Class Warfare Blog

July 19, 2019

Why Atheism?

Filed under: Reason — Steve Ruis @ 9:06 am
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There is a brilliant, indefatigable writer on Quora who addresses questions of theism and atheism brilliantly. His name is Barry Goldberg. Here is a taste of his writing.

What are the top ten reasons to be an atheist?

Barry Goldberg, Born Jewish, Raised Mormon, Discovered Philosophy and Became Atheist

Updated Oct 31, 2018

What are the top ten reasons to be an atheist?

The Top Ten Reasons to Be an Atheist (in no particular order) are:

Drum roll please…

  1. It’s obvious that all world religions are the product of extremely ignorant (not stupid) near barbarians who didn’t understand much about the world around them and made up stories to explain things the best they could. We no longer believe that the universe is made of four elements, that our health is governed by the balance of our four humors, that the Earth is the center of the universe with everything revolving around it, that mental illness is caused by demonic possession, etc. Why, then, should we still cling to ancient ideas about gods?
  2. It’s obvious that most people who say they believe in God believe in the God that is worshiped by the culture in which they grew up. And everybody is convinced that their religion is the only “right” one. They can’t all be right, but they can certainly all be wrong.
  3. It’s obvious that the universe is just too vast and full of stuff not in any way related to humans to seriously believe that it was all made just for us and that we are the pinnacle of all creation.
  4. It’s obvious that the religious beliefs of today are substantively the same as every other discarded superstitious belief of the past. If it’s silly to believe in Thor and Osiris, it’s just as silly to believe in Allah or Jehovah.
  5. It’s obvious that every single bit of proposed “evidence” for the existence of God has either been totally debunked or can be explained through other means. And it is obvious that any justification for believing in God is part of an ever-shrinking “god of the gaps” argument.
  6. It’s obvious that the various “Holy Scriptures” that supposedly provide the only source for knowledge about God are riddled with internal inconsistencies and blatantly wrong information about the world and world history.
  7. It’s obvious that every depiction of God that is actually worshiped by anybody is riddled with logical inconsistencies. How can God be all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving if he permits massive suffering throughout the entire universe (and not just suffering caused by man’s free will)? Why would an all-loving God set up a system whereby the vast, vast majority of his children would never get a chance to hear the “truth” and be saved, and thus be condemned to an eternity of torture? How can God simultaneously be immaterial and timeless (“pure mind”) and still interact with the material world?
  8. It’s obvious that things like “God moves in mysterious ways” and “God always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no” are just lame excuses to explain why God rarely (if ever) keeps his supposed promise to actually GIVE the faithful what they ask for in faith (not just “answer their prayers”).
  9. It’s obvious that “God” is just Santa Claus for adults. Believing in Him may give you comfort in times of trouble and give you something to look forward to, but that doesn’t mean He is real.
  10. And, to top it off, after thousands and thousands of years, no believer has ever offered a shred of compelling evidence or any sound logical argument to support a belief in such a being. Although, to be absolutely honest, the entire notion of “God” is so insanely ridiculous and childish and obviously the product of ignorant superstitions in the first place that it’s hard to even imagine what sort of “evidence” or “argument” would actually be sufficient to support a belief in such a being. And if you think that makes me sound “closed-minded,” then I’m afraid you’ll just have to blame the people who came up with such a ridiculous notion in the first place.



July 8, 2019

The Ken Ham Theistic Argument for the Existence of Aliens

Filed under: Philosophy,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:20 pm
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This an argument.

1. God is maximally great; there can be no greater deity.
2. God created man on planet Earth.
3. A deity which created man on Earth and aliens on other planets would be a greater deity.
4. Therefore, God created aliens on other planets.

Corollary to the Ken Ham Argument
1. A deity which created six races of aliens would be greater than one which created only five.
2. A deity which created ten races of aliens would be greater than one which created only nine.
3. Therefore, a deity which created n+1 races of aliens would be greater than one which created only n.
3. God is maximally great; there can be no greater deity.
4. Therefore God created alien races on all of the other planets.

But then, I might have missed something, no?

July 6, 2019

Tying Oneself in Knots for Jesus, Part 1

I am currently reading a critique of William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of his god. Dr. Craig is a philosopher and Christian apologist of some note. If you are unfamiliar with the argument, it goes something like this:

  1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
    2. The universe has a beginning of its existence.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
    4. Therefore, if the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
    5. Therefore, God exists.

The author of this critique (Unreasonable Faith: How William Lane Craig Overstates the Case for Christianity) James Fodor starts with a tidbit I had not heard, namely that “‘Kalam’ is Arabic for ‘word’, and is the term that Craig adopted to describe his argument because it is built upon the work of various medieval Islamic theologians.” Wait a minute. I do not think Islamic theologians would be creating an argument for the existence of Yahweh, now would they? They would be arguing for the existence of Allah. How can an argument for the existence of Allah be turned into an argument for the existence of Yahweh? My first guess is that Christians would say that Allah is a false god and therefore cannot be proven to exist, but then my question becomes “How can an argument for the existence of a false god be turned into an argument for the existence of a real god?” Argh! Never mind; sorry for the diversion.

Back to the Kalam!

I had just started reading the critique of the Kalam when a bomb gets thrown. Apparently, Craig is aware that there is not universal agreement regarding time. He is quoted as having written “The kalam cosmological argument presupposes from start to finish a theory, not of tenseless time, but of tensed time, according to which temporal becoming is an objective feature of the world.”

Tensed time? Tenseless time? Wha?

Okay, I had heard about these discussions regarding time in a physics context. “Tensed time” is time as most of us understand it. We exist in “the now,” aka “the present,” which separates the past from the future. Once something slides into the past, we no longer have the ability to examine it. And things in the future aren’t accessible because they haven’t happened yet. “Tenseless time” makes the conjecture that the past, present, and future all exist just at different temporal coordinates.

Note how these two viewpoints affect the concept of time travel. In tensed time, time travel would be impossible, because there is no past to go back to, nor is there a future to go to, there is only the now. If in six months, the house across the street from yours is to be demolished and you were to hop into your time machine to move seven months into the future, when you stepped out of that machine, that house would be gone. Step back in and come back to when you began and the house would be back. There are serious problems with this viewpoint, making time travel basically impossible.

However, if the all of the pasts and futures all exist, you could hop around to your heart’s delight because those are just existing states to be visited. They don’t have to be created by your time travel machine.

Clearly, this has implications for Craig’s god. If time is tenseless, then there seems to be some hope for his god existing outside of time. It is outside and steps into the time stream in 4 CE. It is outside again, and gets to New York in 2001 in time to witness the 9-11 events. If time is tensed, then there would be no ability for this god to access any time that had already passed. World War 1 would have already happened and the ships, planes, tanks, and soldiers all turned to dust. How would those be recreated? Magic, I guess. And Christian apologists frequently claim that their god is a maximally endowed being, that no greater being could be imagined. I suspect that a god that can live outside of time and can time travel is greater than one that cannot, no? And, if his god can do this, then it also has a way to become all-knowing, by hopping around to any event past or future and seeing what did or will happen. So, clearly Craig must favor tenseless time, the viewpoint of time that allows for time travel and for his god to exist outside of time for however long it wants and to be all-knowing, and . .  and. . . .

Er, no. Craig insists that time is tensed.

The Kalam is what Craig’s first doctorate dissertation was based upon (a Ph.D. in Philosophy). It is his pride and joy, the work he made his bones on as a Christian apologist. If time is tensed, then the universe can have a beginning and an end . .  and a creator. If time is tenseless, then the universe always is and no creator is needed and the Kalam argument goes “poof.”

I am intrigued to see if Fodor brings this up in his critique.



July 4, 2019

Assuming John Is Right . . .

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:24 am

I posted recently (in Apparently He Didn’t Check His Notes) that Yahweh forbade the sacrifice of children on pagan altars, but then created a son and sacrificed him to lift the curse He had laid upon Adam and Eve.

To which John Branyan replied: “You ever heard of an adult making a rule for a child that they don’t follow themselves?” (Since John is sensitive to being misquoted (aren’t we all?) I copied and pasted his response to make sure I got it right. Did I get it right, John?)

Now in my response to his response, I argued against this assertion, but maybe that is the wrong way to go. In this post I want to start from an assumption that John is indeed correct and see where it takes us.

Yahweh made a rule (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) that “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, . . .” but that He Himself is not bound by that rule. Okay, that is our starting point. I will not bother to address the difference between burning and crucifying, because that is splitting hairs a bit too finely.

So, why was this forbade in the first place? Did He not test Abraham by asking him to make an offering of his own son? And did not Abraham accept this task (reluctantly, but he was a god-fearing man . . .)? So, at this point (Genesis) human sacrifice was okay by Yahweh . . . and Abraham. So, why does Yahweh forbid this? The point in time is when the Israelites are to enter the promised land and Yahweh is issuing “do’s” and “don’ts.” He doesn’t want His Chosen People to be contaminated by the Canaanites. Of course, we find out later that the Israelites were Canaanites, just those who worshiped Yahweh and weren’t invaders from the outside because they were already there, but warnings to not have the Yahweh worshipers be contaminated by the El worshipers and Asherah worshipers and Baal worshipers seems timely and, I assume, appropriate. I guess since he was pumping up the Israelites to go slaughter their enemies/neighbors, He might be afraid the passion of events could cause some of His worshipers to think for themselves.

So, why was human sacrifice forbidden then? It doesn’t seem that this is a moral pronouncement because Yahweh shows no hesitance to sacrifice people/animals/whatever on his altars. If it were a moral pronouncement, then Yahweh would be exhibiting a state of less than perfection, so that isn’t a good choice for theists.

So, why? Why the rule?

It is part of a screed against the performance of magic, but this is also iffy. Magic shows up over and over in scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments. (Jesus does magic!) Yahweh gets the ball rolling by making Adam out of mud and Eve out of a rib. Hey, didn’t he just create hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars and trillions of planets? He needs mud and a rib to make two paltry human beings? It is an element of magic to transform matter, not so much to create it from scratch. (The Jews played with this topic: see “golems” and related topics.)

The Bible is rife with blood magic. Blood can make you unclean (only if you are a woman, if you are a wounded warrior for Yahweh, all is well). Blood determines your future. Blood transmits sins from father to son, to son, to son, to son, to son, . . . etc. Blood magic is all over the Bible. So, why pick on magic then? Is Yahweh endorsing His magics over those of the other gods? The usual theist response to such questions is “God works in mysterious ways.” Translating that into English gives us “Haven’t got a clue, mate.”

One of the arguments against using a human sacrifice is based upon Jesus being acclaimed as the Messiah. Any Jew would respond with “Then he was a fuck-all Messiah because He was executed and we were still yoked to the Romans.” This is not the way to convince Jews that Jesus was a Messiah. (And there were no Christians at the time, none, only Jews to get the message.)

Wait, this is the best an all-powerful god could come up with to lift a curse that He created by simply speaking it. How about speaking “I now lift my curse, to give all you chaps a second chance, but only if you believe Jesus was my son, er, me. You don’t get a free lunch here.” He could say this so that everyone on the planet could hear him! Not just a small group of ignorant Middle Easterners in the outskirts of Jerusalem. See, even I, a lowly atheist can come up with a better solution to the “lift the curse” task. I gotta believe an all-knowing and all-powerful god could do better, much better . . . and it didn’t.

How many holes in this ridiculous narrative is acceptable? One hundred, a thousand? How many ridiculous claims are people expected to believe?

July 3, 2019

The Enduring Idiocy of The Great Flood Story

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:54 pm
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I still wonder why such an improbable tale holds such sway over popular imaginations. We are still writing books about it, asking questions about it, making movies about it, as if it were a real event. People are still searching for the remnants of the ark (if they can be taken at their word and they aren’t just scammers).

I have been commenting about the “holes” in the Biblical narrative. This story is very “holey” indeed. If we just take a step back and look at the event in broad strokes, we see that the main god character, Yahweh (the most powerful fictional character ever invented by humans), admits he made a mistake making humans, and kills all but eight of them (over a hundred million deaths estimated) and a small sample of animals, by drowning them.

This fact alone blows holes in the “all-knowing” power of Yahweh. He should have foreseen what was going to happen before it reached that stage. This also blows holes in the “all-powerful” power of Yahweh. His ability as a created seems to be really good when it comes to inanimate objects, like stars and planets and galaxies, but every time he creates sentient beings, they rebel against him. (And rebelling against an all-powerful, all-knowing god takes balls.)

A cute toy to celebrate the extermination of 100 million people!

Then the capper that no one talks about much is that Yahweh’s “reset,” or “do over,” or “restart,” didn’t work. By all accounts of the fundamentalist religions, we are still a depraved, sinful lot needing saving. Even Yahweh’s do over is effed up.

Has there ever been a more incompetent deity?

And this is a story that Christians are actively pumping! They make little Noah’s Ark toys for baby christians. They make Noah’s Ark books for toddler christians. And they use “teaching moments” from the Great Flood from the pulpits of churches for Adult Christians. They tell us that Yahweh promised to not do it again, which is a small grace considering how badly he effed it up the first time.

How can any human being with two brain cells to rub together think this is a story worth promoting?

July 2, 2019

The Absurdity of Maximizing Shareholder Value as a Business Goal

I have written about this before, but this post over at Naked Capitalism drives the nails home into the coffin of this very, very bad idea. (Being a Zombie idea will make this turkey very hard to kill.)

Rebel Economist Breaks Through to Washington on How Shareholder Value Theory Rewards the Undeserving


July 1, 2019

Apparently He Didn’t Check His Notes

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:15 pm
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“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord . And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

Apparently Old Yahweh got a little confused when He decided the perfect way to lift his curse from Adam and Eve and all of their progeny was to father a child and sacrifice him by nailing him to a tree.

I repeat “. . . anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering . . .  is an abomination to the Lord. I guess he forgot to check his notes or maybe he doesn’t equate the sacrifice of Jesus to the burnt offering of some random child. No precedent there, nope: “Move along, these are not the gods you are looking for.”

Come on people, there are so many logical holes in this “narrative,” how can anyone believe this story without being completely intellectually dishonest?

Postscript And I didn’t even bring up all of the acts of magic perpetrated in those scriptures (including by Jesus) that, oh, have been forbidden. How many Israelite kings used soothsayers, astrologers, prophets, and other magic sources?

June 11, 2019

On Purposes, Destinies, and Lots in Life

I stated something a few days ago, to which I now return. It was this: “Anyone, theist or atheist, who thinks that ‘purposes’ exist anywhere but in our imaginations is sadly poorly informed.” It must have had a bit of a ring of truth about it as it was mocked by John Branyan.

The whole idea of there being a purpose in life (Branyan’s will take eternity to fulfill, according to him) is part and parcel of a whole load of rubbish regarding what we do and why we do it.

At the top of the list is the Divine Right of Kings. Kings have fashioned themselves as having been chosen by god to be his very instrument. This was obviously part of a power play. The religious elites and secular elites contested for power (Gilgamesh, one of the oldest stories in existence, makes this clear. Gilgamesh had to seize power from the religious elites who controlled his actions.) It had to become clear to someone that these two power centers would be better off allied than enemies. So, in return for state power protections, kings were granted “divine rights.” In earlier societies that were theocracies, these two powers were often vested in one and the same person (a “god-king”) and that person could use whichever weapon that better suited a situation. One could either send in the priests or send in soldiers to resolve a “situation.”

Right next to this is being Called by God. I am sure many Popes and others of high religious office state that god has called them to their office. Obviously anyone challenging them would therefore have to be criticizing god’s decision making abilities. Another power play.

At the bottom of this hierarchy is someone’s “Lot in Life.” Basically, no one wanted to clean out the cesspool, so we drew lots and well, it was your lot in life to have to clean the cesspool. Only poor people have these. Poor people and slaves have a purpose or a calling only in fictional tales designed to give the poor hope, so they won’t riot or rebel.

In the middle of this spectrum is where we find “purposes.”

All of these designations are fictional (not actual cases of drawing lots, like drawing the short straw, but metaphor ones, in which someone is told that being a slave was their “lot in life”) and serve to flatter/appease the receiver or con the audience. These are all parts of social control mechanisms.

By having clerics declare the divine rights of secular kings, the clerics get to perform the crowning ceremony, implying they were the ones giving the office (and in the machinations of history this proved true on more than one occasion). And also, the “state” collected their tithes for them, and enforced ecclesiastical commands (e.g. the Crusades). The royals had their power reinforced from the pulpit. Every one of the elites involved acquired greater power.

Christian life purposes are part of the con, also. Christians are often told that it is their job to “spread the Good News,” that is to spread the religion. So, once you have a mark who has embraced the con, they get to spread the con to others, kind of like a multi-level marketing scheme. In return for this, Christians get pumped up by being given a purpose for their live, one provided by God! And they are saved! Their afterlife will be more clouds than barbecue. Their god has a plan for each and every one of us, don’t you know.

Since people often display photos of themselves in the presence of celebrities (as proof they have actually met them or know them?) so, I wonder whether people have such photos of themselves hanging with Jesus or Old Yahweh in heaven? To believe that a god has noticed them and written their name in a big book and knows who they are and has gone so far as to help them with a career plan, well that is the biggest puff piece of them all. (Hint: how do you get people to work for you without paying them? Flattery seems to work.)

I have done a great many things in my life. As a youth and young man I played baseball and basketball, but apparently it was not my destiny to play those professionally. At a young age (16, I think) I chose my profession that I practiced for 40 or so years. Was that my purpose in life? If so, why did I retire and stop doing it? What I am doing now is quite different from what I did for those 40 or so years, so is what I am doing now my true purpose? I became a husband and father, were those my true purpose in life? The fact that no one can tell definitively tells you that this is all make-believe. It is what we tell one another to reinforce life changes we make or are made for us.

Now, if I can only figure out a way to get Branyan to mock my analysis, I will know it is true. (See, fictional bullstuff. We all do it.)

June 5, 2019

Lump It, Lump It All Together

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:48 pm
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I have just read an argument that argues, well, “universe therefore god.” The argument lumps together the universe as if it were a single object and argues that god is the “simplest” being able to create it. (A being with infinite powers is oh, so, simpler than a being with any sort of limited powers, don’t you know. That there are no examples of such beings to point to is irrelevant.)

Philosophers acknowledge that the universe, as we know it now, is a logical extension of the universe we knew a second ago and that the transition from “then” to “now” doesn’t require any gods being involved. By lumping the universe together as a single object, however, they mask the enormity of what it is they are doing.

If what the universe is now is a logical extension of what it was a second ago, that is the Earth moves in its orbit, the Moon it its, and the Sun in the Milky way, and the Milky Way in the Universe, all ticking along with no help from any god or gods, then there are, roughly 50,000,000 billion such seconds in which one followed the other and nothing was needed other than a recognition of the laws of physics to determine the next and the next, etc.

If we track back this trail of stages in which the universe unfolded step by step according to measurable, understandable laws with no miracles needed, we get to the last second before the Big Bang.

After 50,000,000 billion steps in which one thing followed the next according to the observable laws of physics, it is at this point that the theists jump in and say “Gotcha! It had to be our god that caused the Big Bang!”

What the heck? Hello? Whatever the cause of the Big Bang was (if indeed there was a cause), why is a god with the powers claimed for the Christian god needed? To trigger the Big Band does the trigger need to be “all good?” I think not. Does the Big Bang trigger need to be all-knowing? Possibly but not necessarily. Does the Big Bang trigger need to be all-powerful? Not necessarily, whatever was there at the time may have been so unstable that a butterfly’s fart might have set it off.

Why was their god, specifically, needed at that point? <cricket, cricket, cricket> Oh, God of the Gaps again, eh?

Let me offer another possibility. A common element on this planet is uranium. The most stable isotope of this element is U-238. It isn’t really stable, it is radioactive with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. What this means is every 4.5 billion years half of all U-238 atoms radioactively decay into other elements. But half of the atoms do and half do not. After 4.5 billion years more, half of the atoms that remained after the first 4.5 billion years (one quarter of the original number) pop off radioactively and an equal number do not. After another 4.5 billion years, only about one eight of the original atoms are left. Unfortunately we have run out of time . . . literally. Three half-life periods for U-238 roughly equals the age of the universe. (Don’t worry, more U-238 is synthesized when stars go supernovae, so we won’t run out.)

My point is after an amount of time roughly equal to the age of the universe, a large number of U-238 atoms have decomposed. A smaller number have not. What is the difference between those that pop off and those that don’t? Answer: we do not know. But surely there is a reason why some do and some don’t, no? If you believe this, you will have to explain why you think there is a reason, because the greatest minds to ever have studied this problem haven’t come up with such a reason.

So, whatever existed just prior to the Big Bang, whatever it is, how long did it wait before exploding? Was it a short time? Was it billions of years? How would you tell, since time doesn’t yet exist as we know it? All of the U-238 atoms will decompose radioactively eventually? So, why is this any different than whatever existed just prior to the Big Bang? Why does it need a god to explain it?

I suggest that the person making the argument needs a god to explain it because they very much need a god to exist. Why is completely beyond me, but the desperate logic of the philosophers trying to prove our long, long passed human ancestors were right in describing a fantastic being with supernatural powers, and just this god, none of the other fantastic beings (elves, dragons, dwarves, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, oh, and all of the thousands of other gods, etc.) are included. I suggest that it is human ego that is at the fore here. Can you imagine how grateful believers would be if some philosopher proved the existence of their god? That philosopher probably couldn’t pay for a meal or a drink for the rest of their life. Babies would be named after them. Babies of the other sex would be named after them. Mothers would offer their daughters for them to impregnate (or vice versa if they were female). Rock star baby. Immortal!

But still, the arguments are lame in the extreme. Only professional philosophers are courteous when dismantling their arguments, and that is only out of professional politeness.



June 4, 2019

Religious Experiences

I am currently reading Keith M. Parsons book “God and the Burden of Proof.” In it he discusses Alvin Plantinga’s defense of religious belief. One particular excerpt has prompted this post. Here it is:

“What, then, are the circumstances in which Plantinga regards belief in God as obviously properly basic? He gives a number of such circumstances:

“Upon reading the Bible, one may be impressed with a deep sense that God is speaking to him. Upon having done what I know is cheap, or wrong, or wicked, I may feel guilty in God’s sight and form the belief `God disapproves of what I have done’. Upon confession and repentance I may feel forgiven, forming the belief `God forgives me for what I have done’. A person in grave danger may turn to God asking for his protection and help; and of course he or she then has the belief that God is indeed able to hear and help if He sees fit. When life is sweet and satisfying, a spontaneous sense of gratitude may well up within the soul; someone in this condition may thank and praise the Lord for His goodness, and will of course have the accompanying belief that indeed the Lord is to be thanked and praised.

“Plantinga claims that it is clearly rational for persons in such circumstances to form a spontaneous belief in God.”

To me this is nonsensical. Plantinga’s “feelings” of guilt, shame, gratitude, etc. are just feelings and are not deniable. But all of the rest are interpretations of the sources of those feelings. Allow me to reframe his statement:

Upon reading the Koran, one may be impressed with a deep sense that Allah is speaking to him. Upon having done what I know is cheap, or wrong, or wicked, I may feel guilty in Allah’s sight and form the belief `Allah disapproves of what I have done’. Upon confession and repentance I may feel forgiven, forming the belief `Allah forgives me for what I have done’. A person in grave danger may turn to Allah asking for his protection and help; and of course he or she then has the belief that Allah is indeed able to hear and help if He sees fit. When life is sweet and satisfying, a spontaneous sense of gratitude may well up within the soul; someone in this condition may thank and praise Allah  for His goodness, and will of course have the accompanying belief that indeed Allah is to be thanked and praised.

In a similar fashion, could not any religious believer make the same statement, invoking whatever god they have?

William James’ definition of religion—“the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.” I emphasize “whatever they consider to be divine.”

So, basically Plantinga is arguing for polytheism because his argument is “it is clearly rational for persons in such circumstances to form a spontaneous belief in God” or rather a spontaneous belief in their god.

But I do not even accept that as a reasonable conclusion. I think those interpretations are what people are taught to make and that they do not happen spontaneously. If you have had children, you have had the experience of a child who hurts. If they can talk, you probably had to work with them to find out what was wrong: “Where does it hurt?” “Does it hurt here? . . . or here?” “Oh, you have a tummy ache!” Children are always relieved that their parent’s know what was wrong and knew what to do to make them better. I can remember being sick as a child and enjoying the extra attention I got. And we teach our children in this fashion how to interpret what they feel.

Children in religious families are indoctrinated into the religion because that is what most Abrahamic religions teach you yo do. Sometimes this indoctrination is half-hearted, as mine was, and sometimes it is full tilt boogie, which I do not wish on anyone. Seeing little children coached in how to interpret any feelings they have as communications with Jesus makes me ill. But this does happen. Parents do praise their children for saying things like “I love Jesus,” and other inanities that cannot possibly be true. They are coached to feel Jesus in their hearts, to see Jesus around them, to hear Jesus in the words of the Bible. So, is it any wonder that many natural feelings get interpreted as being sourced in their god? But just how this in any way “forms a spontaneous belief in God.” I’ll tell you; it does not.

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