My conversation with stevenuggen on 12/11/11

This latest conversation took me for-fucking-ever to get to and to finish. Unfortunately, you’ll find many redundancies and repetitions. Because it’s taken so long and I’m frankly so tired of it, I’ve provided no commentary at the end. My text is in italics. Steve’s is in bold.

Hi Steve,

I understand you may choose not to respond. I’ve answered all of your questions, including the one on whether I’d like to interview acquaintances of yours who also witnessed God.

>something cannot come from nothing Anton. if you are a scientist you understand basic causation.

I’m a linguist, which is a kind of scientist. And yes, I understand causation, but just because we don’t know the cause of something 1. doesn’t mean there wasn’t one and 2 doesn’t mean it was what we assume it to be. My understanding of current cosmology is that time began with the universe, thus, there was no “before” the universe. Thus, no “cause” in the traditional sense.

>where did the soup of organic chemicals come from?

As far as I’ve heard, some from the atmosphere, some from the ground, some maybe even from space. I’m not entirely sure. Sagan might say that it all came from star material. My understanding of current cosmology is that it all ultimately came from a highly dense singularity. But don’t quote me on that. 🙂

>you always face the problem of causation. nothing we have observed empirically works that way. the only logical explanation is an uncaused cause.

That may seem attractive, sure, but it still requires explanation. Where did the “uncaused” cause come from, how did it get there, why did it do what it did, etc.? If current cosmology is correct and time began with the universe, there is no need for an “uncaused” cause. If the universe is infinite, there is still no need for an “uncaused” cause. Why is it theists find the notion of an infinite god so acceptable, but the notion of an infinite universe so unacceptable? They’re the same notion, merely with different names.

>an intelligent designer. the deeper science goes in understanding the radical complexity and intricisy of the Universe the more they see intelligent design as the only viable explanation.

Can you name a single legitimate, peer-reviewed, non-creationist-funded scientist who has proved, not asserted, but proved that there was, in fact, an intelligent designer? Are you saying that the appearance of patterns and complexity means that such observances were designed? The issue I see is even if we were to accept the ID idea, it still needs to be proved.

Moreover, everything I’ve heard from legitimate, peer-reviewed scientists such as Hawking is that the laws that we’ve already observed, such as gravity, explain the complexity we see.

>i am not using anyone’s argument although i am quite sure all the arguments have been made. what are you saying? that you have an infinitely complex mind that evovled through macro evolution from non-life?

First, my mind isn’t “infinitely” complex. We know what kinds of cells comprise it, we know approximately how, and in what number. That’s finite. The opposite of “infinite.” We may not fully understand the brain yet, but that doesn’t mean that any explanation you care to dream up is automatically the correct one. Yours is an argument from ignorance and a false dichotomy.

Second, your use of the term “macroevolution” is a misrepresentation of evolution. “Microevolution” and “macroevolution” are merely classification of scale. In other words, there is only evolution. “Micro-” is the individual changes we observe in smaller amounts of time. “Macro-” is the implications of those changes over a greater amount of time.

Third, we are chemicals. This has been demonstrated. Thus, to claim that we came from non-life is essentially true inasmuch as amino acids are made of chemicals, as is DNA, and as are we. The exact process of how chemicals became amino acids became DNA became us isn’t yet fully understood, but that doesn’t mean that any explanation you care to dream up is automatically the correct one. For more on chemicals becoming amino acids, check out the Miller-Urey experiment.

>life from non-life? something from nothing? it makes no sense Anton. please tell me how you got there?

I just did. It may not be readily apparent nor seem credible, but neither did the idea of flight pre-Wright brothers. The evidence is clear. If you have questions on the explanation of the evidence, I’m happy to answer what I can or forward you to people who can.

>beloved. i have seen the Creation.

Do you mean you’ve literally seen God making everything from nothing?

>experienced God interacting with the Creation (including me), and seen God demonstrated.

How so? Last I recall, you had a pleasant feeling when your assistant’s mom prayed for you over the phone. Am I remembering that correctly?

>you too can see the Creation which is strong evidence of God

How?

>but you cannot see God because God is a Spirit

How do you know? Couldn’t an omnipotent god manifest Himseslf in such a way as I could see Him?

>and you can only experience Him tangibly through your own human spirit.

What do you mean by “human spirit” and how is that tangible?

>when you truly surrender your life to Jesus Christ you receive the Holy Spirit and begin to have communion again with God.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by “receive the Holy Spirit” and “have communion.”

>You speak to Him and He speaks back.

What does He sound like? Do you have any recordings? I’d love to check that out. Now there would (almost) be some objectively verifiable evidence.

>this is where i have had thousands of interactions with the Holy Spirit

I don’t understand. And I’m not trying to be flippant. I really don’t understand. What do you mean by “interactions”? It sounds like you mean that you interact with the Holy Spirit, then that action ceases and at a later time, it happens again. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit enters and exits you as if you were some kind of bus?

>that have proven to me that the God of the Bible is real (more than you are real).

How do you know that these experiences are necessarily the work of a god and specifically of the God of the Bible? How do you consider that He is more real than I am? Do you have records of transactions with Him as you do with me? Does He have videos on YouTube as I do? Does He have web sites as I do? Does He have pictures of Him as I do? Does He have vital records as I do? If He has none of those or anything comparable, on what basis do you claim that He’s more real than I?

>before i encountered God i didn’t believe either. you meet God by revelation not by mental inquisition.

How does this work? And why doesn’t it work through mental inquisition? Why did God give me this brain if He didn’t intend for me to use it to find Him?

>if you are seeking to disprove or prove the existence of God through your mind alone you are cutting off your ability to experience Him through your heart (spirit).

Why does the one cut off the other? Why can’t they both happen?

>experiencing the fullness of life is far more than just engaging your mind in intellectual exercises.

I agree.

>i have studied many of the great philosophers and thinkers and it is largely intellectual pride that drives their dronings about existentialism and philosophy of religion. its all an incredible waste of time.

I haven’t read all of them so I can’t comment.

>>The problem with the intelligent design hypothesis is that it is entirely built on assumption. It’s true that the universe is complex, but to say that that must mean that it was designed is to assert an argument from ignorance (the universe seems designed, therefore it must have been) in an unfalsifiable hypothesis. How do you test it?

>its a far more compelling explanation than the atheists give.

The relative compelling-ness of an argument is irrelevant. Evidence is all that matters. To assert a designer is that and that alone. An assertion. To assume a designer is that and that alone. An assumption. Each must be proved.

>i don’t think you are being fair by saying that is an argument from ignorance given the many examples we have of inferring intelligent design from complexity based upon what we can see in the world around us.

By your own admission, the assertion of a designer is “inferred” which is not proved. Saying that yours is an argument from ignorance is simply stating that you’re arguing that because we don’t know the reason for something, the reason for it must be what we assume to be true or reasonable, but what we assume to be true or reasonable is that and that alone. An assumption.

>>Your phrasing, too, is problematic. “…by random chance…” seems to suggest that there was absolutely nothing leading up to my existence. But just because we can’t prove a “designer” doesn’t mean that my existence happened by random chance. How is that not another false dichotomy? We know enough about natural selection in biology to know that my existence isn’t random at all. It’s the result of genetic replication and mutation over multiple generations. It’s only the human desire for intrinsic purpose to the process that leads us to seek a designer.

>where did the desire for purpose come from Anton?

I’d argue that it arose around the time that we were able to feed and clothe ourselves adequately for survival with no real danger looming overhead. Other than that, I really don’t know. But my lack of knowledge isn’t evidence of your assertion. That’d be a false dichotomy. 🙂

>its in you as well if you are honest.

I don’t deny that. What I deny is your asserted cause.

>you can’t tell me that the human desire for “purpose” was the result of evolution. why?

You’re right, I can’t because I don’t know that it is. I can argue, though, that the desire for purpose grants groups tangible benefits. If a group seeks a purpose greater than itself, that’s a uniting force that strengthens the group. It also distinguishes the group from other groups. Those are two factors off the top of my head that would benefit a group in an evolutionary sense.

>genetic mutation is very slight if at all even over significant periods of time –

How do you know this? My understanding is that genetic mutation occurs in every single generation. Once you add generations, you inevitably come up with multiple mutations. I’m a perfect example of this. My white skin and non-functioning cone cells in my eyes are direct consequences of mutations.

>and even so that is micro evolution and not macro.

Your use of “micro-” and “macro-” evolution are dishonest misrepresentations of evolution. No legitimate, peer-reviewed, non-creationist scientist uses these terms the way you’re using them. In fact, though the terms exist in legitimate evolutionary biology, they refer merely to the scale of time under consideration. Thus, to claim that there is “micro-” evolution, but not “macro-” is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts and evidence. I wonder why you don’t do this with other scientific theories such as gravity and relativity.

>we don’t have completely different kinds of creatures coming from one another.

Where is it demonstrated that we should?

>we don’t get completely different species from one another.

First, where is it demonstrated that we should, and second, a classification of species is that and that alone. Classification. That’s like saying, there is no transition between Latin and Spanish, therefore the one didn’t evolve into the other. True, there’s no native-designated time in which Latin transitioned into Spanish, but there are multiple areas in which features of the one or the other can be identified. The current designations of Old Latin, Classical Latin, New Latin, Old Spanish, Middle Spanish, and Spanish are retrospective classifications. The speakers of Old Latin didn’t call it Old Latin. They called it (if anything) Latin.

>darwin acknowledged the abysmal defeat of his own theory as a result of lack of transitional fossils between kinds.

This is a blatant misrepresentation of facts. It’s true that Darwin acknowledged that a lack of fossils would be a weapon against his theory, but this was almost entirely due to the fact that so few fossils had been discovered. Since his time, the number of fossils has greatly increased. True, there is not a fossil representing every single genetic mutation that occurred in biology, but the circumstances under which fossils are perfectly preserved are so rare that it’s silly to expect this to be the case. Thus, to expect there to be a fossil for every single genetic mutation that’s occurred in nature is kind of like expecting there to be a document demonstrating every single sound and spelling change that occurred between Latin and Spanish.

Additionally, your use of “transitional fossils between kinds” is a dishonest misrepresentation of the facts and evidence. This argument is never used by legitimate, peer-reviewed, non-creationist scientists. The evidence of evolution is overwhelming. Stop being dishonest. Go to a natural history museum. Read a book on evolution. Ask questions about what you don’t know. But don’t pretend that your ignorance is evidence of falsehoods.

>if evolution were real they would be everywhere but they are not.

What basis do you have for this assertion? Do you apply this to relativity? Have you noticed your mass grow when you’ve gone jogging? If relativity’s supposed to work, shouldn’t time slow down because you’re approaching the speed of light? And yet this doesn’t happen, does it? Does that mean that relativity isn’t true or that I’m misrepresenting what relativity says?

>there are no such fossil records to support macro evolution. no serious scientist supports darwinian macro evolution.

Are you so sure about this? Check out http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html for your precious “macro evolution” (and feel free to corroborate it elsewhere)
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_societies_explicitly_rejecting_intelligent_design for overwhelming scientific support. Any more dishonest objections to the theory, or were those all?

>>Additionally, I find it fascinating that theists insist that complexity necessarily arises from design when 1. the near entirety of the universe is uninhabitable and too far away

>what are you basing this on?

Hubble mostly. By your own admission, the Earth is currently the only planet in the observable universe that sustains life. If there are any other planets that potentially sustain life, we can’t reach them. Thus, the overwhelming majority of the entire universe was obviously not designed in order to sustain us. Quite the opposite. If you don’t believe me, simply peer into a consumer-level telescope.

>>2. the part we do inhabit is almost entirely hostile toward our survival

>are you smoking crack right now?

No.

>we live in an incredibly complex eco system which is specifically designed for the survival of human beings (and lots of us) where if any of thousands of variables were off by any amount we would be fried or frozen. the earth is a total impossible miracle.

Except that something like 2/3 of the Earth is covered in water. We can’t live in water. Of the rest of the Earth that is land, most of that is uninhabitable burning desert, frozen tundra, or the like. We can’t live in desert or tundra. Of the areas that humans can inhabit, almost all of civilization for almost all of civilization’s history has existed around oceans, rivers, and lakes. If you don’t believe me, check out any map of the modern or ancient world.

Given this, your argument that this “complex eco system” is “specifically designed for the survival of human beings” is obviously and blatantly false. Yes, the areas in which we’ve managed to survive we have at times done a good job, but these areas and times are few and far between, certainly in the scope of human civilization.

>>and 3. the only way we have survived as long as we have is through the grueling process of adaptation over time. This last point is evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of humans who ever existed died of all kinds of things, in child-birth, as undernourished children, as diseased, frozen, killed, eaten adults. The list goes on. It’s only the very lucky few who’ve survived to die well into their 100s. So to assert that the universe must have been designed leads me to question the wisdom of a designer who couldn’t be bothered to do a better job.

>i am not really sure how to respond to this.

You could try to do so honestly and admit that I have a point that you have no way to disprove except through attempts at logical fallacy and emotional appeals, but then you’d run the risk of admitting that maybe you’re wrong and you have no incentive to do that, so I fully expect you to rationalize away anything that doesn’t automatically and with no further investigation seem to fit with your theology.

>are you saying people die so we weren’t designed?

Not at all. I’m saying that the assertion that everything around us was perfectly designed specifically to fit our survival needs is false.

>you have to help me understand where you are coming from on this one.

Please feel free to ask me further questions and I’ll do my best to explain myself better.

>seriously? we live in a fallen world.

Prove it.

>God created us.

Prove it.

>we turned away from Him and sin entered the world.

I just want to be clear. Are you saying that the Adam/Eve story is literally true? If so, why would an omniscient God command A/E to do something that He already knew they would disobey and then punish them for disobeying when He knew they would? What was the point?

>when you disobey God bad things happen.

Why? Is God a punitive, petty child?

>the world as you see it is the fruit of generation after generation of people choosing to go their own way and come up with their own ideas of right and wrong.

Why would this result in the world I see?

>the results have been disastrous.

Why?

>i don’t think its fair to blame God in any way for our selfishness and willful rebellion.

Perhaps not, but it is fair to blame Him for punishing us for something He knew we’d do. And for being so petty as to be unwilling to forgive except through sacrifice of Himself unto Himself thousands of years after our initial mistakes, thereby leaving us to prance about in muck for no other reason than to do so.

>>>secondly you have a conscience. it is empirically known to you because you have experienced the sensation of knowing right from wrong even without someone telling you.

>>It’s true that I have a conscience, but since you say “empirically”, I’ll point out that not only do humans have certain instincts, but many behaviors are taught. As has been observed, chimpanzees and vampire bats demonstrate what we would call “compassion.” They help each other with nothing personally to gain. They have no language, let alone any holy book telling them to be compassionate. It’s simply advantageous in group dynamics to show traits like compassion. The existence of what we call a conscience occurs through natural selection and taught behavior, so there’s no reason to suggest anything supernatural is involved. To do so would be to introduce an undemonstrated premise.

>come on anton. do you remember being a little kid or do you have kids?

I do and I don’t.

>a three year old knows right from wrong even before they are trained.

This has been demonstrated to be both biologically evolved and taught. To assert a supernatural element would have to be proved.

>they don’t have much restraint until they are trained but they already intuitively know when they have done something wrong. an instinct is very different than a conscience.

I absolutely agree.

>these are two different words with very different meanings. an instinct for example would be try to catch something you dropped before it hit the floor. you don’t think about it at all it just happens automatically.

I agree.

>a conscience causes you to know moral truths (right from wrong) and in turn shape your actions.

I wouldn’t go that far simply because first we’d have to define specifically what we mean by “moral truth.”

>this is in place before social conditioning.

How do you know this?

>expressing an emotion does not support the existing of a conscience in an animal. animals have no conscience. they live by instinct. i think you are mixing the two and they are different.

Maybe you didn’t see my vampire bat and chimpanzee examples above. Both animals have demonstrated compassionate traits. It may not be as sophisticated and complex as ours, but how is this not conscience?

>>>humanity has a moral code that transcends cultures. its wrong to kill. its wrong to lie. its wrong to steal. this moral law and your own concience point to a law and conscience giver. this provides evidence that points to the existence of God.

>>I agree that there tend to be moral codes throughout human cultures. Another example would be incest tends to be forbidden. But the problem is, as I’m sure you’ll agree, that each of these supposed absolute “moral codes” is not absolute at all.

>there absoluteness is not necessary to establish my argument. they attempt to restrain human conduct and are sufficiently similiar to point to a common transcendent source.

You’re right, absoluteness isn’t necessary. I was being a bit… premature. My point still stands, though, that observed common behavior doesn’t necessarily demonstrate a supernatural source. It does, however, demonstrate a commonly evolved source. Can you prove that the existence of so-called “moral codes” necessarily demonstrates a supernatural entity and more specifically Yahweh? Of course you can’t. 🙂

>>It’s not always wrong to kill. I cite self-defense, capital punishment, and war. In each of those circumstances, it’s considered completely acceptable to kill. It’s not always wrong to lie. Per the social contract, people often lie to each other to protect each other’s feelings. Per politics, politicians lie all the time to their constituents and yet we re-elect them time and time again. Given the fact that we have a justice system and that cases are often overturned, there clearly is often room for practical reality and situational ethics. Beyond that, if you had never read the Ten Commandments, you would have been aware of your suggested moral codes through society teaching them to you. And besides that, even if it were true that there are moral absolutes, you’d have to prove how that necessarily points to your interpretation of Yahweh and not any other god. In addition to that, there are plenty of places in the Bible which demonstrate Yahweh either directly committing atrocities or endorsing them to at least make one wonder how much concern He felt for His own commandments.

>i have no problem if you are willing to concede the existence of some divine being.

This isn’t a mere point of debate. It’s declarations on the absolute nature of reality. I can no more “concede” the existence of some divine being than I can “concede” the notion that Zeus bound Prometheus for giving us fire. Sure, it may have happened, but there’s no evidence to support it and thus no reason for me to “concede.”

>i believe the God of the Bible is the clear winner for many reasons.

Name them.

>>>Hearsay is second hand information that the person has no first hand information about. i have first hand information about God. I have met Him.

>>I sit corrected on whatever I said about hearsay. How did you meet Him?

>the mother of my personal assistant was praying for me over the phone when i encountered the Spirit of God. i began weeping and immediately knew that i had encountered God. it was the most amazing, powerful, incredible, not like anything i had ever experienced, experience.

Per the Dictionary.com definitions of “meet” as in “meeting someone”, no you didn’t. The first definition, “to come upon; come into the presence of; encounter: I would meet him on the street at unexpected moments,” seems to most closely resemble what you’re claiming, but not when we consider the sample sentence. When I say I met someone, the implication is in person and face-to-face. By your own description, this isn’t what happened. Why couldn’t you have been honest about that? Is it because had you said, “I felt good,” instead of “I met God,” it wouldn’t have seemed as compelling and dramatic?

How do you know you encountered the Spirit of God? I’m not doubting that you had a good feeling, maybe even the best, but how does that necessarily demonstrate the Spirit of God?

>>What was that like?

>better than sex. better than apologetics. better than drugs. better than video games. better than any counterfeit source of life you could possible come up with.

I don’t know what you mean by “counterfeit source of life.”

>>How do you know that your experience is what you believe it was?

>because i had the experience and then read about it in the Bible.

Had you read about it in Dianetics, would that have made Scientology true?

>God gave me a desire to read the Bible in an instant.

How do you know God gave you the desire to read the Bible? Which translation? Why?

>delivered from alchohol in an instant.

How so?

>delivered from profanity in an instant.

How so?

>what other empirical explanation would you propose for that kind of experience Anton?

The thing is that what you’re describing isn’t empirical as it isn’t testable. There are a number of explanations that I could give that are natural. Off the top of my head, we know from brain scans that the brain in general and the pleasure center in specific, can be stimulated by any number of things, both internal and external. To suggest, then, that you had an extremely pleasurable experience fits exactly in what we know about the brain. Even all the peripheral stuff, such as your immediate desire to read the Bible, etc. are all explainable by natural occurrences demonstrated by science. To assert otherwise requires objectively verifiable evidence.

>and since then hundreds and thousands of encounters, confirmations, eye witness accounts of watching others get filled with the Holy Spirit when they hear the same gospel message the Bible teaches (tears streaming, snot flowing, demons leaving, then radical life transformation)

I’m confused on this point. Are you saying you’ve experienced these things since your initial experience or others have? In either case, how do you demonstrate a causal link between what you claim happened and what you claim caused it?

Additionally, the experiences you describe, emotional release, feelings of pleasure, have been reported by millions of people of other faiths and no faith at all. Thus, how do you account for your claims against others’ claims?

>>Why should I believe you?

>firstly because its true. why would someone make up a story like that?

One, I have no way to verify the veracity of your claim. Two, you have plenty of reasons to “make up” a story like that. You have an agenda to spread the gospel. You have every incentive to do so by any means. If you’re a minister, you have a direct financial incentive.

>how totally idiotic would that be.

As idiotic as preachers, most with no marketable skills whatsoever, making their livings off of preaching bullshit to the gullible and fearful.

>secondly because if it is true it means that you too can experience the power and presence of God if the Lord gives you grace and reveals Himself to you.

Which He never has, despite my former sincere desire that He did.

>this isn’t an intellectual decision. God has to reveal Himself to you on His terms (not yours).

That’s all fine and good I just find it very interesting that when I was a believer, God never revealed Himself to me, and since becoming an atheist, He’s never revealed Himself to me. I don’t mind that He might have terms, but odd that they never seem to come up.

>He would have to open your heart and give you revelation.

What’s stopping Him? And how is that not an intercession on my alleged free will?

>i hope He does because i want you (and everyone) to experience this kind of love, joy and peace.

And yet He hasn’t.

>>>He changed my life.

>>How so and how do you know?

>in amazing ways (see above). just ask my formerly agnostic PhD wielding father who saw what happened and knew that God was real.

What does that prove? My Harvard PhD wielding brother is a non-theistic Buddhist. Education level is irrelevant.

>he argued with me for about a year and a half and finally i told him to go and ask God if He was real and if Jesus was His Son and if that is the only way to eternal life. after i left he did just that and was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit just like i was.

Interesting that God chooses to reveal himself to you and your family, but not me and my family. I wonder why.

>suddenly had a strong desire to read the Bible just like i did . . . and so on and so on.

How does a strong desire to read the Bible prove anything? I have a strong desire to read the Bible.

>its all very empirical actually you just haven’t seen what i have seen but i pray you do Anton! i pray you do!

How is any of this falsifiable or testable?

>>>no amount of quasi intellectual rantings are going to change that. i was an alchoholic chain smoker who also smoked marijuana and played up all nights playing computer games like a complete loser.

>>What’s wrong with that? Seriously, if you enjoy smoking, drinking, marijuana, and computer games, then where’s the problem? Any one of those could potentially interrupt your life, yes, but not necessarily. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who do any or all of what you mention and they continue to maintain positive, healthy relationships and hold down jobs. Thus, where’s the harm? Yes, two of the things you mentioned have demonstrable, detrimental health effects, but so does breathing the air of any major city. So does eating too much.

>smoking destroys you. drinking (in excess) destroys you. marijuana destroys many.

How has marijuana destroyed anyone?

>computer games are a prison for your mind.

Prove it.

>right now where you are it seems like these things are could be fine.

I didn’t say I practiced all of them. I simply see no intrinsic evil in any of them.

>when you recieve the Holy Spirit then He begins to reveal to you the true nature of these activities.

What, specifically, are the Holy Spirit’s objections to them? Not yours, the Holy Spirit’s.

>you body becomes a place where the Spirit of God dwells.

What do you mean by this?

>God begins changing your desires and bringing them into alignment with His desires.

How many people have you felt like stoning? How about tribes you’ve felt the urge to annihilate? Any royalty whose first-born you wanted to kill? Had any inklings to drown the entire world?

>this is not trying to follow a bunch of rules but rather a supernatural process that takes place usually over your lifetime.

What do you mean by this?

>you begin to realize that many of these things are created to keep us separated from God

What and how? I thought God was everywhere.

>and not listening to what He is saying to us.

How could we, finite, mortal beings, have the ability to not listen to an omnipotent, omnipresent being?

>once you experience the presence of God you WANT to get rid of everything that might separate you from Him.

I don’t get this “separate” stuff. You’re seriously gonna have to explain this. 🙂

>>If your story is that 1. you did bad things 2. you found Jesus and so 3. you don’t do bad things anymore, I have to ask 1. how do you know the change had anything to do with Jesus

>ummm. really anton? why don’t you tell me what your explanation is . . .

Sounds very simple. You stopped doing things that you felt were detrimental to your life. People do that all the time without the help of a supernatural power.

>>and 2. how come I’ve drunk, occasionally smoked pot, and definitely stayed up all night playing games and my life hasn’t suffered one bit as a result? If you claim that my life has suffered, you’d have to prove that.

>you don’t understand how you have been negatively effected by these things yet because you have not received the Holy Spirit.

Then what difference does it make? That’s like saying, “you haven’t realized yet how imprisoned you are by the Green Brain-Sucking Aliens who are sucking your brains out right now.” Maybe I don’t realize it, but since it doesn’t seem to have any affect on my life whatsoever, they can suck away.

What negative effect do you suggest I’m suffering?

>but when you do – God will show you why these things are harmful.

Why has God waited my entire life to reveal Himself? What’s He waiting for? When’s this perfect time gonna come? If, by your reasoning, it’s vitally important to receive a revelation from God, and, by your account, it can happen as simply as someone praying over the phone for you, why would He choose you and your dad, but not me and my family?

>if God is real and we are created for His glory then your purpose and greatest satisfaction will come in doing His will.

What is that and how do you know?

>it is not God’s will for you to stay in that lifestyle with things that have control over parts of your heart after you have access to the real thing.

What is God’s will and how do you know?

>God wants every part of your heart and life and doesn’t want to share you with anything else.

Where are you getting these notions? And why doesn’t God just get it over with and reveal Himself if this whole non-sharing heart business is so very, very important to Him?

>>>i was an adulterer trapped in gross sexual darkness. i was completely full of myself thinking that i knew everything and was arrogant beyond compare.

>>No offense, but it sounds like you were a dick. I’m not. So there we are.

>well most people who are “dick’s” don’t think they are anton.

Speak for yourself. 1. I don’t chain smoke. 2. I’m not an alcoholic. 3. I don’t smoke pot. 4. I’ve never cheated on anyone ever. Therefore, by your own account of bad behavior, I’m not a dick. And I do all this not-a-dick stuff without any revelation from God.

>i guess i would have to ask around. but lets take your word for it. ultimately it doesn’t matter if you are or are not in your own opinion. if this holy God i am testifying to you about is real then you are going to stand before Him and the standard applied to you will be perfection. if you are there then you don’t have any issues. if not, you are going to have a serious problem according to the Word of God.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like what you’re saying is that I can be an otherwise upstanding, law-abiding, ethical person, but since I don’t believe in any gods, I’ll go straight to Hell. You, though, have admitted to doing drugs, cheating on people, and whatever else it was, but because you’re willing to believe in an allegedly omnipotent being with no objectively verifiable, testable, reproducible, falsifiable evidence at all, you get to go to Heaven. How is that just? How is God not petty? Why is the acceptance of His existence without evidence so much more important to Him than basic decency?

>then i had an encounter with God and one by one, empirical evidence of the reality of God began to surface in my life.

LIke what?

>delivered from a desire to drink alchohol and smoke instantly. smoking gone 6 months later. sexual immorality gone after a year.

So how do you explain someone like me who never took up chain smoking, never became an alcoholic, and never dove into sexual darkness with no help at all from Jesus?

>pride continually (even now) being destroyed.

How is something continually destroyed?

>>>total life transformation. no self help book. no other explanation but God.

>>I get that you had a total life transformation, but how do you know that the only explanation is God?

>this has been covered ad nauseum.

All you said was you knew that God was the only explanation, not how you knew. Are you afraid to answer the question?

>>>i am empirical evidence. that is not hearsay. that is first hand testimony.

>>Yes, except that you’re employing a non-sequitur in that you claim that 1. you did bad things, but 2. God ended all that, and you haven’t demonstrated that God necessarily did. Why could it not simply have been you doing it for yourself?

>because i wasn’t.

Saying that God improved your life and you know He did because you know because He did is circular reasoning. That’s like saying I know that Zeus delivered me from eating too much because He did.

>i and many eyewitnesses all know that it was God.

You say eyewitness, yet you haven’t cited a single, objectively verifiable case in which someone witnessed something with his eyes that demonstrated God. Even your own testimony involves you being on the phone. How is that seeing something demonstrable of God?

>do you want to call them and talk to them? no problem.

I don’t feel the particular need, but I guess we could do that. But even if every last one of them swore what they experienced were true, how is that evidence? Millions of people swear they’ve been abducted by aliens. Do you believe them?

>let me know how many people you want to interview. lets cut the crap and stupey word games.

I don’t know. However many would like to talk to me.

>that is not emotional appeal. that is truth. that is not fallacy, that is fact. that is not anectdote that is reality.

Well yes and no. It may be fact, but since 1. I don’t know you and 2. I have no means of comparison, it is possible that you’re making the whole thing up or exaggerating, but I have no reason to doubt you, so fine, I believe you, but it still doesn’t take care of the non-sequitur I pointed out above.

>>>if you are going to use these words you need to understand what they mean and use them in a real and honest way. not just as quick gimmicks to try to shut people down.

>>To suggest that I “try to shut people down” is to presume to be able to read my mind, which you can’t. I use terms that seem to apply to a situation. If I’m wrong, I admit it. So far, you have employed at least three fallacies, the non-sequitur, the argument from ignorance, and the false dichotomy, so it was warranted for me to point them out. It’s not necessarily an emotional appeal quite, so I’ll grant you that one. It is anecdote because I have nothing but your word to go on. You keep saying that you “met” God, and yet there’s no way for me to test that claim. Since it’s an extraordinary claim–people don’t meet deities on a daily basis–it requires extraordinary evidence, which you’ve not provided.

>its actually a claim that born again Christians have been making en masse (and generally exclusively)

See my alien abductee example above, and, by your own admission, it’s “generally” exclusively, but something is either exclusive or it isn’t. I’ve met plenty of people, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, who all make the identical claim. They’ve encountered the divine. And they were not talking about Jesus.

>so either we are all crazy or God really has revealed Himself.

That’s a false dichotomy. Yes, it’s possible that, under some definitions of sanity, you’re crazy. Obviously, you’re a functional adult. But we know through science that it’s very, very easy for a group of people to be influenced into holding a belief, regardless of the truth of it. I cite racism, poor economic theory, the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. The list goes on of things people are not only willing to believe, but are passionate in their belief with little or no evidence supporting those beliefs.

More to the point, by your reasoning, God’s revealed Himself to the Muslim hijackers of 9/11 and the child-abuse-scandal-hiding Pope, and the millions of Hindus, and the millions of Shintoists, all of whom disagree with you.

>the only reason you are characterizing it as extraordinary is because you have never had that experience.

Not true. I’m categorizing it as extraordinary precisely why I said. People don’t meet divine beings on a daily basis. If they did, it wouldn’t be considered impressive, not even by you.

>i have. the evidence is extensive, emperical and extraordinary anyway.

Name it. No, not praying and feeling good. Not reading the Bible and feeling good. Name the objectively verifiable, falsifiable, testable, measurable evidence of your claims.

>>>I don’t think you honestly believe that you could prove that God isn’t real or that you don’t believe He is real.

>>You’re absolutely right about the first one. I fully admit that I can’t prove that God isn’t real. I also fully admit that I can’t prove that Zeus isn’t real. But since there’s no evidence to support the existence of either, I don’t believe in them.

>the difference is that you don’t have ANYONE claiming that Zeus is real

Not true. The authors of the Odyssey, the Aeneid, and countless other works testify to the reality of Zeus. All written by eyewitnesses to the events described.

>or demonstrating his reality with any experiential truth claims

See above, but also, if I met one person who claimed to have experienced Zeus, would you find such claims credible? I have met someone who claimed that the Egyptian god Ptah was real and that this person had experienced Her. Do you believe her claim? If not, why not?

>or a crowd of witnesses claiming the same truth claims.

I’m unclear what you mean here. Do you mean a crowd of witnesses who claimed together to experience the same thing at the same time? Or do you mean a large number of different people in different times and places who claim to have experienced approximately the same thing? If you mean the former, then no, I haven’t met any group of people who claimed to experience together the same revelation from Zeus. To be fair, though, I haven’t looked for any. If you meant the latter, then yes, I’ve met a great number of individuals who’ve all claimed to witness ghosts and aliens.

>sorry Anton . . . zeus is a made up god but Jehovah is the LIVING GOD.

Nothing to be sorry about, just seems like your criterion for determining the reality of something seems to be the greater number of people who claim to have witnessed it means the more real it is, but that’s both an appeal to popularity and not necessarily true.

>>Your positive claim is that God is real. I don’t believe your claim because, beyond your additional extraordinary claims, I have no reason to. Can you prove that Zeus doesn’t exist? If not, do you consider it valid to believe in Him?

>your unbelief requires you to continue to deny first hand accounts of the reality of God. that is just plain stubborn and prideful anton.

If you consider my unbelief in first hand accounts of the reality of God stubborn and prideful, do you also consider my unbelief in first hand accounts of the reality of Ptah, aliens, and ghosts to be stubborn and prideful? Are you saying that if I don’t believe anyone’s claim as to the reality of something supernatural, I’m always stubborn and prideful? Is it only stubborn and prideful to dismiss claims of Yahweh, but rational to dismiss claims of all other supernatural entities?

I see you didn’t address my question on Zeus. I’ll ask again. Can you prove that Zeus doesn’t exist?

>>>if you are really honest i think you don’t want God to be real because it means that you are going to answer to Him.

>>In this case, I have no other evidence but my word to offer that no, that’s not the issue. First, it has to be proven that God exists and second that the theology said of Him is true. But even if we somehow proved the first, there are so many people who claim to know God’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions who disagree with each other, and no evidence at all to back up any of their claims, I have no reason to trust any one of them over any other.

>when you meet the real God you don’t wonder what theology is true. the Holy Spirit confirms the Word of God.

Confirms all of the Word of God? Which version? Protestant? Catholic? KJV? NIV? I ask because in some places in the Word of God, it says it’s acceptable to stone children (Deut. 21:18-21), kill gay people (Lev. 20:13), kill witches (Ex. 22:18), and own slaves (and beat them) (Ex. 21:20-21). How about the day-age theory of Creationism? Which is it? Was the world created in seven literal 24-hour days as some Christians claim, or was it more of a metaphor and it actually took closer to several billions of years, as other Christians claim? Which did God tell you was true? Given that the word “Hell” was translated from many original words, including “sheol” and “gehenna”, which did God mean? Is Hell a cartoonish place with demons in red body suits or is it more figurative as a state of existence or is it a pit “sheol” or a garbage dump “gehenna”?

>unfortunately, that line of reasoning isn’t going to carry the day for you Anton.

How do you know? What makes you right and the millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and other faiths wrong? What makes your interpretation of Christianity right and the millions who disagree with you wrong?

>Jesus said, “I am the Way, the truth and the life. there is no other way to the Father except through me”

What effect do you expect that quote to have on me?

>Jesus has never lied to me.

And my fiancĂ© has never lied to me. What’s your point?

>either he was crazy or he was a liar or he was the Son of God.

I see you can parrot Elliot, but that doesn’t change the fact that the argument is flawed, for 1. there’s no evidence that Jesus even existed and 2. even if He did, to assert the above options is to ignore the possibility that He may have just been mistaken.

>everyone will have to answer the question of who Jesus was. your eternal soul will depend on how you land on that issue alone.

Prove that I have an “eternal soul.” Prove the rest of what you say as well.

>when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ it will all be settled. i have great peace about that.

I don’t know what you mean by having “great peace” about that.

>>If you insist on continuing to put your hands over your ears and yell “la la la . . . i can’t hear you” and spew your canned atheistic rhetoric about “anectodal evidence, emotional appeals, falacy and hearsay” then you will be lost,

>You say, “…canned atheistic rhetoric…”, but can you prove that accusation? What have I specifically said so far that is “canned atheistic rhetoric”? How have I been wrong on my accusations of “anecdotal evidence, emotional appeals, fallacy and hearsay”? How do you know I’ll be lost?

You ignored my questions. What, no answers?

>>you won’t know God until you encounter Him the instant you come before the judgment seat of Christ where you will receive perfect justice for your blasphemy and for pushing the truth of God away.

>How do you know? And why would an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God care about my “blasphemy”? Why won’t He just appear before me right now as I write this to at least attempt to prove His existence? Surely an omniscient God knows the problems inherent in the Bible as a means of communication. Surely an omniscient God is aware of the discrepancies between those who claim to be His followers. And yet my room is void of any deities.

>I think you need a revelation of hell Anton. if you give me permission i would like to ask God to give you an encounter with the demonic and hell that will prove to you that the supernatural world is real and that you have no clue what you are talking about. are you cool with that since you don’t believe any of it is true?

It’s been weeks since you suggested this and not one single experience of Hell has occurred. I guess my revelation of Hell isn’t that high on God’s priority list.

>>Additionally, why does an atemporal god use my mortality as the cut-off point for salvation? If my soul is immortal and God is timeless, why does it matter at all when I choose to repent? Because honestly, if I die and appear before Jesus, then, well, that’d be pretty good evidence of His existence. I’d still have a ton of questions for Him, but I could at least see first-hand that He’s real. Of course this, too, brings up a whole host of other issues like why He never appeared before me during life, or even if my experience would be verifiable as death or rather a coma or dream, but I won’t get into that now.

>this is where you run into problems again anton. you think you are the center of the universe and that God needs to meet you on your terms.

Afraid to answer my questions?

Point out the specific place in which I’ve stated that I think I’m the “center of the universe.” You won’t because you can’t because I haven’t. If God is omnipotent, the question of “my terms” is irrelevant. According to you, He inspired a book that was supposed to reveal all to all people. And yet it didn’t. Not only I, but countless others haven’t been convinced by the various Christian councils who decided on the canonical books and their alleged truth. Thus, God’s “word” was demonstrably flawed. You’d think an omnipotent God would’ve chosen a way to communicate with His creation that wouldn’t result in countless and endless interpretation,
re-interpretation, and squabbles over what the truth of Him truly was. And yet here we are.

Thus, I don’t ask for personal revelation of Him because I think I’m the center of the universe. I ask because like millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, others, and millions of atheists, I am not convinced of your claims. And since God is supposedly omnipotent, it would take literally nothing for Him to demonstrate Himself to me this instant in a way He knew would convince me.

And yet He doesn’t.

>you need to meet Him on His terms and these are His terms.

How many times do I have to tell you? I did! I was a Christian until 19! I prayed. I sought God. Sometimes more than ten times a day. I read the Bible. I did what everyone told me to do. And yet nothing. What, God thought it was cool to not reveal Himself to me ever, despite nearly 20 years of seeking Him and He inspires you over one phone call with your assistant’s mom? Why on Earth would that be?

>repent (of your unbelief) and believe the gospel (put your faith in Jesus Christ). it is appointed to man to die once and then the judgment.

If what you say is true, why would I need faith, belief either without evidence or with evidence to the contrary, in the gospels and Jesus? The events described in the gospels either did or didn’t happen. If they didn’t, then there’s no reason to believe them. If they did, there’d be some evidence for them. What, an omnipotent God intervenes in the world and leaves no trace of His intervention whatsoever? How is that even possible given that He’s omnipotent, unless that’s what He chose? But then if that is what He chose, what was His motivation? What was the point?

>>>I don’t know you and i don’t have God’s love for you but i know that God loves you enough to send someone to speak truth to you.

>>If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, why would He send someone He knows isn’t going to convince me? Why would He send someone using the exact same fallacies and threats as everyone who came before? If, by your reasoning, God loves me enough to send you, why doesn’t He love me enough to directly appear? Per your reasoning, he wants to convince me enough to send you, but not enough to just appear? If He’s omnipotent, why not? It’s not like it’s an inconvenience.

>this is where you run into problems again anton. you think you are the center of the universe and that God needs to meet you on your terms.

Are you saying, then, that God’s terms are sending someone He knew wouldn’t convince me? Why would He do that? The best possible way God could conceive of convincing me of His existence was a random YouTube guy saying, “My assistant’s mom prayed for me over the phone and I felt good”? Is God omnipotent or not? Can He do absolutely anything at will or not? If so, why did He send someone who has no evidence at all for any of his claims? God knew that you wouldn’t convince me and yet, according to you, He sent you. Why? You’ve said almost the exact same thing as everyone before you (and a few since). God likes exercises in futility? Please, Steven, explain to me how this makes sense to you.

>you need to meet Him on His terms and these are His terms. repent (of your unbelief) and believe the gospel (put your faith in Jesus Christ). it is appointed to man to die once and then the judgment.

I already addressed this.

>>>stop spewing and start thinking about things Anton.

>>I have since I was 16 and de-converted at 19.

>you were never a born again Christian Anton.

Prove that that’s the only way to be. I was absolutely sincere in my belief for almost 20 years. Prove that I wasn’t.

>you didn’t de-convert from anything you never were. being a “social christian” at age 16 means nothing.

What do you mean by “social Christian”? Are you saying that my belief was insincere?

>>>do you really believe that you are not going to answer for your rebellion against God and defiance?

>>Yes I really do because your claim otherwise has never been proved.

>this will get settled. but all the pushing away the truth won’t work then . . .

Prove it.

>>>something inside of you knows that it would be much better to receive God’s perfect love by accepting Christ then to accept His righteous wrath and judgment outside of Christ.

>>Again, you presume to be able to read my mind and again, you’re wrong. Prove that any of your last sentence is true and I’ll consider it. Also, why would a god who knows that we’re all going to do bad things punish us for what He knows we’re going to do? Why even have the system of punishment and reward in the first place? Why not just let everyone into Heaven without having to go through the rigamerol of life to begin with? If the desire is to have us with Him in Heaven, why not just have us with Him in Heaven? What’s the point of all the rest?

>because God only wants to be with people who really love Him

Is God an insecure, 16-year-old girl? An omnipotent god, the creator of the entire universe, is concerned with the infinitely trivial chemical reactions in our brains and their relationship to Him?

Is God omniscient or not? If He is, He already knows who truly loves Him and who doesn’t.

Is God truly so petty that He’s ethically okay with eternally punishing the vast majority of humans who have ever lived and will ever live solely because they either didn’t happen to know about Him or they didn’t happen to be convinced of Him?

>and for love to be real there needs to be free will and choice.

If God is omniscient, how is there free will? He already knows everything we’ll either do, think, or feel before any of us is born.

>its not about getting everyone into heaven. God can love you but not force you to be with Him.

And why is it this weird dichotomy of “Love me or burn”? Why not just have some place where people like me can go where we can just chill and not be concerned with any of this?

>If you don’t repent and continue to harden your heart against God

Where do you people get this expression “harden your heart”? Is my heart hardened against Zeus? I am unconvinced of your claims, not because I don’t like them (which I don’t), but only because you have offered zero objectively verifiable evidence for anything you’ve said. How is that my heart being hardened? If you had any evidence at all, I’d be convinced and this wouldn’t be an issue.

>you will have nothing to say against the Lord on judgment day.

How about, “Gee, God, why did you do it this way? Why baffle and befuddle so many of us for so much time? What was the point?”

>you were given the truth but you rejected it.

You haven’t proved a single word.

>you said “God if you don’t reveal yourself to me on my terms then i reject you.”

What, my terms are difficult for an omnipotent god?

>>don’t be a fool. turn to God. If you drop the atheist marketing and truly seek Him you will find Him.

>First, it’s funny you say “atheist marketing” because I think I’ve actually done a piss-poor job of such. Second, for your information, when I was a teenager, I did truly seek Him and I obviously did not find Him. I didn’t even have the benefit of being a chain-smoking, alcoholic adulterer.

Best,

Anton.

2 Responses to “My conversation with stevenuggen on 12/11/11”

  1. It must have taken a lot of patience to have that conversation. It is perplexing to me that people think that way. Why would an omnipotent being…. No, I won’t go there – I’d only be repeating what you said above but whenever I hear the “let Jesus in” or “harden your heart” rubbish it always echos through my mind.

    • Anton A. Hill Says:

      Hey Guy,

      The patience comes when people intentionally misrepresent science. I wouldn’t have such a problem with someone saying, “I don’t understand how evolution works” because at least that’s honest ignorance. But to say such stupid shit as “Evolution doesn’t work and no scientist thinks it does”, it’s like, um, have you checked this out?

      I also get really third of the same old fallacies popping their heads. This is real because I feel good. This is real because lots of people believe it.

      The hardening of hearts has always fascinated me because it’s such a specific phrase. I think they get it from Exodus, but I’m really not sure. And the fact is, it’s just a different way of saying, “Keep an open mind”, which itself is a different way of saying, “I have no evidence at all, but you should believe me anyway.”

      Alas, the madness continues.

      Best,

      Anton.

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