Somewhere Out There … God?


On another blog that I follow, the owner (a Christian) made the following comments. I’d be interested in knowing what my readers/followers think about them.

Theologically speaking, there was always God. He exists outside of the universe [and] brought forth “something” from nothing (apart from His self-existence).

… everything in the universe (natural world) requires a cause. God is NOT the universe! That is a pagan notion of God. God is not a contingent being and does not exist in the universe. He both exists outside of it and sustains it. The two are not inconsistent.

The thing I wonder about is why this person wants to put a “cause” to everything … EXCEPT God.

And the point that God (supposedly) is “outside” the universe? Hmmm. Wonder where he is then? And how in the world does he hear all those “prayers and supplications” if he’s so freakin’ far away? (Whoops! Sorry … got carried away.)

Seriously, conjecture such as this is why the whole idea of a “god” (and especially the Christian God) is so indescribably difficult for many to swallow.

Yet many thousands of people DO swallow it. Why?  Because it makes them feel good. I mean, c’mon! To think an invisible supernatural entity, the Creator of Everything (yet lives outside “everything”), actually sees, hears, and (most of all) … LOVES us? Now what can beat that?

211 thoughts on “Somewhere Out There … God?

  1. The apologist does invest an awful lot in the (apparently) immutable rules of causality, only to break that (apparently) unbreakable rule in the very same sentence. What fascinates me is that they never seem to grasp how they’ve just ruined their own argument.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. The person’s position could be summed up this way: “The rules apply differently in favor of me.”

    I think removing the window dressing highlights that the person is arbitrarily enforcing a double standard with no actual reason to do so. It’s not like we have a fossil record of trilobites all huddled around a crucifix, or a Jurassic bible written in the language of dinosaurs. There’s no alien race that’s descended to our planet and shown us matter excised from divine essence.

    All we have is someone imagining an entity existing outside of our universe. I can imagine a bigger entity devouring the entire cosmic pantheon. Does that mean my imagination gets to control reality?

    Liked by 9 people

  3. I guess I’d have to say “Name one other thing that is outside the Universe”

    Follow up questions:

    “What if the Universe has always existed?”
    “How do you find things that are outside the Universe?”
    “Can I get there in my hooptie?”
    “How do you know? [Sy Ten classic]

    Contingency and by extension the Cosmological argument can be renamed “Arguments from making shit up as we go along”. They claim a necessary being [for which they immediately have to make an exception for from “everything has a cause”] that exists beyond Naturalistic examination and call it evidence.

    Liked by 11 people

    • Bingo. Once someone has acknowledged that it’s possible for something to exist without a cause or a beginning… then why can’t it be the Universe itself that has no cause or beginning (why does it have to be a person)? What evidence do they have that it’s their preferred god and not some other? For that matter, what evidence do they have that it wasn’t a committee of 12 gods who all had no cause or beginning… why must it be one? etc. etc.

      As you say… once we’re outside the naturalistic realm that we can reliably explore, we’re just making shit up.

      Liked by 7 people

  4. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’m surprised to see an apologist embracing the “something from nothing” claim, as most now run from it unless they’re WLC who squares his circle by taking both positions simultaneously depending on who he’s talking to.

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  5. Probably the only sane answer is “‘Tis not!” as he just made up his part, so we can make up ours.

    The real reason is simple. Gods used to walk the Earth (even Yahweh). But then people noticed that they don’t really see gods (except in their imagination when they are drunk), so they asked “Where are they?” Since they were not readily visible, they were said to be in inaccessible places: on mountaintops (Olympos!) or in deepest caves. But we climbed the mountains and plumbed the caves and they were not there, so the claim was they were in the sky. But we built balloons and airplanes and they were not in the sky. (Yahweh was a sky god.) So, they were above the sky, but we built space ships and they were not above the sky, so they are now “beyond space and time” which is a place in which no one can look (neener, neener, neener). But the idea is absurd. If there is no time, how can anything happen? If there is no space, how can anything occupy it?

    It is the familiar game of “moving the goal posts.”

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  6. >>> “Theologically speaking, there was always God.”

    To apply that logical construct, I could also assert: According to my theology, there has always been an omnipotent supernatural being named Cosmo (I worship him, and plan to build a new religion around him).

    >>> “… everything in the universe (natural world) requires a cause.”

    Yes, and the universe itself requires a cause. However, there is absolutely no evidence that the universe or anything in the universe was caused by an omnipotent supernatural being – be it God or Cosmo (uh, oh, there goes my theology!).

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        • “I do wonder if people like (name removed) ever just stop and have a little think…”

          No. But he’s not alone.

          What (name removed) does – as do so many faitheists of all bent eager to excuse this lack of thinking well – is presume the religious beliefs he endorses must have some considered merit – merit beyond just the individual who believes whatever religious nutttery is in vogue – for the polity as a whole first… and then go about trying to make everything else fit that presumption.

          This is a category mistake.

          And apologetics founded on this presumed merit for the polity isn’t just something done by the religious, by people like (name removed); it’s widely endorsed and supported and excused by the paying public including theists and non theists alike. Only anti-theists seem to have had a little think about this presumptive merit and have arrived at anti-theism because the merit seems to be absent from the evidence of continued and pernicious causal effect on then polity.

          Having a little think starts with all of us and needs to be directed against the shared presumption first: does religious belief of any kind have merit for the polity? Not the individual (who can and does claim just about everything beneficial to be caused by some divine causal agency – outside of time and space, of course to avoid any responsibility for making the claim, but religious belief in general) but the polity. If true, if reflective of reality, this is where the presumed benefit should be made aggregate in fact, in causal evidence. Does this idea of a divine causal agency have any merit for the polity that can then be brought forward to address and perhaps counterbalance all the real harm done to real people in real life in pursuit of considering and implementing different details about what this or that proposed divine agency means for all of us, as a whole, what it means in our considerations about all things here on Earth wholistically (not holistically but wholistically)?

          What burns my craw is just how often, how easily, how flippantly, how earnestly, so many people assume merit for the presumption and then go about polishing the rougher edges of what this presumptions means when acted upon… a defense offered in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘being nice’ and being ‘respectful’ to the individual who enacts some Really Bad Ideas but without any thoughtful regard for the polity who must absorb these actions.

          To me, this is the greater crime than espousing the apologetic idiocy of a (name removed) because this is what offers such widespread and thoughtless aid and comfort to those most in need of having a little think, of being directly challenged with the brute facts of reality, of what the aggregate evidence demonstrates is good reasons to reject the merit of the presumption. Apologists like (name removed) don’t need to have a little think when others step up and divert accurate even if harsh criticism of aggregate pernicious effect with counter-charges of arrogance and intolerance for daring to say as much against this individual or that.

          Such faitheists, such enablers, have not given this even a little thought. That’s why they’re faitheists and accommodationists and agnostics and deists. They do not make the connection between the presumption of merit and the perniciousness done in its name nor see their essential role they play in supporting its maintenance.

          This kind of intellectual rot – this irrational need to be seen as ‘nice’ to those who are too selfish to think well, whop perhaps cannot think very well, before everything else – is wreaking havoc on the Left and undermining its moral authority based on classical liberalism from acting on enlightenment values. This need to accept, to appease, to excuse, to osculate Really Bad Ideas under a host of ‘nice’ terms for the individuals enacting them on the polity is killing the polity. More of us are in need of a little think than just the religious apologists… specifically about our own responsibility to stop presuming merit and start thinking a little better by respecting what reality has to say about it.

          Liked by 4 people

  7. Theists have basically never got any further than the faith they put in their imagination of what reality is. The gods who live everywhere, in or out of the universe is pure imagination, gods that created everything are imagined, the incredible stories in the holly books are imagined, the voices in their heads they claim as their gods guidance is imagined, prayers being answered is imagined, miracles from their god is imagined, possession by Satan is imagined, the eternal life in heaven is imagined, the horrible heathens will suffer eternity in hell is imagined as is any god returning to Earth to punish atheist trouble makers is imagined.

    In fact, I would go as far as to say the whole lot has been debunked by science one way or another.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. 1. I think we’ve all heard this line of apologetics before. 2. It didn’t convince us the first time, so repeating it is supposed to work? 3. Each time I hear/read it, it sounds more ridiculous.

    4. Even if the above-quoted paragraphs were somehow true (they’re not, but let’s just imagine), it doesn’t get us to the point where the same God is interested in penis tips (Judaism), human sacrifice (Christianity), or whatever is at the root of Islam (I’m not familiar enough with it to criticize). Yet these are the three primary religions in our world.

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  9. Picking up on the imagination bit, I think it’s a wonderful quality that we possess as humans. It allows us to creatively ponder the possibilities, extend or define our limitations as necessary for our individual success, and cope with the tragedies of life. Heck, entire civilizations have been built around myths that have originated in the human imagination. On the flip side, I think we are in the dawn of an age where much of what we “needed” to explain away with the supernatural is now explained by science. In addition, our culture has shifted from comprising relatively small local “tribes” to one of global reach. With these changes, the primary benefit of religion has shifted from uniting us to dividing us. The disaster that religion wreaks, in today’s climate, far outweighs its benefit. We can be better to one another without imaginary gods. That said, if an individual is willing to be imaginative and create their own fantastic version of where or how god lives, have at it! Just don’t trample the inherent rights of your human cohorts along your path to personal nirvana.

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  10. One of my first immediate questions for this God-follower (Christian) would be…

    Would you mind please, demonstrating for me exactly HOW your (paradoxical) omnipresent/omni-gone God reveals/revealed itself to you and show me this more than once, multiple times so that my own very functioning sensory-receptors can confirm your claim? And then also, if you wouldn’t mind please, let’s compare YOUR Godyness to other’s Gody claims of knowingness on multiple continents around the world to see who is right, wrong, and psychologically stable. Thank you. 😁

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  11. NOTE TO ALL:

    I purposefully omitted the name of the person who made these comments because I did not want this blog to be a place to discuss the beliefs/doctrines/faith of another individual. I had hoped the discussion would revolve around the point of the comments themselves.

    I suppose I should have made that clear in my post, but I didn’t think I needed to. In any case, references to the individual have been removed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “I suppose I should have made that clear in my post, but I didn’t think I needed to.”

      Hah! At the risk of stating the obvious Nan… ❤

      Don't worry about it too much Nan. 😉 But I think you were wise to approach it that way. Besides, human interactions (precise communication of feelings & thoughts) “in the moment” especially… is NOT a perfected science or art by every single person on the planet, right!? I can be horrible at it sometimes not covering every single base or eventuality beforehand! And what I’m saying is NOT including how others take it, interpret it, process it, etc, exactly how I want them too. LOL 😛 I’m also trying to (poorly?) say that I’m a MUCH BETTER communicator in person than I am on paper, or text message, or online on my keyboard. Ugh. :/ When I don’t have ALL FORMS of expression available to me, I sometimes feel as if I’m a retarded numbskull with no arms, hands, feet, or toes or tongue to fully express myself. This writing-blogging bit bites the HELL outta me sometimes! 😮

      Nevertheless, because of my short, lack-luster, but progressing, maturing vocabulary and vernacular, I often get overly long-winded — sort of like now? — OCD about mistakes and because I may NEVER reach the eloquence of Esme Upon the Cloud, or any number of iconic authors, writers, orators. I can dream though! Bwahahaha! 😛

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    • That’s only fair, Nan. I apologise for encouraging John Z to reveal Name Removed as it does tend to detract from the rather excellent points raised in the post.
      However, I imagine that Name Removed would in all probability flatly disagree with everything you wrote, as he does tend to do an awful lot,

      But then, we all know that Name Removed does have a penchant for a large degree of disingenuity.
      This may be a specific character flaw of Name Removed, but I suspect it is a quality found in most of those who, like Name Removed believe in supernatural nonsense.
      Again, apologies for ”goading” JZ on, and if Name Removed is reading along please don’t take it personally.
      Or … do.

      Ark.

      Liked by 2 people

    • What’s the lesson here, Nan? Do discussions on contentious topics always devolve into personal attacks? What’s wrong with us? Why do we struggle to respect the humanity of those whom we disagree with?

      I’m no better than anyone else, but I do try to focus on content and not on the commentator. Still, I do get aggravated and we all know individuals who are extremely aggravating.

      Shooting the messenger solves nothing. The message remains to be delivered by another messenger.

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      • Of course I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I disagree with comments made on other blogs, I try to remain as neutral as possible and discuss the issue-at-hand rather than direct my remarks to the individual. Not always successful, I admit, but I try. 🙂

        Having said that, I do understand why some comments/perspectives are soooo outrageous they require more than a simple “I disagree.” But even so, if the language gets too salty, the discussion can devolve quickly and the original point is lost in the insults.

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  12. —Somewhere OUT there… God?—
    If God is Omnipresent, why is he not IN the universe?

    On my first ocean trip, I was 15 and learned that the horizon does not exist. The captain assured us that we were going in the right direction but traveling day after night after day after night, we never got there. Far from a desillusion, I am fascinated by that apparent contradiction: I can see something but will always be unable to touch it.

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      • Nan, after a somewhat belated thanks for your clarification, I would like to express my thoughts on the Abrahamic monotheistic religions, My apologies for using capitals, as I’m not sure how to emphasize words here.

        SIMPLIFYING, I distinguish two kinds of mindsets in this respect: one [which I shall call A) is the brain structure of persons who ARE TAUGHT AND WHO BELIEVE the respective tales and descriptions of a Supreme Being, IN SPITE OF the fact that these are human-made..

        The other group of people (B) consists of persons who DO NOT ACCEPT those teachings. PRECISELY BECAUSE OF their human origin, They feel an irrestible urge to think of other, equally awesome, possibilities.

        In both groups, the same neurons form different circuits that are very unlikely to change. For this reason, whenever believers and unbelievers argue, the best result they can obtain is: agree to disagree…
        .-

        Liked by 3 people

        • LOVE this line (speaking of Group B) … “They feel an irrestible (sic) urge to think of other, equally awesome, possibilities.”

          And yes, you’re absolutely correct about the agree to disagree … but many enjoy the “battle” before they reach that point. 🙂

          Great comment, Federico!

          Liked by 3 people

    • OMG! “If God is Omnipresent, why is he not IN the universe?” I had never thought of this before. This probably doesn’t bother the cognitive dissonance proof Christian crowd, but that is a very, very good point!

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  13. “… why this person wants to put a “cause” to everything … EXCEPT God.”
    This is to avoid the infinite regression that occurs without a first cause.

    As for God existing outside the Universe, that concept doesn’t bother anyone when applied to any other creative source. My grandpa built his house. It didn’t occur to me to ask him, “How can you build a cabin unless you’re inside that cabin?”

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  14. It must be understood that the modern-day God preached today cannot be bound by anything remotely understood or possible not just on our earth. These Christian apologetics that continually push this “outside the universe” stuff realise they can easily close down any arguments with this line, just as they use the all-powerful arguments.

    Amazing that a God who was dedicated to just loving and punishing Earthly humans is now such a universally beyond into the unknown traveller. He may have created the universe and the Earth with the click of his fingers, but the apologetics are keeping him up there beyond science and technology.

    Is it strange that the concept of God by the ancient peoples only went as far as a cloud sitting man peering down onto his flock directing traffic as it were? It appears that if the universe has no end or there is two or three more universes or just an outer outer area that is beyond any universe the Christian God is the exclusive creator.
    What a circus.

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  15. What’s truly amazing is the fact “God” has to be “defined” at all. If this entity exists and is all that the Christians say “he” is, then why must there be discussions like this at all? Wouldn’t it be evident to one and all?

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    • You’d think so, yes, especially considering what the Christian believes the punishment is for not-believing. It raises some shockingly obvious ethical questions, which is a really, really interesting conversation to have.

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    • Throughout history it has been evident to people all over the planet that the Universe didn’t make itself. There is disagreement about the details. “God” is pretty firmly rooted into the human experience.

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      • Yes, we can all give the nod to some sort of non interfering creator type deity if it makes you feel all warm and cuddly, JB, but how do we get from there to the point where the biblical character, Jesus the Nazarene is the deity in question?
        And not only that but we also have to include the confessions of sin,the begging for forgiveness, acknowledging the human blood sacrifice, and the punishment for NOT worshiping this character.
        Seems like an awful lot of malarkey JB?
        Is there an upside to all this bowing and scraping?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Is there an upside to all this bowing and scraping?

          A good open-ended question Ark. My additional two-cents in that question would be…

          Is there an upside to all this bowing and scraping that is empirical, tangible, historically validated evidence rather than so much ontological conjecture? 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • A modern day example of a people who don’t have a clear “god concept” would be the Piraha. I’m sure if I did some research I’d find examples further back in history, probably of Asian descent, precursers to Buddhism, et al. And although some folks invent their gods it’s probably true that if our current civilization fell and we lost all knowledge, we’d eventually relearn science but the old gods would never be heard from again. So for those who want to make a point of “belief in god” as being hardwired or evident the question still remains, which one? They change over time.

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      • A modern day example of a people who don’t have a clear “god concept” would be the Piraha.

        Yes! If you’re interested in languages and cultures, and haven’t read Dan Everett’s “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes” — it is well worth it. Fascinating. As persedeplume says, their culture disproves a lot of supposedly-universal human traits and experiences. Everett’s description of his journey out of faith is also enlightening.

        Liked by 4 people

  16. “Theologically speaking, there was always God. He exists outside of the universe [and] brought forth “something” from nothing (apart from His self-existence).”

    I call that a mere baseless assertion, with absolutely zero corroborating evidence. Tis a fantasy of self fulfillment. The need for a core belief to be relevant, otherwise there might be a perceptive chink in the belief armor. A waste of time for the speculator and the speculatee.

    At least that’s how I see it…

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    • I sometimes think the Christian tries to put just enough words together to make it sound authentic — especially to those who don’t really spend that much time thinking about it. But they get themselves into trouble when they start dealing with the atheist because s/he has already thoroughly delved into all the ifs, whys, and hows.

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      • That’s all they really need for the targeted audience. They have already been pre trained to soak it all up and never ever ask questions.

        Yes when they deal with people who find reality takes precedence over fantastical tales of made up shit, and then demand a few questions be answered, they hit a bump in the road. But it matters not to them, they have already wowed the intended target group, which walks away thinking they just experienced something profound.

        Is profound bullshit a thing?

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  17. I am late to the party and I hope I will not repeat what has been said already.
    That apologist is an absurdist thinker.
    How did he know where this out of the universe?
    How does a being outside the universe interact with the universe?

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        • My ridiculous self?
          If I didn’t know that you don’t allow personal attacks, I’d be offended.

          I am adding my genuine perspective. This is your blog. You determine which comments have “value”. You don’t have to put up with dissenting points of view.

          From my perspective, God interacting with the universe from outside the universe poses no dilemma. It’s pretty simple to understand how that is possible. If you’re sincerely trying to encourage the interaction of ideas, you should stop scolding me for offering thoughts that differ from your own.

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        • Point taken. I’ll rephrase … your questions are ridiculous!

          And you’re correct. I don’t have to put up with dissenting points of view. But why would I censor them? They can and often do make for some very interesting discussions.

          For example, your comment that you believe God interacts with the universe from outside the universe is a case in point. Obviously I and many of my readers don’t agree. So the next question would be … why do you believe this? Is it something you were taught? Or is it just “instinct”? Can you justify your belief?

          See? This is a topic that could generate some interesting discussion, whereas your questions above? Not so much.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Forgive me, but you seem to be implying that your questions stimulate conversation but mine do not. When I ask questions, I’m trying to avoid “preaching”. Personally, I would rather respond to a sincere question than wade through a wall of text from (name withheld).

    So I will respond to your questions in the interest of furthering dialogue. I said that God interacting with the universe from outside the universe poses no dilemma for me.

    “Why do you believe this?”
    Because I believe God created the universe and has dominion over it. When I create a sandbox, I do so from outside the confines of that sandbox. I have the power to interact with the sand in any way I choose. Human beings have the power to interact with anything we create. Human beings are omnipotent in regard to the things we create. It follows that God is omnipotent over His creation as well.

    “Is it something you were taught?”
    No. Not specifically. I arrived at this conclusion via reason. Any being powerful enough to create the universe would have the power to interact with the universe.

    “Can you justify your belief?”
    It depends on what you mean by “justify”. If you mean, can I prove beyond all doubt and questions that my belief is correct? The answer is “no”.
    If you mean, can I provide an illustration that explains that my belief is reasonable given my understanding of the nature of “God”? The answer is “yes”.

    As I said above, my illustration is not proof that God exists. It is religious philosophy, not empirical science.

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    • Hi John. I don’t think we’ve interacted before, so this will be new hopefully.

      I’d like to point out a circularity in your reasoning. You said:

      “Why do you believe this?”
      Because I believe God created the universe”

      I don’t think anyone here would argue that you believe something. You’re best to judge that, I can’t see inside your head. But when we’re reasoning about things, I can’t say I believe [x] because I believe [x] and have it explain *why* I believe something. What I’d like to know is what you’re using as a foundation for your belief.

      You’ve given a perfectly reasonable answer by admitting your belief can’t be justified. I would agree based on what you’ve offered so far. I’d go as far as conceding that your belief might seem reasonable to you. But when you want to persuade others that what you believe is true you need to meet the standard others hold as criteria for believing something. It might not seem fair, but it comes with the burden of proof.

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      • Hey persedeplume,

        I’m not trying to persuade anyone that my beliefs are true. I was simply explaining how God can interact with the universe from outside the universe. An atheist will be unimpressed with the explanation because God doesn’t exist. That’s why I used the sandbox illustration. The existence of sandboxes is non-controversial. I was attempting to remove the controversy of God’s existence in order to illustrate the point.

        I wasn’t trying to answer the question of why I believe God created the universe.

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            • What you believe is the only thing that is relevant.
              If you’re convinced God doesn’t exist, then you will attribute every manifestation of His activity to something else.

              And you believe lots of things that cannot be tested. 🙂

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            • I’ve never met someone so reluctant to demonstrate a truth. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, John. 🙂
              Just because you think I’m unable to be objective doesn’t mean everyone couldn’t be. How do you know what I believe with such certainty? Are you reading my mind somehow?

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            • I’ve met dozens of people like you who are reluctant to admit that I’ve accurately predicted the motives for asking your question.

              I don’t need to read your mind. Was I wrong that you believe God doesn’t exist?

              Is it not true that you believe many things that cannot be tested?

              The truth is: we choose what we believe. If this is not the case, then there is no point in discussing our beliefs. I am willing to have a conversation about what EACH OF US believes. I’m not willing to respond to endless demands that I justify my beliefs.

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            • Oh dear. I didn’t ask you to justify your beliefs, it was a natural progression from your assertion that god manifests in the natural world. That’s how logic works. We test the claim and see if it can be proven. If I could demonstrate god manifesting in the natural world, I’d be sitting in front of the Nobel Committee. It’d be silly to hide something that important.
              I don’t know there’s a god, I’ve never seen one. I believe that your version of “god” is easily disproven because the claims made about reality have been proven wrong many times over. Could there be a god? Sure. The trouble with hidden gods is they’re indistinguishable from non existent ones.
              You’re wrong about choosing what to believe. If I could choose I’d still be a christian. Lets test this hypothesis. Can you choose to believe you’re gay?
              No need to answer, really. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Have a good evening.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Oh dear. I did ask you a couple of questions to clarify your beliefs. That’s how conversation works.

              You suggested that you would still be a Christian if you could choose what to believe. It logically follows then, that your current, non-Christian beliefs are not the result of a rational decision. Let’s test this hypothesis. Can you choose to be an atheist?
              No need to answer, really. Have a good evening!

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            • Ahh, forgot about TinkerBell, Peter Pan, Unicorns, etc. What utterly amazes me about Sasquatch/Bigfoot is the astonishing(?) fact that absolutely NO BONES or bone fragments of a modern Sasquatch have ever been found.

              Are the possible Gigantopithecus? That debate is a bit interesting, but of course inconclusive. “To be determined”… I suppose? Like many, many things, eh? 😉

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            • Like I said, I’m not going to be the only person answering questions. That’s not a discussion. That’s an inquisition.

              I believe many things that cannot be tested. Is this true for you as well?

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            • You should know, from past experience, that I am always capable of answering the questions I ask. (Of course, you’ll never admit this.)

              I know from previous experience that YOU refuse to answer your own questions. (You will ignore this statement.)

              There is nothing remarkable about my original comment. When you build a sandbox, you can interact with the sand. Why is everyone arguing with me about that?

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            • To be clear.
              When this conversation ends it is NOT because I am unwilling or incapable of answering your question. It is because you are choosing to interrogation over conversation.
              If your next comment is not an answer to my question, I’ll just hit the “Like” button and we can get on with our day.

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      • If I may interject some science here on the “sandbox” analogy, the idea is highly problematic. Both the sandbox and its external observer-creator exist within the known universe having a common set of physical laws and properties (i.e. gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces). This is the only reason why the observer-creator can interact with the sandbox at all.

        For the observer-creator to be truly “outside” the sandbox, he/she must exist in another universe (i.e. dimension) having a different set of physical laws and properties. Such parallel universes are scientifically consistent with the yet unproven concept of a “multiverse” (i.e. the cosmos). However, usual interaction between universes is not possible because there is no physical connection between them. Unusual interaction, if it were to occur, would be cataclysmic – completely destroying both universes and possibly creating a new universe or universes with new physical laws and properties. The so-called “Big Bang” may have been the result of such unusual interaction as hypothesized by the latest science.

        If God exists outside our universe he wouldn’t be able to interact with his creation in a usual way; and, therefore, God can neither be omnipotent nor omnipresent.

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        • IMO, you sum it up well. Especially this final comment: If God exists outside our universe he wouldn’t be able to interact with his creation in a usual way .

          It seems to me than whenever ones goes beyond the simplistic view of “God” that’s in the bible and truly begins to evaluate and ponder the existence of such an entity, the entire concept falls apart. JMO.

          Liked by 3 people

        • I agree. That aligns with my understanding of “inside/outside” the universe. There’s comfort around the model of the Big Bang, however I recently ran across some new [to me] information that speculates our universe is the offspring of another, older universe? Astrophysicists speculate that this story is written in the relic radiation left over from the big bang (CMB). The CMB, should be uniform but it isn’t. Recent mapping efforts actually suggest that the universe is lopsided, with more fluctuations in some areas than in others. Some cosmologists see this observation as supporting evidence that our universe formed out of a parent universe. I’ve no doubt that eventually, like many other things there’s a natural explanation for the singularity we call BB. No gods will be required.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes, the background radiation (CMB) isn’t uniform (i.e. anisotropic) but the relative temperature variations from the mean are quite small (2.7 kelvins as measured by WMAP); so, this doesn’t undermine Big Bang. What triggered that event 13.7+ billion years ago is still scientifically unknown, however.

            Liked by 2 people

  19. JB’s sandbox analogy (or cereal or any other 3D object he as a 3D agency can build or affect) fails for exactly this reason: the agency doing the affecting is not ‘outside’ of the same 3D reality as the 3D object itself. JB is not ‘outside’ anything over which he claims to have affect; he simply pretends that being inside the sandbox magically creates a different 3D reality for anything ‘outside’ it but doesn;t prevent him interacting with the object. This is a double standard that does not pass the test of being reasonable.

    And we can test this.

    John, go ask your daughter Amanda to sit in a pile of sand. Now build a box around her and ask if she can detect your presence.

    Hmmm… I’m willing to bet she can… just like we should be able to detect this interactive divine agency hard at work tinkering with our reality as you believe… tinkering away so that we may come to have a relationship with Him and develop a mutual love, apparently.

    Conclusion? Your analogy fails.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You’re absolutely right Tildeb. The analogy wasn’t logically consistent but John seemed determined to cling to it anyway which is why I moved the discussion to applying his template to reality to see if he could follow through. Sadly, the answer’s a secret he doesn’t want to share with us atheists, because belief.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Notice that I confessed to Nan that my sandbox illustration is woefully inadequate for describing the complexities of a being like God. My goal in using the illustration was simply to describe how it would be possible for an all-powerful being to interact with creation. That’s it. You are correct that the illustration fails to illustrate that God exists. It was never intended to do that in the first place.

      However, your illustration fails as well.
      Amanda is not part of the universe I created. She comes from outside the sandbox, like me!
      The sand inside my universe does not have the capacity to detect my presence. My sandbox is a universe of perfect atheists!
      Nobody was alive to witness the beginning of the universe. Amanda cannot be sitting in a pile of sand while I build a box around her. The sandbox is already there. The question about which we disagree is, “How did the sandbox come to exist?”

      My original illustration is not irrational. If you build a sandbox, you can interact with the sand. It’s astounding how important it is to you that we disagree about everything.

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      • JB, you say, “My goal in using the illustration was simply to describe how it would be possible for an all-powerful being to interact with creation.”

        You fail to grasp that you – John Branyan – are inserting into your ‘illustration’ two very different sets of conditions in order to then ‘conclude’ two sets of conditions exist – an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ – so that your god can be both ‘outside’ of reality while busy tinkering ‘inside’ reality to further a loving relationship. But when asked how can you know anything about this ‘outside’ condition, you offer zero evidence from this reality in which you exist for this belief. You don’t know anything about any ‘outside’ condition. You’ve just made it up by arbitrarily creating this magical division in order to ‘illustrate’ the absence of evidence. That’s what you have imported into your ‘explanation’ about the cause of stuff ‘inside’ reality: exactly that which you need – two sets of conditions only one of which has any evidence – to then believe what you do.

        Many are pointing out to you that this is incoherent, believing FIRST that there really, really, really is a place ‘outside’ in which your divine agency can now exist (which then ‘explains’ the absence of evidence) but then –
        POOF! – an agency that can cause stuff in THIS reality to happen (which then explains the basis of your belief that there really, really, really is an invisible, evidence-free, divine six foot rabbit named Harvey with whom you have a personal and loving relationship).

        I mean, come on. I use Harvey but you use ‘god’; same difference.

        So people are asking, quite honestly, how you can possibly know anything at all about this ‘outside’ condition in which your creator god supposedly lives while at the same time holding firmly to the notion (you have imported into it) that ‘it’ causes effect in this reality when, by your own definition, it is a condition that exists ‘beyond’ your ability or mine to have access to in THIS reality (hence, the basis upon which you can excuse the absence of evidence)!

        Your belief is incoherent because you have nothing other than your imported belief that creates a pair of conditions – an ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ – both of which cannot coexist when there is no knowable boundary to establish this division. You want it both ways, that something can be both inside and outside at exactly the same moment. This is why Ark quite rightly points out that you did not – cannot – reason your way to this belief (you, being ‘inside’ this reality, inside this ‘sandbox’) but quite clearly must import the boundary belief FIRST (about your god being ‘outside’ of this reality but magically able to cause stuff to happen in it, too)!

        The proper analogy would be to insist that you can be inside the sandbox doing stuff and causing effect but leaving absolutely no evidence for your tinkering because you are also outside of it. Again, you can test this by having Amanda sit in the box while you do stuff in it and see if she can find no evidence of your presence or evidence of your tinkering. Oh, and fooling her by trickery to avoid detection is hardly an element one uses to develop a loving personal relationship; that’s more akin to some weird and disturbing stalker behaviour, don’t you think?

        Liked by 5 people

      • Hi Taboo,

        Tildeb’s excellent assessment is certainly a thoughtful and introspective response to the original question posed by Mak regarding the interactivity between the universe and the creator of the universe, should such a being exist which I concede is a gigantic “IF” because there is no empirical evidence anyone can offer that will demonstrate conclusively, universally, and eternally the existence of an imaginary being likewise the theistic position that the universe is separate from the creator is always assumed by theists (which is what makes them theists) so the analogy of the sandbox is certainly biased from the standpoint that it is a theistic answer and should, therefore, be dismissed on the basis of that bias while at the same time Tildeb’s answer is an atheistic answer which also contains a specific bias invalidating it for the same reason however, we know that history is fluid and constantly changing so we must remain open to the possibility that BOTH realities will prove true in the future or the past and none of us will every know for certain, unless at some point we do.

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        • This sounds/reads there very much like what an Agnostic would say/write JB.

          There are many, many paradigms, world-views, belief-systems today — and many old and ancient ones too — that cannot be exhaustively and adequately tested, verified, or even placed into a “Pantheon of Truth” for EXACTLY what you presented here in your paragraph. Hence, leaving them alone as forms of conjecture or “to be determined” at some later epoch in evolution seems to me to be one of the wisest positions (Agnosticism). Even more, there are way too many MORE CRITICAL human concepts, endeavors, actions, behaviors, collaborations humanity could more wisely spend our valuable limited time and efforts on and address, as opposed to whether or not the Ghost in the Machine exists or is valid enough to entertain ourselves so fleetingly.

          Granted, this is indeed my own personal Freethinking Humanist viewpoint, but when 2.2 billion Christians, 6.5 million Jews, or 1.8 billion Muslims constantly CRAM this conjecture (infallible truth in their deluded minds!) and mythology in our faces and even coerce, convince, and fight/murder others to implant theocracies or divine monarchies or dictators… peaceful intelligent humans MUST standup to it, if for no other reason than Abrahamic foundations and cornerstones are no stronger, no more valid than sandboxes of Tinkerbell’s, Sasquatch’s, Unicorns, Santas, and Tooth-fairies.

          Like what many here are advocating, observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings… are the concepts which deliver us truths… IMHO of course. LOL 😛

          Liked by 3 people

          • Bravo! There is finally a consensus regarding the capacity for each of us individually to interact with our perceived realities without denying the realities experienced by “others” as equally valid where the words/concepts of sympathy, compassion, humility, love, patience are equally accessible (by which I mean understood and utilized for the sake of conversation or dialog) by all parties without malice or self-righteous judgment because, as you have eloquently stated in the past, without thorough review from unbiased panels of experts (that is to say professional or an agreed upon amateur of sufficient proficiency over the subject at hand) there can be no assurance that any of our statements (i.e. vocalized expressions of our loosely held beliefs or ‘theories’) are in any way representative of reality (by which I mean that which we individually perceive, subjectively, with our 5 senses) — of course, this is just my opinion as well!

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            • I appreciate you (I think?) meeting me halfway regarding our own and all Homo sapiens’ humanity. Not too difficult, huh? 🙂

              I do feel there is sufficient amount of common-ground all humans can find between each other, like we’ve done here JB. But keep in mind, this apparent mutual accomplishment is only a VERY broad general brush-stroke of what science currently knows about the brains of human beings. The broad general common-ground often does NOT work between people in all cases across the board. Why? One reason is because science is also showing there is indeed a NEED/demand for mental institutions, rehab programs & clinics, and outpatient counseling for far too many humans than most will admit to. In other words JB, don’t get too excited that you and I have reached some common-ground because you or I could easily be admitted into psychological treatment or neurological testing/rewiring for any number of reasons! 😛

              My point is there exists a (slippery? elusive?) cumulative consensus in all fields of study relative to time, knowledge, ignorance, power, gullibility, et al, BUT… fortunately there is in this modern Age a “large” portion of humanity, and “larger” expert panels in specific scientific disciplines to obtain fairly accurate, plausible truths about many subjects, including the one Nan’s post is covering here.

              So… where does all this leave both of us now? I know MORE THAN ENOUGH about Christendom and its origins, framework, and what it claims to know that if we spelled out all the nuts-n-bolts of what you and I were postulating… much of what I’ve stated would easily be considered by Christians and Xian apologists as deceiving, heretical, or even down right Satanic! Hahahaha. But I get the feeling you already know that or you should. 😈 😉

              Liked by 2 people

            • Standing ovation, good sir! I am not able to unequivocally and emphatically conclude that my knowledge of Christendom comes anywhere near the volume that you possess and I am ill-equipped to assess the veracity of any future (or past) inferences derived from the experiences of your personal perceptions since doing so would require assumptions and/or conjectures which a person of your considerable intellectual capabilities would quickly (and accurately!) deem inadmissible in any reasoned discussion demanding empirical evidence to substantiate such claims notwithstanding the general nature of ANY specific claim could cause you or I to be admitted into psychological treatment or neurological testing/rewiring for any number of reasons based upon the reasoning abilities of qualified experts/professionals regarding the topic at hand (but you know what they say about leading a horse to water…) so in the long run we’re likely to arrive right back where we started which will require each of us, with compassion, fairness, mercy, and a little bit of luck to analyze our individual choices and be content to say, loudly and proudly, “Live and Let Live” and “I’ll take the road less traveled.”

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            • Of course! It’s very obvious The Professor “knows his stuff.” Plus, his command of the English language allows him to put his words together in such a way that he shares his viewpoint without offending the other party. There would most likely be less anger and more conciliation if others had the same talent. 🙂

              Liked by 3 people

            • The lack of periods and obese wordy-ness might be his way of subtle contemptious patronizing to me Nan. A literary jab if you will. Just an observation on my part. If I’m incorrect, then I apologize. If I’m spot on, then know that I noticed this disingenious(?) change several weeks back and measure it for what “it’s worth.” 🙂

              Liked by 3 people

            • …my knowledge of Christendom comes anywhere near the volume that you possess…

              …doing so would require assumptions and/or conjectures which a person of your considerable intellectual capabilities would quickly (and accurately!) deem inadmissible in any reasoned discussion…

              Haha… I’m curious JB, what are you basing this flowery flattery upon? That’s a serious genuine question. How much do you REALLY know about me? And…

              “Live and Let Live” and “I’ll take the road less traveled.”

              The first part is an excellent world-view, if it weren’t so nauseatingly Utopian. The latter? I will most definitely express my contention with! I would argue, in fact, that your “road” is very highly travelled and NOT AT ALL unique. It is generic and quite common actually for the simple reason that the apparent majority of Americans profess to be “Christian.” Furthermore, since Judaism and Islam are BOTH Abrahamic religions (similar, very similar) from the same source/God, 3 of the 4 largest religions in the world, that would make you incredibly… umm, COMMON and not at all uniquely travelling a road less taken. To say it another way JB, we could take a pebble, throw it in ANY direction we choose, wherever we might be in the world, and the chances are VERY, VERY GOOD that the pebble will hit a Christian or Abrahamic follower. Hopefully right between the eyes, causing a little red-Hindu-dot to appear! HAH!!! 😈

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            • HAH!!! Of course you are correct again! My fevered brain cannot keep up with the dizzying speed of your seemingly boundless wisdom. Fact after fact pours forth with no apparent end in sight while I am left stammering. I know enough to know that such a method of instilling confidence in certain beliefs because one wishes to be confident about those beliefs does not produce evidence for them. Such trust and confidence does not produce insight, does not produce knowledge and certainly doesn’t produce wisdom. It produces wishful thinking masquerading as whatever positive terms you choose to associate with it and, if followed with an equal measure of faith through self-elevated credulity and gullibility, is highly pernicious because it is really equivalent in all ways to ignorance. Ignorance can be overcome by honest inquiry. So many people are ignorant of the ground-breaking revelations you have made during our conversations. People are locked in their thought prisons and unwilling to recognize that you, and you alone, offer the key to their freedom! The past is only the past at this moment, it will likely be the future at some other time (past or future) and this is not only unimaginable but exhilarating! You must stay the course against faith-based beliefs, kind Professor. Because such pernicious effects continue unabated by those who claim their faith-based beliefs are a justification for the actions that caused them, you are obligated to point out their lack of substantiation matters far beyond you and me but if and only if you are promoting these kinds of claims on the one hand while refusing to substantiate them on the other. The sense of reciprocity comes from our biology and is shared by many other critters. This is demonstrable. Using this sense to ‘define’ an objective moral law from a divine law giver is without any merit other than a bald-faced assertion. By definition, this sense is dependent on the biology one has. That dependence on the self by definition makes it subjective and not, objective. This why acts of pure altruism – often going under different names – is so interesting. These acts have strong similarities: they are sudden, impulsive, with little if any consideration of self harm, and almost always explained as, “Anyone would have done what I did.” Like what many here are advocating, observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings… are the concepts which deliver us truths until we have no such observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings at which point we believe what is best in the absence of observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings and trust that science which is the best tool for discovering observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings will eventually unearth these coveted observable, testable, repeatable, cumulative and with consensus findings and we will have certainty for the time being.

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            • Why would you give a number of others around here on secular blogs MORE ammo and evidence JB to justifiably fire at you? 🤔 And you did not answer my genuine question (which seems to be a habit of yours)…

              I’m curious JB, what are you basing this flowery flattery upon? That’s a serious genuine question. How much do you REALLY know about me?

              Anyway, I will let Nan address this and finish with you if she finds it worth her time. LOL

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            • Of course! My apologies!
              The flattery was based mostly on the testimony of others. Your commentary garners much praise from those who know you better than I.
              And I learned from you that a consensus is important when trying to establish truth. In this blog space, the consensus is that you’re “spot on”. At the same time, I struggle to offer anything “of value”.
              And I’m taking you at your word that you possess vast knowledge of Christendom. Obviously you know more about the subject than I do because you have rejected the faith.
              Am I misunderstanding something?

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            • You misunderstand me almost 100% JB.

              I’m growing increasingly tired and annoyed by you so I’ll save you/us any further wasted time: if you had really, really wanted to know WHO you were discussing/debating with (and those are debateable terms), then you would’ve gone straight to the source, 1) me and asking respectful, open-ended questions of me, and/or 2) straight to my blog and read MANY helpful “About” pages. In other words JB, you’ve never shown any interest in doing some simple initial legwork/homework on WHO exactly you were dealing with on these subjects. This makes your inflated, fake, flowery-flattery extremely disingenious, or more precisely: 💩. You make it near impossible to take you seriously on any subject except maybe your occupation of Comedian.

              Now, as I’ve demonstrated to you on several occasions in the past, I won’t play along with your short, snippy, vague, childish goading you demonstrated at first (which you corrected), but have now merely changed it to passive-aggressive wordy patronizing. I have no interest whatsoever in playing along with that game either. Duh. 😴 Therefore, either make a 3rd change again in your dialogue-approach… or move along. Ignore everything I write. Our lives will be no different in the end. I have much better things to do; I’d hope you do as well.

              Is there anything I might be unclear on?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Actually, yes. You are still a bit unclear so I will ask some respectful, open-ended questions of you.

              Would reading the many, helpful “About” pages give me a thorough enough understanding of WHO I am dealing with to satisfy that my responses to you have been appropriate? (I’m asking because I read your “About” pages after our first encounter awhile back.)

              Would you say that you possess the same amount of knowledge about WHO I am as you expect me to possess about yourself?

              Why is it important to understand WHO you are before engaging with the ideas you put forth?

              What exactly is the “3rd change” I should make in my dialogue-approach with you?

              Am I allowed to respond to your commentary when it appears in dialogue threads between myself and a 3rd party? If yes, please explain the rules of protocol I should follow to avoid both “passive-aggressive wordy patronizing” and “snippy, vague, childish goading”.

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            • Since it is the Thnxgvg holidays now and over the weekend, I won’t be able to sufficiently, wisely, or patiently answer your 5 questions until next week or the week after that — it isn’t a priority anymore based on our/your history. Though I am giving you the courtesy of knowing when you could get your answers…

              …unless something else or other life-events become much more important for me, then it could be 4-5 weeks… maybe. 😉

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            • Of course! I completely understand!
              Thnxgvg is an important holiday for all of us. A joyful day of expressing gratitude for the many blessings God has heaped upon the United States. You have your priorities in good order, PT.

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            • My/Our priorities are as such for the Thanksgiving holiday:

              #1 — Enjoying family together over several fun family activities; time together logistically that is sometimes quite challenging to obtain.

              #2 — Having a disadvantaged family or couple/person join all of us for a day from a local shelter.

              Our Thanksgiving has absolutely nothing to do with “blessings,” the “USA,” history(?) or a specific date in November. We do these sort of activities at least 3 or 4 times a year when myself and my family have the abundance that would otherwise go to waste. It’s simply decent human behavior. Period.

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            • Those are good priorities!
              My wife works at the local shelter so I know what a blessing you’re providing when you take in those disadvantaged families. I applaud your efforts! I believe in objective “goodness” and you sir, are demonstrating it.

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            • For JB —

              From your comment-reply above which started:

              Actually, yes. You are still a bit unclear so I will ask…

              By the way, some of your “questions” are not open-ended. Perhaps you’ve forgotten or are unsure what is an open-ended question? Open-ended questions are questions that can/could have multiple answers that for the purpose of clarification and good understanding allow the answering party to elaborate in some detail in their own words. In other words, not framed by the questioner, or as a prosecuting or defending attorney would object to with the judge stating “Leading the witness,” in order to avoid possibel incriminating framing. An open-ended question is not to be mistaken for a multiple choice question either. If the answerer is allowed to express their answer in any form with whatever words, vernacular, and style THEY choose, and as short OR LONG an answer as they choose, that JB is called an open-ended question. Hope that clears up any possible confusion. 🙂

              To your five questions.

              #1 — Yes. And after reading them (all of them in their entirity especially!) would most likely give some cause to ask me MORE questions, perhaps truly open-ended questions, thus getting to know me better. If nothing else, you would probably surmise that all your flowery-flattery is excessively inflated and unnecessary.

              #2 — I know what you have been willing to divulged on your blog via your “Bio” page. I have read somewhere between 5-7 blog-posts, mostly those back during our initial encounters. But more importantly, I made initial efforts to cordially engage you in comment discussions on 2-3 blogs we both follow and comment with some respectful, yet provocative questions I’m sure. They were not offensive or insulting. Nonetheless, the only (constructive?) way you and I can honestly get to know each other more is by two-way communication over a period of time. How that is (poorly or richly) accomplished depends a LOT on how we treat each other with “appropriate” levels of dignity and intregrity — with some good humor and laughter mixed-in too, sure.

              #3 — For starters, if I were a yet-convicted (at large) felon along the lines of Bernie Madoff or Kenneth Lay wouldn’t you like to know that pretty quickly before considering or accepting anything I stated? Furthermore, wouldn’t you want to know as much as is reasonably possible about political candidates before you cast your votes? In the world of dating, engagement, marriage, and possible children with your partner’s/fiance’s/spouse’s family and their background… BEFORE investing your entire life? Or since you are already married with children and grandchildren, wouldn’t you want your son(s), daughter(s), grandson(s), and granddaughter(s) to be smart and discerning BEFORE they commit everything? Not at all implying everyone is a potential spouse (duh), however, this is all along the same lines of “Do not throw your pearls among swine,” a concept which I’m sure you’re familiar. Therefore, I believe it is smart and wise to know who you are reading/listening to if for no other reason than to be able to ask intelligent, revealing questions about them based upon what you know and don’t know. These are just 3-4 reasons I can immediately think of.

              #4 — Initially, on John Zande’s blog (I believe it was) and on a diplomacy scale, you most definitely did not start out with me on the ‘polite’ end when my introductory question and approach to you did not warrant any impolite response. I was a total stranger to you and you knew nothing about me. I was respectful and polite to you for the same obvious reason. After 2-4 more exchanges, your word-structure and dialogue-approach to me warranted I ask you to stop, change it, better elaborate on the short (snippy, sarcastic?), vague replies, or if you couldn’t or didn’t want to… we just move along going separate ways. You eventually chose to modify your dialogue-approach with me. UNFORTUNATELY you went to the other extreme: excessive, hyper-wordy politeness, flowery flattery out the wah-zoo. Nan addressed this with you as well. This was your 2nd change.

              So within common courtesy in communication with strangers and new acquaintences, your “3rd change” (I would hope) would at least be somewhere near the middle, perhaps leaning toward the non-antagonistic side? But this is certainly your choice. I understand that the likelihood of you and I ever meeting face-to-face is very unlikely. Hence putting forth effort online for common decency and etiquette toward a total stranger or someone very different than you is a trendy (lazy?) internet posture. It might even be comedic (on your blog) and expected on blogs or social-media where joking and subjects are clearly meant for light-hearted fun. I understand those sites and situations. But none of this is always the case here or other blogs you and I have crossed paths because the subject matter the blog-owners post are quite comedic for the sake of pure laughter. And should the post or comments be intentionally humorous or light-hearted (e.g. Jeff at The Arm Chair Pontificator, or inspiredbythedivine1), there are common ways of CLEARLY indicating one’s intended humor or comedic-style (your profession by the way) with many various emojis. That way there is little to misunderstand over the internet or social-media between total strangers and new acquaintences.

              That said, should you decide to make that 3rd change at the suggestion of me, Nan, and a few others, it would probably (maybe?) encourage other bloggers different than you to take you more seriously, perhaps ASK YOU more open-ended questions, giving YOU the chance to become a member of a larger (or at least different) blog group exchanging ideas, concepts, discussing information, facts, incomplete facts, fallacies, broader history, theology, mythology, etc, et al, if for no other meaninful endeavor than to check and double-check OUR OWN knowledge and ignorance and go out and do your/our own homework, research, scrutiny of ALL KNOWN and UNKNOWN (at this time) subjects from ALL points-of-view. But of course, that’s your choice based upon your schedule and priorities.

              #5 — Yes you are. When and if I have something I think/feel can contribute to the overall discussion and topic, I will do so just like you have the same freedom within the guidelines the blog-owner dictates. However, this seems a rhetorical question. (thinking puzzled emoji)

              Explaining the rules of protocol” should be done by the blog-owner and Nan has had up for some time her “Blog Rules” page, if not always. I think for me I’ve given you here (and some in the past) a clearer picture of how I generally prefer to communicate/exchange on serious subjects — without any or very few emojis — and I do try to allow for errors, unintentional meanings or faux pas, and patience for cultural differences. Finally after 2-3 blatant, audacious, insolent offenses (ala ColoringShowers; or is it ColoringRaindrops?) and repeating offenses with no intention to change or modify their dialogue-approach out of common human decency… I will not tolerate. Period. They warrant my complete and total neglected anonymity in the cyber-sphere. If they were once on my blog and ignored repeated warnings AND refused to genuinely apologize, they were banned, but not for life. 🙂

              I hope these five answers and their explanations along with Nan’s Blog Rules page help clarify “protocols” and your dialogue-approachs for your/our future discussions.

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            • JB, I truly appreciate that you’re contributing more than one or two lines per response and are actually offering some valid perspective, but please try to limit your use of innuendos and sarcasm. Thx.

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        • PT, have you ever visited the blog of (unnamed)? I would love to read interaction between the two of you. What prompted my thinking is your last remarks that begin with “Granted …”

          If you’re interested, I would be happy to email you the link (if you don’t already have it). If not, that’s OK too. It was just a thought. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Actually Nan I have indeed been there at (name removed)’s website, briefly interacted with him on Christian theological & Scriptural subjects over there — all of it kept civil and decent; credit him — however, I have not been back because (name removed) has made it abundantly clear to me and all who read and follow his blog that his blog is merely a vessel, a means to present HIS VERSION of Christendom. He is NOT interested in changing or modifying his views or positions. Thus, I found it to be mostly a waste of my limited valuable time. On a positive note, his position with me on those subjects does demonstrate that HE and HIS VERSION of Christendom is one flavor out of a plethora of endless flavors, i.e. a nice definition of pluralism of which I embrace! 🙂 😛

            That said, was there something specific you would like me to address over there?

            Liked by 1 person

        • No, PT. It was just a thought that came to me as I was reading your response. I haven’t been following him all that long so I could have missed your prior input. Or perhaps I felt your comments were so comprehensive (as they usually are) that I simply waited to see his response.

          But yes, you’re correct. he’s essentially pretty stuck in his view. But then, what can one expect from the pastor of a church? Although — there are others in the same position who have changed their minds … so one never knows. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • @Professor

          Granted, this is indeed my own personal Freethinking Humanist viewpoint, but when 2.2 billion Christians, 6.5 million Jews, or 1.8 billion Muslims constantly CRAM this conjecture (infallible truth in their deluded minds!) and mythology in our faces and even coerce, convince, and fight/murder others (emphasis mine).

          Furthermore, since Judaism and Islam are BOTH Abrahamic religions (similar, very similar) from the same source/God, 3 of the 4 largest religions in the world, that would make you incredibly… umm, COMMON and not at all uniquely travelling a road less taken (emphasis mine).

          Uhm, there are approximately 14 – 15 million Jews worldwide, not 6.5 million.

          4 Largest Religions (?)

          Christianity – 2.2 Billion
          Islam – 1.8 billion
          Hinduism – 900 million to over a billion (depending on whose estimates you read).
          Buddhism – 400 million or more (depending on whose estimates you read)

          Liked by 1 person

          • 😋 Thanks CR for the more accurate figures. I must hire you as my Editor-in-Chief CR! Are you interested? 😉

            Naturally, as I’m sure we both know, nailing down exact numbers of religious followers is iffy and a margin of error must be allowed because people change their minds all the time or have a number of reasons to be vague with public professions of belief, etc, etc. Nevertheless, I was in a hurry — given the Thanksgiving holiday week; lots of out of town guests with me — and simply Googled “How many Jews in the world?” and did indeed misread Wikipedia’s (not an ultimate source in scholarly academic references by any means) many various numbers and demographics. Here’s the link:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_population_by_country

            14.5 — 17.3 million is indeed more precise. Thank you and my mistake.

            Your challenge on the 4 largest religions in the world is also valid. I won’t squabble over Buddhist numbers. I chose not to include them because out of the top 5, they are the smallest and according to several recent studies/polls has plateaued (in decline by comparison?). In other words, as far as my overall primary point, Buddhism is not going to be a “major” religion to contend with in the future. Their trend has been indicating for many decades they are not growing at the rates of the other four religions. Furthermore, Buddhist (not all) tend to be a very peaceful coorperative (more passive?) bunch relative to our discussion here. All the ones I’ve met in my life (and it’s limited of course) are extremely pleasant. However, if you want Buddihists included, I am happy to do so and we will say “4 of the 5 largest religions in the world” …but of course Hindu and Buddhism are not Abrahamic-Yahweh religions. That’s where I was going with my overall main point.

            To say it another way, to proclaim (generally) that you are Christian, Jew, or Muslim — i.e. one of approx. 4.1 billion Abrahamic believers in Yahweh and His one and only (2 sons?) or one of about 55% of the entire world’s population… does NOT make one very unique at all as JB was attempting to self-describe. A good argument can be made that a person claiming uniqueness because they think they are on a “road less travelled” when they are not, it’s the crowd. That can show codependency and a LACK of independent thought and behavior. That was really what I was challenging.

            Thanks CR for these clarifications. 👍

            Like

            • You’re argument is a little strange. Abrahamic may be a term of convenience for dialogue, one that should be avoided in my view, but these three are very different groups with different beliefs and ideas about the world.

              If one proclaims that they’re Jewish they are thinking of themselves as belonging to a minority group that represents 0.2% of the ENTIRE human population, not some vaguely defined thing called the Abrahamic religions. Likewise, imagine you were saying this to a Muslim living in the USA. It may be true that in world demographics your point holds, but in that specific location and context they may feel like a minority and feel like they have some unique experiences. I imagine the same is true of a Christian living in Egypt. Just as living as an atheist in a religious majority country is almost certainly an extremely different experience than living in a country where the majority are nonbelievers.

              Like

            • Abrahamic may be a term of convenience for dialogue, one that should be avoided in my view

              Nonsense. All three believe in the same god, the Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch, Yhwh…. the god of Abraham.

              In Islam, Abraham is mentioned 69 times, and is even described as that Middle Eastern god’s best friend:

              “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend.”

              Liked by 2 people

            • @john

              Yes, which is why it can be used as a term of convenience since they share a similar path of influence and a few vaguely shared beliefs. Otherwise they’re quite different and the term often hand-waves those differences in ideas and different experiences away by lumping them together.

              Like

            • Well, with all due respect not all people who call themselves Jewish believe in the Middle Eastern God and even among many of the ones that do that isn’t necessarily the core facet of their identity as being Jewish. In other words, you can remove God from the equation for many and they would still identify as Jewish.

              Like

            • Right, Jew is mostly a self-identification, not primarily a religious note as 54% of all “Jews” are atheists. All Christians and Muslims, though, believe in Yhwh… baring 8% of Irish Catholics who in the last census identified as Catholic but also ticked the box “Don’t believe in a God.” No, I’m not kidding. That’s actually true.

              https://radio.rte.ie/radio1highlights/8-irish-catholics-said-dont-believe-god-low-hurdle-catholic/

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you CR — you enjoy the holiday(s) and weekend too.

              I readily admit my argument is a little strange, at least at first. 🙂 I’ll try to briefly elaborate, although I am not a master of infrequently used words (on Madison Ave, NYC?) which explain several concepts, emotions, or definitions simultaneously, if that is even possible on a subject like this. Hah! Bear with me, I’m going to try.

              If one proclaims that they’re Jewish they are thinking of themselves as belonging to a minority group that represents 0.2% of the ENTIRE human population, not some vaguely defined thing called the Abrahamic religions.

              That reasoning holds true CR, no argument here. In JB’s original comment ““Live and Let Live” and “I’ll take the road less traveled”” in the context of this post and discussion seemed to be his grand attempt at self-demarcation. I took him to mean something along the lines of segregated elitism popular among many (not all) Abrahamic faith-followers, granted as their holy scriptures teach. Sometimes the “designating” borders on hyper-arrogance. This is what I wanted to address.

              On the other hand, I could present the spectrum of “designations” in other ways and they would also hold true. For example, you, myself, JB, and anyone else here are Homo sapiens. By that definition, none of us are different, or in the minority, or ‘taking a road less travelled.’ By that same definition, genetically there is less-than 0.01% difference between all of us! Numerically we Homo sapiens are most definitely in the MINORITY when it comes to animal species. The brown rat, domestic chicken, and ants easily outnumber us humans, which puts you and I and JB easily in the same categorical designation. In just as many ways, none of us are on a “road less travelled.” Stating such can come across as arrogant, divisive, segregated, self-absorbed, all those traits which are less-than attractive in humans.

              Regarding Abrahamic faith-followers, let’s look at all the similarities:

              • Monotheistic

              • Belief in the prophet Abraham and his decendents

              • Belief in the God of Israel depicted in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and Koran

              • Their God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and is the Creator of the universe

              • Their God is holy, just, omni-benevolent and omnipresent

              • Their God is transcendent

              • Their God is a personal God, involved, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of His creatures

              • Their God’s will and purpose is expressed through “messengers” termed Manifestations of God

              — — — — — — —

              And these are just EIGHT (8) of many categorically similar beliefs inside all three Abrahamic religions. Thus, it can be reasonably stated that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have a LOT in common and they make up approx. 55% of the entire population of humans. 🙂

              To carry my point(s) further, all of us can find a plethora of “unique designations” that differentiate every single one of us, HOWEVER, we will always be Homo sapiens, or Earthlings until that changes, if it ever does.

              To conclude about JB’s superfluous(?) claim to uniqueness, based upon his past dialogue on Nan’s website and a few others I frequent, it was reasonable for me to interpret his intention as elitist, self-aggrandizing, when in fact he — and honestly anyone else — through many other lenses is unequivocally NOT unique or elite. One way to elucidate this human condition is to show that he belongs to 55% of the world’s approx. population, or 100% to Homo sapiens.

              Thank you CR for your courteous discourse on these clarifications. It does not go unnoticed.

              Liked by 2 people

            • I agree with everything you said. The problem always extends to how one chooses to frame and categorize. After all, do the Abrahamic faith-followers have 8 shared similarities or 3 (the same that you listed just framed differently):

              * Belief in Monotheism.
              * Belief in a transcendental God with the same characteristics (all-loving, omni-everything, etc.)
              *Belief in a God who chooses messengers and individuals to represent Him.

              (or even more than 8 for that matter, if I pulled each Omni you listed into a single point, which would greatly up the number).

              There are, of course, gigantic differences too.

              Christians – Strongly faith-baised religion centered on a personal belief in Jesus that prevents you from going to Hell (sometimes believe in Original Sin)

              Judaism – A strongly action-based and sometimes rule-based “religion.” Emphasis is placed on what you DO, not so much what you believe. Generally fine with non-belief and even many of its own “followers” are nonbelievers. No official dogma about the after life (some believe bodily ressurection, some believe in heaven and hell, although one based on ethical actions rather than just on what you believe typically, some believe you’re worm food). No Original Sin. A religion that encourages debate and the importance of education (for the most part). From the perspective of insiders, not really considered a religion, but rather than an ethnic identity, a culture, a heritage, or a people.

              Liked by 1 person

            • When I was doing research for my book, I came across the point you made about Judaism: Emphasis is placed on what you DO, not so much what you believe. It makes one wonder … since Christianity is based on the Jewish religion, why did this and many other beliefs (some of which you mention) all change? Of course, I know why from my research, but I wonder how many Christians have an answer? And I mean more than … “Jesus.”

              Liked by 1 person

            • Hahaha 😝 However, if that was a serious question, then here’s my explanation…

              In some/many ways I consider the theological-biblical Christian verbage a ‘foreign’ language that most of the world does not fully understand due to its obsession with elitism, or in their terms: separate, apart. Many Hebrew speaking Jews are this way as well when it comes to discussing their God and faith with Gentiles. Hence, I metaphorically ‘travelled’ into the lands of Fundy-Evangy Xianity, learned the language and culture for over 10-years. Am still surrounded by it weekly as long as I continue living in Texas! Hahaha 😄

              But as you sharply noted Ark, it slips out every now and then despite my efforts to leave it behind, divorce it, or as Nan appropriately described recently… “breaking up with Jesus.” Thank you for pointing it out. 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  20. @John Branyan

    “Why do you believe this?”
    Because I believe God created the universe and has dominion over it.

    Not quite. You believe Yahweh/Jesus the Nazarene created the universe and has dominion over it, and yet you are completely at a loss to explain it.

    “Is it something you were taught?”
    No. Not specifically. I arrived at this conclusion via reason.

    Nope. You were indoctrinated. You just choose not to acknowledge this fact. You live in a culture (USA) that is primarily ”Christian ”- or likes to consider itself Christian – and certainly more Christian than many other Westernized Nations – so your exposure to it was likely inevitable. Even if you were brought up in a non-religious, or even atheist family.
    I asked you a while back whether the trio of ”’Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll” ( partial euphemism) were part and parcel of you conversion. You said all three to a degree.
    Based on the testimonies of quite a lot of the adult conversions I have read there does seem to be a definite pattern to many of them.
    I have little reason to doubt – often based on your fierce reluctance (refusal?) to give more details- that your ”case” is probably similar to most.

    Taken out of the immediate environment that saw your conversion I also doubt that you would have succumbed to the fake allure of evangelical Christianity.

    How shaky your belief truly is is apparent by your desperate need to attack all those who have walked away from it.
    After all, if the de-converts are right then you just look like a bloody fool, don’t you?

    One of the reasons it is easier to adopt this false bravado and attack the de-converts is because there really is nothing about your religion/faith that you are able to defend with any degree of certainty.
    It is all faith, isn’t it John B?

    And you didn’t convert because of pure reason at all.
    There was a lot of emotion involved.
    No one converts without it.

    Otherwise they would simply be Deist and not take the really big leap of faith and accept Christianity.
    And for this you have to believe (or claim you do) – and acknowledge – that you are a vile sinner and that the character Jesus the Nazarene is the ONLY way to salvation. Otherwise you will perish come End Times and be damned for eternity to whichever version of Hell you cling to.

    Yes, the details vary – hence 35,000 Christian cults – but the essentials are all there.

    As an individual, no one really minds that you believe this, but what so many de-converts ( and non-believers) find utterly disgusting is that you are commanded and feel compelled to spread this ”Word” (sic) irrespective of the feelings of those you come into contact with.

    Children are the most vulnerable and those who were in some form or another ‘broken’.

    So attack the de-converts and go after” the weak the lame and the sick”, right?

    The internet has provided you with an easy vehicle to do just this. However, in doing so you expose yourself and the falsity of your position to a much larger audience. Remember the lurkers, JB. Always remember the lurkers.

    You may think you are defending your faith but in actual fact this is so far removed from the truth that you cannot see it.
    But let me assure you, others can!
    Your unique brand of Christianity tells so much more about you than it ever does about supposed misguided apostates.
    And it runs in your family.
    The people you think you are trying to make look silly with your rather pathetic brand of pseudo –intellectualism just laugh at you. And this will be about the extent of the laughter you will ever receive from them.
    It really is time you gave up all this Atheist-Bashing. Believe me. You’re simply no good at it.
    In fact, you come across as everything one expects from a bad Christian.
    So why not rather concentrate on being a good Christian? Read the bible and really study it.
    So many people who had doubts – like you – started out really trying to be good Christians.

    Why don’t you try, too? You never know where this might lead.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Hi Nan,

    “Deleting comments is a sign of weakness” … yet there are several bloggers of the Christian bent that do this. Hmmmm.
    (Sorry, persedeplume, I couldn’t help myself.).”

    You are correct. And Christians that delete comments are weak too.

    I can’t reply at Persedeplume’s place because he’s blocked me. 🙂

    Like

  22. I haven’t been able to read every response. But, I can’t agree with the blogger. Hasn’t the church always taught that God is both transcendent as well as immanent in the creation, and as Tillich used to say “the ground of all being.”

    “For it is in Him that we live and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28

    Like

    • Hi Rebecca! Thank you for stopping by and especially for taking the time to leave a comment.

      It would seem apparent you are a Christian so it’s natural that you would believe similarly to the person who made the comment I referenced. But for those of us who look at life from a more “naturalistic” POV, it just doesn’t make sense.

      Further, re your reference to Tillich (a Christian existentialist philosopher) and his term, “Ground of Being.” Tillich believed humans need something to overcome our existential angst, i.e., our fear of death. We need something “out there” to save us, to help us overcome the dread of our demise. To Tillich, God is this “Ground of Being,” the agent that helps us deal with our finitude. As for his approach towards the transcendence of God, I suggest you read more about him at Wikipedia.

      Again, I truly appreciate you taking part in the discussion and hope you will continue to do so.

      Like

      • Thanks, Nan.

        I’m very curious to know more of your views, and spiritual beliefs. You had mentioned that you are not an atheist. Are you interested in panentheism? I’m especially interested because you seem to me to be more open and less combative than many(not everyone) who share on the various deconversion type blogs, so I”m especially keen to hear your thinking…when you have time that is….It is a very busy time of year. 🙂

        Like

        • Not to promote my book or anything like that, but … 🙂

          Seriously, the best place to learn what I think about God, Jesus, Satan, et al is to read my book. And when you get to the last chapter, you’ll have a pretty good idea of my “thinking” as related to Christianity.

          The eBook version is very inexpensive …

          Like

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