God's a bastard, instalment 34827

I just put out some more bird seed, because I noticed that this morning's supply had been depleted by the usual mob of colourful creatures, but also because one of the birds still picking at the few seeds left clearly needs all the help it can get.

It's a cockatoo with a fairly advanced case of "psittacine beak and feather disease". I could have taken a picture of it, but it always makes me so sad to even look at a cockatoo with this disease that I just couldn't stand it.

It also makes me sort of aimlessly angry, wishing God existed so I could ask Him what the bloody hell He thought He was playing at.

Psittacine beak and feather disease is, in brief, a virus which takes one of the most beautiful creatures in the world, and makes it uglier and uglier until it is so ugly that it can no longer eat, whereupon it dies. If opportunistic infections of the bird's devastated feathers and tumorous, necrotic beak and claws haven't killed it already, that is.

There is no cure, or even specific treatment, for psittacine beak and feather disease.

There are hundreds of diseases of humans and animals that're just as horrible. But few are as purely and plainly awful as this one. It's like a metaphor for the unfairness of life.

Right - I'm off to Cute Overload for a while.

49 Responses to “God's a bastard, instalment 34827”

  1. Punkey Says:

    Viruses are really good at that kind of thing, considering how they reproduce. The exponential and destructive nature of their reproduction and the fact that they have no off switch to that reproduction once it starts means that they almost always just produce more and more of themselves until they're either been eliminated or killed off their hosts. The fact that they're just a bit of genetic refuse in a protein shell makes how good they are at reproducing themselves all the more impressive. Still, the better they get at reproducing themselves, the more damage they do to their hosts, and it's rarely good or pretty when they do.

  2. Stuart Says:

    Just think of it as an example of God being fair and balanced, you see a sick bird, God sees a thriving colony of viruses.

  3. Red October Says:

    Reminds me of a favorite bit from "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" -at the funeral for a baby, the preacher went off on a long narrative about how it was "God's will". On her way out, Maureen (The book's protagonist) planted her spike heel squarely in the preacher's instep. When he protested, she said it must have been "God's will". Heinlein's Maureen remains one of my best-loved literary characters.

  4. Matt W Says:

    Also...the poor bloody devils. Although I understand they may have found one with an immunity.

  5. TwoHedWlf Says:

    Yeah, I took care of a sulphur crested for a while that had PBFD. Poor fugly little guy.:( He was put down eventually.

  6. Ice8205 Says:

    Sadly, given that there is no cure, and the infection vector is both vertical and horizontal, the cruel farmer approach is probably best.

    As in, putting down any bird you see with it to improve the chances of the entire flock. But that is always hard to do. :/

  7. awollangk Says:

    The way I see it, God is screwed. The only way to not end up with horror is to make everything the same. This is because we all judge good and bad situations based on our perspective. If our lives were otherwise absolutely perfect, a hangnail would be horror. Or maybe even just "OMG, I was walking and had to go AGAINST THE WIND! THE HORROR!!"

    Unfortunately, when dealing with tragedy this tends to be cold comfort. Things like "God's Will" can provide some relief if you can believe that God's Will is always going to result in the greater good, but that kind of faith has its drawbacks as well. Pure acceptance denies the significance of the event and in cases can be downright disrespectful. Even if the tragedy was God's Will he still wants us to make the most of the situation and dismissing it shows a lack of respect for the lessons to be learned.

    I try to accept tragedy as a perspective to help me appreciate the joys in life. I'm a programmer and found myself out of work after the dot com crash. At this time I was active in my church and involved in the choir, so I found myself frequently leading the congregation in song for funerals. (Funerals frequently don't have much warning so someone who can be called on short notice for them will find it happening frequently.) Most of the time it was an elderly person who had lived a rich life and while the family was still sad the funeral was more of a celebration of a life well lived than grieving over a life lost. There was one exception where the church was PACKED and a large portion of the people in church were young. At the time I "put on the mental blinders" and focused entirely on the music, but afterwards I let myself realize that it was a funeral for a high school girl who had been killed by a drunk driver. This was an important experience for me as it really gave me a valuable perspective as I look back and remember what I saw in the family and community. That tragedy brought the family and community together like nothing else really could. The bad was balanced by an equal good.

    I will never be glad the girl died, but I am glad I had that experience as it is perspective I will carry for the rest of my life. When I hold my daughter I can better appreciate her presence now that I have a better understanding of just how easy it is for that presence to be banished forever. When I spend time with my wife I find it easier to keep from getting sucked into the little things that otherwise would be so irritating. In short, I am a better person and that I will never regret.

  8. Daniel Rutter Says:

    The only way to not end up with horror is to make everything the same.

    Doesn't that say something rather alarming about God's capabilities, though?

    I mean, is everything perfectly homogenous and utterly boring in heaven, or is there horror there as well? If not, how come He got it right there and not here?

    (I know the orthodox Christian answer to this already: God deliberately messed the world up for the whole human race, on account of how his v1.0 humans got talked into eating special fruit by at least the second most powerful, and arguably the most persuasive, entity in the universe. Ever since then, none of us gets our own chance to make the same apple-eating decision. We just get to be born with spina bifida, and stuff.)

    The argument can also be turned the other way, which makes its silliness more apparent, I think:

    "Count yourself lucky that God didn't decide to fill the earth with red-hot arse-seeking beetles! Bet you're not so bothered about being born with no hands now, eh!?"

  9. Stark Says:

    The bad was balanced by an equal good.

    I had a long and somewhat ranty response to this idea - which I hear often from the faithful - which I deleted. It'd most likely fall on deaf ears and I couldn't say it in an eloquent and polite way so I decided to go with something a bit simpler.

    No, no it wasn't. If you cannot see that the community coming together to mourn the death of a child and offer empty platitudes that hold no real comfort for the family is in no way an equal balance to the death then I don't know what to say.

  10. Daniel Rutter Says:

    It occurs to me that this is sort of a socio-religious version of the parable of the broken window.

    Just imagine how fantastically tightly bonded a community will become if you only kill all of the children :-)!

  11. Stark Says:

    You know, I think you're right... and somehow it makes it an even more abhorrent sentiment to me.

  12. Ben K Says:

    the suffering in the world should cause us all to consider and re-consider life, and I think that is one of God's point s in suffering - to remind us humans that there is something definitely wrong with the world.
    And Dan, while we can't make the original apple eating decision - we as human 0.5's make the exact same decision human 1.0 made every day - replacing God's words with our own, and living life as if we were Gods ourselves.
    At least as human 0.5 God has paid for you to have the opportunity to freely make the decision to become human 2.0 in world 2.0.
    Oh and by the way he pays for it by suffering himself.

  13. Stark Says:

    So let me get this straight.... the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator of the cosmos, the alpha and the omega who already knows all that will ever happen... intentionally wrote in the supposed fall from grace, human suffering on scale incomprehensible, and then decides it'd be a grand old thing to make itself suffer as well.............. does that sound completely daft to anyone else? It certainly doesn't sound like the work of an omniscient being - more of an omnistupid one.

    As for "god's word" if you have any of god's words handy I'd love to see em.... maybe a snippet conversation from Thor, or perhaps a poem from Ganesh, I hear Zeus was good for a limerick or three.... What's that? You meant the bible? A bronze age book that contradicts itself no less than 500 times? The word of your "one true god"... ahhh... ok. Sure, it's equally as valid as ol' Zeus' limericks I suppose.

    Sorry Dan, didn't mean to make your blog a potential warzone but the blindly faithful get under my skin. Feel free to nuke this message if you like (as if you need my permission) - I certainly won't be offended.

  14. SA Penguin Says:

    Assuming I believe the Christian version (I don't, but I'm trying to be generous) then maybe, just MAYBE, I could accept your concept of God's Will... when you are talking about humans. However, we're talking about Cockatoos, and animals in general.

    Did a cockatoo eat the forbidden fruit? No. Your theory falls down, when called upon to explain the suffering of non human animated beings.

    So I'm sorry, but I have to call you on your "Bullsh*t"

  15. Daniel Rutter Says:

    No, cockies don't matter, 'cos they don't have souls. Humans born with no brain may or may not have a soul, depending on who you ask. It also may or may not be bad to torture animals for fun, depending on how you read The Book.

    But Ben's explained it all to us now - apparently the version 1.0 humans were actually more like 0.9 alpha, pretty close to release candidates but unable to breed true. When they breed, they can only produce v0.5s.

    So it's hardly surprising that everything's messed up. We're buggy.

  16. dr_w00t Says:

    Anyone else reminded of a certain song by Cradle of Filth?

  17. Nimish Says:

    I think that is one of God’s point s in suffering - to remind us humans that there is something definitely wrong with the world.

    This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start. Why's he reminding us that there's something wrong with the world? Umm, who (allegedly) made the world in the first place? So, in reminding us, he's essentially saying "Ooh, I made the universe and just look at what a terrible, bungling, incompetent mess I made. I won't do anything about it, but I'll keep reminding you. And what's more, I'll blame it all on a woman eating an apple that I put there in the first place. Never mind that the woman was my creation so any imperfection in her is completely my fault. So, anyway, I screwed up, but it's you humans and animals that are gonna pay for it, while I sit up here acting like a drama queen."

    And it's not like anyone's in danger of forgetting that there are lots of things very wrong with this world. Who needs reminding anyway?

    the suffering in the world should cause us all to consider and re-consider life

    Ah, the old "suffering is good" argument. Sorry, you're wrong. That's like saying a cat who's lived on the streets all its life, fighting for scraps and barely surviving, and that eventually dies of its wounds after a bad fight, is somehow better off than one that was raised in a loving home and died happy. Who're you trying to kid?

  18. Ben K Says:

    ok it's a slow friday i'm biting again + you know we have to keep the argument going because it's the internet:

    @stark -yeah that's pretty much it, it's supposed to sound pretty daft. God being executed by capital punishment by his own creation naked on a cross. it's an absolutely ridiculous story, why would anyone follow it? why would anyone die for it?
    for you - have a look into history it may help you seperate your fact from fiction
    http://thechristfiles.com.au/ may help you along (we're not all as "blind" as you may judge us to be)

    @SA Penguin: long story short, the rest of creation is supposed to be under the dominion of man, when man got cursed out, so did that under his dominion. It now works against him to frustrate him to remind him that things aren't right.
    It is not eating a poisonous fruit that caused man to fall. It was his rebellion against the creator, you can read it in the book, the reason man eats the fruit is to become like god knowing good from evil. In short he is on a power trip and thinks he doesn't need god anymore.

    Dan - the first humans were every bit 1.0 it's not breeding that fouls them up. It's God giving people what they want that fouls them up. People don't want God, so God takes himself out of the program,
    person = person-god
    if(jesus) god=true
    if person==0 die
    return to_god

  19. Changes Says:

    There are a million things I (as any other rational person) could say utterly invalidating every religious argument ever made. Since I don't want to turn Dan's blog into a religious flame war, I'll limit myself to three considerations:

    1) Ben: your arguments sort of remind me of the guy who wrote the time cube page. You explain them more or less with the same clarity.

    2) I've given up arguing about religion with religious people. Their mind has been warped and polluted from a young age with irrational concepts, and is too weak to think properly by itself. And those who *would* be capable of thinking rationally choose not to (more or less consciously), because they are deathly afraid of having to face the fact that they have believed a falsehood for their entire lives.
    Religious people are put in front of the many fallacies of their beliefs every second of their lives; if they choose to ignore their own eyes, they sure as hell won't listen to me. Therefore, I find playing GTA IV is a far better use of my time. ;)

    3) the whole mechanism often seems to work in the opposite way as one would expect. I know a person who's had the bad luck of getting a hereditary disease that hits the bones. She can only walk short distances, she falls down if she doesn't prop herself, her life expectancy is cut down to a third of that of a healthy human and the medicines that she takes to alleviate the effects often make her sick to her stomach. You'd think such a person would be the last who could believe in an ever-loving god, especially since her parents haven't bothered with religion. You'd think...
    Another one I know has always been religious, but got a lot more so after a loved one died of cancer. How exactly does that work?

  20. Major Malfunction Says:

    Dan, did you forget to shut the gate again?

  21. Daniel Rutter Says:

    why would anyone follow it? why would anyone die for it?

    My first guess would be for the same reason that people followed, and died for, the belief that Joseph Smith dictated a new book of scripture from something hidden in a hat which nobody else could see.

    People just like believing in things, and many religions say that the stronger your belief is, the better a person you are. The result of this is that people all over the world are willing to put their lives on the line for beliefs entirely unsupported by any evidence at all. That becomes the point of it all - the fact that you're willing to die for nothing but unsupported faith is, in itself, the evidence that you're a good and noble person who's going to heaven.

    Since this same phenomenon can be witnessed in a wide variety of conflicting faiths, all but one of which I presume you disbelieve as strongly as I, it seems quite clear to me that all of it is nonsense, not just the 99.99% of it that you, too, have concluded is nonsense.

    You suggest we visit http://thechristfiles.com.au/ , where yet another historian wrestles with the problem of the historicity of Jesus, a man who left no writings, and so far as we can tell was never even written about by anybody who had met him.

    This fits perfectly with the parsimonious view that if there is one actual historical man at the core of the Jesus myth then he was in no significant way the actual Jesus-of-the-Bible. It's not much use if you want to demonstrate that your religion is the special different one that's supported by actual evidence, though.

  22. Itsacon Says:

    @SA Penguin: long story short, the rest of creation is supposed to be under the dominion of man, when man got cursed out, so did that under his dominion. It now works against him to frustrate him to remind him that things aren’t right.

    That's kinda freaky. Why would all of creation be under our dominion? Aren't we all God's creation? It's also not like we're the smartest (only third-smartest), the biggest (I for one welcome our whale-overlords), the strongest (Any ape will beat you easily at arm-wrestling, or prettiest (Refer to the birds this post was all about in the first place).

    So the only reason I can think of why we should have dominion over all, is that it is because we're the only ones who bothered to try to have dominion, and God thinks the animals just got what was coming to them.

    That's kinda like saying the Jews got what they deserved from Hitler, as they didn't stop him from getting into power.

    And yes, I did put in that last one to satisfy Godwin's law.

    PS: Didn't God's SON die for our sins? I always though G-sus was the great one's bastard child with a married woman, not the big G. himself...

  23. Popup Says:

    [Taking a step back from the religious flame war, and looking at the question of what to do with the poor birdies.]

    Is it really responsible to keep feeding a sick bird? Is it not just likely to infect other birds, as well as suffering for whatever is left of its life?

    I know that it's a difficult decision, but would it not be more 'humane' to euthanise it?

    [Opening up the religious can of worms again]
    Especially as animals don't have any souls...

  24. Thuli Says:

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.
    Jonathan Swift
    Irish essayist, novelist, & satirist (1667 - 1745)
    I like this one too;
    The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
    Science and Scientists
    Weinberg, Steven

  25. TwoHedWlf Says:

    If animals do not have souls, then neither do humans. We're just animals with a bit more complicated brain than most, and really only a little bit more than a few. And for some humans, less...

  26. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Is it really responsible to keep feeding a sick bird?

    I think it's actually surprisingly hard to do this. The couple of times I've noticed a poor messed-up PBaFD-victim and gone out to make a new pile of seed, the result has been the usual mob of rudely-healthy birds inhaling all the seed in 15 minutes (the weight of bird seed a mob of cockies can soak up in no time at all is quite remarkable), with no sign of the leper-bird at all. They're not total outcasts, but they're obviously not high on the pecking order.

    Is it not just likely to infect other birds

    Well, yes, in theory. But it's impossible to tell which birds actually have PBaFD, because although it's fairly transmissible, even between adult birds, I think most adult birds exposed to it develop resistance, and become asymptomatic carriers.

    It's uncontroversial that being well-fed improves general immune response. So I think, on balance, ladling buckets of bird seed into the ungrateful beaks of whatever creatures happen by is likely to reduce their susceptibility to disease. And apparently the lepers aren't rejected from the flocks, so even if they do rub up against their possibly-uninfected buddies on the feeder table, they're going to do it in a roost-tree anyway.

    (Comparing and contrasting the roost-tree behaviour of Sulphur-cresteds and fruitbats can be an entertaining way to spend an evening. Especially if they've chosen the same tree.)

    If the cockies were solitary birds that only came together when artificially encouraged to do so by a pile of bird seed, then making said pile might indeed encourage the spread of any number of communicable diseases. And I suppose it might still encourage cross-species disease transmission. But Sulphur-cresteds are actually highly social birds who rub up against each other all the time anyway. So I doubt it makes any difference in this case.

    There are genuinely asocial birds around here, the most obvious of which is the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, which is even bigger than the Sulphur-Crested, though not quite as loud.

    A mere pile of bird seed will not induce the aristocratic Yellow-tailed Black to come within spitting distance of filthy humans, though.

    Perhaps I should start putting out truffles.

  27. RichVR Says:

    I'll avoid the god parts for the moment. I'm going to be too busy cuddling my Quaker parrot for a while. Scooby gets all her favorite treats today. Tough situation Dan, be strong. Sick avians of any kind break my heart.

  28. allsport Says:

    Maybe the existence of this poor suffering bird was produced to stimulate these thoughts and arguments as part of a bigger picture?
    I'm not particularly religious, but I'm constantly amazed at how zealous Godless non-believers are. So you don't believe in God ("and what's the matter with that...?"). Why do you insist on telling others about it? It's sorta like a religion for non-believers, bringing the Gospel of Disbelief to an unwashed rabble who must be cleansed, cleansed I say!, from their indulgences.

  29. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Maybe the existence of this poor suffering bird was produced to stimulate these thoughts and arguments as part of a bigger picture?

    Maybe all those kiddy-diddling priests are part of a Greater Plan too. Maybe earthquakes and mudslides and anal warts are, too.

    You've really given me something to think about, there.

    I'm constantly amazed at how zealous Godless non-believers are

    Zealous about what?

    About getting pissed off when people tell us that disease, destruction and misery are all actually good for us in the long run, you just wait until you die and you'll see?

    Well, OK, I guess I am fairly zealous about getting pissed off about that. Happens every time.

    I suppose I should just grow up and learn to keep my mouth shut when people assert the self-evident truth of utter idiocy. I mean, it's not as if it does anybody any harm.

    Thanks, buddy! You really set me straight!

  30. RichVR Says:

    Okay. Had my coffee, cuddled bird.

  31. allsport Says:

    Oh, come on Dan you big emo sook! This bird is suffering and that's PROOF that there is no God! If it can't be proved to Dan's satisfaction IT ISN'T TRUE! He alone is the judge and is beyond reproach, he cannot be challenged... and by golly it appears that he is... well, godlike!
    Maybe there is a God, and he lives in the Blue Mountains, brooks no interference in his judgements, is omnipotent and is qualified as a...(small, questioning voice)... journalist?

  32. Stark Says:

    Ben... you made an assumption there that most god fearin' folks make about us non-believers. Namely that we are uneducated in the Christian faith. This is a fairly ridiculous idea. For the vast majority of us westerners the Christian religions are a part of our makeup from the day we are born. The vast majority of westerners are raised as Christians. You'll also find, if you bother to look, that the vast majority of western folks who have realized that it's all just a very violent and schizophrenic fairy tale also happen to have previously been Christians. You'll also find that most of us have actually read the bible, cover to cover, more than once. I could sit here and quote scripture from memory until my fingers bled. I could actually cite at least a few hundred of the biblical contradictions I mentioned before without much effort at all (don't worry folks, I won't - been there, done that - besides there already a plethora of online resources for the same thing)). I've heard every argument as to why the supposed word of god can't decide which way is up. When I was very young I actually believed a few of the more nuanced arguments - until I realized that they are all based on the same basic flaws.

    In short, I am very educated in the christian faith. That's a big part of why it fell down so hard for me, and many others. The last thing a believer should ever encourage a skeptical person to do is to learn more about the topic - unless of course you want to de-convert them completely.

  33. NickL Says:

    How ironic that a portion of Dan's readership whom normally champion his use of reason, logic and scientific fact to debunk various scams are suddenly highly critical when the same standards are applied to religion.

  34. RichVR Says:

    Well put, Stark. Always a pleasure to read your comments here. And I'll bet real money none of the godbots will go to the link I posted.

  35. RichVR Says:

    I like this one:

    Proof #51 - Think about God and Baal

    In the Bible, in the book of 1 Kings, in chapter 18, there is a fascinating story about God and Elijah. In this story, we have Elijah, as a prophet of the Lord, meeting with Ahab, a powerful king. Obadiah is a messenger. The story starts out like this:

    [16] So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. [17] When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?"
    [18] "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. [19] Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." [20] So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. [21] Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."

    This is a fascinating situation. Ahab and his people have started following a god named Baal instead of Elijah's God. And Elijah wants to prove to Ahab that Baal is an imaginary god. So Elijah sets up a challenge:
    [22] Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only one of the LORD's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. [23] Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. [24] Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God."
    Then all the people said, "What you say is good."

    [25] Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire." [26] So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

    Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "O Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

    [27] At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." [28] So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. [29] Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

    [30] Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. [31] Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Your name shall be Israel." [32] With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs [a] of seed. [33] He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood."

    [34] "Do it again," he said, and they did it again.

    "Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. [35] The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

    [36] At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. [37] Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

    [38] Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

    [39] When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!"

    On command, the Lord does Elijah's bidding and proves that he exists by bringing all-consuming fire upon the altar. The fire even vaporizes the stones! It is an amazing display, and the people accept that Baal is imaginary and God is real.
    What happens to the prophets of the false god? They get the death sentence:

    [40] Then Elijah commanded them, "Seize the prophets of Baal. Don't let anyone get away!" They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
    What we see here is fascinating: the Bible is laying down the criteria for proving that a "god" is real, and then demonstrating the punishment for those who teach about false gods. And the criteria is very simple: The "god" in question has to prove its existence through demonstrable actions in our world. The reason that Ahab's people were supposed to believe in God rather than Baal is because, on command, God proved his existence. Baal, being imaginary, did nothing. The fact that Baal did nothing proves that he is imaginary.
    What should we do today when, upon calling on God to show himself, nothing ever happens? As we saw in proof #1 and proof #2, praying to God has absolutely no effect. Asking God to display any sort of supernatural force in public (like, say, lighting a fire) has absolutely no effect. God has absolutely no effect in our world today.

    What we should do is exactly what the people in the Bible did with Baal. The lack of any evidence for God's existence should lead us to the obvious conclusion that God is imaginary, just like Baal is imaginary.

    Understanding that God is imaginary, should we slaughter all of God's false prophets like they did in the Bible? Should we kill the Pope along with all priests, ministers, pastors, imams and rabbis? No - that would be barbaric and inhuman. Any rational person knows that, unlike the inhuman barbarians depicted in the Bible.

    God is imaginary, just like Baal. That is proven to us every day by God's complete and total failure to do anything in our world.

  36. Stark Says:

    Rich, I'd take your bet... if I liked to lose money. Good to see you around a bit - how's the new job hours working out?

    Oh, and the prophets of Baal... I always liked that bit. It showed Jehovah's true colors and well, Baal is just an awesome name. I mean, you'd never mess with a guy who walked up said "My name is Baal" in low growl now would ya?

  37. RichVR Says:

    Hey, Stark, no bullshit. It happened when I went to the Halloween Parade in the Village in NYC in October. He even had the glowing red eyes (in sunglasses). We had a couple of Bass Ales together. Nice guy. Great makeup. I'll have to find a picture I took.

    Anyway, when I think of Baal I think of the Star Trek episode. Stop feeding the myth and he dies like all the "gods".

  38. Ben K Says:

    People will die for what they sincerely believe to be true. hence mormons and muslims will happily die for their beliefs. Rarely will people die for what they know to be false. and especially if they are championing telling the truth.

    as for the 99.99% is in error.. there is only one dan rutter, I could talk to 1000 people asking who dan rutter is, it might be all be contradictory and wrong. does that mean there is no truth about dan?
    If i speak to Dan rutter be he only 0.001% of what is said about dan rutter, it's pretty definitive.

    The better question i think to ask is if there is a god and he is intelligent enough to communicate, has he spoken. anyone can say what they like about God, say they are speaking for God, but in the end they all die just the same.
    I'd start with the guy that God raises from the dead, but thats just me.

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. -Jonathan Swift
    Agreed but the quote cuts both ways
    lots of university educated people have become christians by among other things reason. c.s. lewis is one such person. you can read about why he became a christian in "suprised by joy" he incidentally also wrote a book called "the problem of pain"
    smart man, good author, much more articulate than i am. i guess that's for people with serious questions though, not blog posts ;)

    http://godisimaginary.com/ is trite, and does not seriously engage with any of the questions it raises but is rather content with its straw man arguments.

    [36] At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command

    Please note in this quote that God is the originator of the command not of elijah
    No-one asked for proof of who was the true God, God gave it to his chosen people of his own volition.

    God again out of his own volition has proved who he is definitively by raising jesus from the dead. I think we should listen to what he says but hey no-one is forcing you to

  39. Siridar Says:

    @ ben K:
    The moment god says anything to me - directly - you can be sure i'll listen. I'm easy about the delivery, too - The big beard in the sky is fine, as is the booming voice that only I can hear. Hell, i'll even take Morgan Freeman talking to me. Up until that point, though, i'm afraid that i'm going to have to continue my atheistic ways...

  40. RichVR Says:

    So, Ben K, you being a faithful follower of your god... I say screw your god. Now ask him to smite me. Go ahead, I can wait.

    Or if you don't do that kind of thing, pray for me to change my mind. I'm open to anything. Pray for him to change me. Or Siridar. Or Dan himself. Ask him to show himself like he did way back when. Oh wait, he don't do that anymore, right? Why not? Because we aren't ignorant desert dwellers? I know all the excuses. Maybe your god doesn't manifest anymore because he's dead? Or maybe he never existed in the first place. Just saying.

  41. Ben K Says:

    @Siridar God is speaking to you now.. he's telling you repent and trust jesus - he just happens to be using some nutter posting comments on a blog on the internet.......

  42. RichVR Says:

    And further, you say that "Rarely will people die for what they know to be false. and especially if they are championing telling the truth."

    WTF? What kind of specious circular logic is that?

    Also, I could find Dan and punch him in the nose if I had the cash and the need. He is a real person. Tell me where to find your god and I'll gladly do the same.

    BTW, I like Dan, so I will not punch him in the nose if I were ever to meet him. It was just an example. Breathe easy Dan.

  43. Siridar Says:

    @ Ben K
    See, that's the problem I have with religion - this all-seeing, all knowing, omnipotent god - who loves me very very much, and would quite like me to be in the kingdom of heaven some day - well, he can't take the time to tell me himself, so he has to send representatives to knock on my door at 7am on a Sunday morning, or what-have-you. Incidentally, he's just shy of a buck, so if you've got any money, please donate it to us-er, him.

    (the 7am Sunday problem is solved quite easily by opening the door in a towel, with hair like a golliwog biscuit. I discovered this quite by accident.

  44. Ben K Says:

    God gives people what they want.
    if you want him to love you he will.
    if you want him to leave you alone he will (he already partly has left us alone.. hence suffering, he will soon withdraw himself completely from those who don't want him, giving them exactly what they want so if you think suffering now is bad, just wait until he removes himself completely.)
    what we want is not always what's best for us.

    and this years christmas message:
    16"For God so loved the world that he gave his unique Son, that whoever trusts in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever trusts in him is not condemned, but whoever does not trust stands condemned already because he has not trusted in the name of God's unique Son.

  45. Siridar Says:

    @ Ben K: Seeing as I haven't asked god for anything in this thread, I have to assume you're trying to divert the topic in some strange direction. Okay then. I'll follow. If "god gives people what they want" then what I want, from god, RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT, is a pony.

    *closes eyes*

    ...nup, no pony. Do I need to subvocalise it? Invoke Him in some way? Maybe if I ask nicely?

    Nup, still no pony. Which is a shame, because as you said (and I have to take you at your word, because hey, as per the earlier comment in the thread, apparently you're the word of God) He gives me what I want.

    Which is a pony.

    But I didn't *get* a pony.

    Could it be that your imaginary friend doesn't exist?

    Hell, I'd settle for a picture of a pony. It should be fairly easy for your god (or our god, or my god, or however you want to interpret it) who created the ENTIRETY of existence in seven days (pretty neat trick, eh?) to manipulate reality in such a way that one of the posters on my wall is a *picture* of a pony.

    *looks around*

    Nup, not even a whinny.

  46. Stark Says:

    OK, Ben... one more time.

    God gives people what they want does he? Really? You're gonna go with that one? OK then... ask an amputee or a paraplegic if god gives people what they want. What? He doesn't work that way? Heard it, ain't buying it anymore. The bible says, in plain language even, that if you pray for it you will get it. You could try the they must be a true believer routine but I think you and I both know that many amputees are in fact true believers... and yet they have no new limbs to show for it. Not even once in all of recorded history. I can promise you that every single on of them prayed for it though.

    Of course, I've also heard many a preacher go the other route - god doesn't give you what you want he gives you what you need.... I think I could make a pretty convincing argument that your average amputee probably had a darned good need of that lost limb.

    So... which route are we going to take today? God's ineffable plan perhaps? Maybe the old god is punishing them canard? Perhaps it'll be "god always gives us what we need so they must have needed that" and for good measure the ever popular "how dare you question the will of the lord".

    So... once again it seems that your god is one of 4 possibilities. He's on vacation, a right prick, simply indifferent, or doesn't exist. Any way you go it equals the same thing - not worth believing in, not worthy of worship, and zero reason to even think he even exists in any case.

    Now, Loki, there's a guy I could worship. Great sense of humor, fond of a practical joke or three, but if you crossed him you knew it in no uncertain terms. Yep, no claims of omnipotence but he certainly could smack you down if he needed to. Of course he's only as real as Yaweh... so... no worship for him either.

  47. Ben K Says:

    it's obvious that i wasn't very clear, sorry about that.
    I'll interpret your sarcasm as questioning what i meant when i said "god gives people what they want".
    To clarify, i meant God gives people what they want in terms of a relationship with himself. not in terms of ponies.
    It was in reply to the comment about God wanting you in his Kingdom.
    God does not want people in his Kingdom who rebel against the king.
    In God's Kingdom, God (Jesus) funnily enough is the King.
    God has kicked us all out of his Kingdom, giving us exactly what we wanted (We don't want God as our king)
    Hence we have the kingdom of man, where man is king. so eat, drink and be merry. because in the kingdom of man, tomorrow we die.

    God invites people back into the kingdom where he is king, having paid the penalty (death) for our rebellion.

    That's probably as clear as mud too. ah well. That's what God sent you, that's what you get. feel free to ridicule

    Stark: you're sounding pretty angry there mate. I could answer your questions but i suppose they are rhetorical and would just provoke you a bit more. while I do get a small amount of pleasure out of provoking people's anger, it's probably not for the greater good

  48. Stark Says:

    Actually Ben, you've missed the tone of my post. It was a bit mocking, a bit sarcastic, and just a bit sad as well.

    And no, you weren't clear in your meaning... but I suspect there's a bit of revision in your clarification as well.

    Of course the whole god has left man to his own devices and is inviting him into his kingdom post death thing does happen to have it's own set of giant holes. Not the least of which is that your own bible doesn't support the idea.

    Ah well, I'll give in here and let the thread die. Clearly you are as set in your choices as I in mine so we're just wasting time.

    You have a nice holiday, I hope it's as full of happiness for you as mine is for me. (and yes, I celebrate Christmas - secularly - as a time to appreciate my family all the more)

  49. RichVR Says:

    Sorry if I came off a bit confrontational above. Happy Holidays to all. You too Ben. Now back to the family.

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