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Counter-Punching Before the Fight Starts: The Plight of Irrational Atheism in the United States

By Frank Wustner in Culture
Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:01:52 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Being an American atheist myself, I have an inside scoop on this unfortunate tendency among many atheists. It is difficult to stay calm and rational while surrounded by people who hate you.


Imagine being a member of a minority group that almost everyone hates. In the news, at work, at home, from friends, family, co-workers, bosses, politicians, and even complete strangers, from everybody everywhere you are bombarded with messages that you are a second-class citizen, selfish, hateful, evil, worthless. Atheists all over America know exactly what I mean.

Do some of you think I am exaggerating? Let me show you the tip of the iceberg, and you can decide for yourself. In 1987, during his presidential campaign, George Bush Sr. said that, as far as he is concerned, atheists are not real American citizens.

Bush is hardly alone. American politicians regularly vilify anyone who is not religious, particularly when talking about a so-called "moral issue". The September 11 terrorist attack and the recent 9th Circuit decision on the pledge of allegiance are good examples. These events provoked waves of religious posturing and hatred of non-believers among our national leaders.

Not even gay people suffer so much prejudice anymore. If any politician utters a slur against homosexuals, half the nation immediately pounces and chastises them, which is proper. Atheism and atheists, on the other hand, never receive such protection. This despite the fact that recent surveys indicate that non-believers make up more than 14% of the U.S. population.

The real horrors, though, are not announced publicly over nation-wide news broadcasts. Most of the harassment and violence is much more quiet and personal. Even school children get into the act.

Meanwhile, people regularly accuse atheists of being "arrogant" or "belligerent", and that is when they are being polite to us. Seriously, given what we have to go through on a regular basis, is it really difficult to understand why so many of us are so aggressive and angry?

I like to think that I am rational and calm. I certainly strive for it. I try to accept those people around me who are religious.

Unfortunately, those very people make it very difficult. Even when confronted by someone like me, very even-tempered and polite, if and when they learn I am an atheist all the usual stereotypes and prejudices boil up.

"You're an atheist?! I hate people like you, who push your godless evil onto society! Why don't you move to Russia or China, where people like you belong?!"

Granted, most responses I receive are nothing this extreme, but the extreme ones like this are not as uncommon as you might want to think.

I have managed to hold onto most of my calm and objectivity despite all of that, but many atheists do not. No matter what people think of us, we are still human. A lifetime of suffering from hatred and bigotry often causes people to succumb to anger and hatred themselves.

Hence, you have a vicious circle. Religious and agnostic people treat atheists with disdain and hatred. Atheists, in turn, become belligerent and aggressive in order to protect themselves from such treatment. Thus, they become the very things these anti-atheists always claimed them to be, which makes the anti-atheist crowd believe their bigoted attitudes to be justified. And so, they continue to treat atheists with disdain and hatred, arrogantly believing that the fault for this problem lies entirely with the atheists.

Because of this, aggressive atheists often counter-punch before the fight even starts. That is hardly rational or fair of them, but a life of bitter experience has taught them that they have no other choice. Right or wrong, they believe that nobody else will ever stand up for them, and that their aggression and belligerence is a matter of self-defense.

The hell of it is, the answer to this problem is so simple that even I am often infuriated by how few people are able to see it. It is the same answer to any kind of prejudice: when both sides start showing each other the respect they deserve, prejudice has a tendency to suddenly vanish. This is just as true for faithism (for lack of a better term) as it is for racism and sexism.

The one thing stopping this is that both sides need to meet each other half way, and neither is willing to do it. The angry atheists are far too convinced that they must protect themselves at all costs, and the anti-atheists are far too convinced that their prejudices are justified. So the self-fulfilling prophecy continues on its merry way, and no progress is ever made.

I try not to fall into that trap. I treat others with respect, and I ask that they treat me likewise. However, it does not seem to do any good. Merely by asking for respect and equal rights, I am immediately accused of (as one agnostic recently put it) "bludgeoning people with my atheism." Or I am called a "godless commie," if my accuser is of a more McCarthyist bent. I have even seen people accuse atheists of being responsible for the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, though I personally have never been accused of this.

It is neither a crime nor harassment for us to insist that our rights and dignity be respected. To those of you who have not been giving us this respect, I think you will find that all atheists will be far more accepting of you and your beliefs if you were to start now.

You might even get a better reaction from those irrational atheists who tend to counter-punch before the fight starts.

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Poll
What is your stance toward atheists?
o I am an atheist, and I agree with other atheists completely. 33%
o I am an atheist, but I disagree with much of the bahavior of other atheists. 23%
o I am not an atheist, but I agree with most or all of what they say. 16%
o I am not an atheist, and I disagree with much of their behavior. 6%
o I am not an atheist, and I wish they would be quiet and stop making waves. 3%
o Don't know or none of the above. 15%

Votes: 363
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o George Bush Sr. said that, as far as he is concerned, atheists are not real American citizens.
o recent surveys
o non-believ ers make up more than 14% of the U.S. population.
o Even school children get into the act.
o Also by Frank Wustner


Display: Sort:
Counter-Punching Before the Fight Starts: The Plight of Irrational Atheism in the United States | 1075 comments (1059 topical, 16 editorial, 1 hidden)
As a slight aside to the above article... (3.80 / 5) (#1)
by Frank Wustner on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:28:48 PM EST

Speaking or posting publicly about religion and atheism usually is taken as provokation to debate the theological issues. Please understand that I did not post this for that reason. This is not an invitation to discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of atheism, this is a plee for respect.

In short, please do not try to persuade me to join your religion or otherwise give up my atheism, because that is beside the point.



You should... (2.50 / 10) (#4)
by SanSeveroPrince on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:35:52 PM EST

..worship me.

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Let's see... (3.66 / 3) (#45)
by Caton on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:18:33 PM EST

When I was young and stupid, I looked into the question of God. Is there any such thing as God?

I thought a lot about it. Read lots of stupid arguments, one way or the other. Went through the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, the Vedda... No answer. None.

Then I finally asked myself the right question. Do I care? No! I couldn't care less! So I stopped looking, and dubbed myself agnostic.

I wonder how many theists and atheists really care?



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
The unasked question... (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by chemista on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:54:53 PM EST

is, "What is a [g/G]od[dess] anyway?" I have never heard a definition that encompasses all the aspects people give for "gods" while simultaneously not admitting things that are defined not to be gods. Having said that, I normally describe myself as an "atheist" to anyone who asks, because I definitely do not believe in any of the deities in the sundry pantheons of the world (and in particular, I don't believe in the Christian God, which is most often the real question being asked).
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]
Easy to answer (none / 0) (#88)
by Caton on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:31:37 PM EST

God: Any being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.

IMO it's the "worship" part that does it.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
The definition (none / 0) (#722)
by chemista on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:10:05 PM EST

Sorry for the late response.

I intended (but on rereading, I failed to add) a provision of requiring a definition that is not self-referential. In both cases, the definitions are circular.

"Supernatural" is the first problem. I have yet to come up with a non-circular definition for it (viz., anything one might assert exists may as well be considered "natural" whether or not it is often observable).

The more direct circularity, though, is the provision of "worship." For a God is a thing that is worshipped, and worship... is what people do to a God!
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]

You have a point (none / 0) (#726)
by Caton on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:25:27 PM EST

It looks like there's no definition of deity that is not circular. I actually find this quite funny. Thanks for pointing it out!



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
a 'god' is a deity that is served, not worshipped (4.00 / 1) (#1031)
by zmemes on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 04:58:45 AM EST

worship implies servitude, and servitude we clearly see all around us. typically gods make their wishes known (e.g. I let the local apartment spiders know that I prefer them to avoid the bedroom, because my wife isn't a huge fan of having spiders where my baby son sleeps). sometimes, I am inexorably acted upon (e.g. the sun shining down) which make's the Egyption adoration of Ra at least somewhat more reasonable (and don't lecture me on Egyptian religion unless you were around back then, as I'm not interested in those who *think* they know all about the past). A question is this: have hints been provided to the human race suggesting a level of caution in our group behaviour? Or, if you are one of these Darwinist who is sure that your real origins lie with the fleas, perhaps you don't like the human/animal distinction. In that case, tough titties. Because you are a human, and you can only alter your own behaviour. A human must first alter his own behaviour (yes, I'm old school, I imagine that "him" can refer to males, females, and many other varieties as well). Then we can presume to instruct the rest of nature how to behave, if we are outraged, pained, hurt, aghast, at the way it seems to behave on its own.
[The benefits of humility are untold.]
[ Parent ]
Avoidance (1.50 / 4) (#76)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:09:32 PM EST

We tend to skim the surface of tough issues when everything fine and dandy. When things are tough and we're not doing so well, though, we may start to question what the entire point of life is. Whether that's your case or not is besides the point.

When it comes right down to it, I just can't believe you don't care about what this world is all about? What _is_ the point of all this? Perhaps not opening your eyes to the world around has caused you to believe that you really don't care and you believe that living your life the way you feel best is fine with you.

My question is, how do you respond to the entirety of this life? And if you have pondered the entirety, why is the answer "I don't care."?
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
Yes? What exactly are you avoiding? (3.75 / 4) (#85)
by Caton on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:26:38 PM EST

Do you really think religion will give your life a meaning? If you need it, then you obviously have a big void to fill.

What's the point of the existence of this universe? None that I know of. So?

Why is the answer "I don't care"? Because the way I would not change anything in the way I live my life if the existence of God was proved or disproved. Hence, I do not care.

Any other question?



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Why not? (none / 0) (#93)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:39:48 PM EST

Why wouldn't you change your ways if you had absolute proof your god required you to live a certain way? Because you're at odds with the way he let his univese run?

As for me, I continually question my existence, the reason for my existence, why the world is the way it is, why there is suffering. I'm not avoiding, I'm attacking the questions directly. I find a lot of people say they don't feel the need to know the answers. My personal feelings towards that are I suspect everyone questions life at some point.
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
Because... (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by Caton on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:40:55 PM EST

The way I live my life is compatible with the basic tenets of all religions. So why would I change it?



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Wow quick response (none / 0) (#97)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:44:11 PM EST

So you meet half the conditions of each and every religion on earth. Your wager is that one of them are right and that one will even accept one to performs half of the aspects of that faith?

I'm certain you mean benign religions, as well, not other religions which you may be missing where they require blood sacrifice and whatnot. Why, what if one of those religions turned out to be true? You wouldn't be practicing any aspects of that faith...
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
Faster is better (none / 0) (#100)
by Caton on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:51:22 PM EST

All religions have in common some basic elements of morality that more or less can be reduced to, do not harm others. This is always considered the most important element of religion. Well, I don't need a vengeful old curmudgeon with a white beard to decide I won't harm anybody except in self-defense. I still shave with a hand razor, I need to be able to look at the mirror in the morning.

A few sects have developed anti-religions (e.g. satanism) by just reversing most if not all of the beliefs of the religion they react against. Those should be disregarded as "ridiculous".



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Of course... (none / 0) (#243)
by Dirty Liberalist Scumbag on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:10:29 AM EST

after all is said and done, "Satanism" is nothing more than a fun-lovin' version of Christianity.
------

We suffer from constant delusions of grandeur.
[ Parent ]

I'm a mean green mutha, from outer space...... (2.33 / 3) (#456)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:13:08 PM EST

"Do you really think religion will give your life a meaning?"

Whether or not I find meaning in my religion, whether it comforts me, whether it helps me with x,y,z doesn't matter to me as much as it matters that the religion I adhere to helps me please God. I exist for God, not for myself.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
God or World? (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by antizeus on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:41:54 PM EST

The poster of the parent comment expressed apathy towards the question of god(s). Your response seemed to indicate that you interpreted this as an apathy towards the world (or rather, what the world is all about). It seems to me that those are two different sorts of apathy, unless of course you're arguing from a pantheistic perspective, in which case I'll shut up. Hell, I'll shut up anyway.
-- $SIGNATURE
[ Parent ]
Apatheism (5.00 / 3) (#180)
by Ultra64 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:09:49 AM EST

I know exactly what you mean. I realized I don't care if there is a God and from then on I considered myself an 'apatheist.'

[ Parent ]
A link. (5.00 / 1) (#242)
by Dirty Liberalist Scumbag on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:06:11 AM EST

The Church of the Apathetic Agnostic. I haven't flipped through the site and they might be God-hating atheists for all I know, but the name struck me as amusing.
------

We suffer from constant delusions of grandeur.
[ Parent ]

I think I'll join *that* church (N/T) (none / 0) (#264)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:42:32 AM EST



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
....when I get around to it, anyway (n/t) (5.00 / 1) (#577)
by KnightStalker on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:53:10 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Young and Stupid (none / 0) (#310)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:42:48 AM EST

"When I was young and stupid, I looked into the question of God. Is there any such thing as God?"

Now that you're older and wiser, you should go back and look into the question of God. Are you telling me you're going to base the rest of your life on decisions you made when you were, as you yourself said, young and stupid?

That sounds pretty stupid to me. :)
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Correction: (4.00 / 1) (#312)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:47:09 AM EST

I am older, but still stupid. This being said, I did look into the question again. Guess what? I care even less now.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
MMmmmmm.. Pizza. (none / 0) (#322)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:11:06 AM EST

"This being said, I did look into the question again. Guess what? I care even less now."

I guess it really depends the mind set and manner in which you reapproached the question that counts.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Proselytism is a plague (none / 0) (#325)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:18:47 AM EST

And that does not depend on any mind set. Did I question your mind set and manner when you decided to believe in whatever you want to believe in? What gives you the right to criticize my beliefs?

You are intolerant, and you don't even seem to notice how offensive you are. I guess that's the problem with new converts, right?



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Are Happy Meals really happy? (none / 0) (#337)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:43:58 AM EST

"Proselytism is a plague"

Yet if I suggested you read a book on a topic you favored and which wasn't religious you'd probably not take it in the same manner. Funny how that works.

"And that does not depend on any mind set."

Actually, it does.

"Did I question your mind set and manner when you decided to believe in whatever you want to believe in?"

Feel free. But now you're evading the point.

"What gives you the right to criticize my beliefs?"

I haven't and I won't. I will however comment on what you've posted and if you dislike what I have to say, feel free to ignore it. But please, don't put words in my mouth.

You yourself said you were young and stupid once. I take from your post to mean that this was the time in which you first rejected the concept of God and/or religion. Based on this it would stand to reason that when you approached this topic again for study you probably viewed your second exploration through the veil of the beliefs you formed when you were (as you said yourself) young and stupid.

"You are intolerant,"

No, I'm not. I'm simply suggesting you abandon whatever conclusion you arrived at from a time when you yourself said you were young and stupid, and approach the matter again. You seem to be offended by this.

"and you don't even seem to notice how offensive you are."

If I am offending you by challenging you to reexplore faith then so be it. I'm offensive.

"I guess that's the problem with new converts, right?"

Suggesting what exactly?
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Have you critically reexamined your beliefs? (none / 0) (#364)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:55:01 AM EST

I don't think most thesists have critically reexamined their beliefs in adulthood. The fact that people rarely convert to different religions is evidence of this. Most people accept what they were taught as children. They might reexamine a little bit, but just enough say that they did it.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream! (5.00 / 1) (#420)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:11:35 PM EST

"Have you critically reexamined your beliefs?"

I'm glad you asked.

The answer is yes.
Why was I the religion I was brought up in, and why should I be of that religion? Why shouldn't I be x,y,z? What does that religion really believe?

As a result of asking myself these and similar questions, I hungerly read book after book, questioned person after person, and spent years studying religion. It was a voyage that took me from library to library and into various college courses.

What does religion X believe? What does religion Z believe? What does religion X think about religion Z? What does Z think about X? How does Z differ from X? How does X differ from Z?

I studied the big world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, the many subdivisions of groups in each that have different ideas that both conflict and coincide with one another---and most importantly, rather than just reading a little about each religion, I dove in and read the scriptures of each, the history, the culture, you name it.

Of course my thirst for knowledge when it comes to religion didn't end there. I also studied many ancient religions and such controversial religions (in some people's view) as Wicca and Satanism.

Now by studying these religions, I didn't actually practice them, as some do. I approached my study while remaining detatched from the religions, lapping up as much information as I could. After several years of study, which included lengthy conversations with people of these religions, I came to a decision.

Catholicism.

And no, I wasn't raised Catholic.

"I don't think most thesists have critically reexamined their beliefs in adulthood."

You're right. You are so right. I've known some Christians who won't study other religions because they feel it might confuse them. I find this sad because if you don't study other religions, you're preventing yourself from learning about the rest of humanity. Religion is the foundation of most cultures. To not understand a religion is to (in part) misunderstand the person who lives it. In my opinion, one of the best ways to solidify one's conviction that their religion is right for them, is to learn about other religions and compare them to their own. While I agree with you here I must also say that there are many atheists that haven't really studied religions. If they have, they have done so with preconceived notions that have clouded their minds as they studied. Notice I said many, not all.

"The fact that people rarely convert to different religions is evidence of this."

True, it is. However, with the world seemingly getting smaller as things like the internet become popular, there are a lot of people jumping one religious boat for another. Eastern religions are especially becoming attractive to a lot of Westerners.

"Most people accept what they were taught as children. They might reexamine a little bit, but just enough say that they did it."

Which is why I think religion (and atheism) should be taught in every school. Learning about other religions shouldn't be something that's optional. In my opinion it's mandatory if you really want a key to understanding people.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Well, aren't you informed? (none / 0) (#479)
by wedman on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:22:15 PM EST

I suggest you also read up on the origin of religions, before they involved the god(s) people know today. I certainly hope you're well aware of the history of the Catholic Church. How about history before the catholic church, before Jesus, before the ancient egyptians?

I expect you could reply with speculation and supposed 'historical truths', but I believe all of that has been tainted by time. Religion is a 10,000 year old game of 'telephone'.

My fiance has a saying: "We all hold part of the truth, but none of us have it all." Now, which part do you think that you have?



~
DELETE FROM comments WHERE uid=9524;
[ Parent ]
What is the link between christian and cretin? (none / 0) (#365)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:55:21 AM EST

You are implying that anybody who is agnostic did not think "well enough" about it. You actually assume that it must be a youth stupid conclusion. Pointing out that I did revisit this belief later did not even make you change your offensive manners. AFAIK your "faith" is just the result of brainwashing and actually excludes any logical argument as well as any independent thinking.

You are a typical example of the kind of intolerant moronic behaviour atheists complain about.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
All you need is love! (God is love) (none / 0) (#412)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:47:36 PM EST

"What is the link between christian and cretin?"

I find it interesting in that all I asked of you was to go back and re-explore God/faith without the notions you came to when you were (as you put it) young and stupid, and my suggestion is met with one insult after another.

Does the idea of going back and seriously studying that which you discarded frighten you? It would seem so.

"You are implying that anybody who is agnostic did not think "well enough" about it."

Wrong. You are putting words in my mouth. I was talking about you. Not Joe Blow down the street, not a group of people, and not 'anybody who is agnostic'.

"You actually assume that it must be a youth stupid conclusion."

I think you made your point very clearly when you said you were 'young and stupid'. Based on this information, one would logically assume that the decision you came to was stupid since it came from someone who was young and stupid. Or does brillance suddenly leap from those who are young and stupid? Stupidity begets brilliance? That's a new one.

"Pointing out that I did revisit this belief later did not even make you change your offensive manners."

Yes, I pointed out that you revisted this belief later. However you failed to point out whether or not you approached this 'revisit' by first abandoning the notion you came to when you were young and stupid, or whether you held those beliefs somewhere in your mind during your 'revisit'.

"AFAIK your "faith" is just the result of brainwashing and actually excludes any logical argument as well as any independent thinking."

Thank you for sharing your opinion. But that is all that it is, your opinion. I have not been brainwashed as I have studied religion with an open mind and came to the conclusion that Catholicism, out of all the religions I could choose from, is correct for me. I reached this conclusion not from brainwashing, but from studying many religions, their scriptures, their founders, and their histories. I too had notions when I was young and stupid, and guess what? I abandoned those and reapproached religion with an open mind, as an individual, learning about religion on my terms, not from someone standing at the front of a church, screaming in the streets, or shedding crocodile tears on TV. It was my decision. All that I asked was that you go back and study without looking through the veil of whatever conclusion you came to when you were young and stupid.

Instead of seeing the simplicity of my suggestion you've somehow magnified my words and twisted them to mean something entirely opposite.

"You are a typical example of the kind of intolerant moronic behaviour atheists complain about."

No sir, I am not. And my atheist friends would disagree with you strongly.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
You know, there's a profile that describes you... (none / 0) (#482)
by wedman on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:25:13 PM EST

No text, you godless barbarians!

~
DELETE FROM comments WHERE uid=9524;
[ Parent ]
Nitpick (none / 0) (#914)
by Arthur Dent on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 01:44:52 PM EST

How many cloned animals have you eaten today?

None. Cloned animals are not yet available on the supermarket shelves.

Now that we have that out of the way, how many cloned vegetables have you eaten today?

[ Parent ]

Athiesm in your article, is beside the point. (1.00 / 1) (#303)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:29:54 AM EST

This is not an invitation to discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of atheism, this is a plee for respect.

Sorry, I read it more as a 'poor me' article.

In short, please do not try to persuade me to join your religion or otherwise give up my atheism, because that is beside the point.

Athiesm in your article, is beside the point. Your article should address humanity and the ignorance of those, regardless of religion or lack thereof, who make you feel bad. Instead it is a 'poor me' approach to try and call attention to those athiests who feel persecuted.

As I've stated before in a reply to a post here, read up on the persecution of Jews and Christians as has happened in history and continues to happen today.

Athiests know nothing of persecution when compared to the slaughtering, torture, and other crimes against people who believe in God.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Speaking of persecution (none / 0) (#549)
by muppetspanker on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:30:17 PM EST

But how maybe of those crimes of persecution have been commited by people of religion.  

At least as an atheist im not persecuting others for their religious choices.  And maybe i feel that because my beliefs dont dole out persecution, i shouldnt receive persecution in return.  

Hopefully you as a christian can understand that (treat others as you'd wish to be treated, turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the world and all that).

[ Parent ]

The fundamental issue with atheism (3.90 / 20) (#5)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:37:44 PM EST

Is that it is just as presumptuous to say that no deity exists as it is to say that one exists. Ultimately, I think the only two rational positions on this issue are an agnostic position or a transcendental position.



Agreed, I find it ridiculous (3.00 / 7) (#7)
by RyoCokey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:42:44 PM EST

That someone would claim to be an atheist. Trying to prove a negative assertion is even more absurd than trying to prove an unlikely positive one. Thus claiming to be an atheist generally only tells me that they have a serious mental disconnect somewhere.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
Disagree (4.50 / 4) (#16)
by Mister Proper on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:12:37 PM EST

Most atheists are freethinkers, they base their beliefs only on tested evidence.

Since there is as far as I'm concerned no no evidence suggesting that gods exist, I -a freethinker- conclude that it makes sense to assume no gods exist. It has not been proved that gods do not exist, but both are IMHO so far-fetched that I call myself an atheist and not an agnostic.

For what it's worth, I also say that unicorns do not exist. This too has not been proved, nonetheless people end up in mental institutions for believing in them.

[ Parent ]

Assumption (1.50 / 4) (#23)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:41:56 PM EST

Most atheists are freethinkers, they base their beliefs only on tested evidence.
.
.
.
I -a freethinker- conclude that it makes sense to assume no gods exist.

So you base your belief on an assumption?

Most interesting.

[Interestingly enough, I see nothing on the page you linked to indicating a requirement for tested evidence. Hmmm...]



[ Parent ]
A perfectly logical assumption... (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:48:08 PM EST

see the unicorn example elsewhere in this thread.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Still, it is an assumption (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:50:09 PM EST

and assumptions are inherently irrational.



[ Parent ]
Of course, but degree of irrationality must be.... (2.00 / 1) (#49)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:26:05 PM EST

considered.

Which is more irrational:

Elves live in my basement and steal food from my fridge while I sleep.

Or

There is no such thing as elves.

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Depends (2.00 / 1) (#60)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:41:53 PM EST

How different would one's life be if they believed one versus the other (once you get into the realm of the irrational, you are out of the realm of knowledge and into the realm of belief)? How does such belief affect others?



[ Parent ]
Mental Health (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:47:01 PM EST

Paranoia of missing food, staying up all day building elf traps...

in other words:

Living a life free of pleasure *sin* and in constant fear of a horrible torcherous afterlife seems like a  less healthy way to live than an atheistic one.

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Still, it is quite possible to believe in a God (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:57:07 PM EST

and not have fear of sin or of a torturous afterlife.



[ Parent ]
Indeed... (4.00 / 2) (#141)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:44:07 PM EST

I suspect that most of those who self-identify as Christians (in the Western world at least) spend almost exactly 0% of their time thinking about torturous afterlifes.

Interesting religious note: Jesus himself did not, in fact, allude to any torturous afterlives (as opposed to destruction, i.e. annihilation, of the "unrighteous"). Indeed, there is pretty much no Biblical support for the idea of the popular conception of "hell" at all.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
And even the annihilation rhetoric (none / 0) (#390)
by leviramsey on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:01:26 PM EST

...was more a political statement (remember, Jesus was basically the leader of an insurrection against Roman rule of Israel). The "Kingdom of Heaven" is quite possibly a reference to a restored theocracy in Jerusalem, with either Jesus or his brother James on the throne.



[ Parent ]
re: Assumption (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by Mister Proper on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:01:20 PM EST

So you base your belief on an assumption?

Most interesting.

Yes. The assumption that the world is as we perceive it, with no non-detectable magic going on behind the scenes.

I may be wrong -- which is why always respectfully disagree with religious persons -- but I consider other ideas to be useful only as a mental exercise.

[Interestingly enough, I see nothing on the page you linked to indicating a requirement for tested evidence. Hmmm...]
I found this:
For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad hominem character attacks?).


[ Parent ]
OK (none / 0) (#44)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:17:59 PM EST

I may be wrong

Pardon me, but that certainly seems more than a little agnostic, does it not?

For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad hominem character attacks?).

Is this statement true, then: "For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad hominem character attacks?)."?



[ Parent ]
Yes, it's agnostic (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by Mister Proper on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:53:34 PM EST

Yes, I am an agnostic person too. Nobody said atheists can not be agnostic. But as I said, I find the idea that there are gods or that we live in the matrix only useful as a mental exercise or for entertainment.

Is this statement true, then: "For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad hominem character attacks?)."?
It can only be proved true by circular reasoning. Yet, hasn't the scientific method brought us far enough so that we can reasonable rely on it systematically?

If there was another method of reasoning that had as good of a record as the scientific method, then this could be used to prove or disprove the above statement. There's no such method that I know of though.

[ Parent ]

In which case, you've just contradicted yourself (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:18:22 PM EST

for you consider that statement true, yet you yourself concede that it does not meet your standard of truth.

As to the purpose of that little exercise, it is to demonstrate that the scientific method is not up to some tasks.

I am something of an agnostic transcendentalist deist. I believe that is impossible to know anything about a deity, including whether such a deity does or does not exist (hence the transcendentalist). I believe that, if such a deity does exist, that deity essentially serves as an architect who designed the universe, set the laws of physics, and so forth, but is otherwise completely disinterested (deism). And I'm agnostic in the sense that my mind is not made up; I'm eminently prepared to reject any or all of the above.



[ Parent ]
No contradiction (none / 0) (#101)
by Mister Proper on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:52:21 PM EST

In which case, you've just contradicted yourself for you consider that statement true, yet you yourself concede that it does not meet your standard of truth.
Yes it does. I only omitted the proof of correctness because it relies on circular reasoning, making it a valid proof only if you already trust the method. So it does meet my standards, it just doesn't meet the standards of the extraordinary man that rejects this method.

This trust, an agreement over the system of finding facts we both use, is required for us to agree on anything anyhow. Since this scientific method has brought us so many things, isn't it rational to trust it?

If you do not trust it, what do you trust?

As to the purpose of that little exercise, it is to demonstrate that the scientific method is not up to some tasks.
How so? That statement, when evaluated by the statement itself, proves itself true. Thus the scientific method is true.

Care to prove this false, by any method that you expect a rational man to believe?

I am something of an agnostic transcendentalist deist. I believe that is impossible to know anything about a deity, including whether such a deity does or does not exist (hence the transcendentalist). I believe that, if such a deity does exist, that deity essentially serves as an architect who designed the universe, set the laws of physics, and so forth, but is otherwise completely disinterested (deism). And I'm agnostic in the sense that my mind is not made up; I'm eminently prepared to reject any or all of the above.
This reminds me of: I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.-- Socrates

Something I concur with. Yet, that kind of thinking doesn't bring us anything useful other than some questionable humbleness.

I find it useless to define yourself for what you don't know, yet believe that is possible. Such a thing can only show which options you have not considered. I.e. do you believe it is possible that we are but a simulation on a Turing machine?

[ Parent ]

Circular Reasoning (none / 0) (#151)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:49:47 PM EST

...however, is not logical (for it's just begging the question). As it's not logical, it's not true (as unless I am misreading the statement in question, it's formulated as a series of AND clauses).



[ Parent ]
hm, you're right (none / 0) (#281)
by Mister Proper on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:11:01 AM EST

but I still don't get why you're dwelling on this so much. BTW, you've only shown that the statement cannot prove itself to be true, not that it is false per se.

So yes, atheism is a belief. Yes, I admit that I may be wrong and thus am an agnostic also. We've covered that already.

Freethinkers do not claim to know all the answers. I do, however, reject the idea that I should always consider all possibilities despite lack of evidence. In general people will not talk about how just maybe fairies may exist, yet you are proud that you have considered that a god may or may not exist.

What you haven't answered is if you find the statement rational. Do you think it makes more sense to only assume things for true that you have evidence of, or should we believe the things written in 2000-year old books, and also the things that our own mind can come up with? Shouldn't the latter two options be used for sparkling ideas only?

[ Parent ]

I have dealt with that elsewhere in this story (5.00 / 1) (#386)
by leviramsey on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:49:58 PM EST

If there is no evidence that demonstrates, beyond reasonable doubt, that a given proposition is invalid, then it is a matter of belief, and belief or disbelief is equally justifiable and equally rational, so long as it does not contradict other beliefs (assuming that a principle of non-contradiction is a component of your epistemology, which at least for me, it is... YMMV).

Grounds for choosing belief or disbelief are very much up to the individual. Some may choose to use the scientific method. Some may choose to use ancient texts. Some (and I would suggest, most of us) bas beliefs on practical and utilitarian concerns (ie belief in a deity serves a useful purpose). Others may have completely different sets of possible grounds.

I personally feel that ancient texts aren't useful grounds for belief. I also feel that the scientific method is only valid insofar as it works in the phenomenal universe (to borrow Kant's terminology). As to my personal beliefs on the existence of God, I'm a transcendentalist: I believe that some "being" in essence set the physical universe in motion, set forth the laws of physics and mathematics, and in general only did as much as necessary to be a first cause. I also believe that, again to borrow from Kant, that the plane of existence (that's not the term I'd like, it's what popped into my head) on which this "being" resides/resided is beyond human comprehension or even perception (space, time, logic, and the other lenses through which humans perceive the universe are not usable on that plane). I know I'm being too anthropomorphic with the above description... it's a limitation of the English language.



[ Parent ]
That's why I always (none / 0) (#416)
by Mister Proper on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:01:17 PM EST

respectfully disagree with religious and agnostic people. :)

[ Parent ]
Which is why... (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:39:34 PM EST

...I disagree with a certain group's use of the term "freethinker". There is nothing "free" about operating within the narrow confines of what is testable, falsifiable, parsimonious or logical.

Admittedly this term, "freethinker", made sense once (back in the 19th century, when it was trendy to be an atheist), because it distinguished itself from Victorian authoritarianism. (Even then, the "freethinkers" of the time were still deeply embedded in their era.) So I guess I'll accept it so long as "freethinkers" note the historical context in which the term arose.

It could just be me, of course. I'm very much a post modernist. (Larry Wall is my hero.) Rationalism and scientific thinking is a great way to look at the world, but it's just one of many ways. The danger is if you pick only one way at the exclusion of others (e.g. rejecting philosophy or rejecting emotion).



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
I could be wrong... (none / 0) (#159)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:22:21 PM EST

...but I'd suspect that this use of the term "freethinker" has its roots in Nietzsche's many rhetorical appeals to "we freethinkers" (cf Beyond Good and Evil). Never mind, of course, that Nietzsche would have held the naive metaphysical realist and the scientific idolater in no better regard than he did the hellfire and damnation Lutheran preacher.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
What tested evidence?? (1.00 / 1) (#187)
by juju2112 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:56:15 AM EST

Most atheists are freethinkers, they base their beliefs only on tested evidence.

Atheists do not have any tested evidence that God doesn't exist.

Most atheists say, "I don't believe in God." The problem is, this is a belief. They have zero evidence for their claim, just like the theists. They may think their unproven hypothesis is better than everyone else's, but that doesn't make it anything more than an unproven hypothesis.

It is not wise to say that you know the truth when you really don't. No one knows for certain whether or not there is a God. Unfortunately, only agnostics have the balls to admit it.

[ Parent ]

Please read the rest of the thread (nt) (4.00 / 1) (#270)
by Mister Proper on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:37:15 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Wrong (5.00 / 7) (#72)
by DarkZero on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:59:51 PM EST

That someone would claim to be an atheist. Trying to prove a negative assertion is even more absurd than trying to prove an unlikely positive one. Thus claiming to be an atheist generally only tells me that they have a serious mental disconnect somewhere.

You don't "prove" a negative assertion when you're trying to find whether or not something exists. Non-existence or curiosity are the defaults when there is no evidence for something.

Let's put it this way: Few people believe that flying pigs exist, but yet, there is no proof of their non-existence. Because humanity has not stretched across the entire universe to observe all that exists within it, we cannot know for sure that flying pigs do not exist. However, due to the completely lack of evidence for flying pigs beyond the human imagination attaching little angel wings to swine, we can reasonably assume that flying pigs do not exist. A person would not be insane to try to find a flying pig somewhere on Earth, because curiosity is an integral part of finding anything new, but they would be considered a little nutty if they believed in the existence of flying pigs without any evidence or any attempt to prove their existence.

If I told you that there were flying pigs circling the globe as we speak, would you believe it? Probably not, because there's no evidence that either exists. Unfortunately, this is a bit of common sense that few people attach to the concept of a God, which most people had drilled into them in childhood.

[ Parent ]

while your argument is true (none / 0) (#976)
by adequate nathan on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 01:04:21 PM EST

And while many Christians assume the existence of God, that doesn't mean that there's "no evidence" for the existence of God. It means that's there's no empirical evidence; you can't test Christianity in the laboratory with litmus paper, a centrifuge, and Vernier calipers. This is not the same as saying that there is no evidence.

Empiricists are prohibited from belief because their empirical philosophy is agnostic on metaphysical matters. If your philosophy only allows you to accept things that can handle the test of verifiability by experiment, you are unable to take positions on lots of important issues; for instance, you lose the ability to make ethical speculations, because pure empiricism is free of values. It is impossible to falsify or verify propositions like "homosexuality is wrong," "women should be free from oppression," or "taxes are immoral." Empiricism would only allow you to say "[foo] percent of people believe that homosexuality is wrong," or "the historical record shows that women have undergone oppression."

In Christianity, the evidence for the existence of God was always metaphysical, existential, and philosophical until some of the Scholastics started to veer towards deism by positing a mechanistic universe. Saying that there is no empirical evidence is the same thing as saying "there is no empirical evidence showing that love is better than hate." How much does love weigh, what is the viscosity of hate, and what's the temperature of sublimation for the truth?

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Proving a negative absurd, eh? (4.00 / 4) (#109)
by medham on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:08:34 PM EST

Ever heard of obversion? Contraposition? Probably not.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

A question of proof. (4.50 / 2) (#344)
by FeersumAsura on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:00:23 AM EST

We all know you can't prove something doesn't exist. I don't believe in god. No argument that it exists has ever persuaded me, arguments relating to big bang theory have swayed me a little more. I would never call myself an agnostic, these are people who can't make up their minds. As far as I'm concerned I exist becuase of a massive fluke, I have no purpose in life and when I die I shall cease to exist. Can I be classed as an Atheist now?

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
The fundamental issue *with my post* (4.80 / 5) (#12)
by Frank Wustner on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:53:56 PM EST

...is that, whether you agree with us or not, our rights and dignity deserve the same respect as everyone else's. I am not here to debate with you about atheism (though you clearly don't understand what it is), but rather to ask that we be given the respect that people so often deprive us of.



[ Parent ]
Atheists' beliefs, as far as I'm concerned, (1.66 / 6) (#13)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:05:46 PM EST

are worthy of the same amount of respect as the typical religious fundamentalist's beliefs: not a whole hell of a lot.



[ Parent ]
well that really helps (4.16 / 6) (#40)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:03:30 PM EST

I hope you expect the same respect -- or lack thereof -- for your own beliefs. It is also sad to note that you have a poor grasp of the concepts of both atheism and fundamentalism, which are not exclusive.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

The beliefs are not the reason for the disrespect (1.50 / 6) (#43)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:10:23 PM EST

It's the attitude of many fundies and atheists.

There are fundies and atheists who do not have these attitudes... I have never met one of either, however.



[ Parent ]
there's your problem (4.40 / 5) (#50)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:28:33 PM EST

Based on the visible actions of a small number of people, you have drawn conclusions about whole groups of people. Sounds like a good definition for prejudice. Never met any nice atheists? How do you know, they don't wear uniforms or all drive the same kind of car or greet people by saying, "Hello, I don't believe in the existence of god, how are you?"


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

What about what he said? (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by juju2112 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:09:21 PM EST

What about the point he brought up? What's your opinion on that?

What is it about atheism that he doesn't understand? The only assumption he made was that atheists believe there is no god.

[ Parent ]

I do believe I already answered that. (3.00 / 1) (#163)
by Frank Wustner on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:55:42 PM EST

My opinion on the point in question is that it is irrelevant. I have no intention of debating the pros or cons of atheism, this is only a plea for respect. I certainly have no intention of trying to convince a dogmatic agnostic that his or her misconceptions about atheism really are misconceptions. In my experience, that is usually futile.



[ Parent ]
Not respect, tolerance (3.50 / 2) (#201)
by jagg on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:01:19 AM EST

Respect is not necessary in order for civility to become the norm in religious conversation, but tolerance is. Respect implies an acceptance of a sort for another point of view, which is not always present depending on one's personal dispositions. For example, I don't respect the Flat Earth Society because I don't find what they say consistent with my personal thought, but I tolerate them because I expect the same cool indifference (in law and conversation) for my beliefs, even though they differ. Basically, it boils down to: don't mess with me, and I won't mess with you, rather than, accept my beliefs as possible truth and I'll try the same.

--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]
I disagree that they are equally presumptuous (4.50 / 4) (#19)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:29:00 PM EST

It seems to me that the, "There is not a big invisible man in the sky controlling our lives who loves us but if we screw up he's gonna torture us for eternity" position is much less presumptuous than the "There is a giant invisible man in the sky" argument.

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

The first argument is not necessarily atheism (2.00 / 1) (#20)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:33:02 PM EST

any theology which rejects the Judeo-Christian-Islamic conception of a deity would espouse that argument and not be atheistic.



[ Parent ]
Yeah, but I've never had a buddhist get angry... (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:44:44 PM EST

When I say I'm not a buddhist.  Muslims might want to blow me up.  Jews don't seem to really give a shit as long as they are left alone.

Christians, however, seem to get really pissed and self-righteous.

Besides, as this seems to be a pretty US-Centric article, rejection of christian faith and atheism are pretty close to the same thing for the sake of this discussion because Christianity is such a dominant religion here.

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Still, there are various Christian theologies (1.50 / 2) (#25)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:47:17 PM EST

...which reject all or part of your arguments. They are not atheist.



[ Parent ]
uhhhh..... (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:48:57 PM EST

which ones?

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Read John Shelby Spong (1.50 / 2) (#32)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:51:30 PM EST

Although various fundies want to brand him a heretic.



[ Parent ]
No time, (2.50 / 2) (#35)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:56:49 PM EST

summarize.

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

Eseentially he says that most of (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:08:06 PM EST

...the Old and New Testament are wrong when it comes to the nature of God. He seems to take a more transcendentalist postion (the true nature of God cannot be known by humans in any way). In some fashion, Spong wants to return Christianity to being a sect of Judaism.

Applying to your atheist argument:

  • "Big invisible man in the sky" - this is a product of a pre-scientific worldview and must be rejected.
  • "controlling our lives" - Spong rejects omnipotence.
  • "if we screw up, he's gonna torture us for eternity" - Spong rejects the Christian conception of hell, essentially finding it to be a product of later misinterpretations.


[ Parent ]
Ok...... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:23:13 PM EST

So this one dude believes something that 95% of christians would consider him not a christian for believing....whats your point again?

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-- FIELDISM NOW!
[ Parent ]

He does believe in the existence of a deity (2.00 / 2) (#56)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:38:03 PM EST

He's also a former bishop, in the Episcopal Church (Newark, NJ).

By the arguments you gave, he's an atheist. However, he's most definitely not.



[ Parent ]
Wrong assumption (5.00 / 3) (#55)
by lesha on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:37:23 PM EST

Atheism has nothing to do with faith of any kind. It does not claim that god does not exist in principle. Atheism states there is not enough objective evidence to accept this hypotesis. Occam razor eliminates the necessety of this assumption.

[ Parent ]
Occam's razor... (4.00 / 2) (#78)
by Ni on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:14:22 PM EST

Is a matter of faith. Unless you'd care to give a logical justification for following it.


But it's a sweet sadness, much better than the empty horrors of the world. --blixco
[ Parent ]
It's rather a matter of efficiency. (5.00 / 2) (#111)
by lesha on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:15:07 PM EST

One's life time and the amount of grey matter and are limited. Thus, choosing the most concise and brainpowerwise economical way of description of the objective reality allows to spend precious recources efficiently. In turn, efficiency is closely related to evolutionary progress. Note that evolution is not a hypothesis, but an established theory with vast empirical evidence. There's nothing about faith there either.

[ Parent ]
Err.. No. (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by Ni on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:17:48 PM EST

I understand what you're saying. Perhaps no don't understand what I'm saying.

Yes, Occam's razor is used because of efficiency. However, it does not tell us anything about the world. Nothing. Nadda. 0. It's a nice assumptino to rely on, but provides no actual knowledge. Believing something because Occam's razor says it's likely is a matter of faith.


But it's a sweet sadness, much better than the empty horrors of the world. --blixco
[ Parent ]

I see. (5.00 / 2) (#121)
by lesha on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:54:04 PM EST

You are exactly right saying it does not provide any knowledge. When choosing between two theories, the Occam's razor can not tell which theory is correct. It is up to the empirical evidence to provide a basis for such choice. But if two theories embrace the avalaible phenomenological knowledge to the equal extent and there is no empirical data contradicting either of them, it is efficient to use the least complicated of the two. This is when Occam's razor comes into play. It does not mean that the rejected theory is not correct. The only statement made is that it is less efficient. There is nothing about faith in it too.

[ Parent ]
Mulitplying entities with abandon (3.50 / 2) (#126)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:20:03 PM EST

While there is certainly reason to take to heart Occam's advice that we not needlessly multiply entites more so than is absolutely necessary when attempting to model the world, extending Occam's prejudice to the ontological or metaphysical level is purely an act of faith as it has no greater claim to representing truth than does Hamlet's remark: There are more things in heaven and hell...than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
It does not matter. (5.00 / 2) (#136)
by lesha on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:14:21 PM EST

Metaphysics has nothing to do with objective reality since it's not based on the empirical evidence. Subjective reality is too easily altered to be a practical subject of study or even meaningful discussion since the terms you have to operate in are vaguely defined. So, even if your statement is correct, I can not easily see how it relates to the objective existence or nonexistance of god, which is the subject of the current discussion.

[ Parent ]
Careful, you're betraying your articles of faith (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:35:48 PM EST

Metaphysics has nothing to do with objective reality since it's not based on the empirical evidence.

True, so long as the scope of your comment remains strictly epistemological, but the belief that the class of all existent things is necessarily composed solely of things available to empirical investigation is an article of faith not itself derivable from empirical evidence. That is to say, I'd agree so long as your "objective reality" is only an epistemological category (the objectively or inter-subjectively known), and not an ontological category (the truly real).

Subjective reality is too easily altered to be a practical subject of study or even meaningful discussion since the terms you have to operate in are vaguely defined.

So nobody had a meaningful discussion prior to the advent of modern science? All those studying literature, phenomenal psychology, and history are really just wasting their time and efforts with vagaries? Somebody ought to alert them!

So, even if your statement is correct, I can not easily see how it relates to the objective existence or nonexistance of god, which is the subject of the current discussion.

The existence or non-existence of God is by definition a metaphysical question.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
That's fine since I have no faith (none / 0) (#186)
by lesha on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:54:56 AM EST

the belief that the class of all existent things is necessarily composed solely of things available to empirical investigation is an article of faith not itself derivable from empirical evidence.

In my understanding, empirical way of investigation of exiting things is the only available way of gaining knowledge about the world. Godel theorem shows that a very wide class of consistent axiomatic systems is incomplete in a sense that there always exists a statement correctly formulated in terms of the system in question such that its validity can not be proven or disproven in the framework of the given set of axioms. This makes us to resort to empirical investigation and following extention or amendment of the axiomatic system.

That is to say, I'd agree so long as your "objective reality" is only an epistemological category (the objectively or inter-subjectively known), and not an ontological category (the truly real).

I understand objective reality as a class of empirically observable entities, which are observable in principle and not necesserily by the means of current technology. In this sense, things that are not empirically observable do not have, by definition, any influence on the objective reality and are, for all practical purposes, effectively non-existant.

So nobody had a meaningful discussion prior to the advent of modern science? All those studying literature, phenomenal psychology, and history are really just wasting their time and efforts with vagaries?

Yes, I misused the term. By "meaningful" I understood "dealing with objective entities".

The existence or non-existence of God is by definition a metaphysical question.

Does it mean that god is not a part of objective reality? If so, then how one can arrive to such conclusion?

[ Parent ]
So, there might be a Santa Claus? (5.00 / 9) (#115)
by PullNoPunches on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:22:44 PM EST

God is an arbitrary statement. It carries no more truth value than if I said there is a moose in your backyard prior to your actually checking. (I'm assuming you don't live in Alaska)

Sure, you could potentially disprove it, unlike the claim that God exists, but until you do, it is a purely arbitrary statement. You are perfectly justified in disbelieving it, even though it is possible to construct a scenario that would make it true.

It is not irrational to say there is no God, any more than it is irrational to say there is no Santa Claus, and no unicorns, and no copy of War and Peace on Pluto. I can come up with such arbitrary assertions literally every three seconds for the rest of your life. It is irrational to give any of them the slightest credence, or even to be agnostic about them, without some evidence.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Well it depends on what you mean by deity (4.50 / 2) (#385)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:39:48 PM EST

Do you believe God has a mind like a person?  How similar or dissimilar to a person?  A human mind exists inside a brain.  Does God have a brain somewhere.  I have emotions to help me survive and carry on my genes.  I get hungry and tired and horny.  I love my family (who happen to have my genes).  I care about my friends (who can help me out of a jam if a need them).  I am happy when I am safe and secure.

Does God have intelligence?  Is he omniscent?  If he is omniscent he doesn't use his intelligence because he knows everything already.

Was creating the universe a creative act?  Sometimes I do creative things, like making smarmy posts that get lots of 1's and 5's, but I always base it on things I already knew.  I just mix my knowledge in new ways.  God created the universe without knowledge of anything because nothing existed yet.  He exhibited a kind of creativity which has nothing to do with human thinking.

Maybe God is more like a computer than a person.  Maybe he isn't even like a computer, but more like a bunch of equations.  Maybe the universe is God's brain and we are his thoughts.  Maybe God is like a really good slice of Chicago-style pizza.  I could go on and on.  The chances that God has mind like a person seem to be infinitesimal.

Oh shit look at the time!  I'm going to be late for Church!


I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]

right back at ya (5.00 / 1) (#423)
by dipierro on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:22:42 PM EST

Is that it is just as presumptuous to say that no deity exists as it is to say that one exists. Ultimately, I think the only two rational positions on this issue are an agnostic position or a transcendental position.


Isn't it just as presumptuous to say that "the only two rational positions on this issue are an agnostic position or a transcendental position."  How can you completely discount that others have felt the power of God and their beliefs are therefore perfectly rational?


Likewise, perhaps you could say that atheism is irrational, but then you have to discount inductive reasoning as irrational.  Do you consider it irrational to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow morning?



[ Parent ]
Felt the power ? (none / 0) (#674)
by ceallach on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 10:06:51 AM EST

But people in _every_ religion there is have "Felt the power of (fill_in_the_blank)" and KNOW their religion to be true. If you personally have not "Felt the power" these balance each other out.

--
More smoke! The mirrors aren't working!!!
[ Parent ]

You think YOU have it bad! (3.40 / 5) (#6)
by thekubrix on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:41:33 PM EST

Imagine us poor agnostics, talk about minority!

Really! (4.57 / 7) (#9)
by rjo on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:48:37 PM EST

At least when you say you're an atheist everyone knows what the hell you're talking about.

[ Parent ]
seriously (4.25 / 4) (#10)
by thekubrix on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:51:15 PM EST

Trying to explain EVERY time someone asks you is such a pain especially when they just dont "get" it, or dont bother and associate you as an atheist, egads!

[ Parent ]
Whats it mean, anyway? (none / 0) (#237)
by AndrewW on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:40:58 AM EST

I agree with what you are saying -- that many people have no idea what agnosticism(?) is anyway.

But I've noticed a large problem stems just from people who have there own meaning of it.  No matter what topic you debate on k5 or anywhere, you'll see a fair amount of dispute just over the meaning of the word.  To use agnosticism as an example, I've seen people argue that its just "weak atheism."  There are people who identify themselves as agnostic, and when describing it, simply say "I believe in (a) god(s), just not your God," and then someone else say "I don't know whether God exists, and I don't believe there will ever be proof of it, so I don't associate myself with any religion."

So while I agree with what you are saying, I also believe that it is extremely difficult to figure out what someone means when they say "I'm agnostic" - or anything for that matter, simply because the word is used to mean so many different things anyway.  I've noticed this as a very common problem on k5, whether its a debate on religion, or anti-semitism.  Maybe we need a huge database of every different meaning of every different word/phrase, and when someone debates on k5, they can link every word to the meaning they have for the word, so there won't be so much confusion when they post.

In case it matters, I'm not really sure what I am, and I am not attacking agnostics or anyone, just stating a general problem I see.  We need everyone to use one definition for a word, or we need to describe exactly what we mean in place of the words we use (EGAD!).

(Sorry in advance - drunken first post, and its looking like a bit of an off topic rant too)

[ Parent ]

Religion (2.35 / 17) (#8)
by RoOoBo on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:44:57 PM EST

Well, as my position is that religion should be treated as some kind of very dangerous and infectious mental illness that should be controled by the WHO I wonder as I really care what a theist think about me.

Child addoctrination should be heavily punished.

In any case (if we forget about personal believings of the people as anyone has the free of believe, eat, drink or smoke whatever it wants whenever it doesn't affect other people) all religious institutions are evil and should be erradicated ASAP.



You are right (3.66 / 9) (#51)
by anothertom on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:29:05 PM EST

Religious education is maybe the worst kind of child-abuse. It's mind-rape and it's legitime, even mandatory.


[ Parent ]
You're really cool. (4.00 / 1) (#181)
by seebs on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:12:07 AM EST

I wish I were as hateful as you; my life would be a lot more exciting.


[ Parent ]
Hate? (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by RoOoBo on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:43:29 AM EST

I don't hate religious people they are just victims of mental (meme) illness. Do you hate AIDS people or your neighbour having the flu?

And the religious institutions should be closed because the are one of the main mediums to spread this illness. I don't need to hate them either, the rational when there is an infection focus is to close it.



[ Parent ]
I don't hate you... (none / 0) (#232)
by tkatchev on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:24:15 AM EST

...just because you are a heartless mental defective. In fact, I have pity for you, sort of like pity for those homeless kittens you find in the dumpster.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Heart (none / 0) (#238)
by RoOoBo on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:41:12 AM EST

I fail to understand what do you mean with 'heartless mental defective'. My heart seems to be beating right in this moment, and I don't see the relation between mind and heart.

If you mean I don't have any kind of feeling or emotion you are wrong. As any normal human being (or even some animals) I have any kind of feelings from love to hate or sadness. Love because I'm attached to other living beings, hate because I see how some humans do willingly wrong things, sadness because I can miss beings attached to me or sadness because I can understand the suffering for other beings.

But I don't have those because I was created by God but because evolution provided those mechanism so social beings could interact with each other in an efficient way. Even if I don't care about evolution 'objectives' (which in fact doesn't even exist either, it is just a process) I still have them.



[ Parent ]
Ahh, it's a mental illness. (5.00 / 1) (#244)
by seebs on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:16:02 AM EST

Could you point to the correct DSM classification for this "mental illness"?  Perhaps you could start by identifying the ways in which this condition *NECESSARILY* impedes normal life.  Anecdotes don't count; it has to be universal, or the condition itself isn't the mental illness, just some other condition that sometimes gets attached to it.

I have a free clue for you:  The disease is intolerance, not religion, and you have a near-terminal case of it.


[ Parent ]

Intolerance (5.00 / 1) (#251)
by RoOoBo on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:37:11 AM EST

Intolerance = Believing of some people that they are the right ones designed by the only True God and all other believers are worshiping false or evil images.

Who is intolerant here?

And about 'mental illness', as I'm not a doctor or health specialist, I mean any kind of meme, thought or believing that has many chances of being dangerous for the believer and even more dangerous to the non-believers and that it is contagious and spread fast.

Religion uses to spread from affected fathers to childs or from addoctrination institutions lead by charismatic people to people without enough culture, education or has had somekind of mental or emotional problems (depressions for example).

Neither the Inquisition, nor any other religious persecutions can be named as 'anecdotes'. Religion is used mainly to manipulate the mind of the people.

If it isn't an illness explain how an unaddoctrinated in childhood is far less prone to be affected by 'religion' and 'unrational' believings than one addoctrinated. Because the notion of 'god' and 'religion' is imposed at early age when humans are easier to be manipulated.



[ Parent ]
Intolerance... (none / 0) (#436)
by seebs on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:46:49 PM EST

The people saying "this belief system and all like it need to be stamped out" are intolerant.

Most religious people are quite happy to live and let live; the vocal minority is something of an exception, not the rule.

If everyone agrees to live and let live, we have no problems.  It's the intolerant people, whether they're Christians, Muslims, or atheists, who are the problem.  Tolerant people who believe things you don't are not harming you.


[ Parent ]

Harming (none / 0) (#675)
by RoOoBo on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 10:21:40 AM EST

Tolerant people who believe things you don't are not harming you.

But they are 'harming' themselves and more likely 'harming' their sons with their believes so there is a problems ;).



[ Parent ]
Says you. (none / 0) (#721)
by seebs on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:04:59 PM EST

Ahh, but if you're allowed to decide, from outside, that they're "harming" themselves, then they have the right to decide that you're "harming" yourself by doing something that could send you to hell, and they have every bit as much of a right to try to stop you as you do to try to stop them.

The only fair solution is to say "okay, maybe we will all have to get along".


[ Parent ]

Bad style (none / 0) (#316)
by anothertom on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:03:36 AM EST

I could as well ask you for a complete description of the static system whenever you use the word "house". I could do so because I am able to do the necessary sketches and calculations on a paper tissue within 2 minutes.
I refuse arguing in such pedantic style because it's counterproductive and only points out the fact, that I have some limited, special knowledge which makes me better than you in my personal microcosmos.


[ Parent ]
Where's Hitler? (none / 0) (#311)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:44:49 AM EST

"In any case all religious institutions are evil and should be erradicated ASAP."

Hey, sounds like Hitler.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Hitler was religious (2.00 / 2) (#340)
by Gully Foyle on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:48:56 AM EST

Catholic in fact:

"Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work." - Mein Kampf

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Nice try. (4.00 / 2) (#354)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:33:12 AM EST

Hitler excommunicated himself with his beliefs/actions. Obviously if you think Hitler was Catholic, you don't understand Catholicism.

Your quote from Hitler's little book shows how insane he was.

Some interesting tidbits for you to read:

PIUS XI CONSIDERED HITLER AN ANTICHRIST http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=12702

HITLER ORDERED DESTRUCTION OF VATICAN AND KIDNAPPING OF PIUS XII http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=18262

A good quote: from Fr. John Echert on EWTN.com's Q&A forums: "From the time of Christ Himself, as seen in the figure of Judas, there have always been corrupt individuals in the Church, even while the Church herself remains the sinless Bride and Christ and Mystical Body of Christ. No more would we think to reject Christ for his choice of Judas, should we reject the Church, for the presence of corrupt members, some of whom can lead others in sin. No doubt early unbelievers attempted to discredit Christianity by the failure of some of the members, and such continues to the present. It all comes down to the distinction between the Church which is the Temple of the Spirit, and the Institutional, fallible aspect of the Church, composed of many members."

Quote from the link: http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/whostmax.htm "The objective of Hitler, in his hatred for Jesus Christ, was both to remove all witness to the truth of the original revelation of the God of Israel (the Jewish nation), as well as all who came to believe in Him in His Incarnation by Mary (Roman Catholics)."

Also, not only was Hitler NOT a ''Good Catholic'', but he hated them. He exterminated many in Poland and other regions... The best known Catholics who died in German Prison camps were Jewish convert (Saint) Edith Stein - then a Carmelite Nun and Father (now Saint) Maximillian Kolbe, who saved another prisoner's life by volunteering to die in his place...

A quote from the link: http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=264406 "Also, not only was Hitler NOT a ''Good Catholic'', but he hated them. He exterminated many in Poland and other regions... The best known Catholics who died in German Prison camps were Jewish convert (Saint) Edith Stein - then a Carmelite Nun and Father (now Saint) Maximillian Kolbe, who saved another prisoner's life by volunteering to die in his place..."

I could go on and on with quotes and links. Look around on Ewtn.com and you'll find plenty of information against Hitler.

The bottom line is, if you believe Hitler's actions and beliefs have anything to do with Catholicism or the Catholic Church, you believe a lie.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Wow! (none / 0) (#381)
by Gully Foyle on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:34:40 PM EST

I must have hit a nerve... I didn't mean to say anything bad about Catholics, I just wanted to refute your point that advocating the destruction of all religions "sounds like Hitler". It doesn't sound like Hitler, because Hitler was religious. He certainly saw himself as a Catholic, but my ignorance regarding religions where a third party gets to decide whether you're a member or not showed itself, and apparently offended you.

Of course, if your original intention was simply to end a nasty thread by comparing RoOoBo with Hitler, then I apologise for drawing it out.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

HAIL MARY! (1.00 / 1) (#443)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:55:57 PM EST

You misinterpreted my post. I will explain it.

It was said:
"In any case all religious institutions are evil and should be erradicated ASAP."

To which I replied:
Hey, sounds like Hitler.

Hitler was insane and wanted to rid the world of any religious institution that conflicted with his own idea of religion, which was Hitlerism, or Nazism if you will. My point was dead on, "sounds like Hitler" because it did sound like Hitler. I see where you were trying to go, but you missed my point.

"Hitler was religious."

No, Hitler was insane. If by religious you mean Nazism, so be it.

"Of course, if your original intention was simply to end a nasty thread by comparing RoOoBo with Hitler, then I apologise for drawing it out."

Not at all. I was comparing his statement, not the person behind it.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Insane people can't be religious? (5.00 / 1) (#653)
by Gully Foyle on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 06:53:26 AM EST

"No, Hitler was insane. If by religious you mean Nazism, so be it."

I don't think they're mutually exclusive, and I didn't mean nazism. As far as Hitler was concerned, he was catholic. I didn't think the quote sounded like Hitler because Hitler didn't advocate ridding the world of all religions. He was perfectly happy exploiting religions. Advocating the end of religion sounds more like Stalin to be honest.

OT: What have you done to upset wedman?

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Oh, and I should add... (none / 0) (#383)
by Gully Foyle on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:38:08 PM EST

Thanks for the post. It was a strong and well researched refutation of a point I didn't make.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Thank you! :) (1.00 / 1) (#439)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:50:35 PM EST

"Thanks for the post. It was a strong and well researched refutation"

I accept your compliment.

of a point I didn't make. I saw the point you were trying to make, which was incorrect.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Not quite Hitler - try Stalin. (n/t) (2.00 / 2) (#469)
by magney on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:50:26 PM EST


Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Intolerant Atheist. (2.00 / 1) (#349)
by FeersumAsura on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:10:31 AM EST

Well that proves that at least one atheist can be intolerant. Much as I dislike some of side effects of religion (war, famine, intolerance etc) I'm happy for people to be religious. Imagine how nice it would be if you could rely on your faith in times of crisis. Unfortunately as an atheist I don't get that luxury. If it makes someone happy let them do it, if they want to spread their message ignore them. If they negativel affect your life, do something.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
Intolerance and perceived disrespect (4.25 / 8) (#11)
by HidingMyName on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 03:53:03 PM EST

I'm not an atheist, but I don't see that much intolerance directed at them. But then I'm in academic circles. However, some (not all) atheists are pretty uninhibited in expressing their views in ways that are almost confrontational about their beliefs. Hearing why others reject your beliefs can be hard sometimes I guess. I do have friends who are low key atheists and we can have reasoned discussions and talk about our beliefs in a non-confrontational way.

Also, atheists are not monolithic. Atheists typically don't have an oranization like most religions do (e.g. Catholic church, Synogogue, Temple, etc.). So treating a atheists collectively is misleading since they typically are atheist for private reasons.

You don't have it bad (3.66 / 12) (#14)
by skim123 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:06:10 PM EST

Who in the world asks you about your religious preferences? The guy sitting next to you on the bus? Your waiter at a restaurant? Your barber? Your coworker? Your boss? Your next door neighbor? Who, exactly, is persecuting you?

I have not been asked by anyone, except friends, girls I've dated, and family what my religious beliefs/preferences were. I guess I don't see how you can be persecuted by all these people unless you're getting up in their face and saying, "I AM AN ATHIEST." Here's a suggestion: if, in a social setting, you are asked about your religious beliefs, try saying, "I'm not that religious," as opposed to saying something like: "I don't believe in God and think anyone who does is a big stupid moron." You may find you are prejudiced against less.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Why should he have to lie? (4.57 / 7) (#17)
by cleo on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:26:43 PM EST

If someone asks him point-blank about my religious beliefs, why should he have to lie about them? As long as he's not advocating something that directly harms others, he should not have to make up some pretty story to quell the curiosity of people who go out of their way to inquire.

The presence of religion in everyday life varies throughout different geographic regions. In large urban areas it's easy to quietly live a nonreligious life without attracting the ire of your neigbors. In conservative rural areas, lack of participation in local churches is noticed and actively censured. In these places, one does not have to be confrontational in order to attract prejudice.

[ Parent ]

I disagree (3.60 / 5) (#21)
by skim123 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:34:07 PM EST

The presence of religion in everyday life varies throughout different geographic regions. In large urban areas it's easy to quietly live a nonreligious life without attracting the ire of your neigbors. In conservative rural areas, lack of participation in local churches is noticed and actively censured. In these places, one does not have to be confrontational in order to attract prejudice

Having lived in both settings I have to disagree. I did not go to church in a mid-Missouri town of 2,500 people (smack in the middle of the Bible belt) and received no ire. My grandparents lived in an even smaller town (~500) in mid-Missouri as well, and their lack of attending church did not draw the contempt of their fellow townspeople.

If someone asks him point-blank about my religious beliefs, why should he have to lie about them?

If you want to receive those looks, then you pad over it. Imagine if you believed that Joe Montana was an all mighty deity. Do you honestly think you could tell someone that and not get a surprised look, a comment like, "Ok, you are weird," or whatever? Having lived in rural Missouri I know from personal experience if you say, "I don't believe in God" to that question, some people have a tendency to bristle up a bit. Personally, I didn't like that so I'd smooth it over by just saying, "I'm not very religious," which, IMHO, is essentially one in the same thing.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Why shouldn't he lie? (3.50 / 2) (#387)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:54:33 PM EST

There's no such thing as hell. In life you have to choose your battles. If acceptance for atheism tolerance as his battle then he should politely say he's an athesist and take the heat. That's life.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
Tact, not lies. (none / 0) (#747)
by Maurkov on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:17:11 PM EST

If someone asks him point-blank about [his] religious beliefs, why should he have to lie about them?
The correct answer to, "Does this dress make me look fat?" is not "It's not the dress, sister." If he can speak the truth without being confrontational, why pick the fight? If he does pick fights, why should I have sympathy for the wrath he incurs? Shame on the religious intolerants, obviously, but a lot of atheists don't seem to have the problem that you and the author have. Whether that is because of a difference in situation or temperment, I'm not sure, though I suspect the latter.

Maurkov

[ Parent ]
Well there you go (4.60 / 5) (#18)
by sticky on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:28:33 PM EST

Here's a suggestion: if, in a social setting, you are asked about your religious beliefs, try saying, "I'm not that religious," as opposed to saying something like: "I don't believe in God and think anyone who does is a big stupid moron."

Why should an atheist have to hide the truth about their beliefs? If somebody asks me about my religious beliefs, I tell them that I'm an atheist; EOS.


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Fine (2.25 / 4) (#22)
by skim123 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:36:25 PM EST

Why should an atheist have to hide the truth about their beliefs? If somebody asks me about my religious beliefs, I tell them that I'm an atheist; EOS

But then expect to get the cold stare from people at times. I don't think anyone has anything against you personally, because you are an atheist, but you have to see it from their point. Imagine if you asked me what my religious beliefs were, and I said, "I'm of the religion that believes what you believe is incorrect and silly."

The point is, if you don't want to be persecuted, then don't go around broadcasting your religious beliefs. As I said, very rarely will someone other than one you know ask you about your religious beliefs, and if you don't feel like getting into it, simply say, "I'm not that religious," end of story. If you want to get into it, fine, go for it, just don't post a fucking sob story on k5.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
I think the key is (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by sticky on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:53:45 PM EST

No matter what you do (or don't) believe, don't be a prick about it. I sure don't go about broadcasting my religious beliefs or post sob stories on K5 or anywhere else. I'm willing to bet that you are a prick about it, considering the fact that the fallacy count in your response is pretty high.


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Not quite (none / 0) (#75)
by skim123 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:08:21 PM EST

No matter what you do (or don't) believe, don't be a prick about it

Agreed, that was my entire point.

I sure don't go about broadcasting my religious beliefs or post sob stories on K5 or anywhere else.

My bad, I thought you and the author of the article were one in the same, but a quick checked revealed my mistake.

I'm willing to bet that you are a prick about it, considering the fact that the fallacy count in your response is pretty high

Did you not read my post? I said that one shouldn't be a prick about it. We are agreeing! I am not being a prick about it and neither are you.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Okay, that explains it then (none / 0) (#86)
by sticky on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:27:25 PM EST

No fallacies, just a case of mistaken identity.


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Why is atheism special? (4.75 / 4) (#107)
by magney on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:05:32 PM EST

Imagine if you asked me what my religious beliefs were, and I said, "I'm of the religion that believes what you believe is incorrect and silly."
That goes for just about every religion that isn't the one the questioner holds, you know.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Avoiding Persecution (none / 0) (#716)
by hatshepsut on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 01:10:08 PM EST

So gays and lesbians should hide their sexual orientation, if you are sick you should hide your illness, if you have a disability you should try to hide that?

What you appear to be advocating is hiding who you are from everyone you know. This doesn't address the issue, it avoids it. Which sounds like a better world to you: an accepting one where people are willing to live and let live, accept people for who they are, and be tolerant of others or one where we all hide who we are and just show a bland public mask to avoid persecution?

Anyone who asks a direct question should expect (and be prepared to accept) a direct response. I, personally, feel that asking about someone's religion is rude, but mostly because of the reaction I get when I answer the question. And if you have rarely been asked about your religious beliefs, I envy you. I used to get hassled all the time (usually on university campuses).

[ Parent ]

In other news... (5.00 / 1) (#757)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:43:00 PM EST

If a gay man is at a restaurant with acquaintances and is asked if he has a girlfriend, he shouldn't mention his boyfriend but instead say "I'm between girlfriends right now".  Otherwise he should expect cold stares, and shouldn't try to change this situation.


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
pfft (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by fhotg on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:47:31 PM EST

First, how often does it happen tha someone asks you directly this question ?

Second, if somebody does, without a preceding relationship/conversation that guarantees its a serious question in the sense that any honest answer would be welcome and lead to an interesting converstaion and not rejection, then, I think "that's very private and not your frickin buisness" and feel free to answer everything advantagous for me I'm able to pretend.

[ Parent ]

tolerance (none / 0) (#434)
by dipierro on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:45:59 PM EST

Why should an atheist have to hide the truth about their beliefs?


No one's saying an atheist has to do anything.  What skim123 was suggesting was that in social situations maybe it's a better solution.


Why should an atheist have to hide the truth about their beliefs? If somebody asks me about my religious beliefs, I tell them that I'm an atheist; EOS.


For myself it depends on the situation, and not just with religion.  I'll generally discuss openly and honestly about my beliefs until the conversation reaches a point where the intolerance of the person I'm discussing with becomes obvious.  I usually don't mind arguing over atheism vs. deism, or buying foreign cars vs. buying domestic cars, or bombing Iraq vs. not bombing Iraq, or Vegetarian vs. Vegan vs. meat-eater, but it really depends on the situation.  I recently had a waitress go on a 5 minute rant about how she hated people who drove non-American cars.  I decided it wasn't in my best interests to volunteer the fact that I drove a Honda.  Instead I nodded and smiled and said non-commital things like "oh, really."


Some people are intolerant.  Others aren't.  Personally I try to be tolerant, even of those who aren't.



[ Parent ]
Your blatant hypocracy astounds me. (4.00 / 4) (#167)
by Frank Wustner on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:16:51 AM EST

Guess what, skim? I don't advertise my atheism, and I don't insult religious believers.

I also don't hide my atheism if I am asked directly about religion. In such a case, the most I say is, "I'm an atheist." Sometimes I don't even say that much. In any case, however, I usually change the subject immediately afterward.

You claim not to understand how I can be persecuted for that? Just look at yourself. I merely identify myself as an atheist and post a fairly short piece on the problems I face, and immediately you are up in arms about how I must be bringing the trouble on myself by being obnoxious and rude about it.

YOU, skim, are a perfect example of the type of prejudiced bigot atheists often have to live with. If a Christian or Moslem introduced themselves as such, you would probably not even bat an eye. When I do so, you start playing a game of "blame the victim".



[ Parent ]
Nevertheless... (2.75 / 4) (#256)
by Dirty Liberalist Scumbag on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:58:57 AM EST

...this is a "whine" story. How could it be otherwise, with such gems as

"Imagine being a member of a minority group that almost everyone hates. In the news, at work, at home, from friends, family, co-workers, bosses, politicians, and even complete strangers, from everybody everywhere you are bombarded with messages that you are a second-class citizen, selfish, hateful, evil, worthless. Atheists all over America know exactly what I mean."

What you have done is taken a fairly subjective experience and have decided that it applies to everyone who is an atheist. Many of the atheists that I know do not run into the problems that you seem to have, and don't feel as if they are treated as an inferior minority group by "almost everyone." Only rarely are they ever approached by those seeking to convert them, and even then they are pleasant about it, because those converters are merely doing it because they care and are concerned.

Then again, I live in Chicago.

I have absolutely no idea which backwoods Bible-thumping region you hail from to suffer from such severe prejudice, but chalk it up to the population demographics of the area, and move. Go someplace a bit more metropolitan.

It all comes down to semantics in the end. The experiences of another are not going to synch up with your own personal experiences, and as such, you cannot fault Skim for assuming that it might have been your own actions that have caused such a negative reaction by others. I, and many of my friends who are atheist, have never had much of a problem concerning our chosen line of beliefs.

Be more careful with how you choose your words, junior, and don't get so self-righteous next time. It paints you in a poor light, especially that remark about Skim being a "prejudiced bigot." It sort of makes you look childish.

Cheers DLS
------

We suffer from constant delusions of grandeur.
[ Parent ]

Don't waste my time. (none / 0) (#376)
by Frank Wustner on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:26:47 PM EST

Quite frankly, I don't care how you choose to dismiss my "whine story". If the prejudice and bigotry I speak of don't bother you simply because they are fairly quiet and subtle, then more power to you.

But I suggest, kiddo, that you look at your own childishness before you start accusing me of it. I am not the one dismissing the entire issue simply because I don't like someone else's choice of rhetoric. The fact remains that, while maybe exaggerated, everything I said happens to be true. If you don't want to have to deal with that, then ignore it rather than waste my time with your holier-than-thou nonsense.



[ Parent ]
Heh. It appears I already did. (none / 0) (#589)
by Dirty Liberalist Scumbag on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:33:48 AM EST

Why are you so self-righteous that you feel that you must loudly defend everything that you take as a slight? Could it be this is why these people hate you so much in the first place?

I particularly don't care to deal with you whiny types, true. That is why I chose to post to particular threads (some of which struck me as interesting) rather than to your little tale of woe in general. However, it does not change the fact that:

1. You are semantically incorrect. You make broad, sweeping generalizations that you believe encompass all atheists (which, obviously, do not).

2. Skim's query and suggestion was a valid one, as he was making his own observations based on his own personal experiences (just like yours).

3. You acted like a fool by immediately jumping to conclusions and calling Skim a "prejudiced bigot" (a loaded term, to be sure).

Despite your use of contradictory terms ("exaggeration" and "truth" do not go together all that well) I fully believe that everything you said happens to be true for you. But don't assume that all atheist-types suffer from the same type of prejudice that you do. You are not the only atheist in the world, junior.

Can I recommend, once again, that you move, or perhaps get involved with your local art/music/counterculture scene and/or University? Barring access to a metropolitan area, these places tend to be quite receptive to atheists and people that hold alternative beliefs. If the discrimination you receive bothers you that much, it seems to be your only valid option.

On a small aside, can I assume that you are aware that if a Christian or a Muslim posted a similar tale, the poor sod would have been mobbed by the resident militant atheists here? I am merely assuming that you do not count yourself in their numbers.
------

We suffer from constant delusions of grandeur.
[ Parent ]

Did you know.. (none / 0) (#176)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:56:43 AM EST

Did you know that over half of the U.S. population would not vote for a candidate who is an atheist? This indicates nothing to you?

[ Parent ]
Yep (none / 0) (#235)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:33:36 AM EST

It means that in a democracy, people choose representatives who do in fact represent their cherished beliefs and values.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
You forget... (none / 0) (#401)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:21:40 PM EST

You forget that jews, catholics, and mormons, who don't represent the beliefs of most voters, are acceptabvle candidates to most voters anyway.

The fact is that it's more socially acceptable to discriminate against atheists and agnostics, than it is to discriminate against black people, mormons, even homosexuals (and it's obvious how much homosexuals are discriminated against).

[ Parent ]

Not for president (3.00 / 1) (#507)
by skim123 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:01:06 PM EST

You forget that jews, catholics, and mormons, who don't represent the beliefs of most voters, are acceptabvle candidates to most voters anyway

Wasn't Kennedy the only president who was not Prodestant?

The fact is that it's more socially acceptable to discriminate against atheists and agnostics, than it is to discriminate against black people, mormons, even homosexuals

I think people who shove their differences in other peoples' faces deserve a little prejudice. In fact, I'd wager most peoples' beefs against those "discriminated" groups is b/c of the few outlandish losers. Would average America have so much against homosexuals if it wasn't for things like the Folsom Fair, drag queens, etc.?

Being an agnostic I got my share of ridicule when living in rural Missouri when I'd make a loud point about my beliefs. But I learned just to not shove it in anyone's face, and, in the end, no one really cared what my beliefs were. The older I've gotten the more I've realized how little others really give a damn about what you do or don't believe, as long as you're not forcing them to care by being a prick about it.

Now, with racism, agism, sexism, etc., yes, people can discriminate against those groups merely by presence, but for homosexuality and atheism, you'll find, I wager, that you're only discriminated against if you make a point of telling you and everyone around you that you think God is a silly little make believe story made up to give those with little intelligence some sort of deity to blame/attribute the bad and good of life, rather than accepting that it's all pure coincidence and we're all going to die anyhow.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Free clue (5.00 / 2) (#527)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:28:30 PM EST

Not voting for a category of persons on the basis of their beliefs is not discrimination. I would never never vote for someone of a socialist creed, does that mean I discriminate against socialists? A significant portion of the American electorate feels belief in God to be important enough that they wouldn't vote for a non-believer. That isn't discrimination, it is democracy.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
so lie (none / 0) (#425)
by dipierro on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:27:18 PM EST

Did you know that over half of the U.S. population would not vote for a candidate who is an atheist?


Sure they would as long as she lied about it.  And did you know that 95% of the U.S. population would not vote for a candidate who doesn't lie to them?



[ Parent ]
Did you Know II (none / 0) (#658)
by Curieus on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:40:10 AM EST

That it is nearly impossible to become a US president unless you are a multi millionaire...

A fact that seems to my uninformed eyes a whole lot more important to fix.

[ Parent ]

on the road (4.00 / 1) (#231)
by majcher on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:21:19 AM EST

The guy sitting next to me on the bus, yeah.

The bus from New York to California, for about eight hours of a three and a half day ride.  Not a lot of places to go, and when he won't stop talking to you - even though you're pointedly ignoring his religious blabber by intently trying to read - the next most amusing thing seems to be a little dialogue.  Bad idea.  Maybe watching the country go by for two days doesn't lead to making the best decisions.  Anyway, yeah.  Blah blah blah Jesus blah blah blah I was a sinner but now I'm saved blah blah blah why don't you believe in god blah blah blah.  Not even an educated debate, just the typical blathering of a fresh recruit.  Once it was obvious that I wasn't "saved", there was no stopping him.

Fortunately, I was sitting near the front, and at the next rest stop, the driver told him to either give the preaching a rest, or catch the next bus.  He caught the next bus.
--
http://www.majcher.com/
Wrestling pigs since 1988!
[ Parent ]

A suggestion for improving the situation (4.76 / 13) (#28)
by opensorcerer on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:48:27 PM EST

Many religions profess tolerance, forgiveness, patience and love to some degree.  Christianity springs primarily to mind and it will be used in the examples that follow, but substitute any religion that can apply here.

I know there are now those who will jump up and yell "but the Christians I know aren't forgiving, patient or loving at all!"  Well, then you have come to the heart of my suggestion.

If a religion tells you to behave in some fashion, like loving and respecting others, and you don't do it, what does that tell you?

Bone up on Christian tenets and beliefs.  Be able to quote scripture on the subject of tolerance and love.  If you remind people what a good Christian is meant to be, they may become good Christians - and thus no longer give you crap.  And if they ignore the paradox of their situation, you can walk away with your victory.

The argument that "making Christians/etc. aware of the tenets of their faith isn't my job" is countered by the existence of this article.  Anyone who takes a proactive stance on their beliefs becomes responsible for following through on that stance.  This advice works for any atheist readers as well, at their option.

For the record I consider myself a Christian, and the most dangerous thing I see is not atheists, but false believers who (like you describe the angry atheists doing) give other people the wrong impression of their beliefs.

Steve Arlo: There aren't evil guys and innocent guys. It's just... It's just... It's just a bunch of guys.

exactly [nt] (2.33 / 3) (#41)
by showboat on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:05:13 PM EST



[ Parent ]
And it goes the other way, (4.00 / 4) (#83)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:21:29 PM EST

While non-Christians should feel responsible to show Christians where they have gone wrong, if they are in a proactive frame of mind, Christians must also realize and become aware of why they _are_ Christians and why they are not the faith/non-faith of whomever they are debating. It is also the Christian's duty to know and to make the person aware of their own belief's teachings and how that person acts.

Christians can not simply be ignorant of their own belief as well the beliefs of others. Read the teachings of your religion and know what you believe.
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[ Parent ]
Agnostic (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:49:13 PM EST

How do you define agnostic?

By my definition, "People who don't know or claim it is unknowable whether or not God exists," I've never heard of any agnostics having that much of a problem with atheists.

I suppose you could define it as "People who are sure that some god exists, but aren't sure which," and then there would be a problem, but I've never heard such people call themselves agnostics...

As for myself I am agnostic leaning towards belief that there's no god, and have no problem with atheists. I can get into arguments with them about the small possibility of an omnipotent god or the greater (but still unlikely) possibility of a non-omnipotent god, but there's no hatred or anything...

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

non-specific theism (n/t) (none / 0) (#157)
by antizeus on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:17:59 PM EST

Just kidding about the (n/t) part. I hate that shit.

In case anyone cares, I define atheism to be "lack of theism". So someone who never thinks about gods would be an atheist, for example. I don't think much about agnosticism, and will defer to Huxley's definition.
-- $SIGNATURE
[ Parent ]

Agnostics (4.00 / 1) (#640)
by Sampo on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 05:43:57 AM EST

I have found myself somewhere in the middle of being an atheist and an agnostic. I really don't believe in any god, but I don't know will I always feel that way. I feel that I really couldn't be an agnostic, I just couldn't leave such a big decision undecided so I choosed to be an atheist.

I think that every agnostic has something that what he/she believes at the moment. You have to have a role. Believe in god? You go to church. Islamic? You pray facing the Mecca. If you don't believe? You don't pray, breathe or live a religion.

(This is just my view, it is not shared by the thousands of dictionaries)



[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I share your concern (3.66 / 6) (#34)
by MSBob on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:55:44 PM EST

Granted, I live in Canada and not the USA and I am what one would call a 'hardline' atheist. I also live in the worst bible belt in Canada. Yet very few people have shown prejudice towards me because of (lack of) my religious beliefs. I'm sure some of them, behind my back, talk amongst themselves about my doomed afterlife or even worse, pray for my salvation. But you know what, it doesn't bother me what they think because I think they are zealots and fanatics. In this day and age I'd rather be labeled a 'weak mind' or faithless than being branded a fanatic.

Try not to pick up religious discussions especially with people that are fanatics. You aren't going to change their views and they (hopefully) won't change yours.

Don't belittle yourself because you have no faith. Think of atheism as the modern day enlightenment. You are a part of an exquisite club of people who are not afraid to admit that aterlife is a myth. Hold your head high, don't get suckered into verbal fights and think for yourself. The rest is going to be fine.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

hm (1.00 / 3) (#36)
by MrLarch on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 04:59:48 PM EST

it doesn't bother me what they think because I think they are zealots and fanatics.

You are the grand master of sweeping overgeneralization!

[ Parent ]

ALL generalizations are crap :) (n/t) (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by MSBob on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:00:56 PM EST


I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Including this one? :) (n/t) (1.00 / 1) (#185)
by carlossch on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:31:28 AM EST


-- He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.
[ Parent ]
that got such poor ratings (none / 0) (#219)
by MrLarch on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:48:31 AM EST

hmm it was funny (check), it was pithy and poingiant (check), ... oh, i'm not a commie bastard! live and learn.

[ Parent ]
I convinced a guy once.... (none / 0) (#52)
by StephenThompson on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:29:29 PM EST

He had basically invited me to discuss religion and evolution with me. He was deeply religious, so much so that he was willing to open his mind to my arguement knowing full well god was on his side. However, I did manage to undermine his whole world view, in a way he could understand, and comprehend. It damn near destroyed him. I will never argue so cleverly again! He became agitated and depressed. Luckily (!!) in the end he basically decided to forget what he learned and went back to his religion, and just stopped talking to me.

[ Parent ]
Care to undermine our whole world? (none / 0) (#70)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:58:32 PM EST

Go nuts. I'd love to hear how you did it.
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[ Parent ]
It's not actually very difficult (5.00 / 1) (#241)
by StrontiumDog on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:57:26 AM EST

I've done the same myself in the past, a few times. It depends on the nature of the belief of the Christian person you are arguing with, their intelligence, and the extent to which they have previously come into contact with the arguments you use.

For a Christian brought up on the basic tenets of the infallibility of the Bible and the omnipotence of God, the procedure goes somewhat like this:

  • Show the inconsistencies in the Bible (there are a lot, both in factual sense, and in moral and ethical contradictions bewteen the Old and New Testament).
  • Once he has seen this, he starts backpedalling. He acknowledges that the Bible is no longer perfect. Usually he will independently conclude that "human errors" may have crept in via translation or copying. He will maintain that not everything in the Bible is false, and that the kernel of essential truth remains.
  • Second step is then to ask, given that parts of the Bible are demonstrably false, what makes him so sure that the Biblical metaphysical statements he believes in are "essentially true"?
  • This introduces our Christian, often for the first time, to the neccessity of external corroboration independent of the Bible itself. This is for many Christians a watershed moment.
  • Take care that this does not lead to long-winded debates about the scientific method, evolution etc. Instead, bring up a few known theological problems to challenge the basis of his metaphysical assumptions about God.
  • Good examples are, for instance, questioning the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent nature of God. Reconciling that, plus the ultimate goodness of God, with the existence of evil, is a task that has eluded theologicians for centuries. He may be bright enough, or well-read enough to come up with the "free-will" argument for the existence of evil, but the omniscient nature of God is a nasty spanner in the works of free-will copouts.
  • About this time, if intelligent enough to follow the arguments, our Christian will be having heavy doubts about the validity of his beliefs. In rare cases, he will become an atheist. Most commonly, he will modify his beliefs to accomodate the new ideas presented, in essence creating a private theology. The most egregious theses of Christianity will be abandoned (such as literal belief in Genesis), smaller inconsistencies will be swept under the carpet. Our Christian will wind up with a personalized version of Christianity, as does a vast number of Westerners, a compromise between tradition and reason, enough to live with, and will refrain from theological discussion the rest of his life.
That's the way it works.

[ Parent ]
Intriguing (1.00 / 1) (#395)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:07:30 PM EST

So the first step is to erode the faith in the infallibility of the Bible. I knew that. :) If the Bible isn't perfect, how perfect can the God who inspired it be?

Also definitely why we should all read Hebrew.

I love seeing people bring up points of inconsistencies, contradictions and whatnot, though, as I never seem to hear a good one. Read in context, it's explained.
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[ Parent ]
Nitpick: not Hebrew (none / 0) (#421)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:12:46 PM EST

Aramean, classic Hebrew and antique Greek.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Torah, then everything else (none / 0) (#468)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:50:07 PM EST

The Torah was original Hebrew. The other books in the OT and into the NT went into Aramaic and Greek.
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[ Parent ]
Never mind... (none / 0) (#657)
by Caton on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:37:49 AM EST

I was pointing out that:

  1. Knowledge of classical Hebrew (as opposed to modern Hebrew) is required. Modern Hebrew is as different from classic Hebrew as modern Greek is from ancient Greek.
  2. The Bible is more than one book (hence the name biblia) written in more than one language.
Just nitpicking...



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Ahh, I see. NT (none / 0) (#673)
by Shovas on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 10:01:54 AM EST


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[ Parent ]
Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#519)
by hstink on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:35:52 PM EST

I do this a lot, but seeing as no one's ever responded to it I guess I should stop.

Read The Age Of Reason and comment on it.

I've never seen anyone refute it, which is strikingly odd considering all the resources apologists tend to have at their disposal and the prominence of the work and its author.  If you know of any recent refutations (other than completely unclad ad hominems which I've seen more than enough of, i.e. tektonics.org), I would be most eager to read them.

-h

[ Parent ]

Argh it's long enough - Give me a few weeks :) NT (none / 0) (#1074)
by Shovas on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:35:11 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Please tell us your arguement!!! (none / 0) (#133)
by r00t on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:08:13 PM EST

Tell us what you said. I've been drawn into similar debates, but I end up talking about genetics and they don't understand because they have no background in science

-It's not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it's what you have to unlearn. - Isaac Asimov
[ Parent ]

Here's one for you (5.00 / 1) (#234)
by The Solitaire on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:28:59 AM EST

Here's how I managed to make a couple of fairly intense Christians question their faith... no one left the faith, but I certainly think it shook them a bit.

Premise 1. Heaven is supposed to be a "perfect" place. That is, it is supposed to be a place in which you could not be any happier. Most Christians I know accept this quite willingly, though perhaps there are some that wouldn't.

Premise 2. Nobody that fails to accept Jesus as their personal saviour will go to heaven.

In both cases, the people I talked to agreed to both of these quite readily. Then I gave them the kicker:

Suppose you live your life as a good Christian, and finally die, and ascend to heaven. Now, imagine that your child, who you love very much, loses their faith, and dies an atheist. You must accept one of the following: Either heaven isn't perfect, or you suddenly stop loving your child.

Needless to say, neither alternative is particularly attractive to most. Of the two people I gave this situation to, both were visibly shaken and puzzled by it. One eventually stated that he would stop loving his son. The other (a new mother) never really gave me an answer. She preferred to think about it in private later.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

When the devout lose religion. (none / 0) (#208)
by PsychoKick on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:20:56 AM EST

It damn near destroyed him. I will never argue so cleverly again! He became agitated and depressed. Luckily (!!) in the end he basically decided to forget what he learned and went back to his religion, and just stopped talking to me.

If he had enough integrity to test his faith so honestly, then he will never truly forget. And he is not lucky, for he is fully aware that he has chosen to continue living a life that he can't truly believe in. His faith is empty facade now. He'll basically be running away from it for the rest of his life, stuck in his own personal hell, unless he somehow gathers enough courage to break away from his past and serve his own personal integrity, not his now-hollow faith.

[ Parent ]

"Even worse, pray for my salvation." *ch (none / 0) (#59)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:41:41 PM EST

Doesn't it make you kinda feel good somebody _does_ think of you, and indeed thinks enough of you to pray to an ultimate power to have mercy on you? :)

I just had to chuckle at the "Even worse".
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[ Parent ]
Praying (5.00 / 3) (#220)
by The Solitaire on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:52:46 AM EST

Hello fello Canadian atheist! :)

As the former president of the Simon Fraser Freethinkers (a Freethought/Secular Humanist/Atheist/... group at Simon Fraser University), it was my job to sit at the club's day table, and try to sign up new memebers for the club. It was a common occurance to have people show up from one of the 17 Christian clubs on campus to try and "save" us.

Anyways, this one time, a woman told me that she would pray for me to "make the right decision" and accept god. I came up with what I think was a pretty good response. It hinges on a couple of premises:

  1. Praying is something more than just hoping really hard. It is actually asking god for intervention. Most theists I have asked about this tend to agree.
  2. One of, if not the greatest, gifts gave to us was the gift of free will, according to the Christian faith. This too, seems to be accepted by most Christians I have spoken with.
  3. God has given each of us enough information to "make the right choice" (i.e. accept Jesus as our sviour, etc.) Otherwise it is hardly fair for him to blame us for not believing.

From these two premises, the conclusion that "praying for someone to make the right decision" is either remarkably stupid, or downright immoral. How is that? Well, when making this prayer, you're asking for one of two things. Either you want god to give us more information, when he has already given us plenty to work with, or you want god to revoke our free will privlidge and become mindless automatons.

Poor woman was at a complete loss... she never came back to our table :)

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Quite good (none / 0) (#323)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:11:18 AM EST

But you should also consider this: 1. God is all-knowing. 2. He created me, or knew about my creation. 3. He knows I can't believe in him by free will and knew it before he created the universe. 4. He has doomed me to Hell.

[ Parent ]
Where in Canada? (none / 0) (#882)
by ylikone on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 09:33:36 AM EST

Where in Canada is the bible-belt?

I live in Canada but am not aware of this bible-belt region.



[ Parent ]

Southern New Brunswick (1.00 / 1) (#904)
by MSBob on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 11:48:31 AM EST

Maritimes in general and Southern New Brunswick specifically have a very large percentage of deeply religious population. It's not exactly quite like the US bible belt but it is quite in your face at times.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Ok, thanks (none / 0) (#950)
by ylikone on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 11:09:23 PM EST

I'll know to avoid that area of Canada... as most of the Canadian population already does anyway.

[ Parent ]
Just a question (1.00 / 8) (#37)
by Niha on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:00:49 PM EST

Isn´t it absurd that there in USA they have the statue of Liberty?

Americans still remembered the Framers' ideals (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:24:44 PM EST

at the time the Statue was erected. People started forgetting about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as public education became dumber and dumber and the statists became more entrenched in American government.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


[ Parent ]
that would be 1886 for our listeners (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:40:58 PM EST

Yes, let's return to the wonderful year of 1886. Get those children back in the factories so the libertarians can flex their engorged property rights.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

And in 1786 (none / 0) (#62)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:46:59 PM EST

the children were probably working on farms. Why do you think that the public schools have a three-month summer vacation in the United States? So that the kids could help out in the fields.

Quite frankly, I think it's a good idea for children to work a bit instead of sitting on their fat fucking asses all day playing Nintendo when school's out; it teaches them that to earn a living and get ahead one has to work as hard and as well as one can.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


[ Parent ]
ah, nothing like nonsense politics (none / 0) (#71)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:58:50 PM EST

Have you ever considered trying to adapt your politics to the world around you, instead of some fairytale wonderland starring Adam Smith as the Wizard and Jefferson as everyone's favorite uncle?

Who was the capitalist who sold Nintendo's to all those children? The same one who decided that a better quality of living necessitates a two income family?


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Yes, I have considered it. (none / 0) (#82)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:20:27 PM EST

And decided that my politics work just fine for me. After all, nobody is forcing the parents to work two jobs in order to afford all the toys, the two cars, and all the other crap that accumulates in the rush to keep up with the Joneses. The people whining about how they have to bring in two incomes can get off the treadmill anytime they want to; they just have to stop buying so much shit!

And let's not even mention the fact that taxes and government regulation, most of it created by unelected bureaucrats in violation of the Constitution (which grants only to Congress the privelege of lawmaking), have a very large impact on prices. There are taxes on raw materials, taxes on salaries of every person involved in making and shipping products, sales taxes, luxury taxes, taxes wherever you look. So instead of accusing me of living in a fantasy world, take a good hard look at the half-assed socialism foisted upon the West in the form of the welfare state and ask exactly why things cost so damn much.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


[ Parent ]
re: (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:37:18 PM EST

"... ask exactly why things cost so damn much."

Aw, you don't believe in supply and demand?


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Belief entails faith. (none / 0) (#96)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:41:41 PM EST

Faith is beneath me; I believe in nothing. If however, you meant to ask if I think that supply and demand play a part in determining prices, then my answer is yes. However, supply and demand does not account for government interference in the form of coercive taxation, especially punitive taxes on income and profits.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


[ Parent ]
faith? (none / 0) (#129)
by dr k on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:36:01 PM EST

Belief doesn't require faith. If they were the same thing, we wouldn't really need two different words, would we?

Anyway, you think that supply and demand cannot function properly alongside coervice taxation. Do you merely believe this, or do you have proof? Or do you simply have faith in abstract theories from the days before relativity?


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

You bore me. (none / 0) (#131)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:50:29 PM EST

And, since you bore me, I need say no more than this: "I do not agree with you." Goodnight.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


[ Parent ]
Most people work to jobs because they have to. (none / 0) (#396)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:08:17 PM EST

Most families on a double income or more do it because it is he only way they can be secure. The shit they want to buy is food, clothing, and shelter. People buy tv's, radios, etc. because these things have become very cheap, not because they have tons of disposable income.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
Not Really (none / 0) (#168)
by Emissary on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:28:14 AM EST

The thing about the United States is that it is BIG. If you don't like it in one place, go somewhere else. No one will discriminate against you in San Francisco, and if by some misfortune they do discriminate against you then you can leave. Cross-country transportation is cheap; I live on the coast in California, and $150 will get me to New York in 5 days without starving. People in the United States are like people anywhere, in that they prefer to form communities with like-minded people, and given the diversity of people in the United States, it's not very difficult to find someone of a like mind. There are plenty of libertarians and true laissez-faire capitalists in Montana and Alaska, and plenty of left-wing socialists and anarchists in California So give us your tired and poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free; we've got plenty of ideological room.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
woops (none / 0) (#170)
by Emissary on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:29:10 AM EST

sorry for the double-post.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
Not Really (none / 0) (#169)
by Emissary on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:28:32 AM EST

The thing about the United States is that it is BIG. If you don't like it in one place, go somewhere else. No one will discriminate against you in San Francisco, and if by some misfortune they do discriminate against you then you can leave. Cross-country transportation is cheap; I live on the coast in California, and $150 will get me to New York in 5 days without starving. People in the United States are like people anywhere, in that they prefer to form communities with like-minded people, and given the diversity of people in the United States, it's not very difficult to find someone of a like mind. There are plenty of libertarians and true laissez-faire capitalists in Montana and Alaska, and plenty of left-wing socialists and anarchists in California. So give us your tired and poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free; we've got plenty of ideological room.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
True (5.00 / 1) (#318)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:06:23 AM EST

The thing about the United States is that it is BIG.

Not just that, we also learned today that it's "one nation under god".

[ Parent ]
Then why not Canada? (none / 0) (#567)
by Emissary on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:21:19 PM EST

Technically a nation, it is much looser with regards to religion. Vancouver is lovely this time of year.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
Charter of Rights and Freedoms: (none / 0) (#1034)
by dadragon on Mon Oct 07, 2002 at 02:10:13 AM EST

"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:" Canada is officially a Christian country, but you'd never know it. We may not be "One Nation, Under God" like the USA.. but look at that.

[ Parent ]
Yes. [No Text] (none / 0) (#173)
by devon on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:49:34 AM EST



--
Call yourself a computer professional? Congratulations. You are responsible for the imminent collapse of civilization.
[ Parent ]
no. (none / 0) (#192)
by treetops on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:39:15 AM EST

Isn´t it absurd that there in USA they have the statue of Liberty?

What's absurd is that New Jersey has it.



--tt
[ Parent ]
I'm a very irrational atheist (4.30 / 10) (#53)
by Mr Incorrigible on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:30:56 PM EST

according to the likes of Noam Chompsky, but I don't mention my atheism unless somebody tries to preach to me, asks me point-blank if I'm an atheist, or if I'm arguing a point and need to show my biases.

I occasionally get the "you must be evil 'cos you're an atheist", and I respond by saying "I don't agree with you, don't answer to you, and consider your opinion irrelevant" in polite company. If I don't have to be polite (for example, if I'm in my own apartment) I just tell them to go to Hell and take it up with my uncle Lucifer.

That usually shuts the idiots up. I find that when dealing with irrational people (like religious people, socialists, environmentalists, etc.) Ayn Rand's advice works best: just tell them that you do not agree with them.

That you oppose them is all they need or deserve to know.

--
I know I'm a cheeky bastard. My lady tells me so.


I wont preach to you. (1.50 / 2) (#152)
by Noam Chompsky on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:55:33 PM EST

I can prescribe all sorts of medication and assume powers of attorney, but you must take the first step. Only then can we talk about what's on the menu of a thousand rational choices.

---
"They are in love. Fuck the war."
[ Parent ]

Really? (5.00 / 3) (#369)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:05:06 PM EST

I find that when dealing with irrational people (like religious people, socialists, environmentalists, etc.)

So all environmentalists are irrational, is that what you're saying? In what sense can wanting to protect the environment for the benefit of current and future generations be irrational? It's not at all like religion - the environment actually exist, and pollution really does have horrible effects, and species depletion really is happening, and so on. To believe that XYZ should be saved because "God wants it to be saved" is irrational, but to believe that a certain endangered species should be saved because "we want it to be saved" or "it would be tragic if it were lost" is not necessarily irrational.

As for socialism, I don't think that's irrational because molecular nanotechnology will eventually create material conditions - the end of material scarcity, for most practical purposes - which will lead to the end of wage-slavery, which will lead to socialism.

That is, if we don't blow ourselves to Kingdom Come in the meantime, or get wiped out by an asteroid or a supervolcano, or get locked into a fascist superstate, or whatever.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

and further along this tangent... (none / 0) (#974)
by RevLoveJoy on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 12:43:15 PM EST

Your arguements are well composed, yet there are two things bothering me.

First, I suspect you may have been trolled. I believe the inclusion of 'environmentalists' within the array of 'illogical people' was for the group chuckle effect. I could be wrong.

My second issue is with the overall logic of your combined arguements. In your first arguement you state the existance of, and availability of evidence on the environment compels one to rationality. Yet in your second arguement you make a vast sociological statement based on scientific vapor ware. How do you reconcile the two?

Cheers,
-- RLJ

Every political force in the U.S. that seeks to get past the Constitution by sophistry or technicality is little more than a wannabe king. -- pyro9
[ Parent ]

A number of comments. (4.42 / 7) (#54)
by dotderf on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:35:08 PM EST

I'll clarify a few things before I begin:
I'm an atheist, I'm generally soft-spoken about my lack of belief and don't go out of my way to inflame pople. However, if someone cares to press their beliefs upon me, or to debate, I'm generally relentless.

I don't really care much for agnosticism. While some may digress on this, I've found four blends of agonisticism:
1. There is no proof that God does not exist, but he's there.This position is fallacious - ad ignoratum.
2. There's no proof either way. I disagree with this position as well, as it seems to adopt the position of extreme skepticism.
3. There's no proof that God exists, so he must not exist. This position is fallacious.
4. Nothing can be known about the divine. This position is problematic as well, I'll elaborate below.

Now the problem with 4 is that knowing that nothing can be known about the divine is knowledge! Thus the claim is self-contradictory, like nihilism.

Therefore, I'm forced to reject agnosticism.

I'm not sure why you equate "faithism" with racism and sexism. Unlike race or gender, a person can reject the faith of their parents. I think that people have the right to believe what they want to believe, but I don't think I have to pay them lip service. For example, say a religion claims that humans evolved from certain shellfish, or say they claimed that a magical gnome controlled the universe, why should I respect that view?

I understand it may be necessary to make people happy, but I'm not going to compromise my rationality to avoid hurt feelings.

If someone is offended by my thinking, I really don't care.

As for the pledge, people need to realize that the First Amendment doesn't only apply to them.

I seem to have written a lengthy off-topic post, but oh well.

Position 4 (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:11:40 PM EST

I generally hold that nothing can be known with any certainty about the divine (essentially, Kant's noumenal world). I'm fully willing to acknowledge that I cannot be certain of this. However, in the absence of conflicting evidence and the fact that this poses no problems to my philosophical/theological/ethical framework, I hold it to be true.

Yes, I realize that it is not rational. However, rationality itself cannot be rational.



[ Parent ]
Odd position (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by Znork on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:52:42 PM EST

That's a very odd position to take, from a pure logic point of view.

If I claim there are pink elephants orbiting Pluto, would you hold that as being true? If I claim the world you percieve is just a mirror waiting to be shattered at any moment and at which point you will be eaten by creatures out of the Cthulu mythos, would you hold that to be true?

If you do, there must be a lot of true things in your world.

In general logic does not dictate that you must hold any random statement as being true unless there is some form of evidence that it might be.

[ Parent ]

I am entirely free to believe any of those things (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by leviramsey on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:06:34 PM EST

Simply having no evidence to counter the proposition does not require that I believe it. Belief has a strong utilitarian/pragmatic element in it. Beliefs should be rejected when evidence is presented which demonstrates that they cannot be true. In the absence of contrary evidence, any belief is valid. Whether I choose to hold a belief is, in essence, based on how useful to me it is. In the case of "pink elephants orbiting Pluto", the truth or falsity of that belief has no bearing on me; I have no reason to believe that it is either false or true; belief or disbelief serves no purpose. On the other hand, believing that the world I perceive is a mirror waiting to be shattered and at any moment I may be eaten by creatures straight out of Lovecraft would certainly alter my life; I would be paralyzed with fear, and unable to accomplish anything (what would be the point? I could do something and just get eaten the next instant!). As there is no evidence which indicates that belief that that is not the case is incorrect, I am free to choose that belief. It is entirely possible, however, that either of those is true.

To bring that back to the belief in the existence of a deity question, there is no evidence either way which is conclusive. Thus, people are completely free to believe either way; each belief is entirely logical and rational. The question then becomes, on an individual basis, how useful it is to believe or not believe.

I think that religious fundies and hardcore atheists are more similar than either side wants to admit (because each side views the other as evil). I think they both make essentially the mistake of conflating matters of belief and matters of knowledge; the fundamentalists in believing that all matters of knowledge are really matters of belief and the atheists in believing that all matters of belief are really matters of knowledge.



[ Parent ]
Question (5.00 / 1) (#196)
by kholmes on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:44:46 AM EST

How do you choose not to believe? This is the one thing that causes me to think of myself as a weak atheist than an agnostic. I realize, during the course of my life, that I am constantly forced to make decisions based upon my beliefs. I am never allowed to choose (c) none of the above.

Notable is this:

"I'm fully willing to acknowledge that I cannot be certain of this. However, in the absence of conflicting evidence and the fact that this poses no problems to my philosophical/theological/ethical framework, I hold it to be true."

And this is stating the same principle that I am. That you can't abstain from belief. Yet you don't use this principle with your belief in God. Rather, you take the agnostic stance first and then apply the principle of forced belief to no belief. This is a contradiction.

Am I understanding you right? What is motivating you to take the agnostic stance?

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

Eh? (none / 0) (#510)
by hstink on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:51:48 PM EST

How do you choose not to believe?

It's quite simple really, you just admit intellectual ignorance.

For example, do you believe that I have some opal earrings on my desk right now?  Believing that I do without being able to see my desk is illogical, as is disbelieving without seeing.  The correct answer is "I don't know".

There you have it.

By the same token, I neither believe nor disbelieve that there exists a large flightless bird native to Zaire.  I don't know, having never studied Zaire's fauna, so it would be nonsensical to start affirming or denying its existence.

-h

[ Parent ]

Since you brought it up (none / 0) (#524)
by kholmes on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:09:31 PM EST

No, I don't believe you have opal earrings on your desk.

Perhaps a member of a tribe on an uncivilized remote island of the pacific ocean that has yet to come in contact with our culture (which I believe exists) or any culture can really take the position of agnosticism. Same would go for animals and newborns (which I belief exists). But once the issue comes up, I doubt that anyone can take stand on the issue (another belief).

Perhaps your brain works fundamentally different than mine (I don't believe so, however) and that you really can take a nebulous stand on the issue.

So when someone asks you "Is there a God?" and you say "I don't know," do you say that because you do not have a belief or because you are sure you can't convince someone either way?

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

Oops (none / 0) (#526)
by hstink on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:19:13 PM EST

No, I don't believe you have opal earrings on your desk.

You're wrong, I do in fact have a set of opal earrings on my desk that I brought with me from Australia, 18 carat gold and all.  This demonstrates the folly of your behaviour.

Had you answered otherwise, I probably would have congratulated you for success in spite of ignorance.  But it wouldn't make the practise of belief without evidence any sounder.

So when someone asks you "Is there a God?" and you say "I don't know," do you say that because you do not have a belief or because you are sure you can't convince someone either way?

If they came up with a coherent definition of God, I would of course answer with "I don't know.  How on earth could I?  I'm not a God myself, so I'm not privy to such information."

It's really a very easy thing to do, I just don't take a stand on something which I know nothing about.  Like whether someone has earrings on their desk, or whether there's an large polka-dot buffet table somewhere that created the universe.

-h

[ Parent ]

No folly (none / 0) (#535)
by kholmes on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:01:59 PM EST

"You're wrong, I do in fact have a set of opal earrings on my desk that I brought with me from Australia, 18 carat gold and all.  This demonstrates the folly of your behaviour."

No folly. I take a belief aware that I may be wrong. Now I change my belief. I trust you, so now I believe there are earrings on your desk.

The folly, in my opinion, is believing there is something wrong with holding a belief in error. Uncertainty allows belief. I suppose that is the stand of weak atheism.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#562)
by hstink on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:05:28 PM EST

[i]I take a belief aware that I may be wrong.[/i]

As do I, so long as there's evidence I can base the decision on.

But do you always feel the need to believe something one way or another, even if you have no idea what the subject is?  For example, do you believe that the WDM opcode for the 65c816 CPU performs a WiDe Multiply, or is the initials of the chip's designer?  If it were another topic for me, I would just say "I don't know" and be done with it, unless I felt like doing some research.  I can't communicate it any better than that.

-h

[ Parent ]

You can be fairly certain (none / 0) (#983)
by bill_mcgonigle on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 07:07:38 PM EST

I'm fully willing to acknowledge that I cannot be certain of this.

I think you can.  If there's a God who created the Universe and controls all aspects of it on a continual basis (basic Western religion) he has to be more complex than the universe.  You could probably prove that with some kind of thermodynamics argument.

Now, how can a lump of interconnected fatty cells made from an almost unexpressibly small percent of the universe (your brain) be able to comprehend something more complex than the universe itself?

I can't even comprehend the number of photons coming out of my CRT right now.

[ Parent ]

There's a 5th position (5.00 / 4) (#146)
by carbon on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:15:50 PM EST

I'm an agnostic, and I dont think any of the points you listed adaquetly summarize my position. Myy opinion is based on the idea of an assumption: an assumption is something that you believe to be true despite lack of conclusive evidence. For example, believing that what your senses percieve is reflective of a world around you is an assumption, but a neccessary one.

The definition of faith effectively comes to making an assumption volunatarily. The basic purpose of science is to remove or reduce assumption wherever possible, by replacing it with carefully verified direct evidence. Both recognize the need to make at least some assumptions, such as the one above regarding the existence of the world around you (the Matrix assumption). The difference lies in degree.

I'm given a range of choices. I can go with the purely aethiestic rule, which is similar to the one I've just postulated for science: assume where you have no choice, but never otherwise. "Strong" aethiests (unlike "weak" aethiests, whose views are closer to agnosticism) postulate that since they do not see any sufficient reason to believe that God or any other divine entity(ies), exist, there is no reason to believe in them.

On the opposite end, we have the "strong" religious view: that the best assumption we have is close enough to fact to view it as the same thing. They say that without faith (which I defined above as assumptions), many potential issues would be unresolved. Without direct evidence for something, then you're forced to go with the best indirect evidence you have, and regard that as being true, because otherwise you'd have nothing at all. This is expanding the Matrix assumption to other fields.

I tend to regard the first view as being fairly concrete but logically fallacious; the second position as being much fuzzier but equally fallacious. My view (and I note here that I do not presume to speak for all agnostics) is just that assumptions are not binary. That is, when you must either assume or not assume something, you should make the immediate choice based on whatever seems the likliest. But you should also be prepared to reverse your decision either way as evidence becomes less and less of an assumption, and more and more direct. Until you have a very good reason to, hesitate to commit to any view.

This seems to be the least illogical of several illogical choices. It's impossible to be completely logical: all logical defenses eventually rely upon some assumption as the core (try and find one that doesn't). This means that making an assumption, under the agnostic view, is just a temporary thing, and its transientness is to be understood at all times.

A good example is the Big Bang theory. Of course, the theory does not actually say anything about the creation of the universe, it merely covers the circumstances resulting in the general pattern of the universe as we know it. As a creation theory, it would be flawed: what happened before Big Bang? What caused it? Where did that initial matter come from? These are assumptions that the theory relies upon; it says nothing about them, but in order to defend the theory at all, you must assume that these questions and others have answers behind them.

This does not make the Big Bang theory worthless; it just makes it a good example of my agnostic viewpoint. I know that the theory is likely to be true, but that does not mean I must regard it as being either unrefutably true or unrefutably false. It's just uncertain.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
What's wrong with 2 (1.00 / 1) (#249)
by NotZen on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:29:05 AM EST

There's no proof either way. I disagree with this position as well, as it seems to adopt the position of extreme skepticism.

And what do you have against the position of extreme scepticism?

[ Parent ]
Extreme Skepticism (none / 0) (#382)
by dotderf on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:37:33 PM EST

To quote the Columbia Encylopedia entry on skepticism:

Extreme skepticism holds that no knowledge is possible, but this is logically untenable since the statement contradicts itself.

I'm a little rusty on my symbolic logic, so suffer with me. A We know that nothing can be known.
B We know the truth value of A.

If A is true, then B is false.
If B is true, then A is false.
Therefore, A AND B is false! Thus it is impossible to know that nothing can be known, as it's a contradiction.


God is just a metaphor for everything that currently eludes science.
[ Parent ]

Circular logic (none / 0) (#499)
by nappes on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:28:24 PM EST

First I would say that you made a leap from your original post where you talked about a person who professes to know nothing of God, to this extreme skepticism, which is to know nothing about anything. Agnosticism does not imply extreme skepticism as defined in the Columbia Encyclopedia.

What you seem to be saying in this post with the logical argument, is that you always know at least one thing about a subject. That is; if you know nothing else about the subject, then you know that you know nothing else. But I say, then you know 2 things, you know that besides knowing you know nothing else, you also know that 'besides knowing nothing else,' there is nothing else besides that that you do know. Oops. Seems like there is an error here or you seem to know an infinite number of things about the subject by induction. I think this is begging the question. The circular logic came in via the encyclopedia definition (bad Columbia) and can't be applied to agnostics anyway.

Knowledge about a persons knowledge of a subject is not part of that subject.

From a practical viewpoint imagine this scene:
Teacher: Johnny, yesterday I asked you to learn one fact about George Washington. What did you learn.
Johnny: I learned that I know nothing about George Washington.
Teacher: Johnny, go stand in the corner.
Johnny: But teacher! You always know at least one thing about a subject, that if you know nothing else then you know you know nothing else.
Teacher: You will be staying after school too.

Using logic to try and argue religion has long been know to go nowhere.

[ Parent ]
Just because (none / 0) (#763)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 04:17:07 PM EST

Knowing that you know nothing about George Washington would be considered a poor answer, that doesn't indicate it is not actual knowledge.  The kid could have also said "I learned that George Washington was a human being and breathed air", and ended up in the corner as well.  But these are actual pieces of knowledge nonetheless.


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Re: Just because (none / 0) (#964)
by nappes on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 06:17:42 AM EST

I am obviously responding to a troll, but so be it. In case you missed it, my point (which is poorly expressed, I admit it) was that knowing you know nothing about a subject is not part of the subject. To think that, causes (by induction) an infinite number of pieces of spurious info about the subject to manifest. This is as my subject line said, circular logic. For the less agile of mind, say you have a set of some fruits [apple, orange, grape, tomato], now I ask what fruits you know (that are part of the set), and you answer the fruit I know is that I know no fruit. Heck, it doesn't take much brain power to figure that you haven't named a fruit. And if you are smart enough you will see that, "I don't know any fruits" is not the same as the empty set of fruits contained in the set of fruits and all sets. The fact that you don't know any fruits is perhaps an element of things you don't know and specifially fruits not of the set that don't know, but not an elements of fruits in the set. Of course this is in response to a troll (and late) so the answer will not be read or even acknowledged. So I can say you are an idiot. Hehe, I like saying that. You sir are a troll and an idiot.

[ Parent ]
Another type of agnostic, plus your other comments (1.00 / 1) (#274)
by The Rizz on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:56:51 AM EST

I don't really care much for agnosticism. While some may digress on this, I've found four blends of agonisticism:

There is a another type you're not considering, the category which I fall into (which is, in many ways, the opposite of your #2):
Part 1: I beleive that what I have seen throughout my life gives me relatively good reason to believe that there is no god.
Part 2: I beleive that I have seen way to much weird shit happen to rule out the possibility of the supernatural.

So, basically, I am agnostic not because I haven't seen proof for either side, but rather because I have (I believe) seen proof against both sides.

I'm not sure why you equate "faithism" with racism and sexism. Unlike race or gender, a person can reject the faith of their parents. I think that people have the right to believe what they want to believe, but I don't think I have to pay them lip service. For example, say a religion claims that humans evolved from certain shellfish, or say they claimed that a magical gnome controlled the universe, why should I respect that view?

You're missing the whole point - it can equated to racism/sexism/etc. because the difference in point of view is used to discriminate in situations where it does not have any bearing.

If you think the other person is an idiot for his beliefs, that's fine. If you beat him senseless, not allow him to vote, fire him from his job, etc. on that basis, we now have a problem.

I understand it may be necessary to make people happy, but I'm not going to compromise my rationality to avoid hurt feelings.

How does not tormenting someone who's doing nothing to you "compromise your rationality"?

As for the pledge, people need to realize that the First Amendment doesn't only apply to them.

You didn't pay very much attention to the reasoning behind the lawsuit, did you? The point is not that schoolchildren/etc. were to not be allowed to say "under God", but rather that children were being forced to say it.
Yeah, yeah, it's not legally mandatory, etc. - y'know what, though? If you didn't say it, you would be singled out by your classmates and tormented relentlessly. If you don't think that would happen, you obviously never tried it.

--The Rizz

[ Parent ]

Not Supernatural (none / 0) (#317)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:03:43 AM EST

I beleive that I have seen way to much weird shit happen to rule out the possibility of the supernatural.

I think you shouldn't use "supernatural" here, what you want to say is "phrnomena that hasn't been explained by science". Think about first discoveries in electricity, etc.

[ Parent ]
I think we're in agreement on some things. (none / 0) (#377)
by dotderf on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:28:08 PM EST

You're missing the whole point - it can equated to racism/sexism/etc. because the difference in point of view is used to discriminate in situations where it does not have any bearing.

Who determines the situation where it has no bearing? Look at the school boards in, I believe it was, Ohio. Their religious beliefs dictate what should be taught in schools. I believe that they should be allowed to participate in such secular matters without opposition, but I think that religion should be left out of secular matters

If you think the other person is an idiot for his beliefs, that's fine. If you beat him senseless, not allow him to vote, fire him from his job, etc. on that basis, we now have a problem.

I agree whole heartedly. No matter how ardent I am, my beliefs are no reason to abridge the rights of others. However, I refuse to dignify absurdity as 'clear and rational' thought to spare some feelings.
For instance, despite the fact that I think the KKK is a group of moronic bigots. I will not defend their opinions, but I will defend their right to free speech, for if their rights are revoked, who's next?

You didn't pay very much attention to the reasoning behind the lawsuit, did you? The point is not that schoolchildren/etc. were to not be allowed to say "under God", but rather that children were being forced to say it.
Yeah, yeah, it's not legally mandatory, etc. - y'know what, though? If you didn't say it, you would be singled out by your classmates and tormented relentlessly. If you don't think that would happen, you obviously never tried it.

I think you missed the point of my comment. I was, and am singled out by my classmates for refusing to recite or stand for the pledge.
To clarify my statement, people need to realize that they and those who agree with them aren't the only ones with rights. I'm sure a lot of people would be upset if it was "One Nation, Under Allah/Yahwej/Vishnu/Xenu." I'm not offended by these words or creeds, but instead by the blatant disregard for the US Constitution.
God is just a metaphor for everything that currently eludes science.
[ Parent ]

Analysis is problematic (none / 0) (#457)
by lollipop on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:22:24 PM EST

Since agnosticism is defined as:
  1. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
  2. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism. (dictionary.com)
It is clear that you cannot speak about agnosticism without defining the notion of a God. For instance I define God as a sentient creator of the universe, which is one possible definition among many. So the question is then what created the universe. Of course you might view the answer to this question as being the same as stating that the world rests on top of the back of a turtle. Most people then ask what the turtle is standing on. The same problem exists with the creation of the universe. In the end something has to exist which non-causal. Within our world we have no knowledge of anything non-causal, however its existence is necessary for the creation of the universe.
Now this non-causal entity could be a God or something non-sentient. This is where my agnostic beliefs comes into play. I do not have any knowledge either way as to the nature of this non-causal entity. I believe that perhaps it is impossible to ever know anything about this entity. We live in a black box, and are unable to know anything which does not exist within our box.

[ Parent ]
Bush Sr. (3.66 / 6) (#57)
by quasipalm on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:39:35 PM EST

Yes, the Bush comment about Atheism is of his best. Even better though is this quote, one of the stupidest things an American president had ever said (at the time). Of course, now we have his son, a person that makes Bush Sr. look like fucking Einstein.

"We don't want an America that is closed to the world. What we want is a world that is open to America." -Bush Sr.

(hi)
In the words of Pascal (2.16 / 6) (#61)
by BSDyke on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:45:08 PM EST

The mathematician Pascal once said: "The only way I can lose is if God exists and I do not believe." It kinda sums up my views.

--
Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?

That is not sensible (4.66 / 6) (#66)
by StephenThompson on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:53:44 PM EST

"If you don't wink every time you look in the mirror, you are gonna burn in hell"
Sure it may not be true, but it doesnt cost you anything to wink, and WHAT IF its true?

[ Parent ]
That's a weak reason to believe. (1.50 / 2) (#79)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:15:10 PM EST

In fact, it's so out of whack with the way a god has presented themself, through the universe they created, that it smacks of incomprehensibility.

More to the point, "winking" because it may or may not be true is not actual belief or faith. It is simply saying that one has no clue if Santa exists but I better act good just in case he does, cause I want to get the good presents at Christmas. And, yet, as God behaves, every Christmas one may receive the best gifts, even when not acting good. Thus that faith has little foundation and is eroded quickly by the realities of this life.
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[ Parent ]
Absurd (3.00 / 1) (#314)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:57:14 AM EST

...god has presented themself, through the universe they created..

You believe that the universe was created by a god that just happened to exist, but refuse to believe that the universe just appered.

[ Parent ]
Sure (1.00 / 1) (#392)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:04:06 PM EST

You believe the universe just appeared, but refuse to believe it had a cause.
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[ Parent ]
What I believe (none / 0) (#523)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:54:13 PM EST

Is that cause is a concept humans have made up. Other inteligent life forms may have also done that.

[ Parent ]
You believe there was a deity (none / 0) (#764)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 04:27:22 PM EST

But no origin for this deity.

Which is why I suggest the "Russian Matryoshka Doll" belief system wherein God created the Universe, and was in turn created by a bigger God, and this God was created by an even bigger God, and so on until we hit the biggest God that contains all the other Gods and is played with by children in a super-über-world that has its own Matryoshka God.  It is alternatively known as the "Men In Black Ending" belief system.


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]

Or... (4.71 / 7) (#68)
by BloodmoonACK on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:55:41 PM EST

Or if you believe in the wrong God, and the real god doesn't like that. Or if the God is evil in general. Or any number of things. Pascal's Wager is a logical fallacy that is easy to fall into. See the Wikipedia entry and the good ol' atheism site.

"It's like declaring a 'war on crime' and then claiming every (accused) thief is an 'enemy combatant'." - Hizonner
[ Parent ]

Pascal's Wager = crap (5.00 / 6) (#138)
by kitten on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:23:12 PM EST

Essentially, Pascal's Wager states, "There may be God, and there may not be. We have no way of knowing. To be on the safe side, believe in God.. if you're right, you gain everything, if you're wrong, you lose nothing."

Pascal's Wager depends entirely on the notion that neither theism nor atheism can be defended, and therefore one must weigh the risks. This is abjectly false. The burden of proof is *entirely* on the theist - if he cannot defend his position, then atheism is the only alternative. Atheism is *not* on the defensive, and is not obligated in any way to provide a defense - such a defense would be impossible anyway, as "a-theism" literally means "without theism". If the theist cannot prove the dogma of theism, then we are left "without theism": Atheism.

Pascal was quite right in stating that God's existence cannot be proved, but he is wrong in assuming this means the question of God's existence is an open question.

There's another way to lose Pascal's Wager. Suppose there is a god - such a being would certainly know whether your faith in him was genuine and heartfelt, or if you were merely "covering your ass" so to speak, and believing "just to be on the safe side".

Furthermore (and personally speaking, more importantly), Pascal's Wager is not an argument on the intellectual level - it is an attempt at psychological intimidation, pure and simple. I find that to be abhorrent (although entirely in keeping with most religious doctrines, which usually employ terror and intimidation instead of actually arguing).

Few theists today even bother with Pascal except as a last resort.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Assumptions (4.25 / 4) (#158)
by felixrayman on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:20:24 PM EST

Pascal's Wager depends entirely on the notion that neither theism nor atheism can be defended, and therefore one must weigh the risks

The wager seems to also depend on the unstated and unproven assumption that gods hate and punish courage.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Nope. (4.66 / 3) (#362)
by jvance on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:53:53 AM EST

That ain't Pascal's Wager. That's the dumbed down, Philosophy 101 version that's been twisted around to mean the opposite of Pascal's original words. Pascal was dismissive of his contemporaries who he believed affected Atheism as a matter of fashion. He had great sympathy for those who sincerely sought God and yet could not find him, and his challenge to "fashionable Atheists" was to devote one's life to earnestly examining the question of God.

---

This is taking too much of my time. I've gone away. You can reach me at john_a_vance atsign hotmail dot com if you wish.
[ Parent ]

Actually, yes. (3.00 / 1) (#449)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:05:35 PM EST

That ain't Pascal's Wager. That's the dumbed down, Philosophy 101 version that's been twisted around to mean the opposite of Pascal's original words.

Actually, it is Pascal's Wager, and if you think I'm wrong, perhaps you should enlighten us all as to the real version, instead of just accusing me of being a moron and not saying why.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
If I wanted to call you a moron, (5.00 / 1) (#511)
by jvance on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:54:21 PM EST

I wouldn't beat around the bush. Go back, reread my post, and point out to me where I made an ad hominem argument.

As for my source, it's the original document - Pascal's Pensées. Since that is the subject of discussion, I didn't think it needed citing.

To me, Pascal is not asking one to cynically believe in God. He is building an argument that one should seek the Divine with all of ones heart. The Wager is one of several supporting arguments. See here for a better analysis than I can provide. Look under the heading "What Does It Mean to 'Wager for God'"?

I'm not a Christian. I just happened to read that section of Pensees recently, and was struck by its passion and sincerity.

---

This is taking too much of my time. I've gone away. You can reach me at john_a_vance atsign hotmail dot com if you wish.
[ Parent ]

I have read this. (5.00 / 1) (#525)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:16:13 PM EST

I have read the chapter in question, and here is the relevant part, for reference:
Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (my emphasis)
As I said before, Pascal is weighing the potential loss and gain of believing versus not believing, against the consequences of the two options.

His argument, as I said, is that you should wager that God exists, because you stand to gain something if you're correct and lose nothing if you are incorrect. Wager that he does not exist, and you win nothing if you're right, and are punished if you're wrong.

This is not an argument on any intellectual level. It is both bribery (you may win!) and blackmail (you'll be punished).

It assumes that God, if he exists, even cares whether we believe in him or not. It assumes that God is benevolent, as well. It assumes that God will offer reward (happiness) as a result of believing in him. It makes many assumptions, none of which are justified. Pascal's wager therefore comes down to:

If god exists, and if he is benevolent, and if he cares about our belief, then your belief in him will lead to your happiness. And you'll lose nothing if you're wrong. So you may as well believe.

Those are some pretty heavy "ifs". Not to mention, it's belief out of pure self-interest; partially motivated by hope for reward and partially motivated out of fear of punishment. Either way, it's a weak argument.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
not really (4.25 / 4) (#667)
by adequate nathan on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 09:13:07 AM EST

Those are some pretty heavy "ifs".

No they aren't. The idea of an omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the Universe requires the first two (once the premise is accepted, they are non-contingent.) Your third 'if' is a willful misunderstanding of a Christian idea. Hell isn't a punishment inflicted for disbelief. It is something that people inflict on themselves by rejecting God. The rejection of God is seen as being a rebellion against one's own nature.

Of course, there are some retrogressive snake-handlers who might say otherwise, but they hardly represent the intellectual and spiritual tradition of Christianity, any more than Stalin represented the respectable intellectual tradition of thoughtful atheism. If you aren't familiar with Christian sources, it can be hard to get your definitions right when criticising the Christian religion, you know.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

a different tack (none / 0) (#918)
by ph0rk on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 02:05:39 PM EST

How would you react If I were to say that I do believe a god may exist, but is not and never has been benevolent?  Rather we are his/its/hers entertainment, snuff film, as it were.

For if I were to dispense with my requirement for empirical evidence and rely on the anecdotal (and your anecdotal evidence, of course, can never outweigh mine) then that would be the concept that I would come up with.

If he's out there, he's a right mean bastard.  Staying with the assumption, would that mean i would go to this sadistic fuck's favourite circle of hell for thinking these things? mehaps.  beats kissing the feet of an arse.

But, as a not-so-great poet once said, "If there is a hell, I'll see you there."

.
[ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]
[ Parent ]

Slight spin (5.00 / 1) (#898)
by Wah on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 10:47:01 AM EST

His argument, as I said, is that you should wager that God exists, because you stand to gain something if you're correct and lose nothing if you are incorrect.

No, actually his argument is that you stand to gain everything if right ("all", actually but "everything" maps better to your use of "something") and lose nothing if wrong.  Slight correction, although I doubt it changes your conclusion.
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

passion and sincerity (4.00 / 1) (#916)
by ph0rk on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 01:55:35 PM EST


The average zealot has tons of passion and sincerity, that doesn't make them any less bonkers.

.
[ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]
[ Parent ]

wherer is your url? -nt (none / 0) (#915)
by ph0rk on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 01:52:59 PM EST


[ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]
[ Parent ]
postive belief in the negative. (2.50 / 2) (#784)
by Vermifax on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 05:07:42 PM EST

Atheists, at least strong atheists are definitely on the defensive. Just as much as theists are. The only position that is not on the defensive is the agnostic one.
- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]
pascals wager (3.50 / 2) (#338)
by joto on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:44:38 AM EST

Hmm, so there may or may not be a god. What is the probability for each? Pascal set the probability to 0.5, but that was at the time when statistics and probability theory as we know it today didn't even exist. At that time probability theory was mostly concerned with dices and card-games, and not real-world events where the probability was not evenly distributed.

But okay, let's set the probability of gods existense to 0.5. Then there is the question of which god. Is it the christian (and then, presumably the catholic?), the muslim, jewish, or maybe more than one (hinduistic, shintonistic, greek, norse, ...). It is clear here, that the probability of him being the christian catholic god cannot be set to 1. It doesn't matter what we set him to, but it should be some real number between (but not including) 0 and 1.

Now, we must assign a value to the benefits of believing in or not believing in god. Pascal set the value of believing in god, if he existed to infinity, and the value of not believing in god if he existed to negative infinity. Since these utilities were infinite, it didn't matter much what the utilities were if god did not exist. You may or may not agree with the utility functions Pascal set, but at least it's hard for me to take them on face value.

And then there is also the question of what god would take as belief, to give you a place in heaven. Pascals wager is not an argument for the existence of god. It is an argument for the utility of believing in him, whether he exists or not. You cannot become a christian by that reasoning. You must genuinly love and devote yourself to him. It is not entirely unlikely that god would not be too happy with a man who chose to say he believed in him simply for utilitarian reasons. So even if you accept Pascals wager, there may be good reasons to follow your own beliefs instead of being greedy and simply going for the greatest personal gain.

[ Parent ]

Simpsons (4.00 / 1) (#769)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 04:32:29 PM EST

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Welcome to Ragnarok (4.00 / 1) (#931)
by bugmaster on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 06:17:24 PM EST

What if you spend your life believing in God (the Bible kind), only to die and find out that Loki was the right god to believe in, after all ? I bet he won't be happy with you. And if there's one god you don't want to piss off, it would be Loki. Or maybe Kali. Or Allah. Hmmm...
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Atheists lie low (4.20 / 5) (#64)
by StephenThompson on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 05:50:11 PM EST

First, we need to clear up what the word "Atheist" actually means. Many of the readers here are clearly under the impression that Bertrand Russell's definition for atheism is the commonly held meaning. The word in common usage means somebody that does not believe in god, as opposed to someone who believes there is no god. The difference being one of knowledge: a person can still admit god *might* exist yet still be an atheist because they don't actually believe he *does* exist! The difference may appear subtle, but in fact it is important because most people who claim they agnostic under Russell's definition are atheists by the more commonly held "fuzzy" definition.

The author claims that 14% of americans are atheist, but I am sure the true number is much greater. I for one never tell strangers I am atheist, except on anonymous forums such as t his one, where I cannot be linked to my statements. Its just not worth the hassle or risk. Like many atheists, I just fly under the radar and dont make a fuss (as opposed to the 'ugly atheists' described in the article). Does this mean I am not oppressed and its not a problem? Absolutely not, it just means I don't have the power to change things so I go with flow. Pretty much like the average member of any oppressed group.

Clearing it up. (4.50 / 2) (#123)
by it certainly is on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:10:26 PM EST

Atheism, to me at least, means a definite irrational belief in the lack of god(s). It is theistic belief in the negative form. The majority of people in the UK (and perhaps this 14% in the USA) are secular, i.e. they avoid religion and religious issues. They could be atheist or agnostic. They could even secretly believe in god(s), but just not like religion.

Personally, I'm happy to tell anyone who asks that I am an atheist. I am also happy to tell theistic zealots that I have absolutely no 'proof' of my beliefs -- they're beliefs, duh. It's the easiest way to dissuade crusaders -- tell them you've already got some irrational beliefs, and can't be brought round to an opposing viewpoint. It's the same as telling right-wing political doorsteppers that you're voting left-wing. It's the undecideds that they're chasing.

The longest I ever talked to strangers about my religion was when the Jehovah's Witnesses came visiting. They'd been visiting during the week and upsetting my housemate (a Ukrainian Orthodox Christian student), so I answered the door when they came back on Saturday afternoon. All they managed was a brief "Do you agree that there is some sort of design..." before recieving a half-hour doorstep lecture on Chaos theory, randomness, post-facto probability, evolution and Gestalt pattern recognition (the psychology of why we see familiar shapes in the clouds, even though the clouds don't deliberately shape themselves like that). They made their excuses and left.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Messing with Jehovah's Witnesses (5.00 / 2) (#221)
by paxtech on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:55:54 AM EST

Once the Jehovah's Witnesses came to my house, and I threw the Mystic Atheism curveball at them.. I don't think they appreciated my humor, but they haven't been back so mission accomplished.

Mystic Atheism is basically saying "God appeared to me in a divine vision, and instructed me not to believe in him." It's pretty tough for religious people to argue their way out of that one. Maybe it wasn't cool of me to mess with them like that, but hell, THEY knocked on MY door.

Also from the same site is the Kissing Hank's Ass parable. It's funny stuff, definitely worth a read if you haven't seen it.
--
"Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
[ Parent ]

Irrationality (none / 0) (#229)
by The Solitaire on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:19:00 AM EST

Why must a belief in the non-existence of god be irrational? I believe that pink unicorns don't exist... I can't prove it, but that doesn't mean that it is irrational. What is irrational is claiming to know that god doesn't exist. I think most atheists are perfectly willing to accept that there is a god, if and when good evidence is presented. I've seen this view espoused far too often by atheists.

Good on you for being willing to discuss your atheism. I think that there is nothing inherently wrong with discussing religion, so long as your intent isn't to force it on others. The more that we discuss our position, the more it will become "okay" for people to not believe.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Living without proof. (5.00 / 1) (#283)
by it certainly is on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:16:40 AM EST

Philosophers will use pompous language to describe it, but it basically boils down to:
  1. You must devise a test that would distinguish between a universe with god(s), and a godless universe.
  2. To verify that the test works, run the test on a universe that you know has god(s), and run the test on a universe with no gods.
  3. Now you an run the test on this universe. This will reveal if god(s) are present or not.
Without completing the above steps, you have no empirical evidence for you religious position. The same goes for invisible pink unicorns, "this child's toy has no uranium in it", souls, and phlostrogen. You can't use 'current lack of proof' as an argument for 'perpetual lack of proof', because people are discovering things all the time. Do you need proof to believe there are no gods? If someone showed you undeniable proof that there are god(s), would you be converted?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

I got one! (none / 0) (#409)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:38:45 PM EST

Yell "Hello God!" If God answers than he exists. If he doesn't than he does not exist.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
I tried yelling "Hello Big Sexxy Joe!", (5.00 / 2) (#473)
by it certainly is on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:06:02 PM EST

you didn't reply. Therefore, you don't exist. QED.

I had that Descartes in the back of my cab, very clever man.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

well then, God isn't omniscent and omnipotent (none / 0) (#555)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:48:41 PM EST

...or he just doesn't care about us. God, as he was explained to me should be able to hear you and answer if he wants. Don't give me that stuff about he wants you to have faith either. That's a little too convinent and arbitary. I expain here why you shouldn't believe in God.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
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[ Parent ]
hey, knucklehead (none / 0) (#711)
by adequate nathan on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:45:05 PM EST

I called you a fool, and it turned out you were. Fancy that!

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense (4.20 / 5) (#80)
by evilpenguin on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:17:27 PM EST

There was an article in Scientific American a few months back (it's also online here) entitled "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense". I highly recommend it to anyone who has to deal with creationists, as it brings up just about every quick-fire point I've ever heard spouted by a lofty icon worshiper.

While the answers in the artice are indeed good, I still find that a conversation on the topic will end with an attempt to cover both sides with a veil of light-hearted uncertianty -- something to the effect of "well, you never know". I don't bother to pursue the issue beyond this point, because the speaker has just politely told me that our conversation does not matter to him. So I move on. Politicians do the same thing when faced with a tough, possibly controversial question that they didn't have a pre-written answer for -- just say something inconclusive and move on.

In a way, though, by the other side to regard the subject of god or creation as nebulous, they are essentially admitting that they are agnostic (assuming "agnostic" means that there is not enough evidence to prove either). I called someone on this once, which caused him to claim that We Are Not Supposed To Know; that We are to have Faith. This led into an argument over semantics, which was banal to say the least. If an icon worshiper has been convinced that their way is the only way, then all arguments will eventually boil down to this. Thier god is the owner of a sadistic Burger King -- you never can truly Have It Your Way (tm), and we're all just flippin' burgers for Christ.
--
# nohup cat /dev/dsp > /dev/hda & killall -9 getty
And the responses, pick your poison (none / 0) (#91)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:37:13 PM EST

Firstly,
Google's search for responses.

Secondly, although I am Christian. I see the first point, "theory not fact", is a valid misnomer. The "theory of speaker design and sound reproduction"(as some comment I recently read on k5 put it) is not doubted. It is established fact. Evolution is established fact, within popular culture. But this is not an argument for or against Evolution. It is simply an error of thinking. Let them know this and more reasonable people will understand.

I'll let Google's responses do the rest of the talking. Largely, the Christian community dealing with Creation science has already amended and revised their knowledge and reasoning concerning all of these points.
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[ Parent ]
Translation: (none / 0) (#119)
by JChen on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:36:24 PM EST

"I shall not stoop to your level because I'm better than you are."

Indeed, let the people decide for themselves.

(Note their stance on natural selection.)

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]

Holier than thou? (none / 0) (#1053)
by Shovas on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 11:20:13 AM EST

That's how you took my post? Certainly not. Rather, I posted arguments far better written and far more indepth than I could ever present myself.
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[ Parent ]
This is the subject line. (4.50 / 4) (#149)
by kitten on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:40:57 PM EST

Evolution is established fact, within popular culture. But this is not an argument for or against Evolution. It is simply an error of thinking.

The term "theory of evolution" is a common one, but is totally false. Evolution is the observation, and things like natural selection are the theories that explain the observation. Much like gravity is an observation, and the curvature of space over matter is the theory that explains it.

Darwin noted adaptive features in organisms - this was his observation, which we now call evolution. His explanation - his theory - for the observation was natural selection due to environmental pressures, among other explanations.

Largely, the Christian community dealing with Creation science has already amended and revised their knowledge and reasoning concerning all of these points.

In other words, the tenants of Creationism, like Christianity as a whole, has to be conveniently "updated" and amended once in a while to keep up with modern scientific thinking and knowledge, and iron out embarassing errors, despite the fact that they claim to have some sort of direct hotline to God and his wisdom.

Yes, science updates itself too, but science does so within itself - it is wholly self-correcting, which is the whole point. Creationism and religion in general are not self-correcting, but rather, remain stubborn in their beliefs until they look too ridiculous next to modern thought, at which point they are re-interpreted to keep up.
A good example is always Galileo, who was forced under torture to denounce his heliocentric model of the solar system, which one Church father dubbed "atheistic" while another declared that "geometry is of the Devil". Today, every Christian can deliver an impressive account of how the interesting precision of planetary orbits is actually evidence of God's handiwork.

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[ Parent ]
Almost (2.40 / 5) (#155)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:10:38 PM EST

Your smug analysis of the changing knowledge and efforts of Creation science is almost on the dot. I'd liken it, however, to a number of mundane reasons even science, as a whole, has to deal with sometimes. Science has had to rethink and rereason various theories. Creation science is no different.

The issue of certain arguments which were found to bhe invalid or unproductive to the effort is most specifically what I'm speaking of. Largely, the arguments that were based on factual knowledge were just that, widely accepted fact until new discoveries came along. Like any other theory, the aspects of Creation science were altered to take that new information. Answers In Genesis has a frank and honest list of Arguments creationists should NOT use. Such things as the dust depth on the moon, which was erroneous due to bad mathematics by NASA but which some Creationists still think is valid. These are the types of arguments which were refined.

I must sadly admit that there were those in power in the Church who were not as open minded as I, personally, would have preferred. Note that man is not perfect. Note that these men did not act in the spirit of Christianity. I relate this to the Crusades. Christianity did not cause the Crusades; men, who did not have Christ's perspective, caused the Crusades.

As well, concerning the example of Creation science vs. stellar positioning of the planets and our position therein: Creation science, the portion I subscribe to which takes the official name Creation Science, holds that the Bible is a literal transcript of the meaning God intended. Creation Science believes and attempts to prove that the science of the Bible is valid, and it is feasible. For example, Creation Science will attempt to provide the model for the universe and earth formation from the information cited in Genesis(with references which support Genesis from other scriptures). Creation Science pushes the science of the Bible. If it is not scientifically feasible, they do not push it.

In the case of Galileo, however, he believed that the positioning of the earth relative to the sun, planets and universe was different from established belief. Note this belief had little foundation in the Bible. Men who would not see the power of the Church diminished are the reason new, scientifically valid theories were labelled heresy and their authors persecuted. There is a big difference. Modern day Creation science efforts rely on a fundamental, literal, scripture-supported(where possible; from elsewhere in the Bible) perspective of, mostly, Genesis science and its relaying of the formation of the universe and the earth.

I hope this comes across: Modern Creation science argues from scientifically valid thought, as agrees with Genesis science. Comparing this to men who foolishly presumed to attempt to protect God from the people instead of letting God protect his people with his Words, is inappropriate.

I may not have pounded that point home enough so if you don't understand, please do ask to clarify.
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[ Parent ]
Woah there. (5.00 / 8) (#165)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:11:27 AM EST

I hope this comes across: Modern Creation science argues from scientifically valid thought

I must take extreme issue with this statement. Creation "science" works totally opposite of the scientific method. Specifically, it assumes the answer is a foregone conclusion and then looks for evidence to back itself up. It is, as the expression goes, putting the cart before the horse.

No matter how much data is accumulated, it will not change or revise it's hypothesis. This is not science.

Creation Science pushes the science of the Bible.

I'm sorry - what science? I'm not asking to be a jerk, either. Believe it or not I have read the Bible, numerous times, and reference it quite often, and I honestly have no idea what "science" is contained within it. Since we're focusing on Creation here, I assume we're talking about Genesis, which offers no science whatsoever. It tosses out a few statements which it never backs up or provides evidence for or explains why this is so - merely that it is, so you'd better believe it.
I see things like the "firmament" which was supposed to be some sort of solid dome over the sky. I see the beginnings of the universe not as a void, but as "dark waters" that the spirit of the Lord moved over (whatever that means). I see the Sun being created before all other stars, which implies the Sun is somehow different from other stars, as well as older - both of which are not true. And that's just the first day or two of Genesis. I could go on and on about the statements that make no sense, but the point is, I see nothing that even remotely resembles "science" in any sense of the word in any of this.

Science has had to rethink and rereason various theories. Creation science is no different.

Wrong again. Science is utterly self-correcting and if the mounting evidence regarding an issue shows that the previously accepted notion is in error, the previous notion is thrown out entirely. Creation "science" does not work that way. As noted above, it assumes the answer, and will never revise or change it's hypothesis.

Take physics for example, which was assumed - based on the available data - to be deterministic in nature. Once quantum mechanics was introduced and understood, the notion of determinism was largely discarded. This was not an easy thing to do, mind you - even Einstein could not bring himself to believe that there were aspects of the physical universe that could not be observed. But eventually the physics community as a whole accepted that they had been wrong, and embraced the new ideas.

You won't ever catch a Creation Scientist admitting that his hypothesis was wrong. The Institute for Creation Science, founded by Duane Gish, makes its professors (is that what they're called?) take an oath that no matter what they discover, they will never reject Creation. Does that sound like they're honestly in pursuit of the truth? - or merely trying to push a conclusion that they already assume to be true?

Largely, the arguments that were based on factual knowledge were just that, widely accepted fact until new discoveries came along.

Yes, yes, Creationists are always happy to take the scientific data from someone else - even if it's specious at best - and apply it to their own agenda, and on occasion - not often - they will even throw out arguments they'd made if the science is shown to be bad (like your moon dust example). But they will never admit that their hypothesis itself needs revising or discarding in favor of new scientific evidence.

I've said what I need to say.
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[ Parent ]
I'm woahed. (3.00 / 2) (#388)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:56:39 PM EST

I must take extreme issue with this statement. Creation "science" works totally opposite of the scientific method. Specifically, it assumes the answer is a foregone conclusion and then looks for evidence to back itself up. It is, as the expression goes, putting the cart before the horse.
I say Creation science "argues" from scientifically valid thought and process. The evidence, the arguments, the data, the logic, the process, at least in the fields I'm familiar with, follow that of the scientific method.

I certainly don't deny that Creation science assumes that Genesis is correct and will not budge from that. I would argue that there's nothing inherently wrong with such an approach, as long as the scientific method and logic are used and rational thought in the process of data gathering are employed.
No matter how much data is accumulated, it will not change or revise it's hypothesis. This is not science.
I didn't say the approach would agree with popular thought as to how science should be performed. One cannot deny that the approach, after the fact of the hypothesis "assumption", is correct. That is my point on this issue.

As an aside, what if(a big what if) such an example were given where the theory was proven while the hypothesis was rock solid? Was it not proper science to delve unceasingly into the mystery? A great many achievements have been made by the headstrong efforts of great scientists.
I'm sorry - what science? I'm not asking to be a jerk, either. Believe it or not I have read the Bible, numerous times, and reference it quite often, and I honestly have no idea what "science" is contained within it.
No, naturally, your umpteen step program to the scientific method will not be found in the Bible. I'm speaking of the implied science of the events which must have taken place for Genesis to be true; It is this implied science which Creation science takes and attempts to show that the implied events of the Bible are feasible and plausible.

Rant: This is one of my nitpicks of popular culture: Think up not down. Do not assume your neighbour is an idiot. Do not assume Christianity is a clueless institution pushing its own designs for its own gain simply by blind faith. There is no rational thought process in that, no logic. Not all religious people are also illogical.
I see things like the "firmament" which was supposed to be some sort of solid dome over the sky. I see the beginnings of the universe not as a void, but as "dark waters" that the spirit of the Lord moved over (whatever that means). I see the Sun being created before all other stars, which implies the Sun is somehow different from other stars, as well as older - both of which are not true. And that's just the first day or two of Genesis. I could go on and on about the statements that make no sense, but the point is, I see nothing that even remotely resembles "science" in any sense of the word in any of this.
A completely different discussion(one I love to ponder over). There are some _very_ interesting theories and perspectives on the formation presentation in Genesis. See "Starlight and Time".

At any rate, you do seem to agree that portions of science are revised and rethought. That was my point. Although, you seem to think this only occurs with hypotheses. Revising information within a theory based on new data is not new, nor does it contradict the scientific method.
You won't ever catch a Creation Scientist admitting that his hypothesis was wrong. The Institute for Creation Science, founded by Duane Gish, makes its professors (is that what they're called?) take an oath that no matter what they discover, they will never reject Creation. Does that sound like they're honestly in pursuit of the truth? - or merely trying to push a conclusion that they already assume to be true?
I'm betting you're taking this in a warped context. Creation Science is an organization who, in part, wishes to support the literal interpretation of Genesis. It would do no good for someone to join their ranks and then speak out against their cause. Weak willed members may be more detrimental to the cause than if they were not in a public position(this is a key point, one must not cause others to stumble, in the paraphrased words of the scriptures).
Yes, yes, Creationists are always happy to take the scientific data from someone else - even if it's specious at best - and apply it to their own agenda, and on occasion - not often - they will even throw out arguments they'd made if the science is shown to be bad (like your moon dust example). But they will never admit that their hypothesis itself needs revising or discarding in favor of new scientific evidence.
Throughout this thread, I see assumptions right, left and centre concerning the intent and methods of Creation science. Please do not assume if you're not fully knowledgeable on the topics the thread concerns. I'll state it one more time:

In thie fields I'm familiar with and subscribe to, the attempt is made to take the literal interpretation of Genesis and to show that the events are scientifically feasible and plausible. The routes taken to prove these ideas are within the realm of scientific logic and practice.

I can't say it any clearer. The open, honest effort is made to present evidence and reasoning for the literal interpretation of Genesis formation. If some piece of information is found to be incorrect, information is revised and corrected. You can look at it from your superiority complex, on the throne of science, or you can be open-minded and honest yourself, and look at the efforts of Creation science for what they are. You may still assume the data is incorrect, but you should not assume the methods or interpretations are invalid, dishonest or illogical. Because what I'm arguing is based on scientific method and these issues are side tracking what really matters: Whether or not the current information for Creation science is valid.
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[ Parent ]
Main issue. (5.00 / 3) (#465)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:43:51 PM EST

I read your entire post, and (of course) take issue with most of it, but for now want to focus on only two things you said.

I certainly don't deny that Creation science assumes that Genesis is correct and will not budge from that. I would argue that there's nothing inherently wrong with such an approach, as long as the scientific method and logic are used and rational thought in the process of data gathering are employed.

This is my main gripe. There is something inherently wrong with absolutely refusing to alter or revise or even discard your original hypothesis - this is true for any scientific endeavour.

Yes, Creationists use (mostly, anyway) science and reasoning, but their conclusion came before any data was gathered.

Ideally, science works this way: A scientist wants to study X. He goes and examines X (or maybe something that has to do with X), and writes down or otherwise notes his observations about it. He then takes his notes, organizes them, considers them, and draws a hypothesis from the observations. Then he comes up with a way of testing his conclusion, and if his experiment fails, he says "I guess the hypothesis was wrong," and changes it. Repeat.

A Creationist works this way: He says "I already know the answer. Period." Then he goes to make his observations. His hypothesis came before he even bothered making observations. And no matter what he finds that contradicts his hypothesis, he will never alter or discard his hypothesis. There is something very wrong with that.

If some piece of information is found to be incorrect, information is revised and corrected.

Yes, the supports for the hypothesis are changed constantly, but the hypothesis itself never changes. Once again: Not science.
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[ Parent ]
Your contention is this, (3.00 / 2) (#472)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:58:27 PM EST

That Creation starts off from a single hypothesis and the hypothesis is never challenged. The solution to the proof is to continue gathering new data to prove an unmaliable theory.

I hate to get off track, but I just thought of an example of the hypothesis changing for Creation. The typical Creation story goes that God created the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days(rested on the 7th). The basic idea remains but as can be seen in the book "Starlight and Time", variations on the way Creation followed through have certainly arisen. These different models of Creation attempt to describe observations we see in the world around us(the book also lists a wide number of other models of Creation which attempt to answer modern questions as well, so there is activity in this arena).

Now, they _do_ stem from a Genesis-as-Truth philosophy, and that you might argue is not science. Regardless, where they do follow through with the scientific method is in their variation of the hypothesis set in Genesis as it relates to answering phenomena observed today. So, perhaps hypotheses do change in Creation science(sorry I didn't think of this earlier).

It's important to note that a percentage of Christians, which are themselves a percentage of the world, are actively involved in the theory and investigation process of Creation science. So you tend to get popular thought from N years ago as "accepted" hypothesis. One must be really into Creation science to be aware of all the ideas floating around.
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[ Parent ]
My contention is this. (5.00 / 1) (#536)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:07:41 PM EST

The primary hypothesis doesn't change. Okay, minor variations (and I do mean minor) about what Creation means for today's world, but the primary notion: "God created the world as described in Genesis" does not change, as you admit.

That's my main contention - Creationism presenting itself as valid science when it is anything but. All my other contentions (such as why I think Creationism's notions are absurd) are purely secondary to that.

Valid science does not offer a conclusion before making observations. Ever. The conclusions come from the observations, never vice versa. Yet Creationists fly in the face of this, assume their conclusion, and only then do they bother making observations.

Now, I'd also like to pose a few thoughts on the actual assertions of 'young earth Creation' which, as it may surprise you, I do know quite a bit about. (Just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean theology and the like doesn't fascinate me.)

1. I have never seen a reasonable or valid answer to the issue of starlight from a Creationist. The most ignorant answer is "God could have created the light in transit" as though he wanted to fool us. The (barely) more enlightened answers, such as in your book (which I am somewhat familiar with) rely on horrible, gross misunderstandings of relativity and still bring up vague brush-offs about God's alleged supernatural timeframe, which assumes the answer it's trying to prove.
By the way, I find it intensely interesting that Creationists are happy to use relativity when it suits them, but are adamant against evolution. Relativity is purely a theory (although it has stood up to every test designed to disprove it, it is a theory, not a law).

2. Genesis clearly announces that the Sun was created before the other stars, which implies first that the Sun is somehow different from other stars, and that it is also older. Neither of these is true. I have yet to see a Creationist answer this with any degree of validity.

3. Finally, even if we accept Creationism, we really move not one step closer to understanding anything. Assuming Creation is true, what does this tell me? An unknowable being, using unknown means for unknown reasons, caused everything to snap into place through some unknown process, mysteriously, inexplicably. This doesn't really explain anything at all.

Your thoughts?
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[ Parent ]
I just did a little research, by the way.. (5.00 / 1) (#543)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:40:39 PM EST

..and found this excerpt from the book you mentioned.

Caveat: This is going to come off as pretty harsh. Thus far I've enjoyed the more or less civil discussion we've had, so I want to be clear that I'm not attacking you with this. Yes, I am immensely annoyed with this book, but I can't think of a way of expressing my distaste without coming off as hostile. Don't take it personally.

I say without apology that this is some of the most misguided crap I've encountered in a while, and is wholly ignorant of the theories it discusses, and that furthermore, it still goes back to supernatural, "we can't be wrong, dammit" explanations.

Allow me to quote:
-- that if you were to travel off into space, you would eventually come to a place beyond which there was no more matter. In this cosmology, the earth is near the center, as it appears to be as we look out into space. This might sound like common sense, as indeed it is, but all modern secular ("big bang") cosmologies deny this.
Excuse me for being blunt, but really - what the hell? Out of nowhere, he asserts that we are the center of the universe and that there is a finite, definite edge to space. He pulls these assumptions literally out of nothingness and offers no explanation whatsoever for anyone to accept them, other than "common sense".
`Billions of years' would be available (in the frame of reference within which it is traveling in deep space) for light to reach the earth, for stars to age, etc. -- while less than one ordinary day is passing on earth.
Here we have a gross misrepresentation of relativity. This sort of argument infuriates me - it relies on the reader being mostly ignorant of the theories, so that with a little scientific-sounding jargon and barely-plausible (or barely implausible, but the reader doesn't know the difference) assertions, he can make himself to sound authoritative. If Einstein were alive today I think he'd hold this guy down so that Stephen Hawking could run over him with his wheelchair.

I could go on, but let me move the most important part.
. This reinterpretation also means having to accept that there were billions of years of death, disease, and bloodshed before Adam, thus eroding the creation/Fall/restoration framework within which the gospel is presented in the Bible.
Here, he is saying that such revisions or reinterpretations are wrong. And why are they wrong? Because we cannot accept that the Bible and gospel are erroneous or metaphorical. This is not science.
The authority of the Bible should never be compromised as mankind's `scientific' proposals.
Again. No matter what is discovered, or what new scientific evidence is brought to light, the Creationist answer is always to explain it away with "That can't be right because the Bible says otherwise." That is his primary argument - all his "creation science" is secondary to that.

The bottom line here is that no matter what the evidence suggests, and no matter what data is made available, the Creationist refuses to budge. If the evidence suggests something other than Genesis, it's wrong, period, because it contradicts Genesis. That is their only explanation, and that is not science.
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[ Parent ]
Drooping eyelids and all that rot (Part 1? Sure.) (5.00 / 1) (#560)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:04:17 PM EST

Nevermind the subject. I'm just physically tired. :)

Okay, minor variations (and I do mean minor) about what Creation means for today's world, but the primary notion: "God created the world as described in Genesis" does not change, as you admit.

That's my main contention - Creationism presenting itself as valid science when it is anything but.
As to the first part, not "what Creation means for today's world," but rather redefining the Genesis Creation model to answer modern observations about our universe which are unanswered by traditional perspectives. I think this is important since you seem to want to downplay the attempt to change within the religious structure that is organized Christianity. Some of us are honestly attempting to provide a feasible explanation of the Genesis Creation using today's accepted science methods and logic.

I don't understand something about your second point in the quotation above(and this seems to be a common view of Creation science*). How is it that Creationism, the scientific method and rationale of attempting to show the feasibility and plausibility of the Genesis creation, is not valid science? Perhaps I'm not reading from the same page? I can understand how you would view the concept of starting with the belief in a God and going from there to prove something said God wrote, as unscientific. That I can understand. But isn't that besides the point? In all reality a person can choose any number of reasons not to believe in a god even if that god showed himself in plain view. You and I, nor anyone else, can have a coherent debate if we're still on the idea that Creationism is inherently unscientific because you start from a belief in a god(which science has yet to conclusively make fact) and go from there to prove something else.

I hope that states my position on the scientific validity of Creationism, as it seems to keep coming up here. Onward...
1. I have never seen a reasonable or valid answer to the issue of starlight from a Creationist. The most ignorant answer is "God could have created the light in transit" as though he wanted to fool us. The (barely) more enlightened answers, such as in your book (which I am somewhat familiar with) rely on horrible, gross misunderstandings of relativity and still bring up vague brush-offs about God's alleged supernatural timeframe, which assumes the answer it's trying to prove.
Truthfully, I've so far subscribed to the "ignorant" answer of God created a "running" universe and set it to wind down, so to speak. For God to have shown his creations the stars, I think he would have created things already running. That explains a few things about age.

Having said all that, Starlight and Time takes an intriguing view of the wording in Genesis for the early portions of creation, such that I am quite drawn to it. As you state there are some potential misunderstandings of recent theories(which I will admit I'm not versed in and can not debate). It is not the use of these theories to answer modern phenomena which interested me in Starlight and Time's model. It was, rather, the view and picture painted via the perspective on the wording of Genesis that piqued my interest. Certain portions of scripture are worded in a very interesting manner. Noteably, the citations like 'There shall be a sky in the middle of the water, and it shall divide between water and water.' Starlight and Time's process account was the first time this sounded like the wording could've made sense. Other quotations speaking of the first, second, third heavens lend weight, I think, to the ideas presented in Starlight and Time. Now, I can't argue on the theories and how they were used/abused in Starlight and Time(I've read some refutations citing these issues), but I do think the picture painted by Starlight and Time is a novel fit.

To answer your question fully, I'm not certain. Personally, I'm certain of God. As to how he presents starlight as it occurs to us, I'm uncertain. At this time, I would decide on the "running universe" idea, as it also fullfills modern observations, as well as allowing his original creations to be perfect and allowing the creation to be wholely complete.
By the way, I find it intensely interesting that Creationists are happy to use relativity when it suits them, but are adamant against evolution. Relativity is purely a theory (although it has stood up to every test designed to disprove it, it is a theory, not a law).
I honestly think there's a difference, in terms of Creation science and its use of science fact, when the theory you're using is neutral on your hypothesis and when another theory is contradictory to your hypothesis and is in some people's mind, not fact. Eg. Why use a controversial theory which disagrees with where you're starting from(and we've already discussed this issue) and which is demonstrateably still to be proven as fact.
2. Genesis clearly announces that the Sun was created before the other stars, which implies first that the Sun is somehow different from other stars, and that it is also older. Neither of these is true. I have yet to see a Creationist answer this with any degree of validity.
That is actually incorrect. Feel free to review what Genesis really says in this Hebrew to English Torah translation(please don't infer anything by my citation of this particular source. I just find this source interesting and had this web-based source handy). Technically, Genesis tells us that "God said, 'There shall be light,' and light came into existence." Light is a very generic term and probably shouldn't inherently be termed as our sun(this is one of the interesting points brought up in Starlight and Time). The sun, moon and stars were specifically created later.

Aside: Here's a doozey for you which may detract from my argument. :) Even though "light came into existence," God divided between the light and darkness, labelled them night and day, and "It was evening and it was morning, one day." (Gen. 1:3-5) How exactly a generic light source(I'm thinking in terms of the Starlight and Time account) can create an evening and a morning is beyond me.

Regardless, I hope that perhaps clarifies my position on that particular point. Maybe I've just swept it aside in your opinion, although I can't see how with the citations I've referenced.
3. Finally, even if we accept Creationism, we really move not one step closer to understanding anything. Assuming Creation is true, what does this tell me?
This is a _very_ good point to raise. At a Creation Science week seminar I recently attended, the idea that "there's always a reason to disbelieve" came up. The real intent of asserting the scientific validity of the Genesis creation account is to provide the required foundation for the rest of the Bible. The Bible, after all, is the infallible, divinely inspired word of God. If Genesis, one of the earliest books written, can not be trusted, how much less can we trust the rest of the "God breathed" scriptures? We can't. And thus Genesis is a good starting place because it brings up issues involving scientific controversy where the topic has been discredited for the Christian religion. As it stands, the compromises, "have faith in God", and revisions lacking Biblical backing, of Christian perspective have lead to a society that no longer puts any credence in religion because it has for too long compromised or not held its own. By non-Christians destroying the foundation of Genesis--and with science philosophy being the epitome of acceptable thought since the Rennaisance--we provide the route for people to easily excuse Christian faith as irrelevant and inaccurate. Growth in trust, of the Bible as infallible, is needed because the Bible claims perfection.

I don't know if I said all that correctly, but the reason Creation science is a very important issue is this: the science of the Bible is accurate, else there is no firm foundation for the rest of scriptures.


* I should probably clarify myself right now. When I say "Creation science", I mean the community, thought, science method and logic of the Genesis Creation account. When I capitalize 'science', as in Creation Science, I'm basically referring to the somewhat widely known Christian school of thought as it pertains to the Genesis account.
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[ Parent ]
Interesting. (5.00 / 2) (#582)
by kitten on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:13:53 AM EST

How is it that Creationism, the scientific method and rationale of attempting to show the feasibility and plausibility of the Genesis creation, is not valid science?

Simple. Science draws it's conclusions from the observations. Creationism starts with the conclusion and then looks for observations. It is immediately and forever disqualified from the realm of science with that one action.

For God to have shown his creations the stars, I think he would have created things already running. That explains a few things about age.

It does, but it's also a very silly answer. For one thing, it implies that God is deliberately deceiving us. We look up at the stars and observe that they appear to be 20 million lightyears away, but wait! - it's all a grand trick! How are we supposed to be certain of anything when we're dealing with a God who will deceive us so?

Same for fossils. We find a trilobite (I'm certainly spelling that wrong) fossil that's 2 billion years old, but as the Creationists would have it, God "could have" planted these fossils to only look like they're 2 billion years old. It's another bit of trickery.

He "could have" generated the light from stars en route to Earth, and he "could have" planted those fossils, and he "could have" tampered with the myriad methods we have of dating organic specimans. He "could have" just snapped his Holy Fingers and made Pharoah release the Hebrews instead of screwing around with frogs and locusts, but he didn't. Whatever.

Saying God "could have" done this or that, as a means of explaining away contradictions to Genesis, seems utterly ridiculous.

As you state there are some potential misunderstandings of recent theories(which I will admit I'm not versed in and can not debate).

You may do well to acquaint yourself with such bodies of knowledge, in that case. How can you choose a stance on this issue when you admit you're ignorant of the information being discussed?

Why use a controversial theory which disagrees with where you're starting from(and we've already discussed this issue) and which is demonstrateably still to be proven as fact.

Heh. The only "controversy" exists with people who have a doctrinal axe to grind. There is nothing 'controversial' about an extremely old universe to anybody else. Meanwhile, why use such a theory? Because it's what the observations and evidence suggest. It's not as though someone said "I bet the universe is really old" and then looked for ways of supporting their argument. They poked around, made observations, and then decided that the evidence suggested an old universe.
Notice the opposite way that Creationism functions?

Technically, Genesis tells us that "God said, 'There shall be light,' and light came into existence." Light is a very generic term and probably shouldn't inherently be termed as our sun.

That isn't what I was referring to. God doesn't bother making the sun until Gen i 16. (How there was light on Earth before that is beyond me.) It isn't until one verse later that he makes the stars. Plus, Genesis is quite careful to make a distinction between the sun and the other stars, as though the sun were somehow special.

The real intent of asserting the scientific validity of the Genesis creation account is to provide the required foundation for the rest of the Bible.

It still doesn't explain anything. How did this God create something from nothing? Why did he do so? Genesis does not say. We are merely told that some being called "God", whom we know nothing about because such knowledge is impossible, used unknown means to cause everything to snap into place, for unknown reasons, through an unknown process. Magically, mysteriously, inexplicably. This is what Creationists offer as an "explanation"? What does that explain, exactly?


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[ Parent ]
Staying on track (none / 0) (#672)
by Shovas on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 09:58:33 AM EST

Simple. Science draws it's conclusions from the observations. Creationism starts with the conclusion and then looks for observations. It is immediately and forever disqualified from the realm of science with that one action.
I thought I ran this over with an 18-wheeler a few times. I'll say this as short as possible: The lack of change in hypothesis means nothing if that hypothesis is proven true. Therefore, Creationism should not be labelled invalid science because the follow-through and outcome are still the same.

Very important once again to note that I'm separating the starting-point from the follow-through. Labelling everything about Creationism as incorrect science is logically foolish. I will agree that having a fixed starting-point is traditionally unscientific. What I must be adamant on is that the rest of the method is quite scientific indeed and there is no need to excuse the entire collection of ideas outright.
It does, but it's also a very silly answer. For one thing, it implies that God is deliberately deceiving us. We look up at the stars and observe that they appear to be 20 million lightyears away, but wait! - it's all a grand trick! How are we supposed to be certain of anything when we're dealing with a God who will deceive us so?

Same for fossils. We find a trilobite (I'm certainly spelling that wrong) fossil that's 2 billion years old, but as the Creationists would have it, God "could have" planted these fossils to only look like they're 2 billion years old. It's another bit of trickery.
Where are the deceptions? God makes no claims as to how old the universe is or is not(although the age of the eart is implied). He simply creates the stars. If we are to assume the stars were at that time sufficiently far away, it would seem a logical explanation he created these elements already running.

As for things local to earth such as fossils, I do not believe God created a running earth in the manner he may have created a running universe. A large amount of fossils were a direct or indirect result of Noah's Flood activity(as goes Creationism ideas). There's no trickery involved. It goes simply: God created a running universe; stars _really_ are 20 million light years away and that really is older than the creation time and that is what we observe. Fossils are certainly tricky though. God would not have called his entire creation "good" if there was death(from whence fossils come). Therefore, in this scenario, fossils must be no older than the implied age of the earth which from Genesis and genealogies appears to be less than 10k years old.
Heh. The only "controversy" exists with people who have a doctrinal axe to grind. There is nothing 'controversial' about an extremely old universe to anybody else. Meanwhile, why use such a theory? Because it's what the observations and evidence suggest.
The theory I was referring to was that of evolution and the link was to a refutation of Scientific American's 15 Answers to Creationism Nonsense, wherein is one of the most involved responses to the criticism of Creationists calling evolution a theory and not a fact. Interesting reading.
It's not as though someone said "I bet the universe is really old" and then looked for ways of supporting their argument. They poked around, made observations, and then decided that the evidence suggested an old universe. Notice the opposite way that Creationism functions?
True(to your last point). As I've continually said, though, I regard a fixed hypothesis as less corrupt as bad data attempting to prove a variable hypothesis.
That isn't what I was referring to. God doesn't bother making the sun until Gen i 16. (How there was light on Earth before that is beyond me.) It isn't until one verse later that he makes the stars.
Okay, okay. Actually, after rereading that section, I'd urge you to reconsider it. Note that 1:14-15 and "It happened." Then verse 1:16 where God specifically names "the two large lights."

I would say that there's a possibility the stars and sun were created and the order may not be known. In the next verses, God labels those "lights" and then reiterates that he made them in 1:16. I think it's arguable, from a purely scriptural look, that Genesis indicates not that the sun or moon are different from the stars, nor where they created before or after(it is not told or implied) the stars.
It still doesn't explain anything. How did this God create something from nothing? Why did he do so? Genesis does not say. We are merely told that some being called "God", whom we know nothing about because such knowledge is impossible, used unknown means to cause everything to snap into place, for unknown reasons, through an unknown process. Magically, mysteriously, inexplicably. This is what Creationists offer as an "explanation"? What does that explain, exactly?
The "how" is answered, yes, circularly by the scriptures noting that Gid was all-powerful. An all-powerful God answers "how" it was done. He can do anything.

The "why" is a deeper answer to fathom. From what I have come to understand, God wished to create beings in his image which might have the free will , intelligence and comprehension to still come to him to be in fellowship with their creator. This is a very crazy answer based on psychological aspects and the human condition(which may not even apply to God), but perhaps an all-powerful being is not satisfied with creating just one set of things(a home, angels, etc.), he wants to continually share his love with his creation and endlessly create things of beauty, as such are we.

And the "why" is always the toughest question and my response should not be taken as the thought of anyone else, nor the common consensus of Christianity.

Would these "unkown means", if told in scripture, be understandable to us, let alone the first persons?

Creation was not done "Magically, mysteriously, inexplicably." This is why Creation science exists. To show scientifically that the implied science of the Genesis events is feasible and plausible.
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[ Parent ]
Wait, what? (none / 0) (#718)
by kitten on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 01:44:51 PM EST

The lack of change in hypothesis means nothing if that hypothesis is proven true. Therefore, Creationism should not be labelled invalid science because the follow-through and outcome are still the same.

The hypothesis hasn't been proven true. It was assumed to be true before the "outcome" or even any investigation.

Where are the deceptions? God makes no claims as to how old the universe is or is not(although the age of the eart is implied). He simply creates the stars. If

Simply put, he deceives us by making it appear as though the light from those stars has been travelling for 20 million years (or however long). An observer has absolutely no reason to doubt his observations in this matter. He accurately measures 20 million years, all the data fits, and along comes a Creationist saying "No, it only looks like 20 million years, but it's an illusion."

God's "claim" in this case is the physical information he has provided us. The physical observations we can make suggest that the light has been travelling for 20 million years. Period. We have no reason to think it was created "in transit" or that it was "already running", and all experience of humanity and history shows that things work a certain way. We therefore make the utterly logical and reasonable assumption that the light originated from this star, travelled 20 million years, and finally reached us. If there is a God behind it, then this sort of data available is indeed a sort of "claim", one that he deliberately made, yet expects us to disbelieve.

It goes simply: God created a running universe; stars _really_ are 20 million light years away and that really is older than the creation time and that is what we observe.

Wild speculation with absolutely no supporting evidence. Other than Creationist desperation to prove a young universe, what possible reason do you have to substantiate such a claim?

God would not have called his entire creation "good" if there was death(from whence fossils come). Therefore, in this scenario, fossils must be no older than the implied age of the earth which from Genesis and genealogies appears to be less than 10k years old.

Again, your argument assumes the answer before it even asks the question. Your only reason for thinking the fossils are less than their apparent age is that if they were old, Genesis would be wrong.

The theory I was referring to was that of evolution and the link was to a refutation of Scientific American's 15 Answers to Creationism Nonsense

Yes, I looked at it and I stand by my statement. The only 'controversy' that exists is with those people with a doctrinal axe to grind.

As I've continually said, though, I regard a fixed hypothesis as less corrupt as bad data attempting to prove a variable hypothesis.

Key point. I agree with you, but I'd also point out that if the data is good and suggests something your hypothesis didn't expect, then your hypothesis is wrong and needs to be changed. This is where Creationists fail.

An all-powerful God answers "how" it was done. He can do anything.

Ah, yes indeed. All doubt has been erased. My question has been answered. That's a beautiful and very helpful explanation.

The "why" is a deeper answer to fathom. From what I have come to understand, God wished to create beings in his image which might have the free will , intelligence and comprehension to still come to him to be in fellowship with their creator.

Why would he want that? A perfect being should not want anything. Want implies that a desire is unfulfilled, and this is not perfect. A truly perfect being should have no unfulfilled desires or incompletions.
Genesis and indeed the rest of the Bible does nothing to assuage these questions. It merely says "This is what happened" and offers nothing more. We are to accept it. Period.
(And yet God faults us for using the intelligence he gave us - how many dozens of times are we told in the Bible that the wisdom of this world is folly with God, and faith and blind obedience are exalted above logic and reason.)

Would these "unkown means", if told in scripture, be understandable to us, let alone the first persons?

Nope. But then, God is not supposed to be understandable to us either, yet Scripture goes on and on about that.

Creation was not done "Magically, mysteriously, inexplicably." This is why Creation science exists. To show scientifically that the implied science of the Genesis events is feasible and plausible.

Creationism only hopes to show that the universe is young. It can never hope to prove the mechanism or mind behind the universe. They assume that if the universe is young, then it must be because of the events described in Genesis. (I can, off the top of my head, come up with an almost infinite number of other explanations for a young universe, from Universe Gnomes to Evil Demons, and Creationists can never hope to show that these have less merit than "God did it".)

So yes, Creation will always be magic, mysterious, inexplicable. If the goal is to understand where we come from, Creation still does not answer us. "Somehow" is not an answer. "Through unknown or incomprehensible means" is not an answer.

A Creationist will never be able to - nor does he pretend he is trying to - show the means, the method, the reason, the process, behind Creation. In the final analysis, his best conclusion can only hope to be: "The universe is young, and we assume this is because of Genesis." This is what he tries to pass as an explanation. I'm not impressed.
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[ Parent ]
Corrections and more (none / 0) (#794)
by Shovas on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 06:55:59 PM EST

Correction needed,
The lack of change in hypothesis means nothing if that hypothesis is proven true. Therefore, Creationism should not be labelled invalid science because the follow-through and outcome are still the same.
The hypothesis hasn't been proven true. It was assumed to be true before the "outcome" or even any investigation.
I'm not positive why I worded it that way, but in my portion of the text, it should read,
The lack of change in hypothesis means nothing if that hypothesis is proven true. Therefore, Creationism should not be labelled invalid science because the follow-through and outcome are [still scientifically valid]
This is one point in our thread, however, that keeps coming up and I think we need to deal with it once and for all.

I say Creationism is valid science, as per the definitions of "science" at Dict.org.

You've continually stated that Creationism is not a science because the hypothesis never changed and/or the hypothesis was assumed to be true and only at that point was data gathered as proof for the hypothesis. I argue your logic falls under a different term, the name of which I'm not certain. Even the scientific method does not nullify the attempts of Creationism.

Your position, that true science does not hold a presupposed hypothesis, is incorrect. Feel free to cite any definitions of your own which may support that argument. You may very well say that popular science scoffs at such research, but "true science" says nothing as it relates to presupposed hypotheses.
Simply put, he deceives us by making it appear as though the light from those stars has been travelling for 20 million years (or however long). An observer has absolutely no reason to doubt his observations in this matter. He accurately measures 20 million years, all the data fits, and along comes a Creationist saying "No, it only looks like 20 million years, but it's an illusion."
What a Creationist offers is not the simple statement that it hasn't travelled 20 million years and is only an illusion, they offer an explanation of why it is observed to be 20 million years old.
Yes, I looked at it and I stand by my statement. The only 'controversy' that exists is with those people with a doctrinal axe to grind.
I would disagree with this opinion(as you no doubt guessed :) ). There is a relatively significant faction of scientists who view the theory of evolution as immature as yet, not yet fleshed out to the levels other theories have been required to reach(full observations supporting complete hypothesis, conclusions predicting future events, etc.). I know I come off as a religious nutcase, but I must say you come off as willingly blind to the other side of the story. There are indeed respectable, intelligent people who are in the field who happen not to believe the theory of evolution. These are not people with an "axe to grind." They are honest persons wishing to do honest, complete science.
Key point. I agree with you, but I'd also point out that if the data is good and suggests something your hypothesis didn't expect, then your hypothesis is wrong and needs to be changed. This is where Creationists fail.
Your contention, that this makes Creationism unscientific, is incorrect. So while yo can point out that this is a failure of Creationists, it is not failure to perform valid science.
An all-powerful God answers "how" it was done. He can do anything.
Ah, yes indeed. All doubt has been erased. My question has been answered. That's a beautiful and very helpful explanation.
In the context you presented, I responded in like context with your assumption that God exists(as I gathered from your question). If you don't like the answer being that an all-powerful being could indeed have done it, and "how" (the measure of what was needed) it was done, then that's your opinion. If you want a different answer, ask the question in a different manner.
Why would he want that? A perfect being should not want anything. Want implies that a desire is unfulfilled, and this is not perfect. A truly perfect being should have no unfulfilled desires or incompletions.
Your definition of 'perfect' is biased by our human perspective and warped by the suffering we endure in this life. Consider that God suffers himself, as he says in his word, when man deviates from the law he gave. God is saddened by our lowered state. Is this a perfect God? Is this a God who is perfect? Your definition would say no. I would say it _is_ a God who is perfect. God can be perfect without feeling perfect. Think about it. There is perfect in being. And then there is perfect in environment. Eg. You can be perfect while I'm being an idiot in your house. I'm breaking antique furniture and you feel either mad or sad, yet you are still perfect. The environment is not perfect and you may wish I hadn't broken your stuff and you may desire new or repaired antiques, but you are still perfect, your environment, which affects you, is not.

Continuing, a perfect God in my reasoning would be one who wanted to share his joy and not simply hoard it by himself(after all, what kind of existence would one god be, alone, without anybody else). What kind of a god is it who does not have feelings? Is never happy? Are they always neutral in emotion? Again, what kind of existence is that? I can't claim to be able to analyze the social behaviour of a god, but I can see where a perfect god can have feelings, yet be perfect.
(And yet God faults us for using the intelligence he gave us - how many dozens of times are we told in the Bible that the wisdom of this world is folly with God, and faith and blind obedience are exalted above logic and reason.)
Of course it doesn't say that. The Bible exalts wisdom above all else, and it does teach that some worldly reasoning is foolish vanity. As it should. Faith is encouraged simply because man, seeing God with his naked eye, would think of a reason to claim it was not God. Always remember: You can always excuse phenomena away. That is why, in the end, faith is required. Yet God does not leave it completely up to faith. If you care to read the book of Job, concerning his essential monologue with Job concerning the stature of God and the position of Job, himself, you'll see that every aspect of his creation speaks to the testament of God. If one is open enough and not already clouded by the philosophy that no more exists than what is observable, then you can see unbelievably complex systems which reasonable people(again still open despite the philosophy to trust only what man has discovered) will equate to intelligent design.
Nope. But then, God is not supposed to be understandable to us either, yet Scripture goes on and on about that.
The concept and being of God are presented as unfathomable in the scriptures, but the information the scriptures, themselves, put forth, being the divinely inspired word of God, must necessarily be understandable to even the least educated; the concepts. That is the logic of the Bible: God, himself, is rather unfathomable but the scriptures he gave provide the information in a manner we might understand.
Creationism only hopes to show that the universe is young. It can never hope to prove the mechanism or mind behind the universe. They assume that if the universe is young, then it must be because of the events described in Genesis.
Agreed. But then again, that's the purpose of Creation science: To solidify the scientific validity of the Genesis account to provide the necessary foundation for the rest of the Bible. The logic is, if God can not get the science of creation correct, how can the rest of the Bible be infallible?
So yes, Creation will always be magic, mysterious, inexplicable.
No, it won't be. You will think that the concept of a God performing the creation will be "magic, mysterious" and "inexpplicable," but the purpose of Creation science is not to prove that God did it. It is to show that the Genesis account and the science it implies is feasible and plausible(I think I've overused my quota of this phrase).
In the final analysis, his best conclusion can only hope to be: "The universe is young, and we assume this is because of Genesis."
The best conclusion will be acceptance of the fact that the science of Genesis is valid and feasible. Your spin on the situation, "and we assume this is because of Genesis," is again treading on the presupposed hypothesis idea which I've already dealt with.

Truthfully, in the final analysis, Creation science wants people to understand that the Bible teaches sound scientific fact where it speaks on events that imply scientific phenomena and whether or not you believe God performed the Genesis creation, well, that's for you to decide because as we've already seen, there's always a way to excuse the existence of God.
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[ Parent ]
Drooping eyelids and all that rot. (Part 2) (5.00 / 1) (#571)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:30:46 PM EST

I say without apology that this is some of the most misguided crap I've encountered in a while, and is wholly ignorant of the theories it discusses, and that furthermore, it still goes back to supernatural, "we can't be wrong, dammit" explanations.
I would seriously debate your lack of faith in the worth of the author. The author may not have a firm grasp on the Theory of Relativity and its effects on all conditions, but I don't think you can say "this is some of the most misguided crap I've encountered in a while, and is wholly ignorant of the theories it discusses."
Here we have a gross misrepresentation of relativity. This sort of argument infuriates me - it relies on the reader being mostly ignorant of the theories, so that with a little scientific-sounding jargon and barely-plausible (or barely implausible, but the reader doesn't know the difference) assertions, he can make himself to sound authoritative.
Before you damn the author just yet, your statements are also gross generalizations, at least without some backup. Can you show me where the author's view of relativity and time-frame reference are out of whack and would not operate as the author stated earlier in that portion of the text? I've read a piece which cited the issue of how time and relativity work but do not recall if it gave examples of specifics and how time _would_ work as described by the theory.
Here, he is saying that such revisions or reinterpretations are wrong. And why are they wrong? Because we cannot accept that the Bible and gospel are erroneous or metaphorical. This is not science.
Well, I've already discussed, in Part 1, concerning this issue which we seem to be debating over. The "starting point" means less to me than the actual method and logic employed in the data gathering of proving the hypothesis(it is this portion I believe is scientifically valid). Having a fixed starting point--eg. there is a God and this is what he said and it is true--may not agree with scientific philosophy, but if the hypothesis is proved true, what does it matter? I don't know how to state this clear enough, it's like getting caught in the details. If the hypothesis is proven true using the scientific method in the data gathering and interpretation phase, than the hypothesis is still true, regardless of the fact that it never changed based on the reasoning that data which disagreed with the hypothesis was turned down as incorrect.
Again. No matter what is discovered, or what new scientific evidence is brought to light, the Creationist answer is always to explain it away with "That can't be right because the Bible says otherwise."
Already stated as hypothesis vs. method and proof.
The bottom line here is that no matter what the evidence suggests, and no matter what data is made available, the Creationist refuses to budge. If the evidence suggests something other than Genesis, it's wrong, period, because it contradicts Genesis. That is their only explanation, and that is not science.
We've sorta already trampled this into the ground, but I'll attempt to explain the idea again because I think it's important for people to realize that Creation science is scientifically valid and its findings and data are as legitimate as any other scientific endeavour.

There's two things at play here: (1) The data disagreeing with the Genesis Creation and (2) the attempt by Creation science to show the feasibility and plausibility of the Genesis account through scientific means. The core purpose: To solidify the Genesis account as scientifically valid, for its manner of formation and its ability to account for all observations in the universe.
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[ Parent ]
Interesting sources...and all that rot (Part 3) (none / 0) (#573)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:35:05 PM EST

Search of TrueOrigins.org for "starlight and time".

Russell Humphreys answers Various Critics - Responses by the author of Starlight and Time to criticisms of the work.
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[ Parent ]
Yo know what... (none / 0) (#304)
by luser on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:34:44 AM EST

It almost sounds like theories would progress by evolution, even creation theories...

[ Parent ]
The concept (1.00 / 1) (#391)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:02:10 PM EST

That may be. And what of it? Evolution is a common enough concept. It is not inherently good/evil, valid/invalid. The modifications of ideas through time is the concept. Um. Ehn. Not much to be said about it. Whether the concept of evolution applies to ideas...perhaps it does.
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[ Parent ]
Case in point (none / 0) (#122)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:00:50 PM EST

The thing I find most consistently irritating about a majority of in-your-face atheist is their knee-jerk assumptions and generalizations, many of which are often seriously wrong. Are you aware of the fact that the vast overwhelming majority of self-professed Christians, worldwide and in the US, are not creationists? If so, why did you bring up creationism in the context of this discussion?

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[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#200)
by parasite on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:57:17 AM EST

You're the one making assumptions as far as I'm concerned.

Where did you get your numbers from ? Your own anecdotal survey of
20 of your friends ? Well, guess what ? My "anecdotal" survey of
family and friends gives a 100% creationist, 7000 year old earth
belief.

[ Parent ]

Uhmmm (none / 0) (#233)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:27:16 AM EST

Why don't we begin with Catholics. They acknowledge in official church dogma the basic correctness of evolutionary theory and believe Genesis (as well as many other parts of the Old Testament) to be poetic metaphor and not literal truth. Note that Catholics are, by a considerable margin, the single largest Christian church (and I believe the fastest growing as well). In addition to the Catholics you can add the Anglican Church, the American Episcopalian Church, the majority of Lutheran congregations, and even a good number of congregations in the Southern Baptist Council. I could go on if you wish, but the above named do, in point of fact, represent an overwhelming majority of self-professed Christians.

No, I am not relying upon anecdotal evidence.

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[ Parent ]
ASShole (5.00 / 1) (#627)
by MrLarch on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:34:26 AM EST

They acknowledge in official church dogma the basic correctness of evolutionary theory...

Then the Church actually says that evolution theory is "correct?" Then why call it a fucking theory? Oh, that's right...

[ Parent ]

Pray tell (1.00 / 1) (#813)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 09:25:20 PM EST

Why the hostility, and what the fuck were you intending to say with your asinine blathering?

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[ Parent ]
hmm.. (none / 0) (#851)
by parasite on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 03:50:44 AM EST


Interesting indeed... most interesting to me is the fact that so many people
make reference to "official catholic doctrine". What I'd really like to see
is a nice survey of Catholics who have ANY IDEA what official church doctrine
says. For most people being "Catholic" vs "Baptist" vs others is all about
not breaking family tradition, and they couldn't even tell you the differences
between the sects. Could we really have these "Theory of Creation" mandates
for the textbooks if the actual church constituancies held evolution as even
acceptable, let alone "valid" ? My best information says that most people,
regardless, still takes Genesis as the word of god.

Aside from Pastors themselves, Nuns and Prists themselves, and self-professed
religious scholars, I have never met a "normal" person who was even aware of
how exactly their particular sect differs from the others. All they can say,
with confidence, is that their minister ASSURES them they are in the BEST and
truest sect.

Of course, this is all anecdotal, BUT I'm just curious!

[ Parent ]

Mistargeted (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:22:08 PM EST

"Creationism" (more accurately, "young earth creationism") is not a scientific belief, it is a religious belief. As such, I think it can only be effectively combatted with religious arguments.

This could just be my bias, of course. I am a scientist-type (though not a professional scientist), but still my biggest beef with young-earth creationists is how they bring perfectly good religion into disrepute. That they also bring perfectly good science into disrepute is slightly more beside the point, because science is not where these misbeliefs come from.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Incorrect. (none / 0) (#478)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:16:07 PM EST

There are certainly Creationist beliefs which are based entirely on scientific principle. The theories are feasiable and plausible according to scientific method and rationale.

You may say the idea of a surpreme being being the cause of Creation is an unscientific belief as yet, but may not say Creationism(in its entirety, and in the many views held) is completely a religious-only belief, and not based in science.
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't recommend it. (3.00 / 1) (#161)
by roystgnr on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:36:00 PM EST

SciAm made some good points, but many of the files on the Talk.origins archive are more thorough and better written.

[ Parent ]
Okay I actually recommend this: (1.00 / 1) (#477)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:13:08 PM EST

TrueOrigins.org's list of responses to Scientific American's article. TrueOrigins has consistently provided quite a technical view of Creationism. Very good source for the other side of the story.
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
---
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
The Bush quote is so shocking... (4.20 / 5) (#84)
by miasma on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:23:26 PM EST

...I put it in my sig.

--
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - G.Bush sen.
"Bush the First" (none / 0) (#94)
by evilpenguin on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:40:52 PM EST

I usually note it as "George Bush I".  Then again, I'm a cynical bastard.
--
# nohup cat /dev/dsp > /dev/hda & killall -9 getty
[ Parent ]
I think the current guy is Bush I, myself. (none / 0) (#114)
by magney on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:21:36 PM EST

Whatever I may have disliked about George Herbert Walker Bush, at least he understood he was just a president.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Heh. (5.00 / 2) (#120)
by Quick Star on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:41:56 PM EST

I call the G41 and G43 myself...

"absolutely no one can sex a lobster without cutting it open" -- rusty
[ Parent ]

Tangent (3.00 / 1) (#188)
by Field Marshall Stack on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:11:40 AM EST

For some reason, as far as I've observed at least, George Bush Jr. fans cringe more when people call him that (George Bush Jr.) than they do when they call him "Shrub" or "Dubya" or "George the Second". end tangent :)
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork
[ Parent ]
My problem with these discussions. . . (4.00 / 6) (#87)
by Pop Top on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:31:04 PM EST

is that folks never seem to agree on what we mean by GOD or divine.

If I see God as an orange and you see God as an apple we can scream all day about whether the color is orange or red and spend all of our time yelling right past the other.

Even Freud, in The Future of an Illusion, limited his arguments to religious beliefs as held by the majority of humanity. Proof that the religious beliefs of the majority of humanity are pure and utter hogwash tells us nothing about whether God actually exists or not.

Out of curiousity only, and not as an endorsemnt (God forbid!) I seek opinions on a quirky book I once read by Frank J. Tipler - anyone else ever read this book?

. . .

Tipler! (4.50 / 2) (#99)
by StephenThompson on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:51:03 PM EST

He wrote my physics text book. Then he went apparently went mad. His madness is more entertaining that his textbook :)

[ Parent ]
He's probably saner than you are... (none / 0) (#191)
by Netsnipe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:35:05 AM EST

You're thinking of Paul A. Tipler. The legendary Physics: For Scientists and Engineers textbook will have its 5th edition released in 2003 -- 27 years after it first came out in 1976. I find it very, very hard to believe that an insane man can continue to do so much!

--
Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
simple definition and tipler (none / 0) (#193)
by martingale on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:41:07 AM EST

is that folks never seem to agree on what we mean by GOD or divine.
That's pretty simple actually. The definition states not just that God is good (hence it could be an orange or an apple) but actually God is the best (so it must be an orange). Moreover, the apple thing is kind of a nono in Genesis. So: orange. Next question?

On Tipler, don't waste your time with him. Here's a review. His physics textbook is okay, not great though if I remember correctly (it's been ten years or so).

[ Parent ]

erratum (none / 0) (#204)
by martingale on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:08:24 AM EST

I just saw Netsnipe's comment. It appears that Tipler has multiple incarnations.

[ Parent ]
Apples? (none / 0) (#273)
by cyberdruid on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:49:24 AM EST

There is no mention of apples in Genesis. For some reason 'the fruit of knowledge' is often depicted as an apple.

[ Parent ]
yes, I've read it... (5.00 / 1) (#301)
by joto on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:17:32 AM EST

And it was fascinatingly dull.

I originally bought it because I was interested in pseudoscience, but few places have I seen such a boring presentation of a completely fruitcake argument.

Tiplers claims contradicts not only the basic premises of science, but also of religion. In my opinion this is a good start for a pseudoscientific work, but he fails it so completely, that I never understood why the book was even published. We want to be entertained, damn it! Not fall asleep while reading his mindless use of mathematics to obscure his faulty arguments (he even asks the reader to study mathematics for a few years to understand his cranky arguments).

His argumentation is either completely non-existent (introducing "axioms" without any kind of proof or scientific basis), completely irrelevant to the discussion (lot's of the book is just filler material), or simply not understandable by someone without at least one or two degrees in mathematics or physics.

I think the main problem with this book is that while most pseudoscientific works are written be people obviously feeble-minded, this one is written by someone who is actually smart, and uses every occation to intimidate you with his "knowledge", thus making you feel bad about not understanding his arguments. I find it much more entertaining to read about pseudoscience from someone where I can refute every argument, instead of just those that I can understand.

[ Parent ]

What part of America? (4.80 / 10) (#89)
by kholmes on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:34:12 PM EST

I'll probably abstain on this article, since I see it as unecessarily divisive.

But what kind of persecution are you talking about? Are people investigating people to determing their (or lack of) religious beliefs? Do atheists have a more difficult time finding a job? Are you subject to unfair discrimination? What part of America is this?

No, I sense not. The crimes against humanity are what people say to you once you admit your lack of religious belief. If you would indulge me so that I can point out there is no one in the United States who is free from unfriendliness because of their religious belief. Because of this universal fact, Americans tend not to point out their beliefs unless they are in good company. Hence, us atheists have it rather easy.

We don't go to church. We don't attend mass. We don't require specific days off work. The only way people would know of our lack of personal deity is if we point out that fact. And how you point this fact out makes all the difference. If you make known your atheism in the same manner as in this article, then you deserve equally what you have given.

The religious majority of our world have one thing to fear from atheists. They must wonder, do atheists collectively believe that the rest of them are all dillusional? I must confess from personal experience that a great many of them are. But I must offer that many of the smartest people I know are Christians. Given that, must I continue to point out the irrationality of their beliefs? I conclude no. Here's why.

For thousands of years, theists have had irrational beliefs in God. Logically, the reason for their belief in God is not rational. Therefore, if some poor atheism advocate tries to convince theists of the irrationality of their belief, it will have no effect. Christians (and other theists) don't believe in God because they logically deduced His existance. This must be obvious for all of them, yet for many of us--even myself for some time--we think them deranged for this. So it must be something else to explain their beliefs, I suspect a self-fullfillment that their religion offers them.

So I don't believe atheists are living in pure rationality either. We, too, must find beliefs that fulfil us, beliefs that may be irrational as well. Consider Hume's skeptism. It should be obvious that one can not live on logic alone.

This caused me to consider why I became an atheist. And I realized that I didn't conclude that belief in God wasn't logical. But I realized that Christianity didn't offer answers to things that I wanted answers to. I suspect the same from many other atheists.

From the rest, I can not be sure.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

A true story. . . (3.71 / 7) (#98)
by Pop Top on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:48:57 PM EST

in response to:

This caused me to consider why I became an atheist. And I realized that I didn't conclude that belief in God wasn't logical. But I realized that Christianity didn't offer answers to things that I wanted answers to. I suspect the same from many other atheists.

Many years ago my niece came to visit from Greece. To the dismay of her USian extended family she announced she was an atheist.

Why?

Because the Greek Orthodox priest in her village had preached in church that women should stay away from services during their menstrual period, being unclean.

Seems like a darn good reason to not attend a church with an obviously ignorant priest, however I found it rather amusing that my niece had assigned this rural dumbshit Greek priest the power to vanquish and annihilate God Almighty Himself.

. . .

[ Parent ]

Approaches to idiocy (4.66 / 6) (#135)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:13:47 PM EST

I do take your point, and I extend it further to other religious loons, such as pretty much the entire "religious right".

There are four possible responses to such idiocy. They are:

  • Adopt it. I assume this is not an option for most smart people, but I note it for completeness.
  • Dump your religion and choose something else (be it atheism or some other religion). This is the opposite extreme to adopting it.
  • Look further and see if the person who told you this was correct or not. (You allude to in your comment about confusing the rural priest with God.)
  • Re-create religion in your own image. This is arguably the most existentialist approach, and it has noble historical support. Neo-Paganism, for example, has almost exactly nothing to do with ancient Pagan religions. It's a re-creation of those ideas in a way suitable for the modern world, which makes it much better than said ancient Pagan religions.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
What persecution? (4.40 / 5) (#174)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:50:41 AM EST

Well, did you know that seven states' constitutions (Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) "require belief in a higher power to hold public office"?

[ Parent ]
Maryland & Enforcement (3.66 / 3) (#184)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:31:15 AM EST

First of all, I can't find anything in Maryland's Constitution about requiring a belief in a higher power to hold public office. The only information that I did find said that this was removed from the Maryland State Constitution in 1851. If you can point it out, I'd love to see it. I find it hard to believe that something like that would still be in there as Maryland's Constitution was majorly reworked in the 1970's.

Also, has there really ever been any enforcement of those provisions of state constitutions? I doubt there has as there would likely be federal case law based around it and I haven't heard any. I think it's mostly just a relic of the past at this point.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

There was a state case (4.66 / 3) (#402)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:25:33 PM EST

There was a state case as recently as 1997 in SC, where a man was not allowed on a ballot because he would not swear to "a supreme being". So at least as recently as 1997, someone tried to enforce it.

Would you allow a provision to stand in your state constitution barring, say, African-Americans from holding public office, even if it was a 'relic' that is no longer enforced (unlike the 'supreme being clause in SC)? It's insulting that it is allowed to remain.

[ Parent ]

Eh (3.66 / 3) (#447)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:01:12 PM EST

First of all, if you look at your links, the guy won, which I would say is a good thing. Also, it says no other states try to enforce them. There are plenty of laws that are outdated and yet still remain on the books.

As far as it something being a "relic" and that it should be removed, there are plenty of examples of that in America. The Declaration of Independence contains references to a Creator. These aren't new.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Won this time, but not the first time (4.00 / 1) (#585)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:30:51 AM EST

The guy won that time, although it took five years between the time his application to become a notary ws first rejected because of his refusal to sign the 'God clause' (1992), and when his suit was won and he was allowed to become a notary public (1997). He didn't win an earlier case, when the 'God clause' was used to prevent him from running for Governor in 1990 (the suit, which was brought by the ACLU, was dismissed on a technicality).

The problem with keeping unjust laws around because they are 'rarely' or 'never' enforced is that they can be enforced someday, by someone, no matter how old or outdated the law seems to us. From this article: "In 1971, two Pennsylvania citizens were arrested for blasphemy under a 1794 statute; in 1977, the Massachusetts legislature refused to repeal its 1697 blasphemy statute; and in 1987, Texas judge Guy Herman sentenced a prospective juror to jail for contempt of court when the woman refused to take the required oath that ended with 'So help me, God.'"

The presidential oath itself includes the phrase 'so help me God'.

[ Parent ]

Texas Judge? (2.00 / 1) (#760)
by JahToasted on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:59:05 PM EST

and he didn't execute the guy? Now I know you're lying to me...
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Maryland state constitution, 1996-97: (5.00 / 6) (#405)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:30:38 PM EST

Maryland state constitution, 1996-97 (PDF), Article 36:

"That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come."

Here are excerpts from other state constitutions.

[ Parent ]

Re-ratified in 2000, btw. (4.60 / 5) (#406)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:32:14 PM EST

Constitution of Maryland.

[ Parent ]
Amendments (3.66 / 3) (#445)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:58:08 PM EST

Actually, it was not reratified in 2000. I would've remember that as I voted in that election (in Maryland) and there was nothing on the ballot about that. What it does say is that the document includes any amendments added before 2000 (which was the date of the last election which would be the last time that any amendments could be proposed). That amendment was added in 1970 as can be seen in the document you linked to.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Right: (2.00 / 1) (#587)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:32:36 AM EST

The amendments were ratified in 2000.

"Which Assembled at the City of Annapolis on the Eighth Day of May, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-seven, and Adjourned on the Seventeenth Day of August, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-seven, and was Ratified by the People on the Eighteenth Day of September, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-seven, with Amendments through Two Thousand (including amendments proposed by the General Assembly and ratified by the voters through November 7, 2000)."

[ Parent ]

Maryland (3.00 / 4) (#451)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:05:54 PM EST

I'll really only comment on the Maryland issue as that's where I'm from (and currently am registered to vote there). The quote you list doesn't have anything about public office which is what was originally refered to. It also doesn't ban anyone from being a juror if they don't believe in God. It's not the best example of Maryland's Constitution that I've seen but it doesn't seem to be quite such a big deal as you'd like to make it out as.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Really? (4.50 / 2) (#594)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:45:40 AM EST

Article 36 most certainly does bar anyone from being a witness or juror who doesn't believe in God. Excerpt: "...nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come. "

Nothing about public office?

"Art. 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

"Art. 39. That the manner of administering an oath or affirmation to any person, ought to be such as those of the religious persuasion, profession, or denomination, of which he is a member, generally esteem the most effectual confirmation by the attestation of the Divine Being."

[ Parent ]

Not Requiring (2.00 / 1) (#660)
by Merk00 on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 08:08:27 AM EST

First of all, I was only responding to the article you quoted earlier. I didn't see the other parts. The other issue is that this does not forbid someone who does not believe in God from being a juror or hold public office. What it does, is not specifically protect them from dismissal on religious grounds. There's a difference between the two. Out of the protected class of religious belief, athiesm is excluded. That does not mean that someone who is an athiest cannot do any of the above things. It just means that they aren't specially protected.

As you pointed out in another thread, this was declared unconstitutional so doesn't it make it a non-issue? There's already established case-law saying that you can't enforce it which means that it isn't likely to be enforced and, if it is, it will quickly be thrown out of court based on presidence.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

You didn't see (4.00 / 1) (#696)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 11:24:44 AM EST

You didn't see my previous example of a guy who never could get into the SC governor's race, and who took 5 years of time and legal expenses to become a freaking notary. In other words, the laws are selectively being enforced, and apparently can't be fought without a lot of time and money, regardless of whether it's been declared 'unconstitutional' by other courts. Even unjust and unconstitutional laws can be used to make it very difficult for an atheist or agnostic to even get on a ballot, since by the time a court case is heard, the deadline to get on the ballot is over.

[ Parent ]
don't despair (3.00 / 1) (#858)
by adiffer on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 04:47:57 AM EST

There are some relatively cheap ways to fight these laws.  My neighbor here in the Sacramento area that caused the uproar of the clause in the Pledge managed to do it with a relatively low cost.  The trick is to act as your own legal counsel and file your own court paperwork.  Anyone who cares enough to learn how can fight for themselves.  Anyone unwilling to learn, might not care enough to fight for their convictions.  We have examples where this works, so it is a matter of patience and hard work.

These kinds of fights can take generations.  Civil rights are worth it though.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Supreme Court case (5.00 / 2) (#593)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:41:43 AM EST

A Supreme Court case was decided in 1961: "Appellant was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the office of Notary Public; but he was denied a commission because he would not declare his belief in God, as required by the Maryland Constitution.... Held: This Maryland test for public office cannot be enforced against appellant, because it unconstitutionally invades his freedom of belief and religion guaranteed by the First Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States."

[ Parent ]
Best...quote.....Ever! (3.75 / 4) (#255)
by fluxrad on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:56:28 AM EST

The late, great, Sagan said it best (speaking about the "dawn" of theism):

"The composite effect of life's extravagant diversity could only be understood by postulating a maker, none of whose reasons we could grasp, who created the scene, the stage, and the subsidiary players for our benefit."

That being said, I think the reason we still have so damned many "believers" in the world today is because that's the way most of us were brought up. I was raised as a Presbyterian until I was old enough to make up my own mind.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
wow (4.85 / 7) (#90)
by boxed on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 06:36:16 PM EST

I never imagined it is this bad in the US. I come from a long line of atheists, something that is pretty common in Sweden. My dad once told me one of his brothers said that agnostics were chickens refusing to take a stand on the issue. This after I told my dad that I had "rebelled" in my beliefs and become an agnostic despite my families strong tradition of atheism. (I use the term atheism as "a person who believes there is no god(s)" btw.) I'm pretty used to the tolerant semi-condescending attitude that is so common in Sweden against the faithful. A mental pat-on-the-head is the more common attitude against those that inherited their faiths from their parents, except if that faith is atheistic of course.

A short note (5.00 / 4) (#144)
by pyramid termite on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:02:07 PM EST

I never imagined it is this bad in the US.

It isn't. The real problem is that a few hotheads on either side of the question like to argue a lot, and loudly. People can discuss and differ in their beliefs quietly and sensibly, but that never makes the papers ...

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
not in my experience (5.00 / 2) (#166)
by infinitera on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:12:31 AM EST

The author's depiction is not far from the mark, with regard to my own life. Granted, I'm a gnostic/theist of my own design, but organized religion still freaks me out intensely, and its 'members' have often created very uncomfortable environments [for me].

[ Parent ]
I second pt's sentiment (5.00 / 4) (#197)
by jagg on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:45:44 AM EST

I've been an atheist for years in an area that is predominantly Catholic, and while I got the occasional "I'll pray for your soul" remark, it wasn't that bad. Then again, I wasn't an obnoxious twit when it came to discussing religious beliefs unlike some atheists I knew, who (surprise!) caught more flack. The real trouble with most atheists in the US is stupidity and a lack of civility, not atheism.

--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]
hmm (5.00 / 2) (#289)
by boxed on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:46:19 AM EST

Well I'd probably be pissed off as hell by such a ignorant remark as "I'll pray for your soul" even though I am agnostic and sometimes in my more religious moments I do believe in God or gods. It just reeks of arrogance and that's something I just can't take. One should remember though that I am Swede, and in Swedish culture arrogance is way more hated than in any other I know, including any european culture. We have several hundred years of culturally induced modesty that it takes quite a bit to overcome.

[ Parent ]
Well, (5.00 / 2) (#302)
by jagg on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:29:52 AM EST

Rarely is it arrogance. More often than not, those people genuinely felt bad for me since I haven't found Jesus, and decided to take it upon themselves (by praying) to help me out. While I find it somewhat annoying, A wise man once taught that it is best to suffer fools gladly :)

Unlike many atheists in America, I don't talk about my atheism unless it is specifically brought up. I've known far too many who go out of their way to make it be known that they are atheists and that believing Christianity is for suckers. While I tend to agree with such sentiments, I know how I would feel if people went out of their way to call me an idiot, so I remain civil to the best of my abilities.

Lastly, to address your first post in a more specific manner, I'm sure that in some of the uber-religious (which is, contrary to most foreign opinion, not the majority of America by a long shot) parts of the US, there is actual harassment for being an atheist, regardless of outward appearances. But from personal experience, and from talking to people from many other parts of the US, atheists are not a persecuted minority, they are merely disdained in a way similar to (and this is only an educated guess) Randians in Sweden. Basically, your average Swede would (again, guessing!) find Randism to be so preposterous, that you'd view such a person with a small degree of contempt. Contempt, not hatred or ridicule, is more often than not, the most visceral reaction to atheism in the US because it is a belief held and understood by so few. I think in all parts of the world where minority opinions are held and hardly understood, there is likely to be some sort of disdain. It is highly unfortunate that the people of the US have such little education in this specific regard, but all in all, most mean well, even if they are misguided.

--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]

wtf? (5.00 / 2) (#476)
by boxed on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:12:04 PM EST

Rarely is it arrogance. More often than not, those people genuinely felt bad for me since I haven't found Jesus, and decided to take it upon themselves (by praying) to help me out.
That IS arrogance. I mean, to think it silently is just a bit arrogant but to say "I'll pray for your soul" to someones face like that is down right insulting.

As for "randians", I don't know because I don't know what that would entail.

[ Parent ]

*shrug* (none / 0) (#513)
by jagg on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:14:57 PM EST

I guess, in a sense, that it is arrogance, but they normally say that in all sincerity, not in a manner that is haughty. In any case, people are going to disagree with one another, is it always arrogant to say something one assumes to be true to another who doesn't? I suppose truly honest conversation has its price, but it's better than tiptoeing around what one believes.

Randians are people who treat Ayn Rand's philosophy with the same dogmatic belief that your average Christian displays towards Christianity. Even in the US, these people are (quite rightly, IMO) looked down upon, but I imagine that they would find an even less receptive audience in Sweden.

--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]

ehm (none / 0) (#624)
by boxed on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:27:07 AM EST

Saying something in all sincerity is totally irrellevant to whether or not it is arrogant. USians are arrogant as hell when they say that the US is the "leader of the free world". They might not think they're arrogant, condescending and well, wrong, but they are. The sincerity is a sign of ignorance in addition to arrogance.

[ Parent ]
Look at it this way (none / 0) (#634)
by jagg on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 04:24:48 AM EST

USians are arrogant as hell when they say that the US is the "leader of the free world". They might not think they're arrogant, condescending and well, wrong, but they are.
By your definition, what you said there is arrogant. Professing something to be true (a belief that Christianity is correct or the US is wrong) to people who don't share that view is not necessarily arrogance, but it could be. The comment that the US is the leader of the free world [1] is generally considered arrogant because it is an inflation of importance to a degree not shared by many outside the US, not necessarily in its correctness or intention. Going back to what I said earlier, it's generally not arrogant to state what you believe, but to say so in a manner that is belittling or haughty. To merely say that you are going to pray for someone whose opinion you wish would change, is not arrogant unless they say so in a belief based on smugness. One final question that will hopefully illustrate my point: If I were to say to a Christian "I think you should logically think through the notion that Jesus is the son of God, because I think you're wrong" in a manner that was sincere and without being over-bearing, would you consider this arrogant? Is challenging what someone believes, or stating something not necessarily shared by others, arrogant? If it is, I think I have been far too arrogant to many people :)

[1] This statement is both true and false depending on your perspective. Among nations that are democratic and generally free, is the US the most influential, and by consequence, the leader? I think it'd be tough to argue otherwise, so in this sense, it does lead the free world. On the other hand, the policies of the US are largely composed of a double standard that flies in the face of freedom (for good and ill). In this sense, that statement is false.

--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]

it isn't that bad (5.00 / 1) (#452)
by demi on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:07:26 PM EST

I never imagined it is this bad in the US.

It isn't from my experience. I'm a rotten-to-the-core 100% atheist, and I've lived in the middle of the southern bible belt on and off for more than a decade. Nobody ever disparaged me for my beliefs at any time. In fact, the experience has caused me to become much more sympathetic to religious people of all faiths, although I doubt I will ever accept any of their beliefs as my own.

On the other hand, I have agnostic and atheist friends whose parents were very religious, and that seemed to generate some friction. The worst feelings that I have seen expressed toward atheists down here are mistrust and a condescending form of pity.

[ Parent ]

Respect? (2.27 / 18) (#108)
by docvin on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:05:49 PM EST

These people find meaning in believing that an omnipotent, omniscient, invisible man in the sky loves them, and I'm supposed to respect that? No fucking way, mate!

Christians are like fat people. The only way to cure them is to ridicule them, day in, day out.

Respect (3.40 / 5) (#150)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:42:23 PM EST

If I can treat Christians with respect, so can you, jackass.

If you need to mock other people to find meaning in your own life, you're as bad as all those Christians you disrespect so badly.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

Are you confused? (none / 0) (#1075)
by Otto Surly on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 02:14:20 PM EST

Mocking people is not necessary for "finding meaning" in one's life; on the contrary, it is simple, natural altruism. If someone is being a fool, and you let them persist, you only worsen their condition. Like the Holy Babble says, he who knowingly permits a sinner to continue to sin is himself as great a sinner. (Or words to that effect.)

--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
Simpsons quote (5.00 / 3) (#205)
by Pseudonym on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:09:05 AM EST

The Simpsons have a quote for every occasion. Clearly this is the most appropriate here:

Disaffected Gen-Xer #1: Are you being sarcastic?
Disaffected Gen-Xer #2: Man, I don't even know any more.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Most atheists deserve it (2.15 / 13) (#110)
by PullNoPunches on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:11:17 PM EST

You think you've got it bad? Try being me, an atheist who gets all the flak you mention, plus is hated by most atheists.

See, most atheists are also Secular Humanists. Secular Humanism, with captial letters as opposed to just secular and humanist, is a specific moral and political position that espouses moral relativism and leans toward socialism.

In a way, its the theists' fault. By claiming that morality can only come from God, they have convinced almost all atheists that atheism naturally means not having any fixed morality.

Secular Humanism is the source of all the ills in the world that don't come from theism. And since all Secular humanists are atheists, and the vast majority of atheists are Secular Humanists, it is not entirely inaccurate to say that atheism is the source of a significant portion of the ills of this world. And, in my experience, the evil perpetrated by theists pales in comparison to the evils of Secular Humanists.

That of course, leaves only agnostics and moral atheists as the last possible repositories of good in the world. And the verdict is, by definition, still out on the agnostics.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)

Moral relativism? (3.66 / 3) (#195)
by MfA on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:42:41 AM EST

I dont know what Secular Humanists practice, I dont know any person who professes to be one, but they certainly dont espouse moral relativism in the writings you linked. Their writings clearly describe a form of utilitarian morals, with their utility being measured in how they serve humanity's welbeing. That is not moral relativism in my book, in fact IMO it is a weak form of moral absolutism ... because the basic measure by which morals are judges is still absolute, and indeed their measure leans to socialism, even if an optimal set of morals can never be found and might even vary.

I do not find the belief in the existance of an entirely arbitrary set of morals shared by all but a-moral people (aka moral relativists) holds up to occam's razor any better than a belief in the literal truth of the bible.

[ Parent ]

Moral Relativism (1.50 / 2) (#214)
by PullNoPunches on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:31:51 AM EST

I'm speaking more about peoppe whose beliefs are consistent with Secular Humanism than of people who explicitly profess to follow it.

Utilitarian morals based on concrete risk/reward calculus does fall under moral relativism. The standard is not absolute, it changes as context changes. "Humanity's well-being' is a floating abstraction with no way to pin down a definition. Is material wealth most in humanity's best interests? Is preserving the environment? Is equality? Without a morality that goes beyond concrete calculus, there is no standard by which to evaluate what best serves humanity's best interests. There is no standard agasint which the result of the calculus can be evaluated. The standard then becomes whatever the current social consensus says it is.

Non-religious morality does not need to be arbitrary. That is the great fallacy that religionists have promulgated, and they have convinced atheists that their only choice is the moral relativsm of Secular Humanism.

Morality can be deduced from the facts of reality, and from the essential properties of human nature. Given these facts, only one set of morals can lead to the best well-being of humans.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Hey Moses (4.33 / 3) (#236)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:36:29 AM EST

I'll let you peek at my tablet, if you let me peek at yours.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I wish I had a tablet (3.00 / 4) (#358)
by PullNoPunches on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:40:43 AM EST

but I don't. It's still being written. The Bible, and the religious rules that came before, were, I believe, actually an early effort at the kind of morality I described. They were mostly utilitarian, but were an early attempt to generalize concrete prescriptions and proscriptions into broader rules from which the concretes could be derived.

God was invented later as an enforcer for these rules. The problem is that now this God idea has fixed the concretes in the form they were in 2000 years ago. (1400 years for Islam). Not completely of course, as people do adjust the rules to fit their daily lives, but enough so that little serious work is being done to refine and develop those rules, and to eliminate the ones that are simply wrong.

Another problem is that any morality sufficiently general enough to address all of life's needs does not provide for a laundry list of specific actions. Evidence of this is seen in the amount of research and debate surrounding the proper way to apply the ten commandments. Whole books have been written exploring what concrete behavior is necessary to properly apply the commandment to 'honor your father and mother'.

Objective and absolute morality does not relieve the individual of the responsibility to put effort into applying morality to the specifics of his life.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

No, it is not the same (4.50 / 2) (#467)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:44:48 PM EST

A moral relativist would say slavery is okay if you think it's okay. A utilitarian would not.

Morality can be deduced from the facts of reality, and from the essential properties of human nature. Given these facts, only one set of morals can lead to the best well-being of humans.

You are rule-utilitarian, hate to burst your bubble. However, rule-utilitarian has fallen out of favor because someone pointed out that the best set of rules to follow for everyone's well being would be for everyone to be an act-utilitarian.

"Humanity's best interest" is happiness and equality. No, there is no exact formula for what the approriate action in a given situation. Do you have one?

Exact forumla implies strict moral absolutism. Most people reject absolutism. (A common example would be that absolutism does not allow one to hide Jews from Nazis because it is wrong to lie to the Nazis.) Making moral decisions requires one to make judgement of the situation.

So I ask, when faced with a moral decision, what's more important how your actions will affect people or some crumby rule? I pick the person every time, but I follow rules most of the time because they usually lead to well-being for people and I can't think every thing through.

Interestingly enough, when asked what commandment is most important he says 1.Love God with all your heart and soul 2.Love your neighbor as yourself.

Number two is the ulitarian doctrine. Many atheists seem to just take off number 1. Jesus's response to the question of "what's the most important rule?" seems to be a rejection of the absolutism of the 10 commandments. I can only speak for myself but I simply try to live a moral life as best I can without God, following the values I had been raised with.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]

You sure? (3.00 / 1) (#530)
by kholmes on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:44:27 PM EST

"Love your neighbor as yourself" sounds more like Kant's categorical imperative than utilitarianism to me.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]
Pretty sure (3.00 / 1) (#552)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:42:18 PM EST

But Kant always talks about following rules that you can universalize. Jesus seems to say act out of love and as I said, he does seem to be shunning specific rules. To act purely out of love for fellow humans one would act for their utility.

Furthermore, the Golden Rule suggests you should be somewhat charitable towards your fellow man. Utilitarism suggests the same thing. Categorical imperative does not really give you any obligation to be charitable or helpful. I remember reading something by Kant that says that being helpful is not part of morality.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]

There are Christian Utilitarianists (none / 0) (#738)
by loucura on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:58:34 PM EST

William Paley for one.

[ Parent ]
Secular Humanism and Moral Relativism (3.00 / 1) (#215)
by The Solitaire on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:39:25 AM EST

I'm an unabashed (strong) atheist, as well as a Secular Humanist. I have to disagree with your characterization of Secular Humanism as a "...political position that espouses moral relativism..."

I am very distinctly not a moral relativist. If anything, I lean toward a utilitarian view. In addition, I have met Secular Humanists that are quite right leaning in their politics, though I will admit this is somewhat more rare than a socialist lean.

As far as the "ills of this world" that come from the Secular Humanists - what exactly are you driving at? I can't think of any off the top of my head, but that certainly doesn't mean that there can't be any... care to back up your statement?

Lastly, I certainly don't hate any atheists that aren't Secular Humanists. You're welcome to espouse whatever political/social belief that you like, just as I am allowed to disagree with you.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Utilitariansim and moral relativsim (1.00 / 1) (#368)
by PullNoPunches on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:00:58 PM EST

See my response above to mfa. Utilitarianism, as it is commonly understood is relativistic in that it provides no way to evaluate the results of utilitarian calculus, no standard by which to measure the value of utility.

Hate might be too strong a word for how moral relativists react to me, but certainly I am seen - rightly so - as opposing them, and it does not endear me to them or to atheists in general. I have found myself often taking the side of the religious in arguments.

A quick list of some ills that have roots in moral relativism (though not always exclusively so), including the utilitarian variety: modern socialism, multiculturalism, political correctness, apologists for tyrannical regimes such as Iraq and Zimbabwe and claims that the US is no better, mainstream support of, or at least tolerance toward, radical environmentalism/animal rights, modern art, the toleration of the homeless taking over the streets in some cities, Bill and Hillary Clinton, gun control, the spilled coffee lawsuit and suits like it, celebrity worship, sensitivity training....

There's more, but you get the point.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)
[ Parent ]

Do you believe in God (1.50 / 4) (#113)
by marc987 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:18:23 PM EST

Look your questions are insane, no, no, sorry i don't know if youre God exists. Please don't ask me to to respond to a paradoxical with a strait answer. I don't believe in god and i don't not believe in god but i especially don't believe in what i just said. I fell the inherant godliness of the universe and all that... is in it but i don't understand what anybody is referring to when they say do you believe in God? Well sometimes i do but it seems so childish a notion that to even consider it or ask for a better explanation gives me the feeling that i'm insulting their intelligence. Yeah i can fell something theological but to word it is well... to believe that a word can represent anything really really serious about anything is... sorry. Do you believe in life? Yes, Maybe, what? Stop it! But i do believe in something.

? (n/t) (5.00 / 3) (#116)
by JChen on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:22:52 PM EST



Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
You win! (none / 0) (#538)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:15:11 PM EST

Is this perhaps the highest points-per-character achieved around here?

[ Parent ]
Je m'excuse pour mes fautes d'orthographe (none / 0) (#117)
by marc987 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:23:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Odd... (3.55 / 9) (#118)
by DranoK 420 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 07:27:03 PM EST

I grew up in Montana, then moved to california in 2000 when I was 19. Since I was about 16 I've been very openly athiest. I even go so far as to randomly during conversations explain how stupid religious people are. I've worn a shirt which states, "Jesus is Santa Claus for adults". But it goes beyond just Christianity -- I have a strong distaste for any religion, including buddhism of all things. I honestly despise all religion, and I'm not shy about it.

But I've never been harrassed as the author suggests. The most I've ever heard is, "Don't worry, I'll pray for you...", which in itself was insulting, but not hateful.

Does this phenomenon just affect certain areas of America, or just social classes?

I'm not trying to troll here, I believe you have experienced honest anti-athiest problems. Im just curious where. I've gotten flack for being socialist in the past (not that I'm socialist anymore :p ), and of course for being gay. I've also gotten flack for being male, and for being white. But never for being athiest.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


I'm surprised (5.00 / 2) (#142)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:47:04 PM EST

I'm shocked that you don't get more harrassment, especially considering your attitude. Admittedly, I don't know you, but you certainly sound pretty confrontational to me. I'm surprised you don't attract more confrontation as a result.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you're right.. (4.50 / 4) (#156)
by DranoK 420 on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:17:37 PM EST

Since when confronted in any way I simply take it as an argument. And I love an argument :) So I suppose in retrospect if you consider arguments as harrassment, you may be right.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
Don't dish it out if you can't take it (4.66 / 3) (#189)
by livingdots on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:20:48 AM EST

"The most I've ever heard is, 'Don't worry, I'll pray for you...', which in itself was insulting, but not hateful."
Seriously... You saw that as an insult? How do you think a Christian feels about your "atheist attire"? And how would you react to someone who said they had a "strong distaste for homosexuals" and said, "I honestly despise all atheists"? I say, don't dish it out if you can't take it.

[ Parent ]
Quoth the atheist author: "The hell of it is. (4.00 / 3) (#125)
by jabber on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:17:24 PM EST

This has much potential for turning into a Holy War, regardless of the Boolean faith state of the participants.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

A Mathmatical Proof (2.54 / 11) (#127)
by Talez on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:25:11 PM EST

if Atheism = Godless then
Atheism == Immoral therefore
Godless == Immoral

If Christian = God and
Godless == Immoral then
God == Moral therefore
Christian == Moral

If God == FALSE then
God == Godless then
Christian == Godless therefore
Christian == Immorral

That goes purely by a bible-basher's logic. If you're not believeing in god then you're some evil immoral person.

If they ever chastise you about being atheist, ask them if they'd stop being a good person if god was proved conclusively to be a fallacy. If they answer "yes" then say "So therefore I can be atheist and still be a good person". If they answer "no" then say "So you'd kill your kids, rape young women and generally be evil just because there isn't a god to keep you in check? I despise you!".

Crude but it works.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

Er, hmm...um...deciphering in Perl... (5.00 / 1) (#160)
by Shovas on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:31:34 PM EST

#/usr/bin/perl
use strict;
my GOD = 1;
my actGodly = "";
my imorral = 1;
my moral = 1;
my Atheism = 0;
my actAtheistic = "";
my Christianity = 1;
my actChristian = "";

if ( (GOD) && (Atheism == !GOD) )
{
actAtheistic = "immoral";
actGodly = "immoral";
}

if ( (GOD) && ((Christianity == GOD) && (!GOD eq "immoral" )))
{
actChristian = moral;
actGodly = "moral";
}

if ( !GOD )
{
GOD = 0;
actGodly = undef;
Christianity = undef;
actChristian = undef;
}


Erm. Hmm. You see your logic is a bit whack. If God exists, Christianity defines how to act good. If God does not exist, Christianity does not exist and there's no definition of how to act good, therefore you could not stop acting good if God did not exist because there's no reference point to how to act good because Christianity defines acting good because Christianity exists because God exists.
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Your logic (none / 0) (#226)
by Error on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:14:36 AM EST

If God does not exist Christianity can still exist. Christians would just be wrong about God. This is the athesist's stance. Your logic is flawed.

[ Parent ]
But it wouldn't be Christianity so it's moot. NT (none / 0) (#389)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:00:21 PM EST


---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Existence vs. Concept (none / 0) (#404)
by Shovas on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:27:12 PM EST

Sorry, throughout your example I was thinking of GOD in a concept manner, not in an existence manner. So, if the concept of God didn't exist, Christianity wouldn't exist. If the concept of God does exist and God, himself, doesn't exist, then er again it's moot. The rules and whatnot that are founded on the concept of God would still be there. If God didn't exist then logically would there be a reason to live in the manner that the concept of God brought. Hmm...if you didn't live exactly that way, but you no longer lived to spec, would it matter since there is no moral or immoral behaviour since there is no existence of God. Hmm...I'm confusing myself somewhere. Care to point it out?
---
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Not Quite (none / 0) (#182)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:18:11 AM EST

The real problem with your idea is that there is a school of Christian thinking (I hesitate to include it as part of all Christianity; it was first proposed by St. Augustine of Hippo) that says that there cannot be any moral act without God. No matter how good an act is, if the person committing it doesn't know God, it is still immoral. Therefore one can act as good as one wants, but if you don't know God, then you're actions are still immoral.

You also seem to imply that acting in a good way implies morality. To a Christian (well, not all, but you get the idea), the only way to act morally is to know God. It's not possible to be moral if there is no God because you need to know God to be moral. If you don't know God, you're de facto immoral.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Two things (3.75 / 4) (#128)
by xriso on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:28:44 PM EST

  • You're exaggerating.
  • Everybody gets persecuted a little bit.
I have some feel for the various stereotypes that are applied to each group of society, and I find that they don't apply to anybody I actually know personally. People (myself included) tend to percieve much more antagonism than really exists.

Hypothesis: Stereotypes are formed based on the members of a group who are in the public eye for the most time. One major contributing factor to this is television, which can be further split up into non-fiction (news) and fiction (entertainment).

Perhaps one thing that can be done is to first make friends with somebody and then after that announce your controversial beliefs. By that time, they will not automatically disrespect you by prejudice, and their prejudice will be shattered.

I wonder if there are people who encourage persecution so they have something to blame their problems on? Maybe.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

I am an athiest but... (4.28 / 7) (#130)
by r00t on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:45:35 PM EST

The MAJORITY of people are religous, so of course George Bush Sr (or any other president for that matter) will appear religous. It helps them get into office.

The following quote says it all..
Religion is what the common people see as true, the wise people see as false, and the rulers see as useful - Roman philosopher Seneca

-It's not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it's what you have to unlearn. - Isaac Asimov

Looking a bit more broadly... (4.60 / 5) (#132)
by Pseudonym on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 08:52:52 PM EST

The problem with discussions between atheists and theists is that any such discussion tends to bring out the worst elements in either camp.

Your example of those who accuse atheists (and just about everyone else; I read the interview too) of causing the September 11 attacks is the perfect example. Most Christians, let alone theists, do not take that kind of thing seriously. But then, nobody ever got their own TV show for being a reasonable person.

I think you're only partially correct in that "irrational atheism" is not all caused by the cycle of mudslinging. People are, on the whole, irrational. Being theist or atheist does not change this. You should consider that those atheists who habitually lash out may simply be like that. (Note: I distinguish "irrational" from "non-rational" here, though perhaps "anti-rational" is better than "irrational. I hope most people can tell the difference.)

I also get the impression that the cycle of abuse goes both ways, at least when it comes to Christianity. I've noticed that when atheists do lash out, they tend to focus on Christians (being the largest theist group in the US, and therefore containing the largest group of loud stupid people in the theist camp), and so slightly more sensible Christians misinterpret this as singling out their religion to the exclusion of others, and so the cycle continues.

Not that atheists are necessarily excluded from this effect, either. Take, for example, George Bush, Sr's comment. Wasn't it he who didn't think Wicca was a religion? His singling out of atheism, while reprehensible, should probably be taken in context: He has a beef with a lot of beliefs (and lack thereof).

Having said that, excellent article.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Some thoughts. (4.78 / 14) (#134)
by kitten on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 09:08:17 PM EST

For the record, in case it hasn't been made obvious by now, yes, I am an atheist.

politicians regularly vilify anyone who is not religious, particularly when talking about a so-called "moral issue". The September 11 terrorist attack and the recent 9th Circuit decision on the pledge of allegiance are good examples.

I realize everyone thinks the author is exaggerating with this sort of statement. To an extent, he is, but his observations are more or less correct, especially concerning the manner in which nationalism is being coupled to religion under the current administration and "anti terror" climate: If you don't believe in God, and more importantly, Jesus, you must not love America!

If any politician utters a slur against homosexuals, half the nation immediately pounces and chastises them, which is proper. Atheism and atheists, on the other hand, never receive such protection.

Again, I wish to underline the author's point here. His link to Bush's comment is telling - replace the word "atheist" in Bush's statement with "gay" or "black", and imagine the outrage and uproar this would have caused. Yet hardly anybody even took notice when Bush decided to lamblast and condemn a huge portion of the population for being atheist.

Meanwhile, people regularly accuse atheists of being "arrogant" or "belligerent", and that is when they are being polite to us.

Heh. The thing is, many atheists are arrogant and belligerent.
I must admit that I have gone on the offensive a number of times, though I try to curtail myself. I am not condoning the haughty attitude that some (not all) atheists have, but try to understand the atheists' point of view: He opens the newspaper and there's another religious group trying to mandate school prayer. He checks his favorite news sites and there's another school district that is either banning the teaching of evolution, or wants to teach Creation as an "alternate theory". He turns on the evening news and there's another religious group trying to put the Ten Commandments in the classroom. He goes to the mall and there's some lunatic passing out pamphlets or preaching at him, telling him what a sinner he is for being atheist. Here's the president trying to spend taxpayer's money on promoting faith-based charities above secular ones, and of course there's the recent debacle regarding the Pledge. The examples go on and on and on, and while they may not be direct attacks on that specific person, they most definitely contribute to a feeling of bitterness. Amidst all the pomp and circumstance surrounding religion, some atheists feel they have to be loud and obnoxious just to be heard at all.
Once again, not all atheists are this way, and I'm not saying this is right, but it is, in a way, understandable - their beliefs are constantly, continually under fire from all angles, from the doofus on the street corner carrying a seven-foot plywood cross around and screaming at him, to the highest political office in the nation.

"You're an atheist?! I hate people like you, who push your godless evil onto society! Why don't you move to Russia or China, where people like you belong?!"

The author exaggerates (and acknowledges this) but I wish to be clear: Most anti-atheist backlash is not this bad. I wouldn't even call it "backlash". Most of the time, when I am asked my religious preferences, and state unapologetically that I am atheist, the response is a sort of "Oh" or "Heh, I guess that's okay.." as though they're doing me a favor by accepting that my theological views are not theistic, or even "I won't hold that against you." It's not exactly hostile, but certainly any other answer (Jew, Christian, Muslim, Taoist, whatever) would generate a more friendly response.


I am most definitely not trying to scream "Help help I'm being repressed" here, nor do I particularly like playing the victim. And yes, I do realize that virtually every group is persecuted in some way or another by someone else. However, it is interesting to note that nobody seems to care when atheists are being snubbed, except the atheists themselves. As the author noted, a politican who makes an anti-gay comment would be slaughtered by the media and the public at large, most of whom are not gay themselves. This is as it should be. But when a politician creates anti-atheist fervor, either indirectly by promoting religion, or directly by insulting atheism, the only ones who seem to notice are the atheists.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Hmmm (4.00 / 3) (#147)
by pyramid termite on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:35:24 PM EST

Heh. The thing is, many atheists are arrogant and belligerent.

And don't have much more open minds or logic behind some of their extreme statements then the literalists they rail against.

but try to understand the atheists' point of view: He opens the newspaper and there's another religious group trying to mandate school prayer. He checks his favorite news sites and there's another school district that is either banning the teaching of evolution, or wants to teach Creation as an "alternate theory". He turns on the evening news and there's another religious group trying to put the Ten Commandments in the classroom. He goes to the mall and there's some lunatic passing out pamphlets or preaching at him, telling him what a sinner he is for being atheist.

This is an example of our media spreading more heat than light on things - they deliberately take the most extreme examples of militant literalism and atheism and make it sound as if these battles are going to come next to your school or your town. I went to a school district whose compliance with the seperation of church and state was quite questionable, and yet, in spite of the biblical quotes all over the biology classroom placed there by our teacher, he taught evolution as required by the school district with a minimum of disparaging remarks. He was in great contrast to the ultra-liberal hippie communications teacher who was pro-draft dodger and a preacher of Gandhi's philosophies ... not to mention the mathematics teacher who disconcerted his classroom with the announcement that there was no mathematical proof that 2+2=4 or the civics teacher who was convinced that the government and the big corporations were all selling us down the river and the gym teacher who drilled his class a la Marine Corps, being a Marine ... My point? If someone had started a law suit about all those nice quotes on the wall the biology teacher had, all you'd read about in the paper was that some little hick factory town school in the Midwest was commingeling church and state and brainwashing the little kiddies and you'd have never heard the rest of the story.

People tend to take whatever they hear about a town or a school and let that characterize it for them, even if that's all they hear about it. And, when it comes to religious disputes in schools, you only hear about the handful of school districts where these things happen, not the thousands of school districts where nothing like that ever comes up, where the ACLU is never called, where no one threatens to recall the school board over "bad" books or evolution ... Just as our media have convinced some that any nerds in black trench coats who play Doom are about to commit a massacre, they've convinced others that the barbarians are about to burn Darwin's books in the courtyard or serve them in the meatloaf on Thursday - (and in my school, it might have helped.) So, the conclusion of my long rambling is that a person really shouldn't be feeling so bitter about what he reads in the paper. We're smart enough to spot trolling on the Internet, why aren't we smart enough to see it in the daily newspaper?

There are people who either make a living or get enormous ego-gratification from taking one side or another of these newsprint controversies - for example, the guy who sued against the phrase "under God" in the pledge is now suing against Congress having prayers said before sessions ... or the Crusaders for Creation Science and their latest attempt to stir up some shit in a carefully selected locale. Attention junkies, the lot of them.

Of course, the comments here quickly have wandered off the subject of why some people are so militant and gone to whether there's a God or not and whether Occam has a razor and well ... it's the same old flame war all over again. Well, it sells on-line time and it sells papers, doesn't it?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Considerations. (4.00 / 4) (#153)
by kitten on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:02:49 PM EST

they deliberately take the most extreme examples of militant literalism and atheism and make it sound as if these battles are going to come next to your school or your town.

Yeah, in a way they do, but in another way, they're right. Here in Atlanta, biology textbooks are now being distributed with cute little stickers on the chapter that discusses evolution that say "This is just a theory".
To me it's understandable how atheists can get more than a little upset about this. It's just another example of appeasing the religious fanatics, because god forbid (pardon the expression!) that we offend them.

On a purely intellectual level, I'm upset by the knowledge that science has been held back for centuries because it's been forced to tiptoe delicately around religious sensibilities. Really, enough is enough. It's easy to see how some atheists can get as militant as their fundamentalist counterparts.

Also, I'm less concerned about "my home town" versus "Some other town" as I am that these things are happening anywhere.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Stickers (4.50 / 4) (#277)
by pyramid termite on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:59:21 AM EST

Here in Atlanta, biology textbooks are now being distributed with cute little stickers on the chapter that discusses evolution that say "This is just a theory".

Do the stickers come off? They could be a lot of fun ... placed next to an article hung up on a billboard explaining how football builds discipline or how the cafeteria is trying harder to cook edible food ...

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Fun idea :) (4.00 / 1) (#367)
by bint on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:56:36 AM EST

I could've used some of those in the recent election here in Sweden. Or on some "holy books" ;) It's almost sad that creationism isn't seriously considered outside some extreme cultish groups here.

(Well, no, not sad at all really, but you could do a lot with those stickers...)

[ Parent ]

Stickers (none / 0) (#1040)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 01:49:14 PM EST

*snip* how the cafeteria is trying harder to cook edible food ...
I thought that theory had been debunked.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
"just a theory" stickers (none / 0) (#1039)
by misanthrope112 on Tue Oct 08, 2002 at 05:35:42 AM EST

Whenever someone tells me "evolution is just a theory" I reply with "yep, just like gravity."  It usually shuts them up, because they would have to know what a scientific theory actually was before they could argue with that.  Someone should try to get the "this is just a theory" stickers put in the science textbooks for subjects like continental drift, gravity, electromagnetic radiation, the heliocentric model of the solar system, & every other 'theory' used to explain/describe the physical universe.  If the sticker were on every page of every textbook, it wouldn't negate what they're trying to do with evolution, but it would certainly put their objections into a more realistic perspective.

[ Parent ]
One atheist to another (4.69 / 13) (#145)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 10:12:31 PM EST

I think you're being just a tad too sensitive and way too melodramatic. I've never been attacked for my atheism, but I accept that I'm in a minority and that popular and political culture will invariably reflect that fact. It doesn't bother me in the slightest.

My experience has been that those who are attacked for their atheism are more often than not the instigator of hostilities. Those people whom feel compelled when someone says something indicating a theistic belief to respond with a condescending comment to the effect of, "there is no God and any belief otherwise is simply ignorant superstition." Generally, the atheists who in the course of daily life are the target of scorn are those approach their atheism evangelically; as if it were their proper mission to disabuse others of their false beliefs. I personally find these militant atheists as intolerable as their ideological cousins, the bible thumping evangelical.

Actually, I probably find the militant atheists more offensive as they frequently harbor serious misunderstands about the religions they attack and seem to engage primarily in the sport of roasting straw men.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


Egads (none / 0) (#223)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:03:02 AM EST

Mangled syntax, missing words, missing punctuation, and just all around piss poor composition. Most of my comments tend to be pretty poorly written, but the above may be my worst showing yet.

[lowers head in shame and sneaks off]

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Evangelism (none / 0) (#265)
by KILNA on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:56:40 AM EST

The best way to engender someone to a cause is to lead by example.  Be intelligent, well-reasoned and personable.  Give your opinion when an open dialog is there, but always defend your righteousness with just as much respect as zeal.  This is true regardless the issue you want to attract people to, but it is especially true in fundamental human questions like the reason for our existence and the source of morality.

Of course, this is all based on the assumption that you want to draw in people who appreciate polite, reasoned assertions over wacko over-the-top extremism.  In general I think people take the former more seriously than the latter.


[ Parent ]

Condescension (none / 0) (#363)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:54:00 AM EST

"there is no God and any belief otherwise is simply ignorant superstition."

But that's exactly correct!

Actually, I probably find the militant atheists more offensive as they frequently harbor serious misunderstands about the religions they attack

I find Christians rather absurd because they frequently harbour serious confusions about the religion that they supposedly adhere to! For instance, how many Christians know that the Bible as we know it today was edited by the Romans? (Were they "divinely inspired" to do so, one is tempted to ask?) How do Christians reconcile the warmongering, genocidal God of the Old Testament with the softer God of the New? And why are so many aspirational and rich Christian Americans not worried about the Bible's (sexist) admonition that "It is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?" (I read that as saying, in flowery terms, that it is impossible - although how one is to define "rich man" precisely is not clear.)

And there are also two core beliefs: (a) that all who genuinely repent their sins and follow Jesus will be Saved - even child molestors and serial killers and war criminals, if they should choose to repent - and (b) that none of those who are non-Christian at the end of the lives (except maybe very young children) will be admitted to heaven. These, so I understand, are central to the Christian faith. And (b) is where much of the hatred of atheists comes from (insofar as it is rational at all, which largely it is not).

But I wonder how many Christians truly understand and believe these premises, and understand their full implications! Because they imply that despite all the rhetoric, when it comes right down to it, you will be punished by God for not towing the Christian line at the very end of your life, and all other sins are utterly irrelevant.

What a tyrannical, self-obsessed God is that, then! So dependent on "love" from his subjects that he will send each of them to Hell that refuses to "love" him! Sounds like an omnipotent version of Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Sexist? (none / 0) (#399)
by Nick Ives on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:17:52 PM EST

I thought that most Christians thought that all occurrences of the word "man" were easily substituted for "person", so saying it's sexist could be a slight exaggeration.

My main beef with the Christian God is his treatment of his workers. You know what's gonna happen to Death and Hades, the respective reaper and storer of souls, when Revelation comes to pass? They get tossed in the pit of fire. If you ask me Revelations is just proof that the whole bible is the worlds oldest troll, I mean, all that stuff about God and morality and how you should life your life and then they wind it up with a batshit crazy mushroom trip.

--
Nick
breakfast

[ Parent ]

Re: Condescension (none / 0) (#534)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:59:59 PM EST

But that's exactly correct!

No, it is not exactly correct. I do believe in the existence of a deity, but neither do I believe that those who do are following an ignorant superstition.

I find Christians rather absurd because they frequently harbour serious confusions about the religion that they supposedly adhere to!

Agreed. Many Christians (this true for other faiths as well) do not have a very sophisticated understanding of their religion, but this is generally true of people not matter what their belief system.

(b) that none of those who are non-Christian at the end of the lives (except maybe very young children) will be admitted to heaven. These, so I understand, are central to the Christian faith.

I am not in a position to speak for all Christian sects, but this is not true for the Catholic Church -- the largest of all Christian churches.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
correction (none / 0) (#564)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:07:58 PM EST

I do believe in the existence of a deity --> I do not believe in the existence of a deity

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
My life as an atheist. (3.66 / 3) (#164)
by antizeus on Sat Sep 28, 2002 at 11:57:31 PM EST

I became a (strong) atheist around age 12, shortly after I became aware that it was possible to be an atheist. I generally keep my religious views to myself but am happy to discuss them with those who are curious. (I am no longer a strong atheist).

The closest thing to persecution or even mere nastiness that I encountered happened one day (around age 14) when I was sitting in my school's library among some students who were unaware of my views. For some reason the topic of atheism was raised. One meathead stated that if he met an atheist, that he would kick said atheist's ass. An otherwise intelligent girl said something to the effect of "my dad says that atheists worship the devil." I rolled my eyes and refrained from commenting.

I used to enjoy arguing with evangelical theists (the sort that set up tables in common areas and invite others to discuss religion) but those conversations were always amicable.

So no real problems here. This may have something to do with the fact that I have lived in large coastal cities and college towns in California, where I suspect that people are more open-minded about this sort of thing than, say, rural Alabama.
-- $SIGNATURE

Inherited atheism (none / 0) (#239)
by frawaradaR on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:54:39 AM EST

Actually, you don't become an atheist; you are more or less born an atheist. Most atheists dismiss the religious stuff you learn in school as fairy tales at an early age (6-7 or so). I know I did. Much later you discover there's a label for this "behavior", and you may put it in perspective with some classes in philosophy. This usually makes you actively defend your atheist values as rational.

Although there was no religious indoctrination in my upbringing, I believe it really doesn't matter. Atheists usually have a very rational thought pattern that makes them sort of immune to draw the conclusions religion demands. But being in a religious environment will put peer pressure on any atheist, to lie or at least shut up about her real thoughts.

The United States is indeed a religious country, just as much as Iran or other nations in the "axis of evil". No wonder you are fighting a religious war right now... you antagonize your "evil" opponents just as much as they antagonize "evil" you, with the same religious language ("evil" is a religious term).

That said, there is a major difference. Most of the US elite (science, politics, ...) is actually atheist (it is the rational mind that both makes them atheists and successful [not as in wealth, but as in mastering very complex subjects]), while the populace is deeply religious. This is because you really don't put to death those who think different(ly) (and who are also outspoken about it), as they do in the medieval Arab states; you merely stigmatize your atheists as second rate citizens (at least in the political rhetoric aimed for the populace).

The Scandinavian countries, from where I come, are usually described as the most atheist in the world (excluding the former Communist states, where atheism was mandatory), although I find that to be a myth. There's still a lot of traditions and laws that directly derive from a thousand years of Catholic and later Protestant rule. But thankfully, rhetoric on teaching creationism and such doesn't really appeal to the half-rational Swedes.

Atheists probably thrive better here than anywhere else. At least no one will actually attack you in verbal or other fashions.

frawaradaR anahaha islaginaR!
[ Parent ]

Man... (2.50 / 2) (#171)
by hypno on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:40:21 AM EST

That's one screwed up country.
I can't think of anyone who'd react like that to an atheist. Most of the people i know well are either atheist or agnostic.

Read again (none / 0) (#194)
by Nex77 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:42:06 AM EST

Because you'll see most of it is subjective commentary, anecdotal in nature. I could go to Britain, walk through Brixton and say that Britain is a completely racist country. I'd be wrong. Things aren't nearly so simple as national stereotypes make out. The way the Brits see the french is warped, how the French see Britain is warped and so on. Use BS Your Filter. Nex (not to be confused with the other 'Nex' here)

[ Parent ]
So unused to .. (none / 0) (#198)
by Nex77 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:46:13 AM EST

So unused to not being able to either edit or delete a post. That last line was meant to read 'edit your bs filter', Nex

[ Parent ]
Respond to hate with education (4.00 / 1) (#172)
by I Want GNU on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:46:14 AM EST

Yes, I'm athiest too. But do I get annoyed when people attack it? The reason people attack any minorities, like athiesm, homosexuality, African Americans, Jews, etc is usually ignorance. So I explain to them how I am very moral, just as moral as anyone else, and that some people who proclaim to be religious (think Catholic priest scandal) are immoral. I then go on to say how there are moral and immoral athiests just like there are moral and immoral religious people. And I usually know somebody a bit before talking about my athiest. By then they might respect me as a person and be willing to listen to what I say. Ignorance breeds intolerance. So educate them.


I Want GNU!
several things- (4.72 / 11) (#175)
by vmarks on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:53:24 AM EST

(1) I've been told I'm going to Hell. (Insulting, intended with venom.)

(2) I've been told that people will pray for me. (intended with kindness, however misguided.) Certainly, this is similar to (1) - without the threatening nature- it's saying the same thing, except offering what the speaker perceives as a kind act. Still insulting, but much less so, because at least it was meant well.

(3) There seems to be a surplus of misguided ignorant people, ingorant on any number of topics, not just religious awareness, or the good sense G-d gave a screwdriver to exercise politeness and keep their mouths shut.

(4) Surprise, I'm not atheist or agnostic. I'm Jewish. I had to deal with the Assistant Principal in High School who told me to get a real religion when I needed to take a day off from school to attend Yom Kippur services.

(5) I'm just as annoyed as anyone that people want to place "under G-d" in our schools, in our pledge, and bring Christmas trees into the school. Placing these things in a private business or building is one thing- placing them in a Government school or building is quite another.

Besides, both G-d and Patriotism are things a person has to come to voluntarily. If a person has them forced upon them, it's meaningless, and only accomplishes frustration on the part of the forcer and annoyance on the part of the forced.

*warning - US-centric* What continually dissapoints me is that so many people forget that equal protection in America is afforded by all, whether or not you like who or what they are. As long as they aren't harming anyone, they have as much right as anyone to live their lives in the manner they see fit. No ifs, ands, buts, or moral declarations or questions.  If it isn't causing harm, or inflicting force on someone, ignore it.

Why does that bother you? (1.90 / 11) (#210)
by tkatchev on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:25:07 AM EST

Why does going to hell bother you?

There's no God in Hell; so, it seems like it would be perfect for you. It's an atheists paradise.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Pardon? (3.00 / 4) (#227)
by Control Group on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:15:33 AM EST

First: vmarks is, according to the post, Jewish, not atheistic.

Second: the vitriol contained in the pronouncement "you're going to hell" is offensive, regardless of one's view of the content.

***
"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]

So. (1.50 / 10) (#230)
by tkatchev on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:20:03 AM EST

You don't belive in hell, you hate God, yet you are offended by the prospect of going to hell.

Have you been to a psychiatrist lately?

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

My belief in hell is irrelevant. (4.00 / 7) (#248)
by Control Group on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:28:35 AM EST

It's not the going to hell bit which is offensive, it's the intent with which it was said. If someone said "Blizmflay you, you twiffelated hoojumbar" with sufficient venom, that'd be offensive, too.

It's the fact that the speaker believes in hell which gives the statement its offensive abilities.

Besides which, though I don't happen to believe in hell (at least not the Catholic version of it with which I was raised), I certainly don't hate God. Of course, I also wasn't the one offended by the statement, so I don't know how topical any of that is. But I'd hate to not adequately respond to your statement.

Oh, and no, I haven't been to a psychiatrist lately. Have you tried actually reading a post lately?

***
"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]

Government Health Warning (4.66 / 3) (#350)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:12:40 AM EST

Please do not feed the trolls!


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

You're right... (2.75 / 4) (#446)
by Control Group on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:58:20 PM EST

Sorry. I was tired and easily baited.

***
"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]
Don't forget. (1.00 / 1) (#730)
by tkatchev on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:37:47 PM EST

Anything that clashes with your cognitive dissonance is a troll and evil.

You know, the world doesn't disappear when you close your eyes. You can cry "troll" all you want, but none of us will live forever. You, too, will die one day.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Anything that is a troll (1.00 / 1) (#744)
by it certainly is on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:10:48 PM EST

and winds up Liberalists is obviously amazingly witty and insightful. Liberalists only fall for Grade A trolls, nothing less.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Hello. (1.00 / 1) (#846)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 02:00:37 AM EST

There are no "trolls" except in your fevered dissonant imagination.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

So nu? (3.00 / 1) (#1048)
by epepke on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 03:08:49 AM EST

You think you've got problems. I'm an atheist Jew.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
G-d (none / 0) (#1055)
by vectro on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 04:35:41 AM EST

Do you find the word God offensive? Do you somehow find the concept of a singular diety so offensive that you must hide the word, lest the idea infest itself into others? I find that quite curious, since you claim to be Jewish.

And if this is not the case, why do you see it necessary to censor the word God?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Communications problems... (4.40 / 5) (#177)
by seebs on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:59:56 AM EST

Having watched a few dozen rounds of the "is to/is not" debate on the religious qualities of atheism, I have come to the following conclusion:

Atheism is a descriptor for a broad set of belief systems, some of which are in fact just as religious as most theistic belief systems.  Just as Christianity has its Pat Robertsons, atheism has a few people who are similarly pushy - and about as honest.

The thing that *really* screws you is the people who say "I'm not making any claims, I'm just not accepting other claims.  People who accept those claims are deluded and foolish, and should suffer!"

These people make it seem that "weak atheism" (lack of belief, without active belief) is simply a convenient dodge used to escape the burden of proof, while acting as though the position has been proved.

This seems to be the killer; in apologetics discussions or other discussions, it's often quite easy for the weak atheists to get along with the theists, and even for the strong atheists to get along... until someone comes along and says "You have to prove this God thing to me to my satisfaction or you have to stop believing it", and gets *EVERYONE* in a big fight.

Which isn't to say there aren't theists with habits just as annoying - but, since you seem to be coming at this from the atheist side, I thought I'd point out a problem you might be able to do something about.

Me, I'm a Christian, and I'm *HORRIBLY* offended by the way some Christians treat atheists.  I think you should take comfort from the observation that they appear to be a vocal minority, with a fair dose of ignorance.

Heh.  The other day, someone on a BBS I read (http://www.christianforums.com/) was asking what people felt about "Satanism/Paganism".  I like that one; it's like asking a question about the geographical location of "China/Ethiopia".

Anyway, to the meat of the post:  Proper Christian apologetics.

"I'm sorry so many Christians are such jerks."

(Most of apologetics consists of apologizing.)


Classify as "problems" so no need to ans (none / 0) (#584)
by BerntB on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:29:26 AM EST

[..] until someone comes along and says "You have to prove this God thing to me to my satisfaction or you have to stop believing it", and gets *EVERYONE* in a big fight.

What is your point? Some opinions about the world should not be questioned? You mean it is wrong to argue:
"You hold things to be true that seriously lack supporting facts."

If there were really good supporting evidence for the truth of some religion I (and almost(!) all others) wouldn't be atheists.

Until that time (not holding my breath), I do ask "Don't you have more than your internal brain state as support for the existence of your only true god?".

And, of course, followup questions like:

  • All historical evidence are bad compared to the evidence that Elvis lives. (Number of witnesses, truth or myth what the witnesses said, etc.)
  • Why is your god's existence certain when your neighbours' gods are figments of their imaginations?
  • What inspires your neighbours' contradicting beliefs if it's not your god?
  • Why are your beliefs true when the psychology seems so similar between believers of different faiths? Shouldn't your god inspire better than whatever inspires other religions?
  • Etc, etc.

And I'm not surprised that religious people have problems discussing those questions.

[ Parent ]

Let me get this straight (3.00 / 1) (#178)
by lonemarauder on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:02:07 AM EST

I hit you first because I expect that you will mistreat me. This is your fault.

Have I correctly summarized your position?

I understand that you feel as though you are persecuted for your beliefs, but I do not agree with your suggestion that these feelings are justified, nor do I acknowledge that they carry any argumentative weight. I understand the importance of anger to the atheist worldview, but reality holds little evidence of justification for that anger (I put no more stock in your personal accounts of persecution than you would in my personal experiences with God), and nothing condones acting on that anger by attacking others. However profound your personal angst, I am aware of no Christian lobbying group that is working to outlaw the practice of atheism. Every atheist group I've ever been aware of has the primary focus of restricting the religious freedom of others- particularly Christians.

Therefore, I find your anger reprehensible, and your suggestions of acting on that anger something which reasonable people of good conscience should oppose.



haha. (4.50 / 8) (#190)
by kitten on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:29:00 AM EST

I hit you first because I expect that you will mistreat me. This is your fault.
Have I correctly summarized your position?


Hrm. I don't know if that accurately describes the author's position, but it does sound like a decent summary of Bush's plans for Iraq. :)
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
ah, yes, certainly (1.00 / 1) (#373)
by lonemarauder on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:17:16 PM EST

Because all of the US fears with regard to the behavior of Saddam Hussein are based entirely on stereotype.

I suppose I should be thankful that something replaced the Reagan/Alzhiemer's jokes.



[ Parent ]
Athiests are indeed persecuted (4.66 / 3) (#454)
by bendrasin on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:09:50 PM EST

I hit you first because I expect that you will mistreat me. This is your fault. Have I correctly summarized your position? I understand that you feel as though you are persecuted for your beliefs, but I do not agree with your suggestion that these feelings are justified,

Uh...the President of the United States said (and repetedly confirmed) that as far as he was concerned, athiests were not real americans. This appears to be a common (and popular) point of view. An athiest's child at school is requred (or at least strongly pressured) to take an oath inderectly expressing a faith in God. There are other examples, but you get the point.

nor do I acknowledge that they carry any argumentative weight. I understand the importance of anger to the atheist worldview, but reality holds little evidence of justification for that anger (I put no more stock in your personal accounts of persecution than you would in my personal experiences with God), and nothing condones acting on that anger by attacking others. However profound your personal angst, I am aware of no Christian lobbying group that is working to outlaw the practice of atheism.

First of all, there do seem to be some groups whos aim is the wholesale Christianization of the country (although I'm sure they don't specify whether this is to be done through forcable conversion, emmegration, witch burning, or whatever). See for example:these quores, e.g.:

"I want you to let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."(Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, Indiana News Sentinel)

Every atheist group I've ever been aware of has the primary focus of restricting the religious freedom of others- particularly Christians.

Thats a pretty loaded point of view. If you mean that athiest groups are attempting to eliminate your right to practace your religeon in your own personal life, and within the confines of your place of worship then that is indeed a terrible thing. That's also not what is happening. Usually the "freedom" that athiest groups are against are:

  • The "freedom" to use public property for religeous purposes, or
  • The "freedom" to indoctrinate children by injecting religeous material into schools, and to alter school curricula so as to remove material deemed offensive to Christianity.
I am completely against Christians (or any other faith) having such freedoms.

[ Parent ]
Atheists should not be considered citizens? (5.00 / 17) (#179)
by webwench on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:04:43 AM EST

From the Gallup News Service, this report on a recent poll which focused on voting preferences:

"The poll shows that members of certain groups, including atheists, homosexuals, and Mormons, could find that these characteristics, even today, could be taken into account as negative factors by a sizeable portion of the U.S. population."

When 1,014 people were asked if they would vote for people with certain characteristics, here's what the poll found (+/- 3% error):

  • 95% would vote for a black candidate
  • 94% would vote for a Jew or a Baptist for president
  • 92% would vote for a Catholic or a woman for president
  • 79% would vote for a Mormon
  • 59% would vote for a homosexual
  • only 49% would vote for an atheist

The article also shows a history of answers to these questions for years going back to 1937 for some questions.

Nearly as shocking to me personally, I found that seven states' (Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) state constitutions "require belief in a higher power to hold public office". South Carolina's state supreme court ruled in 1997 that the requirement was unconstitutional, after a College of Charleton professor, Herb Silverman, filed suit. Silverman "is an atheist whose application for notary public was turned down because he had crossed out the part of an oath that read 'so help me God.'" The matter should have been settled in 1961, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require constitutional officers to profess a belief in God. However, these requirements remain on these states' constitutions.

In 1988, George Bush (Sr) told a reporter, "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God." This is a sentiment I've personally noticed more and more since September 11.

It's clearly still considered acceptable by a very large portion of Americans to treat the non-religious as second-class citizens.

59% of statistics (1.00 / 6) (#213)
by dirvish on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:26:27 AM EST

are made up on the spot.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Since this one cited the source... (3.00 / 4) (#245)
by magney on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:16:45 AM EST

...I can only conclude that this particular collection of statistics is amongst the other 41%.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Couldn't the source have made the stats up? (1.00 / 4) (#247)
by dirvish on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:27:17 AM EST

"...lies, damned lies and statistics"

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Gallup (3.75 / 4) (#261)
by DarkZero on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:27:17 AM EST

Considering that Gallup is one of the most trusted international sources for polls and statistics and has been for as long as I can remember, I'd say "probably not".

When the Bumfuck Observer, an unknown scientist, or someone that does not cite a source gives you a statistic, you probably shouldn't believe it, but when someone quotes a Gallup poll with a cite, you can reasonably trust that it is not made up. Gallup polls make headlines in all sorts of news sources around the globe, including, AFAIK, both Reuters and the Associated Press.

[ Parent ]

True, yet I wouldn't trust those numbers (4.50 / 2) (#374)
by nusuth on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:19:27 PM EST

Gallup may be reliable but that doesn't mean their statistics always reflect the truth. Yes, they probably try to frame questions as neutrally as possible, collect data with rigious procedures and present data without any doctoring, yet, if people are dishonest, they can't do anything to compensate that.

It is a well researched fact that people tend to give socially most acceptable answers to these kind of polls. If people can reason about socially adequate behaviour, they are more likely to report that instead of their real opinion. OTOH if all options are more-or-less equally acceptable, the collected data tend to reflect real opinion well. This suggests that all items on that list are are skewed to higher or lower values, since not all options are equally acceptable (consider which is easier to argue on TV, that one should never vote for a black candidate or that candidate's race should not be a factor in a voting decision) and people can easily reason about those options' acceptability.

[ Parent ]

Social bias? (4.00 / 2) (#384)
by Majromax on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 12:39:43 PM EST

It is a well researched fact that people tend to give socially most acceptable answers to these kind of polls.

But does this mean that the poll results would be any less indicative of expressed behavior? Would the 'socially acceptable' reasoning transfer to real-life word and deed, or is it restricted to just the polls?

[ Parent ]

Indeed (4.50 / 2) (#475)
by nusuth on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:11:29 PM EST

But does this mean that the poll results would be any less indicative of expressed behavior?

I guess I wasn't clear enough. That is the whole point. Would the 'socially acceptable' reasoning transfer to real-life word and deed, or is it restricted to just the polls?

No, it is restricted to statement of opinions though. The basic common sense idea is that one is more inclined to lie about their socially unacceptable behaviors than their acceptable behaviors. The interesting fact regarding to polls is that, even anonymity doesn't make people give honest answers. That doesn't mean people lie as often when they are anonymous; they lie less often. Yet, they still lie.

[ Parent ]

I wonder (4.00 / 2) (#495)
by dr k on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:23:34 PM EST

How often do people lie about their socially unacceptable behaviors? Somebody should do a poll and find out.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

You just don't WANT to trust the numbers (4.00 / 1) (#625)
by pedant on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:29:34 AM EST

It is a well researched fact that people tend to give socially most acceptable answers to these kind of polls.
So well-researched, in fact, that statisticians have developed an impressive arsenal of techniques for minimizing the effect of social desirability bias. And while you are apparently not familiar with any of these techniques, no doubt the Gallup organization is.

Furthermore, even if you were correct, wouldn't the mere fact that more than 50% of the population thought that it was socially unacceptable to vote for an atheist be bad enough?

[ Parent ]

Why shouldn't I want to? (2.00 / 1) (#793)
by nusuth on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 06:51:28 PM EST

Furthermore, even if you were correct, wouldn't the mere fact that more than 50% of the population thought that it was socially unacceptable to vote for an atheist be bad enough?

It would indeed be bad enough, but I've never claimed that more than reported amount of people would vote for an atheist. I don't know which is the more acceptable option in US society. I just guessed that an American would know which is the more acceptable way and that number might be off more than reported 3%.

[ Parent ]

And...? (4.00 / 1) (#626)
by DarkZero on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:30:27 AM EST

Yes, statistics can be imperfect and should always be taken with a grain of salt, but if you ignore all statistics regardless of how trustworthy, respected, or apparently accurate they are, then what do you use? Gut feeling? Unresearched assumption? Your own experiences with the people around you in your small corner of the world?

[ Parent ]
Hmmmm (3.00 / 1) (#758)
by synaesthesia on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:50:33 PM EST

It is a well researched fact that people tend to give socially most acceptable answers to these kind of polls.

How did they conduct that research, then?

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

Not NT just because subj line is too short (2.00 / 1) (#791)
by nusuth on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 06:35:10 PM EST

Comparing what people report and what they really do.

[ Parent ]
From the post I was replying to... (3.00 / 1) (#867)
by synaesthesia on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 08:13:32 AM EST

yet, if people are dishonest, they can't do anything to compensate that.

And particularly difficult on the subject of voting, in which it is not possible (hopefully) to compare what people say with what they do.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

Not for individuals (3.00 / 1) (#933)
by BCoates on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 07:06:11 PM EST

But statistically, voting habits should be pretty easy to measure, since the results of the vote is public...

Are there any studies on how accurately polling before an election corresponds to the actual result?

--
Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

OTOH (1.50 / 2) (#461)
by dirvish on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:26:59 PM EST

I could have made up the "51% of all statistics are made up on the spot" statistic on the spot.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
errr, I mean 59% (1.00 / 2) (#462)
by dirvish on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:28:12 PM EST

Can't even keep my made up statistics straight...

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Voting (4.75 / 4) (#459)
by Merk00 on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:26:16 PM EST

Strangely enough, a lot of people vote based on what kind of person someone is as opposed to exactly what they stand for. And that makes complete sense. Why? Because most elected officials, in the United States, are in office for a fairly long period of time. This means that there are going to be issues that they will have to take a stand on that aren't even contemplated at the time of the election. So you have to take into account what kind of person you are voting for. Many people (non-athiests) do not consider someone who is an athiest to be of good moral quality. Hence, they wouldn't want to vote for them. Basically, they don't agree with your beliefs. So that means you don't get elected. That's how it works if those beliefs are religious or political.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Beyond "moral quality" (3.00 / 1) (#735)
by StephenFuqua on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:51:29 PM EST

This is a good point you bring. I would add in another related area: spiritual values, as opposed to simply reglious/moral values. Related, but not the same. Thus for instance I can easily consider an atheist to be of "good moral quality" (and would do so unless presented with something otherwise, as with any theist as well). However, if your pit that atheist against someone with similar beliefs _plus_ what I perceive to be a more spiritual / religious inclination, then I will probably choose the later person--simply because I believe that having a spiritual worldview contributes to better decision-making in the long run.



[ Parent ]
Makes sense (2.00 / 1) (#796)
by Wah on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:05:35 PM EST

Many people (non-athiests) do not consider someone who is an athiest to be of good moral quality.

This makes perfect sense, actually.  Most people consider religion the foundation of moral behaviour, therefore, without it, one doesn't have any moral guidelines whatsoever.  Sure, an individual might, but as a group atheists pretty much suck from a moral guideline perspective.  You have no way to judge if that person is of good moral character because they have no one that they are beholden to from a moral standpoint.  They won't even burn in hell if they ignore your pleas for reason and pander to special interests.  Yea, it's not really all-star logic, but remember when getting elected you still need some of that 50% of people who are below average on, ya'know, that thinking stuff to vote for you.
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

statistics... (1.33 / 3) (#485)
by coolvibe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:29:12 PM EST

90% of everything is crap.
--
Yet another community site: hackerheaven.org. Now in juicy Scoop flavour!
[ Parent ]
More statistics to deconstruct: (4.00 / 1) (#612)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 01:59:28 AM EST

As long as we're having fun with statistics: American Atheists press release: "In a Dec. 21 survey conducted by Barna Research Group Ltd. of Ventura, CA, they found that Christians, Mormons, and Jews, are more likely to divorce than Atheists. A nationwide survey of nearly 4,000 adults, noted that these "national statistics have remained the same for the past half decade." They noted that Protestants, with a 34% divorce rate, were among the highest, with Baptists (29%) leading the way among Protestant groups. Jews had a 30%likelihood of divorce while Mormons rated at 24%. Atheist families experienced only a 21% divorce rate."

(You may find it interesting that Barna Research Group calls itself "the premiere marketing research company in America that is dedicated to assisting God's people to do the work of the kingdom.")

Atheists are underrepresented in prison populations. "...Atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%)."

[ Parent ]

Lies, Damn lies and Statistics (4.50 / 4) (#656)
by zakalwe on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:36:15 AM EST

Much as I'd like to claim that being atheist makes one an all round better person, statistics like this can be misleading.

Atheists are less likely to divorce, but they are also less likely to marry, having no religious reason .  Thus while religious people may rush into marriage for reasons like not wanting a child out of wedlock, or because it it the "correct" thing to do, Atheists have less pressure on them to do so, and are probably more likely to marry for more long-term and more heavily considered reasons.

Similarly a large proportion of Atheists are people who have purposefully converted from another religion.  People who even consider changing their own religious beliefs are more likely to be more highly educated, and thus less likely to be involved in crime.  I'd imagine the same would be true of anyone who has converted religions, since this at least implys that they've thought about such things.

[ Parent ]

End result is the same though... (2.00 / 1) (#697)
by webwench on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 11:25:58 AM EST

...in that atheists cannot be considered to have less morality than believers in any god.

[ Parent ]
how's that? (3.00 / 1) (#798)
by Wah on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:14:24 PM EST

How can a group without any sort of shared moral guidelines be generally considered to be morally superior to one that does?
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]
That wasn't the statement (4.00 / 2) (#856)
by zakalwe on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 04:40:52 AM EST

How can a group without any sort of shared moral guidelines be generally considered to be morally superior to one that does?
That wasn't what was said:
...in that atheists cannot be considered to have less morality than believers in any god.
That atheists cannot be considered to have less morality doesn't imply that they have more.  

[ Parent ]
How's that? (4.00 / 1) (#892)
by Wah on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 10:12:35 AM EST

Group 1 : Rigid set of moral guidelines passed down over generations (and refined .

Group 2 : No set of moral guidelines other than what each individual in that group decides to adopt as their own.

Question.  Which group is more likely to have higher moral standards when measured as a group?  Which is more likely to have less when measured as a group?

Bonus question.  Define morality and its impact on human civilization.
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

Apples and Oranges (5.00 / 2) (#903)
by zakalwe on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 11:21:16 AM EST

Here's two groups that fit your explanation:
Group 1 : Christianity
Group 2 : Soccer players

As you know, the rules of soccer contain absolutely no moral guidance.  Each player is otherwise unconstrained in picking up any moral system they wish to adopt.  Its therefore pointless to compare the moral system of a religion with the moral system of soccer, because the latter doesn't exist.  Soccer is not, and doesn't claim to be, a source of morality.  Nor does atheism.  People who are atheists, or play soccer will both will draw their moral code from another source.

It would be theoretically possible to compare how moral players of soccer, followers of religion, or to atheists are, but the answer is by no means clear cut.  You would have to determine what beliefs each group would be likely to hold - you can't just say that because a group gets no moral guidance from football, they are less likely to get it anywhere.

The other big problem is how you define which has "higher" moral standard.  My moral standards are likely to be different to yours, and I'd judge those systems that are more similar to mine as being more moral.  Some religions may believe homosexuality is wrong - I would likely find someone who does not unfairly condemn a group for (IMHO) no reason to be more moral.  Similarly, as an atheist, I'm not going to be impressed by a directive to honor God.

The only thing you can objectively measure is how strictly they adhere to their own morality, in which case I'd expect the Atheist group to win, since presumably they had more leeway in deciding their morals.  This is obviously a completely unfair test though.

Personally, I think religion does a relatively poor  job of conveying morality.  I think most people pick up their moral code from society, and that the code so taught is usually better (IMHO again) than that of most religions.  The down side of "passed down through generations, and refined" is that you end up with a lot of cruft, added by people who, in todays world, would be considered highly immoral.

Bonus question.  Define morality and its impact on human civilization.


[ Parent ]
We can cut fruit all day long (2.00 / 1) (#977)
by Wah on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 02:34:47 PM EST

While I appreciate your sentiments, I don't believe they show much other than the picture is quite gray.

You have some great points, especially the one about the cruft associated with most religions.  While I still disagree, in that I think as a general rule people with an observed religion (or accepted concept of God) will be more moral than those that deny religion (and any concept of God) out of hand, I don't think arguing the matter further will be beneficial to anyone.  Mainly because it would require vast amounts a typing, a mutually agreed upon definition of morality, and a whole lot of tangential research, all of which could be easily dismissed by the other party.  I was hoping to keep the criteria very simple, and that doesn't seem to do the topic the justice it deserves.

Thanks for your time, see ya around.
--
You didn't know we had cameras in your room, Parent ]

Believe in "higher power" = the laws of (none / 0) (#1057)
by mozmozmoz on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 01:22:42 AM EST

Sheesh, fools, I believe in all sorts of higher powers. Tell me again about the fools who legislated the value of pi and how a higher power overruled them. King Canute's demonstration also springs to mind.

But as far as the atheist problem in the USA goes, all I can suggest is moving to a secular state. Preferably also a democracy, but don't y'all choose Canada eh.

Anecdote: my cousin was sentenced to a couple of years in the US, and got huge amounts of aggro for not reciting the pledge in class. Most kids just couldn't understand that he wasn't a US citizen so the pledge meant nothing. He quickly decided to say it anyway, putting physical safety above that tiny detail.

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

Speaking as a unorthodox Christian... (3.60 / 5) (#183)
by Skywise on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:25:41 AM EST

And a person who voted for, and (for the most part) supports W.

Bush is not an ordained minister of the Christian religion.  So his statements on the nature of Christianity and Americans are... not valid.  I suppose next you'll be telling me that Clinton really was the "first black president" and that his statements of the plight of the black man in America have more meaning than an actual black man.

While I don't discount your oppression, I'd like to point out that you haven't yet been taken out to the prairie land, beaten, stripped naked and tied to a fence left to die for your beliefs.

You have... non-average views.  As such, you're going to be seen as one of them, and not one of us.  That's true of anybody who's "not of the body" or has non-average views.  Ask anybody here who was a freak or geek at high school, and they'll tell you similar stories.

Trust me, as a Christian who has the audacity to actually question a priests' sermons and beliefs.. I'd say I get a similar dose of hatred as you do.  (Ever take a controversial stand in front of a church body?  Oh wait... no you wouldn't have... er... It's like standing up in a room full of environmentalists and saying the republicans might actually have good ideas for the environment.  Except now your immortal soul might be in danger, and if you crossed the priest he may happily agree that your soul is toast!)

I've lost a true love of my life because of it. (which I guess means it wasn't a "true" love, but still...)

As a Christian, I was ostracized for my beliefs in high school because I wouldn't drink, smoke, take  drugs, or hate pre-marital sex (I regret only the last...maybe...cause I know the women I've would've ended up with!).  Meanwhile, I was constantly lambasted by several teachers who insinuated that my religious beliefs were childish and infantile (Santa Claus for adults, as one other person on this discussion has proclaimed.)

In other words, if you walk around with blue hair and nose rings... you're going to get the evil eye.  That's nothing that a government regulation can solve.  That's intrinsic to the nature of society.

The next time someone tells you "You're an atheist?  I hate you people."  Ask why.  If you get a willing listener explain your ideology while maintaining respect for theirs.  These people have been conditioned to be on the defensive to not be led astray by satan.  Your statement is being perceived as an assault on their reality, not on their ideology.  Treat it as such.  From there, borrow a page from Jesus... spread your seed, and some will fall on fertile soil, and some will fall on barren ground...

"A man of God is a man of God in spite of his religion.  Not because of it."

Athiests don't know what persecution really is. (none / 0) (#300)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:15:03 AM EST

While I don't discount your oppression, I'd like to point out that you haven't yet been taken out to the prairie land, beaten, stripped naked and tied to a fence left to die for your beliefs.

Any radical athiest who feels they're truly being persecuted for their beliefs should really read more in history (and current world news) about the persecution of Jews and Christians.

Compared to what has happened and continues to happen to Jews and Christians who hold tight to their beliefs, radical athiests don't know the meaning of the word persecution.

Radical athiests, feel free to compare the history of persecuted athiests to that of Jews and Christians. Let's see the number of Athiests who have been tortured and killed and compare them to those who've died for beliving in God.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
And you don't know what you are talking about (5.00 / 1) (#309)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:42:27 AM EST

The only thing on which the Spanish Inquisition, the Pope, the Anglican Church, Lutherians and Calvinists fully agreed was that atheists and homosexuals should be burned alive.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Chicken feces can replace gasoline. (1.00 / 1) (#320)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:08:16 AM EST

I do know what I'm talking about. Please re-read the point of the post to which you replied to.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Again... (5.00 / 1) (#326)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:20:01 AM EST

Whatever your point was, you expressed it in a way that was voluntarily offensive and insulting. Which says a lot about the validity of your point. You, sir, do not know what you are talking about.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Well, if it isn't Lonestar........ (1.00 / 1) (#339)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:47:05 AM EST

"Whatever your point was, you expressed it in a way that was voluntarily offensive and insulting."

This is your opinion.

Two Christians here have stepped forward and apologized, let's hear from the athiests.

"Which says a lot about the validity of your point."

Actually it doesn't.

"You, sir, do not know what you are talking about."

Say it again. And again. And again. Are you trying to impose your will upon me? I don't believe in Jedi mind tricks.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Christians don't know what persecution is (5.00 / 1) (#360)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 11:47:31 AM EST

That, of course, is not offensive. By your definition.

As a matter of fact, no atheist has ever persecuted a Christian. Other theists did. Sort it out between yourselves.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
As a matter of fact... (1.00 / 1) (#403)
by Skywise on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:26:46 PM EST

Atheists in China and Russia have persecuted Christians.

[ Parent ]
Nope (5.00 / 1) (#410)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 01:42:10 PM EST

Communist countries like China and the Soviet Union have persecuted political opponents, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, for political reasons, not religious ones. This is like saying that the U.S. persecuted Shinto faithfuls when they threw Japanese-Americans in camps during WW2. Or that the Christians were enslaved in the South before the Civil War. Ridiculous and inaccurate.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Pop goes the weasel! (1.00 / 1) (#438)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:48:05 PM EST

"Communist countries like China and the Soviet Union have persecuted political opponents, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, for political reasons, not religious ones."

You may spin it into a political motive all you want, but the underlying issue is religion. Christians and Jews are tortured and killed around the world at an alarming rate, this continues today. You can label it to serve your flawed point in any which way you decide, but that doesn't make your statements right.
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Got any evidence? (N/T) (4.00 / 1) (#442)
by Caton on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:53:52 PM EST



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Same could be said for your post (N/T) (2.33 / 3) (#460)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:26:49 PM EST

I said no text! :)
How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
What happens to atheists in Saudi Arabia? (n/t) (none / 0) (#542)
by magney on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:34:58 PM EST


Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Same thing that happens to the Christians... (none / 0) (#559)
by Skywise on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:58:52 PM EST

Or other...heh... Non-believers of the one true faith...

[ Parent ]
Welcome to 1984... (none / 0) (#557)
by Skywise on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 10:56:16 PM EST

Okay, first off, the US specifically targetted Japanese as a race when they threw them into internment camps.  They NEVER targetted Japanese who practiced certain actions or were part of certain clubs.  They targetted them as a race.  Same with the blacks enslaved in the south.

If you're going to do an analogy like that again, pick the Communists of the red scare during the 50's.   Mmm-kay?

The Chinese have thrown Chinese who were specifically Christian into prisons to be "re-educated" because they were CHRISTIAN.

Now, you can newspeak that as a political oppression.   Fine.  But like the falun-gong, they'be being thrown into prison, beaten, and tortured because they believe in God first, State second.

Y'know, like being thrown into prison because you don't believe as the State says you do... like believing in GOD here in the US?

[ Parent ]

Say 'Hi' to Brazil (none / 0) (#643)
by Caton on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 05:58:27 AM EST

The Chinese have thrown Chinese who were specifically Christian into prisons to be "re-educated" because they were CHRISTIAN.
The story I read says that Chinese have thrown Christians into prison for actively opposing the "one child, one family" policy. Do you have evidence of Christian persecution?

I'm not flaming or whatever here, I'm really interested in any evidence of Theist persecution.



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Sure... (none / 0) (#691)
by Skywise on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 11:10:58 AM EST

http://www.tibet.ca/wtnarchive/1998/4/17_6.html

http://www.tibet.ca/wtnarchive/1994/6/25_1.html

http://www.tibet.ca/wtnarchive/1995/6/2_3.html

http://www.tibet.ca/wtnarchive/1994/2/16_3.html

[ Parent ]

Huh, no... (none / 0) (#702)
by Caton on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 11:35:55 AM EST

From your last link:

China permits state-sanctioned religious bodies for Buddhist, Taoist, Protestant, Catholic and Islamic groups, but keeps a close eye on their activities and acts swiftly to halt any unsanctioned religious groups.
What it means is that some Christians are persecuted, but not for being Christians -- they are persecuted for not bending to the communist rule.

It also mean that it's time to wake up and do something about China. I wonder if a boycott would work? I already refuse to buy anything that comes from PRC...



---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Sort of... (none / 0) (#785)
by Skywise on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 05:12:41 PM EST

I think we're officially quibbling now, but...

There are a few other links on that site where the China Sponsored Catholic church has been philosophically splitting with the Vatican.  Essentially, the state sponsored churches still toe the state line.  (It's like Microsoft... Sure you have a choice!  Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP!)

Otherwise, I'm in full agreement with ya.

[ Parent ]

History update (none / 0) (#840)
by afc on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 12:41:43 AM EST

Caton, you seem to be a little misinformed about your history. Religious people (Christians, mostly, but also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists) were persecuted and executed in comunist countries precisely because of their religious convictions, which were not approved of by the officially atheist state.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Wrong. Historical facts disagree with you (none / 0) (#863)
by Caton on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 06:02:02 AM EST

afc, what you said proves that you do not understand the historical context and what marxism/leninism was about. And that you're more than a little misinformed about history and facts.

I noticed before how this is difficult to explain to those that lack the necessary historical background. I'm going to try again... please keep your mind open even if you at first find some comparisons and parallels somewhat offensive.

Throughout history a number of totalitarisms of thought have come through. Those are thought systems that attempt to answer all questions and encompass all aspects of life, contrary to philosophies and their scope restrictions. The all-encompassing aspect of totalitarisms of thought is the main characteristic of the monotheistic religions, and it plainly applies to marxism/leninism. For all practical means, it was an atheistic religion.

As any militant religion, whose main purpose must be growth, marxism/leninism was intolerant of other thought systems and religions. As such, marxism/leninism was not really strong on freedom of religion, of course. However, contrary to what happened in Europe and allowed the catholics to freely persecute (at least initially) the manicheists, calvinists and lutherians, the marxist/leninists always found themselves a minority, just like Islamic conquerors during the initial Jihad.

One of the consequences of this minority status is that marxist/leninist talk was strongly anti-theist (to avoid losing members to the majority religions), while their actions were weakly anti-theist (to minimize the reactions of the majority). A good comparison, again, is Islam: compare the strongly anti-semitic words of the Quran with the tolerant (for the times) dhimmi status. So, marxist/leninists could not actually move against the majority religions without a non-religious reason.

Under Stalin, marxism/leninism had a lot of non-religious reasons to crack down on theists. The churches were the centers of political resistance against forced collectivization. The churches attempted to keep their schools and orphanages and challenged the marxist/leninist monopoly on education/brainwashing. The churches provided food, clothes, lodging... to political enemies of marxism/leninism. And so on.

I'll give you one example. The orthodox clergy in Ukrayne was effectively wiped out during the forced collectivization of 1930-1932. What was the "crime" of the orthodox church? Priests attempted to feed and protect the koulaks. Churches became the center of resistance against collectivization and against the abolition of the NEP. So Stalin had them wiped out -- for a political reason.

So it boils down to this. Marxism/leninism wanted to persecute theists but had the means to do so only when a political reason existed. While marxism/leninism persecuted theists, it did it for political reasons.



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
I really am bored (none / 0) (#955)
by afc on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 12:17:18 AM EST

Caton, you're endless hair splitting is an exercise in sophistry of the highest degree. Marxist socialism (from the time of its founder) was always atheist and anti-religious (or "anti-theist", to use the non-word you're so fond of). It is pointless to argue if the persecution of religious people, for the very reason they were religious, is a political or a religious persecution. The net result was tens of millions of people killed in the XX century, which is much more than any "religious" war or persecution achieved in any of the previous centuries. Even the theocratic regime of Iran hasn't been that hard on its much smaller Christian and Jewish minorities.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

You didn't get it? (5.00 / 1) (#963)
by Caton on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 03:38:46 AM EST

Theists were not persecuted because they were theist. Some theists were persecuted for being political opponents.



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
No, you don't get it... (2.00 / 1) (#987)
by afc on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 11:47:39 PM EST

Or pretend not to. But in this last reply you concede that some (to wit, most) religious folk were persecuted despite not being political opponents. I (and the historical record) posit that they were victimized by the officialy atheist totalitarian state, precisely because they held on to their religious faith and practices. That is, in the opinion of most sensible and rational people, persection for religious motives. Please take your sophistry elsewhere, somewhere people still care about the murderous and vicious lie that is communism.

BTW, quit with the silly "theist" talk. It may look cutesy in an adolescent forum such as K5, but it's pedantic, and inaccurate since some persecuted religious people (e.g. Buddhists) are not theists, strictly speaking.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Using your logic... (5.00 / 1) (#993)
by Caton on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 01:49:43 AM EST

...I could state that Christians were worked to death in Mexican mines, Christians were enslaved in the Southern U.S. states, and Christians are sentenced to death today in Texas. I guess it's good for your faith. But what you and other theists are effectively doing by constantly trying to rewrite history, is converting more and more agnostics to hard-line atheism. So keep it up. With a little luck, it'll help get rid of churches.

You are putting words in my mouth again. No theist was ever persecuted in USSR because of his/her faith. The reason was always political.

By the way... how many Buddhists were persecuted in the USSR?



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Man, you never give up (2.00 / 1) (#1021)
by afc on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:58:25 PM EST

...I could state that Christians were worked to death in Mexican mines, Christians were enslaved in the Southern U.S. states, and Christians are sentenced to death today in Texas. I guess it's good for your faith. But what you and other theists are effectively doing by constantly trying to rewrite history, is converting more and more agnostics to hard-line atheism. So keep it up. With a little luck, it'll help get rid of churches.

Whoa, you really do live in a parallel fantasy world. When did I or anybody say those people were put through their suffering because of their religious convictions?

You are putting words in my mouth again. No theist was ever persecuted in USSR because of his/her faith. The reason was always political.

Have you ever heard of/read Solzheniytzin?
Now, really my friend, the history of the apology of communism is paved with bold-faced lies, but you are really pushing the envelope here. Unless you're just a garden variety troll.

By the way... how many Buddhists were persecuted in the USSR?

Duh, ever heard of Cambodia? You know, that place ravished by the gang of Monsieur Pol Pot, alumnus of la Sorbonne, and protegé of Mr. Sartre?
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Cambodia in USSR? (5.00 / 1) (#1026)
by Caton on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:17:14 AM EST

Maps are not your forté I guess.



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Psychic friend (none / 0) (#1032)
by afc on Sat Oct 05, 2002 at 09:51:51 AM EST

Where did I say that?

We were talking about the massacres perpetrated by communists agains religious people, weren't we? I mentioned Buddhists amongst these victims, and you presumptuolsy jumped to the conclusion I meant that as having happened in the original Evil Empire (TM). You're in error, not I.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Think happy thoughts! (1.00 / 1) (#433)
by dukevaporware on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:45:35 PM EST

"As a matter of fact, no atheist has ever persecuted a Christian."

And this comes from what place, Wonderland or Never Never Land? Now you're just making stuff up.


How many cloned animals have you eaten today?
[ Parent ]
Your book... (none / 0) (#588)
by lightcap on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 12:33:16 AM EST

Say it again. And again. And again. Are you trying to impose your will upon me? I don't believe in Jedi mind tricks.

I believe he's taken a page from your book...how many times can you possibly ask for an apology from the atheists?
Mommy, what were trees like?
[ Parent ]

The Inquisition, what a show (none / 0) (#839)
by afc on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 12:37:47 AM EST

And yet, the Spanish Inquisition executed less people per capita in four centuries than the state of Texas in thirty years.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Where do your figures come from? (none / 0) (#857)
by Caton on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 04:44:51 AM EST

Do they take into account the South-American Indians that were killed or worked to death?



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Manzanas y naranjas (none / 0) (#953)
by afc on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 11:40:18 PM EST

What does that have to do with the Inquisition, Einstein?
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

If you have to ask... (none / 0) (#962)
by Caton on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 03:35:10 AM EST

...any answer would be useless.



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
No, honest (none / 0) (#986)
by afc on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 11:27:46 PM EST

Enlighten me, please. I must warn you, though that I know much (probably much more than you) about South American history, being a native from the place.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Hmm.... We'll see... (none / 0) (#992)
by Caton on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 01:24:44 AM EST

The Spanish inquisition, founded in 1478, covered Spain and Spanish-occupied territories. By the middle of the sixteenth century this included occupied South-American territories.

As I said... if you have to ask, it's probably useless to answer, because it means you never even took the 5 minutes needed to find what's the difference between the Roman Inquisition and the "Holy Office". Proves that you really know a lot about South American history, too...



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Sorry, you still lose (none / 0) (#1020)
by afc on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 09:45:38 PM EST

I don't know why you assume I don't know the difference between the Spaninsh Inquisition and the Sancto Oficio. The burden is still on you though, to prove the link between the Inquisistion and the "massacres" the Conquistadores carried out in America. Mind you, even though the history of the Conquista is pretty gruesome, it doesn't compare in bloodiness to the various infamous episodes of bloodshed carried out by "secular" forces during the XX century or to what was standard fare amongst the natives.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

You just proved my point (none / 0) (#1027)
by Caton on Fri Oct 04, 2002 at 04:21:16 AM EST

There is a difference between the Roman Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition. The other name of the Spanish Inquisition was the Holy Office. By stating incorrectly that I assumed you didn't know the difference between the Spanish Inquisition and the Holy Office you proved, in this thread too, that you should learn some history.

You are now officially in my ignore list. Reason: absolutely no historical knowledge and keeps spewing historical nonsense.

Have a good life.



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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Compare like with like (none / 0) (#655)
by zakalwe on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:23:45 AM EST

Compared to what has happened and continues to happen to Jews and Christians who hold tight to their beliefs, radical athiests don't know the meaning of the word persecution.

I'll agree that its ridiculous to compare treatment of atheists in the US to persecution in some countrys and through history.  However, you're doing exactly this yourself in trying to state that Jews and Christians are more persecuted.  In most countrys where Christians are persecuted, Atheists are persecuted at least as badly.  The only exceptions I can think of are the USSR under Stalin, and China.

Saying Atheists are persecuted in comparison to (for example) the Jews in Nazi germany is ridiculous (though you'll note that the article compares only to groups within the US).  However, its even more ridiculous to claim Christians are more persecuted by comparing treatment of Atheists in the US to treatment of Christians in some third world totalitarian theocracy.

That said, I'll agree that its likely that fewer Atheists have been tortured an killed for their beliefs.  The reasons are not due to lack of persecution, but more because:

  1. There are fewer Atheists than Christians (especially throughout history)
  2. Atheists are free to lie about their beliefs, since there is no reason for Martyrdom / command to evangelise.


[ Parent ]
erm. (none / 0) (#768)
by kitten on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 04:31:31 PM EST

Let's see the number of Athiests who have been tortured and killed and compare them to those who've died for beliving in God.

Torturing and burning and otherwise killing or maiming heretics and naysayers has been a favored Christian pasttime for, what, two thousand years or so?

While Christians have certanily been persecuted, they are persecuted by other religious groups. There is no group of atheists that bands together - nor has there ever been - to bother Christians, and certainly I have yet to hear of an atheist starting a war over theological issues.

Yes, Christians have been harrassed, by their theistic brothers, and history shows that the moment they get any power, Christians are more than happy to do unto others what they have had done unto them.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, let's see (1.00 / 1) (#799)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:20:06 PM EST

There is no group of atheists that bands together - nor has there ever been - to bother Christians, and certainly I have yet to hear of an atheist starting a war over theological issues.

A Marxist is necessarily an atheist.

A Maoist is necessarily an atheist.

Both Marxists and Maoists have persecuted followers of religious sects for the express crime of believing in a banned faith and teaching their religious precepts to others. The USSR and the PRC both provide an example of a "group of atheists that bands together...to bother Christians."

I'm going to guess that your response is to claim that these were political persecutions and not religious ones, right? If so, that is a spectacularly nonsensical deflection. Under what other possible pretense would an atheist group persecute a theistic group? Obviously not for reasons of theology, as the atheist does not put any credence in theology to begin with. But the fact remains that doctrinally atheistic groups have persecuted the religious for the crime of being religious.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
uh huh. (4.00 / 1) (#806)
by kitten on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 08:43:01 PM EST

The USSR and the PRC both provide an example of a "group of atheists that bands together...to bother Christians."

Oh, give me a break. By this logic, I could condemn every theist out there for the actions of Hitler who, while perhaps not a Christian, most definitely believed in a god of some sort.

I'm going to guess that your response is to claim that these were political persecutions and not religious ones, right? If so, that is a spectacularly nonsensical deflection.

What's nonsensical about it?

Under what other possible pretense would an atheist group persecute a theistic group?

Who said they had to have any pretense? If a bunch of atheists wanted to go slaughter a bunch of theists, who said they'd try to hide their motivations? The actions of the Soviet Union under Stalin certainly seemed political to me, yet you're so desperate to wave away the apparently obvious and look for some deeper and more insidious motive, as if one were needed.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
No break deserved (none / 0) (#812)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 09:23:18 PM EST

Oh, give me a break. By this logic, I could condemn every theist out there for the actions of Hitler who, while perhaps not a Christian, most definitely believed in a god of some sort.

Nonsense. Your rebuttal, such as it is, would make sense if I had argued that being mustachioed makes one a totalitarian dictator on the basis of Hitler and Stalin having worn one, but I made no such argument. Marxism and Maoism are expressly atheistic ideologies. That is to say, you cannot be theist of any sort and still be a Marxist or a Maoist as they are mutually exclusive. Of course, that doesn't mean that all atheists are predisposed to the violent persecution of the religious, but then neither are all theists predisposed to the violent persecution of atheists.

You made a historical claim: no group of atheists has ever persecuted Christians (I assume you intended to include other religious faiths as well). Your claim is obviously false. Not only did the USSR and the PRC persecute the religious faithful, they did so expressly for reasons related to a particular brand of atheistic ideology (the atheism being relevant to the cited reasons for such persecutions).

What's nonsensical about it?

Because it in no way argues against the fact that atheists persecuted the religious for reasons directly related to their atheist beliefs (religion and theism of all sorts being counter-revolutionary or contrary to the goal of the dialectic and the welfare of the proletariat).

Who said they had to have any pretense? If a bunch of atheists wanted to go slaughter a bunch of theists, who said they'd try to hide their motivations? The actions of the Soviet Union under Stalin certainly seemed political to me, yet you're so desperate to wave away the apparently obvious and look for some deeper and more insidious motive, as if one were needed.

I'm not the one looking for "deeper" reasons. It was a crime to be a member of an organized religion or to publicly argue for any theistic philosophy in the USSR. To be religious was to be a criminal. It remains to this day a crime in China to be a member of a church that is not state sanctioned. In other words, the PRC continues to persecute people for expressly sectarian reasons.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Okay there, McCarthy. (none / 0) (#880)
by kitten on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 09:16:50 AM EST

. Marxism and Maoism are expressly atheistic ideologies. That is to say, you cannot be theist of any sort and still be a Marxist or a Maoist as they are mutually exclusive.

And you can't have Hitler's brand of fanatacism (I suppose the word is Nazism) without theism. Read through his speeches sometime. I'm not really sure what your point is. The notion of adopting Nazism and atheism is mutually exclusive. Therefore, theism leads to Nazism.

You're acting as though the argument "could be" made - though you fall short of making it yourself - that atheism begets Marxism. This is completely backwards. Marxism begets atheism.

It's as though I were to form a militia group and slaughter non-Catholics by the hundreds, all the while proclaiming that I am Catholic. Will you then assume Catholicism had something to do with my lunacy?

You made a historical claim: no group of atheists has ever persecuted Christians (I assume you intended to include other religious faiths as well). Your claim is obviously false.

No, it was completely true, for a number of reasons.

  • The groups you refer to were political first and theological second. They were Communists above all. They were not saying "We're atheists, now let's do this," - rather, they said "We're Communists, now let's do this."
  • Atheists have very little to do with each other, nor have they ever. The lable "atheist" announces one thing only - the disagreement with theism. It does not require that one subscrube to any other doctrine, and any doctrine an atheist does subscribe to is wholly independant of his theological beliefs. (This, in contrast to religion, where picking a particular religion most definitely announces a particular set of beliefs and principles and thus ties you, even in a loose way, to others of that religion.)


    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
  • Huh (none / 0) (#913)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 01:15:24 PM EST

    And you can't have Hitler's brand of fanatacism (I suppose the word is Nazism) without theism. Read through his speeches sometime. I'm not really sure what your point is. The notion of adopting Nazism and atheism is mutually exclusive. Therefore, theism leads to Nazism.

    I stated the exact opposite of what you are inferring. I'll say it again, atheism does not predispose one to fanaticism anymore than does theism.

    You're acting as though the argument "could be" made - though you fall short of making it yourself - that atheism begets Marxism. This is completely backwards. Marxism begets atheism.

    I said nothing of the sort. To be a Marxist is to be an atheist, is the only related claim I've made. Anything else is consequence of your misinterpretation.

    It's as though I were to form a militia group and slaughter non-Catholics by the hundreds, all the while proclaiming that I am Catholic. Will you then assume Catholicism had something to do with my lunacy?

    No, but were you to do so, it would then be incorrect to claim that Catholics had never persecuted non-Catholics (not that there isn't already plenty of reason not to make such a claim).

    The groups you refer to were political first and theological second. They were Communists above all. They were not saying "We're atheists, now let's do this," - rather, they said "We're Communists, now let's do this."

    To be a Communist is to be an atheist. It is not an incidental or secondary characteristic, but is a core element of the philosophy (we've got a creeping equivocation developing here, Marxism is really what is under discussion). One does not act as an Communist without simultaneously acting as an atheist, in the same way that one does not act as a Catholic without simultaneously acting as a theist.

    The lable "atheist" announces one thing only - the disagreement with theism. It does not require that one subscrube to any other doctrine, and any doctrine an atheist does subscribe to is wholly independant of his theological beliefs.

    Agreed, and I never claimed otherwise.

    Look, it seems to me you're playing semantic games. You can define the relevant terms (atheist, theist, communist, Marxist, persecution, political, and religious) such that it is impossible to sustain any accusation against atheists, but to do so is exceedingly disingenuous. I'm not making an accusation against atheists as a class (among whom I am included), only against a specific group of atheist who did in fact persecute people for their religious beliefs.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Ordained? (none / 0) (#681)
    by czth on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 10:34:14 AM EST

    Bush is not an ordained minister of the Christian religion. So his statements on the nature of Christianity and Americans are... not valid.

    Ordaining and priests and titles like "Reverend" are man's idea, not God's. If Bush is a Christian, he's just as entitled (as in "not very") to speak for Christianity and God as anyone else in the world, from that scumbag the Pope to "pastors" and "regular Christians".

    Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:5,9)

    The "ye" refers to all Christians, not just "clergy" who have been given dresses to wear by people already wearing different coloured dresses; it's antecedent goes back to chaoter 1 verse 1 and 2.

    czth

    [ Parent ]

    Hubris (none / 0) (#836)
    by afc on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 12:30:57 AM EST

    And you my friend, pretend to understand God's ideas, because Chick told you so? I would cry blasphemy, but the meaning of the word is lost on ones like you.

    BTW, what are the Pope's actions that justify you calling him a scumbag? Is all that hatred also because "Chick told you so"?
    --

    Information wants to be beer, or something.
    [ Parent ]

    The pope is a scumbag (none / 0) (#890)
    by czth on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 10:03:07 AM EST

    And you my friend, pretend to understand God's ideas, because Chick told you so? I would cry blasphemy, but the meaning of the word is lost on ones like you.

    No, because my Bible tells me so (in greek too, if you want to quibble with the translation). Like I said earlier, I'd only seen Chick's site recently, and it's just a handy place to link to. Dave Hunt (author of A Woman Rides the Beast) is also good reading. Since when is believing what the Bible says blasphemy? Since your church superseded it?

    BTW, what are the Pope's actions that justify you calling him a scumbag? Is all that hatred also because "Chick told you so"?

    Read A Woman Rides the Beast. Many quotes from Catholic doctrine and history that should explain it fully for you. What's even worse is that the Pope probably (unless he's already senile) knows the truth, but is supressing it to continue the Catholic church's lucrative system ("holding down the truth in unrighteousness" as Romans 1 puts it).

    Some examples: idolatry (veneration of statues of saints); belief that the pope is infallible etc.; putting the church and its priests before Christ and saying that they are necessary for salvation; and many more, most of which are in said book, which I don't own a copy of so can't refer to at the moment.

    czth

    [ Parent ]

    Agnostic (2.66 / 3) (#202)
    by useful on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:02:53 AM EST

    Just tell em that your agnostic. That throws a wrench into everything they can try and throw at you.

    yes! indeed (1.00 / 7) (#203)
    by parasite on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:05:35 AM EST

    Thank you for demonstrating in such a clear manner why
    those ARROGANT ARROGANT "Agnostics" are infact just, if
    not MORE, idiotic than the religious zealots.

    Few are more "certain" of the perfectness of their position
    than the agnostics, who sit on the line -- idiotically
    taking half of both positions so they can (in their minds)
    never be the one who is "wrong".

    THERE IS NO COPY OF WAR AND PEACE ON PLUTO,

    THERE IS NO SENSE IN EVEN SPEAKING THE STATEMENT

    "THERE IS NO GOD" BECAUSE THE WORD GOD SHOULDN'T EVEN EXIST.

    I'm a victim! (4.00 / 1) (#437)
    by Souhait on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 02:47:24 PM EST

    I'm an agnostic, and look at this harassment!  Agnosticism (to me) is not about sitting on the line or trying to placate both sides.  It is impossible to prove the existence or non-existence of a god.  It is impossible to prove to me that your beliefs are right.  Hell, I may even choose to believe something at some point in the future - doesn't mean I think it's the "Truth" or that I can justify it.  It's just a personal choice.  So, be glad that someone took your troll bait and continue on your merry little way.

    Good day to you.

    [ Parent ]

    is it? (4.50 / 2) (#628)
    by MrLarch on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 03:35:36 AM EST

    Agnosticism (to me) is not about sitting on the line or trying to placate both sides.  It is impossible to prove the existence or non-existence of a god.  It is impossible to prove to me that your beliefs are right.

    Sounds like fence-sitting, side-placating to me.

    [ Parent ]

    From a quiet atheist... (2.66 / 3) (#206)
    by bemis on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:12:19 AM EST

    ... or more apropriately a proud member of the church of apathy ...

    I just wanted to throw in to the conversation how saddening it is to me to hear people that consider themselves educated and openminded complaining about such things as whether or not we are "one nation under god" and celebrate christmas ...

    It's not that big of a deal.  Seriously.  

    Insofar as putting your hand on the bible, saying "so help me god" and the like ... I acknowlege that they have religious meanings ... but if you don't choose to believe in these things, don't.  If it's going to be a problem, keep your mouth shut about it.  

    I was always taught growing up that my beliefs were just that, mine.  

    I don't mean to be a troll, or be complacent when some innocent is being slighted ... but this is an argument that truly makes no sense to me.  I've never understood the "atheists" who acted like they should be recognized as a "religion" ... by most definitions they aren't.

    I guess all I'm trying to say is that in my experience, and from what I've read here -- the problem isn't with your beliefs, but with your being pushy about them.  

    bemis
    -Democracy is the one form of government that will not allow it's people to be governed any better or worse than they deserve.-

    You miss one point. (1.57 / 7) (#207)
    by tkatchev on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:19:53 AM EST

    The whole point of atheism is to hate God.

    So, in that sense, I imagine that touching the Bible and saying "so help me God" is a very serious challenge to an atheist.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    oh... (none / 0) (#209)
    by bemis on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:22:31 AM EST

    my bad ... i must have gotten mixed up back there somewhere ...

    how do i hate something i either flat out don't believe in, or (at the very least) question it's existance?

    :)
    bemis
    -Gravity is a myth: the earth sucks-

    [ Parent ]

    You tell me. (1.00 / 2) (#228)
    by tkatchev on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:18:12 AM EST

    I wonder about that myself.

    It must be a massive block of cognitive dissonance, no? I wonder how you live with yourself.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Ha (none / 0) (#257)
    by Spendocrat on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:05:10 AM EST

    Talk about cognitive dissonance. That's one of the stupidest interpretations of atheism I've ever seen.

    [ Parent ]
    Hello, dumbass. (none / 0) (#729)
    by tkatchev on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:35:24 PM EST

    It's not an "interpretation". It's an observation and a fact.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Oooh, nice leap of logic (none / 0) (#792)
    by Spendocrat on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 06:38:30 PM EST

    Your observation translates to fact. Someone's a dumbass, and their username doesn't start with 'S.'

    [ Parent ]
    It's a tautology, genius. (none / 0) (#847)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 02:02:03 AM EST

    Look, "observation" == "fact" by definition.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Sample size? (none / 0) (#848)
    by Spendocrat on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 02:15:57 AM EST

    So you've observed every atheist that ever has and will exist?

    As much as you might like to think that your limited observation is fact, you're simply and only making a broad generalization that can be disproven with one couter-example.

    Good luck with that mindset though, I'm sure it will serve you well through the years.

    [ Parent ]

    Sample size of one. (none / 0) (#911)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 12:57:10 PM EST

    I trust my own judgement enough to know what I see.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    haha (none / 0) (#930)
    by Spendocrat on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 06:05:12 PM EST

    IHBT, IHL.

    [ Parent ]
    No, you simply "HL". (none / 0) (#961)
    by tkatchev on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 01:52:01 AM EST

    There is no trolling. Face it, all you have in life is the fact that you are a loser.

    But don't mind me, keep believing that anything that you do not understand is really a "troll".

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Right (none / 0) (#975)
    by Spendocrat on Wed Oct 02, 2002 at 12:55:51 PM EST

    You're the one who has decided that all atheists are atheists for the exact same reason, and I'm the one who doesn't understand. Unless I've vastly misinterpreted what you're saying, you're a sad sad person.

    You've got the fundy style and the fundy MO.

    Good luck with that.

    [ Parent ]

    oh yeah -- my point ... (none / 0) (#211)
    by bemis on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:25:23 AM EST

    touching the Bible and saying "so help me God" is a very serious challenge to an atheist.

    They're just words.

    It's just a book.

    To believe any more is to step outside of "nonbelief", is it not?

    bemis
    (i really hope you were just trolling)

    [ Parent ]

    You miss one point (5.00 / 2) (#252)
    by dirvish on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 05:37:59 AM EST

    The point of atheism is not to hate God. It is believing that there is not God. How can someone hate something that doesn't exist?

    Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
    [ Parent ]
    Go on, Ivan. (none / 0) (#286)
    by it certainly is on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:33:52 AM EST

    Punish those dirty liberalists! Make them sweat. "Of course you hate Ghod, just as Lenin hated Ghod". Thanks for showing us the way.

    kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

    Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
    [ Parent ]

    Uhm (none / 0) (#728)
    by tkatchev on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:34:35 PM EST

    The word is spelled as follows: God.

    Go on, spell it like the creator meant you to. It won't hurt you.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    PKB. (none / 0) (#732)
    by it certainly is on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 02:43:08 PM EST

    I'm only spelling it the way you do.

    kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

    Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
    [ Parent ]

    Hello. (none / 0) (#845)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 01:59:24 AM EST

    It's one thing when you referencing the Creator of the universe, and quite another when you are simply quoting a common saying, no?

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    As you said: (none / 0) (#849)
    by it certainly is on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 03:15:54 AM EST

    No.

    kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

    Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
    [ Parent ]

    You miss one point. (none / 0) (#692)
    by teeth on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 11:12:57 AM EST

    There is no god


    Copyright is for protection against publishers
    [ Parent ]

    You know (2.00 / 4) (#212)
    by Goatmaster on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:25:45 AM EST

    This sounds like another "me too! I want to be a victim too!" ... pathetic. You live in a backwards, primitive society where superstition supercedes reason - don't antagonise the animals... of course they're going to react badly towards them if you attempt to rip them from the tedious hold they have on reality through some supernatural being.


    ... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
    Just another reason America is so fucked.... (3.40 / 5) (#218)
    by ThreadSafe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 03:46:50 AM EST

    Just wondering if people from some European countries can share their thoughts on this. Being a New Zealander in all my experiances I have found the opposite is more likely to happen here, with perhaps people who hold strong religous beleifs to be prejudiced against. More than 40% of the country identified with athesim in the most recent census. I find it fucking strange how you yanks cling so much to freedom and indvidual liberty whilst still holding steadfast religous beleifs which in my opinion are the exact antithesis. At the end of the day... fuck 'em - Currie

    Make a clone of me. And fucking listen to it! - Faik

    God Squadders and Bible Bashers (2.50 / 2) (#291)
    by cam on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 08:51:40 AM EST

    with perhaps people who hold strong religous beleifs to be prejudiced against

    Australian society is much less founded in religion than American society. The religion runs deeper as a belief system in the US as well. Athiests often face in the US, the belief by religious people that morality comes through understanding god, which extrapolates to Athiests must be immoral.

    I havent heard one joke about God Squadders and Bible Bashers in the US, which are commonly used to describe actively religious people in Australia.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Did I say Australia? (none / 0) (#483)
    by ThreadSafe on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:26:27 PM EST


    Make a clone of me. And fucking listen to it! - Faik
    [ Parent ]

    Does it Matter? (none / 0) (#879)
    by cam on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 09:15:58 AM EST

    I was commenting that it wasnt much different in Australia as well. If you only wish Kiwi's to reply to your posts, make sure you make that request explicit.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Apologies.. (none / 0) (#941)
    by ThreadSafe on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 08:16:12 PM EST

    Your quiet right sorry, misread your comment. PS: GO THE WARRIORS

    Make a clone of me. And fucking listen to it! - Faik
    [ Parent ]

    No Worries (none / 0) (#1015)
    by cam on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 06:23:57 PM EST

    Canterbury lost their points :(

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Check an atlas (none / 0) (#638)
    by Torka on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 05:17:31 AM EST

    http://www.maps.com/explore/atlas/

    [ Parent ]
    Wrong term... (none / 0) (#659)
    by jackelder on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 07:56:27 AM EST

    God Squadders is commonly used, but I personally prefer "Godbotherers".

    And yeah, you're seriously geographically off NZ there mate. Auckland is further from Sydney than London is from Moscow, you know...
    __ sabre-toothed portillo
    [ Parent ]

    New Zealand (none / 0) (#878)
    by cam on Tue Oct 01, 2002 at 09:14:22 AM EST

    you're seriously geographically off NZ there mate.

    I am a Sydneysider, I know where New Zealand is.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Slave owners who wanted to be free (4.00 / 1) (#537)
    by Edgy Loner on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:12:31 PM EST

    Thats pretty much who founded the US. (yeah I ripped this off from George Carlin, that doesn't make it untrue). The concept of the double standard runs really deep in American (US) culture. The culture is just really weird if you look at it from the outside. Probably the best way to deal with it is to think of it as a set of ideals that are well beyond what most people will really ever live up to, and to focus on the ideal itself, not how it ends up in real life. That's probably a good way way to deal with most religons too.

    This is not my beautiful house.
    This is not my beautiful knife.
    [ Parent ]
    Religion is a means of sociol control (4.00 / 5) (#222)
    by cronian on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 04:01:48 AM EST

    The definition of a relgion is something that controls people in society. Now, the whole God thing is just one method that has been pretty effective. However, the power of TV propoganda and such have made the traditional God thing a little obsolete.

    Just look at how religions work. You go in a large group to some sort of theatre. You listen to preachers and such tell you how to live your life and then agree to abide them. You then repeat these things(I.E. prayers) over and over again reinforcing your obedience to them.

    Now, this doesn't have to be your relgion. If you watch a lot of TV, it is a religion and you are expressing your belief in the media conglomerates that run the TV channels. Commercials and programs are beamed to you over and over again using subconscious techniques to influence you. If you are a fan of a baseball team, pop star, star wars fanatic, etc. you have a religion and a god. You will faithfully do what whoever or whatever instructs you to do.

    Many people claim they are atheists but have simply found a new religion. I don't really think a true atheists exists(The scientist's god is observation and the scientists scenses.) The real issue there is intolerant religions which say if you are ___ then you will go to hell. They cause lots of problems. The other issue is how man made the religions are but that is always going to be controversial and variable depending on belief.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism

    Scientist's God (none / 0) (#262)
    by KILNA on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 06:32:18 AM EST

    I hate it when people say religion is just another form of superstition. No way. It is belief in one's senses, the study of reproducible and falsifiable evidence to see if we find inconsistencies in our understanding of the mechanics of the universe. It it completely based on our ability to measure and reason, not in our ability to take what's dished out to us. You could get existentialist on me and say how do we trust our senses... to which I respond, does it matter if we can't tell? You could get pedantic on me and point out that no one scientist has the capability to test assumptions outside of his expertise or resources or time, to which I'll respond that you have to trust at some point. But what do you trust more: a church and its primarily superstition and control-based agenda, a media conglomerate and its primarily profit-based agenda, or a science and its primarily peer-reviewed reason-based agenda? Repeat after me: "Science is not a religion. Science is not a religion. Science is not a religion." As an atheist, what I believe in are things I can check out myself given the inclination and resources. Religion and god-worship are NOT a part of this, no matter how much you fancy your pseudo-philosophical analogy.

    [ Parent ]
    freudian slip? (none / 0) (#267)
    by joto on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:18:54 AM EST

    I hate it when people say religion is just another form of superstition.

    I assume you mean science here, not religion?

    [ Parent ]

    Pardon (none / 0) (#275)
    by KILNA on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 07:57:25 AM EST

    My brain was off for those keystrokes. You interpreted my mistake appropriately. :)

    [ Parent ]
    Science is a Religion (none / 0) (#610)
    by cronian on Mon Sep 30, 2002 at 01:56:20 AM EST

    First of all, I would like to say science is basically my religion. Science differentiates itself from other religions in that they are created by man while science is pretty much only created by god---the science god which is the laws of the universe.

    However, science still does have assumptions and while they may seem obvious to you, the existence of god seems obvious to a believer. Other things aren't so obvious.

    Science assumes that