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Bravo! Hear, hear!

Just because there are parts of a book that are historically accurate doesn't mean the whole thing is. What is the relationship between a typical Hollywood movie "based on a true story" and the true story?

The book Shōgun is heavily based on the tale of one William Adams and his Japanese patron TOKUGAWA Ieyasu, but Clavell was polite enough to change the names to show that he wasn't claiming historical accuracy. But there are plenty of historically accurate locations and details there.

And there's nothing terribly wrong with taking moral lessons from a fictional tale; plenty of fiction is written to illustrate one or more.

But "my religion's canon is infallible because I'm too thick to recognize failure when it's staring me in the face" isn't a good way to attract respect.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Phillip K. Dick)

Bill MacKay

There are many places on the Internet where one can learn more. The best I've found is Yes, a strange name, but one that makes sense after you think about it. You hear of medical miracles of all sorts due to the power of prayer. But why no limb regeneration? Are not the prayers of amputees as good as the prayers of tumor sufferers?

Donna Gore

Yeah they all cherry pick. And in a way, you HAVE to cherry-pick to be a bible believer, because the bible contradicts itself every other passage. When I was reading it, I would stop and say, "Wait a minute, that part I just read said the very OPPOSITE of this." And I would go back, read the previous passages again, and sure enough, it said A and then B. If I believed everything in the bible, that would require me to believe two completely opposing and contradictory thoughts at the same time (you've already reviewed numerous examples of these contradictions in your blogging). And I don't know if the human mind is capable of that (except for the mentally ill). So I take it for granted that all believers MUST cherry-pick. AND SO which verses they tend to focus on - "God hates fags" or "Love thy neighbor" - well, that tells me what kind of person they are. They have a choice to focus on the hellfire and damnation, or to focus on the messages of love and forgiveness. Which approach a person chooses reveals a lot - it tells me what kind of person they really are, deep down inside.
PS - regarding the amputees, that's a great point. My aunt had no legs. I used to tell my cousins all the time, "You should take her to a faith healer." But we'd laugh because we knew they had screeners and of course someone with a real physical disability would NEVER be allowed on the stage. . .

The Count

Don't forget the motivations for belief in god and/or religion. Frankly, I think many have already reasoned the inconsistencies out... it's their fears that cause them to act irrationaly. We need to use reason to overcome their fears.

The big one is fear of death, and believers fervently believe they are cheating death by moving from this world to heaven, paradise, valhalla, hades or whatever... forever and ever. That's probably the toughest one to overcome because atheism offers no satisfying replacement and fear of death could be considered as strong as any phobia. It can even explain how otherwise devout people can commit murder, while I (besides the obvious reasons) also abhor the thought because I know that life is precious, short lived and non-replaceable. Frankly, I think "hell" was a great invention because it extends religious control to allegedly "bad" people... they still get to live forever and so to a degree will toe the line and support policies and politics of their religios affiliation.

The next one, I think, is the crutch that belief offers. Frankly, there's a lot of people out yonder who should seek therapy, and the stress of modern day life just makes it worse. Some poeple decide to stand up on their own, to accept responsibility and or blame, while others are simply not capable of it and it is too convenient to blame "bad things" on an external entity, and it is also convenient to think that this otherwise callous seeming entity will listen to your prayers and treat you differently... for no other reason than you are you. What these folks need is a BA (Believer's Anonymous... hmmm, isn't that an oxymoron!).

The last example could simply be the brainwashing, since childhood, that causes people to fear their particular god. This is out and out scare mongering which ranges from being blasted by a bolt of lightning to witholding the goodies after death. Frankly this is the most repognant aspect as is nothing more than wanton mind control and religion/sects sure love their mind control.

BTW, I apologise for stating the obvious. :)


Really nice piece and I enjoyed the honest, pleasant delivery as opposed to most "angry atheist" rants.

The cherry picking and apologetics piss me off to no end. I wrote a bit about valuing an idea and wound up thinking that it's the ambiguity of religious texts that makes it bad. It's one thing to cherry pick or misinterpret a part of it when it comes to something relatively meaningless like whether "drink my blood" means you're REALLY drinking your god's blood or if it's a metaphor but when you read passages about how certain people shouldn't be "suffered to live", well, ambiguity suddenly becomes a problem. This ambiguity coupled with a belief that it's "god's will" makes religion more than just appear silly but in fact makes it wildly dangerous.

btw - nice costume in your photo.

Tommie Nygren

YO! Great blog and you make EXCELLENT points. But you are SORELY mistaken in this quote: "They say, 'Huh. I guess I was wrong.'"

I know that sentence isn't the point of your entire post but it is mistaken. Scientists have been known to twist facts, suppress and sabotage colleagues and peers that hold different views, partly because of the weird prestige based on being "right" in a game of "find the truth". Examples? Plenty. I remember a couple of tales in "The Code Book" for instance were people interpreting dead languages were actively trying to sabotage and discredit other scientists to make their own hypothesis stand unquestioned. Now, as you say, sooner or later that will fall when the proof mounts and in todays world I think that process is very fast. But I don't think they just shrug and revel in other people being right and them being wrong. Maybe I took you to literally, I know, just wanted to point out, as have you on several occasions, that scientists aren't saints - just humans.


Yes, certainly sometimes some scientists will avoid the evidence, or be too pig-headed to be convinced, or (more legitimately) cautious about believing shocking! new! evidence! that overthrows old theories.

But a lot of the time they *do* roll with the new evidence, and, contrary to the canard about paradigms shifting when the old guard dies off, often without dying first.

Quantum mechanics and continental drift are good examples of theories which swept the field once there was a tipping point of evidence for them. The current model of accelerating cosmic expansion wasn't even a candidate until new evidence came in and made it the ruling interpretation in a year or two.

So a lot of the time the evidence does convince, as it should, and this is something you don't really see anywhere else.


@ tommie

The thing to realize, and really the most telling part--is that the scientists who cannot be wrong, who cannot accept new evidence, and who hold to theories that are proven false are BAD SCIENTISTS, and are not taken seriously ever again in the field.

they are not held up as paragons of science, they are not held up as noble folks, they are reviled and not taken seriously. If your theory cannot be falsified, if it cannot be proven false, no matter what new evidence is presented, then it is no longer science, and is, infact, religion.

this is why we get so. damn. angry. when people tell us that we take our atheism on faith--because y'know what? if God came down, and revealed himself in all his glory and proved his existance...well, that's some pretty compelling evidence, and you'd see a lot of atheists becoming worshippers. We only ask that our so-called beliefs (english is dumb and has no real shorthand for "things that i have some evidence of, and can test if i so choose, and have thought about at great length") be consistant with the world we live in, and not add in anything that is...well...not there.


I wonder sometimes too about this question in the post: "If God is revealing his truth to people through personal revelation, why would everybody's revelations be so radically different?"
OTOH, I also wonder, if it is correct that God is as described by many religions as something beyond our undertstanding, why we would expect that every person that experienced God would have same experience.
We all experience gravity in the same way. We say that is natural. But if the very definition of God is something supernatural, isn't that like starting from a point where we would not necessarily all experience God in the same way?


Love your blog, Greta.

One qualification.

If any theory that can't be falsified is useless, then:

what about the theory that "I exist"
what about the theory that "the external world exists"

Falsifiability is required of most theories, but not "properly basic beliefs."

Being careful with Popper

Karl Popper's idea of falsifiable claims being the only ones that are not epistemic nonsense isn't consistent.

Claims regarding likelihood and probabilistic claims are non-falsifiable but often not nonsense.

Consider the claim: a fair coin has a 50% chance of being heads and a 50% chance of being tails. No test can ever falsify this claim, but we do not consider the claim to be nonsense.

The general idea that a claim that has no implications or is self-referential should be scrutinized is nonetheless pretty important.


Now, I do believe in God.However, I do understand the point you have about the inconsistencies and accuracies and contradictory terms. It confuses me just as much as you. I however, do admit there are things contradictory as it was written by people in different times, different situations, different problems. But I do believe in God.

Radical Writer

Everything this person talked about can be summarized in one or two words Philosophy or man’s philosophy. Science proves there is a God and the more man delves into the atom, the molecule, the DNA the more they prove that God is real. Look how much sheer power there is in the Atom that can be employed to cause an explosion that would wipe out an entire city.
This proves that if someone could manipulate Atoms in a way that was creative He would be looked on as a god. If he uses it to create a bomb he is very much like Satan. All this proves that sometime ago there was a creator of intelligent design that had the power to manipulate DNA in ways that caused things to be created by perhaps changing the DNA chains or some other way far beyond human intelligence.
Everything that man tries to create always has flaws and the best creations he has are patterned after Nature. Even these are nowhere near perfect but they have use so it is good. The bible tells thousands of years ago that the Earth was a circle and yet it wasn’t until Columbus tried to go around the Earth by ship 1492 that it was realized. To sum it up there are so many things out there that we do not understand it proves God exists and has power beyond anything man has or will ever have.

Seymour Brighton

"This is what non-believers call cherry-picking. And it drives us nuts."

Great line.


Why its so hard to convince a Christian that they are wrong.


"When it comes to some Bible verses (such as the ones about hell), you say, "These shouldn't be taken literally." Bullshit, they should be taken literally. Some Christians do not believe strongly enough to advocate the Bible fully. They want to tell about God, but are afraid of the negative things.

"Every single Christian sect -- arguably every single Christian -- has their own different idea of how to correctly interpret the Bible;..." No, there are no Christian sects, only sects using Christianity to mislead the faithfull and non-believer alike. The same goes for Christianity. There are thousands of religions, but only one Christianity. Christians believe in the salvation brought by Jesus Christ, while the religious, whether Bible based or not, comes with all kinds of rules and customs.

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