Video: Hannity versus Hitchens on religion

posted at 9:12 am on May 14, 2007 by Allahpundit

It was big of Hannity to have him on and, what’s more, to let him do most of the talking. It’s an enjoyable exchange, mainly for the hints of nastiness lurking just below the cordial exteriors. Hitch to Hannity: you’ve never actually read any arguments against religion, have you? Hannity to Hitch: this is really just intellectual snobbery on your part, isn’t it? (Hitch to Hannity: could be!)

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins tries to reassure people that he’s not a fundamentalist (persuasively) and that he’s really not at all shrill or alienating (unpersuasively).


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I don’t mind disagreeing sometimes with Hitch. He uses his brain, unlike some people I won’t mention, and is willing to put himself out there…and that’s fine.

lostinfrance on May 14, 2007 at 9:31 AM

so, no more digg?

jummy on May 14, 2007 at 9:32 AM

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins tries to reassure people that he’s not a fundamentalist (persuasively) and that he’s really not at all shrill or alienating (unpersuasively).

Isn’t this a bit like those women on reality shows saying, “I don’t know why everyone thinks I’m a bitch. I’m totally not.”

It’s one of those things… if you have to deny it, then it’s already true.

Lehosh on May 14, 2007 at 9:34 AM

I found Sean’s debate with SLC’s Mayor far more interesting. He ran clips of Billary, Jon Cary and the rest of the “We’re against the war” Dems talking about how we have to remove Saddam because he has NBCs and links to terror groups, etc..

Tony737 on May 14, 2007 at 9:36 AM

Oh, Hitch….

Glynn on May 14, 2007 at 9:46 AM

Hannity is just mouthing the ID talking points just like he does the knee jerk Republican ones. What a boob.

BJ* on May 14, 2007 at 9:46 AM

If I have to hear intellectual snobbery, I prefer to hear it from Hitchens. I wouldn’t want my brain to meet his brain in a dark alley.

I really admire Hitchens; I think he expends a lot of effort every day “dumbing down” his thoughts for public consumption while remaining cordial.

saint kansas on May 14, 2007 at 9:54 AM

Anyone know of a transcript online anywhere? No sound at work.

Dash on May 14, 2007 at 10:17 AM

For someone that denies the existence of God, Hitch sure spends a lot of time talking and merchandising Him. More so than a lot of christians I know. Too speak about an exploding star some 240 million light yrs. away as some sort of authoritative question of proof…sheeeeesh What has that got to do with the price of eggs in the city? Talk about talking pts.

mjkazee on May 14, 2007 at 10:30 AM

Interesting interview. I’m with Hannity on this one. Hitchens looks quite miserable. I can’t help but notice a total absence of joy on his face as he talks about this. I think he completely misses the point.

CP on May 14, 2007 at 10:33 AM

Hitchens only slams religion and gives no credit to all the benefits and advances in this world due to religious people working as they believe God instructs us to. I would draw a parallel to the America-haters that only see a country that supported slavery and dropped two atomic bombs etc. All the good that America has brought this world is notably forgotten.

I would offer that believers are more tolerant of our human shortcomings than non-believers. It is the recognition and acknowledgement of those shortcomings (e.g. sin) which draws us to Christ and the forgiveness he offers. While we strive to overcome sin, it can not be done by human effort alone. This includes believers who struggle with sin. I get the impression that Hitchens thinks that believers should be “perfect,” otherwise they are hypocrites or deluded.

Personally, I get a cold chill to think that we are all here alone, the product of random molecules knocking together. What a bleak outlook.

Mallard T. Drake on May 14, 2007 at 10:36 AM

I would offer that believers are more tolerant of our human shortcomings than non-believers.

Bullshit. Ever heard of Islam?

All monotheistic religions operate on the same principle: That which cannot be explained shall be interpreted as the will of God. Unfortunately, interpreting the will of God is ALWAYS subjective and ALWAYS self-serving.

Once you say that God exists, you implicitly acknowledge that His will is knowable. So then tell me, believers: Who among us is truly qualified to interpret the will of God? Your parish priest, deacon, minister, imam, rabbi? What makes them infallible as compared to you or me? Is it Sean Hannity? The Pope? If Dawkins was a believer, would he be the one? There’s a lot of folks on this blog that happily and frequently quote scripture in these comments – which one of you is willing to stand up and say “My interpretation of God’s will is The Correct One?” Because if you believe is God, it means that someone out there must know His will. Who is it?

If an imam interprets that the will of God is to suicidebomb Jews, HOW DO YOU KNOW HE’S WRONG? The Koran absolutely says that infidels should be put to death, so who are YOU to say that God doesn’t want us to kill Jews? How could you possibly know?

Enrique on May 14, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Hitchens looks quite miserable. I can’t help but notice a total absence of joy on his face as he talks about this.

Come on, this is Hitch we’re talking about here… have you ever seen joy on his face?

Watcher on May 14, 2007 at 11:05 AM

Remind me that I have to pick up Hitch’s book tomorrow.

In a one on one moderated debate, Hannity would get his butt handed to him by Hitchens.

Keep in mind that this wasn’t live, or live to tape. There was an edit in there, which bugs me.

Krydor on May 14, 2007 at 11:06 AM

We American’s assign one of two things to anyone with a British accent: 1) superior intelligence, or 2) nefarious intentions. Thanks Hollywood!

In Hitchen’s case–while he may be very bright–perhaps we give him too much credit.

In this short clip, all I saw was Hitchens regurgitating common talking points of an atheist. One exception: I was intrigued by his self-ascibed title “Anti-Theist”. I want him to expand more on the difference between that and atheist. Perhaps his book does that.

Yet. in the end, intellectuals like him always lean as follows:

1. Away from anything “common” like Big Macs, Country Music, or art forms that have become mainstream such as Riverdance (before it was widely know the elitists loved it, then Bubba in the US learned of Riverdance and it became verboten within elitist circles)

2. They confuse organized religion with the belief in God. I can provide many examples where organized religions–created by men and run by men–supplanted the importance of God in preference for their own power grabs. In short, religion, just like Govt and Intellectualism, can be easily hijacked for use in power grabs.

If Hitchens lashes out against the perversion of religion to control lives (Mullahtocracy anyone?) then I am in his corner. But if his book lacks mention of the evils of Islamic religions–which have carried the perversion farther than any other religion–then his book is just another trashy attempt to critique America.

Montana on May 14, 2007 at 11:08 AM

Hitch can be pretty obnoxious discussing these issues, but I don’t think anything’s more annoying than Hannity’s “something from nothingness” refrain, which he rolls out automatically every time Creationism is at issue. Hitch was absolutely right: He sounds like somebody who hasn’t attempted in the slightest to even familiarize himself with the actual beliefs of his opposition.

Somebody should take him aside and explain to him that nobody holds the position that anything ever emerged from nothing, and that, even if they did, that would not serve as a rational basis for any argument for the existence of a metaphysical entity.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 11:13 AM

I wanted to add to my post above the following:

If religion was only practiced by 5% of the world’s population, then intellectuals such as Hitches would be praising it–it goes to my point that anything considered “common” by the self-described elite is generally looked down upon.

Odi Profanum Vulgus
–possible translation: I beware the profane mob

Montana on May 14, 2007 at 11:13 AM

If I was going to write and promote a book on why there’s no God, I’d want to be able to convincingly answer the question about where did stuff come from if there’s no higher power. Hitchens, Dawkins nor any other atheist proselytizer even touches that one.

Hannity is just mouthing the ID talking points

…to which Hitch had no convincing answer. Hitchens’s (and Dawkins’s, et al.) main premise seems to be that if he was God, he’d do things differently. This strikes me as lame and silly.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 11:14 AM

We American’s assign one of two things to anyone with a British accent: 1) superior intelligence, or 2) nefarious intentions.

Don’t forget:

3) Quality merchandise!

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 11:14 AM

…to which Hitch had no convincing answer. Hitchens’s (and Dawkins’s, et al.) main premise seems to be that if he was God, he’d do things differently. This strikes me as lame and silly.

It is silly–the argument from bad design does nothing more to argue for the non-existence of non-physical entities than the argument from design does for their existence.

But this is no less silly than the aforementioned ID talking points. The reason Hitchens and others rarely have “answers” to the questions folks like Hannity bring up is that the questions are generally, quite literally, incomprehensible. It’s hard to respond coherently to what doesn’t make sense in the first place.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 11:18 AM

Regarding Christopher Hithches appearance on Shaun Hannity’s Sunday show, try as he might, Hitchens hasn’t convinced me, over the years he’s been ragging on religion, that their is no God and I’m sure he hasn’t changed any other person’s mind.

Hitchens is an intellectual snob who believes that just by saying it, whether religion or politics, makes it so. And for obvious reasons the MSM keep using him as a sounding board for their anti-government, anti-religious opinions.

As to the exchange between Hannity and Hitchens it was a case of trying to prove the other wrong. Such exchanges are futile and absurd. I guess, however, it makes for good show business.

I’ve had to stop listening to Hannity’s radio show because he does this on a regular basis as he tries to convince liberals who call in how wrong they are. And when they wont succumb to his intellectually persuasive arguments, he hangs up on them, then punctuates the exchange with the word – “unbelievable”.

Hannity uses that word a lot as, daily, he points out the absurdities of the Democrats. Well, to my way of thinking, what the Democrats do is “believable” knowing their past and sordid history. So Hannity’s use of the word “unbelievable” is in itself “unbelievable”.

pocomoco on May 14, 2007 at 11:27 AM

Somebody should take him aside and explain to him that nobody holds the position that anything ever emerged from nothing, and that, even if they did, that would not serve as a rational basis for any argument for the existence of a metaphysical entity.

Contra blacklake, regardless of one’s beliefs regarding special creation vs pure naturalism, we must be able to explain how matter came into existence from nothing. Logic requires that time cannot extend infinitely into the past—there must have been a beginning to time—the elements of the universe could not have existed infinitely. Einstein informs us that matter cannot exist outside of time. Therefore, before time began, there must not have been any matter. We are left (for purely scientific and logical reasons) with the requirement that the universe must have come into existence from nothing. Each side of the argument must be prepared to have an answer for this issue.

I freely admit that we’ve got the easy answer (God did it!) but it seems to me to be the only logical answer that fits the data.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 11:41 AM

Hitchens’ argument about “failed solar systems”, etc., reallt doesn’t touch on why things are falling apart. The fact that Adam’s sin is causing, as it says in Romans 8:22, for the wholecreation to groan until the day of redemption.

For those who think the human species is “evolving”,and that so many of our behaviors are “evolutionary based”, then how do you explain drug abuse, the killing of babies before they’re born, and so many other self-destructive behoaviors that have increased exponentially over the last few years? Does this sound like a species whose aim is to improve itself for the next generation? Or to even HAVE a next generation?

It takes as much–if not more–imagination to further the cause of Darwinism than Creationism. Ask any paleontologist how they reconstruct a dinosaur from a few bones, and they’ll admit that they use quite a bit of imagination. Then they have to devise some astronomical figure to give it an age.

Darwinians, Gouldians, and Hitchensians cannot come up with a plausible answer of how the stuff that went into the formation of the universe came to be. (Like Hannity said, there HAD to be SOME starting point.) And they rely on their imagination to explain the universe. We Christians cannot explain the universe, nor the whole will of GOD. We can, however, attempt to know it by reading in His word. That’s how we know how the universe began (Genesis 1:1).

BigOrangeAxe on May 14, 2007 at 11:42 AM

Bullshit. Ever heard of Islam?

All monotheistic religions….blah, blah, blah…

Enrique on May 14, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Yeah, yeah, whatever. You are SO “old news” Enrique.
You’re just jealous because Nietzsche beat you to it by more than a century. Maybe if you are lucky, you won’t end up dying in an insane asylum with syphilis eating up that tiny little brain of yours from the inside out (like Nietzsche did). Yaawwwn. You are SO predictable.

CyberCipher on May 14, 2007 at 11:46 AM

Many of the prominent atheists seem intellectually dishonest to me. They fixate on the errors made by religious people and will barely acknowledge contributions made by religious people to the point of absurdity like Hitchens in diminishing the work of Mother Theresa by calling her a fraud. Even the “enlightened” Norwegians were willing to overlook her religiousity to see that her work merited a Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, they dismiss all errors made by atheists by saying that atheism had nothing to do with Nazism or Communism.

Dawkins was on O’Reilly a few weeks ago and Bill, who isn’t someone most people would regard as an intellectual (himself included), posed very simple questions to Mr. Dawkins who had little in the way of real answers.

They act like there isn’t a single example of a person living or deceased that was both intellectual and religious and that the question itself isn’t serious enough to consider if you are a serious thinker. Some of the greatest thinkers and artists were preoccupied with the question of God’s existence and sincerely sought answers and posed questions. These folks dismiss the question out of hand by saying that religous people are stupid and that the proof of their own intellectual superiority is the fact that they won’t even consider the questions. If that isn’t a self serving argument, what is?

elle_k on May 14, 2007 at 11:57 AM

Each side of the argument must be prepared to have an answer for this issue.

No, they mustn’t. On the side of reason, in opposition to faith, “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable and consistent answer to any question about the physical world.

In fact, cosmologists and physicists are quite aware of the fact that they’ve no ability to describe the state of the universe prior to the big bang. The attempt to define that state has been a dominant project for the physical sciences for decades, and likely will continue to be so for some time, given the complexity of the issues involved, and limitations of the human brain.

Fortunately, the lack of a scientific explanation in no way entails the truth of a supernatural explanation. Ever. If such were not the case, the rising and setting of the sun, viewed as a supernatural phenomenon prior to the realization that the earth was round and turning beneath the sun, must have in fact been supernatural events. Any subsequent rational theory to the contrary would thus have necessarily been false.

In fact, according to this standard, all scientific propositions are necessarily false in favor of whichever supernatural explanations for the phenomenon in question preceded them–because, prior to their development, the supernatural explanation trumped the lack of a scientific explanation, and therefore must be true.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 12:05 PM

Hannity is not the brightest bulb on the porch.

Sincere, but not very bright.

Wander on May 14, 2007 at 12:07 PM

And when they wont succumb to his intellectually persuasive arguments…

Sean Hannity? Intellectually Persuasive? Surely, this was in jest. Hannity has serious issues when it comes to coherent arguments. Argumentum ad Populum and Reducto ad Absurdium is his schtick.

He carries the water of the Social Conservatives and will dismiss criticsm with a wave of his hand and waggle of his eyebrows. Watch this, and be amazed.

-Fidel Castro’s personality cult in Cuba is a force for good because Cubans have free health care and the highest literacy rate in the world.

-Bin Laden is a force for good, because he built schools and roads in Afghanistan.

-Chairman Mao was a force for good, because he took China into the 20th century.

It’s the same type of argument Hannity uses in his pro Christian arguments, because it should be readily apparent he is not talking about other religions. If we contiune along this line of reasoning, and cannot use the negative aspects of Christianity, then my man Mao is in the clear! Hannity can only preach to the choir, because he is out of his league once he steps from his pulpit.

If I need one example, one example, of the negative effect of religion on modern society, it is the ID movement. The undercutting of actual science with that hogwash is an anethema to scientific thought.

Final note in response to this by BigOrangeAxe:

It takes as much–if not more–imagination to further the cause of Darwinism than Creationism. Ask any paleontologist how they reconstruct a dinosaur from a few bones, and they’ll admit that they use quite a bit of imagination. Then they have to devise some astronomical figure to give it an age.

So, is this an admission that creationists lack imagination? While this might seem like a cheap shot, it’s a serious question. It’s almost as if you are admitting that you don’t know, don’t care to know, and will ignore anything that contradicts the God hypothesis.

Krydor on May 14, 2007 at 12:17 PM

But if his book lacks mention of the evils of Islamic religions–which have carried the perversion farther than any other religion–then his book is just another trashy attempt to critique America.

Montana on May 14, 2007 at 11:08 AM

Oh he does, don’t worry. You guys forget that he supports the war and thinks we should be on the offense against the spread of Islam. I’ve only read the 3 long Slate excerpts though (via AP), since I haven’t been able to buy his book yet. But even one of those excerpts is fully devoted to Islam (plus an interestingly funny Mohammed/Joseph Smith analogy to boot I particularly enjoyed as an ex-mo). Hitch is also a very proud, new citizen of America. Dawkins also spends plenty of time on Islam in the God Delusion. Which leads me to…

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 11:14 AM

So it looks like you haven’t read either book? Why criticize the books when you’re just judging them merely by their “charged” titles. Dawkin’s book is brilliant. You can hate him all you want, but you might as well know your “enemy’s” (not saying he is, I just can’t tell) fully developed arguments right?

Enrique on May 14, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Exactly.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 12:22 PM

Religion is for those not strong enough to support themselves.

spmat on May 14, 2007 at 12:27 PM

Hitchens’ argument about “failed solar systems”, etc., reallt doesn’t touch on why things are falling apart. The fact that Adam’s sin is causing, as it says in Romans 8:22, for the wholecreation to groan until the day of redemption.

Here’s a new one, In other words, Entropy is caused by Sin.

Wow, Just, Wow.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 12:31 PM

It’s like Hitchens and Dawkins have never heard of the unfalsifiable argument. You can’t shoot down religion. Why even bother? The religion answer is “God magically made everything.” Seriously, ask any question about the cosmos in an effort to try and stump a religious person and see how far you get against, “God magically made it.” There’s no way to prove it wrong… hence the whole supernatural thing.

The idea that they’re going to scientifically disprove something that is fundamentally outside the realm of science is preposterous. It’s like trying to use Plato’s Republic to prove Betty Crocker doesn’t exist.

Lehosh on May 14, 2007 at 12:50 PM

Hitch’s god is alcohol.Without that crutch which he uses as others use religion, he probably would be in an asylum somewhere. He is very adept at being literarily eloquent when his blood alcohol would have him in jail if driving. I do enjoy his point’s of view however, and honestly think this type of discourse serves all of us well. Now, having said that, I think Hannity needs to tone down the “I’m aghast at your position” personna.

Chief1942 on May 14, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Since religion is “protected speech”, it has been very rare that a Theist has had to provide a cogent argument for the defense of religion.

In recent eras, we provide all monotheistic religions with “respect” and shelter them from the raucous debates that otherwise pervade throughout our political system.

In my opinion, this is why so many theist arguments are so weak and can be boiled down to “cause the bible says so” or “it just is”.

Historically speaking it’s even worse as you go back in time, If I presented an intelligent, logical thesis as to why there could be no god 300 to 400 years ago, the opposing argement would have been to burn me at the stake while the huddled peasants cheered.

While this does go a long way towards forcing the imposition an illogical worldview on people in the absence of evidence, it does not do a lot to increase the debate skills of the suppressors or support the arguments of the supposedly pious.

I bought Christopher Hitchens book last week and read it cover to cover in 2 days. He is right on the money and does a masterful job of shredding the god arguments.

I agree with Hitchens that religion is one of the most toxic forces ever created by mankind. My fear is that there is no way to put that genie back int he bottle.

Too many of the unintelligent mindlessly follow their holy books and too many of the intelligent gleefully use religion to fleece and manipulate this 1st group.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 12:52 PM

I freely admit that we’ve got the easy answer (God did it!) but it seems to me to be the only logical answer that fits the data.

This is not an answer, because the question then becomes, “What created God?” There are two possible answers:

1) Either am earlier or more powerful God, like the Titans in Greek Mythology created that the Zeus and Hera and the rest of their gods. Monotheistic religion is obviously incompatible with this view, so they usually go with:

2) God has always been here. In this argument, you can equally argue that the univers has always been here and God becomes a superflous point to the argument.

Neither Religion nor Science can answer this question very well. But since everything that Mankind ever needs to know is already answered in the Bible and the Koran… Of course that is BS, so Science will have to find the answers elsewhere and eventually they will.

Praying five times a day or eating blessed bread and wine won’t get you the answers.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Christian conservatives pledge their support for Fred Thompson in ’08.

Entelechy on May 14, 2007 at 1:05 PM

So it looks like you haven’t read either book? Why criticize the books when you’re just judging them merely by their “charged” titles. Dawkin’s book is brilliant. You can hate him all you want, but you might as well know your “enemy’s” (not saying he is, I just can’t tell) fully developed arguments right?
Roark on May 14, 2007 at 12:22 PM

I’ve read one of the excerpts from Hitchens and if memory serves have also read an excerpt from Dawkins. I’ve seen/heard several interviews/talk show appearances from each. That’s what I’m basing my judgement on. And from what I’ve seen/heard they’re not putting forth any really new material—rehashing Bertrand Russell.

“Dawkins book is brilliant!!!11!!” —the Roark Review of Books

The New York Times guy (who did read the book) doesn’t agree. He calls Dawkins intellectually lazy.

He dismisses the ontological argument as “infantile” and “dialectical prestidigitation” without quite identifying the defect in its logic, and he is baffled that a philosopher like Russell — “no fool” — could take it seriously. He seems unaware that this argument, though medieval in origin, comes in sophisticated modern versions that are not at all easy to refute. Shirking the intellectual hard work, Dawkins prefers to move on to parodic “proofs” that he has found on the Internet, like the “Argument From Emotional Blackmail: God loves you. How could you be so heartless as not to believe in him? Therefore God exists.”

Of course, I can’t hate either of these guys, but I also can’t elevate their arguments to the level of “fully developed”.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 1:09 PM

God loves Hitchens. He/she gave him courage, in a time when it’s most lacking, wit, talent for writing/gabbing, and a good dose of curmudgeonry.

One doesn’t have to agree with him, always, but I’m so happy he’s now a U.S. citizen and that he presents a huge proud finger to the majority of the world, in any which way this might be interpreted. My most valued interpretation is his unencumbered fight for freedom/liberty in the WoT, with death threats against him.

Hannity has his qualities but is really not a good match for a fight with Hitchens, who likes to fight rough. He needs a real ideological bulldog as an adversary. Then he thrives, and watching it is great. C-Span, often.

Entelechy on May 14, 2007 at 1:20 PM

The idea that they’re going to scientifically disprove something that is fundamentally outside the realm of science is preposterous.

This is true. The origin of all things is beyond science to either prove or disprove as many of the posts here have demonstrated. This still does not stop scientists from trying to disprove the existence of God. They should stop.
They can show how things developed but they, by there own admission, cannot get to the origins. This is quite simply because the materiality of the universe. This fact has bugged philosopher/scientists ever since the beginning of rational thought – why is there anything rather than nothing. As for JayHaw’s 2 possibilities, the flaw comes out in equating God/Origin/One (choose your deity name) with the material universe. The immaterial does not suffer corruption/degradation/entropy. This has been the insight since before Judaism or Christianity. Because science can not analyze outside of the material world, they will never come to an immaterial God, nor will they come to an answer as to why there is anything rather than nothing.
This is the realm of Theology and Faith. As has been stated above the scientist does take on faith that certain things happen they way they think they do. They are wrong most of the time. When they find they are wrong they tweak the hypothesis with the new data and give it another go. It’s called the scientific method. There is a whole lot of faith involved in it.
What Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Maimonedes and others can prove is that there must be a beginning. The rest is the debate over what that beginning is. Even today, the infinite regress is not accepted as a possible answer. If for no other reason, the scientific atheists would put themselves right in the heart of the Pre-Socratic mythic-religious philosopher scientists realm. This they will not do.

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 1:26 PM

Historically speaking it’s even worse as you go back in time, If I presented an intelligent, logical thesis as to why there could be no god 300 to 400 years ago, the opposing argement would have been to burn me at the stake while the huddled peasants cheered.

This isn’t true. To get burned at the stake you need to be a heretic, which means you first need to be a Christian, which obviously exempts you.

Lehosh on May 14, 2007 at 1:26 PM

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 1:26 PM

good stuff!

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 1:34 PM

Prove the existence of your “immaterial world”.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 2:05 PM

The idea of diety is rediculous on face value alone. Just because science has not yet described the creation of the universe in full, does not mean I must accept the most implausible explanation imaginable. RE: Cosmic super race created all things with me specificaly in mind.

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 2:39 PM

Well, let me see if I can paraphrase Aristotle for you, he is about the most straight forward and he is unencumbered by Judaism or Christianity.
The presupposition is the “no infinite regress” clause and that the material world undergoes corruption. This we see all around us, and scientists have no problem with this.
We also see that there are causes and effects and that everything works on some form of causal chain. This is foundational to the evolutionary theory. Now start climbing back the causal chain to the first cause – and there must be a first cause because the world brooks no infinite regress.
This first cause cannot be corruptible because if it was it may not exist and if it may not exist then everything else does not exist – which it does. To guarantee that everything exists, the first cause must not be able to not exist and the only way that can happen is if it is immaterial and yet causes things.
Some may argue that the first cause could be corruptible and just got off the first shot. This was an argument Aristotle never really countered but the folks after him gave it a lash. If it could not have been then something had to move it into being or cause it to be and that cause had to be a cause that always exists otherwise a circular causal chain ensues and neither science nor philosophy likes that anymore than the infinite regress. TO guarantee the existence of anything there needs to be something that always exists and is immaterial.
This was a quick romp through Aristotle and others so it will not seem as convincing as the dissertation.

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 2:40 PM

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 12:52 PM

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Thread over. JayHaw wins.

Nonfactor on May 14, 2007 at 2:50 PM

They can show how things developed but they, by there own admission, cannot get to the origins.

That’s not true at all. Cosmologists and physicists admit that they have not gotten to the origins, not that they can not. In fact, they are very much trying to do so with endeavors like the ongoing effort to produce a unified field theory.

That it hasn’t been achieved yet is not an argument that it can not, in principle, be achieved. By that reasoning, one could have argued compellingly prior to Einstein that a unification of space and time could not be achieved. And yet it was.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 2:59 PM

How does an esoteric idea such as an immaterial first cause apply to the god of the Bible or Koran or Talmud? These gods are constantly involved in every aspect of everyones life. Moving and manupulating human events. Creating miracles and such.

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 3:02 PM

Believers say God did it.
Nonbelievers say nothing plus a lot of time did it. Where is the science in that?

Rose on May 14, 2007 at 3:13 PM

You know I like Hitch..I don’t agree with everything he says about religion but at least he’s consistent….he hates all faiths and he doesn’t play the typical liberal game of bending over backward to give Islam special treatments just because they(liberals)oppose the current war against terrorism.

mlong on May 14, 2007 at 3:20 PM

Blacklake,
Most of the arguments argueing for sciences ability go along those lines but even a unified field theory explains development not origins much in the same way that looking at the assembly drawing for a car does not tell you why the car was made. Nor does it address the corruptability argument. Fields and energy are still part of the material/corruptable world. Einstein demonstrated (along with many others) the correlation between energy and matter. The question remains, where do they come from? Again science does look for the next step and may continue looking ad infinitum but many, not all, scientists believe that it will eventually come down to a point of making the jump to something science cannot explain.
This in no way makes science irrelevant, the fear of some, it merely contextualizes science to its proper realm – the mateial world.

ronsfi – it doesn’t, that was not the question. Many debate this existence of God question as a referendum on Christianity. It is not. Philosophically, through the scientific method many have come to the understanding that there does need to be some kind of First cause or unmoved mover etc. to begin things. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others will call this God. Revelation from that GOd will define how it relates to the individual person. The debate for many shows that God exists, not what that God is like.

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 3:22 PM

I would offer that believers are more tolerant of our human shortcomings than non-believers.

Bullshit. Ever heard of Islam?

Enrique on May 14, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Yes I am familiar with the religion of which you speak. However, if you take my comment in context, you would easily see I was referring to Christianity. Sorry for not being more explicit.

Mallard T. Drake on May 14, 2007 at 3:26 PM

Most of the arguments argueing for sciences ability go along those lines but even a unified field theory explains development not origins much in the same way that looking at the assembly drawing for a car does not tell you why the car was made.

You’re right, if you put the cart in front of the horse that way, and assume that the universe, like a car, was made, science does not hold out hope for identifying the supernatural creator.

There is no evidence upon which to base that assumption, however (there can’t be, as physical evidence can’t possibly demonstrate the existence of something non-physical). It’s simply done by some as an act of faith, an exercise which has nothing to do with reason, just as its subject matter has nothing to do with the physical world.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 3:52 PM

Atheism is philosophical since it cannot be proven with science.

Rose on May 14, 2007 at 3:56 PM

DrM2B – In that case the first cause may be nothing more than that. A first cause and since (other than that) it shares none of the attributes attributed to gods it cannot be a god. So how is this proof of god?

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 4:06 PM

You are da man, DrM2B (or woman, as the case may be).

I must disagree somewhat with your last line, though.

The debate for many shows that God exists, not what that God is like.

Several essential attributes must be possessed by the first cause, timelessness and changelessness before creation, extremely powerful (to create all those quarks from nothing), immaterial, capable of making a choice (because of the infinite regress thing)—I’m sure there’re more but that’s all that come to mind. Thus, some characteristics of the first cause are deducible.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 4:07 PM

DrM2B on May 14, 2007

:::applause:::

baldilocks on May 14, 2007 at 4:42 PM

Also, Hitchens is condeming the attrocities and strife that stain all human history, caused by worshipers of one or another of these gods. No one seriously thinks that Arisotle’s immaterial first cause is what these worshipers have in mind durring thier devotions.

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 4:44 PM

Also, Hitchens is condeming the attrocities and strife that stain all human history, caused by worshipers of one or another of these gods.

Which, incidentally, is one of Hitchens’s sillier complaints. Just as Creationists put the cart before the horse when it comes to intelligent design, atheists risk putting the cart before the horse with arguments like these.

The presumption seems to be that religions give rise to the violent behavior, when in fact a natural propensity towards violent, tribal behavior may have simply been (and I say that graciously–it actually almost certainly was) a basic survival instinct in the pre-modern world. In which case the behavior would have come first, and religion would merely have developed, in part, to rationalize it.

That of course wouldn’t mean that religious doctrines can’t codify and encourage violent behavior (take, for example, Islam). But it would mean that, even without religion, there would nevertheless have been as much violence in human history as there was with it. The pre-modern survival instincts of kill-or-be-killed tribalism would have remained; the only things that would have changed would have been the rationalizations.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 5:08 PM

Blacklake – So what you are saying is that in the middle ages, tribal instinct drove europe to send thousands of children on a crusade to the holy land and to, justify it as an after thought, they stuck crosses in they’re hands? Puhlease! History is replete with examples of multitudes driven by religious ferver to kill in the most brutal of ways others whose religious beliefs differed in often the slightest of ways. Are you saying they would have killed them anyway and religion was just a good excuse?

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 5:39 PM

ronsfi,
It doesn’t. It does demonstrate that there needs to be a first cause. Descriptors like those jdpaz describes can be attributed to the first cause and that develops the drive towards what revelation (Torah, Bible, Koran) will call God.

You’re right, if you put the cart in front of the horse that way, and assume that the universe, like a car, was made, science does not hold out hope for identifying the supernatural creator.

There is no evidence upon which to base that assumption, however (there can’t be, as physical evidence can’t possibly demonstrate the existence of something non-physical). It’s simply done by some as an act of faith, an exercise which has nothing to do with reason, just as its subject matter has nothing to do with the physical world.

What do take as evidence – physics or chemistry or thought processes that are worked out in scientific fashion?
The evidence for a first cause is the result of scientific study of evidence. It is a philosophic argument but that does not reduce the viability or the probity of the argument, it is just in a different area. Most of the scientists eople hold as the pioneers in the 1700′s and 1800′s were philosophers. Descartes developed a form of calculus but also wrote some important philosophical treatises.
A philosophcal argument is sometimes all you have to go on and when it comes to the origins of things, there is no evidence, as was pointed out by Blacklake, from the scientific field. There is a lot of theory, which is philosophy keep in mind. But dealing with the logical conclusions from the evidence of the world infront of usis what the argument is based on.
I never said we start with the assumption that the world was made. I just stated that the infinite regress in a scientific no-no. That lead the arguement towards a first cause and the creation, intelligently or not, of the material world.

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 5:52 PM

DrM2B – Props to Decartes. Einsteins thought experiments are another great example.

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 6:22 PM

It does demonstrate that there needs to be a first cause. Descriptors like those jdpaz describes can be attributed to the first cause and that develops the drive towards what revelation (Torah, Bible, Koran) will call God.

DrM2B on May 14, 2007 at 5:52 PM

Then what caused that first cause? Ultimately the answer boils down to someone claiming that a specific god is infinite, which if that logic is allowable it is also allowable to state that the universe itself is infinite and a god need not exist. Sure, you can call this first cause (if there was one) “god,” but that doesn’t mean that the first cause is a “god” in the way the word is defined in any religion.

Nonfactor on May 14, 2007 at 6:42 PM

A philosophcal argument is sometimes all you have to go on and when it comes to the origins of things, there is no evidence, as was pointed out by Blacklake, from the scientific field. There is a lot of theory, which is philosophy keep in mind. But dealing with the logical conclusions from the evidence of the world infront of usis what the argument is based on.

The kind of Rationalist “philosophy” you’re alluding to is the stuff of the 18th century. David Hume buried it, and if there was any question as to its demise Kant did it the favor of affixing a headstone. After Russell, Wittgenstein, Logical Positivism, and countless folks like Quine and Popper in the 20th century, it’s frankly a bit boggling that anybody would even remotely consider it viable reasoning. That’s on a par with considering bloodletting or trepanation viable medicine.

To answer your first question, evidence is empirical in nature. Thought is not capable of creating it.

One thing we do agree on is that the domain of the science is the physical world. Where I think you are mistaken is in this (Rationalist) notion that one can somehow deduce true non-physical propositions from either physical evidence or, when that fails, “The Light of Reason.”

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 6:42 PM

Blacklake didn’t do very well in logic or math class…both of with are non-physical and yet are true and useful to describe the physical world as well as non-material propositions.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 6:48 PM

Heh. Hitchens is automatically a loser, simply because he rails against straw men. He’s a liar, bluntly.

I read his excerpt at Slate on Mormonism–and he plainly and simply lies about my faith. Either that, or he knows NOTHING about it. Example: he claimed that there were no witnesses to some things in early church history. That’s blatantly false. Considering how easy it is to KNOW that (and the fact that this isn’t exactly a minor point, either, but a crucial element), I have to conclude the man is dishonest, or stunningly uninformed, and therefore not to be listened to anyway.

For all you atheists here: please defend blatant lies being put forth to attack a religion, please. How is that supposed to make me want to trust his arguments? In fact, if he (representing Atheism) has to lie about the facts to attack them, then why doesn’t that show weakness?

I mean, he basically committed the error of saying something like: “Christianity isn’t true, because we have no records of any early Church members who wrote to people not of the Jewish Faith, so it was just a Jewish thing, if that.” That ignores all the epistles of Paul. If the argument that Christianity isn’t true requires that Paul’s epistles be claimed to not exist…. I hope you can see the problem here that Hitchens has. He’s not claiming that Paul’s epistles don’t exist, but it’s about as grevious an error he makes with Mormonism.

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Props to Decartes. Einsteins thought experiments are another great example.

Those two things shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. Descartes’ “proofs” were exercises in vacuous circular reasoning, aimed at producing statements that were beyond doubt and could not possibly be challenged by evidence.

Einstein’s thought experiments were the diametrical opposite. They were aimed at producing theories that Einstein was the first to admit needed testing. Even more, Einstein foresaw flaws in his own theories, and readily offered that, even if supported by empirical observations, they could not ultimately be the end of the matter. Rather than striving to prove that he was irreversibly right, Einstein was forthcoming in admitting that, if perhaps closer to the truth, he still almost certainly was wrong.

Descartes was a bore mired in the cowardice of necessity. Einstein was a dedicated man who embraced the humility of contingency. Two less similar minds can scarcely be conceived.

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Blacklake didn’t do very well in logic or math class…both of with are non-physical and yet are true and useful to describe the physical world as well as non-material propositions.

I did well in logic. How’d you do in English?

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 6:55 PM

I did well in logic. How’d you do in English?

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 6:55 PM

The joy I’m feeling in my heart is too great to be measured.

Nonfactor on May 14, 2007 at 7:00 PM

Nonfactor hasn’t been paying attention. “So what created God?” is just about the most pedantic comeback there is in the non-theist’s arsenal. The logically deduced First Cause must be, by definition, uncaused. The infinite universe is disallowed by the impossibility of an infinite regression of events into the past. The gotcha just doesn’t hold water.

The necessary attributes of the First Cause have already been discussed above. We tend to call the entity with these attributes, God.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 7:01 PM

I meant to say “both of with”. I was doing my Sylvester impression. It doesn’t translate well over the web—just gets my screen all spittly.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 7:03 PM

Oooff!

ronsfi on May 14, 2007 at 7:03 PM

Blacklake didn’t do very well in logic or math class…both of with are non-physical and yet are true and useful to describe the physical world as well as non-material propositions.

Ah, I finally parsed that. “Both of which” you meant. It looked to me like there was something more wrong with that statement than a simple typo.

Actually, neither logic nor math directly describe the physical world. They are tools that are useful in producing a wide variety of statements about the physical world, particularly in the case of the latter (assuming you believe the two things are exclusive; Russell and Quine might have something to say about that). But mathematics and logic, in the abstract, are both stipulative systems. And when it comes to correlating them directly with the physical, both have points of failure (like baskets full of imaginary numbers of fruit, or bivalent truth statements about the dispositions of quanta).

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 7:08 PM

The infinite universe is disallowed by the impossibility of an infinite regression of events into the past.

So the possibility of a multiverse isn’t even a possibility for you?

The necessary attributes of the First Cause have already been discussed above. We tend to call the entity with these attributes, God.

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 7:01 PM

And that name “God” is an incorrect attribution to these qualities (if such a thing existed it wouldn’t resemble the qualities of the monotheistic Gods put forth by religious people.

Nonfactor on May 14, 2007 at 7:14 PM

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 6:54 PM

So, are you saying that the basis of Mormonism is not translated words on buried golden plates that were only seen by Joseph Smith? Reference your source, please.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 7:25 PM

So the possibility of a multiverse isn’t even a possibility for you?

I am intrigued by the concept of a Multiverse, for example, one theory is that “our” universe was created by a blackhole from another univers, in effect, overloading and causing the big bang.

However, this does not answer th question of Origin, as eacj successive “layer” of the Multiverseor the MultiVerse itself would still need an origin.

I have trouble with the concept of “always existed”. Whether you are talking about God, a Universe, A MultiVerse or whatever. My finite mind requires an origin.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 7:31 PM

So, are you saying that the basis of Mormonism is not translated words on buried golden plates that were only seen by Joseph Smith? Reference your source, please.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 7:25 PM

Sure, I agree that the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates–but the part about “only seen by Joseph Smith” is completely, utterly, dead wrong. Just like Christ was seen by lots of people after he was resurrected, so too have a fair number of people seen the plates. In fact, some of them swore legal statements, which have been printed with every single copy of the Book of Mormon since it was first published.

Many of the things that Mormonism has were seen by more than just Joseph Smith, you know. Including visions. And since many of these witnesses later left the church and were disaffected, they had every reason to expose any fraud. They never, ever denied their visions, or experiences, or anything–despite all the reason in the world to do so.
Here is one of the statements of witnesses–a time when 8 men held the plates and leafed through them and everything. No mysticism, no hallucination, no nothing.

That statement is inside every copy of the Book of Mormon. If Hitchens knows nothing about it, then he’s not qualified to say anything about Mormons–and makes me doubt his qualifications to speak on anything else regarding religion.

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 7:43 PM

Cool, where are these plates now?

I would love to see them for myself.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 7:48 PM

*shrugs* After they were translated, they were taken to wherever the ark of the covenant is, presumably–leaving us to rely on faith. And honestly, if I showed you the plates, and you held them yourself, what would it matter? Would you believe? And how would you know that the purported translation is correct? Just the physical plates wouldn’t, I fear, mean a whole lot. Just as if we discovered the original tablets the Ten Commandments were written on would instantly convert the world to Judaism, either.

I’m certain that HotAir is not the place for a discussion of Mormonism, but I brought it up to just show that it’s important to keep the facts straight. Religion DOES have evidence on it’s side too, despite Hitchens (and perhaps Allah’s) protestations to the contrary.

One thing that this discussion brings to mind is that God doesn’t present proof to everyone, only a few. Why? Because men have to have an opportunity to believe or disbelieve on their own. Sure, God could go appear in His temple and have a receiving line for everyone and anyone to go see, but to what point? This life isn’t for God’s benefit, it’s for ours. How would we develop faith, courage, etc if we had such an easy answer all the time? How would we have free will, even?

No, there is provided lots of evidence, but not proof (or at least readily accessible proof, without cost). We are to have a choice, and decide for ourselves. I will say that I believe a man CAN have proof, but it’s an individual proof, not something that can be pointed out as “lookee here, 100% guarenteed proof!”

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 8:13 PM

*shrugs* After they were translated, they were taken to wherever the ark of the covenant is

That big warehouse in the end of Raider’s of the Lost Ark?

Damn, we’ll never find them, now.

Please forgive me, if I was challenging the mythology of Mormonism, I find other religous origins, uncredible as well, but in Mormonism, Scientology and Islam, the direct connection between what is revealed by the creator and what benfits the person receiving the revelation are stunning.

I have never failed to see what a founder or a leader gets out of a religion and it is clear why they benefit from continuing it, I never understood the propensity of the sheep to follow these leaders.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 8:28 PM

jdpaz on May 14, 2007 at 1:09 PM

Thanks for the compliment! Actually, “brilliant” may have been too strong you’re right. After all he did in fact fail to prove that God doesn’t exist unequivocally like you and the Times were hoping for, haha. Still a great and thought provoking book though. I recommend it highly and would even buy one for you if I had the dime. I swear!

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Vanceone you really don’t want to go there do you? C’mon man!? I think we’ve clashed on Mormonism before here, but you are totally leaving yourself open with statements like that. And no I’m not a “hateful anti-mormon” either. I’m and ex-mormon who used to believe; however when the contradictions started piling up I was forced to painfully jump ship. Let me just say this; Hitchens is dead on and is not slandering Joseph Smith. You assume that he is merely speculating about him, but he is not.
Read:
No Man Knows My History- Fawn Brodie
An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins- Grant H. Palmer
Studies of the Book of Mormon- B.H. Roberts
By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus- Charles M. Larsen

These will give you a more accurate understanding about who Joseph Smith was, I assure you.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 8:30 PM

After they were translated, they were taken to wherever the ark of the covenant is, presumably–leaving us to rely on faith. And honestly, if I showed you the plates, and you held them yourself, what would it matter? Would you believe? And how would you know that the purported translation is correct? Just the physical plates wouldn’t, I fear, mean a whole lot.

Kinderhook Plates- We still have them, along with Joseph Smith’s bogus translation of them.

Book of Abraham- Luckily for us, there are scholars who can read Eygptian who live in America these days, unlike in the 1830′s. You know what they say? The fascimilles don’t match up. Those translations are bogus too.

Two pieces of physical evidence we have, not in the Ark of the Coveneant or wherever.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 8:40 PM

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 8:28 PM

Yes, alpha males do enjoy preferential sexual selection, that’s for sure;).

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 8:45 PM

JayHaw, what did Joseph Smith get? Tarred and feathered, thrown in prison, his followers murdered, raped, and driven from state to state, and ultimately, he was killed too. Sounds like a fun life!

As for what I get from it; well, it’s certainly not like a Muslim veneration of Mohammed. We don’t worship Joseph Smith. Matter of fact, I’d have lots more fun if I would just quit the church. No restrictions! But I’d not be happy.

Perhaps you and other Atheists might consider that religion is supposed to be a way of life, a way that has the potential to provide happiness. It can and has been twisted, sure, but I’m happy because of my faith, not in spite of it. I’m not brainwashed either.

Roark, it seems to me you are a bit mistaken. You can slander Joseph Smith’s character all you want (but the fact you are relying on Grant Palmer should frighten you), yet you haven’t explained how Hitchens didn’t just attack a straw man. There WERE witnesses to the plates, who never denied it. Hitchens plain lied there, so why should I believe anything he says? There’s lots of evidence of the Book of Mormon, which no rational explanation has been provided to refute, and if you were honest, you’d admit that.

That’s the problem with attacking Joseph Smith–you have to provide another explanation for the BoM–that FULLY explains it, not just “well, if a blue moon happened on a tuesday in June while halley’s comet hit Shanghai, THIS could have happened!!” as so many attempts seem to be. It hasn’t been done yet.

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 8:51 PM

PS–Roark, trust me–DON’T start with the Kinderhook plates or the Book of Abraham. You simply don’t have a clue what you are talking about, I can already tell. No one with any clue even attempts to use the Kinderhook plates against the Church. So don’t bring out that here, unless you enjoy being slammed. Perhaps you should, you know, actually examine the answers already researched for these questions before you try to wave them around? I mean, it’s not like these tactics haven’t been tried before… or simple answers to them found, either.

Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 8:55 PM

alpha males do enjoy preferential sexual selection,

This is what Mr. Smith got out of it. That and never having to work in an honest trade a day in his life after his religion was founded.

Add to that the power of mindless drones following your every whim simply because you are the “prophet of god”.

Joseph Smith got what every religious and cult leader have always got.

Sex, Money and Power.

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 8:57 PM

JayHaw Phrenzie on May 14, 2007 at 8:57 PM

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I set em up, you knock em down Jayhaw, haha.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 10:15 PM

Please don’t interpret this post as too matter-of-fact. I’m no expert, I’m merely a man who knows a bit about science, and I wanted to write down my thoughts as they occurred to me.

I don’t think that science can really explain the reason behind anything. It is possible that there is no reason behind existence, but science would never be able to prove that because of the very nature of the pursuit of science.

That last part is very important to me. I think that too many people consider science to be a truth that needs to be uncovered, rather than a pursuit of explanations for an ever expanding set of observations.

Say you make an observation. You can’t explain it, and you would like to be able to explain it. You make a hypothesis as to why you think it is the way it is. Then you devise an experiment(s) to support your hypothesis. Once you have bolstered the argument of your hypothesis with experimental evidence, you are left with an observation of something else that explains the initial observation.

In the end, the best that a scientific inquiry can do is to explain an observation with another observation. This may be useful in predicting events when you can observe the latter but not yet the former. For example, you could predict a storm based on observed temperature fronts and other factors (mind you, I’m not a meteorologist). However, that hasn’t explained the root reason behind anything.

There are two possible endgames in the pursuit of science. One possible outcome is that science will deadend and be left with some observations that it never succeeds in explaining. The other possible outcome is that the pursuit of science will proceed forever, continuing to explain phenomena with other phenomena for which it has yet to find an explanation. In either case, we will always exist in a state where science has not explained everything. Therefore, it is always possible that reality as we observe but do not understand was created by some entity that we also do not understand. Religion cannot be invalidated by science.

I’m not trying to advocate religion, but I do criticize those scientists who claim to use science to invalidate it. It’s just bad science to do so.

In retrospect, this doesn’t have much to do with the clip presented, only the generic subject matter to which it pertains (DOH!). For the record, I don’t think Hannity or Hitchens makes a very compelling argument here.

viking999 on May 14, 2007 at 10:21 PM

As for what I get from it; well, it’s certainly not like a Muslim veneration of Mohammed. We don’t worship Joseph Smith.

.

While members don’t PRAY to Joseph Smith, he is definitely worshipped which is one of the reasons why you have such an emotional response to any possibility of him being a fraud.

Matter of fact, I’d have lots more fun if I would just quit the church. No restrictions! But I’d not be happy.

Yes you would Vanceone, I promise. The human mind does not need restrictions in order to be happy, it needs freedom. The church dictates almost every action of your daily life from the food you eat and beverages you drink, to the movies you can watch, the books you can read, the friends you can allow yourself to hang out with, to the intimate details of your personal life that are not anybody’s business, etc….

You can slander Joseph Smith’s character all you want (but the fact you are relying on Grant Palmer should frighten you), yet you haven’t explained how Hitchens didn’t just attack a straw man.

I haven’t slandered him once. Check your premises. Please let me know what is wrong with Grant Palmers work, I am unaware of anything and would be happy to know.

There WERE witnesses to the plates, who never denied it. Hitchens plain lied there, so why should I believe anything he says? There’s lots of evidence of the Book of Mormon, which no rational explanation has been provided to refute, and if you were honest, you’d admit that.

You cry straw man and this is the biggest one. Just because these peoples names appear in th front of every Book of Mormon, does not A) mean they were telling the truth and B) make the Church true. I really don’t have time to get into, but time and time again members cherry pick early church testimony to fit a specific argument, yet when these same leaders leave the church BECAUSE of Joseph Smith it was always the “heretics” fault.

That’s the problem with attacking Joseph Smith–you have to provide another explanation for the BoM–

Easy. He and Oliver Cowdry made it up. They primarily plagiarized Ethan Smith’s “View of the Hebrews”, along with adding heavy doses of the Bible in for good measure (or for lack of clairvoyance perhaps?).

Finally

PS–Roark, trust me–DON’T start with the Kinderhook plates or the Book of Abraham. You simply don’t have a clue what you are talking about, I can already tell. No one with any clue even attempts to use the Kinderhook plates against the Church. So don’t bring out that here, unless you enjoy being slammed. Perhaps you should, you know, actually examine the answers already researched for these questions before you try to wave them around? I mean, it’s not like these tactics haven’t been tried before… or simple answers to them found, either.
Vanceone on May 14, 2007 at 8:55 PM

Hmmm, yes attack my character (once again). This is the standard Mormon response in these situaitons however, so I’m not surprised. I’m actually quite thrilled and contrary to your musings, actually would love for you to school me in my obviously ignorant ways! Who are your sources? FARMS? FAIR? Or are they actually independent sources outside church control? This should be interesting.

P.S. Although I’d love to respond again tonight, it is 4:15 in the morning here in Holland and I have to go to bed! So any response will not be until tomorrow. I apologize greatly.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 10:22 PM

I screwed up the quote, it should have been in reverse like this

You can slander Joseph Smith’s character all you want (but the fact you are relying on Grant Palmer should frighten you), yet you haven’t explained how Hitchens didn’t just attack a straw man.

I haven’t slandered him once. Check your premises. Please let me know what is wrong with Grant Palmers work, I am unaware of anything and would be happy to know.

Roark on May 14, 2007 at 10:25 PM

Jayhaw, by your standards, it would be impossible for ANY religion to be true, wouldn’t it? There’s simply no way for God to talk to anyone, is there–because “he’s only in it for the power, sex and money.” Well, Atheists are only in it because they have no morals, either–see how that logic works? Of course not all Atheists are hedonistic, without morals–just as not all religious leaders are in it only for the sex, money and power. But believe what you want–just don’t be surprised when people are offended.

Roark–it’s clear you don’t understand the point of commandments at all. “Restrictions” are liberating, not repressive. I don’t have premarital sex–and I don’t have to worry about STD’s, abortions, broken hearts as much, etc. I don’t drink–and my liver is fine, thank you. I don’t worry about DUI’s either. I enjoy full control of my senses. And I am not dependant on a drug to have a good time. And so forth. If you can’t understand that basic concept, then no wonder you have issues with religion and the church.

As for Grant Palmer, he relies on the strawman of the salamander forgeries for his ideas. Kind of like Hitchens trying to claim there’s no witnesses. Which, I note, you’ve STILL not addressed why Hitchens should be credible, when he made such a basic error. You try to claim I’m using a straw man, but I’m not. If he can’t attack Mormonism on our facts, but has to lie about them, then he’s not worth listening to, right? Just like Palmer’s “Golden Pot” nonsense.

And I really must laugh at your Ethan Smith thing. Have you even READ “View of the Hebrews?” To claim that is the sole source for the Book of Mormon is ludicrious. Besides, it doesn’t explain how the BoM gets sooo many details right, where View is wrong.

Yes, I use Fair, and Farms, and other sources. Are you implying they are not credible? You question their scholarship? What credentials do you have–they have several widely recognized scholars, and were instrumental with the Dead Sea Scrolls, for one thing. As for “independant sources”–do you rely on ICR and other hate sites? They are unbiased, for sure!

Frankly, you sound like a 9-11 truther, frantically trying to cherry pick stuff. If it was all a fraud, why involve 11 witnesses who could spill the beans? Why explicitly ignore the juicy stuff from View of the Hebrews, in favor of subtle plagarization? Why, if they copied so heavily from the Bible, did they make alleged childish mistakes yet ALSO do very intricate and detailed Hebraic poetic structures that are unequalled in almost any other source? How did they know stuff that wasn’t known by anyone back then, but is now?

This is my issue with Hitchens, to bring it back onto topic–why lie, if your argument is so airtight? Why are YOU, Roark, trying to trot out arguments that have been refuted hundreds of times before? You can bash LDS apologetics all you want, but you have to show it’s wrong or not plausible–not just wave your hand and dismiss it. That’s like the 9-11 truthers saying that the NIST report is irrelevant, because it was produced by the government, thus they are able to ignore the content.

Vanceone on May 15, 2007 at 2:17 AM

Roark–it’s clear you don’t understand the point of commandments at all. “Restrictions” are liberating, not repressive.

By the definition of the word “commandment” that is untrue, and the only way you’d think any type of “commandment” is liberating is that you simply want it to be true. Someone could abstain from sex or drinking without being commanded to do so and it would make sense that the person who isn’t being commanded is more free than the person who abides by the commandments.

If you can’t understand that basic concept, then no wonder you have issues with religion and the church.

It’s not a basic concept at all it’s flat out delusion–you believe “commandments” make you more free and think anyone who doesn’t see this obviously has problems with religion. It isn’t a question about religion, it’s a question about language and whether or not you understand that any thing called a “commandment” does not make you more free.

If it was all a fraud, why involve 11 witnesses who could spill the beans?

Vanceone on May 15, 2007 at 2:17 AM

This definitely isn’t the best way to argue for why something is true. Why involve 11 people? Because you can get away with it. Because you know those people won’t rat you out. Et cetera. Simply because a lot of people believe something does not make it true, there needs to be tangible evidence supporting it, not hearsay.

Nonfactor on May 15, 2007 at 3:12 AM

I realize this thread is on life support but anyway:

So the possibility of a multiverse isn’t even a possibility for you? —Nonfactor on May 14, 2007 at 7:14 PM

As already pointed out, the multiverse doesn’t avoid the need for a First Cause—just pushes it further back. That infinite regression thing really can’t be ignored by serious thinkers.

And that name “God” is an incorrect attribution to these qualities (if such a thing existed it wouldn’t resemble the qualities of the monotheistic Gods put forth by religious people. —IBID: Nonfactor

To the contrary, 4000 years ago uneducated shepherd/philosophers ascribed these very attributes to their God. Moderately interesting at the very least, no?

jdpaz on May 15, 2007 at 12:54 PM

Well, wasn’t that fun?

Oh look, AP’s gone and made another one. Sadomasochist.

Reaps on May 17, 2007 at 7:29 AM