If I was a Shriner . . .

Something that I haven’t experienced in a while happened over the weekend. I was helping my grandfather’s friends in the Shriners load 400lbs of Vidalia onions they are storing at my shop, after cordial greetings and solid tough guy man hand shakes of course, when the one gentleman asks if I was a Shriner.
My response was a light head shake in the negatory and a simple “nope”. He, as was to be expected, then asked “when I would be a Shriner”. Knowing as I do, the organization at hand and the impossibility of my fraternite’ within it, I immediately knew it was walking on eggshells time.

My response was the standard that I give to such invitations from similar groups, smiling sincerely now, “due to differences in philosophy or world view which you and my grandfather can discuss if you wish, I simply would not be able to join.”

Now came a moment of contemplation on his part, he looked to the onions in the bed of the truck considering what such a difference could be, his eyes then widened, turned to me and asked “do you believe in god?”

I was still smiling, for I knew where this was going from the moment we started our dance. I simply and calmly, with a smile still, answered “No I don’t” and then waited. Two things were about to happen, a debate or an abrupt end to the discussion.

To my approval, it was simply the end of the conversation. But something interesting started, otherwise why would I be telling you about this. He immediately had to get away from me, he quickly changed in posture and moved to the far side of the struck where my grandfather and his other friend were talking. No words, just staring at me uncertainly, just a need to back away and regroup. Regaining some of his posture he shook my hand right before they left but it was cold and wet now, no longer the healthy rigid shake or eye contact from a mere moment before.

The Shriners expect a deistic admission, at least, to be granted into their ranks and I wonder if they will ever realize the number of people like me who could enthusiastically and very heavily help in person and or financially if they could look beyond such trivial matters.

So, I think of Christopher Hitchens and one of his devious maxims: “Here is my challenge. Let someone name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.” Henceforth The Foundation Beyond Belief is where I still give my charity and shall be for some time as we still deal with the diversity of identity in these “most modern of times”.

-Thoughts from Chris Hanna 

The Great Evolution Debate Notes

This blog post is a quick look inside Host Chris Hanna’s mind as he prepped for the debate. I thought this would be good for those who want to read what went into our side of the debate. 

Don’t forget to check out the episode right here!

Listen to the episode right here!

Opening statement (10 mins)
Things to ask in rebuttal to Aaron’s opening
His definition of evolution: 

Science and fine tuning

Looking from the wrong direction: if you start at the solution (the theist way) then it’s amazing that life is so perfectly

Why the universe exists

Science explain morality

Science brainwashing

Evolutionists can’t explain the origin of life

Abiogenesis is not evolution

Big bang is not evolution

Preagers big bangs bull

Says we have never seen evolution

Evolutionism would be moraless and we should be animals

Evolution is not destiny, it is not fate.

-Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.

Second law of Thermodynamics… Inaccurate use

Stalin and evolutionists and immorality

Immorality and murder abroad…

Why is the final size of a whale indicative of problems for its growth and for evolution.

Camel look down a giraffe and heart problem (mixed species?)

Beaver with wearable teeth?

Birds that work together to survive?

Upright tree confirms a global flood?
Chris Hanna’s Opening
So it goes… Some of you might recognize that phrasing from the late great Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5” as the allegorical end to life. Evolution is a dead theory; a claim professed wantonly, casually, and without refrain or source as our visitor told us in his last debate with Chris. Often, as Darwin so eloquently said:
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
So it goes indeed, as you have no doubt just heard; the goalposts have already been moved, the sharp and heartless lines of science cast aside for philosophical demand for absolutes. I am not here to offer you, our dear listener, any form of salvation, guarantee, or forever quiet your questioning mind. In fact I am here to do the opposite, the depth and brevity of the theory of evolution is the culmination of human kind’s short period of genuine investigative time on this earth.
From the undeniable fossil record, to the predictability of Darwin’s initial hypotheses, to the modification of evolution by gene sequencing known as neo-Darwinism, to the current Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, employing fossil transitions in palaeontology, and complex cellular mechanisms in developmental biology, and to the future in a proposed extended evolutionary synthesis, which would account for the effects of non-genetic inheritance modes, such as epigenetics, parental effects, ecological and cultural inheritance, and evolvability.
Yes, for those of you who do not know, and possibly for my opponent here, the basic foundation of Jean-Baptiste Lamarckian Inheritance, also known as soft evolution, that was given mechanical validity through Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and other notable publications, has acted as the underlying structure for further progress of the laws and predictions made by evolution resulting in the tools used by all modern biology.  
In every case of small or large modification to the theory of evolution, incorrect assumptions were replaced by verifiable, testable, and repeatable experimental data; all of this growth has further cemented its validity elevating the scientific consensus to that of fact.
The argument is as follows: the theory of gravity, the spherical earth, heliocentricity, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of relativity are all so empirically valid that even small changes are unlikely. Of course science is a probabilistic creature making absolutes all but impossible; still the likelihood of information calling into question the inherent truth to any of these foundational structures of modern science, including evolution, are so remote that the scientific community has in turn given its verdict, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are true. You really don’t think the recent spate of NBA stars professing a flat earth will really change anything do you?
So, let us first establish the skeleton before we attempt to populate the evolutionary creature with a functioning muscular system. The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection. There are six basic tenets that make up the theory evolution, gradualism, speciation, common ancestry, natural selection, and nonselective mechanisms of evolutionary change.
The first is the idea of evolution itself. This simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA, which originate as mutations.

The second part of evolutionary theory is the idea of gradualism. It takes many generations to produce a substantial evolutionary change, such as the evolution of birds from reptiles.

The Third, that of splitting, or, more accurately, speciation.

speciation simply means the evolution of different groups that can’t interbreed — that is, groups that can’t exchange genes.

species don’t have to split. 

circumstances allow populations to evolve enough differences that they are no longer able to interbreed. 

The vast majority of species — more than 99 percent of them — go extinct without leaving any descendants.

we all share fundamental traits. Among these are the 

biochemical pathways that we use to produce energy, 

our standard four-letter DNA code, 

how that code is read and translated into proteins. 

The fourth, common ancestry; we can always look back in time, using either DNA sequences or fossils, and find descendants joining at their ancestors.

By sequencing the DNA of various species and measuring how similar these sequences are, we can reconstruct their evolutionary relationships.

This is the point where the second tier of evolution was added as mentioned earlier.

The fifth part of evolutionary theory is natural selection. 

explains apparent design in nature by a purely materialistic process that doesn’t require creation or guidance by supernatural forces.

Over time, the population will gradually become more and more suited to its environment as helpful mutations arise and spread through the population, while deleterious ones are weeded out. …It requires only that individuals of a species vary genetically in their ability to survive and reproduce in their environment.

Evolution is like an is not a master architect but more like a tinkerer who cannot design a building from scratch, but must build every new structure by adapting a preexisting building, keeping the structure habitable all the while. (13)

So natural selection does not yield perfection — only improvements over what came before. It produces fitter, not the fittest.

Richard Dawkins provided the most concise definition of natural selection: it is “the nonrandom survival of random variants.” 

The sixth processes other than natural selection can cause evolutionary change.

epigenetics, the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off

DNA from humans is made up of approximately 3 billion nucleotide bases. There are four fundamental types of bases that comprise DNA – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, commonly abbreviated as A, C, G, and T, respectively.

The sequence, or the order, of the bases is what determines our life instructions. Interestingly enough, our DNA sequence is mostly similar to that of a chimpanzee.

Within the 3 billion bases, there are about 20,000+ genes. Genes are specific sequences of bases that provide instructions on how to make important proteins – complex molecules that trigger various biological actions to carry out life functions.

parental effects a situation where the phenotype of an organism is determined not only by the environment it experiences and its genotype, but also by the environment and genotype of its mother 

ecological and cultural inheritance, the process in which an organism alters its own (or other species’) environment, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival

Evolvability the capacity of a system for adaptive evolution. Evolvability is the ability of a population of organisms to not merely generate genetic diversity, but to generate adaptive genetic diversity, and thereby evolve through natural selection
Whew, take a breath, the theory of evolution is quite vast, complex, and highly driven by experts at the very extent of human knowledge and understanding. Experts, I remind you, that while aggressively critical of each other’s work since they derive status and prestige from disproving proposed theorems and papers, are in almost uniform consensus on the validity of evolution.
So what now? Evidence you say? Oh damn right my good little budding scientists. Finishing out this segment will be cases of transitional fossils, evolutionary adaptations and the mechanisms where genuine evolution has been seen in the lab, and finally realtime, in the lifetime of one human, speciation that has has occurred will show up in the Q and A segments
While we may speculate about the details, the existence of transitional fossils—and the evolution of birds from reptiles—is fact. Fossils like Archaeopteryx and its later relatives show a mixture of birdlike and early reptilian traits, and they occur at the right time in the fossil record. Scientists predicted that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, and, sure enough, we find theropod dinosaurs with feathers. We see a progression in time from early theropods having thin, filamentous body coverings to later ones with distinct feathers, probably adept gliders. What we see in bird evolution is the refashioning of old features (forelimbs with fingers and thin filaments on the skin) into new ones (fingerless wings and feathers)—just as evolutionary theory predicts.

Australopithecus afarensis, or Lucy, is a personal favorite of mine, dating back 3.2 million years. She was between twenty and thirty years old, three and a half feet tall, weighing a scant sixty pounds, and possibly afflicted with arthritis. But most important, she walked on two legs. In a bipedally walking primate like ourselves, the femurs angle in toward each other from the hips so that the center of gravity stays in one place while walking, allowing an efficient fore-and-aft bipedal stride. In knucklewalking apes, the femurs are slightly splayed out, making them bowlegged. When they try to walk upright, they waddle awkwardly. If the femurs angle toward the middle, it’s bipedal. And Lucy’s angle in—at almost the same angle as that of modern humans. She walked upright. Her pelvis too resembles that of modern humans far more than that of modern chimps. Her head was distinctly ape like with a torso that appears a mixture of the two, and with a lower section that is almost identical to modern humans.
Human transitional fossils 20 species from over 6000 individual skeletons: 

Sahelanthropus tchadensis, 

Orrorin tugenensis, 

Ardipithecus kadabba, 

Ardipithecus ramidus, 

Australopithecus anamensis,  

Kenyanthropus platyops, 

Australopithecus afarensis, 

Australopithecus garhi, 

Paranthropus aethiopicus, 

Australopithecus africanus, 

Homo rudolfensis, 

Australopithecus sediba, 

Homo habilis,

Paranthropus robustus, 

Paranthropus boisei, 

Homo heidelbergensis, 

Homo erectus, 

Homo floresiensis, 

Homo neanderthalensis, 

Homo sapiens
5 min rebuttals each.

3 min Break

7 min Aaron Questions Time

7 min Chris Question Time
Please take a moment to explain the existence of useless and often detrimental vestigial features

the recurrence of pelvic and leg bones in whales and snakes,

the wings of flightless birds, 

the human Coccyx, 

the human appendix, 

wisdom teeth that have to be surgically removed, 

the human plica semilunaris which is like the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, of other animals, and much more.

Now explain Atavisms, or the recurrence of ancestral traits in some not all like vestigial traits.

human embryonic processes where human embryos move through almost identical phases of mimicry of a fish embryo then amphibian, reptile, mammal, primate, and finally human? 

a combination of a tail, fishlike gill arches, and a fishlike circulatory system doesn’t seem necessary for a human embryo? | …The probable answer — and it’s a good one — involves recognizing that as one species evolves into another, the descendant inherits the developmental program of its ancestor: that is all the genes that form ancestral structures

Also some human babies have been born with a coccygeal projection which is, you guessed it, a tail

Some whales have wholly developed legs projecting from their vestigial hips, and horses often have two extra toes mimicking their fossilized ancestors? 

Dont forget Lanugo, its the full coat of hair that covers a human fetus’ body and is usually shed but sometimes mommy and daddy get a hairy baby.

Please explain the difference between Micro and Macro evolution and why one is possible but not the other.

Where is the line specifically

What about Ring Species? The Greenish Warbler of northern India migrated northeast and northwest around mountains that acted as a geographic barrier, the two northern forms viridanus and plumbeitarsus are highly distinct genetically, when the two expanding fronts met in central Siberia, they were different enough that they do not interbreed.

http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/greenishwarblers.html 

What about the new species of plants that we have directly seen evolve in the wild through polyploidy and allopolyploidy, synthesized in the lab to verify

How does the polyploid species form in the first place? We needn’t go into the messy details here except to say that it involves the formation of a hybrid between the two parental species followed by a series of steps in which those hybrids produce rare pollen or eggs carrying double sets of chromosomes (these are called unreduced gametes). Fusion of these gametes produces a polyploid individual in only two generations. And all of these steps have been documented in both the greenhouse and in nature.

Because of this, you might have thought that such speciation would be very rare indeed. But it isn’t. Given that a single plant can produce millions of eggs and pollen grains, an improbable event eventually becomes probable.

This new allopolyploid has since radiated into five separate, morphologically diverse species: G. mustelinum, G. darwinii, G. barbadense, G. tomentosum, and the most important global supplier of agriculturally used cotton fiber G. hirsutm

5 min Aaron Question Time

5 min Chris Question Time
Noah’s evolution party consisted of of 1,877,920 species or 3,755,840 individual animals on the ark, we need only six more pairs of each species of bird to make it come out to seven pairs. That brings our count up to a grand total of 3,858,920 animals aboard the ark—two of each species, except birds which number fourteen each.

This equates to 187 new species a year for the conservative estimate of 10,000 year old earth and 313 if the earth is only 6,000 years old.

Where are all these species and how did they get to their current locations of equilibrium now?

Where are their fossilized trails of tears, as they most certainly would have been when considering a penguin walking down Mount Ararat and heading for ice…

Do vaccines and medicine work?

Vaccinations and Medicine resistance are major issues for the future of humankind, why are some no longer as effective as they used to be?

Another prime example of selection is resistance to penicillin. When it was introduced in the early 1940s, penicillin was a miracle drug against Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”). 

In 1941, the drug could wipe out every strain of staph in the world. Now, seventy years later, more than 95 percent of staph strains are resistant to penicillin. 

After mutations made Staph stronger the drug industry came up with a new antibiotic, methicillin, but even that is now becoming useless due to newer mutations. 

In both cases, scientists have identified the precise changes in the bacterial DNA that conferred drug resistance. 

Viruses, the smallest form of evolvable life, have also evolved resistance to antiviral drugs, most notably AZT (azidothymidine), designed to prevent the HIV virus from replicating in an infected body. 

Now we keep AIDS at bay with a daily three-drug cocktail, and if history is any guide, this too will eventually stop working. The evolution of resistance creates an arms race between humans and microorganisms

But fortunately there are some spectacular cases of microorganisms that haven’t succeeded in evolving resistance. (

We must remember that the theory of evolution doesn’t predict that everything will evolve: if the right mutations can’t or don’t arise, evolution won’t happen.) 

Streptococcus, for example, causes “strep throat, ” a common infection in children. These bacteria have failed to evolve even the slightest resistance to penicillin, which remains the treatment of choice. 

unlike the influenza virus, polio and measles viruses have not evolved resistance to the vaccines that have now been used for over fifty years.
3 min break

10 min Audience Questions

6 min closing arguments -whoever is making the positive claim goes first

The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.  
In an exhausted conclusion I defer to you dear listener, to the evidence given tonight and included in the links of my notes available immediately after this live show is concluded, to the simplicity of evolution compared to the alarmist fears that scientific materialism will invade our humanity like the hollywood robot revolution perversions of logic against the unpredictable emotional human obsolescence. Evolution is simply a theory about the process and patterns of life’s diversification, not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life. it can’t tell us what to do, or how we should behave, or what we should believe in.. And this is the big problem for many believers, who want to find in the story of our origins a reason for our existence, and a sense of how to behave. 

If you can’t think of an observation that could disprove a theory, that theory simply isn’t scientific and this is a major failing for ID and Creationism in general as the presuppositions simply assert infallible ultimatums from the onset. While the heart of “materialism” or “naturalism” suggests that, evolution is true. And, any transcendent or metaphysical explanation that imposes itself upon the scientific and natural world are de facto discounted as irrelevant and absurd. However, conversely, transcendence and metaphysics are thus free from the imposition of scientific inquiry and invalidation. Hence my allusions to the segregation from belief and evolution including its acceptance throughout the progressive segment of the theistic population.
What we have seen here is well formed argumentative skills and a general formation of a worldview that is threatened, they believe, by the last universal common ancestor and the theory of evolution. But the genuine dog and cat ignorance of species and evoleitionFortunately as I just said he is rapidly becoming a minority as the largest christian faiths are evolving to survive. Once again:
Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.
But there is something even more wondrous. We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be.

Sources

Review and Notes from Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

https://vialogue.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/why-evolution-is-true-notes-review/

file:///C:/Users/Chris/Downloads/why-evolution-is-true-jerry-a-coyne.pdf

Nature article about Polyploids, Allopolyploids, and heredity including new synthesized species

http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v110/n2/full/hdy201279a.html 

More Polyploidy

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/for-plants-polyploidy-is-not-a-four-letter-word/ 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyploid#Allopolyploidy

Noah’s ridiculous story

https://ncse.com/cej/4/1/impossible-voyage-noahs-ark

Human fossil ancestry database

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils 

Shrinking Iguanas

https://asknature.org/strategy/body-shrinks-under-harsh-conditions/

Sea horses

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090522-seahorses-stand-up.html

#23: Astronomy Saves The World

Are the presidential rallies getting too violent and losing sight of what they were supposed to be for? Chris and Christopher weigh in on the hypocrisy rampant on BOTH sides lately. After that Daniel Batcheldor stops by to explain to us how astronomy can save the world and plug his amazing upcoming book! To close out the show, some bunk arguments against GMO foods were crushed and Christopher got Chris a bit ripped, leading to his first rant about teaching the controversy. You have been warned!

http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/astronomy-saves-the-world

Segment
——
00:00 Bernie & Super Pac/Crazy Shit Christopher Used to Believe
35:00 Astronomy Saves The World Interview with PhD Dan Batcheldor
69:00 Answering Anti GMO Apologists
88:00 Teaching the Controversy

Episode: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/astronomy-saves-the-world
Subscribe: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CellarDoorSkeptics
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/user/8326690/episodes/feed
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cellar-door-skeptics/id1044088575?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Website: http://cellardoorskeptics.com
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/cellar-door-skeptics
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/cellardoorskeptics
Intro Music: http://aloststateofmind.com/

Links
——
https://www.gofundme.com/exqv3qyc
——
http://www.factcheck.org/2016/03/temperature-at-trump-rallies/
http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/15/obama-criticizes-trump-violence-rallies/
http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/12/politics/donald-trump-protests/
——
http://danielbatcheldor.com
http://cor.gsfc.nasa.gov/copag/rfi/Extreme_Contrast_Ratio_Technologies.pdf

http://www.fit.edu/faculty/profiles/profile.php?value=553
@DanBatcheldor
——
http://thescientificatheist.com/responses-to-popular-anti-gmo-rhetoric/
——
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/creationism_and_evolution_in_school_religious_students_can_t_learn_natural.html

#17: DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God”

Listen Here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup

This week is a first us here at Cellar Door Skeptics, a formal debate on the topic “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God?” Chris Hanna will be taking the moderator position in an effort to quell the fire and the flames between his co-host Christopher Tanner and our guest, Aaron Furlong. Aaron will be taking the positive with a strong background in presuppositional Christian apologetics and Christopher will be representing the skeptics and atheists who believe there simply just isn’t enough evidence.

Check out the link below for both of the presenters bios along with the rules for the debate.

Segments
——
00:00 Debate Introductions / Rules
05:21 Aaron’s Introduction
13:06 Christopher’s Introduction
21:00 Aaron Questions and Christopher Answers
37:58 Christopher Questions and Aaron Answers
54:11 Aaron’s Monologue Rebuttal
58:57 Christopher’s Monologue Rebuttal
65:00 Back and Forth with Christopher and Aaron
83:22 Audience Questions for Christopher and Aaron
113:30 Aaron’s Closing Statement
118:40 Christopher’s Closing Statement

Episode: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup
Subscribe: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CellarDoorSkeptics
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/user/8326690/episodes/feed
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cellar-door-skeptics/id1044088575?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Website: http://cellardoorskeptics.com

Bios: http://wp.me/p6yn1U-1Yp

Links
——
Aaron Furlong
http://proofthatgodexists.org
——
Christopher Tanner
http://www.justinsweh.com/#!debatespresentations/cemp

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2013/08/14/andrews-vs-schieber-2/
http://treesearch.org/debate/summary-giunta-schieber-debate-2014
http://www.apologetics315.com/2013/08/john-frame-interview-transcript.html#more
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Presuppositionalism
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Begging_the_question
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evoscales_01
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God” Bios

DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God” Bios

We wanted to do a post that both the Bios and the debate rules in it.  This is the post.  Our goal is to present the most information about our guests and allow for anyone reading this and listening to the show to be able to connect with the debaters.  At Cellar Door Skeptics we strive to present a well rounded and fair debate along with the information needed to give everyone the knowledge we hope they gain from it.  If you follow the episode link to spreaker or to the main podcast blog, you will find all the links both debaters provided that will allow you to follow the information where ever it may lead.

Debater #1: Aaron Furlong (Christian)

12637374_10208312403067664_657775170_oAaron Furlong is 32 years old and currently works and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was born and raised in Florida and still visits his family there often. He was raised in a Christian home but spent many years running from God and he feels very blessed to have the love of Christ in his heart again. He is very close with his father who is an elder of a Presbyterian church in Florida, as well as his mother who is a great Christian encouragement to him. He is also close with his older brother and is the proud uncle of one niece. He studies Christian Philosophers and Theologians such as CS Lewis, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. John Lennox, and Dr. RC Sproul. However his passion is Presuppositional apologetic. He has been most influenced by the works of Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Sye Ten Bruggencate, and Pastor Jeff Durbin. He’s appeared on atheist podcasts in the past but this is his first formal debate.

I work as a Client Relationship Manager for a payment processing company and travel all over the country to build and maintain partnerships that are profitable for his company. I have moved to a different part of the valley seven times in seven years and haven’t found a Church to call home in North Scottsdale. However, I visit three different churches including Apologia Church where I’ve studied under Pastor Jeff Durbin. This is my first formal debate but did appear on Tanners previous show, Atheist Analysis, four different times where the topics varied from gay marriage, to evolution, all the way to Christianity’s influence on western culture.

Contact: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.furlong.716

Debater #2: Christopher Tanner (Agnostic Atheist / Secular Humanist)Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.54.00 PM

Christopher Tanner is a host and co founder of Cellar Door Skeptics.  He currently works in Kentwood Michigan and is 32 years old. He was born in Ohio and spent his formative childhood in Toledo Ohio. He was raised in a conservative Christian home. His father was the deacon of a baptist church while both his parents were youth group leaders. Christopher attended a non denominational Christian school from 1st through 9th grade. Christopher’s parents moved to Grand Rapids Michigan when he was 15 where he became active in the local baptist church. At the age of 18 he had a crisis of faith with his local church and became an independent denomination. For the next 10 years he spent his time researching different faiths and religions along with alternate denominations.

After long searching, Christopher discovered he saw little evidence that pointed to a God and no evidence to point to a Christian God. Christopher has spent the last 4 years as an out agnostic atheist doing research on theological philosophy and Socratic methods. He has worked for Dogma Debate, Atheist Analysis, Center for Inquiry Michigan, Heretical Minds, Jenison 4 Love, Small Town Allies and lgbtq, Decriminalize Gr, Grillin with Atheists, and now Cellar Door Skeptics. His passion is help to raise awareness over religious beliefs by adding a voice to the conversation that will engage and listen to the opposition while developing conversations that will push the boundaries of the Christian vs atheist debate. He is a feminist, secular humanist, lgtbq ally,  and advocate of separation of church and state. His fist priority is his family and in his free time his pursuit of knowledge.

Contact: cellardoorskeptics@gmail.com

Debate Time Frames

Introduction: 8 Minutes Aaron

Introduction: 8 Minutes Christopher

Cross Examination: 15 Minutes Aaron Asking Questions

Cross Examination: 15 Minutes Christopher Asking Questions

Rebuttal: 5 Minute Aaron

Rebuttal: 5 Minute Christopher

Joint Cross Examination: Christopher and Aaron ask each other questions with a moderator.

Audience Question and Answer: 15 Minutes Lead by Moderator with Questions for Both Christopher and Aaron

Conclusions: 5 Minutes Aaron

Conclusions: 5 Minutes Christopher

There Is No True Christian

For More from David, Click HERE

With any socio-cultural change there comes along for the ride a varying level of ideological reflection. Much depends on the connection one’s group has with the change. The greater degree of perceived effect the change has, the greater need there is to determine a response. At this level of group identity the question arises concerning whether agreeing or disagreeing is the best way of displaying the continuation of that identity. Nowhere is the battle over what to do more prevalent than in religion. The “no true x believer” declaration, where “x” is filled in by liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, etc. is flung around each and every time something significant happens to change the established status quo of ideological purity. Most recently this has to do with health care and the right of adults who happen to have the same genitalia to get involved in the legal institution of marriage.

The varying forms of emotional apoplexy popping up on social media and displayed in public announcements has been a source of vociferous cheering, tear-inducing laughter and rage-filled judgments. Threading throughout these exchanges is the desire to claim how a group identity is correctly connected with a particular side of the issue at hand. This is being done with a degree of sophistry within Christianity unseen since the days of slavery.
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Simplicity As Confirmation Bias

For More from David, Click HERE

 

For those philosophically minded, William Ockham will immediately engender various degrees of analytic glee, the name synonymous with logical parsimony or simple explanation. The more user-friendly phrase concerning parsimony is: “Don’t multiply entities beyond necessity.” Then again, perhaps the phrase isn’t as friendly as it may be to some. Thankfully that’s rather the point here, simplicity being, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. Consider a rose possessed of a particular color and a certain number of petals arising out of a stem. To the average person it is a thing of beauty. To a botanist there will be an entire history of breeding involved. To a chemist there will be a litany of compounds and scents included. Which one is more simple? Is that even the right question? For Ockham, the answer to the latter is most certainly not.

 

As human beings, possessed of a surplus of intelligence and imagination, the need to offer explanations is not only a seeming necessity, but the source of a great deal of social fracas. Some of the earliest childhood memories are related to giving explanations for behavior in a manner to deflect guilt, as when explaining a broken window or why there’s chocolate on fingertips despite being told not to eat dessert before dinner. Such stories certainly continue into adulthood, though the ramifications of our explanations become exponentially more. Issues of social policy will take into account explanations for human behavior, the American justice system being predicated on the offering of behavior being intrinsically free. Matters of geopolitics rest on explanations of human interaction and the role force plays in building and maintaining countries. Environmental concerns run through the sieve of explanations concerning biological diversity and origins, including the age of the earth and the cosmos. None of the offered explanations for these matters come without consequences, often beginning during the battle of determining which explanation is better than another.
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I Might as Well Get This Off My Chest

Anyone up for a good rant?

 

If you are, by all means continue reading, and imagine the following delivered with flecks of spittle and appropriate pulpit-pounding. If you aren’t, by all means find something else to read. I can be diplomatic – even conciliatory – if the occasion demands but I’m not going to be in this case. I cannot un-see what I see, and sometimes I just have to vent. If you find my tone somewhat strident, I can’t say I disagree with you. What you are about to read reflects a very real side of me – one that I have to live with daily. It has largely been shaped by a fundamentalist Christian upbringing that I certainly did not choose to be born into and that I consider a form of child abuse. I hope I’ve been clear. Here goes – let’s see how many metaphors I can mix:

 

The most urgent task of our time is to kill the hydra-headed monster known as religion. Until we manage to drive a stake once and for all through the heart of the vicious Mesopotamian god who still holds sway over and commands the blind obedience of billions of Christians, Muslims and Jews, all our attempts to wake up an extinction-bound humanity and galvanize them to action will avail nothing. No devout Christian – I’m talking here about True Believers™ who seriously think that God has a perfect plan for this planet and every human on it, is in control of everything that happens and is going to intervene just in the nick of time – is ever going to give a rat’s ass about the looming climate change disaster, or the meltdown of nuclear power plants or the drawdown of ancient aquifers, or the collapse of civilization as the peak of hydrocarbon extraction is passed and our worldwide technological faux-perpetual-motion machine begins to sputter and creak: Jesus is waiting in the wings, ready at his father’s command to ride once again into human affairs, this time on a white horse, vanquishing Satan and setting everything to rights.
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About that God-Shaped Hole

This piece is a contribution from our good friend David Goza who can also be watched here.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve regularly heard one version or another of a shopworn claim made by pulpiteers, Sunday school teachers, Christian bloggers and authors, participants in Christian Facebook groups, and so forth. It goes like this: There’s a “God-shaped hole” inside each of us, and unless we fill it with God we’ll never be happy. Since nature abhors a vacuum, we’ll try to fill that void with something (a list usually follows, and will typically include sex, drugs and rock-‘n’-roll). But nothing we try to fill it with will ever really satisfy us since only God can fill it perfectly.

 

One encounters many variations on this theme, including the often-heard claim that atheists make a religion of evolution or a god of Richard Dawkins (or of themselves) and that those who do not embrace the Kingdom of Heaven will almost certainly become political activists of the communist variety, bent on establishing their own substitute heavenly kingdom on Earth.

 

That claim is a gross distortion of a metaphor coined by Jean Paul Sartre, who spent much of his career teasing apart the particulars of our uneasy relationship with the culture in which we find ourselves embroiled without having chosen it. His “God-shaped hole” metaphor points at the essential emptiness at the heart of our industrial civilization, with its pointless routines, infuriating distractions and glut of cheap, toxic crap. It’s a poignant metaphor meant to capture the poignancy of our predicament.

 

The misuse I cited earlier represents a warping almost beyond recognition by those who employ Sartre’s metaphor casually without having read what he had to say about it. I want to try to couch it in terms that make better sense, that are truer to Sartre’s meaning.

 

It’s obvious that most humans feel a deep need for meaning in their lives, and thus pursue it in various ways. Many – surely most to at least some degree – seek meaning outside themselves, in something “larger” (the family, the community, the state, the church, the cosmos), but this isn’t true of everyone. A few seem to locate meaning only in themselves, and this leads to some distressingly predictable behaviors. Those so described almost inevitably end up at the top of whatever ladder it is they’re climbing and thus join the ranks of the most dangerous people alive: the narcissists and sociopaths who wield great power and command vast wealth. Like black holes, they take but do not give. In their case, it may be that “meaning” is the wrong word: perhaps “fulfillment” would be a better choice.
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Believers, You Are What You Wear

© Religion Erased

‘But my veil is very little!’ The lady exclaimed, passionately arguing her case for the religious freedoms of women in Iran.

 

The interpretation from the opposing standpoint differs from her view that religious clothing isn’t a burden. The ladies remark would have no doubt translated to ‘but my chains are very light!’ in the mind of Christopher Hitchens, the very man at the other end, when confronting the delusion of suggested religious ‘freedoms’ during the Q&A session in Australia.

 


(Editors note: seriously, watch this one; it is worth every second.)

 

Billions of children are currently being brought up in a deeply religious faith, one with a set belief and dress code. Most of these families will justify this by claiming it is a choice, but if everyone coincidentally sports the same clothing, is it really a choice?

 

Taking into account how restricting certain clothes can be, is a niqab really the desired choice for a Middle Eastern summer? Is a robe really the best choice a priest can make to play a game of football? If these are choices, they are choices heavily influenced by religion.

 

Religion gives a guide to live by, not a choice. Lets compare with the sudden urge to buy a product after walking past a billboard. It is a choice but a choice influenced by external factors. I am not going to tell readers to refrain from wearing what they want, but I urge anyone reading this to know that it’s not what you want, it is what religion wants of you. It would be a mistake to say it was a decision made entirely on personal preference.
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