Saturday, July 09, 2011

Poking gods makes one unpopular

I have to admit, I am tired of being unpopular. But I'm going to tread into that territory once again. Just because it is important to get some things out there even when it will make people angry. And this will.

To be popular I would have to either shut up or lie. Or I can continue to speak out and be unpopular (or as my cousin recently said, be "a dickhead".)

From my interactions with Christians I know that people don't like it when you expose their god as imaginary or as a fraud. (And, as far as the "God of the Bible" goes, he has been completely disproved*. Maybe, just maybe, there might be something out in the Universe that, because of technology or evolution, the word "god" might seem to be the only description available, but it won't be the "God of the Bible", and that is absolutely certain. Sorry.)

Which brings me to today's main point: The State is today's most popular god. I will repeat that: Statism, the belief in the legitimacy of The State, what most people mean when they say "government", is nothing but a religion where The State is the god. A person can believe in the god of The State alone, or in conjunction with supernatural god(s), or neither.

A little explanation is in order. People who worship, or at least believe in, a supernatural god have their own concept of that god in their mind that really doesn't mesh very well with anyone else's concept of god. The only reason they don't notice this fact is that they haven't examined it too closely (or in the right way) and they only see the god they personally imagine (or interpret through writings they read) and they assume that's the god everyone they worship with sees as well. If they could actually get inside the head of the person sitting in the pew next to them they'd be shocked at the god that person is worshiping- and vice versa. The reason I know this is that I asked a lot of people over a long period of time to describe "God" in detail to me. And I kept digging deeper into their concept. Beyond the most superficial description there was no similarity from one person to the next, even when they believed they worshiped the same god in the same church. Even the descriptions, personality traits, and characteristics of the "Biblical God" are completely different in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. But people try not to notice. It is as if many different objects- rocks, turtles, watermelons, books, ice cubes, televisions, and pillows- are painted the same color and given the same surface texture and said to be the same thing.

The statist's god is the opposite. The god of The State comes in many forms that are all much more similar than they are different, except on the surface. Unlike supernatural gods, with the god of The State only the minor details differ. Like how the people who control the State are selected or take power. The deeper you dig, the more identical the States are. They all share the characteristics of supporting themselves through theft, a monopoly of "legalized" force, and very few people questioning the legitimacy of this god, even when they oppose the particular form they happen to dislike. In this case it is like taking a bunch of watermelons and painting them differently, or gluing a bunch of different things to the surface and claiming that they are all completely different from one another. More than believe in any particular version of a supernatural god. Tragically, most people still believe some form of State is inevitable and necessary.

Even worse than opposing the god of State, in the eyes of the Believers, is exposing it as a fraud. And it IS a fraud. It is imaginary insofar as it doesn't exist as a monolithic real thing; it is made up of individual people who have the same flaws as those the State Worshipers pretend The State will protect us from. It is a fraud because it doesn't protect any innocent person from anything, it simply takes the place of the freelance thief and aggressor and claims its actions are good, where the same actions would be bad if you or I committed them without working for The State. So we must be protected from those bad guys by others doing the same thing? Ridiculous!

What got me thinking on this was a comment I made on an "atheist's" video, which caused her to comment back to me "you're an idiot". Among other things. It comes down to the fact that I simply got her to expose the fact that she still believes in a god, but her god is The State. I pity her for that.

* Before someone starts harping on the common belief that "you can't prove a negative"- yes you can. I can prove that my hip pocket does not contain a 25-ton, fluorescent orange, living, breathing, flying Tyrannosaurus rex. But suppose I made the claim that such a creature was in my hip pocket. You could prove that my hip pocket doesn't contain that creature in spite of my claims, probably without even coming to me and examining the inside of my pocket. You can use logic, and the laws of the Universe, to disprove my preposterous claim. You can prove a negative.

Added: I have modified somewhat my contention that The State is analogous to god. Read my newer thoughts here.



  1. Hi Kent,

    It's the damnedest thing. Most of the anarchists I know are bible-thumpers. I'm guessing that they reason thusly: Politicians are usurping God's authority. I've never asked because I don't like futile arguments. Here's my list of futility:

    1. God

    2. Israel/Palestine

    3. The brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for my "freedom".

    4. Immigration

    5. zOMG anarchy!

    This is not to say that I don't consider the above worthy of discussion. I just find that it's hard to discuss anything with someone who holds a closely-held belief. I think all beliefs are bad, but then again, that's just another belief.


  2. Yep. One o' them Bible-believing anarchists, here. It's not because the State "usurps" God's authority. The State doesn't have authority, period. It's because Statism is irrational.

    Kent, you say it's been proven that an immaterial God (the God of the Bible. Don't hate too much on the Fundamentalists, even if they believe God has a "mighty arm," literally) does not exist. Using what empirical proof? Is there an objective God test, kind of like a pregnancy test? "If there's evil in the world and there exists an omnipotent, all-good God, well, that's 'blue.' The strip is blue! There's no God!"

  3. First of all, this isn't "Kent's 'Hooligan Atheist' Blog" and I don't want to make it into that. (Although I did consider starting that blog at one time, too.)

    Second, it isn't up to the atheists to disprove the existence of each god as it/he/she is presented. That burden rests solely upon those making the claims.

    However, I sometimes take on burdens that are not my responsibility, so ... The best way to prove or disprove something is using the description/definition of that thing. If the description is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory you can be pretty sure the thing isn't real.

    As for the Biblical God there are many ways to reach the conclusion that he is imaginary. Where would you like to start?

    One possible beginning point (unless you prefer another): Do you believe the Bible is God's inerrant word and is an accurate description of reality, including the reality of God's existence and characteristics?

  4. I keep hearing about people who will respect someone who pisses them off rather than lie to them. I've certainly never met one in person, though.

    One of these days I'm going to exceed my annoyance tolerance and straight up ask why they prefer I to lie to them. I'll tell you how it goes!

    Let's assume there is a Godlike entity.

    What's the odds that some random desert tribesmen figured out the correct description of him on the first try?

    No instruments, comparably terrible epistemology, much more interested in surviving than in wondering if perhaps the neighbouring tribe got a better description...yeah. The God of the Bible is a prototype hypothesis. And now we've developed engineering, we know that prototypes never, ever, ever work the first time round.

    This is perfectly natural, because the point of gods isn't to be accurate.

    Speaking of terrible epistemology...proving a negative. If a 'negative' really was a different thing, you could simply disprove its negation. If it were epistemically impossible to prove "There is no god," then you could just turn around and disprove, "There is a god." Head-slappingly simple.

    Amateur philosophers bad at epistemology. More at 11. (The professionals suck too. Which is news, but shouldn't be because they're tax funded.)

    Ironically, I'm actually agnostic, strict version.

  5. Over the years I have asked a couple of people why they would prefer I lie to them. They go into all sorts of contortions about how I could tell the truth more nicely, or that it might be "my truth" but it isn't "their truth".

    And on God- Why are his attitudes and characteristics like those of a bronze-age patriarchal desert tribesman, rather than like those of a 21st century Japanese businessman? Or why not like those of some hypothetical cloud-miner on some planet on the other side of the Universe? Any of those should be just as likely as the other.

    The Old Testament god was God 1.0. The prototype. The New Testament god was God 2.0 (or however techies number that stuff). Slightly "improved" but still not quite ready for the market. Various Christian denominations have released their various God versions since then and have gotten pretty good at finding the right God for any person's need. I'm not saying that is necessarily a bad thing (although it can be used for bad), just that it should help show the truth.

  6. Kent, I'm not here to prove God's existence. I'm here to ask you to give me some arguments why God doesn't exist, according to your "Biblical description" theory. I'll then attempt to destroy your objections, of course, but I wouldn't expect anyone to believe that destroying your objections is a proof that God exists.

    I could probably talk to a bunch of people who say they know you, get their descriptions of you, and use your theory to point out that while they fundamentally agree upon the most basic attributes of Kent McManigal, that nevertheless, Kent McManigal doesn't exist "as he is described." That would prove very little, of course.

  7. As for proving myself to exist- you can find from many sources the details of where and when I was born, you can see with your own eyes pictures of me throughout the years, you can see the things I have written for all to read. You don't have to rely on things other people have written that is said to have been inspired by me, or that is said to have been created by me when there are simpler explanations. You can see and speak to my children, my ex-wives, my parents, my siblings, my personal friends. Their interpretations of me and my personality and behavior might differ, but not the basics: I am a male human being who was born at a particular time in a specific location. As such there are certain things you can automatically know to be true about me and if I claimed some attribute that was inconsistent with being a male human being you would know I was either lying, or I was not a male human being. I can be measured, touched, seen, photographed, analyzed, and interacted with in an objective manner. No interpretation necessary. I do not claim to be never-changing, so I might be different in some way tomorrow than today, but that simply means I am real.

    With God, only the minor details hold consistent. When you look in depth the illusion fades. That is the opposite situation from your illustration questioning my existence.

    Since you haven't told me anything about your "God", totally ignoring the starting questions I suggested, I am forced to make some assumptions. If the assumption that you accept that God is omniscient and omnipotent is incorrect I would be wasting my time by addressing that first. If my assumption that you believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God is in error, then I would be wasting my time addressing that one.

  8. Somehow, in all the above I forgot to get to my own point: You have more to rely upon to describe and discover the "real me" than my own, or anyone else's, description of me.

    Good thing I never described myself as omnipotent and omniscient. ;)

  9. Underground Carpenter has been M.I.A, lately, keep it up UC, I see a serious "arse" kicking in your future.

    As far as your, "Kent's" comments, nice use of the phrase,"their", god is well founded, because only a fool would believe that there is not a larger "concept" evolved, a mere look up at the night's sky will affirm that.

  10. C_Y- Merely "The God of the Gaps"- just because you don't understand the Universe (and no one truly does, but science is working on it while religion is content with the understanding of bronze age goat herders) it doesn't mean there had to be a "god" who did it.

    In fact my appreciation of the wonder of the Universe increased many-fold once I got over the "God did it" mindset. Yes, a "larger concept" by far, but not supernatural. Nature is greater than any god could ever aspire to be (if they were real).

  11. Kent, as I said, I'm not here to prove God's existence. I'm just waiting for your arguments proving that God, as described in the Bible (Old and/or New Testament) doesn't exist. You said it had been proven. Show me a few proofs.

    "(and no one truly does, but science is working on it while religion is content with the understanding of bronze age goat herders)"

    Goat herders. Yes. To whom it was revealed "Jahveh." Or, "I Am." In other words, "I am a being whose essence it is to exist." A concept the Greeks didn't grasp for another 1,000 years. Glad that Starbucks baristas and lawyers have arrived at an understanding far beyond what those goatherders knew: we are nothing but clumps of matter that happen to manipulate other clumps of matter, and for some reason, though we're nothing but clumps of motile star dust spinning around in a cold cosmos, we should treat each other well.

  12. OK. You are setting a trap so that each point I make you can claim that isn't what God is "really like" according to your beliefs. I'll do my best anyway.

    Garden of Eden story: God tells Adam and Eve they can eat any fruit in the garden except for the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They disobey and God kicks them out of the Garden as punishment.

    Until they ate that fruit there was no way they could have understood that it was wrong to disobey, yet the "omnipotent and omniscient" God doesn't quite get that critical point. So the Bible starts out on pretty shaky ground as far as internal consistency goes.

    The Bible also says the world is "a circle". It is not; it is a sphere. The word used in the Bible means the same as "disc", yet there were words in common use at that time that would have been more accurate such as words for "ball" and other roughly spherical objects, and God could have whispered this information to those who were writing if he were omnipotent and omniscient. For that matter, an omnipotent and omniscient God could have even given the writers a new word that was more accurate had anyone writing the book been aware of the Earth's spherical shape, rather than assuming it was flat (and supported by pillars, under a solid dome of sky).

    So if one uses the Bible to "prove" God's existence and the Bible is not 100% without error, then the proof fails. A flawed disproof of God can be overcome since one faulty disproof doesn't say anything about the others, but one failed "proof" of God as described in the Bible shows that God is not omnipotent or omniscient and can't possibly be as described.

    Why does that God behave more like a barbaric goat herder than a civilized person? Sure, maybe he chose to "reveal" himself to people who already had similar prejudices, attitudes, and behaviors to the ones he had, but those traits are not worthy of worship.

    Only creationists claim that science says we are "nothing but clumps of motile star dust". Star dust, yes, but we have sentience and sapience. That is "something" rather than "nothing but". That is why we should treat each other well. Where we came from has no bearing on that; only the current condition does. Do you think we should treat one another well only if God created us as described in Genesis? (two different contradictory versions of that event are recorded there, by the way.) Your story says God created rocks, so should they treat one another well? Rocks are not sentient or sapient, so of course not. How they came to exist is irrelevant.

  13. Kent, well, I have to admit that you're taking the Bible more literally than even most Fundamentalists. The majority of believers don't treat the Bible as a book intended to teach scientific truths (although it does contain many, which have been ridiculed for years, and suddenly, science finds evidence that corroborates strange statements in the Bible.) It is a book to teach moral truths. It is not dictated by God. It was written by men inspired by God. "Without error" really depends on what you mean, doesn't it? As with any beautiful painting, or any literary work, the real question is "Did it accomplish what it set out to accomplish?"

    Your "disproofs" remind me of someone reading Aesop's "Fox and the Grapes," then saying, "This tale is ridiculous. The fox had been trying to reach the grapes for hours, and then goes on to say 'They're probably sour?' If the fox thought the grapes were sour, he wouldn't have tried to get them for so long. Therefore, this story is contradictory and ridiculous." Someone saying that obviously didn't get the point of the fable. Like a fable or a parable, the Bible is something you either "get" or you don't.

    "Why does that God behave more like a barbaric goat herder than a civilized person?"

    "Civilized" compared to . . . whom, in 2,000 B.C? The people who did not believe in Hebrew scripture, and threw their own newborn babies into hollow statues of Moloch, which were superheated over a fire? The Babylonians? The Assyrians? Asherah-worshipers, who participated in cult prostitution, not always the voluntary type?

    The fact is, God meets his people where they are. The world was a cold, violent place 3,000 years ago. The difference between then and now? Now, people have every opportunity to know better, but they choose not to behave according to their human nature. In fact, many deny the existence of a human nature. They deny an objective moral law. And why shouldn't they? Who dares bind them to some aetherial "moral law?" Probably drafted by unicorns, anyway. The Scripture put a lot of restrictions on people's behavior that they didn't much like. Stuff like, well, "Don't eat pigs." There were biological and spiritual reasons behind this commandment. In a time before less-than-outstanding sanitation, it saved a lot of lives, as did many other seemingly arbitrary commandments. Restrictions like, "Don't throw your babies into furnaces." You'd think that would be a fair starting point for any population, but if you looked around, you'd have seen it was a fairly common practice in that day. What God didn't say in the Old Testament was, "Be perfect. Abide by the non-aggression principle. Avoid central banking. The Austrian school of economics is right." It would have been disastrous. Asking a bunch of goat herders to do that would have been as effective as telling them to push a peanut up Mt. Sinai with their noses. So they started out with simple things that goat herders could figure out. Like, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." No. The religion was as perfect as people adhered to it. And if you've read scripture, you'll see that people didn't adhere to it very well. But then, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "If the Church had to be as perfect as you seem to want it, you wouldn't be welcome to join it!"

  14. . . . continued

    What "traits" of God do you speak of? Please give me some illustrations of what you mean: some that show you've read at least the Old Testament and are able to make knowledgeable statements about it.

    You seem to think that we'd have developed our notion of proper human interaction based on purely reason? Perhaps via Molyneux's "universally preferable behavior?" I can provide hundreds of examples of justifying any behavior by means of pure "reason." Are there lots of "religious" wackjobs who try to justify their behavior based on Scripture? Absolutely. And they don't "get" what Scripture is about. What it was meant to convey. It's not something that can be forced into their heads, either. They chose their behavior they wanted to indulge in first, then tried to justify it with scripture afterward. It almost never happens the other way around.

    Kent, you wouldn't recognize a society that had not been influenced by Judaism or Christianity. And it wouldn't be in a good way. You're thinking in ideas about human dignity that are the culmination of over 3,000 years of secular AND religious study and revelation, and you don't recognize it. You're able to see so far, as Newton said, only because you are standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants such as St. Ignatius of Antioch. Of St. Augustine of Hippo. Of St. Thomas Aquinas. Of St. Thomas More. Of the School of Salamanca.

    And there's been discord. I've read a letter from a Carmelite brother, Paolo Foscarini, who tried to convince St. Robert Bellarmine that Galileo's findings were not, in fact, contradictory to Scripture. Robert Bellarmine, as holy and decent as he was, did not "get it." Thankfully, others who believed in the teachings of Christ and His Church did.

    Kent, I can't get you to "get it." That's not my goal here. There have always been scandalous people who kept people away from the Church. Jesus warned about them. Calling them wolves in sheep's clothing. Spoke about how they would be better off having millstones hung on their necks and being drowned in the sea. Sometimes, Jesus's own hand-picked followers didn't even get it. On one occasion, upon their teaching being rejected by a town, asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy the town. He rebuked them, saying, "You do not know of what spirit you are." Kent, there are a lot of otherwise decent people out there who do not know of what spirit they are. I'm sorry they've been a scandal to you. But I think your argumentation against the Bible is off-target.

  15. " you're taking the Bible more literally than even most Fundamentalists"

    You've done exactly as I expected. You hid the goalposts and now complain that I didn't predict where you say they are. So be it.

    That's the particular brand of Christianity I grew up in. Which brings up another point- shouldn't an omnipotent and omniscient God have been able to be clear enough that there wouldn't be confusion and disagreement over what he meant?

    Every single case of a scientific truth discovered to have been in the Bible unnoticed all this time before being rediscovered by scientists is an urban (or religious) legend. I have heard of many of these and so far not one has stood up to scrutiny. But, perhaps you know of one I don't, so please tell me of the best one (or a list of them).

    Moral truths? You mean like saying that homosexuals should be killed, along with disobedient children? Saying that you should kill innocent babies (now there's unequivocal baby murdering for you) just because their parents were your enemy or worshiped a different god? Do you mean like setting a price for selling your daughter into slavery? And telling slaves to obey their owners? And telling slave owners just how much they can beat their slaves without pointing out that slavery is wrong (which ties into a point I'll address in a bit)? And there are many, many more of these abominations sold as "moral truths". If those are moral truths, then I hope my neighbors are all immoral!

    The Fox and the Grapes is not contradictory; it is a fact of human nature that can be observed every day, and even in our own lives. Now, if the fox had eaten the grapes and they had been poisonous and killed him and he went off telling others about the lesson he had learned, and the story was presented as a real historical event (which people were willing to kill those who didn't believe), then I would have just as much of a problem with that fable, too.

    "'Civilized' compared to . . . whom, in 2,000 B.C?"

    Civilized compared to anyone throughout history (including our future). An Omnipotent and omniscient God wouldn't need to limit his morality to the time a particular tribe lived in; he would be able to see all of history simultaneously and compare all behavior to "good" and "bad" without being wishy-washy just because of someone's circumstances.

    To be continued...

  16. "'Don't eat pigs.' There were biological and spiritual reasons behind this commandment. In a time before less-than-outstanding sanitation, it saved a lot of lives."

    Sure... But an omnipotent and omniscient God could have told people about sanitation and proper cooking rather than making up silly rules that avoided the root of the problem. Kinda like what goat herders who observed that undercooked pork caused problems, but couldn't figure out why, might have written.

    God's traits- jealous, angry, vengeful, genocidal, petty, uncaring (Job's poor family fell prey to this), sexist, etc. He behaves exactly like you'd expect a patriarchal tribesman of the Bronze Age to act. He acts a bit better in the New Testament, which seems to indicate God either evolved or changed his mind, which kind of blows away that "God is eternal" / "I am" thingy, doesn't it.

    " wouldn't recognize a society that had not been influenced by Judaism or Christianity..."

    That is not the issue. I also wouldn't recognize a society that hadn't been influenced by the Greeks or Romans, but that doesn't mean I should pretend Zeus or Jupiter are real and worship them. Does it? I wouldn't enjoy a society that hadn't been influenced by the Aztecs and Spaniards (Mexican food!), but I am not about to give respect to the barbarous things both of those societies did.

    I may be standing on the shoulders of giants, as you say, but an omnipotent and omniscient God would not need to. He would have known that he was telling people things through his word that were not true, and were often harmful..Those giants I stand upon would have been bigger had the Bible not misled them

  17. it is hard for me to understand how anyone with a logical mind can use a phrase like: "The fact is, God meets his people where they are" and then expect to be taken seriously.

    funny how believers are so quick to point out that they know EXACTLY HOW GOD works, but then can't provide elementary proof that their delusions of "him" are real. and by "real", i mean, something that can be universally accepted as truth, like the FACT that the sky is often blue, that 4 + 4 = 8, that if you take a hammer to your thumb it will probably hurt.

    all serious discourses have provable points.

    religion is not one of them, because it's a complete farce.

  18. As a youngster I watched an old black & white movie where two guys knock on the door of a speakeasy. The spy-hole opens and the goon inside says, “Yeah?”

    Guy One says, “Hey, let us in” but the goon says “I can’t, I don’t know you.”

    Guy Two says, “That’s okay, I’ll vouch for him” but the goon says, “I don’t know you either.”

    So Guy One says, “That’s okay, I’ll vouch for him.”

    The goon frowns, looks back and forth at the two guys and says, “Uh, okay, come in.”

    Even as a teenager this comic scene struck me as a metaphor for the basis of the Christian religion, at least as it was taught to me:

    How do we know God exists? Because the Bible tells us so. But why should we believe the Bible? Because it is the Word of God and God is infallible.”

    God is God because God says he’s God.

    I never “rejected God” for the simple fact that I never bought into the whole God thing in the first place. That type of reasoning encountered at an early age was a primary reason why.

  19. Garry- That is an excellent analogy. That is how I have viewed the whole thing for a long time, but had never seen it put into words.

    And I did buy into it for decades. The inconsistencies just kept piling up until they were too obvious to ignore anymore.

  20. Also very troubling is the fact that if you're Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, by far the most likely explanation is because your parents were Christian, Muslim, or Hindu. If any of them are the one true faith and their god reaches out to unbelievers...well, he's not doing a very good job. Instead, he seems to rely on perfectly mundane cultural transmission.

    So most likely, nearly everyone is statist because the historical state literally killed anyone who wasn't, ending their family lines.
    Good work there, government. There was some infinitesimal chance states weren't the epitome of evil, but you finished it off with zeal.

  21. Kent, I was thrilled when I saw the link in your article claiming to have proved God's non-existence. But have you actually been to the site? It's the worst sort of pseudo-science mind-bending garbage I've ever seen (and I've read the Bible!) I almost came away with a new-found faith in Jesus Christ as the son of an omnipotent, omniscient God. Perhaps it's a false flag operation?

    I've called myself a Christian for a long time, but clearly don't fit in with anyone else I've seen so far. I just claim that Jesus said a lot of really cool things that I agree with, and for that some people called him The Christ. I'm a Christian just like I'm a Rothbardian. Jesus probably said more that I disagree with than Rothbard did, but that's beside the point.

    I especially like Garry's comment about the Bible begging the question. But the godisimaginary site is full of exactly that same logical fallacy - and I do mean exactly the same - relying on the Bible as infallible, then saying God doesn't exist because the Bible turns out to be fallible. Sorry folks, all you've proven is that the Bible is fallible (if that). Very disappointing.

    You're right that it's not necessary to prove God doesn't exist in order to rationally ignore unsupported claims that He does, but your post very clearly states that "he has been completely disproved". I don't disagree with your conclusion - but I'd sure like to see your work!

    Then again, I like your articles on government corruption and freedom an awful lot, and maybe nobody else has the interest in this 'God' subject that I do, so maybe it would be wasted effort on your part.

  22. I suppose the only thing that's left is to have a person define "God" (as they take God to be) and disprove it point by point.

    I do think the "godisimaginary" site disproves god more thoroughly than is necessary, however you are free to feel differently.

    The sister site to that one is "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" and they have a forum you can discuss your beliefs on.

    God very clearly does not exist in any way that any Christian means when they say the word, but no one can make you believe that. It is just like the fact that I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my pocket does not contain a purple, 3-horned unicorn, but I can't make anyone else accept the facts if they simply refuse to do so. I am not responsible for your mind and the Universe doesn't care what you believe.

  23. Someone has caused me to modify my thoughts on "The State as god" somewhat. Read it here.