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December 14, 2005 4:41 AM   Subscribe

"A Helpful Hand" - Penn & Teller call Bullshit! on the "bestselling book in the world," the Holy Bible. (link is to entire episode approx 29mins - *language, flash)
posted by hypersloth (120 comments total)

 
erm sorry, the "best selling book of all time"
posted by hypersloth at 4:45 AM on December 14, 2005


This is great! I can't remember the last time anybody's called Bullshit! on the Bible here at MetaFilter! Better watch out, though: this is a pretty religious crowd, so you may not get much support. Gutsy move!
posted by languagehat at 5:11 AM on December 14, 2005


Ah, sarcasm. I love me some sarcasm.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 AM on December 14, 2005




Making fun of the Bible, now with grainy low-quality copyright-bending google video!
posted by zpousman at 5:20 AM on December 14, 2005


Oh no! A fat magician doesn't like my religion! Whatever shall I do!
posted by unreason at 5:21 AM on December 14, 2005


Me, I like the paprika.
posted by swift at 5:24 AM on December 14, 2005


Teh score so far: 3 against, 3 "more inside", 1 undetermined. I'd say this qualifies as a raging anti-religion thread, Kent!

If there's something that annoys me more than over-zealous unbelievers, it's unbelievers who hate themselves for being unbelievers.
posted by lodurr at 5:25 AM on December 14, 2005


Oops! Now it's 3:3:2!
posted by lodurr at 5:26 AM on December 14, 2005


I'd just like to say that Penn & Teller lost all my respect when they did their horrific guest appearance on Babylon 5.
posted by unreason at 5:32 AM on December 14, 2005


Help, help, I'm being persecuted for my faith!
posted by verb at 5:51 AM on December 14, 2005


Oops! Now it's 3:3:2!

Plus one person (A fat magician doesn't like my religion... who has a problem with "fat" people.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:52 AM on December 14, 2005


.... and one person who seems to have a problem with Babylon 5. (Dude, I don't get on your case about those Christine Aguilera pinups in the closet, OK?)
posted by lodurr at 5:54 AM on December 14, 2005


Plus one person (A fat magician doesn't like my religion... who has a problem with "fat" people.

Oh, come on. I have to describe him somehow. And I've heard him make jokes about his weight, so it's not like he's sensitive or anything. I have more of a problem with the Babylon 5 thing. Seriously, am I the only one that remembers that? It was nightmarish.
posted by unreason at 5:54 AM on December 14, 2005


and one person who seems to have a problem with Babylon 5

No, I really like Babylon 5, I just hated the episode they were in.
posted by unreason at 5:55 AM on December 14, 2005


More condescension at table 12!
posted by Captaintripps at 5:55 AM on December 14, 2005


Zooty? Zoot, zoot!
posted by Captaintripps at 5:56 AM on December 14, 2005


I have to come clean: I've never actually watched Babylon 5. But if I had and I didn't like it, I'm pretty sure I'd just change the channel.
posted by lodurr at 5:58 AM on December 14, 2005


.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:01 AM on December 14, 2005


Wow. It's like an undergraduate philosophy paper...with magic tricks!
posted by craniac at 6:07 AM on December 14, 2005


I liked the bit about the Life of Brian.
posted by swift at 6:08 AM on December 14, 2005


a bit more of this please - primetime gets a better audience
posted by 0bvious at 6:09 AM on December 14, 2005



The earth is flat.
posted by fluffycreature at 6:17 AM on December 14, 2005


Zooty? Zoot, zoot!
posted by Captaintripps at 8:56 AM EST on December 14 [!]


Gah! Curses! Now I'm never going to get that episode out of my head.
posted by unreason at 6:18 AM on December 14, 2005


I just watched a few eposides of P&T's Bullshit and Ih ave to say I was sort of underwhelmed. I love these guys as magicians, and even as social commentators during their magic acts, but watching them go to town [well, Penn really, Teller says nothing] on people who think they have had tunnel of light near death experiences or the environmental movement just seemed like cheap shots. Seriously the show seemed to go like this:

Penn: "and we asked the spokesperson for XYZ environmentalists why they believe in what they do..."
Spokesperson: "Um...." [2 second clip]
Penn: "You see THEY DON'T KNOW. THESE DIRTY HIPPIES ARE STUPID STUPID STUPID. We're not AFRAID to tell YOU the TRUTH"

From my perspective, who cares if people think they see lights at the end of the tunnel, or want to have big tree-sits to protest logging? My feeling was the same as unreason's. Why the hell do I care what they have to say more than, say, other people? Exposing fakery and scam artists seems to be worthwhile, but equating bible believers with snake oil salesmen and then going after them with teh same snotty zeal doesn't do much for me. I liked P&T more before I started watching Bullshit!.
posted by jessamyn at 6:24 AM on December 14, 2005


While I generally agree with Jessamyn, I think this episode was pretty well done (aside from some needless grandstanding from Penn). It was amusing and entertaining, and I didn't expect anything I didn't already know (though I was distressed to realize that I can't find my Bible... Fucking Gideons must have stolen it back...)
posted by klangklangston at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2005


I love these guys as magicians, and even as social commentators during their magic acts, but watching them go to town [well, Penn really, Teller says nothing] on people who think they have had tunnel of light near death experiences or the environmental movement just seemed like cheap shots.
I wholeheartedly agree.
I only linked this because it's a 29 minute link, and it's entertaining, much like the Farting Preacher II.
posted by hypersloth at 6:33 AM on December 14, 2005


The whole show is pretty much "Penn and Teller's Preaching to the Choir." The people who don't believe don't need comfirmation, and the superstitious idiots who take the bible literally will merely be offended.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:33 AM on December 14, 2005


Well, nothing new there for any of us intelligent, educated people who lack the essential spiritual cowardice needed to actually believe in God or the truth of the bible. But fun. It's good to see unapologetic mockery of religious dimwits on TV. We need more of it.

I must say I'm amused by how many religious apologists at Mefi seem to have adopted the truly pathetic tactic of referring to aggressively-stated atheism as being "undergraduate" or "sophomoric", without actually addressing the very valid attacks made on their precious security blanket by such behaviour. It is a classic example of how Christians, in particular, don't practice what they preach - certainly with regard to logs and motes. Oh yes - someone who basically believes a big clever man in the sky is responsible for everything is calling me "sophomoric" for suggesting that such a notion is obviously deranged. Uh-huh. Bullseye there, you primitive berk.
posted by Decani at 6:39 AM on December 14, 2005


quote languagehat: "this is a pretty religious crowd, so you may not get much support. Gutsy move!"

ehh, WHAT? In HERE??
You must be kidding.
posted by phredhead at 6:39 AM on December 14, 2005


Someone hook us up with some info on these unofficial gospels.

(You know, for us unwashed, non-believing, ignant masses)
posted by basicchannel at 6:43 AM on December 14, 2005


mwuhahaha
posted by hypersloth at 6:46 AM on December 14, 2005


phredhead represents the New Mefite.
posted by quonsar at 6:46 AM on December 14, 2005


Someone hook us up with some info on these unofficial gospels.

Here is the Apocrypha if you're looking for excluded texts. Don't miss the Gospel of Thomas, where child Jesus makes clay birds come to life and then smites people for laughing at him.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:49 AM on December 14, 2005


ehh, WHAT? In HERE??
You must be kidding.


You catch on quick. I'm glad to see the lobotomy was a success.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 AM on December 14, 2005


metafilter: someone hook us up the bomb
posted by hypersloth at 6:52 AM on December 14, 2005


Perhaps this may add more context to why Penn did the show.
posted by WL at 6:53 AM on December 14, 2005


up us. it's "up us" you moran.
posted by quonsar at 6:54 AM on December 14, 2005


argh, yer right. hook UP US teh bomg.
WL: this?
posted by hypersloth at 6:56 AM on December 14, 2005


I can see that all the discussions about "how to fix Metafilter" have been for the better....
posted by lodurr at 6:56 AM on December 14, 2005


I take it all back, languagehat. (Well, almost all of it). You're right. I was wrong. I don't like being wrong, and I less like having to admit to it, but you were spot on.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:59 AM on December 14, 2005


I must say I'm amused by how many religious apologists at Mefi seem to have adopted the truly pathetic tactic of referring to aggressively-stated atheism as being "undergraduate" or "sophomoric", without actually addressing the very valid attacks made on their precious security blanket by such behaviour.

I think that's because most people of average intelligence figure out that religion is a load of shit when they are around the age of 19 or 20 and spend the rest of their lives trying to forget it.
posted by empath at 7:04 AM on December 14, 2005


somewhere in this pile of dust there is a horse molecule that has yet to be beaten ... keep thrashing until you hit it ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:06 AM on December 14, 2005


Agree completely about the Babylon 5 episode and with Neil Gaiman writing the script, you'd think Rebo and Zooty would be at least slightly entertaining.

As for the Bible, who cares? Recently reread Song of Songs, Lamentations, and the Gospels, and those books certainly make the Bible worthwhile. But putting it through the shredder, of sorts, accomplishes nothing of consequence.

And if you're looking for the apocryphal gospels, make sure you read the childhood gospels. Would make an amazing movie with young Christ running around with huge powers he doesn't understand and wrecking havoc everywhere until Joseph, afraid that Nazareth is on the verge of lynching the boy, takes his adopted son to hand and molds him into what the Son of God should be. "With great power, comes great responsibility" would be the tagline as Christ puts on his mask and becomes Spiderman: Savior to the World.
posted by pandaharma at 7:08 AM on December 14, 2005


Hmm, all this time I thought he was just a popular politician.
posted by hypersloth at 7:12 AM on December 14, 2005


"Oh yes - someone who basically believes a big clever man in the sky is responsible for everything is calling me "sophomoric" for suggesting that such a notion is obviously deranged."

What about people who don't believe in a big clever man in the sky pointing out that you're sophomoric and misguided in your views on people with faith? I mean, since you can't seem to get past straw men and histrionics. But no, everyone who calls you a twat must be a Christian and an apologist. Moron.
posted by klangklangston at 7:13 AM on December 14, 2005


I mean, since you can't seem to get past straw men and histrionics. But no, everyone who calls you a twat must be a Christian and an apologist. Moron.

Can everyone please accept that everyone else is a moron and move on. Moron.
posted by Meccabilly at 7:16 AM on December 14, 2005


I so have to quit ironing my underwear. Or at least use less starch.
posted by damnitkage at 7:18 AM on December 14, 2005


child Jesus makes clay birds come to life and then smites people for laughing at him.

and bees shoot out of his mouth.
posted by quonsar at 7:18 AM on December 14, 2005


Smite Thee, the game!

Use the mouse to move, the spacebar to fire lightning at the non-believers and B to bless believers....
posted by R. Mutt at 7:27 AM on December 14, 2005


And then he fought Angra Mainyu with rock 'em sock 'em robots!
posted by Captaintripps at 7:27 AM on December 14, 2005


Do we reserve the same amount of vitriol for the nightly newscasts that assume that Christianity is the One True Religion?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2005


Do we reserve the same amount of vitriol for the nightly newscasts that assume that Christianity is the One True Religion?

Only when those assholes at Fox News do another hard-hitting "War On Christmas" report.
posted by wakko at 7:42 AM on December 14, 2005


The one place I didn't expect this thread to go was to Babylon 5.

Metafilter keeps me guessing once again.
posted by socratic at 7:43 AM on December 14, 2005


I got out my bible when the episode began, only to realize I had missed out on an award-winning television introduction sequence.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2005


Don't miss the Gospel of Thomas, where child Jesus makes clay birds come to life and then smites people for laughing at him.

(Mild pedantry:) That's usually called the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the regular "Gospel of Thomas" is a different text. It is a weird, wild, wacky read--Jesus as the Return of Chuckie. You'd think it was a parody, except that it's so many centuries old.
posted by gimonca at 7:54 AM on December 14, 2005


I have dozens of eps of Bullshit! ripped to my computer. Why was this one selected and highlighted for posting here? I think a better choice would have been episode 5 of season 3 for this crowd. Maybe episode 3 of the same season.
posted by Eideteker at 7:58 AM on December 14, 2005


here you go
posted by gimonca at 8:01 AM on December 14, 2005


Matt, did you do something to the stylesheets? For some reason MetaTalk is showing up with a blue background today.
posted by soyjoy at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2005


I think that's because most people of average intelligence figure out that religion is a load of shit when they are around the age of 19 or 20 and spend the rest of their lives trying to forget it.

And that's where you'd be wrong:

Only 5% feel God "does not exist" -- and even most of them "are not sure" of that. Exactly 1% are certain there is no God.

But how strongly do the believers believe? Nearly 8 in 10, in fact, say they are "convinced" God exists, although Gallup does not ask them why that is.


It does not cease to be a certainty for many and an estimable force in the world merely because some of us have figured out that it isn't true.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2005


Jessamyn : they never rip on anyone unless they're profiting on the silly fucks who think they've seen God or that the life of a cow is more important than a human being or whatever.

The people who are dumb enough to believe in this aren't who they make fun of. It's the people who make money off them, usually tons and tons of money.
posted by zerolives at 8:19 AM on December 14, 2005


Being an Athiest: 99% need not apply.
posted by Meccabilly at 8:23 AM on December 14, 2005


"Only when those assholes at Fox News do another hard-hitting "War On Christmas" report."

The last Fox News "War on Christmas" thing that I watched was a couple days ago, when I was flicking through the channels, and they were talking about Wal-Mart etc. doing "Happy Holidays" with a flashy War on Christmas graphic. On the right, they had some incredibly old guy who was claiming that stripping the "mythology" from Christmas irreperably harmed its meaning. Then they had one guy who said the real war on Christmas was trying to associate commercialism with the day, and that Christians should be happy that Happy Holidays was used. Then they had three women, one who said "Look, it's a business decision. By being inclusive, they can make more money," another who said "Yeah, it kind of annoys me, but I'm not going to boycott anything because the season is about Christmas sales and gift-giving." The third woman said "Look, I'm a Christian, and the only people who care about this are nutjobs and busybodies. Mainstream people don't care about it one way or another."

While it lacked the angry atheist who would have been de facto on the MetaFilterNews channel, I thought it was pretty (dare I say it) fair and balanced. And it did reaffirm my belief that the great mass of Christians aren't the bugaboos that they're presented as here, but rather pretty apathetic, 363-day agnostics. Certainly the consensus view at the end of the discussion was that it was dumb to get upset about it, and that people who think there's a "War on Christmas" only represent the fringes.

Frankly, I think that the hardcore Christians who care about this sort of thing probably only account for about 4-6% of people in this country (just like I'd estimate that's the population of the militant gays in America), and I think that both sides continually put forth bad faith arguments based on the fringes in order to mobilize their bases. "Gay Culture" (as interpreted as the fashion-forward decadence etc.) probably has about as disproportionate an influence on American culture (through music, media, fashion etc.) as does hardline Christianity, and both sides are intentionally overhyped into menaces so that we can all feel like we have a cause (though I'll be open in saying that I prefer one to the other). I have a feeling that 95% of people are in a vast unwashed middle and don't particularly give a shit about any of it, which is probably the reason that those on the edges are so damned screechy.
posted by klangklangston at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2005


hey never rip on anyone unless they're profiting on the silly fucks who think they've seen God or that the life of a cow is more important than a human being or whatever.

That's not true. They rip on that person and anyone who they view as dumb enough to believe that person and that's where it gets nasty to me. I think it's one thing to say "Greenpeace makes big bucks selling their brand of environmentalism, a brand that other environmentalists don't agree with." and another to say that "Everyone who buys what Greenpeace is selling is a stupid sheep, look how stupid these people are, plus they look freaky." I don't have much of a dog in this fight, but I found their show about GMOs made some incredibly good points like "being able to afford to eat exactly how you want to is a serious luxury and not much of a concern in places where food safety is a huge deal" but then oversimplified the anti-GMO argument to the point of uselessness "see these stupid protestors outside the co-op don't even know WHY they're against them" and missed what I thought were some major concerns with the shift to GMO products, the fact that farmers have to license them and not buy them, and the costs associated with that. It's a cheap shot to make people look stupid by misrepresenting their argument to make your own points and then claim you're the one who is bringing THE TRUTH to people, but it just devolved into a free market Pot/Kettle show to me.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2005


Fleetmouse: Yeah, a vast majority of people will say that God exists. Does that actually affect their behavior? No. C'mon, 61% of people who don't attend any religious service believe that God exists? That's pretty effective evidence that belief in God is not a predictor of behavior, of religiousness, or of religious beliefs.
Further, by being a screeching member of that 1%, you're alienating liberals who do believe in God, who are the most likely to join you in your political projects. As long as you believe yourself to be persecuted and thus justified in your rabid condemnations, get used to being marginalized.
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2005


While it lacked the angry atheist who would have been de facto on the MetaFilterNews channel

I like Christmas and have no problem with people wishing me Merry Christmas or even using public money to put up lights and giant illuminated reindeer and creches.

Besides enjoying Christmas I think you have to choose your battles and a crusade (heh) against a holiday with primarily pagan symbolism is just a waste of energy.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2005


Isn't this really old? Man, fuck Penn and Teller. I'm getting sick of their political side. Stick to the magic tricks.
posted by piratebowling at 8:42 AM on December 14, 2005


You'd think it was a parody, except that it's so many centuries old.

yes, because many centuries ago, everyone was dead serious all the time and parody hadn't yet been invented.
posted by quonsar at 8:46 AM on December 14, 2005


Does that Open Letter to Dr. Laura remind anyone of a certain West Wing episode?
posted by Tullius at 8:46 AM on December 14, 2005


Where could I find a link about the alternate messiah's that penn talked about?
posted by bigmusic at 8:47 AM on December 14, 2005


Fleetmouse: Yeah, a vast majority of people will say that God exists. Does that actually affect their behavior? No. C'mon, 61% of people who don't attend any religious service believe that God exists? That's pretty effective evidence that belief in God is not a predictor of behavior, of religiousness, or of religious beliefs.

Hypocrisy is rife, certainly, but beliefs have consequences in one's attitude to a range of issues from abortion and stem cell research to gay marriage, creationism in public schools and foreign policy.

Further, by being a screeching member of that 1%, you're alienating liberals who do believe in God, who are the most likely to join you in your political projects.

Posting on mefi in a thread that addresses atheism constitutes screeching?

As long as you believe yourself to be persecuted and thus justified in your rabid condemnations, get used to being marginalized.

I don't believe I'm being persecuted because I don't live in the secular diaspora (i.e., what another poster called HolyRollerville). And I don't, therefore, feel marginalized. And rabid condemnation is a lovely and colorful phrase but I don't feel it applies to me either. Are you sure all that froth you're seeing isn't coming from your own mouth?
posted by fleetmouse at 8:51 AM on December 14, 2005


Fleetmouse: I am with you there. I don't believe in Christ, well, aside from the fact that I think he probably did exist and probably did say some things that can be construed as positive messages, but I like Christmas and can respect the intent behind people wishing me a Merry Christmas, even if I tend to say Happy Holidays.
posted by klangklangston at 8:51 AM on December 14, 2005


P&T argue that the Bible isn't factual, then act as if they've proven that the Bible is garbage. The Bible isn't about emprical facts and history; that's what science and history is for. You can't be sure from the cherry picked excerpts, but it appears that that's what the poor prof from WMU was trying to tell them. It's important that Christians learn to unliteralize the Bible, but that hardly means devaluing it entirely.

I used to like Penn and Teller, before they began this sort of intellectual laziness when they pretend they're debunking the same.
posted by Nahum Tate at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2005


I think Penn and Teller are getting rusty here... they haven't included the scientific theories which are more likely and believeable in favor of ranting. i mean, honestly, their explanation of the plagues is stupid. the better explanation is a chain reaction of plagues - pollution/waste in the river(turning it red), leading to plague and frogs runing from it, leading to boils, leading to the death of the children working in the fields(the first borns), leading to locusts, etc.

Come on, Popular Science had better research. Plus, the point of the Bible is the meaning behind the stories, not the literal interpretation of the text. You can't take them literally. That would be stupid.
posted by Doorstop at 9:18 AM on December 14, 2005


This is incredibly condescending and reeks of Freshman year theological study. As someone who's had many, many academic courses in New and Old Testaments -- Penn just looks like a pompous asshole who thinks he knows what he's talking about.

Biblical authorship, Jesus' role in using a moral theme approach the morality and a host of other topics they sort of touched on and then dismissed. They were definitely preaching towards the choir and pointing out the majority of modern fundamentalist fallacies in interpretation of the Bible. As an good liberal atheist, I can say they just as selectively looked at the Bible as the funadmentalists they tried to debase.

Of course Biblical interpretation lasts several millenia, they only had thirty minutes. They still didn't have to take such a black-and-white position.
posted by geoff. at 9:19 AM on December 14, 2005


This and many similar religious posts on Metafilter are not the general attack on faith that some MeFi critics argue. I think that they are ripping on a very narrow yet growing section of loud, hypocritical, self riteous christians.

I grew up in rural Wyoming and went to college in New Orleans. Talk about culture shock, but that shock had NOTHING on the move from New Orleans to Little Rock. I had no idea that people had an active interest in questioning and inserting themselves into my faith. It totally blew me away. That and the genereal homogenity of the believers. There was a small bit of, whats the word?, Schadenfrued? When GW was elected and the rest of the country was subjected to the the same thing I was.
posted by hatchetjack at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2005


Eh, like I said. Preachy literalists are stupid. They're moral stories. Even P&T's science guy said so. A lot of the ideas ARE outdated. Which is why I say that every "literalist" of the Bible should have those rules enforced on them. I'd love to see how they react when then happens.
posted by Doorstop at 9:27 AM on December 14, 2005


Frankly, I think that the hardcore Christians who care about this sort of thing probably only account for about 4-6% of people in this country ...

Absolutely. Most of the christians I've encountered don't interpret the bible literally. Most don't proselytize and don't even evangelize unless asked directly about their faith.

Of course, it's a lot more fun to believe in a one-dimensional version of those you don't agree with, just as with all stereotypes and bigotry. During that program, Christians were regularly referred to as uneducated, ignorant, lower-class, and so forth. But since I doubt Penn has ever met (much less empathized or even conversed with), many hard-core bible-thumpers I think he's making a leap of faith here.

Elvis didn't do no drugs! /annoying
posted by whatnot at 9:37 AM on December 14, 2005


The problem with de-literalizing the bible is that, assuming it's not true, one quickly realizes that Valuable Moral Lessons™ can just as easily be extracted from the average Harry Potter novel or Dr. Phil self-help treatise. And without having to avert ones' eyes and cough when those pesky verses about, say, murdering homosexuals or locking up women during their periods come around.
posted by boaz at 9:43 AM on December 14, 2005


Their genius was to let us criticize them
until it became broing and obvious to do so.

Menawhile, they were up ahead, buisily constructing a world
in which boring and obvious criticism
was about the worst thing you could do...

-David Berman
posted by es_de_bah at 9:44 AM on December 14, 2005


Most of the christians I've encountered don't interpret the bible literally

Where might you live? This completely depends upon where in America you are of course. I bring it up because most christians I've encountered do interpret the bible litterally.

Kristians with a k which symbolizes the popular, simplistic, less challenging version of the real thing. Kind of like KOA campground Kamping.
posted by hatchetjack at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2005


God hates shrimp

He may hate shrimp, but I understand he's partial to a bit of shrimping.

Luke 7:36-50

"And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:04 AM on December 14, 2005


Ferchrissakes, people. Even P&T admit it's a television show, not a gripping bit of investigative journalism. For entertainment purposes only. Not to be taken internally. Void on Thursdays.

Do you turn your brain off when you turn the TV off? Or do you consider the facts and then develop an opinion? Of course, the order of the day here on MeFi is to come to an opinion and then proclaim it to the masses and then to argue it to the death when other people have said: "That was a) entertaining or b) not, and I a) do b) do not believe it." and have already moved on to do their washing. Yes, you're very smart there, with your pile of dirty clothes on the floor.

Oh, shit. It's laundry day!
posted by Eideteker at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2005


Doorstop: "I think Penn and Teller are getting rusty here... they haven't included the scientific theories which are more likely and believeable in favor of ranting. i mean, honestly, their explanation of the plagues is stupid. the better explanation is a chain reaction of plagues - pollution/waste in the river(turning it red), leading to plague and frogs runing from it, leading to boils, leading to the death of the children working in the fields(the first borns), leading to locusts, etc."

I think you missed the point of that part of the show, Doorstop. You CAN explain stuff like that scientifically, but thent it's not a miracle anymore. Then what's the point of declaring the bible HOLY when it contains a bunch of conveniently realistic stories? They may still have value for whatever reason, but as miracles they are hard to swallow as having actually happened. And as scientifically possible, they lose their meaning in exemplifying the divine nature of god.

As well, plenty of people on this thread claim that atheists present christians as overly radical and stupid. I for one know that most christians aren't like Pat Robertson. I know that most christians either don't buy the bible literally or at least don't act on their literal interpretation of the bible. I've never seen a chrisitan malign a homosexual in person, though plenty have on TV or internet forums. But as a scientist, the fact that the majority of people in this country don't believe in evolution, that scares the crap out of me. That won't lead to any crusades or bloodshed, just a lot of ignorant school children who will never understand why we have tail bones, or why octopuses (octopi?) have much better vision than we do who were created in god's own perfect image. I find christianity to be very dangerous... to education. When our own president doesn't believe in evolution, I think it's safe to say that we have a problem, certainly not one created by reasonable christians, but one that more reasonable christians need to hurry up and get angry about.
posted by Farengast at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2005


...and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?
posted by dolphin917 at 12:35 PM on December 14, 2005


Why don't some of you noble Christian apologists go out and actually take on the perverts who have twisted Jesus' message into something diametrically opposed to what he freakin' said in the synoptic gospels--hate, greed, arrogance, and a general attitude that you don't have to examine your life since Jebus will forgive you, no matter what you do, who you cheat, or whom you bomb into rubble? I know Christians who try to live according to what Jesus preached, but unfortunately, it's not what I'd call any form of institutional Christianity I've ever come across (Quakers being a possible exception, but I've been told by certain Baptists that Quakers are heathens for being anti-violence and pro-inclusion of other faiths, so go figure.)

Anyways, I wanted to like the PT thing more than I did--but what eideteker said. They pretty much admit they aren't going to convince believers, and were shooting for the on-the-fence types. No crime there. And they weren't fair at all to the history professor, although he did manage to hoist himself on his own petard a few times.

Early Christian Writings is a decent resource for examing who "wrote" the Christian Testament (and who certainly didn't--no first-hand accounts of Jesus' life exist, which is kind of weird if he's the Messiah/Christos and all). The Mandeans are interesting as well--a challenge to anyone who tells you of any "official" version of Xtianity. I wish PT had gone further on this--"The Bible" as we know it today is one of the most political, socially constructed documents known, and yes, at multiple times people did vote on it to keep out potentially dangerous ideas (especially those written, supposedly, by women).
posted by bardic at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2005


I've never seen a chrisitan malign a homosexual in person

I have.

I still don't like Penn Gillette.

I find christianity to be very dangerous... to education

Me too. And policy making.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2005


"The Bible" as we know it today is one of the most political, socially constructed documents known, and yes, at multiple times people did vote on it to keep out potentially dangerous ideas (especially those written, supposedly, by women).

Amen. That can't be said loud enough. Jesus' resurrection? That was the result of a vote, and a very close one at that.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:55 PM on December 14, 2005


... or if may have been that whole man vs. Son of God thing. One of those. I forget.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2005


Yeah, it was the Son of God thing. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2005


Some Apocrypha links, but my favorite resource is the 3ed. Oxford Bible:

The Gospel of Mary

Bel and the Dragon

Bel and the Dragon in comic form

Book of Maccabees (apocryphal, and only adopted by many Jews as an important book long after much of the Hebrew Testament was written down around 500 BCE on the orders of David)

Gospel of Thomas
posted by bardic at 1:05 PM on December 14, 2005


(Hmm. Apocryphon is the singular. My bad.)
posted by bardic at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2005


mrgrimm - that sounds almost exactly like a line from The Da Vinci Code:

"Jesus' establishment as the Son of God was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea. A relatively close vote at that."

The Nicean vote was 316 in favor of Christ's Deity, and 2 against, based on prevailing doctrine held by Christian churches at the time. Yeah, pretty close.
posted by brownpau at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2005


Farengast: No, i got it alright. its just that i feel differently about religion than most(i THINK) do. one man's miracle is another man's science, and vice versa. not to start a full out theological debate, but i believe you can still have wonder in the world while explaining the unexplainable, if its possible. at any rate, science is THEORY. no one seems to get that either. there are very few laws in science. so even a theory may someday be disproved, or discarded in favor or another theory. i look forward to the day when people realize science and religion cannot interfere with each other because they are based on entirely different precepts. BUt why can't God be in the details? Why can't He work directly through science? I mean, He MADE the rules. I don't think its beyond belief to think a miracle can happen through science.
posted by Doorstop at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2005


(Hmm. Apocryphon is the singular. My bad.)

Where are you apologizing for not using it? I don't see anyplace where you're specifically referring to a single apocryphal book. (In any case, words like apocryphon are best saved for Illuminati meetings, if you ask me.)

I have to say, although (or because) the post is stupid, this thread has me weeping holy tears of laughter. Special props to my man phredhead!
posted by languagehat at 1:26 PM on December 14, 2005



mrgrimm - that sounds almost exactly like a line from The Da Vinci Code:


Nooooo! I quit a book club cuz of that selection (last straw, not a first-time offense).

That's not where I got it from, but you're close: E.L. Doctorow's City of God. But yeah, certainly anecdotal.

The Nicean vote was 316 in favor of Christ's Deity, and 2 against, based on prevailing doctrine held by Christian churches at the time.

That sounds almost exactly like a line from Debunking The Da Vinci Code (google cache). (They say 318-2.)

Nonetheless, the Christian church had a choice to make back then: appeal to the Jews (who weren't buying it) or the mystics. They went for the mystics. Again, anecdotal.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:28 PM on December 14, 2005


Doorstop, I agree with your distillation for the most part. Science and religion do talk about different things, they aren't so much incompatible as not in the same room. My only point of contention, and it's a relatively minor one, is your use of theory and law. These words have a VERY different meaning in science and that more than anything causes a lot of hijinx in discussions of the sort. A theory doesn't mean something that isn't proven like it does in vernacular language. Rather a law is something that does not NEED to be proven because it is based on direct observation. Newton's laws of motion are laws because he didn't have to think them up, they are specific properties of nature and need not be thought up or proven, but simply observed. Versus a theory which is something that must be proven. It's an explanation and an extrapolation of the physical laws, but one that is not true definitively or empirically like a law. Thus even after a theory (vernacular) is proven to be true, it is still called a theory (scientific) because it's true based on evidence, rather than by definition. So fundamentally it is possible to prove relativity wrong, in practical terms it will never happen. The evidence is overwhelming and accurate to prediction within a degree of error largely unobtainable in other disciplines.

As well I agree with you that science could itself be god's greatest miracle. I don't happen to think this, but there are plenty of scientists who believe there is no nobler career than to study god's greatest creation, the universe. I never did understand how the Pat Robertson's of the world could malign a discipline dedicated to their god's greatest gift/creation/idea.
posted by Farengast at 1:33 PM on December 14, 2005


sidenote - i agree with the rest of Farengast's statement. And i do agree reasonable christians need to start standing up and taking voice about the harmful ideas being put out there. i try, but hey... my education in the science seems to discredit me in their eyes quickly.
posted by Doorstop at 1:37 PM on December 14, 2005


farengast, i agree with you on just about everything there. sorry i did not clarify my agreement of your definitions there, but i was trying to keep it short.
posted by Doorstop at 1:42 PM on December 14, 2005


What about people who don't believe in a big clever man in the sky pointing out that you're sophomoric and misguided in your views on people with faith? I mean, since you can't seem to get past straw men and histrionics. But no, everyone who calls you a twat must be a Christian and an apologist. Moron.

Well, people who don't have a belief in what essentially amounts to the BCMITS are certainly higher up on the intellectual scale than the simple-minded asswits who do, so I'd be more likely to listen to their arguments that my atheism is sophomoric. Maybe I'll hang around until one of those poeple says what they do believe, and then explains why my atheism is sophomoric. Rather than, say, wasting time on people who can't be bothered to do that but would rather just call me a moron.

Also, please don't tell lies about what I said: I really don't appreciate it and furthermore it makes you look like what you called me. Nowhere did I say that everyone who calls me a twat must be a Christian and an apologist. I've been called a twat by far better people than that. So kindly shut your lying rattle, you empty fuck. The baby Jesus doesn't like liars, I'm given to understand.
posted by Decani at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2005


Heh. I'm friends with a semi-fallen Catholic (still goes to church, but very skeptical) who think of the Nicene Creed as Christianity "jumping the shark," so to speak--asserting itself as one of the world's few remaining polytheistic traditions.
posted by bardic at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2005


Why don't some of you noble Christian apologists go out and actually take on the perverts who have twisted Jesus' message into something diametrically opposed to what he freakin' said in the synoptic gospels-

Oh, that isn't as much fun as lazily dismissing atheists as sophomoric because we've basically got their fucking number.
posted by Decani at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2005


Frankly, I think that the hardcore Christians who care about this sort of thing probably only account for about 4-6% of people in this country ...

That'd be 4-6% of the 40-odd percent of Americans who believe in the Genesis account of creation, would it? Do you have any backup for that 4-6%? Surveys, etc? Anything?
posted by Decani at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2005


Great stuff
posted by Smedleyman at 3:34 PM on December 14, 2005


bardic, what does the Septuagint have to do with votes in early Christianity?
posted by dd42 at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2005


I meant to use the Septuagint (70 or 72 scholars, whatever your preference) as an example writ large of how institutional control always plays a role in selecting what is "divinely inspired." I didn't mean it as a perfectly Christian example, but then again, the newer Greek often refers to Jesus as the Christos, while the earlier versions don't--an early and quite serious example of textual variance.
posted by bardic at 4:42 PM on December 14, 2005


Would a simple, omnidirectional "oy" be out of place here?
posted by rob511 at 5:08 PM on December 14, 2005


Decani: It wasn't a straw man? So, which religious apologists or even apologists for religion have called you "sophomoric" here? Or might that just be a straw man to rail against, since no one was doing it, yet you bothered to rebutt it with your "motes" and "logs"? Further, what part of loudly asserting that believing in God is "deranged" ISN'T sophomoric? And might a recognition of the specious logic and polemical presentation as characteristics of "undergraduate philosophy papers" be pretty accurate?
And where, exactly, did I lie about what you said? You're the one that seems to be confused on the usage of quotation marks here.

(As for your challenge about my beliefs, I believe that God cannot be proven, that the Bible is probably best understood as the folklore of a particular set of people, and is probably as proportionally accurate as Beowulf or the Illiad or The Great Turtle Spirit, and that people don't necessarily construct consistent world vies. And I have no problem believing in a hazily-defined infinite extra-logical transendent deity, even though I generally believe that the language of science and empiricism is our best method for making decisions that impact others, because science and empiricism are largely impartial and self-correcting, which means that they can be shared equally. And in the interest of brevity, that's where I'll leave my beliefs).
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on December 14, 2005


Why don't some of you noble Christian apologists go out and actually take on the perverts who have twisted Jesus' message into something diametrically opposed to what he freakin' said in the synoptic gospels

Last month I sat on the floor of the Episcopal Diosece of Oregon's convention and participated in the debate, vote and general chicanery involved in these resolutions. The first one -- to do with divesting whatever assets that the Diocese may hold in the Sudan -- was sponsored by my church, St. David's in Portland. We host a Sudanese community on Sunday afternoon, and they asked us to do this, so we did.

Resolution 2, to do with the Windsor Report (er, that is, the Windsor Report) originally read like this; just to save you from having to re-live whole Lambeth thing , the American church mostly thinks gays are OK, the third world churches mostly don't, and the Windsor report is the English church trying to split the difference. Ammendment 2 here originally said that we like the bits of the Windsor report that said that we shouldn't like gays. The version we passed says that everybody ought to read the Windsor report, plus some other good stuff we like.

The original language was submitted by a conservative member of a local church, verbatim, as it was passed to him by a conservative group that's one of several attempting the takeover or break up of the Episcopal Church, which may be the most liberal mainline denomination that's not the Unitarians. The second version was substituted from the floor by a priest from southern Oregon. It was a cool moment.

The church -- all the churches -- are ultimately ad hocracies. The people who show up are the people who make the policies are the people who decide what the church says, thinks. preaches. If you don't like what the Church is saying, you should show up and say so. Get on the Vestry/Board/Session or whatever, become a delegate to convention, propose a resolution. Get in the fight.
posted by hob at 8:15 PM on December 14, 2005


klangklangston: I believe that God cannot be proven... I generally believe that the language of science and empiricism is our best method for making decisions that impact others, because science and empiricism are largely impartial and self-correcting, which means that they can be shared equally.

Oh really? then PROVE IT!

Unbelievable, after all that banging on in the other thread... This is what fleetmouse said:

Naturalistic claims are falsifiable because it only takes an observed contradictory instance to falsify them. Supernatural claims are unfalsifiable because you can always postulate more invisible unicorns and dragons.

...and that's one of the things that sent you into a blind fury of condescending denial, and now you are saying the same?

What's "God cannot be proven" other than "supernatural claims are unfalsifiable", and what's "naturalistic claims are falsifiable because it only takes an observed contradictory instance to falsify them" other than "self-correcting empiricism", duh?

I guess it's all about how you can't be an asshole towards yourself, only to others.
posted by funambulist at 1:12 AM on December 15, 2005


Decani: That'd be 4-6% of the 40-odd percent of Americans who believe in the Genesis account of creation, would it?
Well, I don't know about 4-6%, but I do know that people believe a lot of screwy things they never think very much about. And that how you ask the question is often more important than the question itself. So I personally have no problem believing that radical christianity is being promulgated by an extremely small minority.

But hey, it's like the lady said: A small group of committed people is the only thing that's ever really changed society.
posted by lodurr at 4:33 AM on December 15, 2005


"Oh really? then PROVE IT!"

Sure. You're denying that you use the language of science to communicate a shared worldview because it's percieved as objective?

"...and that's one of the things that sent you into a blind fury of condescending denial, and now you are saying the same?

What's "God cannot be proven" other than "supernatural claims are unfalsifiable", and what's "naturalistic claims are falsifiable because it only takes an observed contradictory instance to falsify them" other than "self-correcting empiricism", duh?

I guess it's all about how you can't be an asshole towards yourself, only to others."

Except that's not what I'm saying. First off, you're ignoring that in the other thread, I was arguing that ideologies cannot be falsified, as they're all based on an ultimately irreducible assumption. Which is kind of germane here: the reason why the language of science and mathematic is valuable is because it has a high level of clarity and internal mechanisms for approaching objectivity, and that means that it's easier to agree on scientific claims.
One of the big reasons that I was so frustrated in that thread was that my arguments were being misstated and misconstrued over and over and over to be stating something that I wasn't (usually through the fallacy that if I was arguing that if A≠B it was assumed I was arguing [Not A]=B). Further, not all "naturalistic" claims are scientific claims, and not all scientific claims are falsifiable. If the weatherman predicts a 50% chance of rain tomorrow and it doesn't rain, that hasn't falsified his prediction. Further still, the point of bringing up Hume was to show that cause and effect is fundamentally unprovable.
As for being an asshole, well, you've certainly shown me up with your good manners here. Bravo.
posted by klangklangston at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2005


Yeah right, except, because that thread is still there, anyone can read you didn't use the weather forecast example which is prediction of probability, you talked about having "faith" the sun rises each morning and hitting a key makes characters appear on screen, faith in something that isn't provable, on a par with how you can't prove God exists.

You switched meaning of "provable" mid-discussion from pragmatic to absolutely theoretic, and it's you who mixed in sciences and empirical observation of natural events with ideologies and secular beliefs, and with religion, as if they all rested on the same level of "fundamentally unprovable"...

As for being an asshole, I don't see how your behaviour there qualified differently, given how you addressed everyone else, and several people told you that already, but this is tiresome and I'm as much into personal grudges as I'm into pedantry for its own sake. It just *struck* me as rather amazing that you'd claim here a self-evident thing you were splitting hairs about on the other thread, but I see the hairsplitting still continues so there's no point. Apologies all round for even bothering.
posted by funambulist at 8:05 AM on December 15, 2005


"Yeah right, except, because that thread is still there, anyone can read you didn't use the weather forecast example which is prediction of probability, you talked about having "faith" the sun rises each morning and hitting a key makes characters appear on screen, faith in something that isn't provable, on a par with how you can't prove God exists."

And what I said was that it was probable that the sun would rise tomorrow, but that I couldn't prove that it would.

"You switched meaning of "provable" mid-discussion from pragmatic to absolutely theoretic, and it's you who mixed in sciences and empirical observation of natural events with ideologies and secular beliefs, and with religion, as if they all rested on the same level of "fundamentally unprovable"..."

And no, if you had been reading that thread, you'd have noticed that it was Farengast who started the "secular ideologies can be disproven" argument. I rebutted him.

Further, one of the things that you still seem to believe is that things that cannot be proven, even laying aside any of the "philosophical hair-splitting" (which I think is due to a combination of your inability to comprehend and my 4am defenses of Englightenment skepticism), have no meaning. They do, and they are important, even if they can't be shared. To dredge up an old saw, it doesn't matter if everyone percieves a slightly different version of blue, so long as everyone agrees that when they get that particular visual input, it is communicated to others as "blue" (or blau or what have you).

But yeah, I'll cop to being a condescending asshole on that thread. I can also say that from my point of view it was justified by the repeated overstatement and bad faith argumentation there, especially from those who seek to argue from a position of superior atheism. Do you want to take any responsibility for your behavior, or was it all big bad KlangKlangston hurting your feelings?
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 AM on December 15, 2005


Heh thanks for your kind concern but no, my feelings aren't hurt by any of this crap. And it's not about me, it's a discussion where you were engaging with at least five different people, whose several comments weren't certainly as simplistic as you still make them out to be. But thanks for making the condescension just a little subtler.

Further, one of the things that you still seem to believe is...

Er, nope, sorry, but I sure don't believe what you think I "seem to believe", never implied anything about there being no meaning etc. I don't even know what you're on about there. Yeah, that's clearly my problem, because I have an inability to comprehend anything at all, but still, you could perhaps try and avoid putting words in my mouth.

No hard feelings, I don't know what responsibility I should accept, or for what behaviour, other than a clearly masochist passion for surreal dead-ends. Anyway, I'm more than happy to apologise profusely for anything you think I seem to have done. It's all unprovable anyway, so...

Happy holidays and superior atheism 4ever! Just kidding, just kidding.
posted by funambulist at 9:34 AM on December 15, 2005


Decani: It wasn't a straw man? So, which religious apologists or even apologists for religion have called you "sophomoric" here?

Quite a few. I can't be arsed to hunt them all out but here's one to be going on with. Just, you know, to disprove your bone idle suggestion that I'm tossing straw men out.

religion threads do nothing but lower the level of discourse as you try to pass off junior high rhetoric as cogent argument.
posted by klarck at 3:34 PM PST on November 27


Further, what part of loudly asserting that believing in God is "deranged" ISN'T sophomoric?

Loudly? You can tell what volume I'm thinking at? Man, that's some heavy psychic shit you have going on there, man. Or possibly, you are a lunatic. I'll reserve judgement, for the nonce.

What part of asserting belief in God is deranged isn't sophomoric, you ask? Well, I'd say the part that involves asserting that believing in mad, unprecedented shit without evidence is deranged. That part. That's the part that's raw common sense - as opposed to sophomoric. Do you see? Or would you like me to go through it in more detail? Maybe with nice pictires in bright, primary colours?

And might a recognition of the specious logic and polemical presentation as characteristics of "undergraduate philosophy papers" be pretty accurate?

I have no idea what the hell that might be referring to. Sorry.

And where, exactly, did I lie about what you said?

Why, right here, right before you called me a moron, you smug, lazy-minded, epithet-tossing cunt:

But no, everyone who calls you a twat must be a Christian and an apologist.

I said nothing to suggest that statement was true, but you chose to lie and suggest I did. See it? No? Would you like it in a different language, you bumptious little prick?
posted by Decani at 7:19 PM on December 15, 2005


All I can say is that is was great fun to start a shit-storm at 4:41 am. "Good morning, MeFites, chew on this"... sheep.
posted by hypersloth at 2:45 AM on December 16, 2005


"Quite a few. I can't be arsed to hunt them all out but here's one to be going on with. Just, you know, to disprove your bone idle suggestion that I'm tossing straw men out."

Right. Bullshit.

"What part of asserting belief in God is deranged isn't sophomoric, you ask? Well, I'd say the part that involves asserting that believing in mad, unprecedented shit without evidence is deranged. That part. That's the part that's raw common sense - as opposed to sophomoric. Do you see? Or would you like me to go through it in more detail? Maybe with nice pictires in bright, primary colours?"

Do you have anything BUT bullshit there? Or is this all going to be you chattering on with your asserted crap?

"I have no idea what the hell that might be referring to. Sorry."

That's OK. I don't hold you to the standard of reading your own posts or the thread because it's clearly above your level. Or, to put it simpler: I know your head goes all throbby-throbby when you try to look at the hard words.

"I said nothing to suggest that statement was true, but you chose to lie and suggest I did. See it? No? Would you like it in a different language, you bumptious little prick?"

A lie? Bullshit, you mincing cunt: you start out with the assertion that it's "religious apologists" who are calling you "sophomoric" and then you have the stones to call me a liar for pointing that out? Read the fucking thread again, monger, or have someone with a third-grade reading level do it fucking for you, you nattering twat. Read your own fucking comments!"Nothing to suggest the statement was true." Bullshit of the warmest, roundest fashion! You start with religious, then launch a polemic against Christians. Now shut the fuck up, cunt, 'til you're ready to stand on what your dripping ass said!
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2005


hypersloth: Well, Mefites like arguing, and you enjoy trolling. It's win/win.

On preview: holy crap, hypersloth, you hooked a big one there. Fantabulously done. Klangy, in the future, consider repeating "It's just a website." 10 times and then deciding if you want to hit the post button.
posted by boaz at 8:03 AM on December 16, 2005



posted by funambulist at 11:53 AM on December 16, 2005


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