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January 7th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Reversing JFK: Santorum’s bid to marry faith and politics

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) - It was election night in November 2006, and Rick Santorum had organized a private Catholic Mass in a room at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The senator from Pennsylvania had just lost his re-election bid.

The Mass, held just before his concession speech, included a priest and Santorum’s close family and staff. Though the occasion was somber, the soon-to-be-ex-senator aimed for a celebratory mood, said Mark Rodgers, then a top Santorum aide.

“Life is if full of what can be perceived as disappointments or hardships,” Rodgers said, “but Scripture tells followers of Jesus that we approach those situations with joy because there’s ultimate redemption.”

Santorum’s younger brother, Dan, remembers that many attendees - including the senator’s children - were weeping over Santorum’s landslide defeat at the hands of Democrat Bob Casey Jr.

But not the senator.

“You’d think he would have been crushed,” says Dan Santorum. “But he wasn’t even bitter. He didn’t complain. He just said it was God’s plan.

“That’s when I knew he was going to run for president of the United States,” Dan continued. “Because I think that God had another plan for him.”

It’s unclear if Rick Santorum, whose strong finish in the Iowa caucuses has breathed new life into his presidential campaign, interpreted his Senate loss the same way.

Santorum concedes his Senate seat in 2006.

But the hotel Mass, and Santorum’s apparent placidity in the face of an overwhelming defeat, illustrate what confidants say is the key to understanding him as a person and politician: a devout Catholic faith that has deepened dramatically through political and personal battles.

“When I first met him he was an observant Catholic but a fairly privatized one,” says Rodgers, who ran Santorum’s first race for the U.S. House in 1990 and served as a key Santorum aide in Congress for 16 years.

“The journey I saw him on was a gradual awakening to the importance of faith at an operational level within a democracy, the idea that free people need to have a moral foundation.

“The journey was also personal - growing in faith and sharing it with others,” Rodgers says.

Many politicians have ideological concerns about issues like abortion or gay marriage, but “in Santorum’s case, it’s fundamentally religious,” says Richard Land, public policy chief at the Southern Baptist Convention. “That’s the genetic code of his life.”

It’s also the part that most inspires his political backers - among them the Iowa evangelicals who helped fuel his stunning Iowa finish, eight votes behind winner Mitt Romney - and most enrages critics, who take deep offense at Santorum’s views on divisive issues like homosexuality, which he once lumped together with bestiality in a discussion of legal rights.

“I think it’s fair to say that he’s sometimes harsh in the way he makes those arguments,” says Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush.

Indeed, even Santorum’s own party is seeing a faith-based split around his presidential campaign, with evangelicals who dominate the primaries in states like Iowa on one side and more establishment Republicans in states like New Hampshire on the other.

As he works to convince skeptical voters he has a real shot at winning the White House, Santorum’s religious faith has emerged as both his chief political asset and his biggest liability.

Kennedy's ‘sealed off’ wall

His Catholicism may have deepened as an adult, but Santorum also has deep Catholic roots.

“Three pictures hung in the home of my devoutly Catholic immigrant grandparents when I was a boy,” he said in a speech last year. “I remember them well: Jesus, Pope Paul VI and John F. Kennedy.”

Santorum attended Mass with his brother, sister and parents virtually every Sunday. “You basically had to be on your deathbed not to go to church,” says Dan Santorum.

Both parents worked in a VA hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania. As teenagers, Rick and Dan would push the wheelchairs of patients to Sunday Mass in the hospital’s interfaith chapel. Rick would serve the Mass as an altar boy, wheel patients up to receive Holy Communion, then help his brother wheel them back to their hospital rooms.

Other than that, it was a conventional American Catholic upbringing in the 1960s and ’70s: The Santorums said grace before meals, sent their kids to Catholic grade school and spent absolutely no time discussing how religion influenced their public policy views.

American Catholics at the time were living in the shadow of John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech in which he insisted that neither his faith nor his church would have any influence on his presidency.

Santorum would spend his political life trying to reverse the effects of Kennedy’s pledge. He argued that Kennedy “sealed off informed moral wisdom into a realm of non-rational beliefs that have no legitimate role in political discourse.”

During college and law school at Penn State, Santorum wasn’t especially observant; neither did his religious faith factor much into his political views.

After college he served as an aide to Doyle Corman, a moderate Republican state senator in Pennsylvania. Religion seldom came up.

“My husband and I are both pro-choice,” Corman’s wife, Becky, told The New York Times in 2006. “One of the interesting things about Rick is, the whole time he worked for us, we didn't know what his views were on that issue.”

Dan Santorum says a turning point in his brother’s faith life was his marriage to Karen Garver. They met in the 1980s while Karen was studying law at the University of Pittsburgh and Santorum was recruiting law students for the Pittsburgh firm where he worked.

“There was just a bond between them,” Dan says. “Part of that was that they shared their faith.”

That bond was on display last Tuesday during Santorum’s speech after the Iowa caucuses.

“C.S. Lewis said, ‘A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.’ My best friend, my life mate, who sings that song when I forget the words, is my wife, Karen,” Santorum said before embracing her in a long hug.

Santorum bows his head in prayer during an Iowa campaign rally in January.

Sometime after arriving in Washington following his 1990 House victory, Santorum began attending daily Mass before work.

The Rev. Eugene Hemrick, who frequently leads Mass at 130-year-old St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, says Santorum led Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback - who served with Santorum in Congress in the 1990s and 2000s - to the church.

“Santorum was always dressed up,” Hemrick remembers. “Brownback was in sweats a lot from running.”

The evangelical Brownback wound up converting to Catholicism, and the two were often joined in the pews by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“When you know these people are out there, you do a little more homework before you preach,” Hemrick said of his high-profile flock. “You try to make it a little more meaningful to them.”

Moral codes and absolutes

The 1990 GOP freshman class, a small group that managed to win in a poor year for Republicans nationally, took a confident line in airing grievances to congressional and party leaders.

Santorum was part of the freshman “Gang of Seven” that exposed the House banking scandal, and he kept up his penchant for bold, against-the-grain gambits after his election to the Senate as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution.

Soon he was taking aim at the overriding culture-war issue of our time: abortion.

Santorum helped lead the effort to impose the first federal restrictions on abortion that could survive court challenges since Roe. v. Wade - a ban on the procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.

Faith and politics may have been separate in Santorum’s childhood home and the homes of other American Catholics at the time, but by the 1990s abortion had become the symbol for the infusion of conservative faith into American politics. The issue forged a powerful political alliance between conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants.

On the wall of his Senate office, Santorum kept a picture of William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian whose evangelical faith stirred him to lead the campaign that ultimately ended the British slave trade in 1807.

The senator saw his campaign for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as his “Wilberforcean effort,” says Rodgers, now a senior adviser to Santorum’s presidential campaign.

Santorum’s comfort with using his faith to shape his politics was partly a reflection of Catholic intellectuals he had met since arriving in the capital, including Richard John Neuhaus, a priest who edited the Catholic journal First Things, and George Wiegel, a theologian.

For Santorum, such figures and books by Catholic writers like St. Augustine instilled the sense that free societies need citizens who are governed by strong moral codes.

“How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when His moral code is flouted?” Santorum said in a ’90s-era speech at the Heritage Foundation. “To have faith in God, but to reject moral absolutes?”

For Santorum, legalized abortion represented the ultimate flouting of that code.

The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act passed Congress in 1995, but President Bill Clinton vetoed it the following year. Santorum led a failed Senate effort to override the veto and helped revive the bill after the election of President George W. Bush, who signed it into law.

Such campaigns helped make Santorum a national hero to the anti-abortion movement and a bogeyman for abortion rights supporters.

“On the morning after the Iowa caucuses, there were millions of pro-life voters who woke up pinching themselves that one of their very own had emerged at the top rank of candidates, making sure it wasn’t a dream,” said the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land.

Around the time of the Clinton veto, Rick and Karen Santorum confronted a tragedy that added flesh-and-bone experience to their anti-abortion stance, which had up until then been intellectual and religious.

By that time, the Santorums had three children. While pregnant with her fourth, doctors told Karen her fetus had a fatal birth defect. In his 2005 book “It Takes a Family,” Santorum writes about Karen turning down the option to have an abortion.

“Karen and I couldn’t rationalize how we could treat this little human life at 20 weeks’ gestation in the womb any different than one 20 weeks old after birth,” Santorum writes. “So instead of giving our child a death sentence, we gave him a name: Gabriel Michael, after the two great archangels.”

The premature baby died two hours after birth. The next day, in a move that has widened the public opinion gap over Santorum, he and his wife took the dead body home so their children could spend time with it before burial.

“Gabriel died as a cherished member of our family,” Santorum writes in “It Takes a Family.”

Karen captured the episode in a 1998 book, “Letters to Gabriel,” describing to her late child the reaction of one of his sisters: “Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.’”

For Santorum, who now has seven kids, holding Gabriel was a lesson about the fragility of human life.

Santorum, wife Karen, and his seven children.

“At that moment, eternity became reality,” Santorum writes. “After Gabriel, being a husband and father was different, being a legislator was different. I was different.”

Conservatism and the common good

Santorum has received a glut of media attention for how his religion shaped his culture-war stances, but allies say his faith has made him a compassionate conservative.

As a senator, Santorum was known for his work on poverty and combating HIV/AIDS. He says such efforts are rooted in the Catholic notion of working for the “common good.”

“Just as original sin is man’s inclination to try to walk alone without God,” Santorum writes in “It Takes a Family,” “individualism is man’s inclination to try to walk alone among his fellows.”

Santorum and those close to him say that impulse motivated his work on welfare reform during the mid-1990s.

Many conservatives “would have taken a fairly harsh view of welfare reform as a waste of taxpayer dollars,” says Rodgers. “Rick’s view was that publicly funded programs are justified when it’s for the least of these, which comes from Catholic social teaching.

“There’s a compassionate side of the Catholic faith that says you prioritize the poor in public policy, and there’s also the side that says work should be a component of that care, that not working strips you of your dignity.”

Santorum championed welfare-to-work programs in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that Clinton signed, as well as the idea of charitable choice, which gave states the ability to partner with religious institutions to address social problems like poverty and addiction.

Success on welfare reform provoked Santorum and a handful of other religious Republicans in Congress to begin discussing conservative solutions to poverty and other social problems that had mostly been the province of liberals.

Among the participants in those sessions was Gerson, who would join Bush in Texas as a speechwriter in the run-up to his 2000 presidential campaign and bring some of the ideas of the congressional group with him.

One was a plan to start a federal program to help level the playing field for religious groups applying for government money to address social problems.

For Santorum, employing faith groups in such a campaign was partially grounded in the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, which calls for addressing problems closest to where they are. In many troubled communities, the thinking goes, the strongest local institutions are churches, ministries and other religious organizations.

The notion of outsourcing government programs to religious institutions also appealed to Santorum’s beliefs about government’s limits.

“The problems currently afflicting us reflect an impoverishment of the soul more than the pocketbook,” Santorum has said, quoting conservative education scholar Chester Finn. “Government is simply not equipped to address problems of the soul.”

The idea for a government faith-based program had critics on the left and right, who feared government-backed religion and a welfare system for churches.

“A lot of people have a hard time getting Rick Santorum because they’re used to a debate between liberalism and complete free market approach and he’s not either of those things,” says Gerson, now a Washington Post columnist.

Bush created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships via an executive order days after his 2001 inauguration. Santorum helped organize a conference to tell religious leaders from across the country about the new program.

“It was on that day that I decided to swallow my constitutional concerns about it,” says Richard Land, who attended the conference despite reservations.

“Seventy-five percent of the people attending the conference were either African-American or Hispanic,” Land says. “They wanted people who lived where the problems were making decisions about what should be done. They were in a lifeboat situation.”

Santorum was also a key Bush ally in creating the president's $15 billion global AIDS initiative, with the senator’s staff sometimes lending office space to rock singer Bono while he was lobbying for the program on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama has continued support for both the faith-based office and the global AIDS initiative. The programs are evidence that Santorum can be more than a culture warrior, and their staying power suggests he's gone a long way breaking through JFK’s sealed-off wall between religion and politics.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (2,874 Responses)
  1. AthensGuy

    The question is "why do it"?

    further: will we segregate non-Christians? are we going the way of Iran and becoming a theocracy? how about the fundamental principles of freedom of religion, and separation between church and state? for how long are we going to be forced to bow to the evangelicals?

    January 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • rlowens1

      The fact of the matter is that evangelicals have less pull today than ever before. They keep losing over and over, again. Despite their protests against gay marriages, they will lose that battle, eventually, just like they lost the battle against interracial marriages, and they are losing the battle against Sunday alcohol sales, and they have lost the battles on abortion and intelligent design (but, they don't seem to notice). And, just look at the lineup of clowns from which the GOP has to choose.

      Just laugh at them, but don't vote for them.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  2. alex

    What's wrong with believing in God? If people respect your religious views (Atheism, Muslim, Judaism, ANY faith) why can't you people respect theirs?

    January 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • AthensGuy

      by combining christianity and politics, there is no way that all beliefs will remain equal in the eyes of the law. religious freedom is gone. this is not about belief, it is about cessation of equal freedoms. and its is about bringing religion-based prejudices into secular matters (e.g., marriage equality")

      January 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • rlowens1

      "What's wrong with believing in God?"

      "God" is merely a power play. It is an attempt to steal the authority of an all powerful being. It matters not whether that being actually exists. What matters is that people believe He exists and that certain people speak/spoke for Him. Don't fall for it.

      As for myself, if there is such a thing as a "God" and He has anything to say to me, I have FAITH that He knows where I am and how to say it so I know it is really Him. Therefore, I ignore ALL the clowns who pretend to speak for Him – especially, if they lived and died thousands of years ago.

      God believers fail to realize that, regardless of whether "God" (whatever that is) exists, or not, "it" will ALWAYS be a construct in their imagination that they created for themselves. And, "God" doesn't have to be anything like that. So, it's just an imaginary friend.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Santorun Schmantorun

      rlowens1
      Exactly. If you got 100,000 people together, and asked them each to write out what their "god" is, you would get 100,000 different answers, AND EVERY SINGLE ONE, would be limited to ONLY possessing "human" qualities, (and exaggerations of "human" qualities.) There would be NOT ONE "revealed" unique quality which is unknown to human cultures. THAT should tell them something. (And spare me the "created in his image" crap, because it is inevitable that other more intelligent beings will be found..then we will be seen as the "poor examples").

      January 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  3. fmjk

    Mr. Santorum is free to derive his personal moral values from his religion, but he needs to re-read the first amendment if he finds religion to be fundamental to a democracy. It is fundamental to our democracy that people keep their religion out of our government, thank you very much. He is absolutely trying to subvert this principle that is at the core of our secular government - a principle so important it is embodied in the first clause of the first one of the bill of rights.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  4. AtheistDude

    he will always be frothy anal lub and feces guy!

    January 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  5. krivka

    Chad, you can't make god exist, no matter how much you want to.
    As for your proof of Jesus,existence, your so called historical facts are not facts.
    Arguing about it will not make Jesus real, or allow god to monitor your thoughts.
    A make believe being that begs to be worshiped is a pathetic being and doesn't deserve to exist, therefore he doesn't.
    If you want to imagine a god, a six year old can imagine a better one. In fact Santa is a pretty good one compared to yours

    January 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  6. be

    There is a difference between letting religion form your spirituality and assist you in becoming a reflective and moral individual versus letting religious dogma close your mind. A perfect example is the Catholic Hospital in Arizona who did what was morally and ethically right for a pregnant woman at risk of dying even though it meant them loosing their "official" Catholic status. The nuns and leadership there would be the type of people I would elect to office. Even Obama – who said that his views on gay marriage were in evolution – showed him to be a reflective person, open to new ideas and on-going revelation. Go back to Galileo who always remained a good Catholic spiritually – despite his excommunication. The problem is, Santorum has shown that he would allow the dogma of his religion to close his mind to reflectively considering the merit of other views. That is not a spiritual man.....that is a closed minded zealot.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Aphathynot

    Objective moral values do not come from God. Objective moral values comes from thousand of years of evolution where the mind has developed to be able to see and understand what is right and wrong.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Agreed. Regardless of whether you grew up under a belief system or not, your moral sense of commitment to others is learned from the good people and examples you experience when young. Religion has been our best attempt we have had to organize that in an understandable way. We can do a lot better. Lets evolve a little more.

      "Good is better than evil 'cause it's nicer!" Mammy Yokum

      January 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  8. David Ehrenstein

    The Catholic church is a pedophile cult protecting its perps by taking them across state lines whenever their crimes come to light. It should be shut down under the RICO laws.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tridentine

      A little conspiracy minded HUH.How do you explain Jerry Sandusky and the award winning teacher who was just arrested for molestation.The church made mistakes in handling these cases but you can not disagree that this is a societal problem

      January 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • rlowens1

      The fact of the matter is that industries that deal with and focus on children are going to attract pedophiles. Another uncomfortable fact is that the vast majority of children who are molested are molested by a family member or a friend of the family – and, not a mere acquaintance, teacher, or clergy, and almost never a stranger.

      The problem with the Catholic Church is that it holds itself out as God's ministerial staff on Earth. That holds them to a higher standard than the general population – and, they have proved time and time, again, that they are not special people speaking on behalf of God – they're just regular people, and some of them are pedophiles.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  9. gary

    Religion = delusional cult. Gov't must be run on facts, knowledge, intelligence ... not myths, folklore, delusions, cults

    January 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • rlowens1

      You don't really think the man who gets elected to be the President of the United States will REALLY have an imaginary friend, do you? The sad truth is that most politicians, if they have any intelligence at all, are just pretending to have an imaginary friend in order to cull votes from the ignorant masses who really do.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  10. rlowens1

    Faith is the tool of deceivers and those who would allow themselves to be deceived. Doubt is the tool of those who would earnestly seek the truth. If someone, anyone, demands your faith, look to why they might be trying to deceive you – because, they are.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  11. Aphathynot

    Please enough with this religious stuff. Its all in your mind. Religion is man made, God does not exist and the only reason these politician are clinging to it is because they know there are a lot of uneducated individuals out there who do not know any better.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  12. rlowens1

    Why can't Christians spot criminals who are attempting to use their faith against them?

    January 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  13. Santorun Schmantorun

    I am for small government, (except that by royal decree, I will decree that some marriages are invalid, even though I am for strict const'itutional interpretation...except for when I'm not). But don't get me wrong...I am for marriage ... I am SO confused.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  14. ldean5o

    Yep. Bush said that God called him to run for President as well... look how that turned out. If politicians to use God for their reasoning, then we should all turn Atheists. If God is choosing who our president is – then there goes that idea of omnipotence, unconditional love and all-knowing (except in the case of Mormons who believe God is flesh and blood, married and lives on a planet next to his son, Jesus who will not be returning to Jerusalem, but the state of New York – I swear to Elvis! educate yourself on the Mormon religion and don't read it on Wikipedia – Mormons have taken over Wikipedia and making themselves out to be "mainstream."

    January 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  15. High school kid

    You guys are funny. As I see these posts, there is a big struggle going on here. Some say it is extremely important that society continues to reference an old book as it's basis for civil order. The rest are saying "get over it". I guess as humanoids move out into the Galaxie, it might be logical to move away from Bronze Age stuff. Can't you at least come up with a more recent book ? The harder you stomp your feet, like my little brother, and put your fingers in your ears, (lalalalala), the more I have to wonder what is wrong with you ? Very odd.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • rlowens1

      Those who believe in God have the spiritual maturity of a kid who believes in Santa Clause. Of course, that is to be expected. Religion is for those who would have others tell them how they should act, think, feel, and believe. That is counterfeit spirituality. True spirituality is figuring those things out for yourself.

      And, I am in no struggle. I am here to laugh and point at adults with imaginary friends.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  16. GetReal

    Another Mel Gibson. Makes me embarrassed to be Catholic. This isn't God's plan; it's the OTHER guy's plan. As for Kennedy, he wasn't a hero. He was a lightweight jerk who buddied around with the Mafia. And I'm saying that as a Democrat and a Catholic. It has nothing to do with your religion – it has to do with your heart and your brain, if you've got 'em. Romney is going to win the GOP ticket anyway.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  17. rlowens1

    I refuse to vote for anyone who will merely be a proxy for the church and/or their imaginary friend.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. George Marshall

    I fear that Santorum could turn into a modern day Torquemada. Beware, beware!

    January 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  19. MetadataMaven

    Obviously, a fair amount of these politicians have not studied their history .. as one of the founding covenants of our country has been SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE!! That is the reason why many people immigrated here; to rid themselves of the persecution in their homelands. I'm not going to vote for anyone who is STUPID enough not to have studied history because "those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it"!

    January 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • JT

      Even if they are aware of our country's history that it was founded mainly by diests to be religion neutral, voices in your head attributed to the creator of the universe trmps all reason.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Therese

      All laws represent value judgments and our values are formed by the things that are important tous, including faith – even if it is something as relatively non-controversial as compassion for the poor or protection of the earth. Separation of church and state does not mean that people of faith – or non-believers - have no right to express their values in the public forum – only that the state should not endorse any one religion or anti-religious standpoint. This is not stupidity – it is freedom of religion, which is a key tenet of America.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • lynn m

      Obviously, you have not read up on the lives of our founding fathers. Many of them were devote Christians, and the decisions they made were based on that faith whether they spoke of it or not. Most did. But the "separation of church and state" was to prevent government from dicatating how we shoudl worship or where etc. They had come from England where those who did not join the "church of England" that Henry VIII had started were punished and ostracized from not joining. They came here to worship freely. That said, this term does not mean that religion is not part of the lives of our legislators or that the government should not support religiious agencies that do an excellent job of helping the poor and needy. (notice our government programs plain old SUCK and religious groups do a better job meeting the needs of the needy!)

      So, stop throwing around that separation of church and state stuff. Our leaders better have a moral compass to follow. Our current president does not have one, which is why he picks almost all proabortion people to do jobs for him. He is for the killing of the unborn, he does NOT go to any church (Christmas and Easter don't count) and if he was really a Christian, his actions and words would be far different than they are...because actions speak louder than words. The problem with Obama is he has no values other than those that promote his political agenda. I wish he was a man of faith, but he is not. He can call himself a Christian all he wants, but saying it doesn't make it so.

      Santorum is not bringing the church into his campaign and politics, he is simply getting his strength as a politician from his life view as one who follows God first. He is not swayed by modern culture and neither is God. What people believe does not change who God is...God remains the same today, yesterday and forever. That's what makes Him God. He does not change at the whim of human and political views. Ricks faith, like William Wilberforce, simply affects how he views life and those that God says he must care about...the needy and the poor and the unborn and the old etc. Ricks faith is part of who is he. If your premise is true, than anyone who is an athiest needs to recognize that their views affect them too...so separation of church and state should mean that athiests can make us believe their views either.!

      January 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  20. BNB42

    One last quote before I leave to watch the Tebow's Denver Christians get crushed by the very injured Pittsburg Steelers (er Lions)

    Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
    Richard Dawkins.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Chrism

      Richard Dawkins pride and joy is his independence from religion, and he shouts it from the rooftops. He also confuses lack of evidence with evidence of lack. If he's your chosen prophet, God help you.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Chad

      1. The scientifically required necessity of an uncaused cause at the origin of the universe. The universe is expanding in all directions and cooling. Going backwards there was a point in time when the universe had infinite heat and density. Prior to this point in time (labeled a singularity) there was nothing. Not “something”, nothing. Science tells us that ALL matter and even time itself was CREATED at that point of rapid expansion. What caused this? What created everything from nothing? By definition whatever caused this expansion could not have itself had a prior cause (the infinite regression problem). Whatever caused it must have always existed. That is what physicists call the “uncaused cause”

      Atheists who dont want to believe in an uncaused cause, are stuck with either the problem of an infinite regression, or the problem of the universe being created out of nothing, by nothing.
      Atheists who do believe in an uncaused cause but don't believe it is a personal god, are stuck with the issue of having an ent ity creating the universe, but after that taking no interest in it, which would be really weird..

      2. The phenomenal preciseness and delicate balance of the properties of the“big bang” expansion which was required to allow stars/planets to form. It didn’t just randomly explode, rather it expanded in such a precise manner that an infinitesimal change would have rendered a universe where matter was so spread out no formation of stars could have possibly occurred. Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of expansion of the universe initially was slower by one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (one hundred thousand million million), the universe would have collapsed on itself.
      A change in the strength of gravity of one part in 10^100 would have prevented star/planet formation. When you compare the range of possible values with the range of life permitting values you get unbelievably small values.

      Atheists are stuck with the “well, even though it was fantastically improbable to have happened, it somehow did!” The fine tunning was due to chance.

      3. The fact that the universe obeys laws and that science by definition relies on that which it can not by definition EVER explain: "Science starts from the existence of those laws, can NOT EVER disprove God". – Leonard Mlodinow Co-author along with Stephen Hawkings of A Briefer History of Time.

      An atheist must ignore the fact that the universe obeys laws, or like Leonard Mlodinow, just “wonder from time to time why they do”, but do nothing about it.

      4. The fossil record which shows millions of years of stable species, then an explosion of necessary mutations, all occurring at the precise necessary time required for complex organisms to develop, and ALL escaping fossilization
      “the sudden appearance of most species in the geologic record and the lack of evidence of substantial gradual change in most species—from their initial appearance until their extinction—has long been noted, including by Charles Darwin who appealed to the imperfection of the record as the favored explanation” – Wikipedia

      Why does stasis dominate? Some species exist unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, what does that say about the ability of mutations to survive in a gene pool? Why are these extraordinarily long periods of stasis ALWAYS followed by innovative bursts in the fossil record?
      An atheist needs to believe that ALL species, every single one, millions of them “evolved” along this pattern: nothing happens for millions of years, then in a time period short enough to ALWAYS escape fossilization ALL of the mutations occur, precisely orchestrated such that complex organs can develop. All speciations always obey that fantastically improbable sequence. Is this even possible to believe? The big problem with atheists is that they will keep a failed model if there is no superior one to take its place

      5. The historical evidence of Jesus Christ “Most critical historians agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jewish Rabbi who was regarded as a teacher and healer in Judaea,[18] that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and that he was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire.[19] Critical Biblical scholars and historians have offered competing descriptions of Jesus as a self-described Messiah, as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, as an itinerant sage, as a charismatic healer, and as the founder of an independent religious movement.” –Wikipedia

      An atheist needs to believe that Jesus Christ was an insane man, truly insane, who believed he was fathered by a deity. We arent talking sort of nuts, we are talking really really nuts. Then you have to explain how that crazy person sounds so fantastically logical and rational in the gospel accounts.

      6. The historical facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth:
      a. Jesus was a real person
      b. Jesus claimed to be the son of the God of Abraham
      c. Jesus was killed for those claims
      d. Jesus was buried in a tomb.
      e. Three days later that tomb was found to be empty
      f. following that hundreds of people reported they witnessed the resurrected Jesus
      g. those same people were willing to go to their death rather than recant their belief in a resurrected Jesus Christ.
      An atheist is stuck with trying to understand how so many people could have been involved in a mass hallucination, or would have willingly been tortured to death knowing their belief was a lie

      7. The demonstrated historical accuracy of the biblical narrative in all accounts, the Gospel of Luke alone has hundreds of verified historical accuracies and has NO historical inaccuracies.
      An atheist has to believe that the authors of the Gospels a) said what that what they were writing was true and in some cases claimed to be witnesses of Jesus b) were extremely diligent with recording historical details and yet, were completely and utterly hallucinating about having seen a resurrected Jesus.

      8. The fact that we have a universal understanding of good and evil.
      – If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
      – Evil exists.
      – Therefore, objective moral values exist. (Some things are evil!)
      – Therefore, God exists.
      An atheist has to believe that some how a universal morality “evolved”

      January 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • cigarlover6

      Chad, good try in marrying your fairy tale with scientific reality!! These are the dishonest attempts to promote lies as "facts"... you fail.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Chad

      @cigarlover6 "good try in marrying your fairy tale with scientific reality!! These are the dishonest attempts to promote lies as "facts"... you fail."

      =>I'm wondering if you would be able to come up with a data driven refutation of any of those points without using any of the following:
      – you're an idiot/stupid/ignorant
      – you're god is evil/make believe/bronze age fantasy

      I doubt it..

      now, if you cant, what does that say about your ability to defend that which you believe in?

      January 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Such poor apologetics repeated ad-nauseum. But for brevity sake I'll address just the first one. The universe is essentially empty in the sense that all the matter and energy is balanced out by negative energy. It all adds up to zero. It's like if you were on a flat field and wished to make a hill you would by necessity need to dig a hole. Thus the hill represents matter and energy and the hole represents Dark energy...the 2 cancel each other out. Also at the earliest point the universe was so tiny that quantum mechanics allows, just as it does for virtual particles, for it to just pop into existence without violating the laws of physics. The universe is the ultimate free lunch. And finally the idea of causation is useless since the beginning point of the universe is essentially and almost infinitely small, infinitely dense black hole where time would stop and cease to exist. Thus there is no 'before' the Big Bang and the universe couldn't have a cause.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Chrism

      Chad, outstanding post. God bless you for taking the time and effort to organize that information and present it clearly and logically. And you're absolutely right. What you're no doubt already discovering and I am too is these vocal anti-Christians barely know a lick of science. They don't even realize that as Einstein said science directly shows evidence for God. I actually suspect God is testing people with Richard Dawkins. And I'm genuinely concerned for the sheep who choose to follow Dawkins. It comes down to people looking for an excuse. People want to avoid religion and Dawkins provides them the ready excuse. It is a test of faith for us too. Tempting no doubt sometimes to give up the battle and take the easier road. But those who persevere are blessed. God's continued blessings to you.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Posts by Chrism contain instances of both the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy and the common ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Chrism

      AtheistSteve, ironically when I was getting my biology degree at MIT I loved physics and there was a guy named Steve who was doing his PhD thesis on the universe as a grand tautology. Of course this is not new stuff. I'm not sure why you thought adding an analogy about a hill would make it any more convincing. Allow me to say the balance of matter and anti-matter or energy and "dark energy" may be true but says nothing about initial causation nor lack of a need for it. It's very dishonest of you to pretend it does. And in fact as you also know such a balance, while indeed having a logical appeal, is a hypothesis, not even a tested theory. As it is one of the mysteries of cosmology is why matter prevailed over anti-matter in the early universe. So specifically since you tried to apply your analogy to answer an initial cause, it's got a glaring hole as a theory.

      Your argument for virtual particles is closer of course to what Hawking and now Krauss argue, you should also know that's not accepted and has been rebutted by leading scientists. After Hawking's 2006 "no god" book, Hawking's former colleague who worked with him on black holes, and one of the world's leading physicists Roger Penrose fully rebutted the claim. Penrose shows this fails as an Initial start to the universe given its low entropy. Penrose has shown this order needed to come from somewhere. Particle physicist Stephen Barr offers one possible explanation when he shows in his 2003 book that order comes from greater order. Other scientists in information science are showing that order can come from intelligence. Penrose believes the order came from a previous cycle of the universe but that only pushes back the question. Many scientists are starting to agree with Penrose and already realize Krauss' theory does not explain the universe we see for it in now way follows from quantum fluctuation or QM as it is currently understood. Finally your imputation fails also (as does Krauss' explanation) because as Chad showed in his earlier quote you can't assume ore big bang conditions. You can't assume the sea of virtual particles existed prior to the big bang. That's outside science theory and you're now in the realm of pure conjecture.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Chrism

      Fallacy, hypocritical of you to mention ad hominem. It refers to personal attack. Please refrain from such.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "The universe is essentially empty in the sense that all the matter and energy is balanced out by negative energy. It all adds up to zero."
      =>??? what is your source for that statement? What do you mean to imply? That mass didnt have to be created?
      please provide a source.

      @AtheistSteve "Also at the earliest point the universe was so tiny that quantum mechanics allows, just as it does for virtual particles, for it to just pop into existence without violating the laws of physics"
      =>so, you're going with the "there was nothing, then nothing exploded and all the mass in the universe was created out of nothing" theory?
      I dont try and argue people out of that theory, I'm happy just to state it so that people understand what they are buying in to.

      .
      @AtheistSteve "And finally the idea of causation is useless since the beginning point of the universe is essentially and almost infinitely small, infinitely dense black hole where time would stop and cease to exist. Thus there is no 'before' the Big Bang and the universe couldn't have a cause"
      =>since time itself was created in the big bang, there is no before. However, there must be a cause. An atheist must explain how all the mass in the universe came into being, since there was NOTHING prior to the big bang.
      One could argue that random molecules could come together to make a monkey appear out of thin air.. However, if there is nothing, there are no molecules to randomly come together.

      but again I dont try to argue atheists out of it, I'm happy to have atheists acknowledge that they have the faith that all of the universes mass and time itself was created out of nothing.

      It's an amazing faith actually..

      January 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Santorun Schmantorun

      Name one physicist who talks about an "uncaused cause" ? "Whatever caused it must have always existed". Wrong. That is one of many options. What if the cause had a cause. ? Many physicists have proposed mechanisms for a "quantum fluctuation". You are simply ignorant. There is no "scientifically required anything. Where did you cook THAT up ? Besides your giant "leap" to "oh god did it", to your next huge leap "god is a person", (because your imagination is so limited, that's all you can imagine), is laughable. You're gonna have to do better than that, sonny.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chad says "An atheist needs to believe that Jesus was insane."

      No, he/she doesn't. There is no proof that Jesus, if he existed did or said any of the things he's credited with. The only record of any of his supposed acts is the Bible. If there's no corroborating evidence, then an atheist may suppose that Jesus never said anything that would make him seem insane.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Santorun Schmantorun

      Chrism,
      Einstein lost the "God doesn't play dice" argument. Check up on your history.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • NJBob

      @Chad - You're insane. If there was hard proof that Jesus existed, people wouldn't still be arguing about it. None of the points you make are valid.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Chad

      Chrism, great stuff fella.. thanks!

      January 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Chad

      "Jesus didnt exist"

      =>another argument I dont really bother with much. I'm happy merely pointing out that if one believes that, you stand in opposition to every critical scholar today. There's that amazing faith agian! 🙂

      "Most critical historians agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jewish Rabbi who was regarded as a teacher and healer in Judaea,[22] that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and that he was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire.[23] Critical Biblical scholars and historians have offered competing descriptions of Jesus as a self-described Messiah, as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, as an itinerant sage, as a charismatic healer, and as the founder of an independent religious movement. Most contemporary scholars of the historical Jesus consider him to have been an independent, charismatic founder of a Jewish restoration movement, anticipating a future apocalypse.[24] Other prominent scholars, however, contend that Jesus' "Kingdom of God" meant radical personal and social transformation instead of a future apocalypse.[24]" – wikipedia

      January 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "The scientifically required necessity of an uncaused cause at the origin of the universe."

      Where do you get this, Chad? What scientists hold this point of view? And how many others don't?

      You repeat this same canard over and over, but I see no evidence to back up the claim. It's just not there.

      Your posts are full of assumptions that have little basis in fact.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Every critical scholar"? I doubt you've read the work of "every critical scholar", Chad. And I doubt that every critical scholar shares your belief that Jesus said or did the things he's reported to have done in the Bible.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      The prior post by Chrism contains the common ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Chrism

      I never mentioned anti-matter. If at the first moments when matter condensed out of energy then matter and anti-matter would have annihilated each other. Theory suggests that a tiny imbalance favoring matter allowed matter to dominate. But that is still beside the point. Yes I referenced Krauss and Hawking as experts in the field of cosmology in opposition to Chad's unsourced pseudo-scientific drivel. Virtual particles have been confirmed by experiment and quantum laws would apply to the infant universe at that scale without violation. A speculative natural cause is more plausible than a speculative supernatural one. The CMBR map details the variation that existed at the earliest point in the formation of the universe consistent with the dispersal of matter and empty space. What Chad doesn't seem to get is that if it were more uniform at the beginning then our universe might have instead grown without matter forming at all. Just vast emptiness. The hole/hill ana.logy just demonstrates how the imbalance allowed matter to form. Also empty 'space' isn't nothing. It exists, teeming with activity at the quantum level and can be twisted, warped and rippled. Again confirmed by experiment. And finally to Chad...time didn't begin to follow it's 'arrow of direction' until after the singularity started expanding. Thus no cause(preceding event) could occur. Universes without number may be forming all the time. We have no way of knowing. But to ascribe the one universe we do know about as being the intended result of an exterior intelligent designer is unfounded assertion without any basis in fact.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Chad

      "The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause (or instead, an Uncaused cause) to the universe, and by extension is often used as an argument for the existence of an "unconditioned" or "supreme" being, usually then identified as God. " – wikipedia

      NOTE: the argument is that there must be an initial uncaused cause. The extension of that argument is that that uncaused cause is God.

      "Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The Universe began to exist. Therefore, the Universe had a cause." – Wikipedia

      and again, I'm happy establishing that an atheist believes that nothing caused the universe to exist. It just happened out of nothing.

      January 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • troll with stamina trolls with stamina

      yey

      January 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • lol

      biology at MIT lol... ah, yet another clown lying about being a scientist who believes in jesus lolol.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Chad

      I know all about the Kalam cosmological argument. It has been refuted by its own false premise.

      ""Whatever begins to exist has a cause."
      How exactly can you exclude your God from this premise without violating Kalam? You render your own argument useless. To speculate that God has always existed is no more likely than to say the universe always existed..as a seed just waiting to Bang.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Finally since we are unable and likely never will be able to determine what exists outside our universe we can't say what conditions are that exist there that might easily account for this and any other universes out there. Given that everything we are aware of follows natural physical laws there is no reason to expect that some extension of natural physical laws apply to that area as well.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      correction..."no reason to NOT expect"

      January 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If everything has a 'cause', Chad, what 'caused' your God?

      January 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Apologies to Atheist Steve: I posted before I read what you had written-you expressed the thought much more elegantly.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "What Chad doesn't seem to get is that if it were more uniform at the beginning then our universe might have instead grown without matter forming at all. Just vast emptiness."

      =>Your point has nothing to do with causation, nevertheless thanks, I"ll add it to my list
      "2. The phenomenal preciseness and delicate balance of the properties of the“big bang” expansion which was required to allow stars/planets to form. It didn’t just randomly explode, rather it expanded in such a precise manner that an infinitesimal change would have rendered a universe where matter was so spread out no formation of stars could have possibly occurred. Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of expansion of the universe initially was slower by one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (one hundred thousand million million), the universe would have collapsed on itself.
      A change in the strength of gravity of one part in 10^100 would have prevented star/planet formation. When you compare the range of possible values with the range of life permitting values you get unbelievably small values. If the universe were more uniform at the beginning then our universe might have instead grown without matter forming at all. Just vast emptiness."

      Atheists are stuck with the “well, even though it was fantastically improbable to have happened, it somehow did!” The fine tuning was due to chance.

      Chirsm did a vastly better job refuting your other points than I ever could, namely "causality is not required", "There was something before the big bang"

      January 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve ""Whatever begins to exist has a cause." How exactly can you exclude your God from this premise without violating Kalam? You render your own argument useless. "
      =>God didnt begin to exist, therefor he needs no cause.
      "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity," Isaiah
      "Your throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting" Psalm 93

      No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 1 Corinthians
      This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time 2 Timothy
      The hope of eternal life, which God... promised before the beginning of time Ti tus 1
      To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1

      pretty amazing concept for a bunch of illiterate goat herders to make up 2000 years ago right? that time had a beginning? How do you think they knew that? 🙂

      @AtheistSteve "To speculate that God has always existed is no more likely than to say the universe always existed..as a seed just waiting to Bang."
      =>The universe had a beginning
      "The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago." Stephen Hawking The Beginning of Time.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      OMFSM...Chad the fine tuning argument is just as bad as the uncaused cause one is.
      Note I already argued that a cause wasn't required despite your insistence that one is. A cause would need to precede an event(such as the Big Bang) but time didn't exist for a cause to exist.

      Fine Tuning.
      Life wouldn't exist on Earth if we were not in the 'Goldilocks Zone'. We wouldn't be aware of the need to be situated at a particular distance from our sun. Likewise the universe wouldn't have planets, stars and galaxies if the constants of gravity were different than they are. It's a typical hindsight argument. We wouldn't be here to argue about the different forces of gravity if they weren't the way they are. Happenstance or luck...whatever...it doesn't point to a designer. There may be a mult.itude of other universes where the law of gravity is different....we just happen to be in one where it works for us. It doesn't matter what the odds might be in respect to other universes...in ours the odds are 100%.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Chad

      AtheistSteve "It doesn't matter what the odds might be in respect to other universes...in ours the odds are 100%."

      =>Right, I already captured that "Atheists are stuck with the “well, even though it was fantastically improbable to have happened, it somehow did!” The fine tunning was due to chance.

      amazing faith

      January 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Boy are you thick.

      Look... the odds are not even applicable to the argument. You can't calculate odds without data. Given that we have but one universe to sample as our data set it is ridiculous to make any statement whatsoever about the 'odds'. You got nothing to compare it to.
      My position takes precisely zero faith.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • captain america

      Chad you do realize you are dealing with a butt in canadian. They have screwed up their own country now they are trying to bring their lame crap to America. Tell the ignorant sob to go pound salt, his opinion isn't worth day old dog crap to US. There's your sign

      January 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well Gaww-lee....if it isn't our resident redneck idiot rearing his ugly head. Dang it where's mah possum gun Eunice...we gots us a varmit in these here parts. Maybe we kin sceer it back to Fox.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Chad

      Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe's expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction.

      Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes.

      Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power (!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe.

      And most importantly, @AtheistSteve points out that "What Chad doesn't seem to get is that if it were more uniform at the beginning then our universe might have instead grown without matter forming at all. Just vast emptiness"

      January 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • captain america

      You don't have second amendment rights in canada ass hole and your opinion is worth less than crap to US. There's your sign.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      So what Chad. All those probabilities are what are 'what if's'? What if there was no other way for it to occur? All the laws of nature are immutable. They apply everywhere in our universe and cannot be broken. It could be that their is no other way for them to manifest. Again ...so what. Nothing in these abstract philosophical or logical arguments has any more bearing on your God's existence than Odin or Mithra or The Flying Spaghetti Monster. All are equally valid within the framework of your arguments. So what's your point? I've already long ago dismissed the God of Abraham as not being likely to exist simply based on the inconsistencies,contradictions and fallacies within the texts of the various religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Just as I have for the Greek, Viking and Aztec Gods. The beginnings of the universe, life and us isn't mirrored in any logical sense by any of them.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Chad

      Faced with the mathematical impossibility of a universe being created without a designer the atheist responds with :

      @AtheistSteve "So what"

      @AtheistSteve "All the laws of nature are immutable. They apply everywhere in our universe and cannot be broken. It could be that their is no other way for them to manifest"

      =>right, I already have that in my list:
      . The fact that the universe obeys laws and that science by definition relies on that which it can not by definition EVER explain: "Science starts from the existence of those laws, can NOT EVER disprove God". – Leonard Mlodinow Co-author along with Stephen Hawkings of A Briefer History of Time.

      An atheist must ignore the fact that the universe obeys laws, or like Leonard Mlodinow, just “wonder from time to time why they do”, but do nothing about it. [added later: or like AtheistSteve, just say "So What"]

      @AtheistSteve: "I've already long ago dismissed the God of Abraham as not being likely to exist simply based on the inconsistencies,contradictions and fallacies within the texts of the various religions of Christianity, Judaism"
      =>Such as? No need to cut and paste a long list from infidels.org that can be easily dismissed by simply supplying the entire verse that they cherry picked from to construct something that isnt there.
      Just give me one good one, one that you have done a little research on and which takes into account the entire context of the verse.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "Faced with the mathematical impossibility of a universe being created without a designer the atheist responds with :"

      So now you've determined our universe is mathematically impossible. Must be nice being so smart..... Oy vey!!!

      Where do people like you come from????

      January 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "So now you've determined our universe is mathematically impossible. Must be nice being so smart..... Oy vey!!!

      =>it has nothing at all to do with being smart. the threshold is 1 in 10^50 (ten to the power 50), which is a smaller number than the following calculations, thus rendering it mathematically impossible. Right?

      Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe's expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction.

      Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes.

      Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power (!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe.

      January 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Ah Chad...you poor fool.

      Well I searched and found out that you're pulling this cherry-picked information from William Lane Craig's Fine Tuning argument. Forget that Craig isn't a physicist and even he pulled this data from microbiologist Rich Deem who in turn is referencing astrophysicist and Christian apologist Hugh Ross. Creationist Hugh Ross has been criticized by physicist Mark Perakh for crude errors and misunderstanding of basic concepts of thermodynamics together with misinterpretations of Hebrew words.

      In regards to the quote you posted above from Stephen Hawking’s bestseller A Brief History of Time this further detail is omitted for obvious reasons.

      "The rate of expansion of the universe would automatically become very close to the critical rate determined by the energy density of the universe. This could then explain why the rate of expansion is still so close to the critical rate, without having to assume that the initial rate of expansion of the universe was very carefully chosen."
      Conclusion: no fine-tuning

      I won't bother listing out the entire debunking of every bit of it is so I leave it to you to check it out for yourself at http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Fallacy/NoDesign.pdf

      Craig is a witless hack and the brunt of most jokes when it comes to his pitiful grasp of science. And as I said previously his arguments could at best argue into existence a 'deistic' god which could just as easily be the FSM or any other non-intervening deity. No correlation can be directly drawn to the god of Abraham.
      Of course none of this is going to phase you in your dogged pursuit of any desperate bit of confirmation. however fallacious, of your God fantasy. Best you just stick with the 'faith' thing and leave the pseudo-science out of it.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Chad

      AtheistSteve "Well I searched and found out that you're pulling this cherry-picked information from William Lane Craig's:

      hmmm, no.. Craig uses that same argument, as do others, but didnt invent it as you attempt to imply
      "events with a probability on the "cosmic" scale of 1 in 10^50 simply will not happen" "Borel's Law" Emile Borel 1871-1956

      you are making the classic biased mistake of assuming that if an opponent uses a piece of information in support of an argument, that information must be incorrect. Not so as demonstrated.

      @AtheistSteve "Hawking doesnt think the universe was fine tuned" (abridgement mine)

      => hmm,, no
      "The premise of the fine-tuned universe assertion is that a small change in several of the dimensionless fundamental physical constants would make the universe radically different. As Stephen Hawking has noted, "The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. ... The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life." – wikipedia

      @AtheistSteve "Craig is a witless hack and the brunt of most jokes "

      =>hmmm... wrong agian.. Craig is 50-0 in debates with atheists. . – source – commonsense atheism dot com

      January 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I didn't imply anything. The very list of arguments you originally posted exactly matches the one put forward by Craig. I never said he invented it, just that he's copying the same old flawed arguments.

      The link I provided above refutes every one of those fine tuning arguments. If the fine tuning arguments had any substance then atheism wouldn't exist among our scientific community.

      So Craig is an excellent debater. So what. His arguments are still bad ones and winning doesn't mean he's right, just better organized..

      From commonsense atheism dot com:
      "Craig has probably won all his debates. He makes many bad arguments, but so do his atheist opponents. It’s the job of each contender to show the flaws in his opponents’ arguments, and Craig consistently does this better than the atheists do.

      He’s also more skilled at debating. Most atheist scholars are not experienced in debating, nor in being an apologist for atheism. On the contrary, Craig is one of the best debaters in the world, and has decades of experience with Christian apologetics.

      Of course, another possible explanation for Craig’s success is that his arguments are sound, and God does exist. But I don’t think so, and in a later post I’ll show why. I’ll show how to properly respond to Craig’s arguments."

      You keep showing how you cherry pick information to support your side while ignoring the opposite. But you keep on believing you have all the answers. I'm not that arrogant.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "I didn't imply anything. The very list of arguments you originally posted exactly matches the one put forward by Craig. I never said he invented it, just that he's copying the same old flawed arguments."
      =>lol good grief, you do realize that what you said is right there.. Craig-Deem-Ross, disparage Ross.. lol

      @AtheistSteve "Craig isn't a physicist and even he pulled this data from microbiologist Rich Deem who in turn is referencing astrophysicist and Christian apologist Hugh Ross"

      @AtheistSteve "The link I provided above refutes every one of those fine tuning arguments. If the fine tuning arguments had any substance then atheism wouldn't exist among our scientific community."
      =>Good one! that made me smile 🙂
      atheism isnt based on fact, it starts with a premise "There is no God" and starts arranging data to try and line up with it. Why did the atheist-scientific community stick with the failed Darwin-gradualism for 120 years when the evidence of stasis was right there all the time?
      Science sticks with a failed theory until a better one comes along, that's just a fact. Since there is no answer other than supernatural intervention, it's stuck with what it has.

      @AtheistSteve "So Craig is an excellent debater. So what. His arguments are still bad ones and winning doesn't mean he's right, just better organized.."
      =>LOL thought you said he was a "Craig is a witless hack and the brunt of most jokes "
      methinks you dont do your research on anything until I provide sourced info forcing you to do so... That is precisely what bias is. You made that statement without doing any investigation whatsoever, then had to acknowledge the objective truth.

      @AtheistSteve "You keep showing how you cherry pick information to support your side while ignoring the opposite."
      =>all the casual reader has to do is look up the page to see who is providing sourced data and who is providing unsupported biased opinion 🙂

      @AtheistSteve "But you keep on believing you have all the answers. I'm not that arrogant."
      =>you serially state opinion as fact.. that's basically the definition of arrogance right? My statements are virtually all of the time sourced.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Please give me the odds of you being born at the exact time in human history, heck the history of the universe, place on earth, in the milky way galaxy in the universe, with your exact genetic sequence and not that siblings or really any other human who's existed, that exists or will exist in the future, etc.... and I'll give you a reason why you shouldn't exist because of such fantasically high odds.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "So Craig is an excellent debater. So what. His arguments are still bad ones and winning doesn't mean he's right, just better organized.."

      one last piece of fact on that one.
      – Craig has been using the same exact arguments in debates for 20 years
      – People know exactly what Craig is going to say prior to debating him
      – As such, his skill as a debater is nullified
      – numerous atheist sites a)acknowledge his perfect debate record and b)attempt to suggest answers and argument outlines that debaters can use against Craig. Just google "how to beat william lane craig"
      – Richard Dawkins has repeatedly refused to debate Craig, drawing criticism from fellow atheists

      – the one and only answer to this obvious problem is that atheists just cant refute his arguments. It has nothing to do with his skill as a debater, it has everything to do with the content of his arguments.
      – As a result

      January 12, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      P.S.
      You are just the worst. The content and constant insistance of your posts makes me want to believe you're a terrible troll who is good at rallying christian apologists with your nonesense. We've gone through many of your points countless times and your insistance that there is no flaw in your argument proves that your arrogance and bias is much worse than even Dawkins. Eat a slice of humble pie chad, it honestly doesn't taste that bad.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      P.P.S.
      Debates are never fair when one side has to rely on hard fact and the other gets to insert magic and omnipotence. The mere fact that an atheist can win a single debate when technically all the other side as to say is "god is all powerful" should tell you something.....

      January 12, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "Debates are never fair when one side has to rely on hard fact and the other gets to insert magic and omnipotence. The mere fact that an atheist can win a single debate when technically all the other side as to say is "god is all powerful" should tell you something....."

      => you cant be serious.. You expect us to believe that Craig would win a debate on the reality of Santa Clause? He would be destroyed, what data could he possibly present?
      if that is all Craig was doing, what do you think atheist reviews of who won/lost would be? Get real.

      Read the debate reviews at commonsense atheism dot com. Let me know if you find one single reference to "Craig wins because he just says God did it"
      LOL

      he is undefeated because the information he is presented hasnt been logically refuted. End of story

      January 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I called Craig a hack based on my own interpretation(and other atheists opinions) strictly on debates I watched him in. I had no idea about commonsense dot com before you mentioned it. But that doesn't change the fact that his arguments are still bogus. Where you see him 'winning' I see him using yet another fallacious argument thus 'losing'. No matter how the audience responds his attempts to 'prove' god's existence are still laughable. You obviously have drank deeply of his 'kool-aid'. Craig has steadfastly refused to debate non-PHD atheists like Matt Dillahunty who have far better 'debate' skills than the academics with poor oratory talents he normally faces. There are many excellent debaters who would happily debate with Craig's flawed arguments but he knows this and will only debate those he knows are not equipped to challenge him. Note" His debate with Sam Harris was NOT a win for Craig...a tie at best.
      Also like Chuckles said atheists are constrained by facts. Craig bases a lot of his claims on unfounded assertions and Biblical references. Atheists on the other hand don't get to make stuff up. Or fill in gaps in knowledge.

      Atheism doesn't start with the premise "There is no God" a you put it. Theism starts with the premise "There is a God" and atheism rejects it. End of story. In fact atheism isn't really an 'ism' at all. Atheism is a reaction to theism not something formed out of some separate ideology. Atheist means not-theist but makes about as much sense as a self identifying term as aUFOist, aBIGFOOTist or aUNICORNist.

      I spent the majority of my youth as a God fearing Catholic. It was Christianity's utter failure to withstand scrutiny that led me to becoming an atheist. One after another of the God gaps fell by the wayside under new discoveries in science. Genesis and Revelation read like the ravings of a madmen and the impossibility of physics defying miracles depicted in the Bible are beyond belief. The moment I realized that Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was basically a fairy tale....well....so much for original sin...and thus the need for a redeemer with the ridiculous virgin birth scenario...then the entire house of cards falls down.
      Jesus(and I won't contest his existence since it's moot) was a man...nothing more. Mary was impregnated in the normal fashion if not by Joseph then by some other dude.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • fred

      AtheistSteve
      You are correct in that if you believe and have faith in your belief that you are without sin thus needing no Savior. With that mindset or soul you cannot see God or the things of God. There is no evidence that could move you so do not blame believers blame yourself for your unbelief. Do not blame lack of evidence because the evidence is overwhelming.
      It has nothing to do with Adam or Eve it is the condition of your heart. Stop faulting the Bible as it is a story of redemption which you do not believe you need. Stop faulting the 25,000 manuscripts that attest to the New Testament as insufficient proof as no proof would ever be sufficient for you.
      In the event your heart at some point becomes aware that it has been deceived as to sin and you diligently seek God with all you heart then the floodgates will open and you will see.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Chad

      I'm happy demonstrating that your belief system means that:

      1. Craig's arguments are bogus and he engages in fallacious arguments when dozens of atheist sites with a bias against Craig consistently say the opposite.

      2. Craig wins because of oratory skills not argument content when as shown before the fact that he presents the exact same arguments every time nullifies any oratory advantage, and as shown, the dozens of atheist sites stating that he did win did so consistently because his opponents failed to answer Craigs assertions and not oratory skills.

      3. Craig wins only because he debates feeble easy targets when the reality is his opponent list reads like a who's – who in the atheist academic community and atheist numero uno Richard Dawkins refuses to debate him.

      4. Craig wins because he gets to make unfounded claims and assertions that arent challenged by his opponent.

      I have to say, #4 is my favorite. Rarely does one encounter such a willful suspension of disbelief (they are all good, dont get me wrong, I just like #4 the best).

      January 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Fred
      Everyone is without sin because sin doesn't exist. That's one area that you people are far too worried about. Your man made holy books are no more evidence for your belief being true than any other religious text or mythology in history.
      Let me clear up the issue a bit. I was TAUGHT to believe in God. I LEARNED that it's all garbage when I began asking questions. My only regret is that I didn't have a secular childhood where I might have escaped the indoctrination and subsequent deconversion anxieties. I still maintain that teaching children to fear hell is tantamount to child abuse.

      @Chad
      Your obfuscation knows no bounds. An atheist site might concede the debate but not the fight. The argument is lost when all Craig can do is demonstrate what science doesn't know or can't prove. Science isn't looking for God. It merely attempts to model reality. Like you assert, even if the odds of this universe existing is infinitesimally small the best and only thing you can say with certainty is that it's unlikely or rare. Since our universe is real clearly it is possible. There just isn't anything in the numbers, or lack thereof that suggests a God. That would require it's own demonstrable criteria or you or Craig are just employing the God of the Gaps fallacy.
      There may be an infinite number or other universes with new ones emerging all the time. Most of them without the happy balance of forces like here. That would still leave an immense number where the forces were the same. Wild speculation no doubt but one that simply expands the problem to include a natural explanation to account for the low odds of our one universe. But who knows...like most scientists I'm happy with admitting I don't know.
      And guess what? You don't know either.You rest your position on too many assumptions. That this one universe was created intentionally by God. That life and man was created by God with a meaning and a purpose. Tailored for us. Forget the unbridled arrogance of thinking we are that significant when everything we see says otherwise. The cosmos is too vast and our itsy-bitsy corner too tiny to support that idea. The vast majority of the cosmos is totally inhospitable to life. Heck most of the planet is uninhabitable. Doesn't seem very tailor made to me.
      No... just like you can't squeeze blood from a stone you can't wrestle God out of the equations.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Chad

      Hate to do this to ya.. but you have a massive foundational error in your logic..

      AtheistSteve "even if the odds of this universe existing is infinitesimally small the best and only thing you can say with certainty is that it's unlikely or rare. Since our universe is real clearly it is possible."

      Your argument assumes only one possible reason for the formation of the universe, namely that which you posit (that there was nothing and nothing exploded in such a manner that even the slightest variation would have rendered the universe inhabitable).

      "Circular Reasoning: stating in one's proposition that which one aims to prove, aka begging the question (or assuming the answer."

      see also "The Alternate-explanations Objection is that there are other explanations for the given fact that might be put forward today and which are at least as good as it"

      sorry about that.. but your logic is akin to saying "Of course I came from Mars, I'm here aren't I!!"

      January 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Ha ha..clearly your reading comprehension skills are lacking. I assume nothing. Funny that you would accuse me of circular reasoning. It is you who holds to only one possible explanation. My speculation example alone posits only one of an infinity of possible explanations. You seem to be laboring under the impression that I know how the universe came to be. I don't....and like I said...neither do you. And all I pointed out was that you can't claim a supernatural cause based on the numbers. Determining a supernatural origin would require supernatural evidence....not probabilistic anomalies. No matter how you cut it you can't use a gap in knowledge to claim a hidey-hole for your God.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "My speculation example alone posits only one of an infinity of possible explanations."
      => LOL, yes.. I see.. as long as God isnt involved.. 🙂
      Fallacy also known as
      A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking, or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only X alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options (sometimes shades of grey between the extremes). For example, "It wasn't God that created the universe, so it must have been by chance!."

      @AtheistSteve "You seem to be laboring under the impression that I know how the universe came to be. I don't"
      =>Oh, but you do! Without God, and that's all that matters to you .. again, LOL

      @AtheistSteve "and like I said...neither do you."
      =>actually, I do know 🙂

      @AtheistSteve " And all I pointed out was that you can't claim a supernatural cause based on the numbers."
      =>any person can scroll up and see the claim made, namely that the mathematically impossibility of the universe creating itself out of nothing is incredibly strong evidence for the existence of an external supernatural force. That doesnt make it the God of Abraham per se, but it is an external supernatural force.

      @AtheistSteve "....not probabilistic anomalies."
      =>mathematically impossible is not equal to "probabilistic anomalies"

      it never bothers you intellectually that you run from the data?

      January 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I never said if couldn't be due to God...just that there isn't any evidence for that.

      You never established that the values of natures forces occurring as they are is mathematically impossible just that they are delicately balanced. As well you haven't demonstrated that they could even manifest differently from the values we observe.

      And you don't know....if you did you would be the first and I say PROVE it. A Gnostic position is indefensible without evidence and thus you show yourself to be a liar.

      January 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "I never said if couldn't be due to God...just that there isn't any evidence for that."

      =>you do realize that all one has to do is scroll up to check on that statement.. right?

      @AtheistSteve "To speculate that God has always existed is no more likely than to say the universe always existed..as a seed just waiting to Bang.
      @AtheistSteve """Whatever begins to exist has a cause." How exactly can you exclude your God from this premise without violating Kalam? You render your own argument useless. "
      @AtheistSteve ""I've already long ago dismissed the God of Abraham as not being likely to exist simply based on the inconsistencies,contradictions and fallacies within the texts of the various religions of Christianity, Judaism"
      @AtheistSteve "@AtheistSteve ""No... just like you can't squeeze blood from a stone you can't wrestle God out of the equations."

      @AtheistSteve "You never established that the values of natures forces occurring as they are is mathematically impossible just that they are delicately balanced."
      => the threshold is 1 in 10^50 (ten to the power 50), which is a smaller number than the following calculations, thus rendering it mathematically impossible.

      Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe's expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction.

      Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes.

      Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power (!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe.

      ""Roger Penrose*, a famous British mathematician and a close friend of Stephen Hawking, wondered about this question and tried to calculate the probability. Including what he considered to be all variables required for human beings to exist and live on a planet such as ours, he computed the probability of this environment occurring among all the possible results of the Big Bang.

      According to Penrose, the odds against such an occurrence were on the order of 10^10^123 to 1.

      This now tells how precise the Creator's aim must have been, namely to an accuracy of one part in 1010123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full in the ordinary denary notation: it would be 1 followed by 10123 successive 0's. Even if we were to write a 0 on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe- and we could throw in all the other particles for good measure- we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. ""

      @AtheistSteve: "And you don't know....if you did you would be the first and I say PROVE it"
      =>See above

      @AtheistSteve: "A Gnostic position is indefensible without evidence and thus you show yourself to be a liar."
      =>Gnosticsm LOLOL
      see wikipedia – gnosticsm

      thats a good one Steve 🙂

      January 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Boy you are a slow one Chad

      gnos·tic/ˈnästik/Adjective: Of or relating to knowledge, esp. esoteric mystical knowledge

      I used it as an adjective...your theism was implied....doesn't relate to Gnosticism unless it's used as a noun. If it confused you because it was capitalized then blame the spell checker.
      To clarify I'm an agnostic atheist...cause I don't know for certain but don't believe.
      But if you claim to know so you're a gnostic theist.
      But whatever. You've been arguing with atheists long enough to know this..just more obfuscation. And since you can't seem to form your own arguments but just continue to copy/paste the same old bad arguments from creationist apologetic sites I'm beyond bored.
      Enjoy your eternity. Happily I won't have to endure you there.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • fred

      AtheistSteve
      What if your stuck with me instead?

      January 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Chad

      @AtheistSteve "But if you claim to know so you're a gnostic theist."

      =>LOLOL now I see where you got this crazy term.. LOLOLOL
      1. Agnostic atheist "does not believe any god exists, but doesn't claim to know that no god exists"
      2. Gnostic atheist "believes that no god exists and claims to know that this belief is true"
      3. Agnostic theist "believes a god exists, but doesn't claim to know that this belief is true"
      4. Gnostic theist "believes a god exists and claims to know that this belief is true "
      From Iron Chariots Wiki "The counter-apologetics wiki"

      Obviously it is a blatant attempt to categorize people who believe in God as "gnostic" in some way.. This is done because "gnosticism is a heresy arising in the early first century claiming that knowledge was the way to God (as opposed to Jesus).

      now,, I'm in a dilemma, I'm not sure which one of these I find the most hilarious.. Here are the candidates:
      1. Craig wins because he gets to make unfounded claims and assertions that arent challenged by his opponent.
      2. There is such a thing as a person who believes in God, but doesnt know if God is real or not.. (agnostic theist)

      I'm stuck.. they are both outstanding.. any thoughts?

      BTW.. I'm 100% positive that every Christian on the face of the earth claims to know that God is real 🙂

      January 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.