus River says:

    Damned secularists, always reading the words as they’re written. You’d think they’ve never heard of; nuance, context, allegory and metaphor.

  13. John M says:

    NSPike for metric editor! Nassar for provision of material!

  14. ShallowEnder says:

    cosmicstargoat, regarding the masses of holy zombies seen by millions of Utterly Reliable Witnesses[TM] and attested to in Matthew 27:51-53 does anyone know what happened to them? Logically, as they are already quite dead they shouldn’t die again so most of them should still be around, bugging the crap out of their distant descendants and whining that TV ain’t as good as it was back in their day.
    When they came back, did they sue their children in the Roman courts for restitution and recovery of their stolen assets, including any houses? Did they sue the churches and the Roman Civil Service for any back pay owed to them? Are there records of this? Even one?
    Did the Romans recount them in the next census after discounting them in the ones taken during which they weren’t accounted for on account of them being out for the count?
    If they are still around could we get a few to contact Ethnologue to have their dead languages recorded for posterity? And the BBC archives for eye-witness testimony of whatever they saw? Sort of a very extended Shoah testimony. [There have been enough calamities in the last two millennia for the entire period to pretty much count as a sort of shoah from certain perspectives. {Mostly from the viewpoint of those being calamitied upon.} The good bits sometimes look like currents in a bun. A cheap bun.]
    If the dead guys did die again, was this recorded in the successive censuses? Were they buried with markers giving both expiry dates? Could we find some of those markers? After all, holy men tended to be prominent citizens [For example, Jim Jones, Saloth Sar, Adolf, Joe Jugashvili and Josh Josephson] and their resting places should be well appointed. [I know some of those holy men and living gods I mentioned don't have massive monuments, yet, but give it a century or two.] And we know who and where and when, to a fair degree of accuracy, old Matty boy was talking about, so the search area is pretty much tiny. It’s not like searching for an aeroplane in the Pacific, more like looking for Granddad in the local pub.
    Lastly, do we know if any recently revived remnants were taken to the local Romans as “proof of life”? Or even geeked-out to the Emperor and his circus? That would truly have stirred up a lot of interest in an obscure cult. It would have been absolute and undeniable proof of dieties and the Romans would have loved it.
    They’d have built shrines a mile high.
    Hell, even the renting of the curtains would have been Big News.

    Ephphatha, darling, if you think I’m viciously mocking your babble book and the half-witted, drugged-up paedophiles who allegedly writ it, you are perfectly correct.
    How am I doing?

    [I do know "renting" has high bogosity but it's comedic licence. Also "writ".]

  15. ShallowEnder says:

    Author: it’s brave of you to show a Muslim doing the Daddy-says shuffle, it is more common to see fundie Christians being mocked.
    However, I would say that it’s slightly like kicking a cripple when he’s already down and bleeding. It’s an easy target. Fun, yes, but easy.
    I wonder if the lovely, wise and talented Barmaid ever asked her favourite gentlemen customers about their views on raping nine-year-olds?
    Or is that too easy a target?

  16. ShallowEnder says:

    tfkreference, thank you.
    Author, sorry. I missed that one. Good one!
    I think I need to read them all. Preferably when I’m awake.

    This may interest some of you. It has a link to the homepage.

  17. Heh heh heh – I had exactly this discussion with someone a few days ago.

  18. Nassar, that is in my opinion your best yet. And please don’t listen to the limerick purists who would mess with your metre. It’s part of your charm, as is writing “the” when you clearly mean “they”.
    Author, again, what can I say. The best argument against the religious are being delivered by the religious. You have such a fine way of twisting their words by simply repeating them.

  19. Macha says:

    This Jesus and Mo is on the Jerry Coyne site.

    One of the comments links to a Paxman interview with Maajid Nawaz and the Head of an Islamic educational establishment.

    The latter refused – time after time – to condemn Sharia punishments (amputation, stoning, etc.), citing “not relevant”, “supposed to be talking about something else” and so on. Un-bloody-believable.

    So it actually happens, and this strip catches the blatant hypocrisy perfectly.

  20. ShallowEnder, all very legitimate and thought-provoking questions, unless you are a Salad Bar Christian, who would just say, “How about them loaves and fishes!”. Of course, there were “many women” watching from a distance, and they saw it, but darn that Paul (who comes much later) the wummins aren’t allowed to speak, so they just kept their woman’s libbers lips tight shut about the matter.

  21. hotrats says:

    NSPike:

    I’m sorry to say it, but your scansion is scarcely better than Nasser’s. Line 2 is missing 2 beats (better with ‘whenever’ instead of ‘when’), line 5 is at least 2 beats short, with the stresses in the wrong place, and the horribly non-rhyming ‘certainly’ is just not salvageable. Having started with ‘quality’ and ‘frivolity’ the only true rhyme left is ‘polity’, and good luck with that!

    The following lacks Nasser’s charm, and cheats with a ‘spelling rhyme’ but at least it scans:

    The life of a Muslim lacks quality
    When the guy’s getting stoned for frivality
    Not stoned as in high
    But rocks aimed at the eye
    Is that God’s love – or simple lethality?

    I’m with DH here – Nasser is in a class of his own, and his verses can’t be ‘corrected’.

  22. Michael says:

    W. Corvi, the New England Patriots are most certainly not the chosen people. The Boston Red Sox are. :b

  23. Acolyte of Sagan says:


    Darwin+Harmless says:
    June 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    …Author, again, what can I say. The best argument against the religious are being delivered by the religious. You have such a fine way of twisting their words by simply repeating them

    This one reminds me of Tina Fey, the wickedly accurate Sarah Palin impersonator. When asked in an interview if she found it hard to keep writing such funny material to put into Palins mouth she replied that she didn’t write it, she merely repeated Palin verbatim.

  24. Ashbury2193 says:

    Great cartoon! One of the best!

  25. Herman says:

    *** Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ***
    [Voltaire]

  26. Hotrats, I must admit that you do improve on Nassar’s limerick, and nothing should be sacred, after all.

    I think the final line is still a bit off though. And having said that nobody should mess with Nassar’s muse, I can’t resist.

    How about:
    The life of a Muslim lacks quality
    When they risk getting stoned for frivolity
    Not stoned as in high
    But a rock in the eye
    Peace and love or disgusting pathology.

  27. NSPike says:

    Thanks JohnM!

    Hotrats and DH – I agree too about Nassar’s charm, that’s what I tried to say in my post, kind of. That said I wasn’t sure it was deliberate or just bad, so tried to be helpful. As Hotrats pointed out I still got it a little off (after checking 2 or 3 times out loud too, so it’s harder than I first thought!). I like your final line DH, I originally kept Nassar’s original despite the bad rhyme to retain some of the NBH charm, but yours is closer to actually being a rhyme. Long story short – I’ll shut up and leave it to Nassar in future :-D

  28. JohnM says:

    @ NSPike It was not me, JohnM, who eulogised you . It were John M what wrote it :-)

  29. JohnM says:

    @NSPike That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate your improvement to Nassar’s “limerick”

  30. NSPike says:

    Well that’s not at all confusing!! Thanks for the clarification and appreciation ;-)

  31. ShallowEnder says:

    cosmicstargoat, it is easy to explain the “loaves and fishes”. Virtual particles. Of course, once the virtual loaves and non-stable fishes vanish those who had a full meal will want another one.
    But it satiates them for the duration of the sermons so the vicars have nice, peaceful meetings and isn’t that the important thing?

    On the subject of punishments, are any of the old time religions forgiving, gentle and progressive? Do any have gods that offer treatment, rehabilitation and aid in returning the ex-criminal to society’s bosom?
    Apart, I mean, from the Buddhists, who generally are punishment-fit-the-crime types.

  32. hotrats says:

    ShallowEnder:

    On the subject of punishments, are any of the old time religions forgiving, gentle and progressive? Do any have gods that offer treatment, rehabilitation and aid in returning the ex-criminal to society’s bosom?

    Under Orthodox Judaism, there is a kind of Hell, but it seems to be a place of fixed-term spiritual rehabilitation and renewal, not punishment. It was gentle Jesus, meek and mild, who introduced the concept of eternal agony for those who anger god.

    There are several biblical references to a place called Sheol. It is described as a region “dark and deep,” “the Pit,” and “the Land of Forgetfulness,” where human beings descend after death. The suggestion is that in the netherworld of Sheol, the deceased, although cut off from God and humankind, live on in some shadowy state of existence. The more pessimistic books of the Bible, such as Ecclesiastes and Job, insist that all of the dead go down to ‘Sheol’, whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free man.

  33. Ephphatha says:

    @ShallowEnder, hotrats and to whom it may concern:

    Granted, the truth is grim for those who expect to find heaven on earth, and for those who think there should be a way to avoid hell after God’s patient object lesson of life is over, which, just to remind, included allowing his own (“meek and mild”) son to literally die just to show us what is figuratively expected of us.

    http://youtu.be/7OQPFlV4iKk

    Not that I regard this as proof of hell, but I find it interesting that fossil fuels, which are mostly seen as useful only when burned, come from extinct forms of life, which are now going through a form of hell every time we turn the ignition key of our cars, hop on a public transit, buy food, etc.

  34. Robert,+not+Bob says:

    I always thought Sheol (and Hades) were metaphors for non-existence, i.e. “the grave”. Though taking metaphors literally is an important part of any religion-maker’s tool kit…

  35. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Congratufuckinglations, Ephy, on the most tortured analogy I have ever seen. Equating fossil fuels with Hell (I note, by the way, that you don’t consider Earth, Heaven or Hell to be proper nouns. Shit, even a dim-witted infidel such as I knows that even the fictional place-names are capitalised) is a new one on me.
    Tell me again how long it takes to turn a forest to coal.
    Now remind me how old the Bible says the Universe is.
    Fucking maths. How does it work again?

    And enough with the crucifixion bollocks, unless you have some proof it actually happened, and that it actually happened to the actual son of the actual God. And as you can’t do that, then maybe you’d care to explain how the idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself to forgive us the sins we wouldn’t have had had it not foisted them upon us is anything more than the product of a twisted mind.

    Anyway, my Bible-bashing, dishonest little friend, have you no shame? I refer you to my last post addressed in your direction on the last strip, because unlike you, I don’t instantly forget something as soon as I’ve posted it, or once a new cartoon is published.
    Tell you what, I’ll save you the difficult task of working out how to visit the previous cartoon.


    Acolyte of Sagan says:
    June 11, 2014 at 12:38 am
    Ephy, now why didn’t you answer my initial question as you did to essentially the same question from Darwin Harmless? Did it really take you that long to invent your deliberately vague ‘Road to Damascus’ tale which still tells us absolutely nothing, but is at least an improvement on your tactic of ridiculing the question or questioner.
    Or is it?
    I seem to recall that a couple of weeks ago I was questioning your claim to be an ex-atheist and hazarded the guess that the truth was that you were a believer who’d had a crisis of faith, hunted around for something that fitted your expectations of a god, found that something and returned safely to the fold.
    ‘Wrong on all counts’ was your response. So, let’s compare and contrast with your ‘Road to..’ story.
    Christian to begin with – check: Crisis of faith – check: Hunt for and find something fitting expectations – check: Safely returned to the bosom of Christ – check.

    Disingenuous little shit, aren’t you?

    However, enough about that. Now that you’ve had a few days to feel all smug and superior over your jibe at my critical thinking skills I have a confession. You see, although you had no way of knowing, that attempted insult could not have been delivered with better timing, and has had me giggling ever since. Why? Because it immediately followed your thanks to me for correcting your use of ‘King’s English’.
    Now, if you have been reading our comments properly you will have seen me suggest to you that it is important to check one’s sources of information before deciding on whether something is true. It was on June 6th at 3:24am, and the exact quote is ‘You really do need to stop believing that just because somebody’s written something and proclaimed it to be authoritive that it’s right. Check your sources,….
    ‘So what’? you may be thinking.
    ‘Queens English’ is indeed the correct phrase. That much is true, although it does change to ‘King’s’ when we have a Rex rather than a Regina.
    The rest of it I pretty much made up on the spot, just to see if you would check my story and get back to me. What a victory that would have been, eh, Ephy?
    In case you’re interested, the phrase did not originate from Victorian times, it has been in common use for centuries, and simply refers to the English language as spoken by the English people.
    Now, why would you accept what I told you about your misuse of a phrase without question, yet have firmly rejected everything we’ve all said about your religion? Could it be because I had written it in the format you obviously trust, i.e. a little bit of truth wrapped up in a whole lot of fiction? or maybe because it isn’t the sort of information that could prove dangerous to your faith? Could it be simply that it sounded plausible, and that I’d have no reason to lie about something so trivial?
    Whatever the reason, just days after telling you the importance of not accepting things at face value – or rule one of critical thinking I deliberately told you a nonsensical tale which you not only accepted at face value but thanked me for, and then, with the most delicious irony, you immediately went on to make that jibe about my shortcomings in the thinking department.

    Dear, dear Ephy, you really do need to try harder!

    Oh, and in the best tradition of Columbo; just one more thing. You said The bible is just there to be read so that when the same or similar things happen to you, you have a frame of reference to understand what is happening.
    Well, putting aside the idea that the Bible is supposed to be the recieved word of God for a moment, consider this; the genius of Nostradamus was not that his quatrains accurately fore-told future events; they didn’t. The genius was that his prophecies were so vague, so utterly non-specific, that they could be retro-fitted to make it seem as though they were accurate forecasts. It appears that the Bible’s true authors had this quality too.

    I can barely wait to see whether you blatantly ignore that little lot, attack the poster and not the post, or give us a link to another irrelevant piece of scripture.

  36. Ephphatha says:

    Abomination of Sagan / Acolyte of Satan, you are the lowest grade of lowbrow fundamentalist-atheist that I have ever had the displeasure of encountering.

    I did not accept everything you told me about the term King’s English. I had checked the facts and did notice what you claim to have caught me overlooking but decided it was too inconsequential to make an issue of, and that making you look stupid does not advance my cause. Besides which, it now makes more sense to me to believe that it was you who initially overlooked the interchangeability of Queens and King’s English and that you simply used the excuse of testing me, after the fact, to cover your own inept tracks. Easier to believe that than to swallow the idea whole that you were making silly, inconsequential and incorrect statements to test me. Although, I have noticed that you lean quite heavily on the gratuitously fallacious tactic of making arguments from ignorance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance You are almost a one-trick pony in that regard.

    At any rate, your mean-spirited, lowbrow, fundamentalist-atheist questions, which do not deserve to be dignified with answers, are only an insult to your own intelligence. I am quite satisfied that the objective observer can easily see through you, your juvenile manners and petty questions / arguments from ignorance, such that I feel quite free not to waste another breath on you.

    p.s., I also believe that your immaturity would make Carl Sagan turn in his grave. You should change your user name if you have any respect for that man’s name.

  37. hotrats says:

    Eph:

    …such that I feel quite free not to waste another breath on you.

    I think I can confidently say, on behalf of the regulars, that if you could feel that same freedom for all of us, we would all be very grateful.

    Accusations of immaturity, from someone with your infantile emotional attachment to a Big Daddy deity, are particularly tedious and hypocritical.

  38. Mary2 says:

    AOS, attack the poster. Except she forgot to finish with ‘nah, nah, ni nah nah’.

    Ephphatha, I broke my own rule and checked your Youtube link: a particularly vacuous song from Jesus Christ Superstar (by a very white Jesus singing falsetto to a group of dark-skinned people on bended knee – but that is a whole other issue). Not sure how that was supposed to prove anything: the message seemed to be “to conquer death, you only have to die” – that phrase doesn’t actually mean anything. What point were you trying to make?

  39. Macha says:

    Ephphing hell, it’s back.

    Where have you been? Looking up fossil fuel on Wiki?

    I suppose on the positive side, at least this indicates you accept that the age of our universe is billions of years. You also appear to accept Evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life on our planet. So at least you’re not one of these entertaining Young Earth Creationists with their perpetually adolescent mind set.

    So, first off, could you tell us if you accept that the age of the Universe is around 14 billion years and Evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life on our planet? That’d be a useful starting point.

    Moving on, it’s also very clear that you’re not what might be referred to as a Sophisticated Theologian. The evidence for this is that you seem to believe in the literal biblical description of hell as being an actual place with fire and torment. By contrast, the modern Sophisticated Theologian will define hell in terms of wooly abstractions such as “absence of God” and the like. I must say yours sounds like a much more fun place.

    Continuing on this theme, you previously inferred that the route to Heaven is through “Him”.

    So, Mr. Theologian, what about all those humans before Jesus? What about Iron Age people (the population of Britain in the Iron Age is thought to be on a par with the population in the Middle Ages)? What about the Chinese? The Ancient Greeks? Hindus? Muslims? Did they all get shoved into the fiery pit – ‘coz that’s what you’re saying. Not only is that a not very nice attitude, but isn’t it in contradiction with the so-called Christian spirit of forgiveness and tolerance? How do you square that particular circle?

    You also keep using the term “fundamental Atheist”. Do you use this term simply because you haven’t converted anyone? Because no one has said “Phphucking hell man, that quote you fired at me touched a nerve and now I accept God”? Or are you just being pejorative? Or do you mean “militant Atheist”? I’m puzzled.

    Surely you’re not suggesting that no ones mind could be changed? That’s just plainly daft. If I came across evidence, I’d change my mind. That’s not fundamentalism, that’s common sense. You, on the other hand I suggest, would never, ever, under any circumstances, change you mind. Not that I care a toss about what you believe, or how you’ve squared your multiplicity of circles, it’s up to you. However, it does identify you as a “fundamental Theologian”. You’re also a “militant Theologian”, because you barged in here, uninvited, spouting your Godshit and getting increasingly hysterical as people disagreed with you.

  40. Macha says:

    Sorry, meant “fundamentalist”, not “fundamental” and also “Hell” and not “hell” and put “you” instead of “your”.

    bugger

  41. Ephphatha, attacking a username is just about the most entry level of attempted ripostes that can be made in a comment section or message forum. Please continue to spew like a busted shitpipe. I too clicked on one of your worthless links, so you can just get fucked and add my moniker to your list. Your own book of mirth clearly shows that your spoiled brat, bi-polar failure of a god doesn’t give a rat’s ass about most of his or her creations, not to mention the reality that we observe and have observed on this planet. Verses in Ephesians and Romans clearly state that god chose, even before the beginning of time, only a paltry few to avoid your odious hell concept, and smug believers like you are just fine with that concept.

  42. Ephphatha, since you are so fond of providing links, here’s one for you. As you will learn, it is possible for even the most outspoken atheist to change their mind when presented with evidence. And when one of us changes his mind, you can expect an apology.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZeWPScnolo&feature=kp
    This sums up the beliefs and arguments you present in the most entertaining way imaginable. It’s only we fundamentalist atheists who can reject the clear logic. Enjoy.

  43. Oh, and Ephphatha, with your last childish attack on one of our regulars you have brought me full circle to my very first post to you. I truly regret the words of welcome I eventually wasted on you. You appear to be a dickhead of the first water.

  44. Ephphatha says:

    M2: “…’to conquer death, you only have to die’ – that phrase doesn’t actually mean anything. What point were you trying to make?”

    M2, I see my function here as much the same as that of a mere computer network server, but I think you could easily find answers to more of your own simple-to-answer questions if you were only willing to do your own bible searches.

    Here is one verse that illustrates the point Jesus was trying to make:

    “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24

    There are many other verses that would answer your question, M2, which you could easily find by yourself just by using the obvious keywords to search the bible yourself. Same with your questions that I left unanswered about of Jewish law as it relates to non-Jews, etc. No real challenge. Waste of this network server’s time.

    Macha: “So, first off, could you tell us if you accept that the age of the Universe is around 14 billion years and Evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life on our planet?”

    Macha, I know how much you hate what you have called “argument by proxy”, and who can blame you since you can only pretend to have rebutted my links with your bafflegab, phantom arguments. But furthermore, why should I try to explain to you what others have already wrapped up so neatly?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-time-an-illusion/

    http://youtu.be/4XybFYCt3OY

    Nevertheless, I will add, even though it should be painfully obvious to you by now, that I am not a fundamentalist Christian who would subscribe, for example, to so-called “scientific creationism” as advanced by fundamentalist Christians only.

    Macha: “So, Mr. Theologian, what about all those humans before Jesus? What about Iron Age people (the population of Britain in the Iron Age is thought to be on a par with the population in the Middle Ages)? What about the Chinese? The Ancient Greeks? Hindus? Muslims? Did they all get shoved into the fiery pit – ‘coz that’s what you’re saying. Not only is that a not very nice attitude, but isn’t it in contradiction with the so-called Christian spirit of forgiveness and tolerance? How do you square that particular circle?”

    Obviously, I am not the judge of who goes to hell, so why ask me a question like this?

    Macha: “You also keep using the term “fundamental Atheist”. Do you use this term simply because you haven’t converted anyone? Because no one has said “Phphucking hell man, that quote you fired at me touched a nerve and now I accept God”? Or are you just being pejorative? Or do you mean “militant Atheist”? I’m puzzled.”

    Getting under people’s skin will not win me any friends but it will stir thinking, just as the Jesus and Mo comic strip does, which I do not object to the publishing of. All things ultimately work out for the glory of God, according to what I believe, as I have already stated.

    I have also already explained what I mean by the term “fundamentalist atheist”, but I will repeat for your benefit that fundamentalist atheism is that which is argumentatively responsive only to fundamentalist theism; that which gets caught flat-footed by anything but fundamentalist theism.

    Macha: “Surely you’re not suggesting that no ones mind could be changed? That’s just plainly daft. If I came across evidence, I’d change my mind. That’s not fundamentalism”

    Only God can draw you to Jesus, according to what I believe and what the bible says, as I have already pointed out twice. I am just a sower of seeds who does not expect to convert anyone by myself, as I have also already stated.

    p.s., Why don’t those who keep saying they are going to ignore me just do so? I don’t mind if everyone just pretends to ignore me;)

  45. Macha says:

    OK, here’s a first.

    You seem to be saying that you accept the scientific method. So far, so good. You present your words, of course, with plenty of obfuscation, but I assume that since you are comfortable with the scientific method – hypothesise, predict, experiment, check, all with a bit of falsification thrown in, you can agree that the universe we observe is explainable by Physics.

    Physics is a branch of Science which pushes the boundaries. It is underpinned by mathematics, much of which is beyond casual understanding (Feynman once remarked that if he could have explained his work to a layman, then he wouldn’t have won the Nobel prize – this wasn’t arrogance, just factual). As a consequence, I suppose, it also encourages eccentric ideas as a way of testing these boundaries. An example of this eccentricity is the Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku (who featured in one of your previous YT links). He’s an advocate of string theory, a theory which explains many things. Unfortunately, it has plenty of downsides : non-falsifiabilty, lack of experimental predictions, multiple dimensions and so on. It may turn out to be a good theory, but only time will tell. Also, to his discredit, he agreed to a widely publicised interview with Deepak Chopra.

    You then spoil it a bit by banging in a couple of links to things which play on the “mystery” of stuff, on this occasion time. Yes, obviously, there are plenty of unknowns – mysteries in your jargon. Things not understood, things not yet discovered. That’s why we keep doing Science, to find things out, it’s quite simple, really.

    The answers to all this “mystery”, if, indeed, they are to be had, will come from Science, not your godly gobbledegook. God is irrelevant. In case you wilfully missed that bit, I’ll repeat it …

    God is irrelevant.

    Well, I suppose the answer might come from your gobbledegook, but, on historical evidence, that’s highly unlikely. No Yahweh, no Allah, no Vishnu, no Zeus, no Thor, no Dirawong, no Macha. That’s all made up stuff, God is irrelevant.

    You then evade the question about “what happens to non-believers when they die”. It was a simple question about how you square one of your circles. You obviously believe in a biblically-literal Hell. I’m an Atheist (with all the caveats surrounding this poorly defined term), so consequently, according to your book, I’m off to Hell. No ifs or buts. So what about all those other poor buggers? OK, you say its down to God – but he’s laid down the rules in His book, His instruction manual (you quote enough of it, you should know). Do you have another take? A special line to Heaven?

    Where are we? Oh yes, you then say that you “do not object to the publishing of” J&M. I have nothing more to say about that statement, other then its facile absurdity.

    Finally (my iPad battery is getting low), you’re persistent, you keep coming back. You don’t engage in any kind of intelligent debate. You throw in biblical quotes as if they carry some weight. Yes, we understand you are touched by god – so what? You link to irrelevant and silly websites. You bang on about “points”. You bleat about your goodness, as if no one else has that quality. You continually change the focus.

    In short, you’re a complete and utter plank.

    I’d say bugger off, but I suppose you’re pushing up the page hits. Glory To God!!

  46. JohnM says:

    @Ephphatha … I am not the judge of who goes to hell …

    That’s not how I read your lunatic rampage of commenting in the C&B quoting, as you do, the Bible as a purveyance of absolute truth. In said book one can read prior prescription for the assignment of ‘spirits’ from deceased persons to their final resting places. This is exactly how a High Court judge would use precedence in determining the outcome in a trial.

    At the risk of a Godwin moment, I would also point out that ignoring dangerous ideological cant leads to very unpleasant developments. This happens when the promoters of an ideology take silence/appeasement as a signal to pursue their fascist proclivities. So expect your insane nonsense to always be rebutted here, even if your preference is for it to be otherwise.

  47. Mary2 says:

    DH, excellent link. Love Tim Minchin. It did occur to me when listening to the first part of the song (before the samba kicks in) that it’s a bit ironic that the reknowned unbeliever and mocker actually writes a better hymn the most modern god-botherers.

  48. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, thanks for your response and the bible verse which actually illustrates your point. OK, so it is necessary for a seed to die to produce other seeds. But a wheat seed is pointless if it is not feeding people and if it is allowed to ‘die’ and spread seed it feeds no one. I still don’t understand the point you were trying to make. It was necessary for Jesus to die to help the rest of us? But you still haven’t shown any evidence that Jesus dying was any different to any of the billions of other people who have died. If you want to convince people of the truth of your claims you can’t start with the small internal consistency stuff you have to actually prove the big initial ones first, then we can explore the finer points. Show me that your god exists (and I repeat, using the bible to do so is exactly the same as using Harry Potter and the Secret Chamber to prove the existence of Voldemort).

    Ephphatha, if time is an illusion (and it may well be) as your link to Scientific America states, when/how did God create the universe? The act of creation implies and before and after which requires time.

    Why don’t they ignore you? For myself, it is more fun to engage with you, but then I have never said I would ignore you. At least three of those who have said they would ignore you are among the most cerebral thinkers on the site. I would suggest that your faulty logic mixed with your over-estimation of the quality of your own arguments offends their sense of intellectual discussion so much they feel obliged to leap in – like the World Cup winning soccer coach having to watch their favourite team being led by a 13 year old who doesn’t understand even the off-side rules but thinks he does.

  49. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary2 says:
    June 14, 2014 at 8:35 am
    AOS, attack the poster. Except she forgot to finish with ‘nah, nah, ni nah nah’

    Yup! I haven’t seen a tantrum like that in a while. I’m trying to find a difference between that teenage rant and Jesus’ “It’s so unfair” in the last comic; I think it’s brevity.
    And the poor lamb forgot to address my point about his denial to me about his being a Christian-crisis-hunt-find-Christian again type of believer, and his tale to Darwin about being a Christian-crisis-hunt-find-Christian again type of believer.

    Macha, Phphucking hell man.. :-) :-)

    Ephy, re Getting under people’s skin will not win me any friends but it will stir thinking..
    Probably the only correct thing you’ve said here. Trouble is, we’re all thinking a) is it really possible for a person to be that stupid and still use a keyboard?, b) is the stupid contagious?, and c) if we ignore the stupid, will it go away?

    Another of your lines needs a little correction. “M2, I see my function here as much the same as that of a mere computer network server virus”
    You’re welcome.

    Now, let’s re-examine your quote from John: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
    Bollocks and bullshit of the highest order, and obviously written by one with no idea of biology. A dead seed is a dead seed. The best it will manage is to provide just a smidgen of fertiliser for the next sowing. For a seed to develop into a grass plant it has to live in order to germinate and grow, just as the seed that was in your mummy’s tummy (not the correct scientific jargon, but baby steps are obviously needed with someone who thinks dead seeds can grow) had to stay alive to produce you; had that seed died on it’s way to meet your daddy’s little swimmers then you wouldn’t be here to spout your disinformation.
    Gee, another little piece of the Bible that has no foundation in fact. I’m beginning to think it might be somewhat unreliable as a source of truth. You can add that to the list of things you’ve encouraged us to think about if you want.

  50. “Only God can draw you to Jesus, according to what I believe and what the bible say”s
    -Ephphatha. Then your god is a horrible failure. Less than 1/3 of the world’s population claims Christianity, and there is no telling how few of those are REAL TRUE CHRISTIANS™. Of course, god’s chosen people still soundly reject his Son, even after all these years….So…what are we to think of this god?

  51. Ephphatha said:

    p.s., Why don’t those who keep saying they are going to ignore me just do so? I don’t mind if everyone just pretends to ignore me;)

    You’re all getting nowhere feeding the troll, and I’m getting bored (sorry guys!). So take his own advice, and ignore him, already!

  52. Macha says:

    Agreed (about ignoring it)

    However, I’ll just make a comment about why it is actually a waste of time engaging with these Godbots.

    If we take one of the quotes bandied about ..

    “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

    This is indeed wrong, obviously a dead seed won’t germinate. However, one has to remember the multiple layers of pseudo-intellectual obfuscation which have built up over the centuries concerning bad facts in the Bible.

    So, here’s a possible explanation …

    The terms “life” and “death” have many meanings in the Bible, depending on the context (who’d have guessed that, hmmm?). In this context, it is meant as “separation” – the seed has separated from the kernel and consequently, has indeed within this context, “died”.

    In this section of the Bible, Jesus is foretelling his own death and this passage relates to this future event. In this passage the “separation” refers to the soul of Jesus “separating” from his body and it is through this spillage of blood that leads directly to the germination of many new disciples.

    So, in this passage “death” is used on multiple levels – as separation, as death + resurrection (resurrection both actual, but also through ministries).

    All perfectly clear isn’t it? That’s one reason why it’s impossible to argue with these people using logic and reason, because they always fall back on this obfuscatory onion and end up “proving” that the thing that looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, is in fact a chicken.

  53. I think I’ve caught the Ephphatha virus. Argumentum ad Youitube. Another link for Ephphatha, despite the fact that I’ve had no comment on the last one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJXxmwLj2Os

    I found this argument interesting. But dealing with cognitive dissonance is something that religious people have developed to a fine art, so I doubt that it will have much effect on them, or on Ephphatha.

  54. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    HFB, you’re right, sir. It has now reached the stage where I feel as though I’m kicking a kitten for meowing! But then, what can you expect from the Acolyte of Satan (Damn! Ephy saw through my clever disguise).
    Bwaahaahhaaaa, etc. and so-on.
    But, yes, as far as I’m concerned the little liar for Jesus is now officially in Coventry.

    Darwin, there is a cure for that but the treatment is a painful form of aversion therapy. You have to watch all of Ephy’s Youtube links in one sitting. It will hurt, but you’ll never go back again.

  55. JohnM says:

    OK – I’m in. Ignoring the troll is on for me too.

  56. ShallowEnder says:

    Darwin Harmless, thank you for the Tim Minchin video. He’s a clever and very funny man.

    Ephphatha, darling: the One True Truth Above All Truths is this: there are no gods. No fairies. No ghouls. No vampires. No ghosts. No souls, save in the sense of a sentient, loving being being a “soul”. There is no magic, save in the sense of wonder and joy we have at seeing a cosmos so full of splendours, and fellow creatures who can appreciate it with us.
    The One True Truth, Way And Light is that there are no deities. Never were and only will be if humans can manage to get their act together and become them.
    All holy men are liars, hypocrites or deluded. All who truly believe, and I suspect there are few of those, are wasting their lives on false hopes and fairy tales. All who profess belief to gain power, prestige and profit are merely avoiding the family profession of following a mule’s arse fourteen hours every day.
    Prayer does work, just as meditation and getting absolutely plastered work, for some, on some occasions because it relaxes the user, makes her feel better, eases the tension and the fear and clears the blood of fatigue poisons and adrenal by-products.
    Challenge Umpty: find a volunteer who isn’t too bright. Chop off both of his hands above the wrist. Re-attach one using modern medicine’s best technologies, techniques and potions, including microsurgery and antisepsis. Re-attach the other with prayer, crystal healing, aromatherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture and a few medicine dances. Medicine dances without the addition of “magic drinks” which may contain willow and digitalis and penicillium.
    If you do this five hundred million times, with a milliard hands, I will place my entire fortune on the ones treated with magic consistently doing far more poorly than those treated with modern science.
    Why am I so confident?
    Because Science works. Science starts with the universe, it describes what it sees, it generalises a little and makes tiny predictive steps beyond what has been observed, it then offers itself up to tests ; tests against the real, observable universe with which it started.
    That is all Science is. A way of looking out of the skull and noting that if you touch a flame it fucking hurts. Every time. Until your hand is a cinder and the hurting stops.
    Science uses reasoning and a certain logical structure because that’s easier than just keeping a huge list of stuff. Instead of saying “Child A is slightly different from Mummy1 and Daddy2″, “Child B is slightly … ” and so on for a hundred milliard childred of twice that many parents, Science creates a “theory” and a “model” both of which are testable and says: “on the whole and in general children formed by sexual union from two parent organisms won’t be identical to either”, or some such.
    Once that is accepted as a model, a theory of how biology makes little buggers from bigger buggers,
    Evolution is implied in the statement. That generation two is subtly different from generation one means a form of evolution happens whether we like it or not.
    All Darwinian Selection added was that unfit organisms, child buggers that are inept or broken or too weak in some way statistically tend not to survive long enough to breed. On the whole, in general, over the long term and considering vast numbers not individuals.
    Darwinian selection doesn’t always work on individuals. I exist though I have flaws like myopia. Many stronger, fitter men with perfect eyesight have been killed long before they could breed. On the whole, in general and on a truly immense timescale, Darwinian Selection is obvious.
    Compared to the bugs that cause diseases, E. Coli and friends, human lives are relatively immense timescales and we see evolution in action in many bug species. It causes MRSA. These germs aren’t new supermutant bugs, they were always a small part of the population. They only become prominent because humans wiped out all of their non-resistant cousins. Now even wild Staph. A. germs are resistant to anti-biotics.
    Evolution in action.
    Given a method of reproducing imperfect copies and a selection process, evolution is inevitable. It’s not some magical, satanic, demonic incantation or ungodly conspiracy. It is simply the inevitable result of some organisms in a huge bunch breeding more of themselves than others, for many, many reasons.
    You can even do it on your own PC. Use any search engine to look for evolution based games or programs and have fun.
    Evolution, I said, is not magic. It produces individuals with flaws. One of the magical things humans can do is derive theories and models from grossly inadequate data, like seeing a reed move in a marsh and knowing enemies lurk in the mud. deriving complete armed humans from one anomalous twitch of a stem. This is also one of Man’s flaws for it can lead to forming theories like gods to explain things.
    That wouldn’t matter if the god-models could be binned when better data are available, as it is today. Unfortunately, god theories lead to the class of people able to interpret the will of those gods, priests, and priests don’t want to lose their power, pomp, profits and supplies of little children. So binning god models is exceedingly difficult.
    You are a perfect example of this.
    You support your priests even though it has been shown that they are evil. you support your big daddy god even though it, too, has been shown to be evil.
    You can not abandon your god model, no matter how it harms you and us.
    That is the utter and complete opposite of Science.
    It’s a shame, too, for you could have such a magical life were you but to drop the dogma and doctrine and delusions.
    A deep and meaningful life. Like ours.

  57. Mary2 says:

    You people are mean! Do I really have to stop poking the caged animal with a stick? But I am having so much fun. :(

  58. stevegallacci says:

    Sort of a basic dumb question – Isn’t it obvious that all religion is simply an artifact to provide an emotionally satisfying answer to life, the universe, and everything? Especially in the bad old days when better answers were not yet available. Seriously, all the rest of this seems kind of frittering around the edges, or am I missing something?

  59. ShallowEnder says:

    Hello, stevegallacci, welcome to the C&B fora and thank you for such an interesting question.

    In UKland there is a governing body called “Parliament”. It is divided into several parts: Commons and Lords being the major divisions. The Commons area is made up of several hundred peculating people who are not noble or holy or regal, the Lords bit is made up of bunches who are “noble” and “regal”. This seems all fine and happy and acceptable until we learn that some small but influential part of the Lords is also “holy”.
    There are seats set aside for bishops and popes and mullahs and rabbis and other witch doctoring types.
    Because of this, “immoral”, “undogly”, “blasphemous”, “impious” and “against the faith” have become useful insults to throw at anyone arguing a position the various churches don’t like [for example taxing churches, opening their books to the tax guys for auditing, arresting baby-raping priests and other trivia]. This means that the churches have a “moral authority” – really just a McCarthyite “have you ever been or are you now a worshipper of Satan” slur – that extends far beyond their stated legal powers.
    Every piece of legislation enacted, discussed or dropped by Parliament in the last millennium has been filtered through the churches. Everything from the colour of policemen’s uniforms and the length of WPC’s skirts to the TV we are allowed to watch, the movie classifications, school curricula, school meals, parish laws, dog-poop scooper laws, the size of our Navy and its nuclear deterrent, embryonic research, longevity research, the budget for Astronomical Observatories, the size of stalls in public toilets, the buses and trains and aeroplanes, our security services, immigration limits and everything else is tainted by the prejudices of geriatric males who aren’t allowed to fuck and who thus think fucking is a sin. {And so they do it unlawfully, guiltily and only to the weak and vulnerable. If they were allowed to do it openly in joy they might do less paedophile raping. But that would mean allowing sex to be recreational, which would reduce the certainty of paternity and the desert tribes who started all this would hate that idea, as would their cultural inheritors – the churches.}
    Everything UKlanders are forbidden from doing is flavoured by their dogmas. All the few things we are permitted to do [most of which is obligatory] is coloured by their doctrines. Even the very authority the Parliamentarian peculators claim to rule by is assumed to have dripped down from a variety of sky daddies.
    A handful of religious nutters and bigots have contrived to pervert everything UKland does and is.
    This is massively wrong.
    It is immoral, evil and odious. These vermin are a pestilence, a plague, a sore on the body politic.
    And Ephphatha supports them without reservation because she does not see them as “evil”.
    Sure, she may disagree with particular votes and arguments from particular bishops at particular times but she, in essence, supports the idea of a theocracy wherein her daddy god decides who shall live and who shall not.
    In theocracies women are raped by their entire village because one of their male relatives looked at a non-related woman. Not touched, not boffed, just looked at. In theocracies a teen-aged rape victim is stoned to death for the crime of not ensuring her bride-price isn’t reduced and a married rape victim is stoned to death for the heinous crime of not keeping the certainty of paternity restricted to her owner, her husband. In theocracies, this rant is cause for death and the cartoon above it is cause for worse.
    UKland is a theocratically tainted non-democratic mass of intertwined oligarchies. It isn’t as theocentric as some places but that is a temporary condition. UKland has been a godly place where visiting the wrong church was a killing offence. It could become so tomorrow.
    The only sure way to prevent it is to kill religion stone dead, forever.
    The next best thing is to make religion weak. Making it a mockery, deriding it, making the religious look like deluded buffoons is a good start.
    They can’t take being laughed at.
    Their religions are supposed to be ever so serious, too serious for mockery and lampooning.
    So we mock.
    We can’t kill them all, we’re much too good of a people to do that, so we mock them. We educate. We teach but above all we mock.
    It’s either that or knuckle under and die.
    And personally I think mocking them is far more fun than being dead.

    Yes, stevegallacci, it is obvious to any thinking being that religions are all lies and delusions but that does not deprive them of power, real power in the real world. Religions can get two hundred little girls kidnapped, raped and sold off as sex toys. Religion can bring down aeroplanes and towers and nations. Religion is a real force that can do very real harm. That it is also a stupid joke poorly told by nincompoops and hypocrites does not matter.
    So long as darling Ephphy supports her gods, church and priests the priests of Boko are protected by cocatinative assemblage and mutual interests and , condoned and praised as godly men and will continue to wreak harm on our world.
    Only when the Ephphy’s of this world object to the actions of their priests, only when their lives, and ours, become more important than faith can we see evil reduced and our legislatures cleansed of their stench.
    There are no gods so girls should never be stolen and raped and stoned in their names. This is obvious to a lizard.
    When all the Ephphy’s can support that idea maybe we’ll have a world that is a little cleaner and safer.

  60. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    stevegallacci, welcome to the Cock and Bull.
    No, you’re not missing anything. I’ve said before that religion was the pre-science answer to anything not understood; that ‘God’ was the the go-to response for the tribal shaman when what he really meant was ‘I don’t know’. Of course, being shaman meant that any answer was better than non, a tradition that the priests uphold to this day – even when the real answers are available.
    Religion is why science is important (I’ve said that before too).

  61. ShallowEnder says:

    re ShallowEnder’s previous: it is a common suggestion that in UKland 99% of things are forbidden and the other 1% are compulsory. That’s a gross exaggeration and a gret slur on our wonderful democracy.

    It’s more like 95 and 5.

  62. Ephphatha says:

    “Do Seeds Die When They Germinate?

    “ln your issue of January 28, Dr. A. S. Hudson, writing from Stockton scouts the idea of grain dying when it germinates. To make his meaning clear I copy from his letter:

    “I was surprised to note, a year or two ago, that a prominent California scientist approvingly quoted the absurd doctrine that ‘the seed must die’ before it can sprout and grow. Whoever will stop and analyze the question will see the impossibility of such a state of matters occurring. For a seed to die would be the end of it, so far as its being is concerned. To die means to decompose, to disintegrate, and the elements thereof to return to air, earth and water from whence they came. To die is to rot and become offensive to smell. On the other hand, the germinating seed does not die, nor rot, nor disintegrate, nor become offensive to smell. It only softens to become sufficiently fluid or liquid to be absorbed, and the elements thereof rearrange themselves in the form of roots and stem. At an early lime in this growth, if the roots and stem be weighed, says Dr. Draper, it will be found their weight will be the same as that of the original seed, minus the water absorbed. He admits, it will be noticed, that when a seed ceases to exist it is dead. He also by inference asserts that without the stench of decay there is no real death. The position he assumes is not in accordance either with science or common sense, and I shall now endeavor to prove that twofold fact. As long as a grain of wheat or any other vital seed is kept cool and dry it remains an inert thing, but put it into a moist, warm soil and it soon displays its inherent powers. The moment that germination begins, disintegration of the seed, as such, begins also. According to Webster, disintegration means a separation of a thing into integrand parts, but Dr. Hudson asserts that a germinating seed does not undergo disintegration. He then goes on to say that its elements are absorbed by a growing plant, that is after they are disintegrated, and he himself admits that disintegration means death. In a short time after a sound seed has been put into a suitable soil two things will happen. The seed will vanish, and a young plant will have been sustained by it so that it can thereafter rely on soil nourishment. Would it be of any use for Dr. Hudson to assure the world that the seed, as such, had not gone out of existence ? If it is not dead why cannot it be seen and handled ? ” Oh,” he will say, “it has been absorbed by the plant it produced, and exists in it.” Yes, but it is no longer a grain of wheat. A chick leaving the remains of the egg it came from, in the form of a shell, is not to be considered the egg itself, merely because it weighs about as much. If the absorption of its constituents by a growing organism does not kill wheat, as such, then it must remain intact in that organism. It follows, therefore, that the wheat Dr. Hudson eats as bread, being absorbed in elemental form, is alive in him as wheat. In reality under his own theory of nutrition, he is a perambulating sack of wheat. He may protest against that idea by saying that he did not eat wheat germs, but flour from wheat killed by grinding. As there was no decay or bad smell in the milling process, there could not, according to our Stockton authority, be the occurrence of death, for that means a return to earth, air and water by putrefaction. Bury at the root of a tree a living dog, and years later, according to the theory I am combating, its dark green foliage will prove that the canine victim is alive, his elements having evidently been absorbed and rearranged in “the form of roots and stem.” As weight for weight in ligneous tissue, the dog is present in active being, it is quite as preposterous to suppose that he is dead, as to imagine that the grain of wheat which has produced 50 stalks of growing wheat is dead. When the farmer’s wheat is sprouting in the field, he knows that it will soon, if let alone, be worthless. It would be no consolation to tell him that the sprouts gained all the grain lost, or that continued growth would not result in its death or dissolution, but merely in a distribution and-rearrangement of its elements.

    His answer would be: “my wheat is being destroyed, and what care I for what becomes of it in another form, which to me is of no value.’ The statement of scripture that a seed must die in order to produce an increase of its kind, is undoubtedly true. It gives its all to start a new plant, and in the act ceases to exist. Everywhere in the vegetable world we see plants living mainly to produce seed, and then die. The seeds are the vital links between the past and the future, and when they have served the purpose of their creation, they too disappear—they die.”

    http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=PRP18930318.2.14.1

  63. Ephphatha says:

    http://www.cupofwrath.com/bible-questions/john-12.24.php

    John 12.24 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12.24 KJV bible). Critics like to quote verses such as John 12.24, to try to prove that the bible is false. They want people to believe that the bible contradicts science and fact, and that no reasonable person should believe in it.

    Regarding John 12.24, the ignorance of these critics is stunning. One would think that if you’re going to attack the bible on scientific grounds, you’d check whether science really supports your argument. It turns out that mainstream biology supports John 12.24, and it’s the skeptics who are ignorant about the natural world.

    A lot of the confusion about John 12.24 comes from the fact that we talk about seeds being alive or dead. When we talk about seeds being alive or dead we are referring to whether or not they are viable. A viable seed has the potential to sprout and grow, whereas a nonviable seed does not. Referring to seeds as being alive or dead is nothing more than our choice of words in how we describe their potential to grow.
    A seed must die to become a plant

    The truth is that in the process of sprouting a seed must sacrifice itself, or “die”, in order to become a plant. This is because a seed is biologically similar to an egg. Just like an egg, a seed contains an embryo of living tissue. The remainder of the seed is designed to feed, protect, and sacrifice itself for this embryo. The seed doesn’t turn into a plant, but is used up for the success and survival of the embryo it carries.

    The most obvious feature of a seed is its outer shell. Seeds generally have an outer shell to carry the embryo, and protect it from its environment. When conditions are right the seed draws in moisture, and breaks open this shell. Having served its purpose, the shell is discarded.

    Seeds generally store energy in the form of carbohydrates and fats. This is why many of the foods we eat are seeds, because they have bits of energy stored in them. When the seed sprouts, the embryo uses up this energy reserve to get started. The embryo needs this bit of energy to send down a root for water, and to send up leaves to gather light. The bit of energy within the seed is sacrificed in order to establish the new plant.

    In John 12.24, Jesus compares his life to a seed of wheat. A seed of wheat must be sown into the earth and die to create a new plant, bearing more seed. This is the glorification of the humble seed, that in sacrificing its substance it rises from the earth. In its death, the seed doesn’t disappear, but multiplies itself many times over in the world.

    In John 12, the time of Jesus’ crucifixion is approaching, “…The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12.23 KJV bible). In Jesus’ crucifixion, his life would be sacrificed, and spiritually sown into the earth. By his sacrifice, Jesus would not remain alone, but bring forth many children in the world.

    Just as the seed multiplies itself through sacrifice, we are reborn through Christ’s sacrifice. Through the crucifixion are sins are forgiven, and we are born of the Spirit as children of God. Being the spiritual fruits of Christ, we follow in his path so that we may share in his glory, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12.25 KJV bible).
    ???

  64. Ephphatha says:

    stevegallacci: “Sort of a basic dumb question – Isn’t it obvious that all religion is simply an artifact to provide an emotionally satisfying answer to life, the universe, and everything? Especially in the bad old days when better answers were not yet available. Seriously, all the rest of this seems kind of frittering around the edges, or am I missing something?”

    In my mere opinion, Steve, you are missing two things:

    1. That the bible offers answers to why questions, while science endeavors to explain how.

    2. You have yet to be drawn to Christ by God.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+6:44&version=NIV

    Ask, seek, knock…
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A7-8&version=NIV

  65. Macha says:

    Hi stevegallacci. Like you, I’m a Newbie (although I’ve been a Lurker for years), but was prompted to hit the keyboard recently.

    You pretty much summed up religion’s appeal – I’ve recently read some books looking at religion’s evolutionary origins which I found interesting.

    My pet hate is the way in which the Godly force their way into UK schools, but now isn’t probably the time to go into that.

    So, enjoy your stay here. The beer is OK!

    The only downside is the bad smell which occasionally comes from the toilets. I think Dyno-Rod should be called (Dyno-Rod Drains Services 0800 084 1122 – UK only).

    Cheers

  66. Ephphatha says:

    Unless I am forgetting some people, the only person here who has posed a challenging question (besides stevegallacci, some of DH’s, M2′s and Macha’s questions) is cosmicstargoat.

    I like his line of questioning about predestination because that is one of the questions that made an atheist/agnostic out of me for such a long time. Of course, it seems very unfair to me, even now, that the ‘potter’ would set aside some ‘clay’ for destruction from which there would be no escape.

    I have three reasons for setting aside this question, at least for now:

    The first reason is that I believe a hint to the answer is found here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+32%3A1-14&version=NIV

    Second reason is the doctrine of universalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Universalism

    Third reason is that most of my other questions and concerns about God’s seeming unfairness and other apparent contradictions in the bible have, much to my surprise, been answered to my satisfaction.

  67. John 12.24 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”

    You have the flow chart wrong:

    Seed—->Die—–> Null
    Seed—–> Germinate, then die——> Plant.

    Verse falsified

    Flaw: Equivocation.

  68. Macha says:

    Also, I have a hunch ….

  69. Macha – I have a hunch too. The doctors tell me it’s because of osteoporosis… treatment is expensive, but you know, there ain’t no such thing as a free hunch!

    I’ll get my coat…

  70. Macha says:

    @cosmicstargoat

    Exactly! That’s why they irradiate birdseed – to kill it. I don’t know if it’s a Urban Myth, but they used to say you could grow cannabis using “live” birdseed. Not that I’d know, obviously.

    But as I said before, the Godbots will re-interpret the passage to show that :

    Jebus foresaw his own death
    He prophesied his resurrection
    He prophesied his Ministries

    A mixture of poor logic, obfuscation and hindsight with a good dose of wishful thinking.

  71. Macha says:

    @HFB

    Keep ‘em coming.

    Here’s mine ..

    I’ve just come back from camping and I stayed in the same socks for 5 nights.
    .
    .
    I couldn’t afford a tent.

  72. Ephphatha says:

    cosmic, your flow chart appears to be the same as the one offered in my quotes. It’s just your conclusion that I would disagree with.

    Flaw: desperate hair splitting, gross oversimplification

    Rebuttal falsified.

  73. Ephphatha says:

    Macha and HFB:

    Flaw: gross oversimplification

  74. Macha says:

    @cosmicstargoat

    One other thing, the Godbots will interpret die as “die” – meaning separation, or something.

    That’s why I have a profound mistrust of much of Philosophy because explanations are always “explanations” – meaning they don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about, but quoting it offers up a whole host of “difficult to understand but profound and easily twisted stuff”

    Amen

  75. JohnM says:

    Hang in there HfB and Macha. Don’t feed the troll, even though it seems it’s deliberately exposing its jugular.

  76. Macha says:

    Troll?

    That was the smell?

  77. steve oberski says:

    @Macha

    Either that or the turds it keeps leaving behind.

  78. Mary2 says:

    Ephy and others arguing about whether the seed is alive or dead (Schrödinger’s seed?) are missing the point to use science to support or refute this quote. You are arguing semantics. The use of the word ‘die’ is a literary device. The analogy is meant to make a point, not describe the process of decomposition in a text book fashion. We all know in the quote what is meant by ‘die’ and whether or not it is the same as a ‘scientific’ definition is irrelevant. I agree with Ephy (yes, I did say that): ‘die’ means ‘viable’ in this instance. If the seed is allowed to sprout and therefore be useful in growing more wheat it is no longer a seed of any value as a grain of wheat for eating. To people who rely on wheat crop as their staple food the use of ‘die’ is perfectly understandable – not even looking at the difficulties of translating a concept from ancient Greek into Latin into English etc. etc.

    I think that some atheists (and their theist antagonists) get so hung up on the inherit contradictions between science and religious texts that we forget that science is NOT a dogma (fundies will love that bit) and is not always a useful fall-back position. Science is a tool for discerning truth and process. Human thought is much more complicated (and magnificent) than ‘just’ weighing up reasoned argument and cost/benefit analysis (something neo-liberal politicians also forget). To try to reduce the meanings we derive from art or music or love to a series of chemical reactions may be technically accurate but is also reductive and pointless. (Spot the commenter with the humanities education trying to get revenge on the C&B regulars who understand physics!) And to reduce a written passage trying to convey meaning to the dictionary definition of its component parts is equally reductive. When the French refer to the orgasm as ‘le petit mort’ or ‘the little death’ only someone who has never orgasmed would be confused by the meaning of the term and very few people would think it refers to a literal death. I am reminded of AOS’ brilliant paring back of War and Peace to its essential elements: “War bad. Peace good. Mkay”.

    The importance of the bible quote is not whether it accurately describes a scientific process: if you want bad science in the bible try Jacob breeding striped goats by showing the pregnant goat a striped stick. The importance is what wider point you are using the analogy to support – and that is what I am having trouble understanding from Ephphatha – although I could stop being lazy and actually look it up to read the context…. (time lapse, cue music) … OK. So Jesus is saying it about himself. He has just reanimated Lazarus and people are flocking around him and he is telling them it’s nearly time for him to fulfil his destiny. So the quote is Jesus saying it is necessary for him to die to affect others. The big question Ephy is ‘why’? It may be true for the seed but for JC I go back to the atheist joke that God made us with Original Sin, God kills his only Son (who is also himself) to save us from the consequences (that God invented) of the Sin which God gave us. It’s nonsensical.

    Totally irrelevant but I’m going to share anyway. For an interesting look at the ways that language can convey complex meaning deeper than its structure or component phrases I draw your attention to an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation (yes, I know I have now lost any street cred I had by nerding you all out) called ‘Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra’. The short version is that the crew find themselves trying to negotiate a peace with a people with whom they cannot communicate because they keep repeating ‘Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra’. The translator is translating the words but none of the crew has any idea what they mean. It turns out that these people communicate by sharing a picture through the title (much like modern text speak, I reckon). When they use the above phrase they are referring to a whole series of events and emotions conveyed by the story of Darmok meeting Jalad at a place called Tanagra and what happened to them there. Because the whole population is familiar with the story they all understand exactly what is meant by referring to the title. I had a real world example yesterday. Someone was telling me about a 15 year old who had had a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ moment with his girlfriend. I think anyone even slightly familiar with Shakespeare would get a similar understanding of young love thwarted; overwhelming passion and the end of the universe type feelings that could lead to the deaths of six people including the protagonists etc. etc.

  79. Mary2 says:

    Sorry, can’t help myself responding to the idea of predestination. I have no problem with this at all. To me it is like the idea of time as expressed in modern physics (she says attempting not to be one of those people who use a misunderstanding of physics to make New Age wanky philosophical musings).

    As I understand it, it is quite possible that our linear experience of time is just our experience of it and that all moments exist at once. (I have no actual understanding of this idea and if someone could explain it that would be great.) If this is the case then everything we do is, in a sense, predestined – it has already happened. But this does not mean that our choices do not have consequences – even though the consequences may already exist in another moment of time of which we are not yet aware. Just because the moment of my death may already be out there somewhere does not mean that I don’t have actions to undertake and choices to make which will get me there. (I’m not explaining this well but I am hoping it is vaguely comprehensible).

    In the same way I think that predestination is not necessary problematic for Christian theology. Just because God knows from the second he created the universe how it will all play out does not mean that people have no choice in their destinations – it just means he already knows exactly which choices we will all make. (This presents other problems for theology such as: Why is God such a bastard!?)

  80. Mary2 says:

    Thanks Ephy, First time I’ve heard of Christian Universalism. Doesn’t the idea that “all human beings and all fallen creatures will ultimately be restored to right relationship with God in Heaven” kind of undermine the entire point of Jesus’ sacrifice and, therefore, the entire point of Christianity?

  81. Ephphatha says:

    M2, most Christians who subscribe to universalism believe that creation will ultimately be reconciled with the creator through Jesus’ sacrifice, just the same as those who have already been ‘saved’ were reconciled.

    As for your question, “why is God such a bastard?”, saving my answer (from science) to that question for the appropriate J&M cartoon moment, if you don’t mind. But here is a hint: http://youtu.be/QoM_kPGfkw0

    p.s., Thanks for making the closing argument for Jesus’ use of the word “die” in John 12:24. The defense rests.

  82. Macha says:

    @M2

    Of course, it’s just as I said before, die as “die” is a device used by Theologians to make “sense” (see what I did there?) of a passage which, by the simple rules of basic language is just plain wrong and no amount of pseudo-science is going to make it right. A seed that has been killed (i.e. dead, with all its DNA destroyed) will not germinate (no matter how long you pray for it).

    Whether it’s a literary device or not is a matter of opinion. In other parts of the Bible, you’re meant to take thing literally, for example it was the Resurrection, not the “Resurrection”. Who gets to decide which is what?

    The religious do this “literary device” trick all the time – just listen to your average sermon to hear the 30 minutes of deep and meaningful “insights” (must stop doing that) dragged out of one simple and meaningless passage from the Holy Book.

    All words are used in contexts far removed from their actual meaning, (for example, “I’m dying for a fag”). In literature, poetry and so on, words are also interpreted in a multitude of ways and give these forms their power and beauty, but as a way of explaining the reality of the Universe, it’s just not valid.

    I like to refer to the technique as “Semantic Gymnastics” (quotes valid for that one) and it’s used by religionists and Philosophers alike (and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, by certain Physicists when trying to make difficult aspects of Physics what they would call “accessible”). It’s a commonly used, albeit suspect, device and I reckon that my new rule “the validity of the argument is inversely proportional to the number of quoted words” could well be true.

    It’s done in all religions. There are some hilarious circus displays done by Islamic scholars trying to prove that the Qu’uran predicts modern Embryology and other nonsense. It’s also a technique used by the likes of Deepak Chopra to rationalise the notion of Cosmic Consciousness. They offer circumlocutory explanations in order to evade the fact that the passage is fundamentally arcane/wrong/meaningless/contradictory, or just plain daft, then they criticise the more succinct rational explanation as being “too simplistic”.

    The fact remains that you can’t explain this particular passage (I’ll stick to this passage because much has been made of it) using the literal, actual, basic definition of die, rather than resorting to “die”, i.e. you have to pretend there was another meaning attached to it by Jesus/God/Whatever. Once you’ve done that, anything is possible and, as I said before, the Semantic Gymnast could prove (in their eyes) that the animal described in their Holy Book as a Duck is really a Chicken.

    As for predestination, you’re not alone because no one understands the fundamental nature of time and space (except for the Godbots, obviously). I probably over-quote Feyman, but he explained the classic Young’s Slit experiment in Quantum Mechanical terms by using the mathematical assumption that the path taken by the photon/electron from its source to destination was the total infinity of the Universe – i.e. the path was the summation of all possible paths. I expect the religious would attempt to use that to prove God.

    Feynman didn’t, in fact he said :

    “So …altogether I can’t believe the special stories that’ve been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be…too simple, too connected, too local, too provincial. The earth, He came to the earth, one of the aspects God came to “the earth!” mind you, and look at what’s out there…? how can we…? it isn’t in proportion…!”

    Straight, to the point and true.

  83. stevegallacci says:

    Ephphatha (total aside, how would you pronounce that, Ef’fatha?) You don’t get the fundamental weakness of your answer to my question, Christianity is simply one of a zillion religions, all also clearly entirely human artifacts, and nearly all have elaborate rationales for their existance. About the only thing that can be drawn for all that is the tendency to extend hierarchical instincts to new levels while fabricating pattern and structure derived from over-wrought social pattern recognition behaviour, and a great dread, even incomprehension, of the notion of the ending of mind with death. The whole notion of religion is that of a comforting fantasy and a bit of vanity, an emotional desire to be “special” both that humanity is above and separate from the rest of “creation” and that a greater being has special attention to humanity in general and the dedicated follower in specific. And repeating, Christianity has no exclusive nor exemption on any of that. On the one hand, I don’t begrudge any individual his/her individual desire to find comfort and guidance in whatever, but I do resent and resist anyone’s pet fantasy to be the reason for imposing on the lives of others.

  84. Macha says:

    @stevegallacci

    The name is taken from Mark 7:34, where Jesus heals a deaf and mute man, uttering the word “Ephphatha”, meaning “be opened”.

    It’s generally pronounced dee-loo-ded

  85. stevegallacci says:

    Macha, that’s a tad harsh. The “problem” with true believers is that the level of emotional investment precludes a dispassionate consideration of anything counter. Especially when mere zeal becomes ecstatic passion. Its heady stuff, and when experianced in the context and expectation of divine contact, there is little surprise that it “must be real”. Sadly there is no clear line between intense, even fanatical devotion and delusional fixation. ( I’m living with a full-on schizophrenic with a really delusional religious fixation, so have a long, sad insight into what that can be like) So, to a True Believer, they can’t be “reasoned with” and will likely take on as a mission these fruitless attempts at showing us the “true way”.

  86. Mary2 says:

    Macha, I totally agree with everything you have said re the dangers of allowing ‘interpretation’ (two can play at that game!) into bible passages – especially when it is the theists attempting to show that the Bible or Koran pre-empted 21st century science. Everyone has to read the passage describing Jacob breeding striped goats: it’s absolutely hilarious. However, I think in the instance of the wheat seed, anyone who tries to use it to defend biblical science or prove the writers had no idea of science is drawing a long bow. There is nothing mysterious or open to interpretation about the context. Jesus is describing that the time for him to fulfil the prophecy is near (and we all know what the prophecy was). Jesus uses the story of the wheat to describe his own death and impact on people by dying. To think that this passage is somehow talking about actual wheat crops is just silly.

  87. hotrats says:

    Macha:

    The only downside is the bad smell which occasionally comes from the toilets. I think Dyno-Rod should be called.

    As in Dyno-Rod and the Supremes?

  88. Macha says:

    Mary2. Well, yes, I kind of agree about John 12:24. I only used that passage as an exemplar because it had been referred to umpteen times. Even if the Godbots feel they’re on safe ground by using the passage as one containing a deeper message, they differ as to exactly how they interpret it. Consequently, are they all correct? Is only one interpretation the true interpretation? Are they just engaging in meaningless Theological Circumlocution?

    The point is that the passage used is largely irrelevant, it’s the reasoning process that is faulty. They’re attempting to use words from a book – written by Humankind – to explain the workings of a Universe much bigger than their own imaginations can allow.

    “The earth, He came to the earth, one of the aspects of God came to “the earth!” mind you, and look at what’s out there! It isn’t in proportion!”

    stevegallacci, Maybe so, but after a while, the patronising attitude, linking to silly websites and pretending that they carry mysterious and significant depth when in reality they’re just links to silly websites, arguing biblically and so on, start to have the effect of scratching fingernails on a blackboard and people start losing the will to live.

    I agree though, it’ll never, ever, ever, go away.

  89. Macha says:

    @hotrats

    Actually, although not intentional, I now realise that our Great Leader (David Cameron), when embarking on his “Britain is a Christian country”, offered assistance to persecuted Christians with the following message :

    “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod”

    Corporal Jones’s cry of “They don’t like it up ‘em” can only touch the edges of the image that Cameroon’s peculiar comment begins to paint ….

  90. Chiefy says:

    You’re right, steve, true believers have at least a great deal of emotional (and financial) investment in their faith. It is hard to step back and admit that you have spent so much of your life in promoting something that may not be correct. And the delusion includes everything from faulty thinking to genuine psychosis, so there are some you cannot ever convince, even with medication. On the other hand, there are some you can, as I bear witness.

    There are many intriguing passages in the Bible that can be the basis of stimulating debates. The dying of a corn of wheat is not one of them. Mary was right; it’s not that complicated.

  91. Ephphatha says:

    Role of prenatal nutrition on epigenetics of fur color…
    http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/364/364_sheep.pdf

    Squeaky wheel gets oil…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58cwBoQYVNM

  92. Mary2 says:

    Macha, You are correct, all language is open to interpretation – even the meaning we derive from speech is only about 7% the words and the rest body language, inflection etc. I do agree that the whole thing is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They can argue about the meanings of each individual line as much as they like but until they show us some reason to believe that the book is actually the word of a god it’s all pretty moot: no different to nerds arguing over interpretations of Star Trek’s ‘Prime Directive’ (except that Trekkies don’t usually try to force the rest of us to live by the rules of the Federation).

  93. Mary2 says:

    Oh no! For Reals, Ephy???? Ephy is trying to defend the science behind Jacob showing spotted sticks to goats to get them to breed spotted babies. According to the link to that reputed scientific journal ‘The Jewish Bible dot Org’, if Jacob shoved the spotty sticks in the drinking water of the goats and they drank it while pregnant they would have given birth to spotty babies because epigenetics (the authors have decided that the specific branches Jacob used would have specific amino acids which would turn on specific genes). I have no knowledge about epigenetics but all that is a serious reach, Ephy!

    Nevermind that the ethics shown by Jacob are even worse than the science. He is using magic/epigenetics/trickery/whatever you want to call it to swindle his boss out of his livelihood. For those who don’t know the story Laban strikes a deal with Jacob that Jacob will work for him and in payment received the spotted goats, cattle and sheep. So Jacob spends all his time trying to breed more spotted ones – fair enough – but only from the best of the animals and by using the stick method. And he is held up as a model of Jewish/Christian/Muslim morality.

    “But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s” Genesis 30:42

    And I can’t wait to see how you are going to defend the bible’s cure for leprosy which, if I remember correctly, involves bizarre rituals with dead birds, Ephy. The dead birds contained antibiotics?

  94. Micky says:

    I think I’ll drink down the Nag’s Head until they kick out the god bores.

  95. WalterWalcarpit says:

    I haven’t read any of Ephphatha’s rants for weeks.
    Just sayin’.

    Been reading some of the responses tho, and that seems plenty not to change my mind. That second link of DH’s was weird (I kinda followed it by mistake expecting to enjoy Tim Minchen) and I can’t actually think it really challenged anyone’s belief as much as it’s author warned against.
    Which segues nicely into Tim’s penultimate conclusion in this wonderful work of word smithery: http://youtu.be/HhGuXCuDb1U

  96. Macha says:

    OK, I’ll openly admit it, I’m persuaded by your arguments Mr. Godbot, it was the Goat wot clinched it.

    Now please will you feck off?

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