Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CARM Responses, Part 3 (final)

So, I went again today to check that link, and the disingenuous fellow has replaced the simple page with a survey.  This effectively hides the questions from public scrutiny and limits the number of people who can see them.  It's also intellectually dishonest to hide them in this way.  I'm not against the idea of putting up such a survey, but using a browser query to deliberately slow people down is just terrible.  This also makes the jobs of people like myself (and countless others before me) significantly more difficult, as it shows a propensity against it's intended purpose: letting people answer organically in their own way.

The purpose of your questions was never to compile answers on your own. The purpose of your questions was to have people respond to them so that your message and questions would spread beyond the scope of your normal user base.  This is a fine premise, and I fully support it.  However, this also makes it easier for people to just make things up, because most people aren't going to take your quiz and thereby check that the questions are in fact questions you are asking.  I'm not going to alter your questions, and I think the majority of people wouldn't.  However, since there is no simple form to read, most people are just going to take my word for it.

Sure, I could probably use the wayback machine to get my questions, but I'm curious now how he's set this up.  Let's go on a journey, to the mind of someone who simply doesn't understand peer-review, nor how to effectively spread a message.

Again, I'm not against the idea of a survey as he's laying it out, but I am against the idea of removing the questions wholesale from a simple format.  Since I've now got to take the test to get the remaining questions, I suppose that's what I'll do.  Let's see how this new format works, and what the new questions are.  Seeing as I've previously answered 10 of them, I'll be doing what appears to be 21 questions at least here.  Maybe take a moment, make some coffee or tea, and settle in.  It's going to be a trudge.

To keep you folks from being bored, I'll see if I can't add
some neat pictures I've taken in the past.  Everyone loves pictures.
So, these first questions that I've already answered have multiple choices which are just absolute crap.  A few of them have space for short replies, but I can barely fit three sentences.  Question two is not open-ended at all, so let's just pick one at random.  I mean, does a christian really act any different with regard to Vishnu, or a Muslim with regard to Thor?  Does Billy Graham act as though he believes Thor isn't real; or does he act as though he doesn't believe Odin is real?  Is there a fundamental difference?  I think not.

Here's a picture of some birds to take the stress down.

Third question on consistency.  I missed this before, but he has a list of what makes a cult, as well as calling some christian religious groups aberrant.  Can he really ask if it is consistent for people to proselytize against something they don't believe in when he himself is doing it?  Where's the Armoured Skeptic when I need him?  Skeptic, if you're reading, I really need whatever liquor your mom puts in that hot cocoa right now...

Seriously though, you all should read and respond to that link with the survey.  This will be fun times indeed. 

Question 4 has been altered.  It now reads "Why are you an atheist?" when it previously read "How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?"  That's a pretty big oversight, man.  That's intellectually dishonest to an extreme.  
Question 5 slightly reworded, so I won't dwell there.

Wow, question six took a turn.  
On a scale from 1 to 5, one is weak, 5 is strong, how sure are you that God does not exist?
 This is considerably different.  I'm sure the numbering must now be thrown off, so for comparison, the old question was "How do you define what truth is."  Maybe it'll come back up later.  The actual question is pretty simple.  I fall right in the middle.  I don't know if a god exists or not (although if he's asking about God of the bible, I'm probably a four or five).

Question 7 actually remains the same.  So he's not, in fact, adding new questions.  He's rather just removing some in favor of others that he perhaps thinks are related?  Maybe he didn't like the responses he was getting.  Maybe he honestly thinks those questions he's replacing them with are just as valid but easier to grade.  We'll never know, so I must presume the former.  He's got text boxes for long answers.  This is unacceptably dishonest.

Question 8 is now the worldview one.  Seriously, CARM.  This wasn't difficult.  Put the questions in order, that way when people fact check you, you don't appear to be a slimy bastard.  "Oh, I'll just frame some questions differently, change some entirely and change the order of others.  Who will notice?"


Again, that's not an ad-hominem.  That's actually how you're acting, like someone who has something to hide.  Like a person confronted with inconvenient truths, backpedaling without so much as a redaction or retraction, trying to hide the mistakes you made previously.  This is the internet, people will find out.  I've made mistakes, but I'm not going to erase them.  They will stand as a part of my body of work, and I'll make the necessary reparations when necessary. That's how intellectually honest people work.  Maybe they skipped that lesson too many times in your Sunday School lessons, the bit about not lying and whatnot.

Question 9 asks about my opinion of the bible.  These answers beg the question that anyone who disagrees with him must be a miserable person who simply doesn't understand the bible.  There isn't one single positive choice.  It's as though, in his mind, by not believing in god I also can't enjoy the narratives in the bible, or the writing style, or learning about the culture represented by it.  This really grinds my gears, I guess.

Here's a picture of a sunset.
Isn't it amazing how the sun glides across the crystal sphere
encasing our terrestrial manifestations, descending as it
does to Sheol every night?  Oh wait, that's one of those
unproven worldviews.  Seriously, read that question.
Question ten also kinda sucks.  It asks my opinion of Jesus, gives me three leading choices, and a text box. I'm really quite glad this fellow isn't writing standardized tests.  Since question 10 is where I left off, I'm just gonna pick up here at question 11.  I don't even care if he changed them anymore, I'm documenting them as he has written them from here on out, from the survey.

11: What is your opinion of the concept of the god of the bible?
Since we're talking about the concept of him, rather than him, this is pretty straightforward.  Asked another way, it's how do I feel about the character of this deity, as presented through the lens of the bible?  He's clearly a masochist.  He nailed himself to a cross.  He made his creations able to hurt his feelings.  That's all I got right now, most of you know how that biblical story goes.  I just want some of those drugs god took when he did Revelations.  Talking lamp stands and Seraphs and Cherubim and magic tables and horsemen and WHY ISN'T THIS A MOVIE YET?  Rob Zombie, I'm looking at you...

12: What is your opinion of the Christian concept of hell?
Well, that's a big one.  I don't really care for it.  Sheol isn't the worst, purgatory is alright I suppose.  Lake of fire and sulfur is cliche. What else is there to say?  Don't forget, the afterlives that followers of Baal, Ashteroth, and lots of other gods of the old testament are also equivocal to hell.  Not to mention that Yahweh only judges his own adherents in the end times.  Followers of other gods are kinda exempt from his hell, it's implied.

13: What is your opinion of evolution?
Opinion.  Doesn't really matter. Kinda like my opinion of gravity.   Here's the majority of my response there.

Let me turn this around for you.  What is your opinion of The Sun?  Do you believe, like the bible says, that it's on a crystal sphere encasing the world?  Do you believe that it's about the same size as the moon, and that the moon radiates light just like the sun?  Do you believe, as it says, that the stars are merely holes in the night sky?  How exactly do the stars shine if they are holes, anyway? Doesn't that mean we don't need the sun to light things?
I hope, hope, hope, that this fellow is actually reading all these responses.  I hope, beyond hope, that he will honestly respond to them.  I hope beyond hope because he has demonstrated thoroughly that he doesn't actually care about honesty.

14: How would you define what truth is?
One of his multiple choice answers is actually "..statement or concept that corresponds to reality."  Maybe he is learning.  Probably not, but one can never be sure.

I think I covered this one already.  Not gonna rehash here.  Read my old blog post again.  It doesn't cost you a dime, and I've got no annoying adverts.  However, if you like my writing, you can check out my Patreon page.  That's enough shameless plugs for today.  I'll make sure the next ones are shameful.  Also, if people start paying me, I can do this more.  Maybe I'll even put my beautiful voice on more youtube videos or something.  I play harmonica, I've got a few sounds on soundcloud.  Maybe you just like my pretty pictures.  Still, I'm doing this for fun either way.  Thanks to all you wonderful readers!

15:  Do you affirm that the physical universe is all there is and that all things can be explained in terms of motion, matter, chemical reaction, etc.?
Do I affirm, in the presence of these witnesses?  Does my affirmation make a difference?  Everything within our universe is all that exists as far as we are concerned.  This question shows a fundamental misunderstanding of physics.  All things can be explained by the four forces and their interactions, but not necessarily by the layperson of science.   However, yes, within our universe is the only place that our universe exists.  It's impossible for anything to exist simultaneously here and not here.  That's a basic law of science.  In the same way that two things can't exist in the same place at the same time (the same time-space), they can't exist in two separate places at the same time.  Even virtual particles don't break this, despite the fact that they can be superimposed and interact instantly with it's pair over distances that seem to violate the speed of light.  Cosmic expansion also has that appearance, but it doesn't actually violate physics.

So, naturally, of course.  The sun does indeed keep us locked in orbit, more or less, the same way as the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy keeps the stars in orbit around it.  Well, almost the same way, to avoid some pedantry.

Here's my simplified response to him.
Show me one thing other than your god that doesn't exist here.  Seriously, see that thing that's not in front of you right now, and has never existed in our universe?  Neither do I.  Anything outside of our universe fundamentally can't be in our universe.  
Think about it this way.  I've got a box.  The box is closed up tight.  Inside it, a small puppy.  Outside of it, some yarn.  The puppy exists in this box (The universe) and cannot, no matter how hard it tries, see the yarn outside the box.  The yarn, similarly, has no bearing on what's going on inside the box.  It will never exist in the box (since this box is the universe and the puppy is a metaphor).  Everything that's real to that puppy is in that box.  If the yarn were in the box, it could never leave, just like the puppy.
Yes, it's a terrible analogy because I've only 1000 characters to work with. Anything outside the universe is, by definition, not in or affecting the universe.
I know, that response is sub-optimal and glazes over tons of facts, but there you have it.  Please don't throw your pedantry at me too hard, I swear it's hard to simplify things like this.
16: If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny His existence?
Being an atheist isn't about denying existence in and of itself.  Atheism is a lack of belief in any god.  It's not a denial to say that one doesn't know.  This is a false dichotomy fallacy, and it begs the question that every atheist is denying god.  This mindset is troubling, and it can only foster hatred toward the other.

Think about it this way.  You have a friend, let's call him Jim.  Jim is usually an upstanding guy.  Jim makes a few mistakes one day. You now believe that Jim is capable of making mistakes.  This doesn't mean you deny every single good thing he's ever done.  In exactly the same way, not believing in a god, is not the same as denying there is a god.

Look at that glorious cloud formation.
Nature is amazing.
 17: Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
What bearing does this have on whether or not your god exists?  Also, which religion?  If you mean all of them, I certainly couldn't complain too much.  Muslims could eat pork freely, opening up another avenue of easy food for countries that need it.  Male circumcision could become a choice for consenting adults (considering the body is a temple in the bible, and not to be defiled; an order from god to defile it seems contradictory).  Lots of things could be made simpler with no religion.  The Amish wouldn't exist, and there'd be many fewer medical malpractices among their populations.  Faith healing families in the Midwestern US would finally understand the value of cold medicine over dead children.  I think the argument could be made, relatively easily, that removing religion could solve many of these problems.  Would that make us better off?  I leave that as an exercise for the reader to determine.

 18: Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
 Probably.  Mother Teresa might have actually advocated for better healthcare in India. The crusades likely wouldn't have happened.  Slavery would have been harder to justify, as well as the repression of women's rights.  The Westboro Baptists wouldn't exist, nor would Jonestown or Branch Davidians.  It's pretty easy to argue that removing Christianity could have prevented some of these problems.  Most religious people are quite reasonable people, and we can generally presume that those people would not act deviant if their god were suddenly removed.  The ones who might were likely not stable to begin.  In the end, it's quite possible that the world would have been better off.

19: If you oppose Christianity, what are your reasons?
I don't exactly oppose Christianity.  I oppose the hateful, harmful things that exist within it, and within the minds of some of its adherents.

20: Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder? 
You see, here's where his intellectual dishonesty is showing again. 'God' is either a proper noun or it isn't.  People hold all manner of belief for all manner of reason.  I believe that a mental disorder could indeed make a person more likely to hold false ideals, however, I don't think that holding false ideals is, in and of itself, a mental disorder.  Some people, when confronted with something that is contrary to belief, will take the data and move on.  Others will leave the data behind in favor of personal biases.  This is a bit like asking if racism/sexism/patriotism/bigotry/bigamy/etc are mental disorders.  Does a person have a mental disorder if they simply believe that women are lesser individuals because the bible tells them women are lesser individuals?  Or is that the Christianity at work, and the sexism wouldn't exist otherwise?  Again, it's a loaded question which begs the question that there must be a dichotomy.  This simply isn't the case.

21: Must we be able to demonstrate God’s existence through the scientific method? Basically, the scientific method is a means of gaining understanding about the physical universe via observation, hypothesis, experimentation, prediction, and theorizing.
Well, at least he got the basics of the Scientific Method correct.  Yes, we make observations.  Let's walk through a simple process here.

I come home one day and I observe a rainbow.  I think to myself, maybe god made the rainbow.  So I look for signs of a god, but none appear.  I revise my hypothesis, and the next time I see a rainbow, I wonder if it has something to do with light.  I know that my eyes can pick up the visible spectrum, and I know that light waves in that range are of the proper size to be affected by small bits of water in the air.  So, I set about making a mist and shining lights on it.  This happens every time I do it, and a god never shows up.  That was my experiment, based upon the prediction that water can bend light.  Several more years of this kind of testing, as well as letting everyone else know how to set up the experiment to repeat it (a key part of the method he missed, but perhaps meant to include in the theory development part), and getting peer input (input from people performing the experiment and tweaking it to rule out other possibilities, etc).

Simply telling someone I did it, and then not being able to replicate the result, is not part of the scientific method.  The results must be attainable by prediction.  I predict that tomorrow, when I wake up, gravity will still be working, based upon my observation of it having always worked.  If gravity doesn't work tomorrow, I'll have to publish some information on that, and see if someone else can reproduce that result.  Coding works a lot like this as well, and troubleshooting maintenance problems, et cetera.  It's all science.

Now back to god.  If you want to prove god in the same way we've proven the existence of chloroplasts, then you've got to follow the same rules.  Think about it in reverse.  If I simply stated that Quetzlcoatl existed yet never once showed anything he's ever done, would you accept that claim in exactly the same way as God of the bible?

22: Is it a category mistake to require material evidence via the scientific method for an immaterial God? A category mistake is an error in logic in which one category of something thing is presented as belonging to another category such as saying “the rock is alive”. Life cannot be properly attributed to a rock since a rock is not within the category of living things. 

This question really demonstrates the amount of science it's author doesn't understand.  Let's have some fun.  We have assertions here that I can definitely dissect.

The assertion of an immaterial god.  This is a baseless assertion.  If your god is immaterial, are you admitting you've never experienced it, and that no one can?  Also, what evidence do you have that your god is immaterial?  I can claim that your god is fairy farts on exactly the same burden of evidence.  Fairy farts are simply immaterial, and therefore can't affect anything, so naturally you can't quantify them.  You are saying, quite directly, that you don't actually have evidence (unless you're inadvertently committing a logical fallacy of ambiguity by switching the meanings of immaterial between 'not existing' and 'not being relevant.'  If you are purposefully doing this, well, I don't think that's possible).  No evidence means no evidence, no matter how you want to present it.

 Also, you got the idea for category mistake slightly wrong.  Here's what google says it is:
The error of assigning to something a quality or action that can properly be assigned to things only of another category, for example, treating abstract concepts as though they had a physical location.
That's simply to clarify and avoid further pedantry.  The Rock is, however, a thing.  If your god is not a thing, then you're again saying a god isn't a thing.  If a god is merely a concept to you, then this question actually makes a lot more sense and I'm sorry I was so harsh on you.  You actually meant immaterial the same way throughout.   If you are saying it is a category mistake to call god real, then you're even more of an anti-theist than most anti-theists I know.
The Rock, not to be confused with a rock.
The Rock is most definitely alive and well.
A rock, on the other hand, well...
Picture from The Nerdist.
Used as satire and therefore fair use!
23: Where does morality come from?
It comes from your self.  Morality is personal.  Everyone has a slightly different one, and sometimes people have what's known colloquially as an orange/blue mentality.   Ethics, however, comes from outside.  Books of laws, social conventions, cultures, and so on, dictate codes of ethics.  This is why there are ethics boards for doctors and stuff, because morality isn't the question.

Seriously, for a person with a Bachelor's [sic] degree in Social Sciences, he should damned well know the difference.   Now, technically, I suppose you could specify further that Morals are individual senses of right and wrong, whereas ethics are codes of right conduct.  However, the point remains, if one wishes to say it comes from god, it's no longer morals, because god discusses specifically codes of conduct based on actions, regardless of whether they're right or wrong.  Also, since god is external of the person, and is setting out these precepts for everyone as the right way to do things (like ceremonies, laws, etc), it's also ethics.

Come on, Matt.  These things are important in questions like this.  You can't just switch terms all willy-nilly.  It makes for terrible flow, as well as an inability to actually form good logical arguments.  Matt, you have to do better than this.  You're basically running the voice of a non-profit organization.  This is unacceptable for the president and founder of such an organization.  As a secular person, if I thought you were more intellectually honest, I might even donate to you.  However, if you manage funds like you manage words and ideas, I'm not sure it's in my best interest to do so.  I shall let my readers come to their own conclusions.

24: Are there moral absolutes?  A moral absolute is a moral truth that is always true and not dependent on opinions, society, or preferences.
 So basically, are there actions that are absolutely always good and always evil?  I think this is the question.  Probably not.  There aren't many things which are morally one thing or the other.  Everything is a choice with a trade-off.  This reminds me of a discussion I once had with my friend over alignment.

Basically, it went something like this.  He was arguing that there are neutral actions, and I argued that there are certainly not neutral actions.  Something as simple as getting a glass of water, he argued as an example, is neither a good nor a bad action.  It is simply neutral.  I argued that, depending on the context, it could be either.  Getting a glass of water to procrastinate something important, for example, might be viewed as bad.  Thus it is with life.  I'm writing this blog post.  Could I be doing other, 'better' things?  Possibly.  Do I necessarily believe the things I could be doing instead rank better morally?  I don't know.  Is this action unethical?  Absolutely not.  There may be ethical absolutes, and there may well be ethical neutrals, but I don't think there are moral ones.  Using the glass of water again, drinking too much of it would be negative, as it potentially deprives someone else of it.  Maintaining good health, on the other hand, is probably morally justified.  Maintaining that health in the face of people you're not helping, who knows.  On and on it goes.

Short answer: There are not moral absolutes, but perhaps ethical ones.  Also, forgot to mention amoral people.  See also orange-blue morality above.

My cat is also looking for the end of this post.
I warned you, this would be a long one.
However, you get to see my cat.  GO YOU!
25: Is the following statement true or false? “It is always wrong for everyone to torture babies to death merely for one’s personal pleasure.”
This is something I think has probably never happened.  However, let's take it at face value.  Is it wrong for people to eat veal and caviar/roe?  Is it wrong to raise animals simply to slaughter them?  Is it wrong to do the same with plants, which are equally alive?  Most people in the modernized parts of the world eat various foods simply because they taste good, when it's completely possible to live on a diet that's completely bland.  We could eliminate the fattening of duck livers for foiegras for example, a practice which does indeed hurt the ducks.  Routinely, calves are killed for veal anywhere from a few days old to around six months.  Most people consume this product without realizing such a thing.  Is a person who is unaware acting immorally?  What about those who are aware?

I certainly don't advocate torture, and humane methods of animal farming are definitely best.  According to the ethics of most societies in the history of earth, it's ethically incongruous to torture babies (except for things like circumcision/genital mutilation, drowning babies for simply being girls, saving the virgins of conquered peoples while killing everyone they ever knew, making those children believe in hell, and lots of other forms of torture).  You would think with such absolutes that most people would indeed not like torturing babies, as a stance of morality, but oddly enough most societies in which it happens aren't terribly upset about it.  This means that it's probably not a moral absolute, and it's actually condoned in some cultures and moral structures.

Therefore, it's apparently a false statement.  I don't like the fact that it's a false statement, and I certainly think it's wrong, but it's objectively false.  That makes me kinda sad, and I hope it makes you kinda sad too.  I was going to put a picture here to drive a point home, but I think that's too cruel.  My morals won't allow me to put a picture of a cute baby here now.  SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE MATT SLICK?

26: Should morality be based on reducing unnecessary harm?
I would say to define the terms 'unnecessary' and 'harm.'  A feminist/christian/lots of people actually, might consider critique of his or her actions to be unnecessary and harmful.  This doesn't make critique harmful or unnecessary.

I think that morality should rather be based on trying to do the most good.  The action which brings about the fewest negatives to the greatest number of people is probably sufficient.

An inspiring quote about #generosity from www.values.com #dailyquote #passiton
I think this sums up my morality reasonably well.
It certainly doesn't sum up everyone's though.
Some people base good and bad on how much reward there is.
Some people consider reducing harm to be ultimate good.
Some people simply want to watch the world burn.
Some people simply live and don't worry about good and bad.
Some people have inverse morality compared with you
All of those are moral compasses.
Every one of those people can be 100% ethical.
Think about it this way.  A person can feel that it is immoral for same-sex couples to get married, but can still do their job and uphold the ethics of the system by writing marriage certificates.  A person who follows their morals instead is an unethical person.  Being ethical in this way could make you immoral, but breaking the code of ethics at that point would also likely be immoral to you as well.  The only moral and ethical option at that intersect is to step down from that job, or assign that duty to someone else, both of which are valid options and ways of living.  Breaking codes of ethics, however, tends to be the one thing on which people do actually base immorality.  Any time someone says 'it's wrong because it's illegal' or 'it's illegal because it's wrong,' they are saying that it's immoral because it's unethical.

This is becoming a diatribe.  Let's trudge on.

27: What would it take for you to believe in god?
Evidence.  Again, by his own admission, god is quite possibly immaterial (not material, not real) and therefore the belief would be harder to justify.  If god's there, we need evidence.  Again, remember, these are my opinions.  I'm not proselytizing here for any viewpoint.  He asked for my thoughts on these questions so I'm answering them as best I can.  I'm not calling you out in a way that should make you be defensive.  I'm saying, if you want to convince me, you need evidence.  I'm not saying you're wrong, regardless of how I might feel.  You're allowed to believe what you like, Matt Slick.  I'm telling you, I also may do that.  If you want my opinion swayed in your favor, then you need to give me something that sways it in your favor.  Do this and the entire world will literally follow your god.  If you can demonstrate irrefutably that your god is correct, who would argue with you?  I wouldn't, that's for sure.  Until such a time, however, that's what it will take.

Think about it this way.  I don't need to convince you to believe in gravity.  The fact that it holds you to the earth does a pretty fine job of it.  It's good evidence for the force of gravity, among other things (including those predictions you talked about earlier).  I don't need to present you any further evidence, but I could.  If you told me you didn't believe in gravity, I would show you the various bits of evidence supporting it.  I would not simply tell you to take it on faith that I am correct.  I would not simply show you a book that says it is correct.  I would experiment with you (or for more advanced concepts, show you the papers since I don't have CERN clearance yet, that sort of thing).  I would make a prediction based on that evidence and see if it works.  You do that kind of thing with your god, and I'll be your first convert.

28: Do you think a society run by atheists or Christians would be safer?
Depends, I suppose.  Probably atheists.  Atheists aren't blowing up abortion clinics.  Atheists aren't denying marriage licenses because of their feelings.  Atheists aren't making children believe in Hell just to scare them.  Atheists believe this is the only life we get so we damned well better be good to one another.  When you stop believing in an afterlife, you start to understand how precious the one life you've got is.  I'm not going to be reunited with all these people when I die, you see.  Therefore, I had better do my damnedest to make the most of the time I have with the people I hold dear.  It makes me not want to harm or kill people, because I realize that they too are human, and once their life is over, that's it.  There's no reward waiting for me if I kill enough infidels, or if I convert enough people.  When I'm gone, that's it.  It makes me want to do more good in this world.

When I was a Christian, those sort of things weren't nearly as important.  Family died, it's alright, because I'll live with them forever when I'm also dead.  Similarly, now they're not in pain, and they're having a wonderful time in heaven, there's nothing for which to be upset.  It's hard to feel bad about people being gone forever when you believe that no one is gone forever.  It makes it much easier to treat people poorly and let them stay in suffering, when the act of being poor secures them that ticket to heaven.  There's no impetus to help the poor not become poor, because even the least shall be like the greatest.

However, that's simply not true.  I believe I must do as much good as I can because I am part of this thing called humanity.  I may disagree with people, but at the end of the day, I don't want to hurt someone.  That's not god's will, that's my own personal action.  Saying that certain things are god's will, or the devil, really downplays the importance of the people.  If one thinks god will take care of someone, they are much less likely to actually work toward fixing a problem.

Sometimes mistaken for the handiwork of Thor,
these clouds are actually the work of pressure fluctuations.
Also precipitation.
29: Do you believe in free will? (Free will being the ability to make decisions without coercion)
I believe that some form of free will exists.  However, given the overall context, let's have some fun.  God threatens mankind with heaven and hell, and actually supposedly instills his will upon his creatures.  That's beyond coercion, that's a literal lack of free will.  Sure, the Quran talks about it more, but god will turn the hearts of those unbelievers.  That's not free will if god is manipulating you to do something.  God also supposedly was responsible for many of the actions of folks within the bible (including Judas, right?  The kiss was necessary and part of god's plan) are not of their own free will.  God forces them to do thing, and the actions that are supposedly free are still coerced by the threat of hellfire or eternal glory.

Have you even read this book, Matt?  Have you really?

30: If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?
Hey Matt, if you believe in free will, does that mean that Romans 2:5 isn't a threat from god, a coercion that we ought to believe in him?  Are you saying that, despite Exodus 10:20, Pharaoh could have been stronger than god and chosen to believe in him?  Is your god not all powerful, or did Pharaoh not have free will?  Is John 12:40 accurate, that he hardened their hearts and blinded them, or was that a choice they simply could have overcome?  In Exodus 8:19, Pharaoh could have easily listened to his court, but god made that choice impossible, hardening his heart as he did in Exodus 7:13.  1 Samuel 6:6 shows us that even though sometimes we think it is our own active choice, it's not, because those people had their hearts hardened in exactly the same way as the Pharaoh.  That means it was god's doing, you see?

Seriously, I'm not sure if he's arguing that free will does or does not exist.  I don't know where else to go with this question.  Yes, we have free will in so much as we can make choices that are able to be made by ourselves.  I can't choose to become an elephant.  I can, however, choose to make tea.  It's a bit complicated and I think it involves set theory, really.  1000 characters simply won't do, Matt Slick.

31: If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then that would require an infinite number of evolutionary possibilities. In an infinite number of such possibilities, do you affirm that life forms would then evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal, and thereby become "deity" and not be restricted by space and time?

Evolution and cosmic expansion are two completely different subsets of science, but let's ignore that momentarily.  Also, it doesn't require an infinite number of them.  It requires zero evolutionary possibilities, because the universe can happen without creatures happening.  It didn't, but it can.  We might be the only ones here.  It's possible that DNA can only be made with the four base pairs we have, no matter where it starts.  It's also possible that our planet's DNA could evolve an infinite number of other ways than what it currently has.  This question shows a clear lack of understanding something that a guy with a degree in Social Studies and Divinity should logically not be expected to understand.  That part's logical, actually.

The next phrase makes even less sense.  In an infinite number of evolutionary scenarios, there's the possibility that life could get really friggin' advanced.  Not that it would, there's no reason it's required.  However, physical limitations aren't a thing you typically put mere in front of.  Physical limitations are things like how the forces work together.  Have you ever seen a magnet that isn't magnetic?  It's a non sequitur and a non-starter.  However, let's keep going.  It will never happen that a being will exceed the 'mere limitations of physics' because that's impossible.  Any such thing would not be a thing in the first place.  If it became independent of time and space, it could be a black hole, but those actually don't break the laws of physics either, because they're more a part of that fabric rather than something inside of it like us.

But I digress.  The real question is, could god have evolved?  Nope.  For one, the bible is pretty clear that god didn't have a creator, nor something from which he was begotten.  Secondly, that would mean he'd have to have evolved from within the thing he supposedly created.  Also doesn't work in the biblical narrative, but actually might work with various world parent creation myths.  Still, none of those go anything at all like that, so you need not worry.

32: What is the Dillahunty Dodge?
Apparently the Dillahunty Dodge is the equivalent of being so gobsmacked by rhetorical sluice that one simply can't process a good response to a bad question.  Let's rewind a bit.

Apparently the author of this set of question, as well as Matt Dillahunty, were engaged in a debate.  The point of where logic stems from came about.  Slick argued that the laws of logic are conceptual. This much is true, in part.  The way we describe them is most certainly conceptual.

Dillahunty replies that the laws are conceptual, but that they function as real things.  This is fair enough, one should think.  If the laws of logic were merely conceptual, they wouldn't work.  1+1=2 is a concept, but it's also a real thing.  In exactly the same way, a creature leaving a footprint you can discover is a logical thing.  It can be both, and appears to be.

Slick then asks if things are natural simply because their derivations are, and Dillahunty rightly asks for a point of clarification, stating it could be something else.  Slick asks then what else it is, and Dillahunty rightly asks why it has to be a definite, concrete, single thing.  Dillahunty, having not proposed this third thing, has no burden of proof determining it.  Simply saying that something doesn't belong (conceptually, I think - Slick has grave trouble sticking to single definitions of words) in one of two categories is valid, especially if it belongs in both (or perhaps neither, as Slick tried and failed to argue).  Not everything is a dichotomy, Slick.

It's not a dodge if it's valid criticism, but I'm thinking Slick literally just can't tell the difference.

33: What do you think of Matt Slick, Founder of CARM?
As I put there, I'm not sure whether he's simply too ill-educated to understand the rather large fallacies he's made, or if he's genuinely this disingenuous.  Maybe the Drunken Peasants could throw up a segment on Troll or Not a Troll.  Maybe they already have.  However, I presume he believes this, else he wouldn't be engaging in this.

Let's compare with the original questions again, the ones I didn't actually look up at this point.

Oddly, the question about purpose was left out here.  Maybe he is disingenuous and finally realized his mistake in adding such a question when the majority of the world doesn't believe in Christianity.  The question about how the purpose is determined is conspicuously absent there also.  Go figure.

He is no longer asking us to list some examples of moral absolutes.  How strange.  Instead we got the baby question.  That's twisted, Matt Slick.  Tortuous perhaps.  He also removed the question about evil.  Probably because the people who don't believe in evil also don't believe in good, and that would make his survey look bad.  Not that I ever expect him to share his compiled answers unedited, mind you.  Only an intellectually honest person would do that, and... oh, alright.  I can only use the phrase 'intellectually dishonest' so much in a post before I have to start dropping quarters in the swear jar.

Question 23 is an odd one to leave out.  Do I believe the god of the old testament is morally bad, and by what standard do I judge it?  That's actually a really great question, too bad he only asked the one about the concept of god.  This really shows the character of the author, but more than that, it makes all those old testament quotes I used equally valid.  Yeah, just try to get out of the horrible shit that's in the old testament now, Matt Slick.  You acknowledged yourself that it's pertinent.  Either he is Jesus' daddy or he isn't, this god of the old testament.

Matt, your sense of morality and mine may not line up, but I think it's absolutely true that this kind of shady finagling is bad.  This violates several principals of journalistic ethics, not to mention demonstrates that you and I don't have any morals regarding journalism in the same correlations.  It's like you wanted to make sure that certain responses wouldn't appear in your survey.

Also, the way you've structured your questions, it's almost impossible for anyone to give any decent, positive responses.  Maybe you formulated this survey explicitly to make atheists look bad by saying 'AHA!  They all confirmed my biases by answering my multiple-choice questions negatively even though negative answers were all I provided!  This will let me feel smug and make them all look like assholes out to get me.'  If you play that victim card, you really are the lowlife asshole I thought you were.  That's how self-fulfilling prophecies go, I guess...