Saturday, August 18, 2012

Atheists Have to Address the Social and Emotional Needs of People (or the Church Wins)

I stole this title from the Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta [Atheists Have to Address the Social and Emotional Needs of People (or the Church Wins)].

Watch the video. Hemant makes the point that large churches in the USA provide a number of social services that, apparently, aren't available anywhere else. He points out that asking someone to give up their religion is asking them to give up all kinds of other things like volunteer groups, daycare, and support groups. Hemant thinks that atheists need to create "churches" that will fill these needs.

This is the same argument made by another prominent American atheist, Dan Dennett [What Should Replace Religion?].

I don't get it. Why should atheists have to form their own "churches"? In Canada these services are provided by local community centres—there are four within a short drive of were I live. The one within walking distance is called South Common Community Centre. It has a swimming pool (see photo above), a public library, many gyms and exercise rooms, and meeting rooms. There's daycare and classes of various sorts, dozens of volunteer organizations and support groups, swimming lessons for adults and children and lots more. The community centres are funded by civic government and paid for by taxes. They are open to everybody.

Some of them rent out space for church services on Sundays but they are definitely secular. They are not atheist centres.

The best way to provide the services that people need has already been invented. It's called socialism. It's wrong to assume that the only solution is competing services supplied by various religious churches plus one non-religious church.

Is it impossible to work in America toward the goal of secular social services for all? Is that why the only solution seems to be for atheists/humanists to form their own competing religion to provide those services for nonbelievers?



196 comments:

  1. Apparently unless your morality is informed by communications from a jealously insane invisible homicidal maniac via a badly written bronze age book of stories designed to frighten children then you are just a mindless meat robot whose life has no meaning so how could you possibly be concerned about the well being of other human beings with out accepting jebus into your life.

    At least that's my take, sophisticated theologians may have discerned subtle nuggets of meaning in this argument that I have missed.

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    1. Have you considered addressing this to Jesus?

      He lives at the corner of 5th Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle.

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    2. What with you, Ian H Spedding and andyboerger in the vicinity I think he's already got it.

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    3. Another triumph steve's wit!

      Seriously, there's very little difference between what you say about religion and the ramblings of a mentally ill street person.

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    4. Steve is a funny guy. He uses irony so brilliantly. He begins his paragraph with two grotesque caricatures. The first is meant to insult believers, and the second......is ALSO meant to insult believers! He knows that only a quick witted person will ask him, "Now, Steve, how come it's okay for YOU to reduce a person's belief to a caricature of what it really is, but NOT okay for religious people to do that?"

      And of course, he has a brilliant reply just waiting in the wings when someone pops the question. Personally, I can't wait to find out what it is!

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    6. That's the problem with caricatures of religion. Sometimes you think they're caricatures and it turns out there's nutcases out there who actually think and do like that. Poe's law in manifestation.

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    7. Nobody would be more pleased and relieved than I if what I described actually was a caricature.

      Sadly this is not the case.

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    8. Steve, for you to say that what you wrote is not a caricature, you pretty much have to be asserting that someone might say to you,

      I am a Christian fundamentalist, and I believe in/love/worship a jealously insane invisible homicidal maniac.

      You are superimposing YOUR definition of what they believe in over how THEY would describe their god. It doesn't matter if you are 'right' or not, in that you can point to certain dreadful passages in their book. As you well know, Christians pretty much overlook -some would say are cognitively dissonant toward - such passages. Steve, NOBODY is going to tell you they worship a homicidal maniac. Ergo what you wrote IS a caricature.
      And then you do the exact same thing, you characterize them as considering nonbelievers as being 'mindless meat robots'.
      First of all, let's leave aside how illogical that is. A believer believes that God made ALL people, right? So even if you don't believe, it is not likely that believers will consider you of a different order, i.e. robots.
      They would only USE that caricaturization to discredit your views. And no doubt they DO do this. That's not the argument. The point is that you did the EXACT same thing to them. You caricaturized their belief, twisted it into something they themselves would never agree with.
      And you did it in the SAME SENTENCE. The fact that you can't see te simple fact that it is unwise to use the same ploy that you then fault and mock other people for using....well, it speaks volumes.

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    9. @andyboerger

      EVERYTHING I have described has come from the minds (such as they are) of SELF professed xtians in ORAL or written FORM.

      Calvinists and other variants of that odious cult proudly proclaim that they are OK with the rape, pillage, murder in the old testament as it was commanded by their god.

      Any number of xtians admit that it is only the ethical sewage runoff from their big book of bad ideas that keeps them from running amok, murdering their neighbour in an enraged frenzy for perceived slights and finishing off the job by raping his wife and selling his children into sexual slavery.

      And the number of times that I have seen the epitaph hurled at non believers that they can't possibly lead moral lives and why don't they just go and kill themselves in a fit of nihilistic ennui beggars belief, to the point that I must question your honesty when you claim that this is a caricaturization and not the position held by many faith heads.

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    10. Steve, I think you and I are just going to have to disagree about this. I am not going to challenge you in that being your experience with Christians. I don't know which part of the world you were raised in, and who you went to school with, etc. I really don't know where you have compiled this information from. And I don't really care all that much either. It is subjective nonetheless. I will simply relate my, equally subjective experience. I was raised a Catholic. Needless to say, I no longer am one, but still, Catholics make up by far the largest of all Christian groups. And not once in my life have I met a person who thinks anything like the troglodytes you just described.
      I don't agree with them on SO many things, but they never expressed anything such as you just wrote about to me. So if you are trying to lump all Christians together as coming under the umbrella of the pathological beliefs you have mentioned, I very strongly believe you are in error.

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    11. Furthermore, Steve, I really think it might be a good idea for you to float your definition of Christians outside of an echo chamber such as this, where you are not likely to be challenged in what is obviously a hateful and rank prejudice. I mean, seriously, you seem incapable of writing a single sentence about Christians that doesn't have its hostility dial set to eleven.

      I imagine that even most atheists would reject your characterization of Christians outside of a blog like this. Most people in, for example, America, work alongside, send their kids to school with, play sports with, etc., Christians. They don't see them as you do. In fact, I would love, with your permission, to trot some of your ideas around among a wide sample of my friends, both atheist and Christian, to see what their gut reaction is to the words you use.
      As for me, I have read similar type of rhetoric directed at groups of people before. And there is a word for it.

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    12. Steve,

      For you sake, I am tempted to hope you are correct about the finality of your life, when your molecules cease to provide it a home. But, alas, I cannot. I shiver at the thought of the moment after your death.

      God Bless You.

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    13. steve is a good example that, though atheists are often unfairly caricatured are angry, bitter, and hateful, there really are atheists who do their best to appear angry, bitter, and hateful.

      A reverse-Poe, if you will.

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    14. Ah yes, Denny shivers in anticipation at the thought of divine retribution in some xtian afterlife for the non-believer but I'm the angry, bitter, and hateful atheist busy caricaturing demented religiots.

      There is absolutely nothing I could say that could outdo the vileness inherent in Denny's world view as so succinctly displayed in his comment.

      This is theology of the most sophisticated sort, right out of your holy book: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:42).

      So Denny, are you game for andyboerger's little experiment ?

      Do you fit my definition of an xtian ?

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    15. Hello Denny.

      Why are you saying this?

      Is that because you "know" that steve oberski will be tortured in hell for eternity?

      Will you be happy in heaven knowing that there are people tortured for eternity because they rejected Jesus as their savior?

      ---

      If anybody wants to know - Denny is one of those people, who defend biblical genocides:

      Arek W. said, “Do you think that people murdered by your god and those murdered by his order and in his name were personally loved by him?”- Yes

      He also thinks that humans are no more than cancer cells for his god, therefore it's OK when "he" kills someone.

      He really has some strange notion of love.

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    16. @Arek W. He really has some strange notion of love.

      This notion of love is entirely consistent with xtian mythology.

      From the point of view of a decent human being, I do agree that it is strange in the sense that any sociopathic trait would be considered "strange".

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    17. If I believed that an entity powerful enough to punish you for being hateful toward to other humans existed, I would be afraid for you too, steve.

      How is not wanting you to suffer a punishment for your action itself a hateful desire?

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    18. Denny says,

      For you sake, I am tempted to hope you are correct about the finality of your life, when your molecules cease to provide it a home. But, alas, I cannot. I shiver at the thought of the moment after your death.

      Denny, there are about five billion people on this planet who think you are dead wrong about where YOUR soul is going to end up.

      Do you lose any sleep over that?

      Do you honestly think Steve is the least bit worried about what you think?

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    19. @Michael M

      You conflate criticism of an idea with hate for the person holding the idea.

      Do you not find it hateful that someone would believe in a being that would consign you to eternal torment for what you think ?

      Do you not think that holding such an absurdity to be true inevitably leads to vile behaviour, such as denying homosexuals full and equal treatment under the law because your powerful entity is deeply concerned about what consenting adults do with their genitalia while at the same time aiding and abetting clerical sexual predators because your powerful entity told you that a former member of the hitler youth is the final authority on human morality ?

      And apparently this same powerful entity does not want women to have full control over their bodies so we run into situations such as the recent one in the Dominican Republic where a 16 year old pregnant girl died because she could not get treatment for her cancer because of interference by the catholic church.

      And while I can give my pets a dignified, pain free death I can not provide the same for myself or loved ones because this same powerful entity does not want human beings to have full autonomy over all aspects of their lives.

      Apparently you think my criticisms directed toward religion and the religious is "being hateful toward to other humans" while at the same time you are complicit in real, actual hateful behaviour.

      Now that's what I call hateful.

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    20. Steve, I picked up a Nation of Islam newspaper once, because I wanted to get an idea of what that movement was all about. I read one of Farrakhan's rants in it. He wrote, well, he wrote in much the way you do.

      He insists that he doesn't hate whites. Gosh, no! In fact, how could he hate us? We are just too pathetic and miserable to merit such an emotion. Yes, we are responsible for all the world's evils, but that is simply because that's how God made us; not our fault. We are only acting out as we must, being the loathsome, evil, horrid things we are.
      But 'hate'? NOOOOooooooo...........

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    21. Nice tu quoque, steve.

      You can be equally hateful when you paint all religion with the same broad brush.

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    22. This is what oberski wrote.

      Apparently unless your morality is informed by communications from a jealously insane invisible homicidal maniac via a badly written bronze age book of stories designed to frighten children then you are just a mindless meat robot whose life has no meaning so how could you possibly be concerned about the well being of other human beings with out accepting jebus into your life.

      What is inaccurate about this characterization?

      1. "stories designed to frighten children". The stories about rape, genocide, infanticide etc. are clearly NOT intended to scare children-- rather they are intended to teach children that mass murder, rape and slavery are normal, admirable, mandatory behavior and the victims have it coming, and making them sex slaves can be fun after you kill their parents (Num. 31 etc.)

      No one can deny that it has been extremely effective at normalizing rape and genocide.

      All major young earth creationists defend and support genocide. Jonathan Sarfati, CMI, and Tektonics embrace raping God's non-people and impregnating them on the grounds that that is an effective tool of genocide.

      If you don't like this then you should go argue with the Young Earth Creationists, not with oberski.

      The Book of Joshua and some other parts of the Bible (Numbers 31) are clearly genocide porn-- aimed at sexual titillation for people who get sexually aroused by stories of genocide, sex slavery and torture, as long as the victims are God's non-people.

      2. "maniac". Christians and Jews insist that God of the OT is perfectly rational when he orders the genocide of the Canaanites, Jebusites, Moabites, Hizzites, Hittites etc. etc., the rape of the Midianite virgins and murder of the non-virgins, infanticide for Egyptians and Babylonians etc. etc.

      It is true that oberski was inaccurate to use the word "maniac" to describe the qualities of the Christian and Jewish deity-- Christians and Jews insist that mandatory rape, infanticide, genocide etc. are perfectly rational if the victims are God's non-people.

      3. "bronze age book". It's from the Iron Age, some stories in it are from the bronze age.

      There are no other inaccuracies in oberski's characterization.

      As far as the line "mindless meat robots", that is certainly what many fundamentalists and religious believers do insist we WOULD be unless spooks exist in an invisible spook-world. That is an accurate description in particular of TTC's defense of immaterialism: if materialism is right then we're meat robots-- that is exactly TTC's argument.

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    23. Diogenes, this is exactly why a site such as this can be considered an echo chamber. First of all, you have steve using some of the following words:

      -"from the minds (such as they are)"
      - "this odious cult"
      - "ethical sewage runoff from their big book of bad ideas that keeps them from running amok, murdering their neighbour in an enraged frenzy for perceived slights and finishing off the job by raping his wife and selling his children into sexual slavery"

      Now, first of all, on a site like the Huffington Post, these comments would never see the light of day, excepting the first one. And people get VERY opinionated on the Huffington Post.
      So, we DO in fact have the person who runs this site eventually joining the thread. Does he caution Steve for such language? No, he rushes to take his side, provoked by a comment of Denny's.
      Then we have you coming and announcing that there are no inaccuracies, just as I am sure you will find racists and Nazis who find no inaccuracies in Mein Kemph, Steve Farrakhan's or David Duke's rants, etc. etc.
      You can't even see that the language Steve uses is out of bounds, and that is only because of the nature of an echo chamber, where people confirm, and continue to confirm, the most prejudiced views of those they basically agree with to the point that discourse that nearly everyone else can spot as extremely prejudiced passes without comment or is defended.
      Not to mention the first sentence he began with his thread with, which as I pointed out, any newspaper editor would nix and tell him, "Steve, you can't do that!"

      When a person is extremely racist/prejudiced, etc., they
      a.) often refuse to accept this characterization of themselves.
      b.) arrogate to themselves the right to accuse and mischaracterize the group they hate, while refusing to accept any charge against them the other side, or an unbiased third party, should make.
      c.) create words that they oh-so-cleverly throw around among within their echo chamber, which are designed solely to diminish and ridicule the group they hate.
      d.) gravitate toward groups that share the same hatred, eventually reaching a level of discourse that is unacceptable in most other environments.
      e.) Nearly EVERY racist group insists that no matter how subhuman they claim their hated group members to be, they are nevertheless COMPLETELY ACCURATE in their depiction of them.

      Therefore, given the above, it should be a relatively simple matter for a smart person to do a gut check with themselves, and ask, "am I being prejudiced?" They can check the above list and see how much of it applies to them. They can then consider that either they are prejudiced, or that IN THEIR ONE CASE, as opposed to hatred of blacks, Australian aborigines, Jews, Kurds, whites, gays, etc., they are completely right, and any aspersions, derogatory remarks, outlandish claims, subhuman characterizations,etc., are perfectly justifiable.

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    24. Well, those stories always frightened me, but then I may not be normal.

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    25. Most Christian pick and choose which parts of the Bible to inform their morality, because they don't see the Bible as being a literally true, coherent whole.

      Can you see why what steve has been saying is problematic now?

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    26. andyboerger & michael m, your concern is noted, which appears to be the only thing you bring to the discussion.

      For a change of pace, you might want to address any of the many rebuttals to your online historonic pearl clutching/collective collapsing on the fainting couch.

      And I would be interested on your take with respect to Denny, is he or is not a true xtian ?

      And might I suggest some time on pharyngula, it will do wonders for your thin skin, as it did for mine.

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    28. Steve, as for the "only thing" we bring to the discussion, what would you suggest is necessary beyond pointing out hate speech?
      As for 'rebuttals', there have been none. Only doubling down. I suggest you learn the difference.
      As for Denny, how should I have any idea if he is or is not a 'true xtian'? He saw you painting his faith in the most grotesque way imaginable, and he reacted. Utterly predictable. What, you expected him to send you flowers?
      For that matter, what IS a 'tru xtian', Steve? Is Desmond Tutu one? Were the Quakers who helped set up the Underground Railroad? Is Todd Akin, the guy who made the 'legitimate rape' comment, one? Then why is there so much outrage at his statement? Is that coming only from atheists, or is it possible that there are many Christians who disagree with him vehemently? How about the Westboro Baptist Church? Are they 'true'? You seem to believe they are. But then are not the many Christians who condemn them less true?
      There is a point to be found here about not painting a large group of people with the same black, broad, brushstroke. Perhaps you can find it.
      Finally, as for the 'thin skin' comment: Please. Every racist/bigot/hater uses that line. You'll have to do better.

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    29. as an addendum:
      "All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them."
      -Elie Wiesel

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    30. Well you did say that my depiction of an xtian was a caricature so you must have some idea in mind as to what constitutes a 'true xtian'.

      So I repeat my question, does Denny fit my description of a true xtian and is he a caricature of what ever model of an xtian you hold in your mind ?

      And do you have any results back from your survey of xtian acquaintances ?

      And as for Denny's reaction, he reacted pretty much the way I thought he would when I posted that first comment. He is nothing if not dependable.

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    31. Steve, I haven't done the survey, because I requested your permission. Do I have it? I would like to take your quotes, and share them with both atheist and Christian friends and associates to see what they think.

      You seem to misunderstand the meaning of 'caricature'. Or perhaps I do, and if so I apologize. My point is that there doesn't need to even be a 'true' Christian, because there are many different kinds of people who call themselves that. I assure you, I am outraged by the beliefs of many of them. I am outraged to learn that the GOP platform for the next elections calls for no abortions, even in case of rape or incest. I hope to see, and imagine I will, a lot of vehement opposition to this coming out in the upcoming weeks, from Christians, from atheists, from EVERYBODY.

      What I mean by 'caricature' is that you make sweeping generalizations and depict the religion in the most damning light possible, even though most Christians wouldn't recognize themselves in the words you use against them. I think such people, not you or I, should be allowed to determine for themselves how 'true' they are.

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    32. For someone who claims that "words speak for themselves" you are remarkably sloppy when it comes to using them in the commonly accepted sense, i.e. a sense that bears at least a passing resemblance to that found in a dictionary.

      And I note that you seem to have your own special and private meaning for words like bigot, racist and hater, namely someone who holds an opinion that you do not agree with but against which you are unable to marshal a cogent and well though out counter argument.

      What say you invest some time in remedial english instruction and come back when you actually share a common language with the majority of people who interact on this site.

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    34. From the Online Dictionary

      Caricature: . A representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject's distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect.

      Bigot: One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

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    35. btw, I found this quote, by Allan Miller, from this very site,
      "Whether we are all 'just molecules', or are instances of supervening intelligence pushing molecules around, makes no fundamental difference to how one acts as a human being. That TTC should think there is some inherently illogical perspective to a 'physicalist' model of existence, and you should quote it with approval, just shows what a bizarre caricature of 'materialist' thought you carry around."
      You will note that he uses the word 'caricature' in exactly the way I have used it.
      So I think I'll not lose sleep tonight about not being able to "share a common language with the majority of people who interact on this site."

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    36. AB, I didn't defend oberski's other comments in this thread, e.g. his "odious cult" statement. I pointed out 3 inaccuracies in his first comment on this thread, and I didn't go in detail through his other comments.

      So if you, AB, can't point out any other inaccuracies in oberski's first sentence, why am I supposed to care? If there were inaccuracies in oberski's first sentence, please list them.

      You, AB, did not point out any other inaccuracies in oberski's first sentence, except to go full Hitler and announce that if anyone believes that, they're the same as Nazis, because it's a generalization, and Nazis generalize.

      AB's only point is to whine that it's not fair to overgeneralize about Christians. AB points out that there are liberal, leftist and rightist Christians.

      True, but irrelevant. To say some Christians are liberal or that some oppose Todd Akin, does not refute oberski's succinct and partially accurate description of how Christians lie about atheism via the moral argument.

      Oberski's first sentence in this thread is an accurate description of what TTC wrote below in this thread, and what TTC says over and over in every thread, and what ALL young earth creationists and ALL fundamentalists believe. On this very thread, TTC explained why atheists should never hold elected office (fuck you, Article VI of the US Constitution!):

      Materialism really doesn't have any possibility of supporting the ideas of equality, inherent rights, justice... There is nothing in atheism that would keep an atheist doing whatever they want to except the possibility that they might not get away with it... only atheists have an excuse to contend that any restraint on them is merely imaginary.

      ...Coyne and Dawkins... made me reconsider the question of voting for atheists and made me conclude it's far riskier than I'd thought six years ago when I first wrote on...the mistaken idea that anyone has the right to anyone else's vote.


      TTC tells Article VI of the US Constitution to fuck off, atheists should never hold elected office. The current Pope said that Nazism was "atheist extremism" even though the Nazi party platform was explicitly Christian (Point 24) and Hitler said over and over that the Third Reich was based on Christian moral values. But atheists should take the fall for Christian mass murder. Lying about atheism is essential to moral theory in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

      AB is certainly correct when he says there are liberal, leftist and rightist Christians with different beliefs, and we should not overgeneralize, but it's irrelevant to oberski's first sentence of this thread.

      Here's what's relevant to the first sentence in the first comment by oberski: Are there prominent Christians who would oppose the notion that atheism necessarily leads to immorality? Any of them? Does any prominent Christian ever form a moral theory that does assert atheism leads to immorality?

      Again, AB, I have no doubt there are liberal and leftist Christians who are gay-friendly and pro-Obama and all of that. How does that refute oberski's first sentence on this thread?

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    37. Diogenes, I know you realize that my issue is with the rhetoric of caricature, yes? You can describe my argument as whining, and 'going full Hitler', and I'll own that to a point. Precisely because the language of caricature is nestled far too comfortably near the language of demonization, and we all can agree that that is a bad thing, I hope.

      Consider your own words, about the Book of Joshua. "Genocide porn, aimed at sexual titillation"? Do you honestly believe there are any practicing Jews or Christians who would describe it that way? So why do you? You yourself wrote, concerning Darwin, to TTC
      "Darwin had many bad attitudes, but they were shared with ALL white males in the 19th. century". Leaving aside that this cannot possibly be true (your use of the word "ALL" is merely convenient), how can you argue in defense of Darwin for holding views and using language a mere hundred or so years ago that is now considered offensive, and yet use today's modern language judgement to caricaturize a story that is MUCH, MUCH older, and comes from a time when mores were vastly more different than our modern day than those of the 19th century?
      Now I will agree with you that there is a very significant difference. You and I both can agree that it is odd that anyone would turn to a 2000 year old book for guidance, given that it contains such benighted stories. But the fact remains that many people DO, and the majority of them mentally and morally distance themselves from stories like Joshua; they don't model their lives after them or get turned on by them.

      What you and Steve do is actually not difficult at all. Let us imagine the words a very militant vegan might use to condemn meat eaters. Morrissey, at an outdoor concert once, angrily stopped performing because he smelled a barbecue going on, and screamed, "I smell burning flesh, and it BETTER be human!" Issac Bashevis Singer has called the meat industry, "an Aushwitz every day".
      So it would be very easy for a vegan to say that meat eaters are ALL complicit in murder. That veal is brought to the table via the worst form of child abuse the human species has ever inflicted upon other sentient beings. That nearly all wars need never have happened if people were vegans, as wars are nearly always about territory, and most of that territory is used as grazing lands. It takes considerably less land to grow vegetables for human consumption; hence, no meat eating, no wars (not to mention the belief some vegans have that the act of eating meat makes people more aggressive).

      They could argue all these things, and they could find like minded people to agree with them and reinforce them in these most negative of views. But how helpful would that be? What would it solve? Who would it convert? In short, what use is it?

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    38. AB:

      "All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them."
      -Elie Wiesel


      Uh, you do realize that that statement is itself a collective judgment, right?

      You wish to convince us that it's wrong to generalize about anti-atheist arguments. And your quote is itself a generalization.

      What could possibly be a broader generalization than "Only atheists make them"?

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    39. "Only atheists make them"?????

      Where are you getting that from"? Who said that?

      As to your point that Wiesel's statement is a collective judgement, conceded. My argument hardly hinges on a single quote.

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    40. Only atheists make them"?????

      A typo. I meant "Only racists make them."

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    41. TTC tells Article VI of the US Constitution to fuck off, atheists should never hold elected office.

      The no religious test clause in the constitution is enforceable against the state and federal legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government, it is not a valid restriction on the decision people make when they decide who to vote for. People can vote against anyone for any reason they choose to. High among those that they don't trust someone's ideology. I'm not required to vote for a fundamentalist gay basher.

      So, Dio, you going to vote for a biblical fundamentalist-creationist-YECer so you'll be among the sheep with your interpretation of the no-religious-test thingie?

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  2. I'd suggest that "the goal of secular social services for all" is not impossible in the USA, but is extremely difficult. After all, 'socialism' is bad by definition for a large part of the US population.

    As Paul Krugman pointed out regarding the Republican budget proposals, "They’re willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts in crucial nutritional aid programs), but that’s a positive from their point of view". Many USAmericans are terribly concerned that help might go to the wrong sort of people, and the advantage of church-based programs is that they ensure that such help goes to "us" and not to "them".

    [That is not universally true, of course. Even some church-based assistance is provided to those who need it, without religious strings attached. And there are some US socialists.]

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    1. Dumb and dumber...ridiculous the pronounced and seemingly eternal knee-jerk reaction to anything that can be cast as socialism (or any of the other labels borne of ignorance). I suppose many americans draw the line at state involvement when it comes to community-based assistance. Not surprisingly, they fail to notice that churches lean heavily on state assistance for their operations (in the form of tax exemptions etc.). Ah, but then taxes are wrong in the first place! One thing about conservatives: they have an unlimited ability to fondly mis-remember the good old times.

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  3. Why do people have to belong to a church or a religious organization to in order to be generous to a neighbour in need, a street person with mental health issues or to donate time, money clothing and food to local secular organizations.

    An atheist church is an oxymoron. I already avoid entering any church; people don't need a church to be married and buried and in particular, I don't need to attend these ridiculous ceremonies. They are an insult to my intelligence.

    A church for atheists would give the impression that all atheists believe in the same things and act the same way. We would be worse than the Catholics.

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    1. Yeah, because churches (i.e., church buildings) imply that everyone who uses them believes in the same thing. *rolls eyes*

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    2. What's with the eye roll? I was not talking about building I was taking about the connotative meaning of the word church. I am well aware that people go into churches for reasons other than religion, but I generally object to entering a church building for any reason. A good example of this is when church basements are used as polling stations during elections. The churches, which do not pay taxes, get paid by the government to host polling stations.

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    3. Michael, I'm the one rolling my eyes now. Veronica, as I discovered below, has a reading comprehension problem. And evidently the simple irony behind your quoting of her (hint. it has to do with "believes the same thing") is beyond her at this point.

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    4. "Not your presence, which I have no doubt would be comforting, but your words."

      Although in the phrase above the first letter of the first word is capitalized and the phrase ends with a period, it is NOT a sentence. Why should I try to make sense of fragment.

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    5. "Why should I try to make sense of fragment."


      Um....because, perhaps, it really isn't all that difficult to make sense of?

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    6. Mehta is talking about the social aspect of coming together around a group's identifying characteristics and, in essence, forming a club. I see no reason why doing so is objectionable to Larry. It raises the social visibility of atheism.

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  4. Atheism can address the social and emotional needs of people all it wants but it won't supplant religion, at least not in the foreseeable future.

    Around the time of the Dover trial and the Texas SBOE hearings I was struck by how many of the Christians interviewed testified how they had come to their faith at a time of extreme personal crisis or it had helped them through the same.

    There is no way atheism could have helped them through those crises in that way because it is a disbelief in the very things that gave them comfort and support.

    Atheism cannot tell someone in the depths of personal despair. 'Don't worry. I know it looks bad now but it's all part of God's inscrutable plan. He's watching over you. Give it time and it'll all work out for the best, you'll see'.

    Atheism cannot tell parents who've just lost a child, 'Don't cry. Your little one is now safe in heaven with Jesus. In time you'll be reunited for all eternity. Won't that be wonderful?'.

    Yes, of course, the theology can be shot to pieces and the texts are riddled with inconsistencies, downright contradictions and horrific stories of Bronze Age atrocities but, while it provides the kind of support that atheism, by its nature, simply cannot, it will always be with us. Like it or not, we just have to live with it.

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    1. 1. Religion is a big reason why the society we live in sucks so much and as a consequence, why people go through so many crises and so many people need this kind of support. If we lived in a society, in which religion did not exist and that society was set up in a rational way to help its members rather through a long and convoluted sequence of mostly irrational idiosyncracies, there would be much fewer people in desperate need of help.

      2. A worldview based on understanding of the world around us and of human nature that is up to date with modern science (which invariably includes atheism but also includes quite a bit more than that) makes a lot of what constitutes big life crises for most people much less of an issue and much easier to deal with.

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    2. Ian H. Spedding said,

      Around the time of the Dover trial and the Texas SBOE hearings I was struck by how many of the Christians interviewed testified how they had come to their faith at a time of extreme personal crisis or it had helped them through the same.

      There is no way atheism could have helped them through those crises in that way because it is a disbelief in the very things that gave them comfort and support.


      There's also no way that Hinduism, Satan worship, Islam, or Buddhism, could have helped them, according to your logic.

      The difference is that those are all genuine belief systems that presumably "help" some people get through a crisis.

      Atheism is not a belief system . It does not have mythical stories to tell in order to make people feel better. Instead, atheists have to rely on the real world and real empathy to help people through a personal crisis.


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    3. Laurence A. Moran Sunday, August 19, 2012 9:47:00 AM

      [...]

      There's also no way that Hinduism, Satan worship, Islam, or Buddhism, could have helped them, according to your logic.


      I was only citing Christianity as an example. I think the same is true, to varying degrees, of all religions.

      Atheism is not a belief system . It does not have mythical stories to tell in order to make people feel better. Instead, atheists have to rely on the real world and real empathy to help people through a personal crisis.

      Absolutely, but it is why Mehta's program, if he expects it to supplant established religions, is doomed to failure.

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  5. Ian H Spedding

    The two assurances that you claim atheism cannot give people , most especially the assurance to parents who have just lost a child, are religious lies. Do you suggest that lies are a good way to make people feel better? Do you think that telling parents that they will be reunited with their child makes it easier for parents to live without their child?

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    1. Veronica, I would say yes, absolutely, whether or not it is a lie. Let's say the most horrible thing of all has happened. A promising young scholar/athlete, beloved by her classmates and hoping to become a doctor, is abducted, tortured, raped and murdered by a freak who only wants the sick pleasure this act gives him.
      A parent is going to be scarred by this for life. Imagining what his child experienced, driven insane with hatred for the monster who did it to her, always thinking about what might have been, grandchildren he/she will never have,etc.
      Atheism can say nothing to this person other than, "at least she's not suffering anymore".
      A religious friend or counselor can actually guide this parent to a place of healing. Of course it won't be easy, because the parent is going to absolutely hate god at first, and with good reason. But the point is that over the course of, say, two or three years, this parent may be able to make some sort of peace with the even, find comfort in believing that his daughter is still alive, somewhere, and cultivate qualities of wisdom and forgiveness that would otherwise never come to him/her.
      An atheist believes we only have one life. What difference does it make if you feel it's a 'lie' or not? Why shouldn't that parent have some chance of happiness in a life that has been absolutely shattered? In fact, if the healing itself is authentic, how is this 'lie' any different from a placebo?

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    2. andyboerger

      There are a couple of responses to your argument for lying:

      It is not reasonable for the parents to believe that God has made it possible for the young girl to be still alive, somewhere,(heaven?) when that same God made it possible for her to be "abducted, tortured, raped and murdered by a freak." The purpose of the religious lies is to keep people drugged, so they continue to believe in God and support the business of religion.

      You say "An atheist believes we only have one life." Does that mean atheists cannot comfort atheists?

      If atheists create a "church" to fill the needs of other atheists would they have to lie to give comfort?

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    3. Veronica, sorry I don't understand your first paragraph. What does it matter if it is 'reasonable' or not? Why shouldn't the salient point be whether or not it works? I actually am using an actual event I remember reading about in the paper a few years ago. Surely you wouldn't deny the parents the comfort they have found?

      As for your question, "does that mean atheists cannot comfort atheists?", of course not. As human beings, atheists are just as capable of comforting and showing compassion, etc. So in those terms, how could it even be a question. The point is not 'atheists', per se, but 'atheism' as a philosophical stance. If you were faced with a situation such as I wrote about above, and you needed to comfort your friend, a mother who lost a child in the manner I described, how WOULD you comfort her? Not your presence, which I have no doubt would be comforting, but your words. What, as an atheist who believes the girl is simply dead, the last few hours or days of her life were absolutely and indescribably painful, and the parent now faces a lifetime of depression, would you say?

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    4. Veronica Abbass Saturday, August 18, 2012 7:54:00 PM

      Ian H Spedding

      The two assurances that you claim atheism cannot give people , most especially the assurance to parents who have just lost a child, are religious lies. Do you suggest that lies are a good way to make people feel better? Do you think that telling parents that they will be reunited with their child makes it easier for parents to live without their child?


      If atheism is right, if there is no God and no purpose, if death is the end of everything, including oneself, if all that follows is a completely unimaginable nothing, then what does it matter? If the lie allows the parents to live out their lives with as little pain a is possible under the circumstances then where is the harm?

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    5. @andyboerger

      Are you trying to say, that religion is about exploiting people's fear and suffering?

      Well, we know that. And it's good to see that you also are aware of that.

      It's not so good to see that you have no problem with that.

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    6. Arek, that is a very interesting definition you have there. In what way would it be exploiting a person's fear and suffering to attempt to assuage said fear and suffering? Are you saying that any time any person tries to comfort another person they are 'exploiting' the other person?
      Odd.....

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    7. We are talking about organized religion (churches, hierarchy, dogmas etc.), not about some fuzzy, bersonal beliefs, right?

      Bear in mind that religion alwas demands something in return - be it a money, power, blind obedience or something else.

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    8. Arek, yes, I guess that's something I may have overlooked, since Mehta is concerning himself with organized religions, NOT with fuzzy, personal beliefs.

      Yes, I readily concede that religion always demands something in return.

      I would still argue, however, that perhaps an individual priest, pastor, rabbi, etc., could have genuine altruism as their motivation for trying to comfort someone.

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    9. Ian H. Spedding asks,

      If the lie allows the parents to live out their lives with as little pain as is possible under the circumstances then where is the harm?

      I would prefer not to live in a society where people's thoughts and actions are governed by belief in a lie. In the long run, it's an unstable society because it eschews logic and reason.

      So, as a general rule, I want people to deal with truth and reality, and not myths. I think there's harm in believing things that aren't true. I don't like lying and I hate hypocrisy.

      Having said that, I still tell my colleagues that their latest paper is brilliant and I still tell my (adult) children that they are smarter than me. :-)

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    10. As that distinguished diagnostician, Dr Gregory House, is wont to say, "We all lie".

      As a long-time fan of Mr Spock, though, I would prefer, like you, to live in a society governed with reason and logic.

      If you ever find one, let me know.

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    11. If you ever find one, let me know.

      Keep working on it. Don't give up.

      The worst thing you can do is to start thinking that it's impossible.

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  6. andyboerger

    You picked an an actual, horrible event to challenge me to answer how I would comfort the mother of the dead girl. Well, as the too flowery, mostly religious sympathy cards say, "Words cannot express . . ."

    You assume my presence would not be a comfort to the mother. How do you know that? Being surrounded by the presence and the practical support of others can be comforting. If the mother has other children, she has to live for those children. She cannot, for her own sake and for her children's sake.

    You say I, an atheist, believes the girl is simply dead, but you are wrong. I don't "believe" she is dead, I know she is dead. If she is alive in some "heaven," neither I nor the mother will be assured of that until we die.

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    1. Veronica, you obviously have issues, so good luck with them. First of all, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with using an actual occurence, no matter how horrible, in order to ask someone how they would respond. People have used the Holocaust, etc, for years and years. You are perhaps merely being evasive in feigning indignation.

      I said the exact opposite of that your presence would not be a comfort to the mother. My words were "not your presence, which I have no doubt would be comforting..". Go back, read that, discern its meaning, and try to see beyond the prejudiced and blinkered view you obviously have of me for, gasp! - asking you straightforward questions.

      You don't 'know' the girl is dead, and even if you did, you are still not answering the question.

      Your words speak for themselves. As do mine. This conversation with you has gone far enough. If anyone more rational would like to consider the question I have posed, I would be happy to discuss it further.

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    2. andyboerger has decided that his conversation with me has gone far enough. He is waiting for someone "more rational" to agree that people should give comfort by lying and by mentioning the mercy of God, Jesus, Mohamed or whoever.

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    3. Indeed, that is exactly what I am inviting someone to respond to:

      Given that: a.) atheists maintain that each person has just one life, and b.) all aspects of the human character, both as a species and as individuals are nothing more than configurations that have come about accidentally and purposelessly over the time period of our existence as a species, (obviously, including the notion that it is better to tell the truth than a lie; i.e., there is no ultimate value to this notion - it's an adaptation, like everything else) and c.) with no hope of an afterlife, it is better that any one person should live THIIS life in relative peace and harmony rather than experience an endless torment of depression and frustration:

      1.) Is not it better for a parent who has lost a child in the most tragic way imaginable to believe such lies as a particular religion may employ to comfort him/her FOR NO OTHER REASON that they make the remainder of the parent's life bearable, whereas the thought that "she's dead; she suffered horribly to satisfy the lusts of a madmen; all my future plans for her are now as dead as she is; and there is no ultimate meaning to any of this" is a recipe for a lifetime of depression? If not, why?

      2.) If an atheist were to encounter a parent who, perhaps after ten years or so, was going on with their life and looking forward to meeting their child in the afterlife, would there be any reason whatsoever, for the atheist to try to convince the parent that it was somehow 'wrong' to believe as they do in order to go on living?

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    4. Your ideas seem fair, at first reading. But then consider...

      If a parent who has lost a child in the most tragic way imaginable should come to believe that the child had not really suffered and was not really dead, but was still alive as before, is that not acceptable FOR NO OTHER REASON than that it makes the remainder of the person's life bearable?

      If a person were to encounter such a parent, who after some ten years, was going on with their life and talking about meeting their (deceased) child for dinner later that week, would there be any reason whatsoever to try to convince the parent that it was wrong to believe?


      [All this in addition to the problem that it has not been established that failing to be deluded means that one must "experience an endless torment of depression and frustration".]

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    5. @andyboerger

      I could agree with you, that a lie or two could help (if someone could belive into that lie).

      But then this is not what real religions are doing. They are not only giving hope, but also impregnating people's minds with fear of eternal punishment. They belive in loving God and at the same time in eternal torture for even slightest transgressions against that God.

      I personally would not lie to a non-belivers about afterlife. But I also would not try to convince beliving parents, that there is no heaven (but that doesn't mean I would lie to them either).

      Instead I would try to really help them.

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    6. Arek, you are generalizing.

      First, not all religions teach a doctrine of eternal punishment. I am pretty sure that Zen Buddhists, Quakers, Sufists, etc, do not teach this.

      Second, it is very possible that someone who has no affiliation with ANY organized religion nevertheless maintains a belief in an afterlife, and a deeper meaning to this one. It is also possible that this personal belief could be used to comfort someone in their deepest grief.

      Third, it is possible that many people, perhaps on the order of tens of millions or more, DO affiliate themselves with a religion that teaches a doctrine of eternal punishment, but that they, themselves, reject this aspect of their religion and maintain the belief that god is merciful. As well, there is the possibility (not really a possibility, but a fact) that numerous priests, pastors, etc, operating within their own ministries, do not teach, preach about, or subscribe to the punitive teachings of their religions.

      All three of these scenarios make it possible for a believer to comfort a grieving parent in a way that is not open to an atheist.
      What I would like to know is: what sort of comforting words WOULD a materialist/atheist use in the situation I described? You said you would try to help them. Please tell me how. What sort of words do you imagine yourself using?

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    7. Well, Greg, answer your own question. If you were having dinner with someone who had found it possible to go on with their life only by imagining that their daughter was still alive, would you

      a. Call 911 or
      b. simply remain quiet, smile, and understand how devastated the person is. Think something like, well, the human mind has all kinds of ways of coping with the unbearable; I am not one to decide that this one is 'wrong' and furthermore I will accomplish nothing by speaking up.

      If, on the other hand, you were a professional psychiatrist who had been assigned to help such a person, it is likely that you would probably try to disabuse the patient of their belief that their daughter is still alive, and in fact they meet every once in a while.
      It is also very possible that if, instead, your patient talked about meeting their daughter in the afterlife, you would NOT try to release them from that thought. Professionals have their own protocols in matters such as these; best to leave the matter to those who have been properly trained, I feel. You?

      I would still like to hear somebody tell me how they, as an atheist who rejects any concept of life beyond each individual one, would most effectively comfort a person such as the one I have described.

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    8. I would make up a different lie, say that I saw the daughter just the other day at the market but not to worry because she is just working through some personal issues and doesn't want to talk to you right now. How is that?

      The problem here is that you are using an extreme and hypothetical situation to argue that the belief in obviously untrue religious nonsense is good. Religion is not kept in reserve for these admittedly difficult and horrible (and thankfully rare) life events but it is maintained day in day out generation after generation. Who should suffer living a life of complete delusion because one day their child might (but of course probably won't) be murdered?

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    9. @andyboerger

      First - yes, you are right. My mistake. BTW - how influential are those religions?

      Second - I agree. But I still don't think this is right thing to do.

      Third - true (fortunately), but this is not a merit of religion, but sanity of its followers.

      Answering your question - I don't know that. I wasn't in such situation and have no experience in comforting someones grief.

      Does that mean I shouldn't even try? Should I just forget my beliefs about afterlife and lie because it's easy and gives quick results, even if those results may not last long? (see this article)

      http://epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2012/08/post-911-high-religious-beliefs-predict.html

      And as Veronica Abbass pointed out (which also is suggested by the above article) - mere presence could be a comfort to someone. Maybe there is no need for words anyway? I really don't know that.

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    10. I bet we could all agree that it is easier to offer a pre-made lie than it is to struggle finding honest words that might console a bereaved person. Such is life. But this does not validate religious belief.

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    11. Shaun, I am not arguing that "the belief in obviously untrue religious nonsense is good".

      I am arguing that it seems to me that there are certain scenarios in which it may yield the better result. I don't think it matters that it is hypothetical and extreme. I think what matters is that it is something that you and I can both agree on DOES happen, right? In America, there are serial killers AND there are the crazies who go into theaters and start blowing people away, like just happened a few weeks ago. In all those cases, there are parents experiencing extreme grief. Each of them, as individuals, matter.

      I have yet to hear a single person address the question of what sort of words an atheist might use that would have the desired effect in a case like this, i.e., do a better job than the religious words of comfort in helping an individual be able to go on living.

      Certainly the words are not:

      Well, at least she's not suffering anymore.
      or
      Well, perhaps her molecules have become part of a potato that is nourishing a sick child now.
      or
      Just remember, in a few decades you'll be dead and this will never trouble you again.

      So what are they? I would like to hear some so that they could be evaluated against the religious 'white lies'.

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    12. Arek;
      "Third - true (fortunately), but this is not a merit of religion, but sanity of its followers."
      Agreed without reservation.

      And as Veronica Abbass pointed out (which also is suggested by the above article) - mere presence could be a comfort to someone. Maybe there is no need for words anyway? I really don't know that.
      Agreed with some reservation. I think there would be some people who would just respond to the presence and support of someone they loved.
      I don't think it would work for everyone.
      In addition, I appreciate your honesty in saying you don't know. One can only hope that if ever facing anything even remotely similar to the scenario I described, we will 'get lucky' and find the right combination of words/silence to make a difference.

      But I still continue to think that the atheist stance - when you're dead, you're dead - falls short in a situation like that.

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    13. andyboerger asks,

      Is not it better for a parent who has lost a child in the most tragic way imaginable to believe such lies as a particular religion may employ to comfort him/her FOR NO OTHER REASON that they make the remainder of the parent's life bearable,

      This is getting ridiculous.

      If the parents are religious then this is not the time to start a debate about the existence of god(s).

      On the other hand, there's no reason for an atheist to lie in trying to comfort the parents. We can provide plenty of help in times of crisis without pretending we are religious.

      I'm pretty sure that my wife and I have been helpful and comforting to our Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu friends over the years and we've never had to lie about whether we believe in their religion.

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    14. Larry, you are taking certain liberties with the question I have posed.
      Probably everyone here on this forum, no matter where they stand on the issue would agree with "If the parents are religious then this is not the time to start a debate about the existence of god(s). "
      Good, we start with a no-brainer. Still, some parents who do not have strong, or well considered religious beliefs, might be helped to feel comfort by a friend/pastor/well meaning acquaintance, etc., who can speak from a much greater conviction in the religion that the parent hitherto paid only lip service to. Whereas the atheist stance of when you're dead you're dead has nothing to offer.
      Of COURSE you, as a person can be, and no doubt have been, as you say, "helpful and comforting". But that was YOU, not your beliefs. What did your atheist position have to do with the comfort you gave?

      "On the other hand, there's no reason for an atheist to lie in trying to comfort the parents." - fine. Don't lie.
      " We can provide plenty of help in times of crisis without pretending we are religious."
      - agreed. And tangential.

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    15. Why does one have to say anything affirmative (or, for that matter, anything at all) to those hypothetical parents?

      Not all support is verbal, and the most important types of support may not be verbal. I personally don't understand why "saying something" is so essential. Atheism is only "deficient" if "saying something" (or, more precisely, "having an answer") is necessary to support someone through their grief.

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    16. Laurence A. Moran Sunday, August 19, 2012 10:11:00 AM

      [...]

      I'm pretty sure that my wife and I have been helpful and comforting to our Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu friends over the years and we've never had to lie about whether we believe in their religion.


      I'm sure you were but was that support based on atheism per se or on natural human sympathy and empathy?

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    17. Ian H. Spadding writes,

      ... was that support based on atheism per se or on natural human sympathy and empathy

      Atheism is the absence of belief in gods. How in the world does one base anything on the absence of belief? Our support also wasn't based on the absence of belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairly. But you probably knew that.

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    18. Michael posits "Why does one have to say anything affirmative (or, for that matter, anything at all) to those hypothetical parents?"

      Michael, please leave aside the notion of comforting someone. This was simply a device I used to frame a larger argument. Words DO matter, not necessarily in any particular situation, because words are what human beings use to frame our concepts and ideas about life.

      So, the parent will need to go on living, yes? All sorts of words will run through this parent's mind as he tries to come to terms with what has happened and hopefully still be able to find some moments of joy in his life.

      The atheist stance - she is dead, she is gone forever, her last few hours were horrifying and excruciating just so some asshole could get off, and I'll never see her again - is unlikely to do anything to help him.

      The theist comfort - she is NOT dead, her soul is eternal, her life as it goes on WILL have moments of joy in them, perhaps even greater joy than it is possible to experience on this earth, AND I will see her again - IS likely to help him.

      This is what I am saying, and I have not yet heard a convincing argument for why I should stop saying it.

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    19. So let us turn this difficult question back to you. What if you must comfort a person who knows what you would like to be true is not true and tells you to stop with the fairy tales. What then are the words you would find? Or is all comfort at that point a lost cause?

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    20. Shawn, you're asking me to argue both sides, in other words?
      Well, okay, I will give some thought to how I would handle it, although I was kinda hoping that one of my correspondents would give me something to go on.

      So I'll write back, maybe in about an hour or so. In the meantime, can I again ask what you would say? Or, more germanely, how you would present atheism as a position as containing any hope for the grieving parent.

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    21. Shawn, here is what I would say, if my friend said to me, 'spare me the fairy tales':

      I would say, don't let that asshole win by ruining your life. Don't let him steal all the wonderful memories of your daughter that you have. Don't EVER allow yourself to think that her life was defined by the circumstances that ended it. As horrible as it was, it was still only a very brief part of a much longer life that was characterized much more by joy and laughter than pain. Always remember the joy you experienced with her, the joy she experienced with her friends, the joy she experienced when her team won, when she brought home all those straight A report cards, etc. THAT'S who she was; don't let some worthless piece of shit define her any other way for you.

      Also, as hard as it is to accept now, please know that the human brain DOES have its own coping mechanisms. The passage of time will lessen your pain. Make sure you let that happen. Don't feel that you owe it to her memory to always be sad and grieving. She wouldn't want that for you. She would want the natural workings of the human mind to soften your suffering over time. And all of us who love you want that to.

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    22. I especially like the last paragraph. So I think those are fine words, but I wasn't asking you to argue from both sides. You see the question is about consoling people which is just one issue. There is no doubt that if a person believes in god and heaven etc your religious assurances would be consoling. And of course we see above in your own writing there are other words that can also be consoling for believers and non-believers alike. Nice words. And of course you know this is all like so much smoke obscuring the real issue.

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    23. hmmmm.....maybe "smoke obscuring the real issue", but I think we disagree with what the real issue is.

      For me, the real issue is absolutism. I'm not comfortable with it. I think it speaks of a lack of imagination, as well as a dogmatic belief system, to argue that in black and white terms.

      I absolutely fault religions for doing just that. But when I come to a site like this, I often see the same thing. Atheism is ALWAYS superior! There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING good about religion. People who believe in religion can be called creatards, IDiots, nutters, etc. because we are better than them!

      Being as that is my 'real issue', I don't think I've obscured it by raising a possible scenario where a religious perspective might in fact offer some benefits that an atheistic position cannot. I think it would take a particularly prejudiced and absolutist rejection of all things religious to reject that notion.

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    24. ...but as follow-up I should also point out: note in your words above it was not necessary to talk about the non-existence of gods, heavens, eternities, or angels and lambs, nor the existence of molecules or the finality of death. So you were looking for the words an atheist (or anyone else) might use and you found them.

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    25. yes, Shawn, as far as that goes, I did find pretty good words. But the argument is still such that a belief in an afterlife and the eternal nature of the soul IS likely to provide more comfort than the rejection of such notions - for some people in some instances. And for each of such persons, the comfort they take from those beliefs, and the happiness that makes possible for their lives, is more important than any philosophical argument about whetger they 'should' believe such things or not.

      I'm a 'what-works-ist'.

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    26. a provisional absolutism (perhaps I am bending the definition of absolutism with that term) I will subscribe to is the belief that many many people believe absolutely in ideas that are not devine but are human-derived, and yet are associated with, and attributed to, the creator of the universe. I base my belief on reproducible experience. Yet I will change my opinion if it can be shown that nobody really believes in heaven, afterlife, a personal god, a cosmic plan, etc (I suspect a great many so-called religious people actually fall into this group but the questiona aren't ones they dwell on so they simply default to religious dogma). People make factual claims about the nature of the universe based upon religious faith. These evidence-free assertions will be challenged. Doubting that they are true, on the other hand, should hardly be considered controversial.

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    28. Shawn, I wouldn't call that absolutist, provisional or otherwise. :)
      Neither would I call veganism absolutist. In fact, I consider the choice to go vegan both reasonable and admirable.
      But I would consider it absolutist if some vegans were to refer to meat eaters as, and consider them no better than, 'murderers'.
      If there are webites where vegans gather to attack people for eating meat, come up with clever derogatory names for them, claim that meat eating is responsible for most of the world's problems, and that furthermore all or nearly all of the world's problems could be solved by veganism - THAT I would consider absolutist.

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    29. Andyboerger, if I were to have dinner with someone who was plainly deluded about some important fact of their life, I would, if I cared about the person at all, most probably attempt to show them how they were deluded. Exactly how that might go about would depend upon the delusion, of course. I would be exceedingly UNlikely to 'call 911', unless there were some immediate danger.

      But, if, as you suggest, "I am not one to decide that this one is 'wrong'", even though it plainly IS 'wrong', then who is the one so to decide? Unless you endorse some sort of weird pluralism about what is true or false, correct or incorrect, then certainly someone must.

      Part of the problem here is that believing facile lies (or encouraging someone else to believe them) is actually -not- "coping with" the problem, but instead avoiding dealing with the problem.

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    30. Greg, clearly we are getting into a very specific situation. For example, as you your question of who is the one to decide? - in this specific case, it could well be the man's wife.

      She may look at you with pleading eyes across the dinner table, and find some moment to beg you not to say anything, because 'it's all he's got, please don't take it away from him'. I am guessing that you would be very likely to comply with her request then, and I know I would.

      You can say that it is not 'coping' with the problem, but there are nevertheless extreme situations, Sophie's Choice type situations, where people are forced to tweak their views of right/wrong, etc. Some life situations, unfortunately, are just very nettlesome in this regard.

      Delete
    31. Andyboerger, yes, we are getting into some -extremely- specific situations. But even in your example, I question whether "the man's wife" should make decisions about fact for him. I personally suppose that I would be willing to hear her out, but not necessarily agree with her. And what you describe strikes me as part of the problem in such cases; that is, I submit that it is the idea that "it's all he's got" is the -real- problem here, because such is almost invariably false.

      Should we take a situation of a father on his death bed, wherein informing him of his child's death will do nothing more than increase his suffering for the few hours left of his life, then there might be a point. But such cases are rare in the extreme.

      Delete
    32. Greg, no real argument in the situation as we have defined it. Like you, I would base my decisions to act or not act based on much more information being available to me in an actual situation than in the dry, hypothetical one we are constructing.

      However, to return to my earlier point, to which you drew this comparison, I can say with absolute certainty that whatever my own beliefs, I would never try to convince a believer, even one who only became one in the wake of a great tragedy, that he was deluding himself about his belief in his daughter still being alive somewhere, that her pain would someday, somehow be redeemed, and that he would see her again. And I am almost as certain that NO practicing professional psychologist or psychiatrist would do so, either.

      Delete
  7. When will people begin to understand that this really isn't a competition. Speaking as someone who has actually done evangelism, meaning I've led many people in prayers of faith in Jesus Christ, I have NEVER come to prospective convert in opposition to atheism. I've only asked if them if they knew God loved them and if they would allow me to read some scriptures to them. If they said no and they weren't interested, is apologized for the intrusion and moved on. I have no desire to see people come to Christ out of some misguided since of competition, I simply want them to know the love that I found, and that love hasn't always come through the people at church, it's a love that sustains me and that comes from within. Those individuals who feel the need to compete I believe are very immature, and that goes for believers and non-believers.

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    Replies
    1. If you are interested in the truth then you can't avoid the competition.

      Billions of people don't believe what you believe. Aren't you interested in finding out which view is correct? If you just ignore everyone who disagrees with you then why did you post a comment on Sandwalk?

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    2. She's not ignoring anyone who disagrees; she's questioning whether framing the decision amongst beliefs as a competition for those beliefs to fulfill some need is, in fact, the most persuasive method.

      Delete
  8. andyboerger said:

    I would still argue, however, that perhaps an individual priest, pastor, rabbi, etc., could have genuine altruism as their motivation for trying to comfort someone.

    Well, there's not much to disagree with. The main issue is, whether it is better to seek comfort in lies, or wether it is better to confront the reality.

    But I still continue to think that the atheist stance - when you're dead, you're dead - falls short in a situation like that.

    You are assuming, that belief in heaven and rejoining with loved ones gives some long lasting relief - therefore it is better to convince parents, that their children are in better place now. But maybe relying solely on faith isn't as effective as one could suspect?

    Atheist could seek comfort in the company of others (something religious people also do). Atheist could also seek help of a psychologist (something religious people also do).

    In my country (Poland - roughly 90% catholics) when a major disaster happens, government (belivers) offers help of psychologists for victims (also believers), not priests.

    Also - have you looked at that article on Epiphenom? This is only one study, but it gives you something to think about.

    Maybe atheism per se is not very good at giving people comfort. But that doesn't mean religious beliefs are good.

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    1. Arek, no sorry, I'll look at the article today, and thanks for recommending it to me.

      I am not assuming that "belief in heaven and rejoining with loved ones gives some long lasting relief". I am assuring you that for SOME people, in SOME situations, it does. It depends on the person.

      See, this is what gets me about the arguments I am seeing here, their absolutism. The notion going around here seems to be, "Atheism is ALWAYS better, there is NO situation when a theistic position is EVER better".

      This is nothing but a stubborn philosophical stance. It ignores nuance, it ignores the complexity and variety of human experiences, and it flies in the face of reality. It is pure ivory tower thinking.

      It hurts no one to concede that, "well, yeah, in that particular case, the person might be better off believing" ; UNLESS one is heavily invested in preserving their absolutist position that Atheism ALWAYS good/Theism ALWAYS bad.

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    2. I agree with you - that's what reality looks like. But I don't know if that's because of some intrinsic properties of our minds or is that the result of years of religious tradition.

      Personally I believe that even for those people for whom religion works in the time of grief, we could create fully secular(*) means of help.

      As I mentioned, I wouldn't know how to do it myself, but there are much smarter people than me out there.

      And seeing what religion do to people nowadays, I hope one day we will be able to help everyone without the need of telling them fantasy stories.

      (*) - Atheism is ALWAYS better, there is NO situation when a theistic position is EVER better
      I have an issue with this statement. I cannot say exactly what's wrong with it, but I think it's about ascribing to atheism more than it means.

      Atheism describes someones views about existence of god(s) - it's lack of belief into god(s). It's not a set of things/rules that we should belive in, or how we should behave (as opposed to theism).

      I think "secular position" or "rationalism" should replace "atheism" in this statement (or something like that).

      But taking that issue aside I could agree that such a stance is oversimplification (i.e. in real world theistic approach gives sometime better results). I agree that religion do some good, and sometimes, for some people religious help could be better.

      But as I said - that's how it looks now. I belive that it could looks different.


      PS. About your answer to Shawn, I think these are very good words. I'll try to remember them. Thanks.

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    3. Arek, conceded. "Rationalism" or "The secular position" would convey my meaning better.
      I agree with you that atheism is not a position, per se.

      I still don't see how a secular position could substitute for a belief in eternal life, and the existence of a soul. This is a very, very, very compelling idea, and I don't imagine that ANYTHING the rationalist position can possibly replace it.

      I think people would be willing to throw out notions of god, heaven, hell, saints, angels; all of that, but they would still want to hang on to the possibility of their soul continuing to live and evolve without end. Or at the very least, for more than just a few decades.

      P.S. Thank you for your kind words about my reply to Shawn. May you never have cause to use them. :)

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    4. I still don't understand why someone has to offer the berieved words of comfort about the status of their loved one. It seems that the atheist/rational/secular position is only problematic if there is a compulsion to provide a more-or-less definitive answer to questions that we as a species have never been able to answer (e.g, "Why do bad things happen to good people?", "Is there life after death?"). An honest answer is that we simply don't know at this time and that we may never know. However, while it may be immediately gratifying to the berieved to have others answer those questions; it may not be the most helpful in the long term to answer those questions for the berieved. Resolving grief in a constructive fashion is often about contextualizing and validating those emotions that are so overwhelming at first, and answering ultimate questions, especially in a way that postpones such contextualization and validation, may not actually help the berieved resolve their grief.

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    5. andyboerger says,

      I still don't see how a secular position could substitute for a belief in eternal life, and the existence of a soul. This is a very, very, very compelling idea, and I don't imagine that ANYTHING the rationalist position can possibly replace it.

      I think people would be willing to throw out notions of god, heaven, hell, saints, angels; all of that, but they would still want to hang on to the possibility of their soul continuing to live and evolve without end. Or at the very least, for more than just a few decades.


      You don't mean this literally, do you?

      I've been to many funerals of nonbelievers where most of the people in attendance were also nonbelievers. I don't recall any wailing and gnashing of teeth because none of us have a soul.

      You need to get out more.

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    6. sigh, Larry does what Larry does. Takes words out of context and imagines that they were dropped in by helicopter.

      We were addressing a particular situation, here, Larry. I and a few others have been exploring that situation at some length here. My comments above should be taken in relation to that exploration.

      Apparently you need to get in more, in to your own blog.
      I mean that literally.

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    7. Michael M, no argument.

      As I wrote above, my point about comforting someone is the lesser part of my argument. I am saying that the CONCEPT of eternal life has a consoling aspect to it that the materialist position does not.

      It holds the possibility of redemption. It holds the possibility of healing for the victimized and traumatized soul of the girl. It takes away the thought that her last moments, ever, were spent with someone who merely saw her as a toy to be used and abused, and showed no mercy. It replaces that horrifying prospect with the possibility that she is, even now, surrounded by beings that love her, in a much better place than this world. AND it holds the possibility of being reunited with her.
      These ideas themselves are powerful salves, IF they are believed.

      And materialism offers nothing similar.

      Delete
    8. andybeorger writes,

      We were addressing a particular situation, here, Larry. I and a few others have been exploring that situation at some length here. My comments above should be taken in relation to that exploration.

      If you were addressing a particular situation you could have said something like .... "I can see how the secular position can substitute for belief in eternal life, and the existence of a soul in 99.99% of deaths but for the particular case we are discussing I can't see it."

      Is that what you meant to say? Are you implying that devout Christians can be better comforted than non-Christians in a few very extreme cases but otherwise it makes no difference whether you believe in a soul or not?

      Delete
    9. LM says "I can see how the secular position can substitute for belief in eternal life, and the existence of a soul in 99.99% of deaths but for the particular case we are discussing I can't see it."

      That's in the ballpark. I don't know where you get the 99.99% from. I tend not to think in such absolute, or nearly absolute, terms.

      But yeah, I think for most people, most of the time, it makes no difference whether you believe in a soul or not. Those that do are comforted by this belief, and those that don't get along just fine without it.

      But there would be no reason for me to have written any such qualification in any one particular comment, certainly not to Arek. He and I have been exploring a question here, so such awareness, based upon earlier statements I wrote, is already built in to the thread. There to find for anyone who is interested.

      Delete
  9. I’m not convinced that there are all that many religious institutions, if any, that need replacing.

    Other than getting a bunch of people together on a weekly basis who actually don’t like each other that much and who sing really, really badly, there is nothing that religion provides to the community (except for a mechanism that allows like minded bigots to re-enforce each others bad behaviour) that already has or can easily be subsumed by existing or new secular institutions for important life events such as birth, marriage and death.

    In fact, this argument that religious institutions have any value at all and must be replaced by equivalent secular institutions before secularism can work has the fingerprints of the religious all over it.

    It’s been repeated so often that it has attained urban myth status and it is uncritically accepted.

    Why should we stand obediently in the space provided? Why should we stand in the space carved out by the conceptual scheme of theistic religion. I mean, it’s as though our opponents, before any debate, have drawn a chalk outline of a deadman on the sidewalk, and we just walk up and lie down in it. – Sam Harris

    Posted on B&W a while ago but relevant to this thread.

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  10. The "atheist" church experiment has already been tried (or it is underway). It's called "creed-free" religious orgasizations, such as the Unitarian-Universalist church.

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  11. To the blog author:

    It's a good thing that you live in Canada where social services and activites are provided by secular groups, but it's a far different reality in the US.

    For instance, let's look at charitable aid, according to the New York Times, of the 3 largest disaster relief organizations, 2 of them are Protestant Christian.

    www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/us/09baptist.html?pagewanted=all

    The top 3: The American Red Cross (which claims no affilation), the Salvation Army (which is considered it's own Christian denomination), and the Southern Baptist Covention's disaster relief fund.

    Hospitals: From figures that I have seen, about 13% of US hosptials have a religious affiliation.

    Even Alcoholics Anyomous, a group that has helped many addicts (and many judges force people convicted of alcohol offenses like DUI to attend their meetings), was founded by Christians. In their famous 12 steps it talks about surrendering to a higher power, and many local affiliates end 12 step meetings with the Lord's Prayer or a prayer of another kind.

    The Boy Scouts are considered an American culutral institution, they exclude gays and atheists, and are heavily supported by the Moromon church and Protestant congregations.

    Religion has it's hand in everything in the US, and there is a need here for secular organizations to step up and take their place, or compete with them. As far as the social gathering aspect, someone mentioned the Unitarian Universalist, a creed free denomiations, that's a good start. As far as charity, I really like the concept of Foundation Beyond Belief, charitable aid led by non-theists.
    There's still a long way to go, though....

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  12. What's kept atheists from founding charitable organizations? They've got scads of tax-exempt organizations but not too many of those are for much more than propaganda and spreading hatred of religion.

    Lots of religious charitable organizations are interdenominational, collaborate with those of other denominations and even across major religious traditions and with secular groups and they struggle to provide services. With the number of atheists there are, if they don't collaborate with their ideological adversaries, any charitable groups they establish won't amount to anything. A religious person might think their failing effort at least gains them some kind of grace or merit but an atheist who fails just fails.

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    1. "A religious person might think their failing effort at least gains them some kind of grace or merit but an atheist who fails just fails."

      There is a joke about the usefulness of praying somewhere in there.

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    2. Apparently it gets more religious people to do things for other people than it has atheists, or where have those great atheist charities been hiding themselves, even as they take tax deductions for their hate groups.

      I don't care if you have atheist churches, it's a free country, at least till you guys take over.

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    3. If atheists "took over" you'd have to get yourself a whole new set of paranoid delusions.

      Delete
    4. The Thought Criminal Monday, August 20, 2012 2:45:00 PM

      [...]

      I don't care if you have atheist churches, it's a free country, at least till you guys take over.


      Another church is about the last thing any self-respecting atheist would want. There are more than enough of those already.

      As for taking over, what makes you think they haven't already? You don't really think there's just one atheist in Congress, do you?

      Atheists can read opinion polls like anyone else. They know an avowed atheist has a snowball-in-hell's of getting elected to public office most places in the US. They know if they want political power they need to get religion first.

      Look at all those politicians who are just falling over themselves to prove what honest, church-goin', God-fearin', more conservative than the next guy, regular folk they are. How much of that do you think is genuine and how much is Elmer Gantryism?

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    5. As an outsider, it is bizarre to watch the political positioning on matters of religion 'over there'. No-one, but no-one, gives a damn about the religious allegiances of politicians here in the UK. It must limit the 'talent pool' somewhat - only people who are either genuinely religious or possess 'flexible integrity' can get in? Not that UK politicians are notably more blessed with integrity!

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    6. Atheists can read opinion polls like anyone else. They know an avowed atheist has a snowball-in-hell's of getting elected to public office most places in the US. They know if they want political power they need to get religion first.

      No, what you need to get first is smart enough to not insult more than 85% of the population WHOSE VOTES YOU'LL NEED TO WIN AN ELECTION. And those polls I've seen and heard you guys whining about only refer to the presidency. I'm sure there are atheists who win elections.

      Though, given statements from prominent atheists such as Jerry Coynes'

      Almost all of us agree that we’re meat automatons in the sense that all our actions are predetermined by the laws of physics as mediated through our genes and environments and expressed in brains. We differ in how we interpret that fact vis-à-vis “free will and “moral responsibility,” though many of us seem to think that the truth of determinism should be quietly shelved for the good of the masses.

      and Richard Dawkins'

      In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

      There's no reason for anyone to vote for someone who holds a belief that effectively negates justice, freedom, the concept of morality, the things that can at times prevent total depravity from setting in.

      I used to think reluctance to vote for atheists might be just bigotry but, given what atheists, themselves say on matters relevant to maintaining a democracy and a tolerable life, they've got no one to blame but other atheists who say things like that. Or to believe them, when, as Coyne said, "though many of us seem to think that the truth of determinism should be quietly shelved for the good of the masses". That's a recipe for despotism.

      Maybe you should spend the time you do whining about pseudo-scientific poll numbers trying to figure out how you can explain things like equality, inherent rights, right and wrong in ways immune to atheist habits of debunking any idea that is inconvenient at any given time. I don't think it can be done but I'd never vote for a person I suspected didn't really believe those are real. And I have voted for an atheist three times, he convinced me that he wasn't that kind of an atheist. In person.

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    7. @Allan Miller
      In the U.S., the way to win an election is to speak often about your infantile belief in religious nonsense. In Canada, it remains the quickest way to lose an election.
      (Unless you are from Alberta maybe, Canada's version of the bible belt).

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    8. Alberta has some outliers that gives one cause for hope, for example they recently elected a Muslim as mayor of Calgary and currently have a female premier and leader of the opposition (not that this makes their political platforms any less odious), which is not what one would expect from the Canadian bible belt.

      This could be due to the large influx of non Albertans attracted by the labour shortage in that province.

      And then there is the popular singer k.d. lang who hails from Alberta, who is female, lesbian and vegetarian, all attributes which one would think might be considered an impediment to success in that neck of the woods.

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    9. Sure. The phrase bible belt is no doubt over the top in any case. Can we coin the term "bible fanny pack" instead...lots of those around and in every province.

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    10. I would never accuse anybody of using "over the top" phrasing ...

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  13. Or to believe them, when, as Coyne said, "though many of us seem to think that the truth of determinism should be quietly shelved for the good of the masses".

    Jerry Coyne was attributing this position to other material determinists.

    It is not a position he holds himself, as a more than cursory reading of his website would demonstrate.

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  14. I've read Jerry Coyne's posts, they are unhinged and incoherent. It's clear he saves whatever rational moments he has for his most formal publication.

    Materialism really doesn't have any possibility of supporting the ideas of equality, inherent rights, justice.... I've also read Daniel Dennett's conception of free will, which is merely determinism in which the determined outcome can't be discerned. In other words, it's just determinism. And determinism destroys all of those things I mentioned.

    Atheists are skilled at one thing, coming up with reasons for not believing things they don't want to. There is nothing in atheism that would keep an atheist doing whatever they want to except the possibility that they might not get away with it. They're not alone with that, it's ubiquitous to the human population, only atheists have an excuse to contend that any restraint on them is merely imaginary.

    I have to hand it to Coyne and Dawkins, they made me reconsider the question of voting for atheists and made me conclude it's far riskier than I'd thought six years ago when I first wrote on those bogus polls and the mistaken idea that anyone has the right to anyone else's vote.

    http://zthoughtcriminal.blogspot.com/2011/07/you-dont-have-to-believe-it-but.html

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  15. TTC: Materialism really doesn't have any possibility of supporting the ideas of equality, inherent rights, justice....

    No, it's immaterialism that doesn't have any possibility of supporting the ideas of equality, inherent rights, justice. etc.

    Immaterialism is based on the notion that moral problems are somehow "solved" but they're solved in an invisible spook-world we don't have access to. If the spook-world is invisible, how can we know its properties? How can we know that moral problems have been solved there at all, if the solution in the spook-world is inaccessible to us? And if they have been solved, what would the solution be?

    The only "information" people have about the spook-world is based on imagining it as a double of the physical world. Angels that look like humans with bird wings, playing gold harps that look like harps, but made of a more expensive mineral... the faces of the angels, their wings and their gold harps are all duplicates of stuff in our material world, but made of more expensive materials.

    If (allegedly) moral problems are insolvable in our physical world, why should they be solvable in a hypothetical spook-world, which is imagined ONLY as a duplicate of our material world though with more gold and jewels and expensive materials-- and NEVER as anything else?

    How does hypothesizing the spook-world solve moral problems, when the spook-world is just a duplicate of our material world made of more expensive materials, and allegedly governed by different laws of physics, that we can't measure or access?

    But we know why immaterialists believe the spook-world solves their problems: because it is a fancy way of dressing up their infantile authoritarianism. They imagine their spooks have great physical power, and they resolve these alleged moral problems by ASSUMING that it is natural for humans to adopt and parrot the moral values imposed by powerful, invisible tyrants.

    Why should that be natural? Who says so? Make a list of who said so.

    TTC: There is nothing in atheism that would keep an atheist doing whatever they want to except the possibility that they might
    not get away with it.


    Translation: if children don't believe in Santa Claus, they might misbehave. The only way they will love us is if we lie to them through our teeth.

    It's your nihilism and none of our own. As Einstein said, if the only reason people have for being good is fear of physical punishment, then humans are pathetic. TTC believes humans are pathetic because he projects his own weakness, fear and authoritarianism onto other people.

    I have never told my child Santa Claus is real-- I'm betting he'll love me anyway.

    Atheists are skilled at one thing, coming up with reasons for not believing things they don't want to.

    Bullshit. Every argument for the existence of spooks is based on the SUPREMACY of their personal emotional fears and desires over evidence. "It would be convenient for me if spooks were real." All such arguments assume that personal anxieties and fears will be, must be, assuaged, not by the self, but by spooks with supermagical powers.

    If this is cowardly, fascistic authoritarianism when humans adopt and parrot the moral values imposed by powerful, visible tyrants, why should we not tell it like it is: it's also cowardly, fascistic authoritarianism when humans adopt and parrot the moral values imposed by powerful, invisible tyrants.

    Why is obsequious cowardice unattractive when directed toward powerful, visible tyrants, but the only possible basis of morality when directed toward powerful, invisible tyrants?

    Who said it is natural for humans to adopt and parrot the moral values imposed by powerful, invisible tyrants? Who decided that was human nature? Really, who. Make a list.

    Fucking authoritarians, that's who. No wonder every European fascist movement was explicitly based on Catholicism, except the Nazis, who were implicitly based on Protestantism.

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    1. Diogenes said:

      "If the spook-world is invisible, how can we know its properties?"

      I asked TTC once similar question, but he hasn't answered.

      TTC said:

      "Atheists are skilled at one thing, coming up with reasons for not believing things they don't want to."

      I can assure you, that there are atheists who - for example - really, really want to continue to live after physical death. I don't know how many, but you are definitely generalising here. But those atheists still are not beliving into afterlife - because they have no reason to do so. It's not because they don't want to belive into it.

      TTC also said:

      "Materialism really doesn't have any possibility of supporting the ideas of equality, inherent rights, justice..."

      By saying this do you mean that materialism cannot explain where those ideas came from?

      But you also said (in next paragraph):

      "There is nothing in atheism that would keep an atheist doing whatever they want to except the possibility that they might not get away with it."

      I don't want to argue if this is true. But if you propose one possible materialistic explanation, you cannot really say that materialism cannot explain this, don't you think?

      Also:
      "And determinism destroys all of those things I mentioned."

      How exactly? Are you one of those people who thinks that if our actions are determined than we are not responsible for them? Or maybe you think that thing cannot "self-organise" unless our universe is indeterministic?

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  16. Yeah, and every single Stalinst dictatorship was officially atheist, in fact every single officially atheist, anti-religious government has been a bloody dictatorship whereas England and Sweden have State churches. So, you can put 100% for atheist dictators ships against the smaller percentage of dictatorships with official state churches. It might not work all the time but the belief that morality is really real works better at preventing bloody despotism than believing it's got the same status as unicorns, faeries and celestial teapots. That's a history that goes back to the Reign of Terror, too.

    I'd love to point out that the massive, murderous suppression of evolutionary science in its history happened under an atheist state, as part of Lysenkoism. Compared to that, you sci-rangers have little to whine about here.

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    1. @TTC

      "... believing it's [morality] got the same status as unicorns, faeries and celestial teapots."

      Excuse me, but who actually belive this?

      Morality is real. It's something we can observe.

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    2. TTC: the belief that morality is really real works better at preventing bloody despotism than believing it's got the same status as unicorns, faeries and celestial teapots.

      No, all bloody despotisms are based on absolute moralities, never moral relativism. Nazism was based on a Kantian-Chamberlainian Christian theory of free will and morality. Kant's moral theory was based on Christian theology and morality. The fanatically anti-Darwinist, anti-Semitic Houston Stewart Chamberlain cranked up the implicit Christianity and anti-Semitism in Kant and made it accessible to a popular audience.

      To that Kantian-Chamberlain mix, all you have to do is add the idea that the Jews are behind Bolshevik revolution, and bango, that's Nazism. The "Jews behind Bolshevik revolution" idea was taught to Hitler by Alfred Rosenberg. Rosenberg might've got it from many sources-- certainly "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and also "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem" (the latter attributed to Henry Ford, actually written by creationist William Cameron.)

      Hitler's idea of duty to one's race was a moral absolute. Nazi opposition to atheism and Communism were moral absolutes.

      The Nazis associated moral relativism and atheism with the Weimar Republic, which they called "The System."

      The Nazis equated materialism and atheism with the Jews, who, they asserted, were closet atheists. Nazis equated Communist atheism with rule by Jews. The least Christian Nazi was Himmler, and he said anybody could join the SS except an atheist (he did not exclude Jews, of course, because Nazis believed Jews were closet materialists.)

      Nazis believed in the Kantian theory of free will-- that's what made their fascism so deadly. In their theory, only the Aryan uses his free will because only the Aryan acts on a higher sense of duty [Pflichterfullung]. Other races only seek sensual pleasure (Africans etc.) or follow stupid legalistic rules (the Jews) so they don't really use their free will, which means they're Ubermensch, sub-human, and can be treated as such.

      Nazism didn't derive from denying free will-- it derived from assuming free will, then dehumanizing those who supposedly didn't use their free will for higher moral purposes, like the true "Aryan" does.

      As for Marxism, that is not moral relativism either. That is an absolute moral system with an absolute theory about each stage in the future development of mankind.

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    3. whereas England and Sweden have State churches. So, you can put 100% for atheist dictators ships against the smaller percentage of dictatorships with official state churches

      How bloody ignorant. Every European fascist movement was based on Catholicism, except Nazism which was implicitly Protestant. All the fascist movements in countries around Germany were Catholic.

      In Germany, both Christian churches were officially supported by taxpayer deutschmarks from the government throughout the Nazi era.

      Remember Father Tiso, the Catholic priest who was head of the fascist movement in Slovakia and shipped all his Jews off to Germany?

      As for Sweden, people born there before 1994 were automatically enrolled in the Church of Sweden before they opted out, thus overestimating the percentage of people who believe its tenets.

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    4. Name the anti-religious, atheist governments that weren't brutal and bloody dictatorships.

      England has an official state church, Sweden has an official state church. Many of the democracies in Europe have official state churches. That's the fact of the matter. You can compare percentages of the two sets that have been brutal dictatorships and anti-religious, atheist countries still come out at 100% brutal bloody dictatorships. There must be a reason for that.

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    5. @TTC

      "Whatever else may be wrong with our world, it remains a fact that some of the most terrifying instances of human conflict and stupidity would be unthinkable without religion. And the other ideologies that inspire people to behave like monsters—Stalinism, fascism, etc.—are dangerous precisely because they so resemble religions." – Sam Harris

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  17. Shawn, that would be the Sam Harris who proposed nuking tens of millions of people in a day in a preemptive strike to prevent Moslems from getting the bomb. A man of such moral erudition isn't qualified to make such a statement.

    One thing is absolutely clear, Christians, Jews, Moslems, many other religious people who murder people, who commit genocide, who enslave people and steal their means of livlihood are acting against the moral code they profess to live by. Atheists who do those things aren't violating atheism.

    I caused a scandal on a sciency blog in a discussion of Sam Harris' nuke the A-rabs declaration by suggesting it would be a better idea to kill the scientists who were capable of producing the weapons. People who could calmly contemplate nuking millions of entirely innocent people where scandalized by the idea of taking out the scientists producing weapons of mass destruction.

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    1. TTC,

      It is amazing how you handle your fallacies expecting that nobody notices. Your criticism of sam harris does not make a dent in the argument. Here for you again:

      "Whatever else may be wrong with our world, it remains a fact that some of the most terrifying instances of human conflict and stupidity would be unthinkable without religion. And the other ideologies that inspire people to behave like monsters—Stalinism, fascism, etc.—are dangerous precisely because they so resemble religions." – Sam Harris

      Go fuck yourself.

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    2. (The name of the fallacies are: ad hominem, consisting on attacking the person, rather than the argument, and a red-herring, because ad hominems are mere distractions from the issue. In case you would like to know.)

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    3. Shawn, that would be the Sam Harris who proposed nuking tens of millions of people in a day in a preemptive strike to prevent Moslems from getting the bomb. A man of such moral erudition isn't qualified to make such a statement.

      Knowing how you would hate to be associated with spreading a dishonest quote mine, TTC, I thought it best to check what Sam Harris actually said. Let him speak for himself on the matter:

      Sam Harris on nuking Muslims

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    4. What-- TTC misrepresents people's words?

      Here's what Harris wrote in "The End of Faith", copied from Allan's link above.

      Sam Harris: In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe. How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side."

      I'm not required to agree with what Sam Harris says. He's not my god nor my hero. I disagree with much of what Sam Harris writes.

      But where is the illogic in the scenario above, which he clearly wishes to avoid?

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    5. @Diogenes

      To be honest, that is the first thing I've ever read by Sam Harris. I don't follow 'atheist writing' very closely - the absence of something is a rather limited topic!

      I don't agree entirely with the plausibility of his scenario - it's based on something of a caricature, to use the mot du jour (Pretentious? Moi?). But in no way does it read as a 'proposal to nuke tens of millions in a day'.

      I've certainly developed a healthy skepticism regarding the statements of TTC. A quick check with Professor Google seems a matter of due diligence, at least as a first port of call.

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    6. Allan, completely agree. It is based on a caricature (and is a bit histrionic and fear mongering, imo), but it is hardly, as TTC would have it, a 'proposal'.

      You have done a service by providing the link to the man's own words.

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    7. Well, here's what I wrote down in my notes from when I was reading his book (which is not in the public domain and which I can't find online)

      What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weapons? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and, so we will be unable to rely on targeted conventional weapons to destroy them. I such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime – as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day – but it may be the only course of action available to us given what Islamists believe.

      Sounds like a proposal for action to me, "the only thing likely to ensure our survival". And I have looked at Harris' ass covering attempts since Chris Hedges also noted his moral depravity.

      If the Soviet Union had taken that as a rule, then the United States, the only country which has ever used atomic weapons in war, would have been attacked decades ago, the rubble still cooling off on a largely extinct Earth.

      I still like my idea of taking out any scientist who was known to have the knowledge to produce weapons like that. Physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, etc. Why kill millions of innocent people when you could get rid of the source of the problem? And why should that be a more troubling idea than nuking millions of innocent people?

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    9. TTC, I 'like' your idea too, as a great point for philosophical debate. Who are all these people that go around making these horrific weapons and then selling them to the highest bidder? What kind of people were the factory engineers at Dupont who went on cranking out napalm long after no one believed it wasn't being used in the most despicable ways, rather than a defoliant? Stopping these modern genies from creating their devilish weapons DOES make sense as far as the survival of our species is involved.

      And I agree with you that the attempts by 'new atheists' such as Dawkins to twist words so that science remains spotless with regard to all the above is repellant.

      Still, your use of the word 'proposed' implies that he actually proffered it as a solution to a situation we are facing now, when it is obvious that he is referring to a hypothetical, future, situation from his own words. His argument is, to paraphrase: Do you wanna know how CRAZY religion is? It's so crazy that it might throw us into a seriously batshit crazy ethical dilemma where we may someday actually have to consider wiping out millions as the only possible way to prevent other millions from being wiped out! THAT'S how crazy religion is!

      It's not a proposal, it is an attempt to illustrate, through hyperbole, his views of the madness of religion. As to the madness of our current technological/science-worshipping age, I would imagine my views are much closer to yours than Harris'.

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    10. @TTC suggesting it would be a better idea to kill the scientists who were capable of producing the weapons

      Better yet, you could institutionalize the process by claiming that the murder was needed to propitiate the sun god and you could introduce ceremonies where, just off the top of my head, the bound scientists would be lead to the top of a stone pyramid structure somewhere in Central America and the beating hearts would be cut out of their chests, with you as the mortal embodiment of the sun god claiming that the blood would act as a lubricant for the movement of the sun across the sky.

      Be warned that this a time limited offer due to expire December 21, 2012, so act quickly.

      One hypothesis put forward to explain the demise of the Incan/Mayan empires was that the royalty, in a sort of pre-Darwinian eugenics experiment, bred only with close relatives with the concomitant effects on the royalty, including mental disabilities. Based on your comments on this blog I'm getting the sense that you would have fit right in.

      And I am looking forward to your upcoming article where you "show" how Dr. "Doom" Darwin and his evil hunchback sidekick Haeckel appropriate a time machine and clandestinely implement a Mayan eugenics program resulting in the fall of the empire. Should be one of your best.

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    11. You should love my Darwin-Haeckel posts. I'm going to burn your idol to the ground.

      It would be better to kill of the scientists who are producing the reason Harris wants to nuke tens of millions of people than to nuke tens of millions of people not producing that reason.

      I love how you boys can take the idea of killing millions of innocent people as if there was nothing wrong with it but the idea of killing scientists guilty of making weapons of mass destruction gives you the heebie jeebies. You clearly think scientists are a higher form of creation. I don't.

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    12. You should love my Darwin-Haeckel posts. I'm going to burn your idol to the ground.

      Oh no! Because when people expound their theories on the internet, the world sits up and listens.

      I love how you boys can take the idea of killing millions of innocent people as if there was nothing wrong with it but the idea of killing scientists guilty of making weapons of mass destruction gives you the heebie jeebies.

      You still think Harris was advocating the killing of millions? Or that anyone here thinks there would be nothing wrong with it, whether he had or hadn't?

      Anyone who can read the Harris passage, in full, and still come away arguing that he was proposing the action, has a major credibility issue - even if, in their own heads, they are the most credible individual on the planet. Harris's so-called 'ass-covering' is to simply repeat the passage, in full. There will always be morons with comprehension issues and axes to grind, I suppose. I await your witty comeback.

      Here's the rest of the passage again, because you inexplicably stopped short at "it may be the only course of action available to us given what Islamists believe.", almost as if it were a dishonest quote-mine designed to foster the impression that this was all Harris was saying - "let's nuke 'em; it's our best shot".

      [...] How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side."

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    13. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns.

      There's a name for this and that would be "retrospective ass covering".

      Advocating the rationality of a nuclear first strike that will kill tens of people in a day could only be justified by a "plausible scenario". Pausible scenarios have gotten lots of people killed and their rights destroyed, as the real scenario of eugenics demonstrates.

      Sam Harris was looking to make a splash so he said things to get attention. The man is an ongoing racist of exactly the type Haeckel was, of exactly the same kind as his friend, colleague, correspondent, host and promoter, Charles Darwin was. Darwin said things about Turks that could come out of Harris.

      I'll be surprised if anyone who reads my posts and looks at the evidence will pretend that Charles Darwin was the plaster saint that the Darwin Industry and others invented as retrospective ass covering of all of the myriad of attributions of eugenicists to the real Darwin were lying there for anyone to read. Including Schallmeyer, Weissmann, Haeckel and others who I have yet to mention, as well as Galton, Greg, and generations that extend to the post-war and into the present day revival of neo-eugenics.

      That post-war Darwin is just about a complete fraud, from top to bottom. One of the foremost superstitions of the educated class in the English speaking world. It is as real as Batman, the philosopher's stone and unicorns.

      Whatever value Darwin has to science, and there is some, will have to live with the real Darwin and the malignant side of his ideas as applied science.

      Quite frankly, I suspect the stuff he did with a stronger base of physical evidence might outlive natural selection. Especially in the change of species over time. I think bringing Malthus into evolution will turn out to have been a bad idea. Just because evolution needed an explanation doesn't mean that one that was plausible in 1859 will always remain so.

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    14. TTC, I think there are very few people who would read the passage that has been reprinted here several times now and come away with the idea that Harris was advocating or proposing nuclear annihilation as if it meant nothing to him, and then 'retrospectively' covering his ass by giving lip service to how horrible that would be. Chris Hedges, yeah.
      I really like Chris Hedges; I think he fights the good fight, is great with words and is intelligent in the extreme. But he tends to go overboard sometimes, and see things in black/white terms. And this is one of those cases.
      Harris hates religion, and he doesn't want religion to be the cause of a nuclear holocaust. That much is clear. If his head is screwed on right, he should be much more concerned about the threat that various technologies pose to our civilization. What he believes are merely superstitious thoughts have been with the human race for tens of thousands of years, and never did they have the power to pose an existential threat to life on earth (if one believes they actually do) until they were empowered to do so by the Age of Science.
      Everybody has to face what are to them 'inconvenient truths'. Everybody. When you asked Diogenes for a quote from the bible where Jesus advocated mass killings, he produced one, from Luke. And you pretty much ignored it. But then you ask people to take the quotes that you provide about Darwin seriously, and think long and hard on them.
      And I admit that the quotes you provided, two in particular, were extremely distasteful to me. I had not known about them. But in my Catholic upbringing nobody ever made me aware of the Luke citation, and I found that equally distasteful. Some times you just have to own some things, when you're wrong. It doesn't make one appear scholarly by merely stubbornly hanging on to something that does not convince.

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    15. I read it long before Chris Hedges wrote what he did and that's what I thought it meant too.

      I've been dealing with passages of Charles Darwin's writing that people have been declaring doesn't mean what it obviously means for almost seventy years. Well, I can find supporting evidence for that. And the history of Darwinism with political power, through eugenics laws, was what it was. The denial of what Darwin wrote, the associations he made, the support he gave to what those associates wrote, all of that is documented in his and their words. The post-war Darwin who didn't say and do those things is one of the foremost of scientistic superstitions of today. And I will ascribe it to scientists because they are the ones who constructed it and propagate it. Go look at what some of the ScienceBloggers say about it and compare that to the record Darwin left.


      About Diogenes quoting a parable about the Kingdom of God, that was a metaphore, it was presented as a metaphore. In one of the parables Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was like a woman making bread, in another place he said it was like a mustard seed. None of those are supposed to be literal. As I pointed out, his earliest followers were noted for their pacifism up until instituted churches gained political power through their association with the Roman emperor, notably a violent person.

      Darwin wasn't writing parables, he represented what he wrote as science, which has an entirely different intent. If you looked at my blog I think you might conclude I've done my homework on these matters. Which is more than Diogenes or the others here have done. They don't seem to have read any of Darwin or the others who are relevant to that issue.

      I believe that reading is one given during the mass. I don't remember how, exactly, the gospel readings are cycled through but if you went to church regularly, you'd have stood a good chance of hearing it.

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  18. One thing is absolutely clear, Christians, Jews, Moslems, many other religious people who murder people, who commit genocide, who enslave people and steal their means of livlihood are acting against the moral code they profess to live by.

    Sure, unless their moral code happens to include murder, genocide, enslavement, etc. You know, the kind of things people might pick up from a holy book.

    Atheists who do those things aren't violating atheism.

    That is correct my friend, but why you think this is significant I do not know.

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    1. I addressed this argument of TTC's above, in some detail.

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  19. Shawn, show me where, Jesus, for example, endorses murder, genocide, enslavement. You know, the guy who Christians claim to believe is the Son of God.

    That is correct my friend, but why you think this is significant I do not know.

    It's a logical disconnect to criticize religious people for their moral failures when their religions usually try to encourage moral behavior and to issue that criticism from a platform that doesn't try to encourage moral behavior.

    I used to ignore things like that and the denial of the metaphysical concepts necessary for democracy to be valid out of misplaced leftist solidarity but, after years of observing blog atheists I got over that. Atheism is a political dead end and it will be for the rest of our lives.

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    1. TTC: Shawn, show me where, Jesus, for example, endorses murder, genocide, enslavement. You know, the guy who Christians claim to believe is the Son of God.

      God of the OT orders murder, genocide and infanticide, endorses or orders the rape of war captives, and sanctions slavery.

      Jesus on his authority endorsed all that.

      "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” [Luke 16:17]

      "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." [Matthew 5:17-19]

      Jesus orders many strange things. Here he suggests you castrate yourself.

      "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." [Matthew 19:12]

      Granted, when Jesus says castrate yourself, that's voluntary eugenics.

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    2. TTC: Shawn, show me where, Jesus, for example, endorses murder, genocide, enslavement.

      "11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

      14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

      15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

      16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

      17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

      18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

      19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

      20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

      22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

      24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

      25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

      26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” [Luke Ch. 19]

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    3. I've got a few seconds before setting up my next post. The Law, Jesus showed what his interpretation of the law was by paraphrasing Hilel, do to others as you'd have done to you. That is inconsistent with murder, genocide, enslavement.

      He refused to condemn the adulterer to death, he said you had to forgive people who wronged you, he went way past socialism by saying people who were destitute had to be supported.

      Any of his statements about the kingdom of God certainly don't apply to any earthly authorities. And all of the parables are metaphorical, I believe they all begin with similies. The earliest records about how his followers, the ones that might have known him or someone who knew him show that they understood his teachings to require pacifism. It wasn't until that tradition was corrupted by temporal politics that they are recorded as engaging in violence. I'd certainly rather have to live among people trying to follow those teachings than to live under the laws of any of the anti-religious, atheist governments that have ever existed.

      Atheism contains no moral restraints to start with, so you can hardly be credible in making moral criticisms of people who at least have the intention of trying.

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    4. Right, so it follows the atheist cannot have moral restraints, or would find it much more difficult to find a moral compass than a christian? Why are christians so lacking in innate morality that ideas like the ones in the 10 commandments, or the words of Jesus, only occur to then when handed to them in the bible? It pains me that it is probably necessary to declare that last question a rhetorical one.

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    5. If an atheist has moral restraints, they don't come from atheism and they don't come from materialism. Materialism has served to deny that there is any such thing as morality over and over again, it's never come up with a plausible, necessary logical case that morality is a material substance or force.

      If the morality that Jesus taught is far less than a 100% success in preventing depravity, how can something that denies morality is more than imaginary be expected to be any more successful. Atheism with the force of political and physical power behind it has a 100% record of producing violent despotism. Any intelligent person would expect an ideology that denies that morality is any more real than a business contract, of the kind that despots have total freedom to violate, would produce those results. It's entirely predictable, a necessary, logical conclusion from the premise that morality is fictitious. As Richard Dawkins indicated it to be in that statement I gave above.

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    6. If the morality that Jesus taught is far less than a 100% success in preventing depravity, how can something that denies morality is more than imaginary be expected to be any more successful.

      Oh, piss off! There does not have to be some "objective moral standard" in order for the concept to have meaning. Morality is as real as anger, or jealousy, or a sense of humour. It is something that humans feel as a personal restraint and one which we may wish to act equally upon others, which sense may have a genetic, or a cultural basis, or both.

      Do you have any hard data that indicates that atheists are individually less 'moral' than religious people, against some standard that is agreed upon by most people (on murder, say, rather than the arbitrary ramblings of Leviticus)? And how do we square freedom on homosexuality, for example, with the idea many religions press that this is most definitely not What God Wants?

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    7. There does not have to be some "objective moral standard" in order for the concept to have meaning. Allan Miller

      Oh, really. How about the concept of God? How about the concept of The Law? How about the concept of God's love that is currently so popular among callow blog atheists for attack? Does that have to have some objective explanation to have meaning?

      Besides, I asserted that atheism's one great use is to deny or debunk any idea that an atheist didn't care for. And I pointed out that religious believers as well as atheists are prone to deciding what didn't exist or have validity because they didn't want to have to act as if it did, especially when it comes to morality. I think that's what was behind the great war against religion that flourished in both Britain and German intellectual circles during the later decades of the 19th century and continues on to today. That those same circles spent lots of their time defining human beings as unequally valuable objects without inherent rights or free will doesn't lead me to believe my suspicions are off. Politically, the history of anti-religious, atheist government is exactly what I said, 100% bloody, violent despotism imposed on an unwilling and/or exploited population. 100% isn't a number that is often reached by a set of phenomena in human history, there must be a reason for that.

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    8. And how do we square freedom on homosexuality, for example, with the idea many religions press that this is most definitely not What God Wants?

      1. Those arguments are based on scriptures, in the case of the Bible, those scriptures are contained in books and an anthology from many different people, historical periods, ambient conditions and traditions of thought. Like other points in those scriptures there is considerable disagreement as to what they mean. I find convincing the assertions that the bible doesn't address what we'd think of today as "homosexuality" but in more specific sexual acts, especially sex with young boys kept as temple slaves and straight men taking a stroll on the wild side (often doesn't end well in my observation). I've been thinking of writing on a related issue, I'll let you know if I do.
      2. The record of atheists on homosexuality is hardly one of universal enlightment. Marx and Engles gay baited rivals, communists frequently purged gay men (I'm not sure about lesbians on that point). In the United States I'd guess that at least as much of the oppression of gay folks has come from psychological "treatment" as from anything else. In my lifetime the pseudo-sciences of psychotherapy and behaviorism, dominated by major figures who were atheists and staffed by atheists are guilty of torturing and drugging and generally screwing with the minds of gay folks. There is the recent case of the off again, on again, off again "curing" of gay men by Robert Spitzer.
      3. From the beginning of the homosexual (today gay) rights movement, there has been involvement by religious figures, notably protestant clergy. I've generally found the least homophobia among liberal religious people, these days. I don't hang out with atheists in groups so I can't compare.
      4. About zero % of the oppression I've experienced in my personal life came from religiously devout people, though I know that differs in other places. I've got no problem condemning any religious groups that do that.
      5. As, in my state, we are trying to reinstate gay marriage in November, and as the vast majority of voters in my state are religious belivers, I'd really rather have the support of the more than 200 churches that are supporting marriage rights than not have them.

      There are things in Leviticus I certainly don't want but there are things in there that I wish were the law of the land, including the commandment that the foreigner among you is to be treated as the native. I'd love to have that on the walls of some courthouses instead of the truncated "ten commandments". I'd certainly like to have many of the justice commandments in the Torah the law of the land.

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    9. There does not have to be some "objective moral standard" in order for the concept to have meaning. Allan Miller

      Oh, really. How about the concept of God? How about the concept of The Law? How about the concept of God's love that is currently so popular among callow blog atheists for attack? Does that have to have some objective explanation to have meaning?

      Yeah, really. Some things (eg God's love) need at least a potential reality external to humanity to be meaningfuil; others (eg morality) don't. You think morality has to be defined external to humanity? I'd disagree. We have a shared sense of many things, through evolution and culture, and I consider 'morality' (constraints and restraints on behaviour) to be one of them.

      Your other post is a long wrestle with the problems inherent in trying to find a means to tap into what you consider to be the essential feature of 'external morality' - the means by which heavenly entities communicate it to us poor saps down here. Relying on holy texts, still worse on some twerp's interpretation of those texts, is about as much use as a pork pie in a synagogue. I like a 'flexible' morality, particularly in the opposition of millennia-old excuses for oppression.

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    10. Some things (eg God's love) need at least a potential reality external to humanity to be meaningfuil;

      How can God's love be said to exist without the object of it? Love is a transitive concept. Even self love has an object.

      others (eg morality) don't. You think morality has to be defined external to humanity?

      If it's people who are doing the defining then it has to be defined in human terms. As God is held by most mono-theists to be at least enormously vaster in every way than human beings, that's the only part of God that could be described in human terms. People can't see in the infrared range that rattle snakes seem to be able to. People can't really know what that sense is like. And most mono-theists would also thin that a rattle snake was quite limited as compared with God.

      I forget, were you the one who was grasping to the "aid we are impelled to give" dodge? If so, I published a response knocking it over showing only one of many ways in which Darwin contradicted your life preserver in the same book. It's an added update to an older essay I wrote The People. I could show how Darwin pulled the plug on it, himself, in the same book in other ways, too. Amazing how many places he contradicted his thesis in that book.

      http://zthoughtcriminal.blogspot.com/

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    11. Allan Miller said: "Some things (eg God's love) need at least a potential reality external to humanity to be meaningfuil;"
      TTC responded: How can God's love be said to exist without the object of it? Love is a transitive concept. Even self love has an object."

      TTC: is it just me, or do you never really answer questions or address actual points. Your reply is a non sequitur. It often seems thus.

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    12. People address the idea that God loves someone. "God loves" is a statement that needs an object to be a complete thought.

      Exactly, in what sense, was my answer that you copied a non sequitur?

      Delete
    13. AM declares that "god's love" implies that it is something real, apart from humanity.
      You respond that the existence of love requires an object.
      It is a non-sensical response to the statement, even if the response in itself be true. Non-sequitur.

      People address the idea that God loves someone.

      Do you really mean address? Perhaps "presume", or "suspect", or "hope", or "have been indoctrinated to believe", would be the more appropriate terms.

      "God loves" is a statement that needs an object to be a complete thought.

      When you say object, I presume you must mean humans. Does this mean without the object (humans), god's love does not exist. A curiously dependent creator of the universe we encounter, no? Humans are to god what crack is to humans. This is the christian situation isn't it, one giant god with a monkey on his back. Let us ignore the potential evolution jokes.

      "God loves" is a statement that needs an object to be a complete thought.

      Indeed. How quickly evaporates the concept of "God loves" if a material creature that would think such a thing ceases to exist. Some god.

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    14. To state the obvious, 'God's love' implies both subject and object. The subject is outside of humanity, even if humanity itself were the object.

      'God's morality' would be a similar construct. But we are talking of an unqualified Morality - just the thing-we-call-morality, which could be either something flowing from an entity outside of humanity, or it could be a shared sense arising from our common genetic and cultural heritage.

      Is there an external, objective standard of 'funny'? When watching a comedian, do humans tap into a quality that exists outside all of them regardless of whether any humans actually exist? Or does it not arise from within human brains, but in a way that enables one person to agree (or disagree) on what is, and is not, funny? I view morality in the same way.

      Humans codified their moral sense, other humans took this to be Gospel.

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    15. The main difference between believing that morality derives from a higher power beyond current human comprehension (the religious stance) and that it derives from human brains coming to agree about what they consider acceptable and unacceptable (the atheist stance) is that it is possible for religious people to believe that humans can eventually grow in their morality, impelled toward it by the superior being modeling it for them and/or imbuing within them the possibility of achieving it. The notion that god has placed within each of us the potential to be godly. But the problem with that is that it doesn't answer the question of why a MORE moral being would allow so much horror and evil to take place. Given the nature of THIS world, how can a human ever be sure about a superior, achievable, morality emanating from a being that watches, seemingly indifferent toward, the unbelievable suffering that takes place on this world?

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    16. not sure why believers in god would expect this to be a world without suffering. God as described in the bible is a vindictive, self-serving troublemaker with poor decision-making skills. In any case, the question of evil and suffering in the world is pointless. It's like asking: if there are leprechauns why dont we find more pots of gold here and there? Rather pointless question given that there is no reason to believe in leprechauns in the first place.

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    17. Belief in God is not exclusive to Christians and Jews. There are many ways of looking at god(s), not all of which depict him as a "vindictive, self-serving troublemaker with poor decision-making skills". Nor is it only Christians and Jews who posit the question of evil and suffering in the world.

      There are beliefs, such as Hinduism, which have a different way of 'answering' the question, explaining this world away as 'maya', something akin to a dream. Then there is dreck like 'The Secret' that makes perhaps the most sickening argument of all, declaring that whatever happens to a person in their lives, whether good or horrible, it is really 'good' in that the universe never gives people something that they themselves, at some level, didn't ask for.

      So, whether or not you consider the question to be pointless, there are a lot of competing ideas out there as to how best to answer it. I think it's unlikely that there will never be a segment, probably a very large one, that goes right on asking up until such time as, ideally, the question is rendered moot through no longer being applicable to the human condition.

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    18. Shawn, you failed to show how my statement was a non sequitur.

      Do you really mean address? Perhaps "presume", or "suspect", or "hope", or "have been indoctrinated to believe", would be the more appropriate terms. Shawn

      Yeah, I really mean address. One can address ideas about things which are known in part, suspected, presumed, hoped for etc. Or, at least, one can address those ideas if they aren't made stupid by prejudice against ideas and those who hold them that they can't address them. Scientists address all kinds of ideas that turn out to be imaginary. Luminiferous aether was the subject of an enormous amount of erudite and detailed physics done by some of the most eminent of scientists in the hardest of hard sciences. You can read them online and look at their amazing edifice of equations.

      Indeed. How quickly evaporates the concept of "God loves" if a material creature that would think such a thing ceases to exist. Some god. Shawn

      Passing by the temptation to dissect that bit of atheist tripe, I'll just point out that it confirms what I said about the disability that bigotry carries, above.

      To state the obvious, 'God's love' implies both subject and object. The subject is outside of humanity, even if humanity itself were the object. Allan Miller

      My answer responded to your statement:
      "Some things (eg God's love) need at least a potential reality external to humanity to be meaningfuil;"

      I'm not sure it's true that God, in the context of the idea of God's love (for people), can separate God from people. If you want to get involved with the kind of debate over every syllable of that idea, I doubt Larry Moran would welcome it. I believe that's the kind of intense examination of an idea that is better done in an Orthodox Shul than a blog. Lewontin endorsed the admirable rigor with which those questions are debated in those places. I'd like to listen to one someday but doubt I'm equipped to argue with the masters of that kind of debate.

      I will begin posting the series in which I show the unbreakable ties between Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel tomorrow or Monday. It will be a series in itself.

      I have no idea what "The Secret" is.

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    19. Oh, and Miller, this:

      Humans codified their moral sense, other humans took this to be Gospel.

      I assume you hold that since humans codified their moral sense that discredits those as merely imaginary or, in some way, invalid. Well, science is no less a codification of human experience, processed with methods, some of them common with religious ideas. The masters of logic in the medieval period generally used it to discuss those matters. At its very foundations, inescapably, it has the same bases as any other intellectual activity. Or where do you imagine that science came from? Prometheus? The mythical figure, not the publisher of scientistic garbage.

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    20. Ummmm ... I 'imagine' it came from empirical investigation, hypothesis-testing, intersubjective communication of observation, successful or failed repetition, exploration of other avenues suggested by findings ... None of it came from some bloke sitting down one day and writing "In the Beginning..." or "... and no blokes shagging blokes, if you don't mind".

      Yes, of course I think the contents of holy texts are human-created. I'm an atheist, what the heck do you expect? That does not 'discredit' them or render them 'invalid' - it is merely my opinion. One would have to be an extreme relativist to consider them all correct; I just happen to disbelieve one more than you (yes, I know that is not original). In the matter of science, however, there is something far stronger than opinion - experimental evidence.

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    21. I'm not sure it's true that God, in the context of the idea of God's love (for people), can separate God from people. If you want to get involved with the kind of debate over every syllable of that idea, I doubt Larry Moran would welcome it.

      I think we would both have to consider it likely that such a being existed before entering such a debate, so I don't think Larry need fret. But it does not require 'separation' of God from People, simply recognition that (for the point I was making) God and People are separate entities. Unless God IS People ... in which case ... ?

      'God's love' could equally be directed at himself, with people merely some validation tool in that process of self-approval. Or at fish.

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    22. In the matter of science, however, there is something far stronger than opinion - experimental evidence.

      Ah, now, that's one of the things I've been wanting to get into since I reread Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum. And if I wasn't busy with my series tying Ernst Haeckel to your mascot's neck like the proverbial mill stone, I'd be glad to do it.

      As I've already mentioned luminiferous aether and could mention behaviorism, Freudianism, evo-psy, eugenics, and a myriad of other things which were science before they were demoted to "science" I don't think the historical record would allow you to assert that is a solid fact.

      I think we would both have to consider it likely that such a being existed before entering such a debate, so I don't think Larry need fret. But it does not require 'separation' of God from People, simply recognition that (for the point I was making) God and People are separate entities. Unless God IS People ... in which case ... ?

      In my post this week about the enormous irony of whoever the "editor" of the Wikipedia article on "Quote mining" using a closely cropped snippet by the great geneticist, Jerry Coyne's scientific grandfather, as it were, Theodosius Dobzhansky while leaving his declaration that "I am a creationist and an evolutionist". and as he endorses de Chardin, who pointed out, at least once, that to hold that God exists puts the category of existence over God, I'm not so sure that someone more qualified as a scientist than you are would agree.

      I agree with the Quakers that there is something of God within every person, I'd go farther and say every sentient being, so the idea that God has to be a "separate entity" isn't a unanimous opinion.

      Atheists don't seem to understand that idea, that God is not separate from the created universe or any thing or one that is part of it. There is no alternate universe that scientists study that is different from the one that the creation myth in Genesis talks about. There is nothing that actually exists in the universe that can not be the intentional creation of God, in that conception of God and the universe. So the idea that people are separate from God is, again, not a unanimous opinion.

      If you can't see many avenues for long arguments to take in that idea, then it's only because you didn't know anything about it.

      Go read my first Haeckel post. It's quite a neat case, you'll never make the mistake of denying that Darwin and Huxley, as well as Francis Darwin tied the old man and Haeckel together for good. And don't miss where Francis Darwin had his father supporting George Darwin's "eugenic article" in 1873. As I said to Diogenes every single thing I've seen in the primary record so far supports the case. Which I'd found the last time I looked into this issue. A case made on solid evidence of the kind that tells you what it means instead of having to interpret ambiguous data.

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    23. Now, how did I miss this one before?

      One would have to be an extreme relativist to consider them all correct; I just happen to disbelieve one more than you (yes, I know that is not original). In the matter of science, however, there is something far stronger than opinion - experimental evidence.

      I can imagine a creationist making a list, including... "...Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin, George Mivart, .... You see, I don't believe in (Charles) Darwinism, I just disbelieve in one more version of evolution than you do."

      Many versions of evolution being untrue doesn't mean that all versions of evolution are untrue. There is no logical reason that a jillion incorrect versions of God would necessitate that every version of God being false. There is no reason that God couldn't be real and exceed every single attempt at human definition. In fact, that pretty much describes the Jewish conception of God, which is far more than just a conception.

      I don't know how old you are but I fought these common atheist dodges out with my dear old Latin teacher who was a very intelligent, very well read old sucker for the Bertrand Russell line of atheist tripe before many of you boys were born. And I was an agnostic at the time. I've always found agnostics tend to be better at analyzing these issues than atheists. I find the best atheists pretty much only take the bronze, most don't even take the tin foil.

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  20. It's a logical disconnect to criticize religious people for their moral failures when their religions usually try to encourage moral behavior and to issue that criticism from a platform that doesn't try to encourage moral behavior.

    First, criticism of moral failure attends only those who contend they, directly or indirectly, epitomize morality. Oh, it attends famous celebrities too....but then the "peanut gallery" is called that for a reason, right?
    Second, the platform you mention, atheism I presume, is not a platform - it is simply disbelief in unbelievable things. You of course are mistaking atheism as "just another religion" I presume, and therefore expect dogma, and politicking, and such. You are conflating nouns and verbs and various other things in a dimly lit haze.
    Yes, the ideological communities united by their shared disbelief in obvious nonsense will politic, and gnash teeth etc...but this only in response to the theological absurdities willowed, and willowing, through society. It is not atheism itself. Atheism prescribes nothing, and neither it nor religion has anything to do with constructng the foundations of human morality.

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  21. First, criticism of moral failure attends only those who contend they, directly or indirectly, epitomize morality.

    Give me a break, criticism of moral failure is almost a habit of the vast majority of the human population no matter how immoral or amoral they might be. The whine about people saying they wouldn't vote for an atheist is a moral criticism, it's a claim of unfairness, which is a moral criticism.

    Second, the platform you mention, atheism I presume, is not a platform - it is simply disbelief in unbelievable things.

    And one of those "unbelievable things" is that there is any actual absolute morality. Molecules and objects and natural forces don't contain that. Atheism presents no basis from which to lodge a moral criticism.

    You are conflating nouns and verbs and various other things in a dimly lit haze.

    I wish someone had sent atheists the notice that a combination of mathematics, logic and physics obliterated logical positivism, from the bottom up, beginning c. 1930. Your statement is not meaningless, if rather hazy itself, it's merely wrong.

    Atheism has a history of being tried as a basis for maintaining a decent society and it is a failure. It is rejected by most people and when it is imposed it has done so by violence, murder and oppression. That's the historical experiment of atheism with political power. If people have a great hesitation to believe atheists make good politicians, perhaps that history and the declarations of atheists such as Coyne and Dawkins is the reason.

    How many of you guys would vote for a biblical fundamentalist? Me neither. Do you think it's bigotry that you wouldn't?

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    1. TTC: One thing is absolutely clear, Christians, Jews, Moslems, many other religious people who murder people, who commit genocide, who enslave people and steal their means of livlihood are acting against the moral code they profess to live by.

      Actually, they are not. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all require violence in self-defense. Most religious leaders who order genocide do so by invoking self-defense-- saying, "They're attacking us."

      Hitler didn't say the Jews are innocent and we like to kill innocent people. Hitler said the Jews are attacking us, and Christianity requires self-defense.

      Hitler: "My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before, the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people." [Speech, April 12, 1922. From "The Speeches of Adolf Hitler."]

      In order to get a policy of action, you must add a value-statement to a fact-statement.

      (value-statement) + (fact-statement) --> Action

      Here the value-statement is "violence required for self-defense". That is found in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

      The fact-statement in this case (Hitler) is "The Jews are attacking us and undermining civilization and will destroy civilization itself if nothing is done." (This "fact" was maintained by the Nazis throughout the war, expanded as necessary. For example, when England declared war on Germany, the Nazis added the "fact" that the Jews controlled England and drove it to destroy the Germans.)

      Other popular fact-statements from Christians include:

      1. "The atheists are attacking us and undermining civilization and will destroy civilization itself if nothing is done." (This statement was also central to Nazism, because Nazis taught that Jews were dangerous because they were closet "materialists" claiming to have a religion.)

      2. "The Muslims are attacking us and undermining civilization and will destroy civilization itself if nothing is done."

      And so on.

      Here Hermann Goering, who was a conventional Lutheran Christian who helped engineer the Holocaust, explained to the Nuremberg tribunal exactly how you carry out such policies.

      Hermann Goering: "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." [Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials]

      So it's the fact-statements, not the value-statements, that are dangerous.

      And people who make absurd statements and accusations not backed up by evidence should be challenged.

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    2. Continuing:

      In the Middle Ages, when earthquakes occurred, Christians said they happened because Jews had desecrated communion wafers.

      If you believed as a fact-statement that Jews can physically hurt Jesus' body (via a wafer), shouldn't you use violence to stop them? If you believe Jews can cause earthquakes that kill many people, shouldn't you drive them out?

      Better: let's just challenge fact statements that are absurd.

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  22. Atheism presents no basis from which to lodge a moral criticism.

    Theism by itself also presents no basis from which to lodge a moral criticism. Value-statements cannot be derived from fact-statements alone. What TTC here is claiming is: because one cannot derive value statements from facts, therefore one can only make value-statements based on non-facts. No, that does not logically follow.

    Fact: There is no Santa Claus.

    From this fact-statement, by itself, one cannot derive a value-statement. If you want a value-statement from theism OR atheism, or from Santa or from no Santa, or any other fact-statement, you have to add a value-statement to them.

    However, TTC here is trying to claim that because moral statements cannot be derived from FACTS, therefore moral statements can only be derived from NON-FACTS.

    Non-fact: there is a Santa Claus.

    This non-fact contradicts the fact above, but it does not logically follow that one can make a moral statement based on a non-fact, by itself.

    Consider the two statements below.

    (1) If a statement is an accurate fact, one cannot derive a value-statement from it.

    (2) If a statement is not an accurate fact, one can derive a value-statement from it.

    TTC is saying that since (1) is true, (2) must be true, but (2) is not proven even if (1) is true. (2) is the logical CONVERSE of (1), and the CONVERSE of a statement is not necessarily true even if the statement is true.

    One cannot make a moral statement based on a fact like "There is no Santa Claus." But it does not follow from this that one can make a moral statement based on a non-fact like "There is a Santa Claus."

    And one of those "unbelievable things" is that there is any actual absolute morality. Molecules and objects and natural forces don't contain that.

    Molecules, objects and natural forces do not contain abstract concepts that are useful to describe them-- like math, probability, statistics. Because some abstract concepts are useful, and cannot be "contained" in objects (they DESCRIBE objects), does not prove spooks exist.

    The existence of spooks cannot be proven by asserting the usefulness of abstract concepts like math, statistics, aesthetic beauty, or morality. Abstract concepts like math, statistics, aesthetic beauty, or morality are useful. In what sense is it useful to hypothesize the existence of spooks or a spook-world? Has the spook-world hypothesis contributed to any testable predictions confirmed by observation-- besides those that were falsified?

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    1. TTC: I wish someone had sent atheists the notice that a combination of mathematics, logic and physics obliterated logical positivism, from the bottom up, beginning c. 1930.

      I would like to know what fucking physics contributed to the alleged refutation of logical positivism. Which laws of physics did they invoke, exactly?

      This kind of thing "Oh your facts were refuted by our brilliant, but unnamed experts in an unnamed book" is just trolling.

      TTC has no idea HOW his experts disproved logical positivism. If he understood such "proofs", he would have summarized them. He did not summarize these "proofs" because TTC doesn't know anything about them. TTC keeps saying this, and yet he never backs it up with evidence, so none of us care. He's trolling.

      So why does TTC keep saying it? He needs to believe that Christians are intellectually superior to atheists. TTC doesn't know or care what the details of their argument are-- was their argument valid or not? TTC doesn't know, doesn't care.

      What he DOES care about is, he needs emotionally to believe that Christian philosophers (like Plantinga) are intellectually superior to atheists.

      They're not; Christian philosophers are all dumb fucks. There are no Christian philosophers smart enough to refute atheism or logical positivism.

      All who try are dumb fucks, and their arguments contain multiple, trivial logical fallacies. TTC dares not to describe their arguments because he knows we would demolish them easily.

      TTC says that "physics" was involved in refuting logical positivism. Which physics, exactly?

      We all know TTC won't answer. He'll weasel out, evade and return later to copy-n-paste more quote mines he got from creationist morons. Which laws of physics were those, TTC?

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  23. Diognes, as Lewis Black unforgetably said to Glenn Beck "You've got Nazi Tourettes"

    http://www.funnyordie.com/embed_videos/f1c10b0077/lewis-black-explains-glenn-beck-s-nazi-tourette-s

    I looked it up, it's just about 99 44/100th % clear that Darwin was guilty of quote mining W. R. Greg. I'll be looking up other quotes to see if he trimmed them to make people think the "science" he was consulting in The Decent of Man wasn't as depraved as it was. That was on yesterday's post. Though the Tuesday post expose that the Wikipedia article on "quote mining" contained an even clearer instance of "quote mining", I'd guess put their by one of the sci-guy "editors" for ideological polemics instead of non-ideological information.

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    1. Diogenes wrote: TTC says that "physics" was involved in refuting logical positivism. Which physics, exactly?

      We all know TTC won't answer. He'll weasel out, evade and return later to copy-n-paste more quote mines he got from creationist morons. Which laws of physics were those, TTC?

      Delete
    2. I gavede the citations and links to where I got the passages I us, I used primary sources, the words of Darwin, Galton, Leonard Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, W.R.Greg F.W.Schallmeyer, W. Fick, and I got most of my clues of where to look FROM THE CITATIONS CHARLES DARWIN GAVE, HIMSELF, IN THE DESCENT OF MAN.

      It's obvious you're clueless as to how scholarship works but the case I made had to be made with the words of those people, it couldn't have been made from secondary sources or the tertiary and worse crap you got your chopped up quotes from.

      Anyone who read The Descent of Man and followed up CHARLES DARWIN'S citations would see what I said was true. Anyone who looked at Leonard Darwin's writings at the archive of Eugenics Review would find out the confirmation of it from someone who knew his rather a bit better than a blog atheist crackpot in 2012. Oh,you can also blame the Darwin Correspondence Project and Francis Darwin, another of Darwin's eugenicist sons, for publishing some of Darwin's letters. As I said in my series, I'm just beginning to look into George Darwin's eugenics activity that began two years after his father published The Descent of Man, well before Darwin died.

      You can believe what Charles Darwin et al said or you can believe what Diogenes says about what they said, which one do you think will get you to the truth? I mean really think, not pretend to think.

      Face it Diogenes, your idol is a false god. I'm going to show that someone who holds that evolution is true can tell the truth about Charles Darwin.

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    3. TTC: It's obvious you're clueless as to how scholarship works

      A moron like TTC doesn't know shit about scholarship. What has TTC ever published in peer-reviewed historical journals? This dipshit is gonna teach us about "how scholarship works".

      What don't you try publishing your trash in peer-reviewed historical journals?

      Oh you can't, because real historians know the importance of context and dating. Real historians look with horror on obvious quote mines.

      Real historians would immediately recognize that Darwin approving of Haeckel's scientific statements in the 1860's is not evidence that Darwin approved of Haeckel's alleged political beliefs in the 1890's.


      When TTC quotes Darwin, he usually leaves the date off so we don't know the chronological sequence.

      Real historians would not publish your trash.

      Why don't you publish your stuff in peer-reviewed historical journals? It's an original thesis, you say. It's been suppressed by the Darwinist conspiracy, you say.

      You know "how scholarship works"? Why don't you publish your stuff in peer-reviewed historical journals? Why not, you stupid ass?

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    4. Diogenes wrote:

      TTC says that "physics" was involved in refuting logical positivism. Which physics, exactly?

      We all know TTC won't answer. He'll weasel out, evade and return later to copy-n-paste more quote mines he got from creationist morons. Which laws of physics were those, TTC?

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    5. Diogenes, you can lie as much as you want about what I said, I'm not going to stop saying it, depending on most people being able to read what I wrote and judge that and those who don't to be able to tell an unhinged nutcase who calls himself Diogenes but who wouldn't know the truth if it hit him on the head with a 10 inch Griswold skillet.

      Oh, well, that's what happens on the blogs.

      As I told your good friend SLC, I'm busy.

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    6. Diogenes wrote:

      TTC says that "physics" was involved in refuting logical positivism. Which physics, exactly?

      We all know TTC won't answer. He'll weasel out, evade and return later to copy-n-paste more quote mines he got from creationist morons. Which laws of physics were those, TTC?

      Delete
  24. Real historians would immediately recognize that Darwin approving of Haeckel's scientific statements in the 1860's is not evidence that Darwin approved of Haeckel's alleged political beliefs in the 1890's.

    But those books that Darwin endorsed - the only one's I've used - didn't only have scientific statements in them. They had explicitly political and eugenics statements in them. I haven't referred to a single book by Haeckel that Darwin didn't cite and endorse in The Descent of Man or by letter to Haeckel. What he said to Haeckel when he hosted him at Down, no doubt, to be joined by Haeckel on his nature walks on Sandwalk, I haven't found any documentation of those yet, though Francis Galton seems to have listened in.

    There is no honest way to separate Darwin from Haeckel and whatever Haeckel said in the books Darwin endorsed. And there is no way to overturn Haeckel saying that he was inspired by HIS FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE Charles Darwin. But my posts on the Darwin-Haeckel relationship aren't ready. You'll like the short one I posted on George Darwin, today.

    http://zthoughtcriminal.blogspot.com/

    I have to point out, Diogenes, that I have yet to find anything in the primary record that doesn't support my contention.

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    1. I've posted the first part of the case that Haeckel is permanently tied to Charles Darwin, by Charles and Francis Darwin and Huxley as well as Haeckel.

      http://zthoughtcriminal.blogspot.com/

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  25. @andyboerger,

    But then you ask people to take the quotes that you provide about Darwin seriously, and think long and hard on them. And I admit that the quotes you provided, two in particular, were extremely distasteful to me.

    andy,

    I'm sure you are more than capable of making up your own mind, but if it's the quotes I am thinking of, they are a very close parallel of the Sam Harris one - outline a case, and then object to it.

    TTC is very careful to stop quotes at the exact point necessary to make the worst case. Even when people can see the more complete version a scroll away.

    It may be that overly-selective quoting, and guilt by association, are justified by pursuit of some personally important 'ultimate goal'. But I find it underhand and repellent, regardless of the target. Darwin, I am reliably informed, could not care less, and as regards that particular individual, neither could I, but I value accuracy and fairness.

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