“‘Ratio- nal’ means what it says”

A C Grayling has been tweaking the noses of supernaturalists in his recent posts at CommentisFree, and getting some responses that wouldn’t pass the Slugger ‘ball not man’ rule.. [although they wouldn’t be completely unknown in some of our recent comment zones – Ed]. Those responses have, though, prompted a robust argument from the philosophy prof.. on the nature of rational beliefs and a hope for reasonable discussion.

The point to extract from these thoughts is that every belief or hypothesis depends for its respectability on how it was arrived at, how open it is to test, and how it consists with what is powerfully established and repeatedly (a billion times repeatedly) confirmed in our common sense and scientific views of the world. Beliefs about fairies are anecdotal and fanciful, emerge from different folkloric traditions rooted in the ignorant past, and were mainly sustained by the unlettered, though they attracted their Conan Doyles. Had the institutions of political power needed belief in them for governing the populace, motivating them to war, or any other such purpose useful to rulers, there would today be official Fairy Rings, an Archgoblin of Chanctonbury, and daily readings of Hans Christian Andersen in schools.

But of course, the fairies had competition. Until the Church of England got going with its primary schools in the 19th century, largely as it happens to extirpate this rival to the credulity it required for itself, belief in fairies was commonplace and universal, a fact now forgotten, so successful was C of E elementary education. The church achieved this more by demonising folkloric beliefs than by offering rational analysis of them, and helping people to proportion evidence to them. This last would, presumably, have proved too swingeing in its result. But it certainly prompts a hopeful thought…

“And so to the ethics point.”

In debates that crucially affect the wellbeing of the world, ideas and beliefs should be open to tough challenge and hard discussion. Let someone state a view, and let the view be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, no holds barred, and no pleas of offence, hurt feelings, self-proclaimed sensitivities, “sacredness” or any other excuse allowed to stand in the way. But with a strictly governed exception, namely, an office-holder speaking ex-officio, let no individual be the target of attack, and even then neither abuse nor ad hominem attack.

There is no excuse for ill manners and insults, though of course there is an explanation: usually, the impotence and weakness of the insulter and his or her case. Insult an idea or an institution, by all means, if you have serious grounds to do so; but not individuals: that is the bottom line.

Please go and read the whole thing..

..and, perhaps, someone will forward a link to a few other people..

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  • Dewi

    “please go and read the whole thing”…last time I’m taking your advice !

  • Dawkins


    Wonderful article. Fairies (or little chaps much like them) were always an intrinsic part of our species’ dreamworld. Ancient Chinese traditions seem to have had them even before the Mesopotamian civilizations. I’ve always thought it such a pity that Judeo-Christianity gave them the boot, and introduced a pantheon that’s not nearly as much fun–pretty dour in fact, what with nasty blood sacrifices, not to mention the terrible guilt complexes foisted upon innocent children.

    I reckon we owe Tolkien a big favour for his efforts at reviving this otherworld, and of course peeps like Eoin Colfer and JK Rowling who do great work in carrying on the tradition.

  • IQHQ

    Hello Pete, hello Professor.

    Isn’t trying to convince such narrow-minded fools that [i]ad hominem[/i] attacks are no way to conduct oneself in debate akin to banging our heads off the wall? If we merely abided by the sensible rule of [i]ignoring[/i] them (and let their ignorance speak for itself) then we would free up more time for pursuing rational debate ourselves. “Those who have ears, listen!”

    Unfortunately, for the forseeable future (and beyond) there will always be less cerebrally-oriented members of our species to whom fuzzy feelings and an easy life will mean more than any proof or any rational theory based on solid evidential foundations. The arrangement of modern society affords such people an even footing (perhaps, in a broadly anti-intellectual culture, even an advantage) and this is unlikely to change any time soon.

    Also, and I speak as an atheist, it is a bit rich to ridicule religious beliefs themselves just because many holders of those beliefs conduct themselves in an undignified way. Perhaps there is, indeed, a notable hypocrisy when self-professed Christians verbally attack another for merely holding a belief. Yet, the hostility of one whose identity has been attacked is instinctual for human beings. This is no less pronounced when one (hypothetically) atheist person attacks another’s strongly-held convictions on Marxist theory, etc. If we [i]are[/i], indeed, willing to expend the time and effort necessary to reason with such people, the least we can do is charitably overlook the initial hostility rather than condescendingly point out the doctrinal contradictions of their tone.

    To sum up, the impermanence and anonymity afforded to internet forum contributors means that eradicating trolls, etc, is futile. These protean trouble-makers will always find ways to infect threads with their trash opinions. Fortunately, unlike biological viruses, we can choose to dwell elsewhere. We can choose whether or not to be hosts to these viruses. We should have enough faith in those who do [i]have ears[/i] that they do not need our guidance to discover the rotting core of these people’s beliefs.

    p.s:~ On a lighter note, I must take issue with Professor Grayling and Professor Dawkins’ blanket dismissal of fairies as cutesy little fictitional fragments of a bygone culture. When I was 8 years old, I lost a tooth. The next day, I discovered one shiny gold pound under my pillow. ERGO – fairies must be real!

  • Dawkins


    “The next day, I discovered one shiny gold pound under my pillow. ERGO – fairies must be real!”

    Ergo, gold pounds must be real too :0)

  • Pete Baker


    “To sum up, the impermanence and anonymity afforded to internet forum contributors means that eradicating trolls, etc, is futile.”

    Possibly. But it’s worth occasionally reminding a wider audience – than the small group you identify – that such tactics, in place of a reasonable discussion, is damaging to the possibility of a reasonable discussion.. on any topic.

  • IQHQ

    Professor Dawkins

    I did not know that you posted on Slugger. Welcome! I contribute frequently to your dedicated site, and must say that it has been a source of [i]REAL[/i] comfort and solace over the last few months. My commendations and thanks.


    Point taken, and I have absolutely no problem with such ocassional reminders. I do not believe them to be superfluous, certainly not when intended to have the effect you mention.

    However, I have repeatedly witnessed otherwise intelligent commentators getting involved with protracted arguments with such narrow-minded fools. Perhaps it is just naivety (e.g. we don’t always have the benefit of knowing the age of such contributors – perhaps they are bright and idealistic teenagers, trying to change the world!). This is futile and, what’s more, it is self-defeating. It only results in the rational commentator pulling his/her hair out in exasperation!

  • Martin

    IQHQ – you’ve just made me feel very old! When I was shedding me teeth (the first time) the tooth fairy left a thruppenny bit.

    Now that I know it’s impersonal and inexorable historical forces at work, I have to pay money to try to keep my pegs…

  • abucs

    Why is it that a certain brand of atheist feels the continual necessity to convince everyone else how rational they are ? :o)

    All very amusing i have to say. Please continue.

  • IQHQ


    With respect, perhaps the insecurities of your own beliefs are not as well hidden as you think, causing a hyper-vigilance to such comments. Are you so telepathic that you need not even be in a person’s presence to sense their motives? Make fun all you want, but you may let yourself down. Whilst I have argued that, in this instance it may be self-defeating, there is nothing inherently wrong with encouraging people to “play the ball”. The point of the article was evidently to encourage contributors to address the issues, and not the person, and this is a manifestly good thing. I was religious for most of my life, and emersed myself in much theological inquiry. In no sense could someone have justly charged me with being irrational during that long period. The fact that my own sense of rationality has led me to shed that particular part of my world-view is a personal fact, the reasons for which I am not shy about sharing. However, my opinions are only worthy of contributing to debate so long as I can offer my reasons for holding them. Thus, they can be challenged, but still respected. Those who offer no reasons for their beliefs (and merely assert them) do not, in my opinion, deserve to be indulged with a platform. That is the essence of rational descourse. Do you disagree?

  • IQHQ

    p.s:~ I accept, from experience, that a [i]certain brand of atheist[/i] can justly be regarded as suffering from what a psychologist would call “cerebral narcissism”, a constant need not only to be right all the time, but be [i]seen[/i] to be right. It is an unfortunate situation, stemming from human nature (especially academic natures) and afflicting every group that decides not to “sit on the fence”.

    Yet, is such exasperation not understandable? Consider the unreason common among religious circles in the 21st Century. At this time, when our understanding of the cosmos, our understanding of our own origins and nature, and our potential manipulation of the physical laws have all grown exponentially beyond that of any other civilization ever, and there are still those who assert that the earth is 6,000 years old! Consider, if you will, the Professor of Thermodynamics from Leeds University who, on Sunday Sequence 6 months ago, ignorantly asserted that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics precluded the Big Bang from potentially valid cosmological origin theories. He did this, not from rational argument, but from an emotional and intellectual attachment to a literal interpretation of the Bible. Indeed, more mature and modern Christian scientists (such as Kenneth Miller in “Finding Darwin’s God” and recently Francis Collins in “The Language of God” both ridiculed the holding of such a belief, yet here we witness it coming from the lips of a supposed expert in the field!!! Words can’t describe….

  • abucs

    IQHQ i would not do you the discourtesy of saying you are irrational. It would be a silly childlike reaction on my part. You mention the religious beliefs of some people in the 21st century and you are entirely right to respectfully challenge them. But the GENERAL flavour of the posts here on Slugger is not a respectful challenging of specific beliefs, but a blanket assertion that everybody who holds to the creator world view is somehow lacking in rationality to back that up, and that by default, anybody who doesn’t hold to that worldview is suddenly blessed with rationality, logic, and oh we’ll give you a science degree as well. Not everyone IQHQ, but enough to make the point.

    My personal journey of rationality and science has gone away and then back to religion. But that’s me.

    I have said many times that the way i see science, logic and rationality, the nature hypothesis, because it is based in the material world can be falsified, and basically HAS been falsified. The creator hypothesis because it cannot be falsified, as it’s hypothesis includes a working from beyond our material world, stands as the best idea we have had and still have. It looks, to me, that that’s the way it works. Because it cannot be falsified doesn’t mean it is irrational, especially when the alternative, to my mind, has been falsified.

    The scientific discoveries last century in quantum mechanics falsifying the closed system, material cause and effect hypothesis and Belfasts own John Bell showing (although he didn’t like it) that reality is non local, to my mind apart from falsifying the nature (atheist) default position strongly suggest a reality interacting with something that is not material to this world. But that’s me.

    This is where science has led us to, in my opinion, but we are continually, i repeat continually being asked to talk about fairies and goblins and spaghetti monsters instead of what the science actually says. I’m sorry, but at some stage it just gets amusing in a tiresome sort of way.

    I am an avid reader of Slugger but when you get childish posts every week on this topic, at first you put up with it but then it starts to drive you away. There are plenty of atheist evangelical websites around. Why do we have to continually go over this topic on Slugger ?
    Why does a particular BRAND of person have to continually, and in my view fraudently (hence the amusement) try and claim his world view is right alone, and has intelligence to it and everybody elses is like believing in fairies ?

    I have participated vigourously in such debates here. Perhaps this is the hyper vigilance you mention. But now, in all honesty IQHQ i find such repeated and exclusive claims of rationality childlike and amusing, and we seem to have one of these desperate exclusive pleas every week or so.
    So with respect, again, it is with comedy, not insecurity that i post. I genuinely find it amusing to repeatedly hear childlike claims of exclusive rationality from, as i said A CETAIN BRAND, continually claiming science, reason and logic to somehow, and without explanation, to be exclusive to their world view.

    I am quite prepared to talk to atheists who actually have something to say. I do not make the childish claims that they all have no rationality, that their big explosion in the sky from nothing theory is like believing in Santa Claus. I do not make the silly assumption that their genes are making them think that way, or that it’s the memes controlling their thoughts. I do not make the blanket assumption that they are thinking what they are thinking as some sort of reaction to their childhood or a emotional need to think in such a way. I do not say they are all blind followers who have not actually thought through their position. That sort all fragmented arguement from me would make my own position look weak and desperate and would demean both of us.

    I would try and give a proponent of a world view the courtesy of actually listening to his thoughts in a respectful way. But when a certain BRAND of atheist thoughts consist of 95% of denigrating the ‘oppostion’ in the way above, it is very hard to treat such people with the respect that you should, and then the reaction sometimes is amusement and just a shake of the head.

    But we’ll have another one of these posts next week and the same silly claims will be made without any scientific talk whatsoever.

    Probably from now on it will be shake of the head and a leaving of slugger altogether, which would be a shame for me as i’m on the other side of the world now and would miss what’s going on.

    Before i go i’ll try and post a few scientific links on the Supernatural thread that is linked to above and which seems to be trotted out every week as part of the weekly atheistic prayer service. (said in jest).

  • IQHQ


    LOL! Thank you for your post. I had hoped for, but did not expect, such a lengthy and respectful reply. Whilst I disagree with some of your conclusions, I respect your honesty, and hope that you don’t allow such bullies to force you out of Slugger. To do so would be to hand them a victory they do not deserve. I empathise with your plight, and can only hope that you ‘weather the storm’. If, indeed, you are a Christian then you will be aware that salvation history is full of those (saints) who, when faced with such opposition, did not shy away from standing up for their beliefs. Evangelism, at least the successful sort, has rarely taken place in safe and benign environments; you have come to save sinners, no?

    Now that I understand the background, I can easily forgive and overlook your dismissive comments above (post 8), but I want you to accept my explanation of how I interpreted it. I interpreted it as a condescending dismissal (ok, maybe i’m exaggerating slightly – lol) of my ideas. This is exactly how you feel when the “certain brand” of atheists dismiss you. I cannot let you leave without admitting that the character flaws you correctly point out in certain atheist circles [i]are[/i] as I said they were above:

    [i]”I accept, from experience, that a certain brand of atheist can justly be regarded as suffering from what a psychologist would call “cerebral narcissism”, a constant need not only to be right all the time, but be seen to be right. It is an unfortunate situation, stemming from human nature (especially academic natures) and afflicting every group that decides not to “sit on the fence””[/i]

    They are not solely the preserve of atheists, although I admit that they are prevalent there. They are common also in evangelical circles. I do not need to tell you this; i’m sure you have met your share of dogmatists over the years, from all circles. Yet this realisation does much to remind you of two things:

    *It is an unfortunate part of human nature – and in no way reflects upon the validity or otherwise of the guilty person’s views. That issue is quite separate.

    *No matter how hard you try, you will never escape it.

    . . . So better just to accept it! It is, I believe, as I said above:

    [i]”If we are, indeed, willing to expend the time and effort necessary to reason with such people, the least we can do is charitably overlook the initial hostility rather than condescendingly point out the doctrinal contradictions of their tone”[/i]

    Have you thought of the possibility that the dismissive and condescending atheists are acting that way as a result of direct experience with nonsense-talking religious people in exactly the way you respond to nonsense-talking atheists? Getting to grips with different points of view is difficult, and I have no problem imaging how it is all the more difficult (and hence the inability to do so more pronounced) in a Northern Irish political forum. Yet, the lesson we all have to learn can not be learnt by backing away.

    On the point of John Bell’s Theorem (+ Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” etc) I accept that non-locality is a mystery. I accept that the skewed and various interpretations of Quantum Reality can leave one with the impression that:

    “All we know is that we know nothing”

    I believe that our situation is analogous to those who, at the turn of the century, said: “We know all we can ever know”. And, how wrong were they! Who knows what we will discover as a result of Quantum Theory. I accept that our discovery attempts may be futile. Yet, I am not quite sure what leads you from such a principle of uncertainty to accepting the teachings of one particular religious creed. In fact, and with respect, I am baffled. “All we know is that we know nothing” seems to sum up intellectual honesty and humility. It is the truth. It is so for me, for you, and was so for Socrates (who was killed 2,500 years ago for failing to deny it). If we are all honest, we would admit as much.

    What, may I ask you, led you from the quantum quandry to Christianity (and not Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, etc.) ? ? ? I am not trying to provoke you, my friend, but genuinely curious.

  • IQHQ


    Just one more thing. In relation to the third paragraph of your lengthy post above, where you said:

    [i]”The creator hypothesis because it cannot be falsified, as it’s hypothesis includes a working from beyond our material world, stands as the best idea we have had and still have. It looks, to me, that that’s the way it works. Because it cannot be falsified doesn’t mean it is irrational, especially when the alternative, to my mind, has been falsified”[/i]

    What exactly do you believe has been falsified? Is it the proposition “All that exists is here in the physical world”? What led you to such a conclusion? Are you still speaking of Quantum Physics? Or is there something lacking, in your opinion, in the theory of evolution? Or are you referring to the confusion amongst origins scientists in understanding the beginning of [i]The Bang[/i]?

    p.s:~ The mythologist Joseph Campbell talked eminent sense about our concept of “God”, a notion that has been present from the earliest days of our productive civilization. He spoke of “God” being a METAPHOR for a mystery that absolutely transcends all categories of thought. Even, of course, the category of “Being” and “Non-Being”. That still is a category of thought. Our minds (all of us) are modelled on the observable cosmos, the WORLD. There is no doubt that the idea of a God may be an excellent one; it may, indeed, be very useful, may well be essential. Yet this has nothing to do with reality, but with myth. This is not a dismissal; most things are myths. Every time we put on the TV; every time we listen to a song; our world turns on its myths. Myths of beauty, myths of strenth, myths of success. Perhaps the externalizing of “the ultimate myth” (as mentioned above) is necessary as a framework for rational (or, at least, healthy) thought.

  • Obscure Reference

    Abucs, I agree with you that many atheists demonstrate the all too human need for certainty and to be right that is characteristic of religious faith.

    But…now not only is deference demanded for the dubious deities and dogma of established religion, but I have to respect your personal god that you invented all by yourself?

  • abucs

    Hello Obscure Reference,
    i do not ask you to respect something you don’t think exists, only to respect that people have rationally come to a different conclusion to you. My talk of a certain BRAND of person is a person who arbitrarily dismisses outright the position of a large number of people without full acknowledgement of why they have come to that conclusion.

    i agree that such a BRAND of person is not exclusive to atheists. In fact i agree with just about everything you said, and i take on board the possible reason you give as to why the atheist variety may react the way some do.

    As for what i think has been falsified. I think the idea that the workings of this universe is fully contained within this universe by a description of matter physically and mechanically reacting with itself has been falsified. I think that the idea that man is a simple and meaningless accidental by product of such forces has also been falsified. To my mind.

    Now yes, we physicsally came from eggs and sperm and we can trace our bodies back to the stars. In that way we are a product of the universe. But when we look at ‘the observer effect’ and we see that the rules of how matter actually physically behaves is dependent on an observer, then it looks very much that we are not an accidental by product but that something so fundamental as the law of physics, actually ‘saw us coming’. Or to not only arrogantly limit it to humans, ‘saw sentient beings coming’.

    To think of us as simply collections of matter organised in a different way, to say a rock, is to ignore that the laws of physics distinguishes between us and a rock. Now why is this so ?

    Of course when we study the smallest bits of what the universe is made up if (in quantum physics) we see that it does not work on the principle of cause and effect but blinks in and out of existance and jumps physically from one location to another spontaneously and does all this obeying strict rules of mathematics (probabilities).

    So i think a strict physical cause and effect explanation (contained within this universe) has been ruled out by such ‘discoveries’.

    Now my understanding is that this ‘rules out’ the default position of most atheists. That doesn’t rule out all atheistic interpretations. But the atheists who try to make a detailed coherant case know that they cannot fall back to the default position that is held, shall we say, in popular atheistic circles (and used to beat religious over the head with calls of rationality). I think this default position has been falsified.

  • abucs

    I think the intelligent atheists who try to keep a mechanical natural process in their thinking revert to concepts such as ‘string theory’ to explain non locality. I think they try to get around the ‘observer effect’ by postulating the Many worlds, or Parallel Universes concept. In order to get around the ‘problem’ of origin and that the laws of physics are so finely tuned to allow for anything but ‘a mess of hydrogen’ in our universe (something i haven’t spoken about) they postulate
    ideas such as Many Universes.


    Of course many of these atheistic theories don’t specifically exclude a Creator, but they do attempt to explain away evidence that ‘suggests’ one is there.

    Now when you get right down to it, most of these intelligent atheistic theories which try to fit in with our scientific discoveries mentioned above, cannot be falsified and really, rationally speaking, are little different to the basic positions of intelligent religion.

    It seems that science can take us so far, but if the workings of the universe are outside of the universe, as i believe non locality, the observer effect and the non physicality of matter suggest, well then science has done it’s job and leaves EVERYBODY postulating what it is outside of our universe, that we get our origins and laws of physics from.

    Everybody will have a different take on this and one intelligent postulation whether it be ‘religious Creator’ or Atheistic one will appeal to different people.

    My background as a computer programmer is perhaps what skews me to the Creator theory. I see in quantum mechanics a similar functioning of the universe to a computer. Of course i’m not proposing we are all sitting in a vat somewhere but just that matter jumping in and out of existance and from one physical location to another obeying certain non local rules and reacting differently to ‘users’ of sentient beings looks to me like a computing process.
    (See Edward Fredkin or Ross Rhodes).

    That’s what makes sense to me and while i think other sensible explanations or theories are not as sensible, i recognise that that is my bias on what i think sensible is.

    I agree with you that in the end, when we really get down to it, all we can really say humbly, is that we don’t really know much (anything) at all.

    If we are to try and make sense of these questions we have to choose the most coherant explanation that personally makes sense to us. But i would just claim that making the false claim as SOME do that my idea is rational, yours in not rational, is not a respectful humble way to proceed. And i agree we all need humility on this subject, if we are interested in it.

  • abucs

    So from the above i think there is intelligent order in our universe, but coming from outside our universe. In effect this is another way of saying ‘our universe is an illusion’. (I’m tempted to use the word ‘delusion’ but i’ll resist. :o) )

    Or perhaps our universe is a projection from a deeper reality that is outside of space and time.

    So to me all of this suggests a creator (or creators)

    So i ask myself, why are we in this illusion and is there any evidence of whatever is outside (or in the real reality) connecting with us.

    And why don’t they do it ‘all the time’ instead of ‘leaving us to ourselves’ most of the time ?

    Of course if life is simply a wiring of hardware in an environment then with our computing we should be able to create life forms and universes of our own when we get smart enough. That should follow as day follows night. Look how far we’ve come with computers in only 1 lifetime. In this way we can look at ourselves as creators and then we will have a whole lot of new questions to ask ourselves and will see things from the perspective of creators. Should we create life ? Should we bring them into our world ? Who should we choose – everybody ? Should we leave them to themselves or interfere ? Should we make life a carefree holiday ? what makes life develop ? What makes life good ? How do we know that bringing them into our world will be a good thing ? and so it goes.

    Again, we should be in a position to create life if it is simply wiring hardware in a simulated environment. So it is entirely appropriate, one day, to ask such questions.

    None of the physics mentioned in previous posts leads specifically to Christianity. I think it leads to a Creator though. Why i choose Christianity is that all the questions i ask (as a creator) a couple of paragraphs back are addressed by Christianity, and there is some evidence to back up the claims.

    btw this is not meant to be a scientific proof but rather a choice among religions advocating a God (or gods, i like to say Creator).

    The STORY of genesis basically says look i created the universe, i created a paradise, it didn’t work, it’s not the way to go. Fair enough as far as the STORY goes. It says you are going to face hardship, that is the way you grow and sort out the wheat from the chaff (NT now) morality is what counts, there is a universal goodness that is your Creator, this is what you should be pre-occupied with, there is another dimension (a timeless Heaven), this Heaven is in communication with you and underpins your reality, you are here in this creation for the purpose of entering the other (10 gold coins and all that). There are serious consequences on how YOU DECIDE to live your life.

    So it fits with how i would see our predicament but it in no way resembles a scientific proof. I just note that it fits neatly with how i see things.

    Now we can take the bible and to me it is a book written by man. I recognise that it is an attemp by dozens of authors to convey a history of what went on it their time. I think like today it contains personal grievances, attempts to rewrite history, political propaganda, honest mistakes down through the millenium. I do also recognise that much of it, especially in the New Testament tries to convey a time in which they claim was a period when the Divine came to humanity. I note that the followers believed in what they said so much that basically all of them went to their tortured graves trying to tell the world one basic fact as they saw it – God exists, he came to us. He did things including the ressurection that makes everything else (including their own lives) pale into insignificance.

    Now i know after 2000 years we can pull apart the bible and suggest this means that, that certain parts suggest this, that things were changed, that perhaps they were not written by eye witnesses, that they are exaggerated propaganda etc. After 2000 years, if you want to, you can build a case for just about anything and many people have done so. For example, people say Jesus married Mary of Magdala, that he was a homosexual with John, that he was a madman, that he was misinterpreted, that he never actually existed etc etc. If you immerse yourself in the study of the bible and all the counter claims then good luck and be sure to buy plenty of headache tablets.

  • abucs

    Stepping back from all that, i’m looking for a connection to the Creator that physics leads me to believe is there. I note these guys willingly went to their deaths (like sheep among wolves)proclaiming such contact. They didn’t look for money or power or to build a state or to kill anyone, but simply to spread the Word from India to Europe. With the way i see physics i have no problems with miracles because i see our world as a projection anyway, and if you are the ‘programmer’ (for want of a better word) then you can do what you like.

    I especially like the idea of the humility of the divine and the overriding message that death is not the end (look at me) morality counts, it is the main thing in life. Be humble, be giving, be self sacrificing, be honourable and see your position in the world as a gift from a caring creator who understands your pain and suffers with you. But it is a suffering that makes you who you are. There is no other way.

    I also note that John’s Gospel contains unique and specific information on the passion which corresponds to the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium. The science for these has turned around again and my best reading of the updated information is that they are the actual burial cloths of Christ.


    so when John talks of Jesus being whippes and beaten, crowned with thorns, carrying the cross, crucified in a Jerusalem Spring, speared through the ribs producing blood and water, having a cloth around his face, buried in a cave by a rich man (and the quality of the shroud was a rich garment back then). When he says he went in the cave, saw the linens and believed. Well, when he says this and the shroud also says all this then i take John a little more seriously. When he says a couple of lines later Jesus came back to us and spoke about his ressurection and to go and proclaim the maessage well then to me John has a little more credibility.

    Again it is not a scientific proof, but enough to make you think and examine the heck out of the Shroud and the Sudarium.

    Probably the main ‘evidence’ that i look for is the continual claims of apparitions of Mary. I think a good book is ‘Meet The Witnesses’ by John M Haffert (it is probably out of print but i know you can order one from the USA).

    It deals with eyewitness accounts at Fatima in 1917 and speaks to people there who were farmers, labourers, doctors, lawyers, aristocrats, media, politicians, priests and scientists. It speaks to both believers and atheists. It is interesting that Portugal was the first of the countries where the Marxist Soviets came into power although now of course we associate Soviets with the Russian states. at the time Lisbon of Portugal was proclaimed to be the atheist capital of the world, the government and press i think it is pretty obvious to say were mainly of that BRAND we spoke about. So the government and media if anything were antagonistic to religion and not in anyway sympathetic. That is why it is interesting to hear their testimony and read the accounts, before and after the proclaimed miracle that was predicted by three ignorant children who presided over 100,000 witnesses (as esimated by the eyewitness Doctor Jose Garrett, a professor from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Coimbra) as well as many others in nearby areas who hadn’t bothered to attend.

  • abucs

    What makes this claim credible among the others is that it is within living memory, in front of 100,000 expectant witnesses (expecting either to rejoice or laugh) in a state that was against religion and had taken every precaution including soldiers and media ridicule to dissuade people from attending. And of course these ‘Soviets’ were there themselves and had the beJesus scared out of them. (Excuse the pun again).

    Now maybe these children just made up the idea that they were talking to a lady for 6 months. Maybe they were just silly to go through lots of self inflicted penance at the ladies request including their imprisonment and threat of death from authorities and state ridicule and embareesment from family and the Church. Maybe they just got extremely lucky that day that Lucy pointed to the sky and the clouds and sun did their miraculous thing that science just cannot explain. Perhaps it was just silliness followed by luck, but i think that’s stretching credulity and being in denial. Something happened.

    Again perhaps the science of the Turin Shroud will turn around again and point to a forgery based on St John’s Gospel instead of where it currently points to IMHO.

    Perhaps one of ther many conspiracy stories of the bible (such that it was exaggerated or whatever) is true.

    Perhaps all of the miracles down through the ages of instantaneous cures and eucharists turning to blood and flesh can be dismissed.

    Perhaps the incorruptible bodies have a scientific explanation.

    My faith when it comes down to it is not based on all that but i humbly listen to such testimony and give it a rigourous testing whenever and wherever possible.

    My main beliefs come from how i see physics and the secondary belief is from evidence and the third comes from my personal feelings of what Christians call the Holy Spirit. Perhaps i am a bad Christian or an unorthodox one. Perhaps it’s the spirit, then the evidence then the science that others adhere to.

    I will not question that but be honest in saying that rationality and science to me are my main tools of reason. They just happen to lead me to the same place where Christians are.

    I respect all who reach a different destination. But lets not arbitrarily deride eachother beliefs. Becuase when it comes down to it, they are all just beliefs, trying to make sense of the reality.

    OK, this saving sinners thing is hard work. :o)

    IQHQ, i don’t want to take up any more of peoples time on Slugger. I can see you have thought long and hard about such matters too and you are free to email me on sdhlogon@hotmail.com. in any further correspondence.

    God bless.

  • IQHQ


    Thank you for your detaialed reply. I have reservations with your reasoning, but very much respect and appreciate the honesty with which you have expounded it. When I have the hime, i’ll be sure to get in touch.

    Good luck!