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Fundie Claim #15: Gospel Accuracy

Posted in Evolved and Rational by Skepdude on August 11, 2008


Copypasta from a fundie e-mail:

Why should anyone trust in Christianity over Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or anything else? It is because there are absolute truths? The Bible talks about real places. Only in Christianity do we have the extremely accurate transmission of the eyewitness documents (gospels) so we can trust what was originally written. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, who died and rose from the dead, and who said that He alone was the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). All this adds to the legitimacy and credibility of Christianity above all other religions — all based on the person of Jesus. If follows that if it is all true about what Jesus said and did, then all other religions are false because Jesus said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

The events of Jesus’ life in accordance with the supposed miracles and prophecies of the OT were clearly and obviously written after the fact by people who were not even there, and in accounts which do not even correspond with each other.

Who was found at Jesus’ tomb? Each account conflicts. Then, consider that there are no contemporary accounts of the extraordinary miracles of Jesus. The known writers of the time didn’t seem to think he is significant enough to even mention.

Seem strange? Someone wanders around healing people and raising them from the dead and no contemporaneous writer finds it compelling? Imagine the sky miraculously turning dark at the crucifixion and no writer considered this to be an event worth documenting. Nobody gave a shit at the time, and neither should you, theistarded sheep!

Christianity features lots of real places, you say? Have you ever heard of Greek mythology, which features places like Troy and Mycenae? The Iliad also includes details like bronze armor and boar’s-tusk helmets that were found by archaeologists. Does this mean that Greek mythology is true? If not, why should having real places mentioned in the Holy Buy-Bull be the basis of claiming the validity of the Christian myth?

If this doesn’t get your bullshit detector buzzing (at least), you are in denial of the obvious. You purposely avoid considering that your faith is false and will believe anything to protect it. If you have a shred of personal honesty and intellectual integrity, you will be forced to stop believing in this utter crap.

Theistard, why do you accept the Jesus cult’s doctrine and not that of some other religion with followers who have arguments that are just as mind-numbingly dumb as your own? Why do you think their arguments to be ridiculous and not your own?

A tragic case of the ‘NO YOU!’ syndrome? Pot calling the kettle black? What the fuck is your problem, theistard? Are you really this deluded or are you simply spewing shit out of your ass without thinking?

I think I need a new irony meter after reading his pathetic attempt at an ‘argument’.


Galileo, Semmelweis, and YOU!

Posted in Denialism by Skepdude on August 11, 2008


To wear the mantle of Galileo, it is not enough to be persecuted: you must also be right.
–Robert Park

I used to spend a lot of time on the websites of Joe Mercola and Gary Null, the most influential medical cranks of the internets (to call them “quacks” would imply that they are real doctors, but bad ones—I will no longer dignify them with the title of “quack”). I’ve kept away from them for a while in the interest of preserving my sanity. Unfortunately, Orac reminded me this week of the level searingly stupid and dangerous idiocy presented by these woo-meisters.

In light of this, it seems reasonable to reexamine the Galileo gambit. When a “discoverer” of some new medical “miracle” is dismissed by the medical establishment, they often invoke the ghosts of Galileo and of Ignaz Semmelweis.

Galileo and Semmelweis are a pair of historical figures that share a common story—they both made significant scientific discoveries, documented the evidence for them, and were reviled by certain authorities, but eventually honored.

Ideas are cheap. I believe that my idea to use a flow sheet to track my diabetics’ care leads to better outcomes. I have precisely NO evidence to prove this, but it doesn’t harm me or my patients, and there is at least peripheral evidence elsewhere that this is a good idea. There is also a plausible hypothesis behind this—if I have one piece of paper that contains the critical data for a diabetic, I can see right away if their blood pressure or cholesterol are above optimal levels, I can see what their weight is doing, and I can see if they have engaged in proper preventative care, such as eye and foot exams. There is also a small body of data to support the practice. It would not surprise me if someone studies this in the future and finds my method lacking, especially vs. electronic health records. When necessary, I’ll happily modify my practice in a way that benefits my patients.

Let me summarize the characteristics of a “good” clinical science thinking, in this context (no, I’m not gonna go all Popper on y’all):

    Relevance: an idea should bear directly on a real clinical problem
    Testability: it should be possible to test the idea to see if it has merit (this includes Popperian falsifiability).
    Plausibility: the idea should have some basis in reality and should not have been birthed de novo from between someone’s buttocks. It should not require a “suspension of disbelief” or “open-mindedness”.
    Abandonability: the poser of the question should be willing to abandon the idea if it is proved false. Moving the goal posts, invoking a conspiracy, or any other deus ex machina is never necessary for a good idea.
    Modifiability: an idea can be rationally modified and retested if it may still contain a kernel of truth despite failing one or another tests. Any idea that is held so tightly that reality must be modified to fit the idea should be highly suspect.

There is an enormous literature on what constitutes science, etc. This is just a little guide to reading on quackery, crankery, and other idiocy.

When you encounter possible medical crankery, a couple of questions to ask yourself are “cui bono“: who benefits? Is the answer “patients”, “medical science”, or “one dude with a P.O. box”?

The other question is, “where’s the evidence?” (remember, no conspiracy theories or you violate Pal’s Law).

Or, as Dawkins so acerbically put it:

If you are in possession of this revolutionary secret of science, why not prove it and be hailed as the new Newton? Of course, we know the answer. You can’t do it. You are a fake.