Conversation with Francis Philip

I’ve decided to make a post of the conversation I’ve had with a particular commenter named Francis Philip. My reasoning is as follows. First, I wish to showcase my own failings in this conversation, hoping that doing so will help me to improve in the future. Second, it has become difficult to respond properly in the comment format; I want to centralize this conversation to make it a bit easier to follow. Third, if Francis wishes to continue the conversation, this gives him a place to do so without again taking over posts that aren’t relevant to what he is saying. Fourth, this allows my readers to see the dialogue in one place, and perhaps it will help one of them.

I will be relating exactly what was said, and adding commentary as necessary (any commentary will be in blue to distinguish it). I will probably not myself answer all the questions Francis asks, at least not in this post. Many of his questions are worth taking more seriously than I did; I think I did not handle this conversation correctly from the outset.

He began commenting on my post about the Journey Home episode with guest David Palm.

Francis Philip, May 31, 2015 at 06:04

1) God is far above science; science can only be used to understand creation. Theology, and all that entails, is necessary to understand religion and God.
2) without faith, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one will find it extremely difficult to rise above the clamor and vanity of creation in order to find truth AND believe in that truth. The evidence is all around you, but faith, like a standard or protocol necessary for an interface, is necessary to experience God ( and what this entails).

Francis Philip, May 31, 2015 at 06:07

A person needs to seek God in order to find truth. But a friendship with God is necessary, e.g., one must acknowledge Him, listen to Him (perhaps in the reading of the Spirit-inspired Sacred Scripture, and then respond to Him with faith.

Myself, May 31, 2015 at 19:27

I was a faithful Catholic for 20 years. I didn’t just ask, but begged god for help when I realized the evidence I was learning pointed away from Christianity. I was listening, and received only silence. For more info: https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/

Faith is a bad heuristic. Millions of people have sincere and honest faith in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and many other religions, not to mention the contradictory denominations of Christianity. They cannot all be right, but they can all be wrong.

Francis Philip, May 31, 2015 at 21:21

And you can be even more wrong as an individual. At least believe the historical realities of Christ’s existence and works. Doubt is your own choice, foolish in light of well-documented history and lives of saints.

Right from the outset, I either made my point badly, or he completely missed it. This is the first failure in communication.

Myself, May 31, 2015 at 21:41

If you’d read the post to which I linked, you would know that I did not choose to doubt, but only to follow the evidence, as my Catholic upbringing taught me. Further, the alleged “history” is far from “well-documented”. We have not one scrap of evidence that Jesus existed from within a decade of his alleged life. You would do well to do some research on the topic; perhaps a good place to start is “Not the Impossible Faith” by Richard Carrier, which shows that there are many historical explanations for the beginnings of Christianity outside of a literal resurrection from the dead. For one thing, he shows that Christianity was a minority cult for about 300 years – and then it was backed by an Emperor.

I don’t claim to be 100% sure I’m right, but I’m at least 99% sure Catholicism is wrong. I fought that conclusion tooth and nail, and am still fighting it, as is demonstrated by much of what I put on this blog, including this current series.

Francis Philip, June 1, 2015 at 05:56

Why do you set a 10 year artificial barrier on the life of a man from 2000 years ago when there was no printing technology? Don’t you think that you are being extremely and unusually unreasonable with such a standard? With you standard we could say that you do not exist since your birth certificate was not re certified last year.

Francis Philip, June 1, 2015 at 06:01

Also, if you really knew something about that period in history, you would also know that the Gospels were written to capture what had been orally preached for decades by Peter, Paul, Matthew, John and the other apostles. There was no command to put into writing everything within 10 years else the naysayers would have a plausible argument for denial. Be real.

Francis Philip, June 1, 2015 at 06:10

Finally, lack of written evidence to your extreme standard does not make a case. Do you have evidence that your grandmother, 10 generations removed from you, was actually married? Without evidence, one could, according to your standard, trump up all sorts of accusations against you and your family. You don’t know your grandfather from 2000 years ago, and not 1 stitch of evidence to prove that he was not a pagan murderer, but you deny Jesus Christ, a well-documented man in time. Do you see how silly that is? You are listening to the wrong “voice”, to a liar, and I am surprised that your own reasoning can not find its way through that very simple lie.

Myself, June 8, 2015 at 18:51

Be careful – your understandable but quite extreme ignorance is showing. My birth certificate is but one piece of evidence that I exist, as is this blog, several notebooks containing my handwriting, my driver’s license, etc, etc. For a first century person, we wouldn’t expect nearly as much evidence; if he were particularly famous, the way Jesus is alleged to be, perhaps one historian somewhere would have written about him while he was alive. Instead, the first evidence of Jesus as a historical figure can be dated to 60 AD, the Gospel of Mark, and we have just a small scrap of that document remaining today. Two of the other gospels are copied from that one, and they are decades older. The fourth is even older than that. No non-Christian sources from the first century mention Jesus, and the most famous sources commonly cited are in doubt as to their authenticity (per scholarship since at least the 1800s) or only mention Christ as a figure of worship and not a historical figure. If you actually care to educate yourself on this topic, I can provide some places to start, but I find Christians to be typically anti-education, and you didn’t bother to read the last link I provided, so it seems pointless.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter one bit for my position whether there was a historical Jesus Christ. Even if there was a relatively famous Jewish apocalyptic teacher named Jesus who started the cult that became Christianity (and that’s as far as the historical consensus will take you; see Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?, although it is full of errors in historical method and displays many falsehoods as though they were fact), that doesn’t prove he was anything more than a man. Indeed, in at least one instance, the Jesus of the gospels said something we know to be false, which the Christian god is not supposed to be able to do. In Matthew 16: 28, Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32, Jesus says that those alive at the time would witness the coming of his kingdom. Early epistles agree with this view, but the later gospel (John) and later epistles have it edited out. Why? Because people were dying, so it was obviously false.

You are listening to the wrong “voice”, to a liar, and I am surprised that your own reasoning cannot find its way through that very simple lie.

Much of what I said is backed up by historical consensus. Towards the end, I got super snarky, which is a bad habit of mine. I should watch my tone far more than I do, particularly in exactly this sort of conversation.

Francis Philip, June 8, 2015 at 20:38

No. The first evidence is in the eye witness accounts of those who actually inked the autographs. Why are you trying to establish an impossible case against reality?

Myself, June 8, 2015 at 21:01

So are you admitting that Mark is not an eye witness account? Because that’s the first sign you’ve shown of accepting reality.

Again, it doesn’t matter one bit for my position whether there was a historical Jesus Christ. I don’t know why you are so hung up on this issue. It doesn’t matter to me AT ALL.

Perhaps realizing that this is a fruitless line of conversation, Francis then completely changes the subject:

Francis Philip, June 9, 2015 at 18:40

You are having a rough time about God for some reason. Catholic priests would be happy to speak with you. Try it. No worries.

Myself, June 10, 2015 at 19:34

I’m not having a rough time about god at all. I have simply accepted the unpleasant reality that there is insufficient evidence to think a deity exists, and adjusted my beliefs accordingly.

As it happens, I spent 20 years as a Catholic. I was homeschooled using the Seton Home Study program for 8 of those years, learning the Catholic Catechism and the arguments for the existence of god and the authority of the Catholic Church (you may recognize the name as the best home school program by Catholic standards; if not, you may recognize it as named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, convert and teacher). I spent two years living at a Catholic Church. In all this time, I spoke with Catholic priests on several occasions. They cannot answer the questions I have.

Francis Philip, June 10, 2015 at 19:46

Try seeking virtues. It sounds like you are taking in a lot of data but you’re not getting the faith, understanding, hope, and joy. I will pray for you to receive a gift to help you. I received a gift to help my faith on the Easter vigil when I was accepted into the Church. I would like you to also receive a gift to help your faith and persistence in it. May God gift you with His help. Amen. Amen. amen. You can pray, “Lord, please help me with the gift of your help. Amen.” 3 times.

For the record, the advice to seek virtues is actually really good, and I wish I’d said so. We could all do with a little more love in our lives.

Myself, June 10, 2015 at 19:50

There is no god willing to give me faith. I asked sincerely over four and a half years ago, and I am no longer able to muster that same sincerity. Again: https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/

Francis Philip, June 11, 2015 at 06:10

It took me 17 years of following my wife to Mass before I started feeling drawn, truly, to believe and convert. We try to force our own agenda on God sometimes, and He knows better than we do of course.

I don’t know his story other than this last comment. Perhaps this would have been a good time to start asking what evidence convinced him that Catholicism is true. I wish I had. As you will see shortly, I did not.

At this point, Francis began also commenting on my post about how liberals can’t be Catholic. I have decided to present it in chronological order. Therefore, from here on out, these comments are from both posts, and I won’t be saying exactly which one each time.

Francis Philip, June 11, 2015 at 06:23

I would have to agree that a liberal person who lacks virtue is on a very wide path that anyone is capable of walking. It is like falling from an airplane…no effort required…the path is wide open and the destiny, sure and uncompromising. But a prudent person would use a regulation parachute, guide it around power lines and interstate highways and buildings and steer it to a soft landing in an open, grassy field. This is the narrow way which leads to life. Yeah, the parachute is heavy and strains the back and vision, planning and effort are required along the way, but one’s life is worth it.

Francis Philip, June 11, 2015 at 06:27

Well, at least where a parachute and pray for a soft landing in a Nice Man’s Field.

Francis Philip, June 11, 2015 at 06:51

This quote might be helpful: “God is served only when He is served according to His Will.” St. Padre Pio of Peitrelcina.

Myself, June 11, 2015 at 20:36

This sounds like a form of Pascal’s Wager, and I have covered the problems with it before: https://completehistory.me/2014/06/28/pascals-wager/

Myself, June 11, 2015 at 20:37

Do you wear a fur coat in July in case it snows?

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 06:09

Ha ha. No. 🙂

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 06:21

Well keep thinking it through, I recommend. Two things to consider: 1) there must be One Intelligent Creator greater than creation itself…the unmoved mover Who was before all (without which there would be infinitely nothing since a first mover never existed), etc (according to Aquinas and others before him) and 2) we have in our persons an intelligent element which is like that of the Intelligent Creator such that, after a time of maturation (like a seed inside a piece of fruit), falls to the ground, “dies” and then becomes something wonderfully different, but in this case, more like the Creator Himself. We can support this with the fact that we, humans, are at the very top of intelligent life on earth…we are closest to the Creator, and for what reason? Think about it with an open mind (remove bitterness from your thoughts…and do not try to control what can not be controlled).

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 08:45

Then you understand why I can’t be Catholic just in case. I find the claim that Catholicism might be true as ridiculous as the claim that it might snow in July. In fact, Catholicism is more ridiculous because there are places on earth where it does snow in July, but nowhere does it make sense that Catholicism is true.

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 08:56

1) The First Mover, First Cause, or Kalam Cosmological argument is not convincing. Here’s a starter as to why: https://completehistory.me/2014/06/09/the-kalam-argument/

2) This is dualism, which is natural instinct but almost definitely false (see: people who suffer brain damage undergo personality changes). Just as we cannot run software without hardware, we cannot expect ourselves to continue after our hardware dies. Furthermore, our intelligence can be explained through evolution. Particularly, we evolved just enough to learn to cook, and that appears to have given use everything we needed to go to space: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain?language=en We are likely “at the very top of intelligent life on earth” largely because we killed or mated away all of the competition (Neanderthals were in the running for a bit, but we bred them into our own species).

Try thinking with an open mind. Remove bitterness from your thoughts, and beware of placing agency where there might be none. 🙂

Again with the snarkiness. This conversation annoyed me, and it shows. Still, I tried to give him some idea why I believe as I do, backing it up with sources. Those sources, apparently, were ignored.

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 17:59

So why do you give all of the naysayers credibility but given historical facts far less credibility? Also, what good is it to naysay what can not be scientifically proven when science is a tool used by dummies like us little, slightly evolved humans?

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 18:01

You are very contradictory, are you not? Why so upset? I think you are upset and angry and taking it out on the Church. That’s what I think. Will you give me a proof for why it is not true that I think?

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 18:25

What historical “facts” am I failing to give credibility, and what evidence can you offer for those claims? Where have I said I believe nothing that cannot be scientifically proven?

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 18:36

Show me where my position is contradictory. Show me evidence that I am unjustifiably upset at the Catholic Church, an institution which instills unnecessary guilt, hides child rapists from legal prosecution, and makes false claims.

You see, you are the one making a claim that I am upset and angry and taking it out on the Church. It is you who must offer proof.

Alternatively, give me proof that there is no undetectable teapot in orbit around the moon, and I will use that same proof to show I am not unjustifiably upset.

Even better, will you give me a proof that god exists? If you can, I promise you I will reconvert to Catholicism within the very first minute. Indeed, I will do so wholeheartedly, for that would allow me to finally be one with my family once more.

You have no concept of the suffering I have undergone in being forced to leave the Faith behind. Until you acknowledge that I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Catholicism, you have no hope of understanding where I’m coming from.

Have you yet read this post I made? This is the third time I have linked you to it. https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/

I tried to help him to understand. I am angry, extremely angry, but all of this anger came after the realization. All of it came after my deconversion. And almost all of it, I think, is extremely justified.

I am angry that I found out Catholicism isn’t true, and that I was raised in a huge web of lies. I am angry that I can’t be angry about the web of lies because it wasn’t the fault of those who raised me that way because they don’t see them as lies. I am angry that my nephews and nieces are being raised in that same web of lies and I’ve seen it and am powerless to save them. I am angry that my own mother told me to my face that I deserve to be tortured forever. I am angry that my own sister-in-law, who used to be my best friend, told me on my facebook wall that I chose to be tortured forever. I am angry that my entire family is thrown into sorrow because I couldn’t live with myself lying with them any longer and had to go and tell them I can’t believe any more. I am angry that I have to live every day with the knowledge that either my whole family is living a lie or I’ve been duped. I am angry that they have to struggle with whether they can even continue a relationship with me and still consider themselves faithful Catholics. I am angry that my parents most likely won’t be at my wedding because they believe the lies of Catholicism – and it is lies. I am angry that myself and every member of my family is plagued with unnecessary guilt for human instinct and emotions. I am angry that Catholicism at least aggravates the symptoms of depression experienced by my mother, myself, and my nephew.

I am angry that the Catholic Church shuffled child rapists to new dioceses so they could claim more victims. I am angry that any decent human being is willing to remain in the pew in light of this fact, that they can’t see that no loving god would ever, ever, ever allow any of his earthly representatives to ever commit such a horrible act. I am angry that the Catholic Church is lying to people in Africa and contributing to the spread of AIDS. I am angry that a mother who suffered a miscarriage can face jail time because of the Catholic Church’s strict stance against abortion. I am angry that this has happened more than once. I am angry that Catholicism glorifies suffering, leading Mother Teresa to refuse to use any of her millions of dollars to help the dying poor in her care.

I am beyond angry that this just barely scratches the surface of all the reasons an atheist has to be angry.

I am perhaps most angry that anyone could use this as an excuse to ignore the facts I present, which is exactly what Francis Philip does throughout this conversation.

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 19:34

The Gospels. Isn’t it true that you do not really believe the Gospels and about Jesus Christ?

Francis Philip, June 12, 2015 at 19:46

Well, I don’t know why you felt forced to leave the faith because you struggle to believe. I’m just think you have an unhealthy dose of analytical talent, so much that your analysis exceeds the data available to satisfy your analytical appetite. I understand that.

You are like the man born blind who, in his frustration about not being able to see what others say is ( like colors, movement, landscapes, emotional faces, beautiful things, etc., ) gives up in his anger.

Read about Helen Keller, the woman who was born blind, deaf and mute and she might inspire you, as a child she was very angry and frustrated..wild at times. But she eventually learned to cope…and to read and write and think and understand, things unheard of for a blind, deaf mute person of her time. There is hope for you. Do not give up. Read about Helen Keller!

I’ve never before heard someone say to read about Helen Keller so I could be Catholic before, and I still don’t see the reasoning here. Again, this probably bears asking about.

I don’t understand the first sentence of this comment: “I don’t know why you felt forced to leave the faith because you struggle to believe.” Perhaps it’s another failure of communication. I don’t “struggle to believe”. I did, discovered it was both futile and foolish, and gave up, because I realized I couldn’t believe something that isn’t true. I was forced to leave Catholicism because I realized it wasn’t true, plain and simple. Would you expect someone to remain a believer in the flat earth after evidence were presented that it is round? Of course not, and you would think them extremely closed-minded if they did. My position as an ex-Catholic is exactly that of an ex-flat-earther, or an ex-anti-vaxxer, or an ex-creationist. I believed Catholicism was true, and changed my mind based on evidence.

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 20:04

I am willing to accept the current scholarly consensus on the historicity of Jesus, which is that he was an apocryphal rabbi executed by the government. However, I also recognize, because of the reading I’ve done since leaving Christianity, that that consensus is likely to change within a few decades. Currently, I am very much on the fence, because I have looked at enough evidence to know there’s not enough certainty to say either way.

Again, I could point you to the facts that brought me here, but I’m sure you’d just ignore them in favor of calling me angry. 🙂

Myself, June 12, 2015 at 20:05

Yes or no: Have you read my post that I keep linking you to?

Francis Philip, June 13, 2015 at 17:56

I’ve read part of your story. I am not ignoring that.

Francis Philip, June 13, 2015 at 17:58

Yes. Perhaps I am not scrolling all the way. I will look again.

Francis Philip, June 13, 2015 at 19:12

You stated, “I no longer know what to believe, and the way that I am means that I cannot believe something unless I am convinced it is true. My belief in Christianity rested on evolution being false. That is now stripped away.”

What is it that causes a single cell to grow to 1 billion times its original size and become an intelligent, living being in command of all other life on earth? Why do the chimpanzees and orangutans still not know how to enter into commerce, build factories and spin clothing for themselves? Why do humans wear clothing but all of life on earth has what it needs to survive? Why are we ashamed of our nakedness but no other life on earth is? From where does our conscience come?

The Church has left open the question of creation. One can believe that everything was created exactly the way Genesis states or one can choose to believe in a more evolutionary mode of creation so long as it is understood that God sets it all into motion according to His intelligent design and purpose.

“A fine wine takes time.”

Why should God rush to create anything? What if He takes His own sweet time? What if time is only a figment of our imagination? What if time 100,000,000 years ago, for a short while, was 90,000,000 times faster than it is today? If time is a creation, can’t God make it go faster or slower at His .own pleasure? We can cause a simulation to run fast or slow, achieving the same results in both scenarios. Why couldn’t God?

God can evolve human life, and when it is time…waiting until the right time, posit a human soul in a hominid, thereby creating, immediately, the first human, Adam. He could also take Adam’s DNA and impregnate another hominid, and posit a human soul, and call her Eve. Why not?

So what if God evolved life in order to perfect life or, perhaps, because love requires slow evolution toward perfection? We can not deny the evidence of intelligence above and beyond creation. It is obvious.

Francis Philip, June 13, 2015 at 19:20

When Genesis was being passed orally from generation to generation, people thought of the area above the earth as a dome with lights planted in it and with doors which would open to allow the rain to fall. They had not mechanisms yet for understanding differently. So, what you read in Genesis reflects this. Mankind was not born with perfect knowledge of God’s works and God does not reveal all to humanity. He reveals Himself gradually as the Scriptures prove.

Myself, June 14, 2015 at 20:15

You’ve said a few things over the course of your comments that lead me to believe you are not thoroughly examining any of the links I’ve sent you.

At this point, I should remind you that one of the rules for an honest discussion requires that both parties listen. When you have demonstrated that you are not willing to listen to my side and look at my sources, why should I bother listening to your side and look at your sources?

I want you to think carefully about this. If I were to come onto your blog and insist you are wrong, and persisting in being wrong for emotional reasons, and ignoring anything you said to the contrary in favor of throwing unfounded accusations, and constantly changing the topic to ignore any points you made, how would you react?

This is the behavior I see from you, whether you intend it that way or not.

I’m trying to explain why I’m reacting the way that I am, and help him to realize that his method of approaching me is only pushing me away from listening to anything he has to say. As you’ll see in a moment, this proved entirely useless.

Myself, June 14, 2015 at 20:48

Among other questions, you asked:

“Why do the chimpanzees and orangutans still not know how to enter into commerce, build factories and spin clothing for themselves?”

If you had looked at this link I pointed you to previously: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain?language=en you would know that I’d already sent you a plausible answer to that question.

Your other questions could easily be answered if you bothered to do any research into them. Again, I’d point you in the right direction (hint: Frans de Waal’s work pretty much explains the origins of morality), but you have demonstrated a tendency to ignore my sources.

I understand that the Catholic Church has not 100% said that Catholics must not accept evolution. If you’d examined my flowchart, perhaps you would see that two of my main reasons for seeing Catholicism and evolution as incompatible are described.

First, there is the matter of Original Sin. For more on my thoughts on this, you can start here: https://completehistory.me/2014/09/30/catholicism-and-evolution/ or to see someone else talk about the topic, you can go here: http://www.theaunicornist.com/2014/12/can-ed-feser-save-adam-and-eve.html

Second, evolution requires millions of years of suffering and billions of deaths before arriving at humanity. Would a loving individual use such a method to create anything? For comparison, Hitler’s plan called for millions of deaths. We call his plan evil. God’s plan, apparently, calls for billions of deaths. Christians call his plan good. Can you see the contradiction?

“What if time is only a figment of our imagination? What if time 100,000,000 years ago, for a short while, was 90,000,000 times faster than it is today? If time is a creation, can’t God make it go faster or slower at His .own pleasure?”

What if the whole universe we can observe is a simulation created by super-intelligent aliens? What if the universe were created last Thursday?

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it means we can’t know anything. If we can’t know anything, then you have no reason to think god exists, so logically, you should be an atheist, too.

Of course, god could have used evolution to evolve humanity. It’s just that, in that case, he is an evil or indifferent god, and not the god of Christianity.

“We can not deny the evidence of intelligence above and beyond creation. It is obvious.”

Are you sure? Read up on the various First Cause arguments and their refutations. I already linked you to a place to start, but here it is again: https://completehistory.me/2014/06/09/the-kalam-argument/

Also, I’d like you to consider this. If god really is all-powerful, he could have revealed himself however he liked. If god really is all-knowing, he would know exactly the best way to do this. Why would he choose a method proven to be unreliable? Why not make the revelation to everyone on the planet all at once, or at least a heavily populated city? Why choose illiterate goat herders to spread the most important message to humanity?

At the very least, you have to admit he could have chosen a method of revelation that would leave no doubt whatsoever in regards to his existence, even if there were still doubt about how he wanted us to act. Nature doesn’t qualify; as our knowledge of science expands, there is more and more that we can explain completely naturally, and there just isn’t a reason to think that trend won’t continue indefinitely.

Francis Philip, June 14, 2015 at 20:53

Well, with that attitude, no wonder you are being chastised.

Francis Philip, June 14, 2015 at 20:54

You are full of yourself…arrogant. You need to gain just a smidgen of humility without which you will make no progress.

Myself, June 14, 2015 at 21:05

So I should be chastised for your refusal to examine any outside opinions or evidence?

If you would like to have an adult discussion, I’m still open to it. Let me know when you are ready for that. Perhaps you just have to mature a few more years to realize you might not be right about everything. 🙂

Myself, June 14, 2015 at 21:06

I have learned that I was once wrong about everything I thought I knew. That was an extremely humbling experience.

Perhaps you need to gain some humility to realize that I have managed to learn something you have not. 🙂

Francis Philip, June 14, 2015 at 21:26

I think that you basically learned that you are angry and arrogant. You claim to know what is not knowable, for there is no evidence to prove it. You full of crap, and you need to get out of your selfish pity party and grow up and accept the truth of life. Grow up!

I am, at this point, so done with this guy. I realized later what bothers me the most about being called arrogant in this manner: it is an ad hominem attack. No matter how arrogant I am, I have never once, ever, shown the behavior pattern of ignoring facts to continue believing what it is I want to be true. If someone cannot accept that basic truth about me, they can never claim to know me one bit, and I can never listen to them. That is how I know my position is not born of pride, no matter how prideful I am: I cannot ignore facts, no matter how much I dislike them.

Does anyone who has not gone through a deconversion like mine have any idea what it is like to go through the experience of realizing you are wrong about everything? I have had to grow up and accept the truth of life, in a way no Christian ever has. I lost a parent figure when I realized I couldn’t believe in god anymore, and the way this Francis guy is responding is absolutely the worst way possible to respond to someone in that position. Would he tell someone whose dad died three years ago, “you need to get out of your selfish pity party and grow up and accept the truth of life. Grow up!”? What an ass. He’s pretty clearly angry out of his mind at this point, I think.

I’m surprised I even tried to continue dialogue at this point. In fact, I didn’t do it alone.

Danielle A. S. Barr, June 14, 2015 at 22:10

Francis, Unless I am very much mistaken your answer to anyone that does not believe in your specific god is as follows.
1. A person should pray to your specific god anyway because over time that caused you to believe.
2. A set of specific writings from a small group of people proves that one historical figure existed.
3. That same set of writings verifies that that historical figure is/was your god.
4. Because cellular reproduction and evolution are complex there must be a a creator (the one you follow specifically).
5. People who request actual proof of this creator you choose to believe in are arrogant. And/or people that deny the existence of your god are arrogant because they request proof.

Do you really not understand why these are not convincing arguments? They are literally the same exact arguments every other version of Christianity/religion use to try and convince people. It seems like you think that the OP and other non-believers don’t understand your arguments, when really you seem to not understand why your arguments are unconvincing.

Despite my hurt from the earlier comments and my past experiences, despite everything, I decided to be the bigger person and try to ask questions, as I probably should have done from the beginning. I asked Francis:

Myself, June 14, 2015 at 22:17

Can you be more specific? Exactly what have I claimed to know that is not knowable and has no evidence? I have a very high priority of only believing that which can be based in evidence, so if there is a position I hold that has no evidence to prove it, I want to know immediately.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 05:31

You claim to know that something is true on the basis of your personal standard of what does and does not constitute evidence. In a way, you claim a type of personal omniscience.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 06:32

What does the command “Love your neighbor” mean to you? You ask why God allows a child to be raped, but do you understand also that He commands creatures of free will not to rape when He commands them to love each other and to do to each other as they would have done to themselves? These are commands. So, by raping, isn’t a person violating that command? Isn’t a person failing to serve God? Isn’t the person therefore establishing himself as an enemy of God especially if he does evil works because God commands to do otherwise? Why do we have a justice system? From where does justice come? Why do we have a justice system when your expectation is that God should intervene and prevent every evil act? If we did not have the freedom to choose, then we could not love truly, and we could not learn why our existence depends upon loving each other. If we did not have the freedom to choose, we would not need a justice system. If we did not have the freedom to choose, I don’t think we would have a reason to exist, do you?

Why do you exist, and what if you had no free will? What if you could not think and create? Why can you think, imagine and create? What is your purpose and your destiny? Why can you know your purpose or destiny and wonder about these things, but other creatures can not?

As I mentioned above, these are questions to take seriously, particularly the second paragraph. A lot of the first paragraph is ultimately irrelevant until it is first shown that god exists. A lot of the second paragraph of questions is answered by the fact that we have big brains. I will here only mention that I don’t believe humans have a purpose or a destiny, because I don’t believe we have a creator, having no reason to hold that belief.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 06:50

Danielle, you are mistaken…do you argue in order to show that you can think or because you want to learn? Here are the answers.

False
False
False
False
False. Arrogant people are people in the act of being arrogant. When not in the act, people are no longer arrogant.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 08:40

Danielle, the answers to the questions are false because they are your own assertions based upon a false premise and which demonstrate a misunderstanding of the basis of my faith in God, and the same faith of many others who know what they believe and why. if you were to take courses in Catholic theology from a faithful Catholic institution, I think that it would help you to understand. Perhaps you are confused because there are many competing religions and think that since all of them are claimed to be true that not one of them can be true? The Catholic Church believes that the “seeds of truth” are found in other religions and are traced back to the One true God as we know Him in our Sacred Scripture and through the continuum of tradition and writings and experiences of many throughout the ages. If you would like to learn more, here is a good description of the idea behind the “seeds of truth” from a 1998 teaching of Pope St. John Paul II:

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=535

God has revealed Himself, and this revelation has been passed down either orally or in writing because it was that important.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 06:55

Wisdom from the Epistle of James:

“Talk and behave like people who are going to be judged by the law of freedom, because there will be judgement without mercy for those who have not been merciful themselves; but the merciful need have no fear of judgement.”

This alludes to free will…the freedom to choose to love.

Do you think God is merciful, based upon your life’s experiences? From where does the concept of mercy come? Is it a fad or an invention? Is it something that dumb animals choose? Or us it a radical choice on the part of humans? If humans can choose mercy, from where comes this ability and why do we have if?

Francis then commented on the post I’d linked him to several times, about my emotional journey of deconversion.

Francis Philip, June 15, 2015 at 10:40

After looking at the chart, I don’t think you have any plausible arguments which should lead you (or anyone who is learned) to actually doubt God’s existence. Some of your statements are either misleading, false or incorrect. Again, I think that you may be angry and testing God as a result. If you are testing God, are you doing what satan did to Jesus? Read Luke 4:1-13 and you will see what I mean. Or have you done something to cause you to despair and lose faith, like St Thomas may have done? This is a good reason for you to see a priest for counseling.

Once more, I think Francis has entirely misunderstood my entire point. The chart is not meant to present plausible arguments against Catholicism, but to help me in my dialogue with Christians to try to make sense of the question of how evolution is compatible with the doctrine of Original Sin. The post itself is mainly to show my emotional headspace at the time, my emotional journey of deconversion. It exists to demonstrate that I very much wanted to stay Catholic, and it hurt a great deal when I found myself forced to leave by the facts.

I believe that I was trying to test god, not like Satan allegedly did, but as Doubting Thomas allegedly did. Remember, John 20:24-29 shows that Jesus willingly gave Thomas exactly the sign he asked for, as god had done for Gideon so long ago (I even referenced Thomas in my prayer asking god for help). At best, there is biblical evidence for both sides of the question of whether to ask for signs, so it would be entirely unfair of a deity to punish me for asking for help.

Going to a priest for counseling, like praying the rosary or wearing a scapular, will not change the facts of genetics, and the facts show that there never was any Adam and Eve. The whole basis for Christianity falls apart in light of those facts.

I decided the best thing for the moment would be to ask another question, rather than responding to his. So, I commented only on the David Palm post:

Myself, June 15, 2015 at 16:08

I’m more than willing to admit I don’t know a lot. If I thought I was omniscient, in any sense, my reading list would be far shorter! 🙂

What is a proper standard of evidence and why? What is your foundational epistemology?

I’m not sure whether Francis saw this or is waiting to see if I can answer his questions, but he has not said anything else. Hopefully, he is willing to join me in the comments section here and provide an answer. I am still willing to engage in dialogue.

Francis, what is the basis of your faith? What is a proper standard of evidence and why? What is your foundational epistemology? Can you demonstrate that god exists without resorting to bad science or logical fallacy?


52 thoughts on “Conversation with Francis Philip

  1. My dear loved one, I am starting to feel your pain, and I am very sorry for the way you must be hurting. Question: Given a glass of water which contains one half of its possible volume, do you believe that the glass is half full or do you believe that the glass is half empty? I know that the proper word would be “think” instead of “believe” but I would like you to consider your own choices for believing or not believing and the ramifications of believing or not believing. If you believe that the glass is half full, then you may experience a sort of hope about what might be done with the water. If you believe that the glass is half empty, you might experience a sort of anxiety and even despair about the lack of water. But, isn’t it a personal choice to think about the good of the half portion instead of the bad of the half portion? For some, it is very hard to choose to think in a positive way about the possibilities. Chemical imbalances in our bodies can make us feel depressed and incapable of feeling joy. I know this. But what if we choose to know and to depend upon knowing rather than to feel and depend upon feeling? For example, when we walk in a dark, humid, cold valley surrounded by fog, we feel cold and we feel that there is no sun at all and can not even imagine that we would see the light of the sun or feel the warmth of the sun again. If we relied solely on our feelings, we would feel terrible. But what if we chose, in the midst of our feelings, to acknowledge what we know, that in spite of the dark, humid, gloomy, cold fog, the sun is still up there? What if we chose to remember the truth that if we keeping walking up the road toward the east that we will see the sun again up above the fog of the dark valley and we will again feel it’s warmth and see its light? We can know things which are true and which can bring us hope and keep us moving forward. But if we choose not to know what can not be sensed immediately such as a sun which is hidden by the cold, dark, damp fog, do we not choose to place ourselves in a state of miserable agony? We can choose to know even those things we can not sense currently, even those things that others say they have seen or sensed. It would be like the guy coming down into the valley saying, “Hey! I just came from the ridge and I saw the Sun there, and it was WARM and I loved it and there was a big rainbow over the dark, cold, damp valley! It was beautiful!” You could choose not to believe him because you require proof, and no one else’s word would suffice. In this way, you suffer more because you choose not to know what can not be sense now, even if others tell you that they know and have sensed. See?

    1. Have you heard nothing I have said? I cannot CHOOSE not to know. I cannot CHOOSE what I believe. That’s the whole point. I can no more CHOOSE not to be an atheist than you can CHOOSE to have the power to fly. As long as you do not accept this basic point, this dialogue can go nowhere.

      I am not your loved one. You do not know me and apparently can not understand even the most basic part of me. Instead, you persist in this error, and you are talking to a strawman who is certainly not me.

      Further, if I were in the analogy you describe, I could very simply follow the guy out of the valley and see for myself whether his words were true. Belief is not required. This is commonly the case for claims like “the sun exists”; they are easily demonstrated.

      Can you demonstrate that god exists without resorting to bad science or logical fallacy?

      1. Yes. And, if you understand what love is, then you could admit to being a loved one without being upset over it.

        God gave me a vision on the night that I entered the Church. This was a gift. It was out of the blue, unexpected, and it propelled my faith. But it came only after persistently straining to believe what could not be sensed. I did not test God. I did not demand a sign. A door opened to me, I entered, I persisted, and then I received a gift to seal my faith. Oh yes, my faith has been tested, but the gift sustains me.

        You make choices every day. You choose to be kind to me in your words when you most certainly could choose and do otherwise. But you choose the good instead of the bad. That is a choice, perhaps based upon a habit of being kind. Have you now developed a habit of being angry at God? If it is now a habit, it will be difficult to undo the habit, but you can undo it.

        Start by considering that you are capable of believing. Do you remember when you believed. So, there is proof that you can believe. Also, consider that you did choose in the past to become Catholic, did you not? So, there. You did choose, did you not? At least you cooperated with the force that was pulling you there.

        So, in that you have believed and have chosen in the past, you most certainly can again when you are well. You can be well again.

      2. I do understand what love is, which is why I know you are wrong when you call me a loved one. When you have as inaccurate a picture of someone as you do of me, it is impossible to love them. That’s what upset me, not that you called me that.

        I did NOT CHOOSE to be Catholic. I was born into Catholicism, and as I grew, I was taught that Catholicism was the best fit for all of the evidence, and I agreed. I only ever followed the evidence. When I realized that the evidence didn’t fit with Catholicism, and in fact contradicted Catholicism, it became impossible for me to continue believing.

        When I said that I cannot choose to believe, I was not lying. Please, please, accept this truth, and stop trying to know my mind better than I do.

        Perhaps you can choose to believe at will. Perhaps you could through sheer act of will tomorrow become a flat-earther. I do not have that ability. If I could choose what I believed, I would have chosen to remain Catholic back in 2010 and never adopted the label of atheist.

      3. I thought I read that you had been a Baptist. Sorry.

        To get over your short-sighted anger, I recommend that you seek and do charity work. If you don’t want to do that, then find another path which opens you to good experiences where you are able to show your ability to help others in some way and see how others respond to your assistance. Try to pull yourself out of this funk.

      4. Another thing you could do is to read about the lives of people who have done good things for other people and learn about what drove them to help others. But, then get involved yourself in the good works. Sometimes people realize here how their own choice makes a difference and they have a different perspective about themselves. One can either dwell on what angers them or dwell on what others need and how one might help them.

      5. I am, in fact, already involved in good works. I run a group with the purpose of crafting for charity, and what little time I can spare from working full-time and helping my boyfriend take care of our 20 pets is mostly spent crocheting baby blankets for Project Linus. I don’t do as much volunteer work as I would like only because I don’t have time, and I don’t donate nearly as much money as I would like only because I have debts.

        I am not in a funk, and my anger is not short-sighted. It is the righteous anger of a member of a persecuted group, the exact kind of anger Christians keep trying to cultivate among themselves to excuse their persecution of others. In my day to day life, I almost never focus on this anger because I just don’t have time. Unless, of course, someone keeps insisting that I chose to leave Catholicism. 🙂 Then, all of the pain I underwent and am still occasionally undergoing comes rushing to the surface, because that’s how trauma works.

      6. To which persecuted group do you belong and how did you become a member of that group? What action led you there? What event or state of being?

        Prisoners in high security prisons feel that they are persecuted, some of them because they believe they have a right to their anger and any self-imposed “justice” that might come of it. What if they called it, “righteous anger”?

        On what does a person find the authority for righteous anger if that authority is not God? On what does a person claim”righteousness” if they hate God? And if the “righteous anger” is not founded upon God’s thoughts and laws, then how can that anger be anything but “other-than-righteous-anger”?

        Without a foundation for what is “righteous” then one could call it “lawless anger” or “anger which comes from chaos” or “spontaneous, source-less anger” (the last expression would cause the bearer of the anger to cease to exist, and therefore, would be impossible I think.)

        I think “righteous anger” comes from one who recognizes the source of righteousness. But since you do not, then what is and is not righteous can not be defined since it would change from person to person, true?

        So, don’t you actually, deep down really believe in God?

      7. No, I don’t, deep down, really believe in god. Any god. Not Allah, not Yahweh, not Zeus, not Vishnu, not Ra.

        Are you done calling me a liar yet? Are you done insulting me so I’ll get angry so you can claim I’m angry at god? Can we move on to you actually providing evidence for your god, or are you going to keep pretending you know me better than I do?

  2. By the way. The very troubled and angry Adolf Hitler left the Church when he was 21 years of age. His path was one of destruction…self- destruction. Read Marcos’ “Architects of the Culture of Death” if you would like to see evidence of how good people, because of bad responses to bad experiences contributed to the culture of death in our society. Of course, I understand if you choose not to be able to choose to do this. After all, it is your choice not to choose.

    1. If you came across a man in a pit calling for help, would you throw down a nearby rope? Of course you would.

      What if the man said, “I was born without limbs; I cannot climb the rope”? Would you berate him for not choosing to climb the rope? Would you tell him “It is your choice to choose not to be able to choose”? Would you say, “I once chose to climb a rope, so you must be able to do so”? Would you say that he is only refusing to climb the rope because he is angry and arrogant? Would you say he is your loved one and continue to tell him that if only he would accept your experience, he could climb the rope? Would you say, “You chose to be in that hole, so you can choose to climb out of it?” Would you compare him to Hitler when he asked if you could please stop berating him and just find a way to help?

      I will certainly add that book to my reading list, as I’ve added every book recommendation from a commenter to that list. I can’t promise it will be read quickly, but I will read it.

      1. You should read the book as soon as possible in order to try to help you understand. It costs about US$14.

        This book is actually meant to help you, but you were not capable of comprehending that. You see darkness where there is light. Understand? That is why I referred you to Helen Keller’s life. That was also help. But you don’t see help when it is in front of you. You demand evidence, and the evidence is in front of you, but you refuse to see it.

      2. Like the limbless man in the pit cannot climb a rope to leave it, I cannot believe in a god without evidence. If you wish to help me to be Catholic, you need only show solid evidence that Catholicism is true, which, after all, the Catholic Church claims is possible.

        I was trying to help you to help me, but you were not capable of comprehending that. I see that atheism and Christianity can both cause both grief and joy, sometimes by turns in the same person, as is my case. (Yes, there is often joy in my life now, and there were certainly times in my Catholic life when Catholicism caused or exasperated pain.) Emotions are not reasons. I need something more before devoting my life once more to what seems to be completely false.

        I would still return to Catholicism in a heartbeat if I saw that it is true after all, because that’s just the person I am. A lot of my anger is because leaving Catholicism was extremely traumatizing, and having someone insist I could choose to return if I would just wanted to hard enough is incredibly frustrating. Tried that; didn’t work out.

        Again, this is a truth you don’t seem capable of comprehending, no matter how often I repeat it. I begin to grow tired of this exercise, don’t you?

        I’ve ordered the book (for like a dollar), and will write a post about my reactions to it when I get time to read it. Again, I can’t promise that will be anything like soon. I’d rather prioritize spending more time volunteering, if I had it.

      3. Explain your limbless metaphor. Why do you call yourself “limbless.” Can you provide factual evidence of an actual condition or is this something that you want me to just accept or believe?

      4. It’s obviously much harder to prove that I can’t choose what to believe than it would be to prove a man is without limbs. One is a physical condition and the other is mental.

        Let’s try a thought experiment, one that will either lead you to understand my perspective on this issue or lead me to understand yours.

        Could you, if you wanted to, choose to become Hindu? Not just practice the Hindu faith (I’m not myself 100% sure all that entails other than vegetarianism), but actually believe in the entire pantheon? Could you choose to believe that Ganesha was literally created by Parvati from her bathing supplies, killed by beheading by Shiva, then brought back to life after Brahma found the head of an elephant to place on his shoulders? Could you choose to believe that Ganesha became the foremost of the gods because otherwise his mother Parvati would have destroyed all of Lord Brahma’s Creation?

      5. Well, here is the deal. The miracles which we know of Jesus Christ occur within the order and design of his creation with one primary exception: the giving of Himself in the Eucharist ( for which we have documented history of the showing of his Living a Body and Blood unhidden from beneath the species of bread and wine…). Given the other mysteries revealed in time of related miracles, those pointing to Jesus and to the Eucharist, I find it hard to leap from that to the really bizarre and unnatural image of a man with an elephant’s head. I could imagine someone seeing a man with elephantitis or a man place over his own head the dead head of a young elephant in order to move others to a response.

        We don’t see such things from Jesus Christ. We see the work of s Creator and Parent who comes as one of us in order to communicate with us, but not as some mutilated conjugation of two incompatible species (which, in my opinion, would be a gaff at God who created those species).

        So, I would argue that my, and the recorded history of his works, are far more credible than that of the man with the elephant’s head. It just seems obvious.

      6. But it was the Creator himself, Brahma, who put the elephant head on Ganesha, so it couldn’t possibly be a gaff at himself, right?

        Are you arrogant in your dismissal of Hinduism? Are you refusing to choose to believe in it because you are angry that Ganesha, Lord of Compassion, has never granted you a miracle?

        Would you be convinced by the milk miracles, wherein statues of Ganesha were known to drink the offerings of milk made to the Lord?

        What of those who have experienced the love and compassion of Lord Ganesha? Would their experiences be enough to convince you to choose to believe in Hinduism?

        Hinduism has a longer history, is an older religion that Judaism. Does this enable you to choose to believe in it?

      7. No. You have convinced me that I should be comfortable with the one, true God. The Catholic Church respects those elements of universal truths found in other religions. While Hindus may not know God like the Chosen People and Christians know Him, they still have a sense of the Creator. God knows this, and He offers these people the opportunity to know Him more directly through Jesus Christ.

      8. Let me see if I understand.

        You cannot choose to be Hindu.

        This is not due to some emotional state you are in, either an arrogant dismissal of truths which seem obvious to Hindu’s adherents or an anger against the Lord of Compassion for failing to provide you personally with a miracle. Indeed, you can’t be angry at Ganesha, for you know he isn’t real but an obviously ridiculous fantasy.

        Rather, your inability to become Hindu is due to the fact that it contradicts what you know (or believe) to be true about the world, based on historical and empirical evidence such as Eucharistic miracles.

        Is this correct? Or have I misread you?

      9. If I had been raised a Hindu and taught to disrespect Catholicism, then yes. But, I was raised a Protestant Episcopalian (and taught yo disrespect Catholicism), studied mythology in high school, went to various other faith tradition worship services at that time, some of them wildly different, and even studied Hinduism and Buddhism in my late teens because I was interested in the spiritual aspects of life, and my Mom encouraged me to do this. I have investigated more than these. But I have studied the teachings of Catholicism and have found all other religions to be wanting. Yes, I get angry at the sins and shortcomings of some priests and some policy decisions, but knowledge and virtue should trump emotion and vice in critical choices such as these.

      10. If beliefs were truly a choice (selecting between possibilities), and not a result of our knowledge and/or upbringing, it follows that you should be able to choose to believe in Hinduism, right? And yet, you can’t because of your current understanding of the world. Correct?

        Let me try another example, if I may.

        Could you choose to believe that the earth is flat and geocentrism is true?

      11. On the basis of knowledge acquired, I choose Catholicism. On the basis of knowledge acquired, I choose a round earth. On the basis of a lack of knowledge, I can make no judgment about whether there is life in Galaxy xyz, but I trusted that there will be life there if the Creator determines to put it there.

        My belief is based in part upon an unbreakable logic of the existence of an Intelligent Creator who loves, for we are surrounded by evidence of love from the Creator, but also by evidence of our own failures to emulate that love for each other.

      12. That doesn’t actually answer my question.

        Again, could you choose, by sheer act of will, to believe that the earth is flat?

      13. No, because the answer can only be “no” as both us clearly know.

        Now if you apply the same thing to going from atheism to Catholicism, since it is based upon eye witness accounts which have been written down by identifiable people, many of whose bones we have today, with people who knew them continuing what they heard them state and write, and on and on for centuries, passing down the tradition, and with these traditions being supported by miracles along the way, many of which we have evidence to support, I would choose to believe Catholicism if I was not emotionally compromised or prevented from doing so, I think.

        You say there is no evidence. That is like saying there is no light when the light is shining in your face. That could mean that the “lens” through which you look is darkened. Jesus had something to say about that. Can you quote the book, chapter and verse to which I refer?

        This is why I referred you to Helen Keller for inspiration in the beginning.

      14. I don’t quite understand. You say you cannot choose to believe in a flat earth, yet you say you choose to believe in a round one. What options are you choosing between (or among) when you choose to believe in a round earth? How is it that you can choose to believe the earth is round but not that it is flat, if belief is a choice?

      15. Because I have never personally measured the curvature of the earth. I choose to believe what others more intelligent and more knowledgeable and more adventurous than me have witnessed or measured via whatever means they use and to trust that they are not lying. Why would they lie? Also, there are many other reports from scientists who have come before which reveal a round earth. I trust that this is not a lie.

        Similarly, people chose to believe the general facts of a news story because we accept, in general, that reporters are not lying…that they or the persons they interview are eye witnesses to what is being reported and so on.

      16. I don’t think that actually answers my questions. Earlier, you said that you could not choose to believe the earth is flat, but you’ve also said here again that you do choose to believe it is round. If you had not made the choice to believe it is round, what shape would you believe the earth is?

        Why and how are you able to choose to believe the earth is round, but can not choose to believe the earth is flat? Is it because you have certain knowledge (like about the horizon and shape of earth’s shadow on the moon), and that you aren’t capable of believing something that contradicts what you know?

      17. I could not choose to believe the earth is flat because no reliable authority claims that the world is flat.

        This is obvious. In that you are having difficulty with these concepts, perhaps there is a medical issue which needs attending to? Something to think about.

      18. Here’s the point I’m trying to make. If you only have one option, by definition that is not a choice. Ergo, you don’t choose to believe the earth is round if you can’t choose to believe it is flat.

        Here’s a video claiming to be proof that the earth is flat. Could you be choose to believe the earth is flat after watching it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW__MZXMA7A

        Please consider this quote:
        “Never let yourself be diverted by what you wish to believe. Look only and solely at what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out.” ~Bertrand Russell

      19. A biologist can write an eye witness report about a creature he saw on the bottom of the ocean floor. You can either accept his witness or refuse to, stating something like, “if I can’t see it with my own eyes, I refuse to believe what he writes. Give me evidence of the creature!” The key here is that the evidence is the biologists memory and the words he wrote, as it is also with The Gospels.

      20. That’s enough. You are not being reasonable, and I think you know it. It is your choice. Your choice, in the end, will prove your final identity.

      21. A biologist would have photographs and likely video to accompany his report. We would be able to see evidence with our own eyes, just as we can ourselves see the evidence of the round shape of the earth. There is no need in science to accept witness accounts.

        How am I not being reasonable? Do you disagree with the dictionary definition of “choice” as “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities”?

      22. How is that an anomaly? Cats aren’t exactly stupid, and have been known to learn tricks many times before. Dogs can use basic reasoning:

        Here’s the explanation of all training, though. An animal performs an action, perhaps by accident. If that action is followed by a reward such as a treat, the animal creates a positive association and is more willing to perform that action again and again. The more the animal receives a treat for the action, the more willing the animal is to do that action, even without prompting. Mice can be trained to do tricks in exactly this way, and they aren’t known for their brains.

      23. Recommend that you read the Book of Numbers, chapter 22. In verse 22, the story of the Angel and Balaam’s Ass begins. It is a good story. But read the beginning for context.

      24. The cat reminded me of Balaam’s Ass except that, in this case, the cat was communicating using the same language of the blind man – sign language. The rest of the story through chapter 24 basically confirms God’s blessing on those who bless His people and God’s curse on those who curse His people and that a true prophet speaks the truth as he hears it from God – why good prophets are often treated poorly.

      25. We’ve taught lots of apes sign language. I still don’t see anything remotely abnormal about a cat learning a trick, for reasons I have already explained. It doesn’t begin to prove that angels exist or donkeys can speak Hebrew.

        Paul never claimed to be an eye witness. He had a vision. If you accept that as eye witness, you need to have other justification to reject all of the “eye witness” testimony of all of the other religions with similar claims, like Islam.

        Bones are evidence that the person existed. I don’t see how they are evidence that the person was an eye witness to anything, and even if they were, the fact there are bones doesn’t make their testimony any more likely to be accurate. If we had the bones of Mohammed, would that make Islam true?

      26. Based upon your logic, my writing this is not evidence that I wrote. Therefore, it must have been someone else. Have you ever suffered from scrupulosity?

      27. What have I said that means your writing is not evidence that you wrote? I’m not at all seeing how you came to that conclusion. Can you walk me through the steps?

        If I claimed we have the bones of Jesus and Mary, would you believe that claim? If Hindus had the bones of an eyewitness to the resurrection of Ganesha, does that make Hinduism true?

      28. You appear to be unable to maintain context. That’s okay. I am beginning to understand why you struggle. It could actually be a medical condition.

      29. What I think is happening is that I tried to show why bones aren’t evidence of an eye witness, and you responded by talking about something completely different. I have no idea what you’re thinking. That’s why I keep asking questions.

        Can you explain to me what is really happening?

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