Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Lie That Never Dies: Christian Apologetics


It is amusing to see Christian apologists like Victor Reppert seize upon any any article they find on the internet that appeals to their confirmation bias.  One topic that Christians have been touchy about is the idea that the church played a large role in the suppression if intellectual pursuit during the historical period known as the Dark Ages.  If you're a Christian apologist, you'd rather believe that there was no such thing as the Dark Ages.  You'd rather believe that intellectual endeavors flourished under the benevolent leadership of the church, and life for the average citizen was just peachy.  There is no shortage of revisionist literature that supports this.  In his customary manner, Victor has uncritically latched onto a review of James Hannam's book God's Philosophers that supports this notion.

This very favorable review comes from Tim O'Neill, who claims to be an atheist and skeptic, and that, I suppose, is the reason Victor chooses to call out this particular article as being worthy of notice.  If an atheist agrees with what the apologists say, then there must be something to it, right?  I did a little research on Tim O'Neill, and could find no reason to think that he is anything other than a Christian who claims to be an atheist.  His articles are uniformly supportive of theists and their beliefs, and critical of atheists. 

[Edit: I have removed reference to an article that I had incorrectly attributed to O'Neill. I apologize for my mistake.]

In this review, O'Neill (who is not a historian) makes some bad arguments in favor of the Catholic apologist viewpoint expressed in this book. 
I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one - just one - scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages.
This is a straw man, of course.  Nobody makes the claim that scientists in the Middle ages were repressed by the church.  The usual claim is that there was very little scientific development during the middle ages, not that the scientists of the period were oppressed by the church.  The fact is there weren't a lot of scientists around for the church to oppress during the middle ages, and those who did study things like optics or astronomy in those days didn't dare defy the teachings of the church.  The burning, persecution, and oppression came later, when real science began to flourish and the dogmas of the church were challenged.  O'Neill goes on to say:
By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists - like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa - and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.
Again, there is no question that Aristotelian natural philosophy and scholasticism arose (or re-emerged) in the latter part of the middle ages.  The people listed here that O'Neill calls scientists are all from the 13th, and 14th, and 15th centuries, at the end of the middle ages.  They were clergy members or sponsored by the the church, and they didn't question church dogma.  It wasn't until the Renaissance that science began to break free from the yoke of the church and for the first time call religious beliefs and dogma into question.  In my opinion, that's when the Dark Ages ended.

This raises the question of we mean by the term Dark Ages.  It has been defined in various ways.  One common definition (and the one that O'Neill disputes) is that it coincides with the entire medieval period, beginning at the fall of the Roman empire around 476CE and ending at the start of the renaissance around 1500CE (in western Europe).  Another commonly used definition has it ending in 1000CE.  Even O'Neill agrees that this was a dark period in history.  Some may equate the start of the dark ages with the decline of the Roman empire that coincides with the adoption of Christianity during the rule of Constantine.  Some may equate the end of the dark ages with the rise of universities and scholastic philosophy in the 12th century.  It wasn't until the 14th century that anyone began to question the natural philosophy of Aristotle.  Regardless of how you define the term, it is clear that scientific and cultural progression was at a virtual standstill at least during the earlier centuries of the middle ages.

For a more balanced review of God's Philosophers and a more accurate perspective on the history of the development of science in that era, I highly recommend this article by Charles Freeman.  It's rather lengthy, but that's because there's so much in the book that needs to be placed in a more proper historical context.  Well worth reading.

72 comments:

  1. One of the most instructive synopses of the Middle Ages [Dark Ages] that characterise the prevailing sentiment of that period in relation to the following Renaissance period of human history is this paragraph:

    "During the Middle Ages man had lived enveloped in a cowl. He had not
    seen the beauty of the world, or had seen it only to cross himself, and turn
    aside and tell his beads and pray. Like St. Bernard travelling along the
    shores of Lake Leman, and noticing neither the azure of the waters nor the
    luxuriance of the vines,nor the radiance of the mountains with their robe of
    sun and snow, but bending a thought-burdened forehead over the neck of his
    mule - even like this monk, humanity has passed, a careful pilgrim, intent on
    the terrors of sin, death, and judgment, along the highways of the world, and
    had not known that they were sightworthy, or that life is a blessing. Beauty
    is a snare, pleasure a sin, the world a fleeting show, man fallen and lost,
    death the only certainty, judgment inevitable, hell everlasting, heaven hard
    to win, ignorance is acceptable to God as a proof of faith and submission,
    abstinence and mortification are the only safe rules of life - these were the
    fixed ideas of the ascetic mediaeval Church. The Renaissance shattered and
    destroyed them, rending the thick veil which they had drawn between the mind
    of man and the outer world, and flashing the light of reality upon the
    darkened places of his own nature. For the mystic teaching of the Church was
    substituted culture in the classical humanities; a new ideal was established,
    whereby man strove to make himself the monarch of the globe on which it is his privilege as well as destiny to live. The Renaissance was the liberation of
    humanity from a dungeon, the double discovery of the outer and the inner
    world."
    taken from HERE

    Ironically, the Renaissance movement fomented and broke out right in the Catholic Church's own backyard, Italy, paving the way across the rest of Europe and the world and towards the advent of the Enlightenment, at which time there would be no turning back to the Church.

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    Replies
    1. James Hannam is a historian from Cambridge, you are not, Hamman wrote a damn good book that you now n pithing a out, What do I know about history? I am an historian, you want to proof go through the little stupid :I refuse to accept that anything could count against my view therefore you are not a hisotiran, ask Jon Loftus,he will tell you I am;

      You are not basing your arguments upon research you are basing them on ideology and what atheism brainwashed you into,. regurgitating,

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    2. you guys have no idea what you are talking about. You regurgitating old fashioned BS that shaped by anti-clerical ideology in the enlightenment.

      My Ph.D. work was in history of ideas, and I studied history of science, specifically science and religion in early modern and enlightenment.

      Again it was SECULAR. MY profs WERE ATHEISTS AND UMBELIEVERS IN A SECULAR PROGRAM. THEY TOLD ME THE VIWEYOU TAKE IS OLD HAT, IT's OVER,

      "Dark" ages was used by historians to refer to the dirth of written sources not the evil of the times,they weren't anymorevdark than the renaissance,

      the vast majority of people never knew there was a renaissance, it was confined to a tiny hand full of elites most of them were Catholic.

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    3. Joe,

      Did you read Freeman's review? Did you read Guisepi's excellent article on the Renaissance that Papalinton pointed out for us? Are you disputing their analyses in favor of the apologetic bunkum we hear from Catholics defending their favored religious institution? What do you think "Renaissance" means, and why do you think that term is used to refer to the period after the middle ages?

      Those guys are historians too, but they aren't suffering from the same delusions of religious thinking that seem to cloud your approach to every issue. You keep harping about your ten years in a PhD program, but you have no degree. Is there a reason for that?

      Delete
    4. Renaissance was invented by Christians, all tye early humanists were Christians, Renaissance humanism is Christian humanism, these are things I got in secular history program.

      Delete
  2. speaking of that Don McIntosh is discussing atheist incredulity and science on CARE Commemts

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  3. Joe was kind enough to alert me to this discussion. As you mention my book, perhaps I might be permitted to comment. I'd be the first to admit that God's Philosophers is far from perfect, but it is pretty close to the mainstream of history of medieval science. It was also, I am proud to say, shortlisted for some major prizes back when it came out including the Royal Society Science Book Prize (which so upset Charles Freeman) and the British Society for the History of Science book prize. Neither the Royal Society nor the BSHS are notable hotbeds of Christian apologetics.

    I responded to Charles's review at length at the time so won't rehash all that. You can follow the link in his piece if you'd like to read my response. However, I am happy to respond to any specific points you'd like to raise. I note you talk about the Renaissance as when science broke free. However, the story of the modern scientific tradition starts way back in the 10th century. In 1000AD the Pope himself, Gerbert, was one of Europe's most renowned mathematicians and inventors.

    The question that needs an answer, if you don't want to give Christianity an ounce of credit, is why modern science arose in a society dominated by Christianity, rather than ancient Greece or China or anywhere else? And is it sensible to treat the Christian worldview as irrelevant or detrimental to modern science when it was shared by pretty much every scientific pioneer until Laplace?

    Best wishes

    James

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    Replies
    1. James,

      I think the history of science goes back to before the rise of Christianity. I don't deny that the church had some role in science during the middle ages, and it is obvious that the first modern scientists in Europe had to be Christians, because everyone was. But it was only when people started to challenge church dogma that science had a chance to flourish. Many Christians give far too much credit to Christianity. You can spin it in a way that seems to support that notion, but I think the big picture is pretty clear. Scientific progress was largely curtailed when the church came to dominate society in Europe, and it re-emerged when church domination declined.

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    2. im-skepticalMay 25, 2016 at 2:18 PM

      James,

      I think the history of science goes back to before the rise of Christianity. I don't deny that the church had some role in science during the middle ages,

      "some role..." it had a huge role. I wrote two papers on it.

      and it is obvious that the first modern scientists in Europe had to be Christians, because everyone was.

      The major scientists were devout. Newton and Boyle were highly committed with strong spiritual tendencies in their private lives,.

      But it was only when people started to challenge church dogma that science had a chance to flourish.

      when was that? who in particular and what church dogma? Let's see you substantiate that. what dogma was challenged at Cahtre? That was one of the centers of scientific learning

      Many Christians give far too much credit to Christianity. You can spin it in a way that seems to support that notion, but I think the big picture is pretty clear.

      You don't know history, Christianity built western civilization. Political institution, moral values, science philosophy the whole of the church is rooted in Christian thought,

      Scientific progress was largely curtailed when the church came to dominate society in Europe

      that's the party line, show me names, dates, events, break it down prove your bull shit. you are just regurgitating what atheist socialization has brain washed you to think

      Delete
    3. Thanks. A couple of points to consider:

      I presume you begin the history of science with Thales and the pre-Socratics. But scientific progress in the ancient world was glacially slow in the ancient world. We find isolated geniuses like Aristotle and Archimedes but their work was rarely taken forward. Experiments hardly existed. One example: Aristotle says heavy objects fall faster than light ones. It take thirty seconds to show this isn't true (say with a dessert spoon and teaspoon). Yet five hundred years later Hero of Alexandria, supposedly a practical man, was saying exactly the same thing. The first recorded instance of someone saying Aristotle was wrong on this was John Philoponus in the sixth century. He was a Christian.

      You might also note that many of the scientific pioneers of the sixteenth century onwards were extremely religious. Johannes Kepler breaks into spontaneous prayer in his scientific works. Andrew Cunningham, a Cambridge professor of history of science, describes Newton as 'the most religious man of the seventeenth century.' His friend Robert Boyle was not far behind. Rene Descartes based his entire philosophy on the existence of God. I could go on, but you get the picture. These were not men rejecting Christianity, but embracing it wholeheartedly.

      Best wishes

      James



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    4. "some role..." it had a huge role. I wrote two papers on it.
      - Yes, the main role played by the church was to suppress it. This tradition goes all the way back to Tertullian, whose ban on anatomical investigations lasted for a millennium.

      The major scientists were devout. Newton and Boyle were highly committed with strong spiritual tendencies in their private lives,.
      - Some of them were openly devout (as everyone was required to be) but privately non-religious, or at least much less devout than they appeared. Newton was an Arian heretic, by the way.

      when was that? who in particular and what church dogma? Let's see you substantiate that. what dogma was challenged at Cahtre? That was one of the centers of scientific learning
      - Come on, Joe. Copernicus and Galileo challenged the dogma of geocentrism, and their works were banned by the church. But they (and others like them) opened the door for real science to proceed. At Chartre, people learned scholasticism and Aristotelian natural philosophy. I'm not aware of any significant scientific advances that came from there.

      You don't know history, Christianity built western civilization. Political institution, moral values, science philosophy the whole of the church is rooted in Christian thought,
      - The Romans built western civilization. The Christians presided over its ruin.

      that's the party line, show me names, dates, events, break it down prove your bull shit. you are just regurgitating what atheist socialization has brain washed you to think
      - You are regurgitating your own party line, Joe.

      Delete
    5. James,

      I'm no historian, but I understand that Greek natural philosophy was not heavily oriented toward experimentation, and particularly for Aristotle, whose influence was strong in Europe in the late middle ages. That's one of the reasons scientific development was so slow. Medieval Europeans were slow to move away from Aristotle's views, while the Arabic world began to adopt a more modern scientific methodology. It seems reasonable to give more credit to the Muslim world for fostering early scientific development.

      While it is true that post-middle age scientists in Europe were Christians, it is also true that they adopted methods and ideas from outside the Christian community, and it was their willingness to defy church dogma that made them great scientists. And let's not forget the fact that as science came into its own, and started to explain things that were once in the realm of religious belief, the religious views of the scientists began to change, too.

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    6. You are quite right to say that Greek science wasn't very empirical. Nor really was Muslim science although a few figures did do some simple experiments, especially in optics.

      So where did the experimental method come from. Here's Rene Descartes:

      'Since there were countless ways that God could have organised the universe, experiment alone can teach us which way he actually chose in preference to all the others.'

      What Rene is getting at here is what historians call voluntarism or God's freedom. God was believed to have created the world to follow fixed laws, but he could chose any laws he liked. Unlike Aristotle, who thought the laws of nature were strictly logical and could be figured out by thinking very hard about them, Christian scientists said that to determine God's choices, you had to do experiments. This is one of the central reasons that historians think experimental science arose in a Christian society. That is not to say only Christians could believe in a God with creative freedom, but in practice, they were the ones who used that idea to justify experiment.

      You mention scientists defying church dogma. Of course there is the paradigmatic case of Galileo, but historians now consider that to be as much about egos and power politics as dogma. After all, what does it actually matter to Christianity that the earth orbits the sun and not the other way around? Other examples of scientists defying dogma with scientific conclusions are few and far between. Perhaps you could point me towards some? I hardly think you can write off the science of the Middle Ages on the basis of a single clash in the 1630s.

      Best wishes

      James

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    7. Other examples of scientists defying dogma with scientific conclusions are few and far between. Perhaps you could point me towards some? I hardly think you can write off the science of the Middle Ages on the basis of a single clash in the 1630s.

      How about this?

      This includes many of the names that Christians proudly claim as examples of the Christian origins of science.

      Delete


    8. I am betting James answer by saying that that list falls far short of being what he demanded which is list of would be scientists persecuted by Christians for doing science. The sources quoted by IMS and his friends are not very good. He is decades behind understanding where modern historians currently are in thinking ab out this rise of science and it's relationship with Christianity. Historians don't think in terms of periods as much, They don't think of the Renaissance as a period but as movement, They don['t guy into the atheist narrative of Renaissance as be awaking the evil dark age of religion.



      To pick up a couple of Points James did not address:


      "some role..." it had a huge role. I wrote two papers on it.
      - Yes, the main role played by the church was to suppress it. This tradition goes all the way back to Tertullian, whose ban on anatomical investigations lasted for a millennium.


      That's begging the question since Hannam's entire book is arguing they did not,. Terullian was not a ruler. His reasons for opposing anatomical research was not to stop science. How many people doing it then understand why they were doing it?


      The major scientists were devout. Newton and Boyle were highly committed with strong spiritual tendencies in their private lives,.
      - Some of them were openly devout (as everyone was required to be) but privately non-religious, or at least much less devout than they appeared. Newton was an Arian heretic, by the way.


      That nonsense. The major one's he thinks were not devout were. Newton was extremely devout. this guy has not read his privates papers and I have. I doubt that he's read a biography. Newton was major part of my dissertation I know well he was devout. Being Aryan doesn't change that. no reason why Aryans could not be devout. They still believed in God so they could be. Newton should be an embarrassment to atheists except atheists are just anti-Christian.


      when was that? who in particular and what church dogma? Let's see you substantiate that. what dogma was challenged at Chartre? That was one of the centers of scientific learning
      - Come on, Joe. Copernicus and Galileo challenged the dogma of geocentrism, and their works were banned by the church. But they (and others like them) opened the door for real science to proceed. At Chartre, people learned scholasticism and Aristotelian natural philosophy. I'm not aware of any significant scientific advances that came from there.


      Copernicus and Galileo were not at Charter which is in France not Italy, .James answered those two. your ignorance about Chartres (not Charter) is so telling. It was a cathedral; it was also a major center of scientific alarming.


      You don't know history, Christianity built western civilization. Political institution, moral values, science philosophy the whole of the church is rooted in Christian thought,
      - The Romans built western civilization. The Christians presided over its ruin.


      No they did not, that is extremely ignorant. They lost it. they feel; by the time they fell they were Christian. Remember Constantine?


      that's the party line, show me names, dates, events, break it down prove your bull shit. you are just regurgitating what atheist socialization has brain washed you to think
      - You are regurgitating your own party line, Joe.Delete

      wrong I'm discussing what I learned in in graduate school a secular ,a secular program taught atheist professors. some of them were.

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    9. Thanks for that. Here's what I wrote about the Index a very long time ago:
      http://bede.org.uk/historyessays.htm

      But I recall it was first promulgated in 1559 during the counter reformation. So I am not sure if it helps us on the Middle Ages which, I thought, was what we were talking about. Certainly, it is the subject of my book, the review of which you posted above.

      In any case, we seem to be stuck on the counter-reformation Catholic Church rather than Christianity in general. Besides, if we are to get the complete picture on Catholicism and science we also need to consider that the Church was providing plenty of support for science, probably more than any other institution in financial terms. For example, John Heilbron's book, The Sun in the Church, sets out the way the Church bankrolled highly detailed astronomical observations over a long period which benefitted all astronomers. Likewise, the Jesuits were the leading scientific organisation in Europe, publishing thousands of papers including about a third of everything published on electricity and magnetism in the 18th century.

      Best wishes

      James

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    10. James,

      But I recall it was first promulgated in 1559 during the counter reformation. So I am not sure if it helps us on the Middle Ages which, I thought, was what we were talking about
      - I don't know about you, but I was talking about the fallacies being pushed by religious apologists. The repression of science was one of the things I discussed in my OP. And regardless of how you spin it, the Index included scientists like Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo and others.

      In any case, we seem to be stuck on the counter-reformation Catholic Church rather than Christianity in general.
      - For a long time, Christianity WAS the Catholic church. If they had their way, they'd still be the only game in town, and we'd still be in the dark ages.

      the Church bankrolled highly detailed astronomical observations over a long period which benefitted all astronomers.
      - This was the single biggest contribution to science that can be attributed to the church (as I have noted). It was motivated primarily by the desire to keep an accurate calendar of religious holidays.

      Jesuits were the leading scientific organisation in Europe, publishing thousands of papers including about a third of everything published on electricity and magnetism in the 18th century.
      - As long as there was no challenge to church dogma. They weren't too happy about Franklin's lightening rod.

      Delete
    11. Joe,

      The sources quoted by IMS and his friends are not very good. He is decades behind understanding where modern historians currently are in thinking ab out this rise of science and it's relationship with Christianity. Historians don't think in terms of periods as much, They don't think of the Renaissance as a period but as movement, They don['t guy into the atheist narrative of Renaissance as be awaking the evil dark age of religion.
      - If you only pay attention to Christian apologetic sources, your view of history will always be distorted. And you have the gall to call me biased.

      Terullian was not a ruler. His reasons for opposing anatomical research was not to stop science. How many people doing it then understand why they were doing it?
      - His reason for banning anatomical study was purely religious. And it did impede science, whether or not that was his intention.

      Newton was major part of my dissertation I know well he was devout. Being Aryan doesn't change that. no reason why Aryans could not be devout. They still believed in God so they could be. Newton should be an embarrassment to atheists except atheists are just anti-Christian.
      - So he's on your team or he's not, depending on what point you are trying to argue. I've had several discussions with Christians who insist that you can't be a Christian without accepting the trinity dogma.

      Copernicus and Galileo were not at Charter which is in France not Italy, .James answered those two. your ignorance about Chartres (not Charter) is so telling. It was a cathedral; it was also a major center of scientific alarming.
      - Arguing with you is like trying to catch a greased pig. I didn't say Galileo or Copernicus were at Chartres (not Charter). You're the one who brought that up. I was just responding to your constant deviations from the topic of discussion. Your reading comprehension is atrocious.

      No they did not, that is extremely ignorant. They lost it. they feel; by the time they fell they were Christian. Remember Constantine?
      - Yes. Constantine was the murderer who took over power in the 4th century and forced Christianity on the people of Europe. And when did the decline of the Roman empire begin? If I recall my history, it was the 4th century.

      Delete
    12. Hello again,

      As you say, the Index which began in 1559 contained some important scientific thinkers. Yet in your very next line your segue back to the 'dark ages' to claim that the Catholic Church would have kept us in them. But that couldn't have had anything to do with the Index which came later.

      I also pointed to some weighty counter-evidence. You accepted that the Church bankrolled astronomy (although I am not sure you have the knowledge to classify it as the single biggest factor). I'm not saying that all the evidence points one way. I am saying that when you weigh the evidence on each side, as I have been doing for many years in an academic environment and in concert with many other historians, it is very difficult to conclude that the Church and/or Christianity held back science. It is much easier to conclude the opposite.

      The waters of this debate were muddied for many years by the work of two nineteenth-century writers Andrew Dickson White and John William Draper. They are now universally derided by historians for gross distortions of the historical record, but remain strangely popular with anti-Christians of the internet.

      You kindly, if unintentionally, furnished a good example with the lightening rod. The unreferenced article you link to (and I am confused how someone with the moniker 'I'm Skeptical' can admit an old unreferenced article found on the internet as evidence) is actually an almost direct and unattributed plagiaristion of White's section on lightening rods. You can read the original here: http://human-nature.com/reason/white/chap11.html

      What White and his plagiarisers fail to note is that reluctance to use lightening rods stemmed from a common sense concern - they are used to deliberately attract lightening to the building. We know that properly constructed, they dissipate the charge harmlessly to the ground. But it is hardly surprising that many people thought that encouraging lightening to strike was a dangerous idea - it is counter intuitive to say the least. White dresses this up as a religious dispute. But contrary to your post, we find in fact there was no religious challenge to lightening rods.

      Best wishes

      James

      Delete
    13. James,

      As you say, the Index which began in 1559 contained some important scientific thinkers. Yet in your very next line your segue back to the 'dark ages' to claim that the Catholic Church would have kept us in them. But that couldn't have had anything to do with the Index which came later.
      - The Index was an attempt by the church to put the cork back in the bottle. Both science and reformation were threats to the authority and dominance of the church.

      I am saying that when you weigh the evidence on each side, as I have been doing for many years in an academic environment and in concert with many other historians, it is very difficult to conclude that the Church and/or Christianity held back science. It is much easier to conclude the opposite.
      - There is ample evidence that the church impeded science wherever it comes into conflict with their dogma, and in fact continues to stand in opposition to science to this day. You can conclude the opposite if you're an apologist for the church, and find many fellow apologists to agree with you. You can deny that there was a 'dark ages', and point to the fact that they invented the plow as evidence for your position. But others disagree with you. And while I'm not a historian, I can read.

      What White and his plagiarisers fail to note is that reluctance to use lightening rods stemmed from a common sense concern - they are used to deliberately attract lightening to the building.
      - I think you're dismissing the religious aspect of it, which is real. They thought it was going against God's will. That is a belief that persists to this day in some religious communities, such as the Amish.


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  4. Did you read Freeman's review?

    I read Hanam's book. Freemon wasn't in my classes.


    Did you read Guisepi's excellent article on the Renaissance that Papalinton pointed out for us?

    You can't judge a book by it's cover but you can judge an article by a long quote from it. I'm going to do a blog piece on that quote for mondy so you can read ore then.Must dash more latter.



    Are you disputing their analyses in favor of the apologetic bunkum we hear from Catholics defending their favored religious institution? What do you think "Renaissance" means, and why do you think that term is used to refer to the period after the middle ages?

    Those guys are historians too, but they aren't suffering from the same delusions of religious thinking that seem to cloud your approach to every issue. You keep harping about your ten years in a PhD program, but you have no degree. Is there a reason for that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you disputing their analyses in favor of the apologetic bunkum we hear from Catholics defending their favored religious institution?


      that's not a loaded question is it? I can tell you are really unbiased in thinking about this. "are you disputing their bull shit over my brilliance?" Real fair

      What do you think "Renaissance" means, and why do you think that term is used to refer to the period after the middle ages?

      that's an ultra simplistic way to think about it. The philosophes fighting the clerics of the French monarchy decided to make up this bull shit narrative blaming the church for lack of science who they make themselves seem heroic and they called this period "re birth:" even though it only effected a tiny handful of people in castles, so you take that label as gospel but you don't even consider the term dark" ages was not about being a bad period but lack of documents,

      Those guys are historians too,

      what are their credentials? I don't see any listed on Freeman's site.

      but they aren't suffering from the same delusions of religious thinking that seem to cloud your approach to every issue.

      Neither was Peter Burke. he's a real historian. Neither were the atheist historians who taught my classes. We used Bruke's book on the Renaissance

      You keep harping about your ten years in a PhD program, but you have no degree. Is there a reason for that?

      I have two degrees. what degrees do you have? what degree does Freeman have? I was more than ABD

      Delete
    2. BTW ZI passed my qualifying exams for the Ph.D. and they said one of the best scores in the program.

      Delete
    3. that's not a loaded question is it? I can tell you are really unbiased in thinking about this. "are you disputing their bull shit over my brilliance?" Real fair
      - Yes, I'm biased against religious bullshit. And you, my friend are biased in favor of it.

      The philosophes fighting the clerics of the French monarchy decided to make up this bull shit narrative blaming the church for lack of science who they make themselves seem heroic and they called this period "re birth:" even though it only effected a tiny handful of people in castles
      - Once again, I urge you to read that Guisepe paper.

      what are their credentials? I don't see any listed on Freeman's site.
      - And who are you to demand credentials? Now before we go on, I have told you before that I am not impressed by people who go around touting their credentials. To me, it's a sign that their arguments are weak.

      Delete



    4. im-skepticalMay 26, 2016 at 8:38 AM

      that's not a loaded question is it? I can tell you are really unbiased in thinking about this. "are you disputing their bull shit over my brilliance?" Real fair

      - Yes, I'm biased against religious bullshit. And you, my friend are biased in favor of it.

      you are biased ageist thinking and learning, you wouldn't know scholarship if it bit your ass.

      Meta:"The philosophes fighting the clerics of the French monarchy decided to make up this bull shit narrative blaming the church for lack of science who they make themselves seem heroic and they called this period "re birth:" even though it only effected a tiny handful of people in castles

      - Once again, I urge you to read that Guisepe paper.

      I would like to. can you give mea link?

      Meta:"what are their credentials? I don't see any listed on Freeman's site. I know Guisepe's credentials. Asking that is not a insult or a means of dismissing the source, it does matter. asking it doesn't[t mean I'm saying I am better. that's all childish message board crap. Let's keep this on an adult level or otherwise I don[t have time to waste.

      - And who are you to demand credentials?

      I'm a scholar, published author with a Masters degree and I went ABD.

      Now before we go on, I have told you before that I am not impressed by people who go around touting their credentials. To me, it's a sign that their arguments are weak.


      Asking people for credentials is perfectly legitimate question.
      .apparently you don't know their credentials. I can't find any for Freeman..



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    5. funny thing about R. A. Guisepi the only publication I find for him is that one site, it's not a book or a an article in a journal it's just a website, it says UI, California but it say he has a Ph.D. Now that doesn't mean he's a bad source but it doesn't mean he's any better than I am.

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    6. you are biased ageist thinking and learning, you wouldn't know scholarship if it bit your ass.
      - That depends on what you mean by thinking and learning.

      I'm a scholar, published author with a Masters degree and I went ABD.
      - Good for you. But if your arguments suck, none of it matters.

      Asking people for credentials is perfectly legitimate question.
      .apparently you don't know their credentials. I can't find any for Freeman..

      - There are ways of finding out these things.

      funny thing about R. A. Guisepi the only publication I find for him is that one site, it's not a book or a an article in a journal it's just a website, it says UI, California but it say he has a Ph.D. Now that doesn't mean he's a bad source but it doesn't mean he's any better than I am.
      - You didn't look very hard, did you?

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    7. wrong. I looked at every thing I could find on his site and ran google search, I also did search for google scholar.

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    8. show me3 book he;s published or journal article herote

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  5. Hannam to Skep: "I responded to Charles's review at length at the time so won't rehash all that."

    A A further critique from Freeman indicates a deal of equivocation in your initial response.

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    1. Thanks. I still need to read both of them.

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    3. Historiansdon[;tv see the Renaissance a period anymore, they see it as a movement, even your own source alludes to this insay8hng some historians begin dating it in 1200s. That's still parodying but he's noticing the aviation in thinking about they period., read the Peter Burke book.

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    4. He is a poor source. I am quoted real professors in secular history programs you are quoting an ideologue solider in your movement. His view are not scholarly because he's not fair he's a propaganda merchant,

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    5. Joe,

      Your own bias is far more obvious than you will ever know. And your skills at searching aren't too good, either.

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    6. no It's no .I'm aware that I'm biased, you are not.

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  6. what are freeman's credentials? He's professional atheist. what else?

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    1. Tim McGrew and I had an exchange with Freeman in 2010:

      http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2010/07/new-passover-plot.html

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    2. Goodness Victor, you call this an exchange? McGrew quotes the bible as evidence and you pipe up, "Yeah, like what he [McGrew] said".

      Victor: "VR: It can't be too common, or else you would not have been able to found a major religion on the belief that someone had risen from the dead."

      The primitive world was filled with ghosts, ghouls, miscreant spirits, nephilim, seraphim, and a myriad of filmy transformic creatures that bumped in and out of their world wafting across the natural/supernatural divide at will. Such belief was common as muck. Otherwise how else would the early christians have believed that such a resurrection of a putrescent corpse would have been possible, particularly on the say-so of the few delusional people who imagined they saw jesus [or Elvis for that matter]. Dying and rising saviours was a common theme in primitive minds. How many historically documented dying and rising saviour stories will it take before Victor appreciates that just because christians have ring-fenced their tale as a 'genuine' miracle doesn't for an instant inoculate it from the historical fact that is is just one more among the litany of dying and rising saviour tales sweeping the ancient world where ignorance, illiteracy, and superstition were as dominant a force and drivers in their day-to-day explanations of the world around them?

      The fact that the vast majority of Jews never, in the two thousand years of the making of the christian mythos, ever subscribed to the resurrection of jesus as God as anything other than bunkum from the very get-go. Ask a Jew now whether Jesus is indeed the one and the same god they worship today.

      How is it that Muslims, with the benefit of 600 years of retrospective hindsight eschewed christianity as little more than religious crapola of a certain kind which, apparently for all the truth and evidential claims christians make, sought to strike out, in the very same region that christianity was forged and overwhelmingly dominated, to forge a very different and an undoubtedly competing set of evidentiary truth claims, which of course Victor and McGrew reject outright misguided. It too, has turned into a major religion.

      Reppert and McGrew, blinkered to the core.

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    3. In follow up, Reppert and McGrew simply cannot reconcile the historical fact that the panoply of rising and dying god themes is a telling strike against the veracity of the Christian claim. This Article succinctly disposes the uniqueness of the christian claim to its rightful classification; mythological folklore.

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    4. I've amended the earlier response to Victor:
      Goodness Victor, you call this an exchange? McGrew quotes the bible as evidence and you pipe up, "Yeah, like what he [McGrew] said".

      Victor: "VR: It can't be too common, or else you would not have been able to found a major religion on the belief that someone had risen from the dead."

      The primitive world was filled with ghosts, ghouls, miscreant spirits, nephilim, seraphim, and a myriad of filmy transformic creatures that bumped in and out of their daily life, wafting across the natural/supernatural divide at will. Such belief was common as muck. Otherwise how else would the early christians have believed that such a resurrection of a putrescent corpse would have been possible, particularly on the say-so of the so few delusional people who imagined they saw a post-mortem jesus [or Elvis for that matter]. Dying and rising saviours was a common theme in the minds of the ancients. How many historically documented dying and rising saviour stories will it take before Victor appreciates that just because christians have ring-fenced their tale as a, 'genuine' miracle, doesn't for an instant inoculate it from the historical fact that is is simply just another among the litany of dying and rising saviour tales sweeping the ancient world where ignorance, illiteracy, and superstition were as dominant a force and drivers of their reasoning in their day-to-day explanations of the world around them?

      The fact that the vast majority of Jews never, in the two thousand years of the making of the christian mythos, ever subscribed to the resurrection of jesus as God as anything other than bunkum from the very get-go. Ask a Jew now whether Jesus is indeed the one and same god they worship today. Tolerance is not acceptance even in the Middle East.

      How is it that Muslims, with the benefit of 600 years of retrospective hindsight robustly eschewed christianity as little more than religious crapola of a certain kind which, cognisant as they were of the apparent truth and evidential claims christians make, sought to strike out, in the very same region that christianity was forged and overwhelmingly dominated, imaginatively created a very different and an undoubtedly competing set of evidentiary truth claims, which of course Victor and McGrew reject outright as misguided. Islam too, has turned into a major religion, contra the need for a resurrection; in fact despite the need for a resurrection.

      Reppert and McGrew? Blinkered to the core.

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    5. The primitive world was filled with ghosts, ghouls, miscreant spirits, nephilim, seraphim, and a myriad of filmy transformic creatures that bumped in and out of their daily life, wafting across the natural/supernatural divide at will. Such belief was common as muck. Otherwise how else would the early christians have believed that such a resurrection of a putrescent corpse would have been possible, particularly on the say-so of the so few delusional people who imagined they saw a post-mortem jesus [or Elvis for that matter]. Dying and rising saviours was a common theme in the minds of the ancients.

      your reasoning is scircular a nd based up[lmn guilt by association. we know they are wrong because they are superstitious because all ancient world people were superstitious, we know superstition is wrong because it's stupid ancient world people believed.

      how do we know the res isn't true? because it's ancient world, and how do we know ancient world is stupid: because it's based upon things like the res






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    7. The fact that the vast majority of Jews never, in the two thousand years of the making of the christian mythos, ever subscribed to the resurrection of jesus as God as anything other than bunkum from the very get-go. Ask a Jew now whether Jesus is indeed the one and same god they worship today. Tolerance is not acceptance even in the Middle East.

      so Jews are not Christians got it, brilliant, We knew most Jews are wrong because their religion is ancient worked and ancient world stuff is all superstition remember?



      How is it that Muslims, with the benefit of 600 years of retrospective hindsight robustly eschewed christianity as little more than religious crapola of a certain kind which, cognisant as they were of the apparent truth and evidential claims christians make,

      because they weren't cognizant, they were kept ignorant of Christian claims even their stop scholars have gotten major point of 'biblical theology wrong. they have a great ancient civilization with lots of learning but not much about Christian theology

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    8. sought to strike out, in the very same region that christianity was forged and overwhelmingly dominated, imaginatively created a very different and an undoubtedly competing set of evidentiary truth claims, which of course Victor and McGrew reject outright as misguided. Islam too, has turned into a major religion, contra the need for a resurrection; in fact despite the need for a resurrection.

      old atheist strategy divide and conquer, play all other views against Christianity, But that's illogical for a bunch reasons the one being all ideas of God point to the reality of god. different religions are not competitors,.

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    9. Joe,

      Did you see the NY Times article mentioned in the comments to the Cross Examined article that Papalinton cited? Very interesting. Scriptures indicating a messiah who rose after three days. Here.

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  8. Papalinton, I read that Patheos article, and there was a reviewer called TheRealRandomFunction that took the author to school. You want real info on Dying and Rising saviors, here you go:

    Tektonics Copycat Hub

    Of course, you and IMS will probably whine about it, and dismiss it off hand because it's Christian, but it's a lot better than that weak article you just provided.

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    1. That article identifies a lot of points of similarity between Jesus and other mythical figures, and then goes on to argue that all those similarities are meaningless. But the mere fact of all those similarities should tell you something.

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    2. I read that Patheos link again that Papalinton linked to above, and I don't think that Bob Seidensticker thinks that they are meaningless. He thinks that it is strong evidence that the gospel writers were influenced by these stories.

      He seems to use Wikipedia a lot for his references, and he makes some claims that are dubious or have been debunked (like the claim that Justin Martyr said that the Devil put the similarities in history to fool us).

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    3. Not whining Jbsptfn, just gobsmacked at what you offer as evidence or reasoning. Simply astounding.

      By any reasonable and commonsensical assessment of the dialogue in the following comments section OF THIS ARTICLE your TheRealRandomFunction character is a real doozy for religious woozy.

      Equally, your Tektonics is deeply reluctant to identify the author of this PIECE which can only be called for what it is, disingenuous. Nowhere can I see the author's name. Indeed, Tektonics is unapologetically a thoroughly ret apologetical organisation with no pretence of being either an intellectual or scholarly institution. So in terms of bona fide historical research or commentary on historical matters it has no contribution to make going forward.

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    4. you are flip city, do you have any straight line thinking?

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    5. Yeah, Papalinton rips on Tektonics with irrational arguments, but him and IMS will post stuff from this Bob guy or Wikipedia and call it scholarly.

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  9. PaP im here's the deal every time your arguments get shot down you shift back to your core theme, religion sux. that's really your whole argument, I can prove in space religion is good for you. I can prove it studies that it[' not connected to mental illness that it helps you solve major problems that it's not superstition. so here's my proposal:
    com e to my boards doxa forums and debate in the 1xq1 section, we will have rules maybe a judge at least a referee.

    hey I'll give you the advantage. I'll take you both on,two against 1.

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    1. Joe,

      Your core theme is: "You're wrong because I wrote a paper on that." The usual implication is that you did some searching to find material written by others that support your view. Often the crap you come up with is far from main-stream. But as far as I can tell, the only thing that matters to you is if the author agrees with you (and it helps if he has a PhD). This is what we call confirmation bias.

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  10. I set it up on my blog if you want to do do it there

    here

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  11. hey man why don't you come to metacrock's blog and debate the value of religion: why don[t you?

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  12. Even the writer of this REVIEW in the Guardian at the time the six shortlisted entries were vying for the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books was not all that convinced about Hannam's central thesis that Christianity was the cause and the driver of modern science.

    That story is believable only to those that have abiding vested interests in propping up the waning relevance of the Christian narrative as an explanatory tool in contemporary society.

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  13. Even the writer of this REVIEW in the Guardian at the time the six shortlisted entries were vying for the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books was not all that convinced about Hannam's central thesis that Christianity was the cause and the driver of modern science.

    That story is believable only to those that have abiding vested interests in propping up the waning relevance of the Christian narrative as an explanatory tool in contemporary society.

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    1. I think it's fair to say that modern science arose in Europe despite Christianity and the dominance of the church, not because of it. The people who dared to defy the church were the ones who made science what it is. If the church had its way, we would still be in the dark ages.

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  14. I just found this post, with its remarkable claims about me. For example:

    "his very favorable review comes from Tim O'Neill, who claims to be an atheist and skeptic, and that, I suppose, is the reason Victor chooses to call out this particular article as being worthy of notice. If an atheist agrees with what the apologists say, then there must be something to it, right? I did a little research on Tim O'Neill, and could find no reason to think that he is anything other than a Christian who claims to be an atheist."

    Gosh. That would certainly amuse anyone who actually knows me. Or anyone who knows that I have an online record as an atheist which goes all the way back to posts on alt.atheism as early as 1992 or who knows that I have been a state president of the Australian Skeptics and a paid up subscribing member of the Australian Atheist Foundation for many years.

    "His articles are uniformly supportive of theists and their beliefs, and critical of atheists. For example, in his post titled Why Miracles Are Not Incompatible with Science, he states:"

    My what? Anyone who can click on that link can see that post was written by someone called Karlo Broussard, who the bottom of the post says "works as a full time apologist and speaker for Catholic Answers giving lectures throughout the country on topics in Catholic apologetics, theology and philosophy." How the hell did you manage to bungle that so badly that you attributed that post by a Catholic apologist to me?

    If this is evidence of your research "skills", no wonder the rest of your post above is riddled with historical howlers.

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  15. My apology for incorrectly attributing that article to you. I don't know how that happened. Nevertheless, from looking at your blog, I still see no reason to think that you are anything but a Christian apologist.

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    1. "Nevertheless, from looking at your blog, I still see no reason to think that you are anything but a Christian apologist."

      That is the most absurdly illogical thing I've read in weeks. Someone who is not only not a Christian but is actually an atheist obviously can't be "a Christian apologist". So the only rational conclusion is that your absurd statement above is simply a stupid emotional blurt where "Christian apologist" is meant as some kind of bizarre, irrational slur. A bit like a petulant three year old calling an adult a "great big poopyhead". Thanks for demonstrating that you're not only incompetent (i.e. the Broussard bungle) but also irrational.

      I'm an "apologist" for we atheists practising what we preach on things like checking our facts, paying attention to expert scholarship and academic consensus on fields outside our own, not believing things without question and guarding against confirmation bias. Things that all too many atheists simply don't do when it comes to commenting on history. Your tangled thicket of historiographical blunders and errors of fact in the post above is a classic case of the kind of crap we end up with when people like you stumble onto a historical topic. As I'll be detailing in an upcoming post on my blog dedicated to you.

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    2. Skep isn't saying that you're both an atheist and a Christian apologist, hence he isn't saying anything illogical. Rather, he is saying something more like this:

      Skep's claim - [Given the content of the blog, the author of the blog is more likely to be a Christian apologist rather than an atheist]

      Given the above interpretation of Skep's claim, he doesn't actually believe you are an atheist. Or perhaps more accurately, he has a greater degree of belief that you're a Christian apologist rather than an atheist. I don't entirely fault him. If your blog content and internet presence was almost exclusively targeting atheists then this would seem more likely to occur if you're a theist rather than an atheist.

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    3. "Skep isn't saying that you're both an atheist and a Christian apologist, hence he isn't saying anything illogical."

      "Skep" had just been told that I I have an online record as an atheist which goes all the way back to posts on alt.atheism as early as 1992, that I have been a state president of the Australian Skeptics and have a paid up subscribing member of the Australian Atheist Foundation for many years. Even if he thinks those things are abject lies, they can be checked pretty easily - just typing "Tim O'Neill Australian Skeptics" into Google brings up a PDF copy of The Skeptic, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1992 as its very first hit and which proves one of my claims on page 11. So "Skep" didn't bother even the most cursory checking of the facts. Which is hardly logical.

      "Skep's claim - [Given the content of the blog, the author of the blog is more likely to be a Christian apologist rather than an atheist]"

      Another spectacular example of illogic. The contents of my blog? At the top of every one of it's pages is the following statement:

      "This blog is for articles, book reviews and critiques relating to "New Atheist Bad History" - the misuse of history and the use of biased, erroneous or distorted pseudo history by anti-theistic atheists. The author is an atheist himself so no, this is not some theist apologetics blog. It is simply an attempt to call out and correct the misuse of history, because rationalists should not base their arguments on errors and distortions."

      And anyone who bothered to read its contents can see that I clearly have no belief in any God or gods (ie atheist) and obviously believe Jesus was nothing more than a Jewish preacher (ie not a Christian).

      "If your blog content and internet presence was almost exclusively targeting atheists then this would seem more likely to occur if you're a theist rather than an atheist."

      If my content is targeting some atheists for a very specific thing - using erroneous and distorted ideas about history - then that does not necessarily follow at all. I could do precisely that and still be an atheist myself. Which even the most superficial checking shows is actually the case.

      So no, his blurt above is totally illogical. It's just him lashing out emotionally the way fundamentalists do when their beliefs are threatened.

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    4. I don't know how you're using the term "illogical". Perhaps you mean "Irrational" since I don't see Skep asserting anything inherently contradictory. You saying you're an atheist does not logically imply you're an atheist, so despite your assertion Skep could assert you're actually a theist without committing himself to a contradiction. e.g. The following is not a logically inconsistent set:

      {S asserts that S is an atheist, S is a theist}

      You could very well be an atheist and have the blog that you do, and the internet presence that you do. Given the following propositions, 1 and 2, I doubt Skep would assert 1 over 2:

      Proposition 1 - [Tim O' Neil's internet presence and blog content imply he is a theist]

      Proposition 2 - [Given Tim O' Neil's internet presence and blog content, Tim O' Neil is probably a theist]

      1 is a stronger claim than 2. 1 says that your internet presence and blog content are logically incompatible with you being an atheist. With 2, you being an atheist or a theist can be consistent with your internet presence and blog content, but your internet presence and blog content can be more probable if you're a theist, so if all else is equal then you're likely a theist (Even if it isn't the case that you are in fact an atheist).

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  16. "I don't know how you're using the term "illogical". Perhaps you mean "Irrational" since I don't see Skep asserting anything inherently contradictory."

    Call me crazy, but I find someone concluding that I'm a Christian straight after I gave him direct and detailed evidence that he could check (and didn't) that I am not pretty illogical. But if we're getting down to truly pathetic and petty levels of pedantry about words, okay - let's go with "irrational" instead.

    Either way, his conclusion is both stupid and dead wrong. It was, as I said, merely an emoitonal butthurt response of the kind we see from irrational faith position believers who have had their smug faith disturbed. Still want to defend it with wibbling or are we done here?

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    1. Well, it does indeed seem that someone here is reacting in an emotional manner. What I said is that from what I observe about your posts and your general demeanor, It does seem as if you are a Christian apologist. If you are in fact an atheist, OK, but you don't appear to be one, because you are consistently supportive Christians and their beliefs and dogmas, and consistently taking issue with atheists. I don't mean to imply that that makes you a Christian, but it certainly does make you sound like a Christian.

      As for your view of history, you have your opinions and I have mine. You seem to think that science flourished in the middle ages under the benevolent leadership of the Church, and I disagree with that. I don't think that it is reasonable to classify Duns Scotus as a "scientist". But if you do, that's your opinion, and my opinion of your understanding of science is assessed accordingly.



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    2. I didn't defend Skep's claims. Rather, I'm trying to make everyone's claims as clear as they can be. If Skep asserts one thing, but you interpret it in another way then it would be useful if Skep's claim was rephrased in a way that avoids any ambiguity or vagueness.

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  17. "Well, it does indeed seem that someone here is reacting in an emotional manner."

    The only emotion I'm feeling here is amusement.

    " If you are in fact an atheist, OK, but you don't appear to be one, because you are consistently supportive Christians and their beliefs and dogmas, and consistently taking issue with atheists. "

    Please quote me supporting any Christian belief or dogma. Ever. Anywhere. I'll wait.

    "As for your view of history, you have your opinions and I have mine."

    Mine just happen to be based on 35 years of careful study of the scholarship and to be supported by the leading academics in the field of the history of science.

    "You seem to think that science flourished in the middle ages under the benevolent leadership of the Church, and I disagree with that."

    What I actually say is that the proto-scientific induction about the physical world which had languished in western Europe since the late second century AD revived in the twelfth century and that, contrary to the myth, the Church didn't restrict this revival and its key figures were all churchmen working within the western Christian intellectual tradition. This is also what the leading historians of science say and have been saying for about 100 years. If you "disagree" with this statement of fact that tells us a great deal about your grasp of the subject.

    " I don't think that it is reasonable to classify Duns Scotus as a "scientist". But if you do, that's your opinion, and my opinion of your understanding of science is assessed accordingly. "

    Gosh. It's fairly common in the discussion of this subject to use the modern and rather anachronistic term "scientist" as a short-hand for "a philosopher who applied (some) observation and rigorous logical induction to develop consistent ideas about the physical world that could be built upon logically". Duns Scotus wasn't a "scientist" in the modern sense of the world, but no-one prior to 1600 was, so that isn't much of a problem.

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    1. So we're really talking about two completely different things. When I (or anyone else) say that scientific advancement was at a virtual standstill during the middle ages, you start ranting about how historically ignorant everybody is because they don't recognize the great scientific achievements of Duns Scotus and others like him. And by "science" you really mean theistic philosophy, which did flourish during that time, and nobody argues against that. Then you try to divert the issue by accusing us of making historical claims that aren't true: "I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one - just one - scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages." We all know that that kind of suppression didn't happen much until real science DID begin to rise AFTER the middle ages. But you're more interested in defending the church than defending the truth.

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