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|Voices of Disbelief (the book)||
Voices of Disbelief will likely be available around August of 2009.
The contributors are as follows:
1. Peter Adegoke
Russell Blackford (co-editor) says "When it appears on the shelves, you'll see that it has something for everyone, from austere philosophical articles to relatively lighthearted biographical pieces - to some not-so-lighthearted ones! Some authors have encountered religion at its best; some have encountered it at its worst; none actually sees any good reason to believe its supernatural claims."
|A Temple of Science?|
|Christians in Texas Command Hurricane Ike to Stop||
A group of Christians from Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, has decided to call upon the Almighty to stop the advancement of Hurricane Ike into Houston. By beseeching the assistance of Jesus, the alleged son of God, they have "power and authority to affect the weather," says one churchgoer upon questioning. When asked how it came to be known that they possessed this extraordinary ability, the answer was simple: faith. While it may seem absurd to claim any knowledge of this power since it has not been borne out by evidence of any kind, faith is all the evidence these believers need. Rev. Caldwell, pastor of the church, says, "It is definitely by faith that we know that we have an impact." Their church recently held a prayer meeting in order to officially command Ike to cease and desist its approach into the Houston area. Some participants claimed to have calmed Edouard and sent hurricane Gustav into southern Louisiana. No explanation was given for the Almighty's lack of regard for the residents in that area.
Other incredulous residents have demanded proof. "If they do have this power, then they should be using it for the good of all, possibly even 24 hours a day for weather all over the world," says one of these skeptics. Another person suffered mild oxygen deprivation and was nearly hospitalized after hearing the news due to sanguinea, or excessive laughter. Overall, the reaction has ranged from anger to hilarity. Some are simply curious. In order to quell the doubts of the faithless, it is the responsibility of the members of Windsor Village UMC and all others who feel that they possess this power to gather en masse and put this argument to rest.
Staying in the Houston area and commanding this "satanic" storm to stop is not only the right thing to do for the sake of all of the residents of this heavily populated area, it will also prove the veracity of their claims. The existence of such a power could have life-saving potential for people all over the world, and the brave men and women here should do all they can for the benefit of humanity--gather together on the beaches of Houston, Galveston, wherever this storm is predicted to make landfall, and push it back with the power of prayer. With more knowledge of this phenomenon, we can all look forward to a future free from natural disasters and other, shall we say, acts of God.
(portions of the above are parody)
If you are interested in helping to stop Hurricane Ike, the following prayer is the official "Severe Weather Prayer" being used:
THE NON-PARODY RESPONSE:
For the full story from the weather channel, click here.
|Evolutionary Psychology and Political Incorrectness||
I found this gem of an article while perusing Psychology Today, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite magazines. I won't reprint the entire thing here, since it is long, but here's the link.
Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature
The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.
Glory hallelujah! Finally, somebody is willing to tell truth even if it hurts somebody's feelings.
This goes against everything that the femi-nazi PC police want you to believe, but it is entirely accurate.
Humans are naturally polygamous
Gawd's perfect plan involves polygyny...hmmm. We won't even mention the thousands of biblical instances since we already know that they just make shit up at random.
Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy
Take that, every person who's ever criticized us for stating that being pretty is evolutionary advantageous. After all, what do we know?
Most suicide bombers are Muslim
I love this guy. Seriously. Can he confirm everything that I already thought was true?
Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce
I was about to say that one didn't work in my case, since I am divorced and have 3 sons, but thankfully he added the "wealthy families" part. *pshew*
Beautiful people have more daughters
Yeah--where are my daughters? Although, it's probably better for me to have boys. Mothers tend to pass on their body image issues to their daughters, and that would not be good.
The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of
Geez...we women are the masters of our own destruction...
It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)
Let's Bill Clinton off the hook...and the countless other philandering leaders throughout history.
Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist
I quoted that whole section because it the most difficult one to wrap my head around. I find that fascinating and I venture to guess that most have not considered it from that angle. Of course, men still need to learn how to behave in the work environment, but at least the concept of a man's brain being taken over by his penis is still undeniably true.
Psychology Today Magazine, Jul/Aug 2007 Last Reviewed 20 Sep 2007 Article ID: 4359
|Sapient and Explorologist reach a settlement agreement||
Explorologist Ltd. and an online critic have settled their legal battle over a YouTube video challenging Uri Geller's claims about his mental powers.
EFF and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, LLP, represent Brian Sapient, who uploaded an excerpt from a documentary that critiqued Geller's performances and abilities to YouTube. Explorologist claimed the clip infringed its copyrights. More information about the case is available here. Here is a previous post from Sapient on the court case.
The agreement should allow the healthy debate about the existence of 'supernatural powers' to continue without interference. As part of the legal settlement, Explorologist has agreed to license the disputed footage under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, preempting future legal battles over the fair use of the material. A monetary settlement was also reached.
|No More Abortions in South Dakota?||
Hehe...this article from Slate.com encapsulated the insanity that has forever gripped the anti-abortion movement. The double-speak required to pass this recent bit of legislation is beyond Orwellian. According to this recent mandate, abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." Huh? Can you run that by me one more time? An implanted embryo is whole, separate, and unique? Then why does a mere separation of the placenta from the uterine wall inevitably result in death? Whether it happens via mechanical methods or spontaneously, it seems to be a near certainty that until the point of viability, which is somewhere between 20 and 28 weeks, detaching this supposedly whole and separate human being will result in its demise.
I agree with the author of this article: Abortions should be renamed "separations," and those who choose separation should no longer be held accountable for the consequences. After all, it is a "whole, separate, unique, and living human being."
|Atheism and Autism--Are They Correlated?||
This month's issue of Psychology Today has an interesting piece that reminded me of everybody's dear friend, Vox Day. He asserts in his blog and his book on many occasions that atheists are more likely to suffer from what he terms "social autism"--disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome or mild forms of autism. He bases this on informal internet surveys that questioned people on their personality traits. But is the correlation really there, or is this just another attempt to disparage atheists?
"It's All Geek to Me" by Benjamin Nugent discusses the difference between the systematizing brains of so-called "nerds" and the empathic brains of the more socially inclined. Although nerds, the "intellectually gifted but socially awkward" (p.39), do share some traits of those with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) but not to a severe enough degree to be classified as a pathology. In fact, the behavior can be brought on solely by parenting style according to Dr. Mel Levine, and the socially inept can be taught the skills necessary for more intuitive social interactions. This is where nerdiness differs from ASD. ASD is persistent despite attempts at socialization.
So what does this have to do with atheism? Vox insists that atheists are more likely to be “socially autistic,” which is slightly redundant since autism necessarily entails a type of social ineptness, but I think that the correlation there is purely coincidental. We already know that atheism/nontheism is more prevalent among those of above average intelligence. If people with above average intelligence are also more likely to be “nerds,” or have S-type brains, then it stands to reason that the true connection has nothing to do with atheism and everything to do with the fact that there are more educated and intelligent people in the atheist community who have the aforementioned traits. It is also important to keep in mind the fact that social awkwardness does not imply a pathological disorder.
Obviously, this is not a scientific study. This is my own inference based on what appears to be a logical correlation—as opposed to the completely illogical idea that atheism somehow causes autism or that autistic people are more likely to be atheists. Vox will probably backpedal and say that he was using the term “autistic” loosely, but he does spend quite some time reiterating these sentiments both in his book and on his blog.
Anybody with Lexus-Nexus or JSTOR subscriptions—I would love to get copies of any journal articles that may be relevant to this topic if you wouldn’t mind sharing.
|Serotonin linked to religiosity||
In a recent study, researchers have found that people with higher concentrations of serotonin receptors were more likely to be religious or the nebulous "spiritual." This is interesting because it would explain the connection between transcendent experiences and the use of psychotropic drugs and also the inverse correlation between religiosity and depression. Check it out for yourself:
|Wanna See Me Naked?||
Well, kind of. In animated form.
The SheVibe poster is finished. I guess now I'm an atheist super-hero or something. Like Wonder Woman. Except less clothing. Hmmmm....*having thoughts about what kind of weapon I would have. Like a Reason Ray or something that would suddenly make people logical*
Anyway, I anticipate the usual reaction from the prudes and sexually repressed people. May I say in advance that not only do I not care what you think, I find both the "You're hurting women everywhere" and the "Truly rational people would never submit to a base desire such as...sex" complaints equally ludicrous, and I'll only laugh at you, so save your time and the bandwidth needed to tell me what a horrible person I am. After all, I am the Official Spokesperson of Atheists Everywhere At All TimesTM and something like this will only harm "The Cause." As you can see, I'm already aware of this. Don't make me shoot you with my Logic Laser.
For the rest of you (ie the human beings who accept that sex is a biological function and physical attraction is coupled with that), enjoy. I've got to get back to plotting my nefarious plan to destroy the public image of atheists and women.
|Vox Day - Where Did I Say I Was Finished?||
Just had to post this so that everybody knows that I am not finished with chapter 4, nor did I saw I was. I found that there was enough material to cut it into 2 posts, and not wanting to make it too long, decided to dissect the foundation of chapter 4--the immorality of atheists, or lack of definable morality--before delving into the specifics.
Geez Vox, you shouldn't be so hasty to jump to conclusions.
|Reason Is A Religion…||
…with none of the defining characteristics of a religion. It is because Vox Day says so in Chapter 4, entitled “The Religion of Reason.” Aside from the humorous comparison between an atheist politician and a “toothless, illiterate, homosexual Afro-Hispanic crack whore with a peg-leg,” his opening salvo misses the point when he adds in the footnote that “it appears that telling people how evil and stupid they are may not be the best way of convincing them….” (p. 61) The reason that atheists are distrusted and, in some cases, despised is not because of intellectual elitism and snobbery—it’s because atheism has been caricatured and stigmatized as a pseudo-Satanic cult in most popular media. It is still not socially acceptable to be as open with one’s non-belief as those who believe are. Walking or driving around with merchandise that announces one’s lack of superstitious belief still draws glares or snide remarks mixed in with the head shaking and sympathetic looks. Meanwhile, almost nobody looks askance at people wearing jewelry depicting crosses and dead crucified men, and Jesus fish are practically ubiquitous. Nonetheless, atheists are unpopular—just not for that reason.
Vox relies on many non-scientific studies done by news organizations to prove his points in this chapter, which is fine as they can be a legitimate gauge of popular culture, but one must be careful to remember that these surveys are subject to many confounding factors that limit their usefulness—the most obvious being selection bias and lack of randomization. When a person chooses to call in to a place and voluntarily take a survey about an issue, they tend to have very strong feelings about the issue. People who don’t find religion to be an issue are not likely to waste their time. With that out of the way, he claims that people use the religion of a politician to have confirmation of their personal morality. Given the fact that within Christendom, people’s morality can vary widely even on issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and war, it wouldn’t seem to be a very accurate or reliable tool. With our current president displaying extreme bellicosity and having the honor of putting more people to death than any other during his gubernatorial term in Texas, his conversations with Jesus don’t appear to have had any effect. Life is precious and sacred—until it comes out of a vagina. After that, fuck turning the other cheek. Is anybody else confused? What happened to praying for those who persecute you and giving the thief your shirt after he steals your jacket? It seems that people are talking to lots of different Jesuses. Or the Jesus they are talking to suffers from dissociative identity disorder.
Day admits that these moral boundaries are theoretical, and thus nullifies his own argument. We have already figured out that religiosity is no guide to an individual’s behavior, whether they are engaged in politics or not. The Jimmy Bakkers and Ted Haggards of the world only confirm the hypocrisy that is evident in the actions of most every believer. Given these facts, perhaps we need a better moral determinant. Maybe we could try some less nebulous ways of getting this information—such as asking them? I know, it’s a radical change from assuming that they hold to a set of beliefs handed down to fictional characters millennia ago, but it just might offer more insight into the personal morality of our leaders.
Day then uses the absence of defining characteristics of atheism, aside from lack of god-belief, to bolster his argument that there is no way for a person to know what particular pursuits will be undertaken by the politician with no religion. While I agree that this is the case, it seems ironic that he (admittedly) reverses his opinion in this circumstance. Isn’t this chapter called “The Religion of Reason?” If it is in fact a religion, then there would surely be some tenets and guidelines. Moreover, he proceeds to go on and claim that, by and large, atheists “parasitically” adopt the morality of their “hosts”, AKA the religious people around us. Could it not be the case that the similarities in ethical belief systems lie in the evolutionary origins of morality? Humans have been selected for traits such as reciprocal altruism and empathy, and while the details may vary over time and cultures, the tendencies that lead one to believe that some standards must be adhered to have been hard-wired into the brains of those most successful at reproduction. The specific indulgences, such as premarital sex, prohibited by religion are just as easily discarded by the religious as the non-religious. It is not random, as he asserts, but rather based in our nature as social creatures dependant on one another and the maintenance of stable societies. Religion may have played a role in the establishment and development of these groups, but we have moved past the point where punishment from sky-daddys is necessary. That’s what the justice system is for, and if that isn’t enough of a deterrent, neither is god. As he again conflates atheism with communist fascism as proof of the willingness of atheists to kill, need I remind anybody of the violence inspired by religion throughout history? Oh wait, that only applies to atheists. When it’s religious people doing the killing, they’re merely power-hungry humans lying about their religious belief to attain the trust of the populace. It has nothing to do with religion. And leaders who claim a religious affiliation are still more trustworthy, despite all of that. Special pleading, anybody?
To be continued…seemingly ad infinitum. Seriously, there’s so much material here that just begs for a response, I’m practically swimming in notes. Well, as they say in Japan, with the closest English equivalent lacking all of the sentiment, がんばります.*
*ga-n-ba-ri-ma-su - I will persevere.
Well, I'm thinking that it's about time to return to the grind here. Sorry, I was suffering from massive drama overload both in my real life and online. Anyway, Vox Day has been on my mind so expect the next installment within a few days. I assume his cronies have already declared victory due to my extended absence, but rest assured that whether anybody likes it or not, I will complete this project if only because I have committed to it and abandoning it would be a concession of defeat in the eyes of his fanboys. That and the fact that there's an incredible amount of material waiting for a refutation. So, if anybody missed me--I'm back. If you didn't miss me, .
Also, I semi-announced this on the boards, but the magazine SheVibe, which is totally NSFW, is currently working on a full-size poster of me which I expect to be totally hawt, so when I have more info on it, I'll be letting you people know. For an idea of what it will be like, check out their Eye Candi or magazine covers sections of their site. (Although, going by what they're saying about it, it should be infinitely cooler. )
ETA: In much more interesting news, while perusing the aforementioned SheVibe site, I found this story, interesting mostly because of proximity, of a pair of Bucks County, PA mothers who allegedly got their MILF on with the attendees of a slumber party of one of the women's son's. Wow, Pennsylvania's getting nuts.
|For All of the Anti-Breeding Women Out There...||
The atheist community seems overrun by people who have no desire to reproduce. Not just that, but some even despise the concept and those who continue to do so. This is likely due to the fact that people with high levels of intelligence and education tend to have smaller families, and I am by no means trying to criticize anybodys personal choices, but the oft-quoted and equally misconstrued studies about that correlation lead to division between the "breeders" and the childless.
In the spirit of informed choice, I feel that it is necessary for both groups to understand that repercussions of their chosen lifestyle. The following piece is a tidbit that represents only a small fraction of the data on women's health and childbearing. Contrary to popular opinion, having children makes you healthier. Maybe also insane, but it significantly lowers the risk of certain diseases, including things like breast cancer if you breastfeed (which you should, but that's another topic).
And don't worry--I haven't forgotten about Vox Day. I'm just giving my readers a break.
|If Sex Is A Drug, What Isn't?||
I've been too busy lately to post on topics when they might actually be fresh (novel concept, I know), but I really wanted to touch on the Pope Benedict soliloquy on sex. Having read Humanae Vitae myself, I am quite familiar with the subject at hand. The Catholic Church, while progressive in some areas, most notably science, still clings to these archaic beliefs about sex and birth control. I guess that's not surprising considering that sins "of the flesh" are considered to be more grave than others, but even within the bounds of marriage, birth control of any sort other than Natural Family Planning (which differs from the commonly known Rhythm Method and is more effective, but not by much). The HV also addresses euthanasia and abortion, rules for fair and justified war, and other issues that pertain to the creation or destruction of life.
Most interesting, though, was Pope Benedict's comment about sex "becoming like a drug" (link). There are people who deal with sex addiction, just as there are those with gambling or shopping addictions. What needs to be addressed here, though, is firstly, can a biological function become an addiction and should it be labeled as such, and secondly, the behavior of an addict is most often just the overt manifestation of a deeper issue. Often this may be a chemical imbalance in the brain, or it could also be a learned behavior primarily driven by the adrenaline rush. At any rate, if sex is a drug, then we have all the more reason to label religion as a drug as well.
Excluding those with eating disorders, which are problematic but not necessarily the result of our biological urge to eat as opposed to the ability to control oneself or self-esteem issues, is eating three meals a day a food addiction? Even compulsive overeaters can't necessarily be labeled as addicts because their issues are often much more complex as well.
Sex is a biological urge--something that we are literally driven to do, with a few rare exceptions. So, assuming that your sex life is normal and not problematic (ie not uncontrollable nymphomaniacs who can't stop themselves from having sex), how can we compare a normal bodily function to a drug to which we can become addicted? Is this just another scare tactic? The DARE program of sex ed? I guess the entire human race is addicted to shitting and sleeping as well.
Everything that a person experiences is the direct result of the release and uptake of neurotransmitters and neuronal impulses. A malfunction in that system, which is intricate and not well understood, could cause a cacophony of seemingly dysfunctional behaviors. The act of sex, or any physical contact, and orgasm in particular causes the release of oxytocin, which is a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of attachment and what we would call love. Childbirth and breastfeeding do as well. This is to facilitate the preservation of the family unit. Sex also causes serotonin and dopamine to be released in the brain, causing feelings of well-being and relaxation. In high concentrations, such as with the use of cocaine or amphetamines, it is dopamine that elicits the euphoric high. This cocktail of neurotransmitters is powerful--and necessary. Without it, who would really want to procreate? The fact that this has been selected for over millenia of evolution coupled with the success of the human race is an indicator of just how vital the pleasure associated with sex is.
A normal, healthy sex drive is not an addiction. One of the greatest sins of christianity, in my opinion, is the suppression of normal sexual behavior, which ironically tends to cause much more serious psychological problems than just admitting that human beings want to have sex.
Considering that the development of these responses is completely necessary for the propagation of the species, if Benedict considers sex a drug based on the neurochemical response, then he must also admit that religion is a drug. Religious practices cause stimulation of various parts of the brain, most notably the temporal lobes, and through repeated usage of those pathways, they become strengthened and the brain soon restructures itself to accomodate these neuronal connections, leaving one in a state in which they either cannot leave religion or just don't want to give it up. Going to church, reading the bible, and prayer could all be considered the "fix" craved by addicts of all sorts.
One of the most common excuses for the tolerance of religion in society is that it makes people happy or gives them comfort. Well, so does heroin, coke, or pot. As a matter of fact, if one takes it to that extreme, everything is a drug and we are all addicts. We're addicted to food, breathing, the beauty of nice spring days. The affection we have for our families is equally an addiction. Pope Ratzi can't just pick and choose activities of which he disapproves and label them as addictive drugs--to maintain his position, he must admit that everything is a drug, including his religion, and therefore the term drug is meaningless and obsolete.
|It's Christian Bashing Week!||
How's that headline? Do I have everybody's attention now? Good. Because a headline like that should get your attention. Would anybody tolerate "Gay Bashing Week" or "Woman Bashing Week?" The very idea is ludicrous. Yet, Dinesh D'Souza can print an article entitled "Atheist Bashing Week" and hardly anybody bats an eyelash. There's certainly not public outrage and condemnation for such blatant bigotry. He was just joking, you say? Even in all of our stunts, which are regularly criticized by atheists (often quite vehemently), we've only dared to tell people that their god doesn't exist or encourage others to say so and post it to YouTube. Even the mind disorder controversy doesn't encourage physical harm or even allude to it. If we haven't had "Christian Bashing Week," you can bet it's because we find the notion repugnant, even in jest.
D'Souza's piece may have been tongue-in-cheek, but that is of little consequence to the typical reader who barely scans headlines and will be even subliminally influenced by this, much less those who don't have the reading comprehension to detect his almost imperceptible sarcasm. Could any of you imagine a "Muslim Bashing Week?" Even if a "Ha ha! Just kidding!" is added at the end, it is still extraordinarily offensive, and the fact that he isn't facing scorn for this piece is evidence that people are still permitted to discriminate against those evil godless heathens.
Though our numbers are increasing, it seems that our influence is not--at least not fast enough. Criticism of anybodys belief system is a freedom that I prize, and I have no desire to silence the apologists, but an inference to acceptance of physical harm is quite different. If we ever want to cast off our mephistophelian characterization, we must put a human face on the term "atheist," and the easiest way to do that is to openly identify yourself as one. Only then will we see public criticism of this rhetorical intolerance--when almost everybody has a son, daughter, sister, brother or friend who is an atheist.
|The Case Against Science?||
Sorry - this is a long one. For my next blog post, I'll be taking a break from Vox so I can kick somebody else's ass and all of you who keep telling me to drop the Vox project will shut up. As to the length--I know it's taking absurdly long and I still have 13 chapters to go. I just wanted to do a critique that was so detailed that nobody would need to read the book to know what it says. I may have to go with the more concise plan, though, so I can finish this sometime, oh....before I die.
Vox Day seems to have a proclivity towards using odd anecdotal evidence gleaned from the writings of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens in order to formulate his arguments against atheism, and he continues in the same vein in chapter three. In short order, we discover that “New Atheists” harbor outright hatred for religion and that we “science fetishists” believe that science “dictates” human behavior, rather than merely describing or explaining it.
It is humorous to see Vox attempt to argue that science, not religion, has outlived its usefulness to humanity—a reference to Daniel Dennett's theory in Breaking the Spell. There are thousands of phenomena that have yet to be explained thoroughly, countless cures for illnesses, and an innumerable amount of problems that can only be solved through the use of science. Ironically, Vox practically contradicts his personal beliefs by claiming that humanity has survived “millenia of religious belief,” but due to things like over-population and global warming, as well as the aforementioned development of WMDs, we may not survive a mere four centuries of science. (Four? He later claims it's really 60 years.) Considering that the overwhelming majority of scientific advancements have been positive and improved our quality of life, and there is still much work to be done, this argument is not tenable in any way, not to mention that Vox doesn't even believe that global warming is occurring. (nb: He does attempt to semi-dodge by adding the disclaimer, “If the prophets of...are correct,” but I find that to be borderline dishonesty considering his personal opinion on the matter. Vox is spinning this with centrifugal force.)
To illustrate his point, he opens up the chapter with a quote from Sam Harris that seems to acknowledge the danger posed by some of these scientific advancements insofar as it gives those with no fear of death (ie—the religious folks who believe that this is merely the prequel to their “real” life in heaven) the ability to destroy all of humanity to fulfill their destiny, whatever they feel that may be. Mutually assured destruction is merely hastening the grand finale of god's plan for our existence and leaves our supernatural dictator to sort the wheat from the chaff. From that perspective, it almost seems like a good idea.
I have no idea what this has to do with Harris' “Enlightenment utopianism” or the argument that religions have never created an atomic bomb or a carbon-producing, petroleum-guzzling automobile. Religion has also never created a defibrillator or an antibiotic. Why would it? It has absolutely nothing to say about technology of any sort, other than when it is referred to as being evil in some way. It seems that Vox is really grasping at straws here. It's as if he has created a false dichotomy of the vilification of science and the justification of religion. They are, and should be, completely separate issues. One of the biggest issues that atheists have with religion is the refusal to butt out of science. Science is not the opposite of religion, nor is it a religion. It is a method of explaining facts and observations and the world in which we live—at least to the best of our ability given our limited knowledge at any one point. (Think Descartes in Meditations regarding action without perfect knowledge.) Of course, it's not as if the five major religions listed by Vox, which oddly excludes Judaism, have not had weapons—the stone and the machete are still popular in some Middle Eastern countries, and that is certainly more painful and torturous than being shot or nuked.
His ultimate conclusion here is that the real danger is science, not faith. He misses the point that religious belief provides the impetus to use that technology. Not to sound like an NRA spokesman, but weapons don't kill people: People kill people. Overpopulation, pollution, and advanced weaponry are caused in part by science, but not in the nefarious way that Vox seems to imply. The detrimental effects seen in the post-Industrial Revolution era were both created by science and discovered by science. Hopefully, they will also be solved or at least diminished by science. Abandoning science is certainly not the solution, not to mention the fact that I don't think anybody, Vox included, wants to go back to the era of plagues, premature mortality, and endless manual labor just to survive. If you do, have fun eating tree bark.
Vox attributes the “responsibility” for the development of advanced weapons to science. How can science be responsible for anything at all? It is a method, a discipline with no agenda and no ability to do anything for which it could be held responsible. Would it not be the specific people who utilized science in order to formulate the things that Vox considers detrimental? What he does here would be akin to blaming highways for the criminals who use them to escape from police, despite the fact that the vast majority of drivers are on their way to some mundane job. I assert that Vox either misunderstands the meaning of the word “cause” or is just padding his argument with spurious claims.
He does attempt to rebut the impending criticisms, some of which are used here, but I find that his analogies are inaccurate. Cigarettes don't cause cancer if you don't smoke them, so once again, the onus of responsibility lies with the person making the choice to smoke. Inanimate objects, material or immaterial, cannot cogitate and are only tools used by people. Some people may use pencils to stab people—is the pencil responsible? We can even flip this argument around and say that since religion causes or has caused some negative events, then religion itself is responsible and no amount of good makes up for those atrocities. Vox will argue here that the real danger lies in mutually assured destruction, which no amount of faith is going to cause. That's true enough on the surface, but what if that faith is the motivation to use such a weapon? Belief in an afterlife of perfection and bliss doesn't tend to make one prize their, or anybody else's, time here on earth. If science is responsible for the negative repercussions of technology, then religion should be held to the same scrutiny, and thus his argument that religion doesn't cause violence is moot.
Vox argues that adherents of a religion should not be blamed for the actions of other, more radical, believers if we insist that all scientists should not be held accountable for the actions of a fringe minority. Again, this seems to make sense, but the fundamental difference between science and religion is that a scientific worldview does not endorse any particular activities—it is not a set of proscriptions and laws upon which your eternal soul depends. His assertion that individual believers are held accountable for the actions of other believers is inaccurate—it's not the other believers, it's the belief system. There are no threats of hell or promises of heaven for certain behaviors inherent in science—only the temporal consequences of the justice system. The only way that religion can be viewed as not directly inciting violence is by claiming that the texts upon which a religion is based are allegorical or outdated. All throughout the bible and the koran, violence is encouraged and even demanded. The whole basis for christianity is that god has some kind of bloodlust because of the evil system which he designed that required first animal sacrifice, and finally human sacrifice. We are all deserving of death from the moment of our births (maybe even conception since their argument is that blastocysts are human beings) and without Jesus' propitiatory sacrifice, we would all go to hell to be tormented for eternity. Sounds like good wholesome family values.
If the scriptures of any religion are inaccurate or outdated, then one must admit that their god is not omnipotent or omniscient. One of them has to go. Either he couldn't ensure their transmission without error, or he was just wrong about what was going to happen. If they are outdated, then god cannot be eternally existent as there would be no moment at which his commands or desires would expire. The bible recounts many examples of god changing his mind, (think Abraham and Lot, for example) but such behavior would be impossible for a being that exists outside of time and is unchanging, which leads us right back to omnipotence and omniscience. The whole anthropomorphized omnimax creator being is a concept so absurd that even those who believe in it cannot explain it or agree upon its foundational attributes. That should be a clue as to its veracity.
That makes it extremely ironic that soon after the aforementioned defense, Vox claims that it is better in some instances for humans to remain ignorant of certain things to prevent the damage they may cause. He says, “I am merely pointing out that the evidence suggests that in some circumstances, ignorance may be preferable to knowledge, especially partial knowledge imperfectly understood and enthusiastically embraced too soon.” (p. 50) A better description of religious belief is rarely uttered, although his intent was to disparage science. We would be much better off without the so-called “knowledge” of religion and imaginary sky-daddys.
Certainly, the words of Feynman and Dawkins on pages fifty-two to fifty-three are indeed true—science gives one the power to do good and evil. What one chooses to do with it is not the fault of the method by which it was developed. The designers of the first automobile didn't know about carbon dioxide and pollution resulting in potentially catastrophic global warming. Should they be blamed? Even Henry Ford, who made the mass production of automobiles possible, had no idea what the impact would be. Unfortunately, we just can't see into the future. It's like pharmaceutical development—a small percentage of people may have adverse effects, but if it is beneficial to most, then the risk is worth taking. If it is no more effective than a placebo but still has adverse effects, then there is nothing redeeming about it and it should be eliminated.
Vox returns to the Harris argument that science and faith produce a toxic concoction which may eradicate humanity and claims that Harris' logic is flawed because the real danger is science itself. I think that Vox is missing the point that both components are necessary and the removal of one eliminates, or at least reduces, the danger of the other. Again, if religion is the impetus behind the use of a weapon, even if only insofar as the person who is utilizing it feels assured that a better life awaits in eternity, like a suicide bomber, then religion is to blame for the unjustified use of that which was scientifically developed. Given that science has, in a very short time period, done more good for humanity than religion has in thousands of years, and that the negative effects do not outweigh the positive, we can conclude that it is a worthy endeavor. Religion, on the other hand, has done what? There are a few soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and that's great, but atheists do that as well. A recent study showed that non-religious physicians were more likely to treat the under-served and impoverished than their christian counterparts. There are missions in other countries, but what good is building a church in Guatemala when people are starving? Is proselytizing to an African woman going to save her child from Kwashiorkor's disease (a malnutrition related and fatal ailment)? Meanwhile, we have killing in the name of religion, child molestation due to the repressed sexuality forced upon Catholic priests, suicide bombers killing people everyday, and catastrophic events such as 9/11 which kill thousands. Oh, wait, that must have been the fault of the Wright brothers and others who laid the foundation for modern airplanes. One must conclude that an individual's personal comfort derived from religion is not enough benefit to make up for all of the detrimental effects. Religion should be recalled.
Vox has a few examples of how religion supposedly doesn't subvert science, which we all know is untrue. Just the idea that believing things based on faith without knowledge is virtuous is an abhorrent concept that is taught to children all over the world. He does the stem-cell bit, which I'm not even touching because this would be another three pages if I did. Interestingly, he claims that science forms the basis for a system of ethics, which is absolutely ridiculous. A scientist could be a utilitarian, a hedonist, a determinist, a humanist, an anything-ist—science has no fundamental ethical or philosophical worldview. Science is a methodology. Yes, it can influence people and the decisions they make, but that doesn't make it a religion. Vox Day also doesn't seem to realize that statistics are meaningless out of their context, and the reason why the US (which is NOT a christian nation) produces more scientific output than France, which he claims as the most atheistic country, but I don't know where he's getting that data from, is because we have more money. Shocking, I know. I wonder how much of that scientific output is from his brothers in christ as they develop more sophisticated weaponry.
Science has at times been slow to adopt new theories. Vox uses the example of antibiotics, and there are more, such as hand-washing preventing childbed fever, which killed thousands of women after giving birth soon after that process was institutionalized. Generally, this is because the new idea or product must be proven to work. We have antibiotics now and we know all about germs and hand-washing, so it is apparent that the scientific community relented. Meanwhile, some religions still cling to creationism, whether literally or loosely interpreted, and they have historically balked at every scientific discovery since heliocentrism until it is so well established that they look silly. Then they just re-interpret their obscure ancient myths to fit the new data and make ludicrous claims like Mohammed knew about atoms. The push to clothe creation in science and insert it in schools is a travesty. It's bad enough that people choose to teach their children fairy tales and to claim certainty where there is none. Religion has, and will continue to, dumb us down, as it makes us complacent participants in some grand play in which we are all just marionettes anyway.
|Segments from recent radio appearance||
Hey folks, this is Sapient. Just wanted to get a copy of some segments we recorded of a recent interview Kelly did.
Feel free to comment right here.
ETA: The link to hear the entire interview is here.
|The Second Cross-Examination||
Gah--this is taking so much longer than I thought. I’m going to attempt to keep this brief and only address major points so that I can move on to chapter 3. I already have people bitching that I should just “ignore Vox,” but I have no intentions of doing so. His fan-boys would only claim victory, so plod along with me here. (Pretty please?)
It is perfectly understandable, but unfortunate, that Kelly is so wedded to an oppositional context that she tends to blindly fall into applying hostile and incorrect interpretations to various parts of the text in which no opposition is required. This does not appear to be a problem of basic reading comprehension, but rather, the result of reading with a critical filter that causes her to react rather than think through her response to what she is reading. This filter, combined with her failure to read the entire book before beginning the chapter-by-chapter review, leads her into a number of completely unnecessary errors in her critique of this chapter.
I’ll concede that you may be correct that I may have assigned motive where there was none. I guess that’s just the nature of only being able to see things from my perspective and not yours. As far as the chapter by chapter thing goes—I already addressed that and will correct whatever warrants it as I come upon it. I don’t think that there is any way I could have done a thorough examination with the entire book to ruminate upon.
This is not only wrong, it is completely backward. Kelly fails to understand that the point of referencing the blatantly false claim to science by Jim Rose is to provide a simple and vivid picture of the way the New Atheist books are doing precisely the same thing. The Unholy Trinity's attempts to argue "it is science" in support of their atheism are every bit as absurd, and as unscientific, as Jim Rose's similar claims about nipple-piercing and lightbulb-chewing. My purpose is not to belittle science, nor confuse the reader, it is simply to clarify the line between that which is claimed to be science and is, and that which is claimed to be science and is not.
So then, you only wanted to compare atheists, specifically D,H, and H, to the Jim Rose troupe? I think either way, the comparison was made in order to draw a correlation in the readers mind to something freaky and odd; whether it was atheists or science is kind of irrelevant.
Kelly's view of scientific studies is rather innocently naive, as she fails to acknowledge the significant distinction between valid ones that make legitimate use of the scientific method, those which are actually quasi-scientific surveys that involve no actual experimentation, and metastudies that are often nothing more than surveys of surveys. Many, if not most studies involve absolutely no experimentation, and as one can readily observe, "studies show" is a mantra - not an atheist one, but rather a science fetishist one - that is quite often invoked by non-scientists in an attempt to lend a scientific sheen to a non-scientific argument, in much the same way that the New Atheists regularly attempt to invoke science on behalf of their non-science.
I didn’t find it necessary to speak of meta-studies at all as I am focusing on the experimentation aspect of science that correlates to something being objectively demonstrable. A meta-study is data collection from previous experiments. As much as you may dislike them, studies are pretty necessary and if the studies are properly conducted and reproducible, then there is credence in the phrase “studies show.” Unfortunately, the average person has no clue how to analyze such a study and just mimics whatever they have heard on Oprah, which may or may not have any validity.
Her citation of the dictionary definition of science notwithstanding, Kelly does not seem to understand that science does not deal in truth and falsehood, as Karl Popper wrote in The Problem of Induction: "in science there is no 'knowledge', in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. ... This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by 'proof' an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory.
I get that. I have repeatedly pointed out (not necessarily to you, but publicly elsewhere—like Nightline) that science is constantly changing in light of new evidence and we are working with the knowledge that we have now.
Recall that I am criticizing Popper's definition of science, then read this again. Kelly misses my point, which isn't that Divine Linguistics are a legitimate object of scientific inquiry, but that Popper's definition of science is an incomplete and imprecise one, inadequate for my purpose of distinguishing between science and non-science. The fact that she has to rely on a non-Popperian definition of science and make a baseless assumption about the nature of Divine Linguistics in an off-target attack that doesn't defend Popper's definition in any way not only proves my point about the weakness of the "falsification" determinant, but shows that Kelly is too caught up in an oppositional mindset to properly grasp what she is reading.
I do seem to recall including falsification as a determining factor—not the entirety of science. I don’t see how it demonstrates weakness or my oppositional defiance.
Now, I originally suggested Divine Linguistics as something that everyone would agree is non-scientific by non-Popperian terms, but contra Kelly's assertion, if we accept the documentary evidence that God spoke to Moses in the shape of a burning bush, (and we have no basis to reject it except non-scientific logic), then the language of God is clearly a physical phenomenon which can be subjected to scientific experimentation, at least in its intersection with humanity. The fact that an experiment is difficult does not mean that it is conceptually impossible.
An experiment on that subject would not be difficult—it would be impossible. Maybe I’m being too literal and you are using some analogous language, but first, one would have to provide evidence that the event even occurred, of which there is none, and then try to compile enough data to make a determination. That’s not non-scientific logic. That’s an historical issue as well as a scientific one. Given that god doesn’t talk to us measly humans anymore, I don’t see any studies forthcoming, either.
As far as her amazement and confusion goes, I am currently writing a parody of Euthyphro which purports to do for science what Socrates's dialogue is thought to do for the source of morality; as anyone who has read the appendix knows, I am contemptuous of the dialogue and consider Socrates's reasoning to be disingenuous and his conclusions specious. Although we have only reached the second chapter in this extended debate, I think it will be difficult for Kelly to top her ludicrous assertion that I totally lack comprehension of the so-called Dilemma of Euthyphro.
A modern day Aristophanes? Whether you personally like the dialogue or not, it is designed to make you think. Socrates comes to no conclusion and as in most of his dialectic, he does appear disingenuous at times, but the ultimate goal is to get a person to examine his/her beliefs in a non-threatening manner. It did, and still does, appear to me that you don’t get the bigger picture. Then again, I’m a fan of Socrates and may be biased.
Interesting? I should have thought it was obvious. Kelly seems given to finding humor in that which is over her head. Intelligent Design is little more than an attempt to lend scientific credibility to a set of what are currently presumed to be non-scientific beliefs. ID is an imitation of science, not a redefinition of science, and like most imitations, stems from a fundamental respect for that which it imitates; that very respect for science is why ID proponents seek to establish its scientific legitimacy. If they can manage to develop a series of replicable experiments that support their theory, they will have earned that same respect from others.
This being an ideological battle, not a scientific one, I will have to be content to let you continue thinking that ID is anything more than an agenda machinated to repackage creationism in pseudo-science. If people can’t see that science will not and cannot infer a “designer” in the supernatural sense, then I can’t help.
Kelly's arguments about the Dark Ages are remarkably stupid and expand our awareness of her historical ignorance, as I most certainly did not assert "that the Dark Ages were not caused by christianity" nor did I defend them, I pointed out that the Dark Ages never existed in the first place, and showed in TIA that this is a long-standing historical consensus that has been acknowledged by the Encyclopedia Britannica for more than seventy years.
That’s an argument you should take up with the vast majority of historians who disagree with you. I cannot prove that the Dark Ages occurred any more than you can prove they didn’t. EB doesn’t seal the deal.
I should be very interested to hear Kelly instruct us on the state of science prior to the millennium-long scientific void that she posits was caused by "religious motivations and prohibitions"; it appears that she doesn't understand the difference between technological development and science. But she's correct, pointing out various sects of Christianity does nothing to disprove the existence of something that never existed. I should be quite interested to see her evidence of science, as she defined it above, in the pre-Christian era. UPDATE - Since I was just reading Plutarch six months ago, I am somewhat chagrined that Jason needed to remind me the library at Alexandria mentioned by Kelly was burned by Caesar more than four decades before the birth of Jesus Christ. Plutarch: " In this war, to begin with, Caesar encountered the peril of being shut off from water, since the canals were dammed up by the enemy; in the second place, when the enemy tried to cut off his fleet, he was forced to repel the danger by using fire, and this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great library;"
This is not at all true. It was once thought to have been, but there have been inscriptions found from the reign of Tiberius and later that indicate that it did in fact exist at least until the First Century, and the most likely dates of its destruction are now either the Third Century attack of Aurelian or following the 391 decree of Theodosius to destroy all pagan temples, and carried out by Theophilus. It may also have been partially destroyed in the first instance and completely destroyed in the second. There is some debate about that.
Perhaps Kelly should ask Richard Dawkins which he believes is more in danger. I'm quite confident he has far more fear for his Enlightenment values than he does for science. In fact, if she thinks about it, she might even realize why evolutionary biologists are so much more concerned about threats to their "science" than are astrophysicists, economists, or any scientists in any other field.
I think that the perspective of a biologist varies greatly from that of an economist or astrophysicist, particularly with regards to ID. I am quite confident that Dawkins would claim that science is his primary concern, but to him, science is more of a worldview consisting of using evidence and reason in as much of your life as possible.
This is amusing, Kelly just stabbed her own definition of atheism in the back, since she previously argued that atheism has nothing to do with rationalism or empiricism.
I never made an absolute statement about atheism and its correlation with rationalism/empiricism such as ALL atheists believe x. It is not a necessary contingent—I wish more atheists were rational. It does not change my definition of atheism as a simple lack of god-belief at all—it merely correlates rationalism and empiricism with the proclivity to be atheist.
As for science not applying to the supernatural, Kelly would do well to recall that even by her definition, science can certainly apply to the intersection of the supernatural with the natural, in fact, interactions between the detectable and the indetectable is the basis of a fair amount of so-called science today. But more significantly, Kelly seems to have missed the point that aside from a few of those little anti-atheist seeds she mentioned, there is simply nothing in this chapter with which an atheist need disagree in any way, shape or form. I conclude by noting that she did not bother to even mention, let alone criticize, the tripartite definition of science by an atheist scientist which I concluded was the most substantive and useful definition for clarifying the difference between science and not-science.
I didn’t disagree with your usage of Myers’ definition. Natural phenomena are studied by science—regardless of the ultimate cause. No amount of science will ever show anything other than “We don’t know” when it comes to determining supernatural causation. We could be spinning like a basketball on the finger of god—but science can’t examine that. It could only describe the spinning.
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|Carnival of the Godless #89||
I am honored to be hosting the 89th Carnival of the Godless, but before we begin, I need to tell the readers something.
Welcome to the April 13, 2008 edition of carnival of the godless.
Joe Dunckley presents Church leader declares crackpot ideas, gets free air time posted at Cotch dot net.
DWSUWF presents "The maxim of civil government being reversed in that of religion, where its true form is..." posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, "And what of our time? Does the electorate still impose a religious test for public office? It speaks well for our time that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman was elected in 2006 and serves today. But could a Muslim be elected president? The eagerness with which some have propagated and defended the fraudulent “Obama is a Muslim” e-mail points to how much religious intolerance remains. Could a Jew be elected President? Possibly. How about a Native American who practices the religious rituals and ceremonies of his ancestors? Could a professed atheist or agnostic get elected to major office anywhere regardless of secular qualifications?"
Jason presents 1689: Kazimierz Lyszczynski, the first Polish atheist posted at Executed Today, saying, "I know this is pretty late for the March 30 carnival; I hope not *too* late ... what can I say? I'm constrained by history."
Martin Wagner presents Closed captioned for the humor impaired posted at The Atheist Experience, saying, "In which Kazim offers some suggestions to Christians who think they can sway atheists merely by incessantly quoting the Bible, and comes up with The Star Trek Rule."
Christian Bachmann presents Atheism is compatible with the Ten Commandments posted at Joy of Freethinking, saying, "I guess that most atheists may not be aware of the fact that they observe the Ten Commandments better than many observant Jews and Christians."
Hemant presents It?s Dangerous for Children To Know Atheism Exists, Says Illinois State Legislator posted at Friendly Atheist.
Buffy presents “Myth 2: Religion Does More Harm Than Good” posted at The Gaytheist Agenda, saying, "A dissection of a theologian's attempt to dispel the "atheist myth" that religion causes more harm than good."
C. L. Hanson presents BYU wrap-up posted at Letters from a broad..., saying, "The BYU segment of the online atheist novel Exmormon has been posted, including the deconversion scene and the famous gratuitous love scene."
Greta Christina presents The Blasphemy of Creationism posted at Greta Christina's Blog, saying, "Why creationism -- and the idea that the Bible trumps science and evidence -- is more disrespectful to the creationists' God than anything any atheist could say or do."
Greg Laden presents It is OK to be an atheist, but not an uppity atheist posted at Greg Laden's Blog, saying, "This is a bit of a follow up you may want to look at: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/04/it_is_ok_to_be_an_atheist_as_l.php"
Allen in Fort Worth presents "Under The Banner of Heaven", Warren Jeffs, The FLDS, and The WFZ Ranch posted at The Whited Sepulchre, saying, "why does God give some people revelations and messages without giving the same information to everyone else?"
Matthew Armstrong presents Dave Makes Arguments Fun! posted at Anthroslug the Much Put-Upon, saying, "An artist friend produces another variant on Creationist Bingo - fun at science classes, school board meetings, and Republican party functions!"
Beth Patterson presents The Onion headline: Buddhist Monk Wins Serenity Competition posted at Virtual Teahouse, saying, "A little satire is good for the soul...whatever the hell that is! Beth, Virtual Tea House Host"
Ariah Fine presents Isn’t It The Churches Job? So, Why Do We Ask The Government? posted at Trying to Follow.
Greta Christina presents Atheism, Bad Luck, and the Comfort of Reason posted at Greta Christina's Blog, saying, "An atheist perspective on runs of bad luck... and why I find this perspective far more comforting during difficult times that the supposed "comfort" of theism."
vjack presents A Non-Believer in Church: First Free Will Baptist at Iuka posted at Mississippi Atheists, saying, "posted by Oliver"
eltower presents Gott mit uns posted at Gospel of Reason, saying, ""In the dark depths of the lack of knowledge of early human history, maps can be found in divine interpretations, counsel is given from trances and most importantly deeds, good or evil, bear from a higher cause. Of course, depending on where you look, not much has changed at all. One would be hard pressed to believe that a world where superpowers invade sovereign countries because ‘God’ told them so was a world in the XXI century, and not in the age of the Trojan Wars.""
Michael Dorian presents POLYGAMY IN TEXAS—OR RAPE AND PEDOPHILIA? posted at NYC-Atheists Blog, saying, "The Carnival of the Godless Blog is a tremendous idea. My blog is relatively new (just three months old) and I've been doing my darnedest to attract traffic. So glad I came across this. I hope my submission is selected. In any case, I'll be back for more. And thanks!"
Rook Hawkins presents On Paul and Identity.
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the godless using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
|Carnival of the Godless and more Vox||
I am officially announcing that the next Carnival of the Godless will be hosted here, on my blog, beginning April 13. Be on the lookout for that. I have gotten a bunch of good submissions already.
The following is a "response" from a Vox Day fan. It is relatively devoid of anything intelligent, but I address it because everybody cries if I don't.
I have some agreement with your comment. However we are not talking proof here, just a suggestion. Correlation implies causation. It is hypothesis generating.
But a brief survey with biases may still be hypothesis generating, it is the more detailed study that confirms or rejects this. And my comment about the onus being on the person denying it is because no matter how good a study is there will always be flaws, and your suggestion allows people to continually say that correlation does not equal causation.
Seriously, have you ever studied statistics and research methods? If so, you should ask for a refund. A good study should not have flaws or major confounding factors, but even so, science requires it to also be reproducible, and the true test is proven over time by many experiments that result in the same conclusion. Correlation does not equal causation. Period. Ever. That is the first rule that you apparently never learned.
Fine, deny it, but give a feasible explanation. For a weak study (Vox's humourous tally) you can give a general response (self selection of autistic types on forums), for a strong study you need to give a better response. No response is a cop out.
His “tally” was not presented as humorous. Nonetheless, I fail to see the relevance here. What “strong study” have I dismissed?
Summarising my various responses
The word “naturalism” is inherent to concepts such as fact, knowledge, and systematic. No matter how strong your belief, these things are only observed within the natural world and the supernatural is a priori excluded.
What? Without experimentation science does not exist! It does not reduce to naturalism. Naturalism is not even part of it, save for naturalists poisoning the well: "naturalism is true because science is true and, um, science is X, Y and Z and, um, naturalism."
What? Without experimentation science does not exist! It does not reduce to naturalism. Naturalism is not even part of it, save for naturalists poisoning the well: "naturalism is true because science is true and, um, science is X, Y and Z and, um, naturalism."
Science is also tied to naturalism by definition. Any other definition is not science, but is an attempt to label nonsense as science. Science is by always a study of natural occurrences, not supernatural.
kelly78 wrote: Vox “…The very existence of the Intelligent Design movement is a testimony to a respect for scientific methodology…” (p. 33) Excuse me? Their attempt to redefine science to include supernatural explanations is “respect,” but Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion was a useless distortion of science? Interesting.
The very definition of science excludes those things. Get over it. I didn't invent the terminology.
Further, the idea that some design is permissible if the designer is natural and not permissible if they are supernatural is special pleading. How can seeing design in a plane be acceptable but not that in a bird? Archaeology is acceptable because we know the designers of arrowheads were Indians. How much do we need to know about them? They existed, their name, how many kids they had, their favourite colour?
Completely untrue. We have examples of airplanes being designed and manufactured; we have no such example for birds. It is not special pleading at all.
If something seems to be supernatural is that outside science until we discover the designer was in fact natural then the same topic suddenly comes within the domain of science?
In some sense, yes. Once evidence is presented that demonstrates a particular cause, there should be no assertion as to what such cause may be.
And that has what to do with anything? If Pasteur believed it, it must be true? Please, pretend to be more rational, especially considering your own accusations of fallacious argumentation. That is called an argument from authority.
More historical ignorance, the dark ages were not scientifically void, they were pre-science. Prior to science there was just technology, and the dark ages were far from technologically void. Christian Europe had great advances in technology during the dark ages (which the non-Christian continents, while having some minor gains, failed to match).
More historical ignorance, the dark ages were not scientifically void, they were pre-science. Prior to science there was just technology, and the dark ages were far from technologically void. Christian Europe had great advances in technology during the dark ages (which the non-Christian continents, while having some minor gains, failed to match).
Oh, so the pre-christian Greeks contributed nothing to science and knowledge in general? And you accuse me of ignorance.
In his defence of the Dark Ages, Day mentions that an Italian Christian actually “coined” the term, so to speak, and that its meaning has been perverted by those who assign an anti-religious bias to it. I don’t know that there is a fallacy specific enough here, but it would seem to be similar to an etymological fallacy in that he is using a definition that has no support or relevance in modern society. The term “Dark Ages” may or may not have been anti-Germanic in origin—it is not now.
Do you just believe whatever somebody tells you? If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn... The religious association is clear when one takes into account the chronology of the establishment of a state religion, ie christianity, and the resulting destruction of knowledge and subversion of science.
Obviously. Empiricism is a method of determining truth from falsity—a philosophical stance. But empiricism as a “movement” did in fact present itself during the Enlightenment.
kelly78 wrote:the fact that there’s no proof for the existence of god and science just doesn’t apply to the supernatural
But the determination that the cause is supernatural cannot be determined through scientific methodology. You really need to study some more before your next attempt. No offense, but this was pitiful.
|The (ir)Rational Atheist--More Vox Day||
Starting off chapter two, which is entitled “Defining Science,” is a brief description of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, unknown to most, but a troupe of traveling masochists (or so it seems) who represent his caricature of science. These little side stories can have more of an effect than the reader understands, though. Right off the bat, science is seen as either freakish or trivial due to the association with that particular experience of his. Because of this, I find it necessary to give you the actual definition of “science”:
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation…
4. systematized knowledge in general.
5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
6. a particular branch of knowledge.
7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency. (from dictionary.com)
There are other, more precise definitions, but this is a decent general overview. Notice the emphasis and repetition of words like “systematic,” “knowledge,” and “facts.” Keep that in mind, ladies and gentlemen.
Vox Day launches his tirade by attempting to confuse the reader and blur the line between scientific and non-scientific inquiry. He goes on to present the words “studies show” as some kind of atheist mantra or magic spell that automatically convinces our opposition of our veracity. The major flaw here is that when one is dealing with issues that can be studied with some measure of reliability, studies are of immeasurable worth in demonstrating the truth or falsity of a proposition. Experimentation is the foundation of science and without it, science is merely a naturalistic philosophy with no real answers or solutions. It is true that many in the media or general populus don’t understand the proper way to interpret these studies and may latch on to some obscure results prematurely, but that does nothing to discredit the practice or findings of scientific study.
His next major criticism, after some attacks on Dawkins’ affection for science and implications of hallucinogenic drug use, is that many scientists today subscribe to the Popperian philosophy and rely on falsification as the determinant for a scientific versus non-scientific endeavor. He claims that this is outside the definition of science and is a flawed addition. What he fails to see when he makes his case by claiming that a hypothesis about the language of god is theoretically falsifiable is that by his own definition, provided from the Oxford English Dictionary, the language of god is excluded before we even get to Popper because it is not a physical, natural phenomenon that can be observed and tested. Thus, it fails to qualify as science per any definition, with or without Popperian philosophical baggage.
Perhaps the most amusing aspect thus far is his total lack of comprehension regarding Euthyphro’s Dilemma, which dealt with the source of morality—not the existence of god(s). Beyond that, he practically asserts that some kind of resolution was reached in the dialogue and that, if applied to science, it could be extrapolated that science doesn’t exist. (This is the point at which I’m looking at my monitor with a look of amazement and confusion—what kind of thought process led him there?) No wonder he thinks that the execution of Socrates was a good thing, although he places it erroneously within the reign of the Council of Thirty, while Apologia clearly explains that it was a jury of 500 citizens who convicted him of impiety. That same document states an incident that Socrates had with the Council, and also that they had been ousted. It’s a common mistake given the proximity, so I guess we can cut him some slack there, likely never having read Socrates’ defense for himself. (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/)
Alright, I was wrong earlier. The funniest part of this chapter is when Day makes this statement: “…[T]he very existence of the Intelligent Design movement is a testimony to a respect for scientific methodology…” (p. 33) Excuse me? Their attempt to redefine science to include supernatural explanations is “respect,” but Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion was a useless distortion of science? Interesting.
His rhetorical question about the hazard posed to science by religion and the resulting “hostility” betrays his lack of awareness of just how detrimental religion has been to science. He busts out this gem: “Some of history’s greatest scientists are known to have been men of great Christian faith.”(p. 34) Well, if I lived in a time period during which I could be tortured, killed, or otherwise persecuted for my lack of belief, I’d likely be a “christian” as well.
As for Vox’s assertion that the Dark Ages were not caused by christianity, all I can say is that is highly debatable. I am not prone to vilifying the Catholic church for rejection of science, at least not since Vatican II. They are likely the most progressive church from a scientific perspective (or possibly Episcopalians, but we all know that they have the same origins thanks to Henry VIII). Nevertheless, Vox again attempts to mislead the reader with his quote from Philip Jenkins (p. 35). The Dark Ages were brought on largely by the destruction of a large part of the knowledge base that had been acquired, like the library at Alexandria. Most documentation contrary to christian ideology was destroyed or interpolated. The average person has no idea that prior to that time period, the earth wasn’t thought of as flat, and even the concepts of evolution and atomic particles had already been postulated. The “monolithic church” was one that varied from country to country or region to region—nobody I know of ever asserted that one church had power over the entire known world. The fact remains that religious motivations and prohibitions caused most of what was essentially a millennium-long scientific void. Pointing out the various sects of christianity does nothing to disprove that.
In his defense of the Dark Ages, Day mentions that an Italian Christian actually “coined” the term, so to speak, and that its meaning has been perverted by those who assign an anti-religious bias to it. I don’t know that there is a fallacy specific enough here, but it would seem to be similar to an etymological fallacy in that he is using a definition that has no support or relevance in modern society. The term “Dark Ages” may or may not have been anti-Germanic in origin—it is not now.
He briefly touches on the French Enlightenment philosophers, just enough to hold them accountable for the French Revolution (again) for “weakening the social and judicial pressure” (p. 37) that had previously kept the proletariat silent. What a horrible thing to do! As I stated in my previous blog post, this will be dealt with in more depth later.
One of Vox Day’s hobbies appears to be analyzing the order in which people place things conversationally so as to draw conclusions as to his/her motivations to do so. He spends some time on Dawkins, claiming that it is not science that he wishes to defend, but mostly his Enlightenment ideals. Mostly based upon the fact that Dawkins says that the “Enlightenment is in danger” and then lists science fourth in a list of other endangered ideologies. If that doesn’t leap off the page and scream “Non sequitor,” I don’t know what will.
He finishes off the chapter with more seemingly unrelated arguments concerning the (apparently) evil Enlightenment, never realizing that the reason why modern atheists seem to share so much with them is because that was essentially the birth of rationalism and empiricism, not some kind of ancient idol worship. As far as science in Iran goes, why exactly does he think science is booming there? Nuclear weapons, anybody? ICBMs? I am far from an alarmist, but let’s be realistic here. This was a pathetic attempt to, once again, vilify atheists and declare us guilty by association (through philosophical similarities) with people who may or may not have done terrible things, such as the killers of Lavoisier—somebody who one would think would have been well-received.
I must say, his tactic is ingenious. Plant little seeds in your minds—make connections and correlations to atrocities which had nothing at all to do with me or the fact that there’s no proof for the existence of god and science just doesn’t apply to the supernatural—in order to have you nodding your head in agreement when he casts us as immoral baby killers (as he will shortly—we’ll get to it.) Very subversive; under the radar, but ultimately superficial. All you need to do is take a quarter and scrape off the silver lining to see the words “Better Luck Next Time.”
I’m sure I’ll see you on the rebuttal and/or chapter 3 for more fun with Vox Day!
|Response to Vox||
Alright - I had posted this as a comment under my previous blog post, but it's too damn long to not make it separate. So, without further ado...my response to his response to my response to The Irrational Atheist.
Actually, we're only supposed to make sure you have heard the Gospel, if you're not inclined to listen, we're permitted to shake the dust from our sandals and move on in good conscience. Moreoever, I never claimed to be a particularly good Christian, the reason I'm less annoying than the door-knocking fundamentalist who wants to talk to you about Jesus is because I care less about your fate. My libertarianism pretty much goes to the bone.
I prefer your more subdued form of proselytization, but I think that the bible clearly indicates that as one of the “elect,” you should in fact feel sorrow for the fate of our heathen souls. People like Paul even wept for the lost. At any rate, this is a trivial point that is not written out plainly as a command, so I won’t press it further.
First of all, the US is not a pure democracy, and the majority does not necessarily get their way. The government was founded upon secular principles and the absolute separation of church and state was the foundation upon which they were constructed. I also find your addition of the word “God” following “Creator” to border on dishonesty, as I’m sure you are aware that the god of the founding fathers was not the god of christianity and the creator to which they refer could very well be the universe or the deistic god in whom most of them believed. The states also cannot have laws that violate any constitutional principles and are given the power to rule only within those boundaries.
Finally, I note that the tagline on Kelly's site: "Believe in God? We can fix that." tends to undermine her assertion of indifference towards the beliefs of others.
I see that some people have a hard time appreciating facetious sarcasm.
I disagree here for multiple reasons, some of which may boil down to theological differences. First of all, your belief affects me because it compels you to a) write books on the subject, b) consider yourself vastly superior to those who don’t find your god’s existence axiomatic, and c) engage in the same psychological terrorism which I previously mentioned. Secondly, the bible is quite clear that my salvation is not dependent upon my actions, but rather is a gift from god to those whom he has chosen. If you believe that the bible is at least remotely accurate, then you must accept that I am walking down the path that was made for me by your god who created me specifically for the purpose of going to hell. After all, it was all planned from before the foundations of the universe. Is that not what is written?
As far as personal beliefs and behaviors are concerned, I have already stated that I do not care what an individual person believes as long as it stays personal. Attempts to proselytize, subversion of scientific research, the desire to control uteri worldwide, do I really need to go on? Legislating morality based on your god belief immediately removes it from the personal level and places it firmly within the public sphere.
I believe that is an issue of some dispute within academia. The structure in the French government was very much feudalistic and also had similarities to caste systems as advancement through the three “levels” was difficult, if not impossible. If anything was the impetus for the revolution, it would have been the fact that the established hierarchy was oppressive and not the fault of the philosophers who pointed it out.
I don’t recall ever making a statement about any particular ethnic group. Regardless of that point, the pre-revolutionary France was very much like a caste system. I feel that the analogy is appropriate.
I never stated that the concept itself was new, only that the right to express it, even in opposition to the government, was. And just for the record, I don’t believe in absolute free will, either. I believe that people will make certain decisions, seemingly of their own volition, based on genetic and environmental variances. The nature versus nurture debate will likely never end, but a critical examination of the studies will show that things as trivial as your vehicle preference are correlated to genetic similarity. If free will exists as you claim it does, then how is it that I have control over my own destiny which according to the bible was determined before I was even conceived?
There was a form of democracy in Greece, true. I think that there are some benefits to an Athenian style democracy, personally, but the system itself was still not as sophisticated as what we have currently.
Your assumption that I am unfamiliar with Aquinas, Augustine, or enlightenment philosophers in general is patently absurd. Not to drag “formal” education into the debate, but I did study theology and philosophy at a Jesuit university for 2 years, and have read many of the works of all of the aforementioned. “Free will” as a concept was present in christianity, but my remark was related to governments and the legal right to exercise our autonomy. I could, perhaps, chalk this up to a semantic or contextual misunderstanding, but it is also likely that you just purposely interpreted what I said in such a way that you could accuse me of ignorance of those subjects.
The idea that we are arguing over atrocities committed by “atheists” during that time period is ludicrous. I asserted that the philosophers did not advocate violence, which is true, and furthermore, there is no evidence that all or even most participants in the actual fighting were atheists. This is an assumption made by you, presumably to further your own agenda of vilifying atheists.
Finally, killing for a specific purpose (ie in a revolution—were there no deaths in the American Revolution? That’s news to me.) would not be inherently irrational, but killing for the sake of killing would be.
Kelly misses the interesting point. If atheism is nothing more than simple lack of belief in god, a concept that I acknowledge, but dispute for various reasons, then there should be no significant similarity between the views of one atheist and the next.
Check the Oxford English Dictionary—an atheist is one who disbelieves in or denies the existence of god. Period. I disbelieve in god based on my lack of, and in my opinion, inability to acquire, knowledge of such a being. End of story. Therefore, the only necessary commonality between myself and other atheists is that we lack belief in god.
Reading the personal opinions of atheists past or present doesn’t change the fact that atheism only entails lack of belief in god. Those who conflate atheism with some larger philosophy are simply incorrect. Christopher Hitchens is politically conservative; I’m not, but we’re both atheists. I disagree with atheists who believe that one can prove that ANY supernatural being doesn’t exist (which sounds extraordinarily silly to a logical positivist), but we’re both still atheists. Get it?
You have to be joking about Osama bin Laden, but we won’t delve into conspiracy theorist accusations.
I desire no “new” morality, society, dictatorship, or global domination. I have no desire to make god-belief illegal or in any way restrict your right to practice your religion, but I do feel that it is hazardous to humanity and would hope to have others abandon religion of their own volition. As previously stated, as long as religion stays out of schools and governments, I’m fine with whatever you choose to believe. (There’s more to this line of thinking, but I will address it in more detail when I get to the appropriate part of the book.)
I don't think the problem of self-identification is an inherent problem atheists or Christians, or for anyone except those who would attempt to make arguments based in any way upon those self-identifications, such as, for example, the specific individuals I am criticizing in TIA. This question of self-identification doesn't necessarily reduce the number of Christians, as larger studies of the sort required for global numbers are not based on self-identification, but rather church affiliations and so forth.
What is the definition of christian in your mind? If it is solely church affiliation, then I guess I’m an Episcopalian since I never officially renounced my baptism and am included in the numbers somewhere. If a christian is someone who personally accepts the main tenets of the Nicene Creed, then I think you’ll find that the numbers based on church affiliation are artificially inflated. (I want to note here that I’m not making the No-True Scotsman fallacy as I’m not arguing that those who would self-identify as christian are not christian based upon behavior or some other characteristic. I do, however, feel that many christians are the nominal sort who haven’t examined their beliefs and may not even believe Jesus rose from the dead after his propitiatory sacrifice, thereby providing an example of the type of improper group affiliation that Vox references.) If you don’t find that nugget of info compelling, why include it? Was the point not to imply that there are less atheists than even the polls report due to incorrect self-identification?
I don’t expect people, particularly the complacent and apathetic who seem so prevalent in society, to do or believe anything. If they attempt to argue a position or make a claim, then I will expect them to logically and rationally support that. If you cannot refer to a dictionary to settle a definitional dispute, to what should we refer? I understand the nuance and connotations that can be left out of dictionaries, but there must be some final arbiter within language.
The problem with the dictionary definitions is the one I have already pointed out: there are common characteristics of atheists which can be readily observed by even the most casual observer which indicate that either a lack of god belief is causing the development of these characteristics, it is the result of those characteristics, there is some underlying factor that causes both the characteristics and the identification, or that the mere lack of god belief is an insufficient description of the totality of atheism as it is actually practiced.
I don’t “practice” atheism and wouldn’t even know how to go about doing so. You may be able to correlate certain characteristics with atheism, but let’s not forget that correlation does not equal causation. Furthermore, many of such observations are biased and stereotypical. Many people will read more into a particular action than is actually there based upon the kinds of memes that have spread about atheists, so their analysis would be tainted by such a predisposition. For example, some people claim that atheists live a life of total debauchery and just want to have sex with everything in sight. Well, so do some christians, muslims, or hindus. Some atheists are celibate by choice. The sexual behavior of atheists and even the mores regarding sex are likely not that different from those of the religious. We just don’t need to feel guilty because Jesus just watched us masturbate.
I also feel that your group of “Low Church Atheists” was over-generalized to include a group of people whose religious affiliation is merely in question or not known. The conclusions that you made based upon their inclusion are invalid, and in my opinion, a dishonest attempt to bolster your argument.
First, I should clarify that neither Kelly nor I are saying that Harris is a Buddhist per se, he merely practices certain esoteric rituals from the Buddhist tradition.
I do yoga; does that make me Hindu? Harris is an example of an atheist with whom I have some variance of opinion. We’ve spoken on some of these differences with no assertion on either side of correctness. We’re still both atheists.
Atheism is sometimes defined differently, and oftentimes incorrectly. I would have to re-read the referenced sections of their work to analyze their intent with using those particular definitions, but just for the record, I also disagree with the American Atheists’ description of what an atheist “is.” Many of those tenets I agree with in principle, but not as a corollary to atheism that is fundamentally necessary.
Buddhism does in fact have many sects and branches that practice their religion differently. For example, the Japanese form of Buddhism is a Shinto fusion as far as popular belief is concerned. Mahayana, Theraveda, and Zen Buddhists also have differing beliefs and mythologies. That doesn’t change the fundamental aspect of Buddhism as a path by which one can attain peace or enlightenment without a necessary god of worship. It is a religion by definition, though, with a prescribed set of ritualistic behaviors, but practicing meditation does not make one Buddhist.
Hey, I didn't claim the Aspie thing was a done deal, I merely happened to OBSERVE a few behavioral patterns and then form a HYPOTHESIS. That's what we scientists do, the next step is to test the hypothesis. Perhaps I can apply for a grant somewhere.... Kelly is going through one of the usual atheist dance routines here, including "no religion" or secularism in general as a variant of atheism is routinely done by Sam Harris, by PZ Myers, and it's the very foundation of Richard Dawkins's OUT Campaign and is proclaimed to be the basis for the evangelical aspect of The God Delusion. She may not conflate the two, but the authors addressed in TIA certainly do.
You implied some type of statistical correlation between Asperger’s and atheism; I merely pointed out that you had insufficient data to make such a correlation from a statistical standpoint. I have never personally seen Harris, Myers, or Dawkins defend the notion that all people with no specific religious affiliation or all who consider themselves secularists (which really only applies to religious intrusion into government, not personal beliefs) are de facto atheists. As far as your admitting that I “may not conflate” these differences, how exactly am I doing a “typical atheist dance routine?”
But there's nothing slippery about pointing out the criminal tendencies of the low church atheist. You can argue that they shouldn't be considered a form of atheist at all, but I haven't seen too many atheists who want to wholly disassociate atheism from secularism or irreligion. If Kelly would prefer to divide the two groups into High Church Godless and Low Church Irreligionists, I have no objection. Finally, I note that the negative correlation between imprisonment and intelligence is very well-established with the support of scads of scientific and testimonial evidence, so that it isn't a valid objection. I'm all for better data here; I was simply making use of what was available to me and I certainly don't consider the matter closed on the basis of a single prison survey in one country.
Regarding your first point, I would not label that group of people as atheists since it is merely unknown. One can have “no religion” and still believe in god or wood nymphs or anything else. As far as the HCAs go, I would dispute your characterization of them, and don’t feel that your dichotomy has an appropriate “church” for people like me. The ivory tower elitist atheists are out there, and they don’t even like me, mostly for the penury of letters behind my name.
The fact that labels are not always applied accurately hardly makes them meaningless. As for the point, I'm surprised that it is necessary to explain that if one is attempting to demonstrate the irrationality of certain atheist arguments, it just might be helpful to show that the very atheists who make them can't even agree upon a consistent, rational definition of what the atheism they are championing is, and to show the broadest possible spectrum of atheism in all its irrational glory. (emph. mine)
This is a perfect example of the bait-and-switch you like to pull—you claim to only be referring to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens every time your arguments are critiqued, but then make the same claims for all of atheism and all atheists. Which is it? It would be much easier to respond if I knew your target. Unless, of course, obscuring it was intentional and the RD, SH, CH attacks are merely a rhetorical ploy meant to distract so you can surreptitiously generalize arguments against specific people and apply them to all atheists.
See you next time. Sorry this is taking me so long—I’ve been working a lot lately so I don’t have much free time.
Vox has published his criticisms of my critique here. It's possible that I may need to clarify some of the points to which he objected, so I'll get to that and then we'll get ready for round 2!
ETA: Here is Vox's response in its entirety. He didn't seem to mind in the comments on his blog, so here ya go.
|Vox Day - "There is no god. Because I'm an asshole."||
I think I’ve been postponing this project long enough, and since other people on our forums are starting to talk about this book, I should probably stop playing Rock Band and get my butt in gear. So, welcome to the first in a series of posts discussing Vox Day’s The Irrational Atheist.
I am going to be going through this book one chapter at a time in order to keep the posts relatively short and still allow for a detailed analysis. I mentioned that plan to Vox Day, who kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, and his suggestion was to read the entire book first before beginning. After getting about half-way through it, I didn’t see anything that necessitated that, but just as an FYI, if any of my points of contention are dealt with in later chapters, I’ll note that in later posts.
The first thing I noticed about this book is that Day’s writing style is quite humorous, and if I may, even endearing. This is troublesome as many readers will fall into the trap of getting caught up in the seemingly personable style and disregarding critical inquiry of the content. Day comes off as the friendly but mischievous antagonist in what he terms “an intellectual deathmatch” (p. 3) between himself and the “Unholy Trinity” of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. I must also note a point of agreement before I continue into the actual substance of the book: I appreciate Day’s regard for the autodidactic learner and his insistence that one not be swayed by degrees and credentials as they don’t necessarily make one’s arguments more or less valid. (p. 3) This is a point far too often missed by the pseudo-intellectual crowd who seem to desire a type of hegemonious rule over knowledge itself with authority to speak on a subject deemed only by universities. (I won’t go into the bass-ackwards logic at play there…at least not here.)
So, on to the good stuff. Day starts out by letting the reader know that he doesn’t care if we go to hell, which would seem to be against the mandate of his deity who commands his followers not only to care, but to grieve for the lost souls in the world and try their damnedest to convert us. At any rate, all you atheists can put your guard down because this guy doesn’t want to convert you and doesn’t even care if you go to hell. Nice try. He even goes as far as claiming that he is tolerant of, and even likes, the variety of beliefs and one-way entries to heaven, but that it is the atheists (embodied by Dawkins, et al.) who don’t. I can only speak for myself here when I emphatically state that I do not care what anybody believes—just keep it out of my government and out of my face. If it wasn’t for the intrusion of religion into public policy and the stubborn insistence to continually remind us of our future in hell, I wouldn’t even waste my time correcting them.
Day asks a series of questions regarding the tolerance of religious beliefs and I would like to briefly address them. Does your “insanity” affect me? Yes, for the aforementioned reasons among others. Last time I checked, people didn’t condemn others to hell or kill people over the Minnesota Vikings making it to the Super Bowl, so I don’t find that analogy compelling. To put a little spin on your plea for tolerance, all I ask, and all the vast majority of atheists ask, is to be left alone to disbelieve what we choose to disbelieve and to live how we decide to live. It’s very gratuitous of you to want to allow all of the “insane” people freedom to believe whatever they like, although labeling all of humanity as insane is a bit of a stretch, but once one realizes that the patients are running the asylum, what should be done?
Day starts his list of the evils of atheism by blaming the philosophers of the Enlightenment era for paving the way for “the murderous excesses of the French Revolution and dozens of other massacres in the name of human progress,” which I find to be amusing given that were it not for such revolutions, we would still be living in feudal societies and caste systems quite antithetical to his own libertarian ideals. I wonder where he got those ideas regarding man’s free will and right to exercise it. Could it be…the Enlightenment? The irony is almost overwhelming. This is a point he brings up often. The philosophers of the time certainly did affect the populace, but not by advocating war or revolution. Senseless killing is certainly not rational, nor is being swept away in nationalistic fervor. If waking people up to the reality of their circumstance by giving them a vision of hope for a better tomorrow is a crime, it is one that should be committed more often. The people of the Enlightenment era were simply alerted to the fact that, to paraphrase Rousseau, despite being born free, they were “everywhere in chains.” The people reacted to this knowledge with revolution, and violence is an unfortunate byproduct of the overthrow of established regimes. If these things had not taken place, there would be no United States of America, no democracy, and certainly no libertarianism. Vox Day himself could be similarly vilified by the benefactors of his philosophy for espousing such views, assuming we lived in a world where the Enlightenment had never occurred.
Day goes on to criticize atheism, which he oddly traces back to The Apology of Socrates, which only reveals the etymological roots and certainly not the birth of the lack of belief in god, for not having changed over the years. This is an obscure point. How would the lack of belief in something change exactly? Along with that, he tosses in a few jabs with comments as to the “ultimate destination” for atheists being “hot” and a little argumentum ad populum for good measure. Apparently our “godless jihad,” armed by “raging, red-letter infidels,” consists mainly of writing books and speaking out publicly about our lack of faith. We better be careful to keep the death toll from rising exponentially due to an increase in paper cuts.
He makes the argument that atheism leaves a void in people which must be filled with some belief, no matter how silly or contradictory. He supports this by using a Barna poll about beliefs on life after death and a CNN exit poll to show that people improperly self-identify with certain groups. If his conclusion is accurate, how is it more damaging to atheism than it is to religion? Would it not also be the case that the “billions of individuals” who believe in Jesus are also incorrectly identifying themselves, rendering all such labels meaningless and simultaneously destroying his earlier appeal to popularity? Day claims that “the normal individual tends to put significantly more time into living his life instead of thinking about it and cataloging its abstract aspects.” I agree, and I think that is problematic. It’s akin to being criticized for engaging in introspection, which is not only healthy, but necessary. Somehow related to this is the definition of atheism from the three “representatives” of atheism and their nuances, but I haven’t figured out how it is related, seen as how most arguments centered around definitions tend to be promptly settled by a dictionary.
The pinnacle of this segment is the fact that Sam Harris, leader of all atheists everywhere at all times, practices Buddhism. If anybody else is thinking, “Yeah, so?”--you’re not alone. Is this a criticism of atheism or Sam Harris’ personal beliefs? For all of his ranting about these Buddhist beliefs, he fails to take into account that there are many types of Buddhism, some of which involve no deities and focus instead on personal development. The entire point is irrelevant, though, as Sam Harris’ assertion that Buddhism is not a religion per se says nothing at all about atheism. At least he acknowledges that atheism is neither a religion nor a philosophy—right before he divides us into “churches.”
What Day terms “High Church Atheists” (HCA) consist of the upper echelon of intellectual elitists who also have mental disorders and Asperger’s syndrome, along with being socially inept and never getting laid because they’re too busy destroying the beliefs of their prospective partners. Wow—we’re doomed. Except for the fact that all of those things are pure speculation on an arbitrarily assigned group of people. We also have the “Low Church Atheist,” (LCA) the backwater, inbred cousin that the former wants to hide from the public. The HCA is deemed autistic by one online poll which was answered by 59 people indicating that atheists have an average Asperger’s quotient of 27.9, slightly above normal, but not quite a pathology, along with Day’s own informal survey of 159 of his blog readers. This is not even close to a controlled study from which conclusions can be drawn. The LCA is characterized by their refusal to use the word “atheist”, but that shouldn’t matter since Day already proved that self-labeling is irrelevant. There is a method to his madness, though, because he is about to use this group to skew and obfuscate the prison population studies which show that atheists are less likely to be imprisoned. Earlier in the chapter, he admits that people who answer “no religion” on polls are not necessarily atheist, the validity of self-identification not withstanding, but then wants to lump them in with atheists to get his extra 31.6 percent of the British prison system and then declare that our “Low Church counterparts are nearly four times more likely to be convicted and jailed for committing a crime than a Christian.” (p. 20) Watch out—he’s a slippery one!
These LCAs also live seven years less than the average religious person, are more likely to smoke, drink, be depressed, fat, unmarried, and not reproduce. Day then assumes that since so many of them are in jail, they must be less intelligent than average. Well, by using the same flawed data, many conclusions can be drawn about a population of unknown people who happened to check “no religion” when filling out the Inmate Information Survey.
Day finishes off the chapter with the typical agnostic/atheist dichotomy, as if they are mutually exclusive, but Vox, what difference does it make? You already proved that labels are meaningless and that all people with no religion are atheists, so what’s your point? Congratulations, that was the most convoluted, contradictory mess of confabulated casuistry I have ever seen. Honestly, I am impressed. I like ya, though; it’s kind of cute to see you so clearly grasping for straws. Thanks for the book, too—it’s providing me with plenty of material.
I’ll see those of you with shatter-resistant monitors next time for chapter two!
|'Abortion is a racist, genocidal act'||
That's not me speaking, but I wanted to get your attention. the author of that quote is none other than the late purveyor of bigotry Jerry Falwell's son, Jonathan Falwell, at WorldNetDaily. I was perusing the site in preparation for my upcoming blog discussion with Vox Day, another columnist for WorldNetDaily and owner of the blog Vox Popoli. (It should be an exciting exchange--I'm currently reading his book The Irrational Atheist. Stay tuned.) Apparently, Falwell is still clinging to the "Margaret Sanger was a proponent of eugenics" argument against Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights, but even more disturbing was another article I found at the same nefarious site authored by Bob Unruh, entitled "Planned Parenthood: Wanting fewer blacks 'understandable".
The surfeit of spin on this story is making me nauseous, and the actual issue at hand is even worse. An undercover "investigation" of some sort occurred during which a man called Planned Parenthoods in seven states posing as a man inquiring about ways to donate. (There is a YouTube video containing recordings here.) This investigating group has not been identified, to my knowledge, but I feel that it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that it was another attempt of those with an anti-reproductive rights agenda to demonize and defame the Planned Parenthood organization. We all know how horrible it is to offer under-privileged women access to contraception and, yes, even abortions. If the woman can't afford medical care or reliable methods of birth control, it's plainly obvious that having the child is the best course of action.
At any rate, the agent of this deception calls a PP clinic offering a donation. He moves on to ask if he can ask that it be allocated specifically to women of color. This is an accepted practice there as some may want to provide extra benefits to minority women who often aren't as financially secure or don't have health care. The person on the phone replies thus, and the fraudulent benefactor then replies that his intent is to reduce the number of black babies born due to his racist and stereotypical views. The conversations tended to become very awkward after that, and the PP employee's incredulity is often quite obvious. Like any other organization, though, there is a general agreement (as least from the available information) that the donation will be accepted. Their reasoning is completely obvious to anybody who has ever relied on donations for their ability to function, as they know how the money will be used regardless of the intent of the donor. If somebody offered us at the RRS a donation because he/she believed that we are detrimental to atheism and wants to promote us for that reason, we would likely still accept the money. Without money, any organization will die, and so long as there is no affiliation or partnership contingency, generally money from anybody will be accepted.
This has been painted in the aforementioned article, as well as others, as a gross injustice on the part of PP and cries of "racism" and "eugenics" are running rampant. Given the obvious dishonest intent and purposeful misrepresentation to the media, the people who should be harangued here are the so-called "investigators" themselves. Their biased agenda and dishonest trapping of these PP employees, whose names and office locations are published in the YouTube video, is despicable. The subsequent acceptance of this as evidence by anybody betrays the inability to utilize their collective cerebral cortices.
Is it possible that this person spoke to some employees with prejudices of their own? Of course, but that say nothing about the agency as a whole and their stance on such matters. It is relatively easy to paint people into a corner using dishonest tactics, particularly if it is completely unexpected by the victim of this fraudulent activity. The individuals writing about this matter in the vein of the aforementioned Bob Unruh have already bought the anti-abortion propaganda hook, line, and sinker, so to them, it must be quite a thrill to twist this unscrupulously gained information to suit their own purposes.
Beyond this immediate issue, I would just like to add that there is some evidence that Margaret Sanger was a proponent of eugenics or "social Darwinism"--just like many people in the early twentieth century. Her personal beliefs have not necessarily impacted the organization she founded, particularly 80 years after the fact. The fact that more black women get abortions is not because Planned Parenthood operatives are forcing these women--it's because they have an extraordinarily high incidence of poverty and familial instability. Did Planned Parenthood cause that to happen as well? Maybe they initiated the slave trade preemptively to ensure it, too.
Overall, this latest batch of anti-abortion propaganda should be offensive to any person with critical thinking faculties, and I hope that some of you will also speak out to stop this insidious meme from spreading.
|Hope You Brought the K-Y, Josh||
This is a response to a nagging little pest we've had around here lately, to whom I was essentially blackmailed into responding. The original thread is located here. You'll see in the thread that this lovely young man threatens to send one email per day until he is answered to his satisfaction, and then proceeds to post relentlessly to that end. In an attempt to end this idiocy, I've tried to answer all of his extremely lengthy posts at once; therefore, this is extraordinarily long, and for that, I apologize.
I had planned on not responding to you, seen as how I already opted out of this never-ending argument which ultimately comes down to fundamental philosophical differences, as well as arbitrary differences of opinion. Fortunate for the sake of your continued enjoyment, I feel compelled to respond since you've dragged me and practically everybody I know into this circle-jerk.
(To Brian: ) I think by that very fact alone you should not be able to claim atheistic positions. You have not earned them and your beliefs are no more the result of logical inquiry than any of the pietists you pity.
This is an absurd statement. Essentially, what you're saying is that nobody can hold a position on anything until all possible arguments have been thoroughly researched by them personally to YOUR satisfaction. I certainly hope you don't have a stance on car manufacturers since you likely don't understand the mechanics of a reciprocating piston engine. Not to mention the thousands of other issues on which one can have a position. If a person is lacking necessary information, and you have it, then certainly, enlightening them is helpful. However, attempting to make your standards the sole arbiter of the "right" of a person to hold a position/stance/opinion on any subject is egregiously arrogant.
Also, your attempt at omniscience is laughable, as you cannot possibly know what "logical inquiry" in which any person other than yourself has engaged.
I thought we were the rude ones? Not that I need to justify myself to you, but I guarantee that the schools I have attended and will be attending soon are of a higher caliber than UNCC. Not to mention that I maintain a 4.0 in the Honors Program in an accelerated Master's program. Sorry--I don't tend to brag about such things, but you brought it upon yourself.
So, in closing, while you and your internet buddies might enjoy a laugh over this, those in academia (re: those with qualifications and decent grasp of material who have earned their right to debate instead of just paying for an internet domain) will continue to utilize your points to evince fallacies, arrogance, and unjustified belief states.
I was unaware that almost having a bachelor's degree made you a member of the academic elite. If this is the result, I'll gladly opt out. Not to mention the asinine assertion that people such as Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens are not in this "academia" of which you speak. You may disagree with them, but you certainly can't contest their credentials and educational histories.
Belief in the existence of God is not the same as the position that we can have knowledge of God. The former is a doxastic state, the latter an epistemological. These are being conflated here, which is simply illogical.
Nobody is conflating the two:In fact, you were told multiple times that we consider them to be two completely separate, but complementary, concepts. A/Theism deals with belief--A/Gnosticism deals with the nature of knowledge and one's ability to acquire it. It can't get any more simple.
Agnosticism "suspends judgment". Is that clear?
No. Is that clear?
Ask me if The Smiths are a good band. Tell me I have to say "yes" or "no", and that "I don't know" implies "no". Is this valid? Not at all.
Do you have any experience with The Smiths? If so, you should be able to formulate an opinion, or maybe you don't care either way. An opinion on a band is slightly different than making a determination on your belief in a deity, though. I think that's a false analogy.
One is allowed to "suspend judgment" if one adopts the agnostic/skeptical view. This is utilized in science all the time, is it not? One, observing Ockham, does now wish to posit entities beyond necessity. However, being modest, one does not also wish to completely rule them out. Thus one says "I suspend judgment", "I'm not sure", etc
True, which is the weak/negative atheist position. Skepticism is slightly different in that the very nature of reasoning faculties is questioned and it is possible that there is no truth that can be ascertained. Science certainly doesn't follow that epistemology as they do believe that the conclusions drawn from valid science are likely accurate. Essentially, if you are suspending judgment, you are living in practicality as if there is no god until such time that you can make a decision, if ever. So, functionally, you're still an atheist.
I find it completely predictable and telling that you didn't address a SINGLE CRITIQUE that was supplied against the anti-Kalam article. Of course you couldn't. That was my strict goal, and that has, again, been fully realized. You claim to be an atheist, but in the absence of any capability to refute theistic arguments concerning cosmology, where is the justification for your beliefs? I have dealt with these arguments - have you? I have thus earned my doxastic position - you have not.
Not everybody has the time or desire to address every argument from every person. I believe it was also pointed out to you that the reason we are a group and not an individual is because everybody has separate areas of interest/expertise. Mike was typically the science geek, but he is busy studying cell membranes and getting lots of accolades in his field with a recently published study. I guess he's a dumbass as well, though, considering his affiliation with RRS.
...So, back to Mary. She is not born an atheist. Why? Because beliefs are about something, and she has no concept (a mental "about something" ) to apply beliefs to. You may not get this. I won't be surprised. Ignore that snarky comment and think hard. Again. Now if Mary is not born an atheist (because she cannot apply beliefs to a lack of a doxastic object) this means that the lack of being a theist does not imply atheism. And thus your definition is clearly inadequate and flawed...Even IF "atheism" only ever meant "not-theism", which is dubious, it does not mean that today. The semantic value of the word "atheism" is not simply "without theism", for then a skeptic could be both an atheist and theist, and so could an ambivalent person, and so could a confused person, etc. And we have already seen that an infant would be neither atheistic nor theistic. The semantic value of "atheist" is best understood through the definitions that were provided by outside sources which contradict the very peculiar definitions this site makes use of. I am not saying this to "escape labels", so take your speculative ad hominem and keep it to your fallacious self. I say this because it's the goddamn linguistic fact.
Atheism is the default position--the natural state of one without theism. You can argue semantics all day, but I have people on my team regarding that issue such as George H. Smith, Austin Cline (very impressive credentials and an occasional site visitor, BTW), Antony Flew before dementia, Russell Blackford (whose credentials include completing a second PhD thesis, Adjunct Professor School of Philosophy and Bioethics, Monash University, Fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Evolution and Technology and has recently asked me to contribute to his next collaboration of atheist essays to be included in a book), Dan Barker, Michael Martin (who doesn't press the issue of the complementariness of the two, but rather equates negative/weak atheism with agnosticism, and is a Philosophy Professor at Boston University), among many others whose credentials aren't in question.
The people that you mention as "skeptics" would in fact be defined as "peculiar reasoners" in doxastic logic. Hey--I didn't make up the label.
When binary choices are forced upon agents where there exist more than two choices, one has committed a false dichotomy. You say "there is only atheism and theism and all non-theism is atheism". Well, that's nice. But you are looking at the word itself instead of the concept it implies. This, again, is a form of etymological fallacy. You might say that the etymological fallacy only contrasts what the word originally meant versus what it now means. This is not accurate, and I'm sure if you look into it, if you actually care to, you'll see why. Hey...you like wikipedia, right?
You have already been pointed to the Oxford English Dictionary for the respective definitions, thus proving that there is no etymological fallacy occurring here, considering the fact that they are the standard authority on the English language.
I would argue that you haven't earned the position to determine for us what the criteria for qualification to hold a position is.
Now then. Respond to what matters. Oh, that's right - you can't! You're philosophically impotent and completely worthless concerning any actual debate.
More rudeness and immaturity. You want to see it done differently? Great. GO DO IT.
Brian, despite your best efforts, you've only proven that you are incapable of confuting arguments that you are required to should you be considered to hold "justified true beliefs". That is the very definition of "knowledge", mind you (crack a book on epistemology one day). Having none, it seems YOU are the agnostic, not an atheist...
He is required to do nothing, particularly not by you. You may have a certain philosophical position on "justified true beliefs", but we are not bound to the standards of a methodology that we have not espoused or adopted. Go impose your criteria on those of like-mind in that regard. Your extreme version of reliabilism is littered with its own host of problems. Knowledge as a JTB necessarily implies "knowing" a proposition to be true--of which we have none other than the existence of god has not been sufficiently proven. It also means that said proposition MUST be true for it to be knowledge. Why then your defense of theism? One cannot know a false proposition (ie "God exists" ) and therefore, no religious people would have a JTB in your view either. And what's your solution to the Gettier problem, which demonstrates that the tripartate method of JTB has been shown to be insufficient? Furthermore, what about the subjectivity of exactly what endeavors must be undertaken to arrive at a JTB? It must only be something arrived at through the cognitive faculties.
Technically, lack of god belief is a priori justified as a dispositional belief because without any kind of experience, one has no god belief, and if you ask any person (likely a child) who has never heard of god if such a being exists, they will find the concept absurd. The argument for god would necessarily have to be an a posteriori conclusion after one has the experience of being introduced to said concept.
And Brian is an agnostic atheist, AKA negative/weak atheist. A person with no god belief based on a lack of knowledge of said entity. Your whole argument here that one must refute theistic theories before claiming "atheism" is therefore absurd given that we up front are basing our lack of belief on a lack of knowledge.
...that no one is entitled to any belief unless they have reviewed the opposing views and come to at least some response. Why, you might ask, do I hold this? Well, I cannot very well believe in whatever I should happen to like. In the face of evidence to the contrary, I am required to suspend my beliefs and simply deal with the argument. Notice the methodology here: I am to suspend my beliefs. Why? So that I do not color my conclusions.
First of all, I feel that everybody is entitled to whatever belief they choose based on the available evidence. Available is the key here. Even Descartes, who held that nothing could truly be known with certitude besides Cogito ergo sum recognized the impracticality of that position and acknowledged the necessity of operating with the resources available to one at the time. That doesn't mean that one must have no opinion during the discovery period, as the discovery period for scientific endeavors will continue forever. You can never rule out the possibility of future discoveries or lack thereof. Avoiding confirmation bias is a worthy endeavor, but one in which you are accountable only to yourself.
The "true method of science" only requires that one "suspend belief" in the sense that you do not allow your own preference to color the results. In fact, hypothesis development requires that one predict the outcome of the study using deductive reasoning before experimentation. In reality, if one has already formulated an opinion, even one with little evidence, like a hunch, it will be there. You must realize that it is there in order to not even subconsciously taint the results.
As far as forcing somebody to take a position, anybody can change their stance at any point--the question is typically about the presence or lack thereof of belief at the time. You don't have to write it in stone or anything, and changing your mind isn't punishable by death or anything. *rolls eyes*
What applies in one area of ontological investigation or causal explanation applies in all. That scientists, researchers, etc. suspend judgment is proof that theologians/philosophers/etc. may as well. This is an answer to your question and a refutation (again) of Brian's position. I do not know if he has studied philosophy, so I'm not sure where he is qualified to comment on it.
Theology/philosophy is different from other sciences dependent on empirical evidence and reasoning. Theology be definition means the "study of god". Please explain how that is an "ontological investigation." I happen to be a noncognitivist positivist, so any statement about god is factually meaningless and only the presence of actual evidence should be considered, so I guess as you are holding me to your personal doxastic stance on epistemology, I can hold you to mine.
Also, are you claiming that autodidactic people do not exist and the only way to acquire knowledge is through an accredited university? If so, I'm sorry that you want to live in that world. I find it is the bastion of insecure people with moderate intelligence.
I do not expect Brian to know all the facts. I expect him to know the necessary refutations of arguments which are most strongly against his own. I consider this an essential requirement, just as any chemist should understand solutions and valency. That he has not personally addressed (or is perhaps incapable of addressing) a stock cosmological argument I take as sufficient evidence that he is unjustified in his position, and, moreover, that he has certainly no right to found an organization and parade himself as an overlord of the movement (RRS). A fool with no knowledge of economics should probably not lead the next revolution against laissez-faire capitalism, right?
The necessity of such knowledge is your OPINION, not to mention the fact that by your own standards, your belief that Brian does not have said knowledge is not a JTB. Therefore, you have not earned that doxastic position since it is not necessarily TRUE or based on anything other than speculation. How do you like that one?
Also, there are different theories regarding what qualifies as justification, so yours is not necessarily TRUE either, making it not a JTB as well.
Brian is a militant atheist. He should at least know the most standard arguments against his positions and have ready refutations of them that HE HIMSELF has constructed..Linking me to a page where someone else responded is, by the way, not a response, since you had nothing to do with the study and formulation of reply.
So, a person is unable to refer somebody to a source that is better/more concise/more accurate than what they have produced? How absurd. I guess professors should never use text books, then. Hell, we might as well do away with referencing and sourcing altogether.
The stated purpose of the RRS is eradication of religious faith (amongst other abhorred practices) from the planet. Is this not so? Militant atheism. Is this consistent with the very modest position Brian promotes now? ("Don't believe in god now, but would if there were reason to" )
We would like to see religion end, yes. We find it to be dangerous, divisive, and harmful. I could care less what a person's individual beliefs are as long as they don't interfere in public policy and the legislation of their morality. We all feel that if sufficient evidence came to light, we would necessarily be compelled to believe it. At the same time, we also feel that Yahweh definitely does not exist along with any other god concepts with which we are acquainted. (Yes, I have actual reasons for that, as well.)
anything which points to the arguer and not the argument is an ad hominem
Not necessarily true. It is only an ad hom if the insult is intended to detract from the argument either through distraction or discreditation. Some insults are just insults. Like, you're an asshat. I'm still dealing with your arguments, though, so it's not an ad hom. Not to mention that you do your fair share of insulting.
And no, Kelly, you cannot refute metaphysical causality problems in a five-page paper. (seriously, say that at any philosophy conference and be laughed out of the room) Is this all clear?...
LOLZ! You're so clever and funny! I never said I did, first of all (that would be a straw-man)--I said I wrote a ten-page refutation on the Kalam argument once to a former pastor when I first deconverted. You asked if I was familiar with the argument, and I responded. No more; no less. So, save your laughter for yourself because all you have shown to be clear is that you are so desperate to bolster your argument dishonestly that you are resorting to ridicule. Keep it up. It's motivating me.
Sapient and everyone involved in the blasphemy challenge are only laughed at by theists because they can't even blaspheme right. And, by the way, that's not a theistic principle - it's simply understanding a goddamned text. No wonder the radio sound has been out for months...I wouldn't trust these goons to replace a watch battery.
How exactly do you properly blaspheme an entity in which you do not believe? You are leading me to believe that your reliance on formal learning has left you with the inability to infer the actual point of the blasphemy challenge. We don't believe in god or hell, so blaspheming would be pointless. It was about giving atheists a voice, a presence, and making a point that we are not afraid of their hell. The actual definition of blasphemy, which does include simple "denial", is absolutely irrelevant. Plus, more pleasantries. Such a delightful demeanor!
Do you believe in your free will? That is, do you believe that you are capable of moving your arm to respond to me right now should you like to? Yes? Where is the evidence for this? Quite simply, you will never find any. The notion of "will" is entirely inscrutable to empirical investigation or "evidence", if we use your terminology. So "will" is something you must toss out as well, right? But don't you believe you are free to do what you like? Why is that? Show me the evidence that you are a freely acting agent? You can't. So drop the belief, Mr. Physicalist. (If you are actually a determinist, then I feel sorry for whomever loves you, for they will have to accept that your feelings are the result of only chemical and material causality. Happy Valentine's Day!)
Actually, I am primarily a determinist, although I still struggle with some aspects of it. I believe that an infinite number of unknown causes lead to any actual event. Moving my arm right now may be my choice, but the ability to move my arm is not. My belief in determinism is based on my belief in the truth of scientific materialism. If materialism is true, then all events can be reduced to physical processes and the "will" as an object exists only as a metaphor for the decisions that you are predisposed to make based on your brain structure/chemistry, just like every other behavior you exhibit.I also feel that love is a physical process--the resulting emotion experienced due to the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and oxytocin. Brian and I share that belief, and we're both entirely accepting and cognizant of that fact. So, we are careful to ensure frequent oxytocin/dopamine release by having frequent sex and other skin to skin contact. (Look up the studies yourself. I'm about done instructing you.)
I've got a challenge for you! Will you take a logical reasoning exam if I pay the fee? I will, you know. In fact I think everyone on the board should...but it must be an official, mutually agreed-upon exam that addresses deductive symbolic logic, inference patterns and rules, assumption recognition, and critical reasoning. I'll personally bet 500 bucks of my own meager subsistence that it won't be instated. Rationality is categorically absent from this abyss, and is certainly no requirement to join.
Still interested? Ready to put your money where your mouth is?
Publicly, the debate has been documented and the foundations of the RRS have been not only called into question, but weakened and possibly even dissolved. I should like to point out this came an accidental consequence of confronting blowhards and blustering sophomores.
ROFLMMFAO! That's all I can say to that one.
Honestly, Sapient, why do you even allow these fools to speak? They only further discredit your organization by continuing to spew solely irrational, emotive, philosophically vacuous rancor. And when pinned into a corner against their own dyslogic and nonsense, they simply close their eyes and blindly cast aspersions. Some pedigree!
Let me then ask this penultimate question: how do you disprove a belief? Most likely you cannot. I believe I will have fun tomorrow night. Disprove it right now! What's the difference, here? Well, what you are actually disproving is a theory. In philosophy we have propositions and propositional attitudes and doxastic states. You seek to eliminate doxastic states and propositional attitudes of a certain sort, but that is not your place...unless you're into fascism.
You are, once again, wrong--and missing the point. A belief is only justified if it is supported by actual evidence. You yourself adhere to the principle of justified true beliefs, right? Or was that just something you read that you thought you could use against us? Also, refer back to my earlier answer on the eradication of religion.
You could look at it from a deontic perspective that it is immoral to hold any belief for which there is insufficient evidence and thus you are obliged to hold only supported beliefs, but I dislike the introduction of a sense of duty or dogmatic adherence. I feel that people should strive to be as rational as possible in these matters, but I would not attempt to force it upon them.
BTW - You do know that "penultimate" means "next to last" or "the one before the end", right? Try to limit yourself to words that you understand or the fact that you're trying too hard becomes glaringly apparent.
Perhaps you seek to eliminate these "beliefs" (or, more properly, theories) by disproving the propositions contained within. Alright, well, let's investigate that option. How exactly does one "disprove" any proposition? Well, if it is analytic (we'll stay pre-Kripke here), then we deal with logic. If it is synthetic, then we appeal to empiricism. But what if the object of inquiry is inscrutable? If this entity is ultimately historically inaccessible, immaterial, and not subject to observation, then how can it be disproven? Being inscrutable is not being disproven, you must admit.
First of all, you should know that nothing can be empirically disproven except by way of proving the counter-position. Come on now. Logically, though...
Michael Martin makes a revised version of the Scriven Principle in Atheism: A Philosophical Justification:
A person is justified in believing that X does not exist if (1) all the available evidence used to support the view that X exists is shown to be inadequate; and (2) X is the sort of entity that, if X existed, there would be available evidence that would be adequate to support the view that X exists; and (3) the area where evidence would appear, if there were any, has been comprehensively examined; and (4) there are no acceptable beneficial reasons to believe that X exists. (p 282)
To my knowledge, there has been no evidence sufficient to prove said being's existence and all arguments are contested and there is no general consensus from an unbiased source. Assuming this deity has the attributes given the Abrahamic god, there should be evidence, and in fact, the bible claims that this fact is self-evident. The earth is where said evidence should appear, considering it is our habitat that was supposedly created specifically for us, and it has been "comprehensively examined". There are no acceptable beneficial reasons to believe in this deity as arguments like Pascal's Wager present a false dichotomy, and the danger of holding this belief in spite of the penury of evidence outweighs any other potential benefits.
From a Bayesian probabilistic perspective, this holds true as well. Absence of evidence is always evidence of absence; therefore, one can be justified in the stance that the probability of the existence of any supernatural being is extraordinarily low.
I would like to know how one disproves this entity. You may at best persuade others with logical argumentation. I have said before that if you should like to observe Ockham (whom you probably haven't even read) you may choose not to multiply entities beyond necessity. I think that is an excellent principle. But it doesn't "disprove" anything.
NO!! REALLY?!?!?! I am also familiar with old William of Ockham, progenitor of Occam's Razor. Can you remove your arrogant head from your anus now?
In order to be disproven, a proposition must be falsifiable, yes? The whole reason science has yet to definitively disprove this entire theistic matter is that the object of inquiry is, for the last time, inscrutable, ergo unfalsifiable. All the scientific theory in the world doesn't, and will never be able to, disprove god.
Assuming you go with the Popperian philosophy of science, yes. Nobody disagreed with this point. Are you arguing with yourself again?
I know Kelly said there are intelligent people who believe in god. That is inconsistent with the position of RRS ("theistic beliefs are irrational, primitive, and unreasonable" ). It is not the mark of an intelligent mind to be "irrational, primitive, and unreasonable", is it? We'll ignore that part about compartmentalization. I haven't memorized the whole show, sorry.
So, you can't see the distinction between the person being stupid or irrational and the belief being irrational? As far as compartmentalization goes, it is the process by which ordinarily rational people maintain irrational beliefs. Should I excoriate you for your obvious lack of psychological study now and proclaim you my inferior? Besides, if you haven't thoroughly examined every facet of our work, how can you be sure that you are justified in your belief that we are as you claim? I propose that you have not earned the right to that belief given your apparent lack of knowledge.
Well no one I have encountered (student or faculty) has both heard of you (more than half of them don't know you) or thinks your argumentation is sound (that's the other half). I'm sorry, but you're just really not that effective. But I'm only being viciously contentious.
And that proves what exactly? I can't imagine you find that sample to be statistically valid. Your limited experience with people in your particular circle hardly warrants the claim that we aren't effective across the board. I have tons of proof that states otherwise. And don't pretend like everybody who has communicated with us or come to our site in the past two years is a fan. Your proposition is unjustified and presumptuous.
Awww..how cute of you! No, Dennett is laughed at (I've already been over this) because he maintains an epiphenomenalist position. Maybe that's not really subject for laughter in its own right, but still, anyone who denies free will is going to be generally disregarded. He's also kind of a dick, from what I hear. Dawkins is just a joke. Seriously. Taking on only those who are intellectually inferior and refusing to debate those who have open invitations extended to him, as well as making wild anthropological and biological/genetic claims while holding no professional background in these fields has him completely derided by anyone who knows anything, really. Jonathan Marks has a nice critique of him, as does any biology sophomore.
I really don't care that much what people think of Dennett or Dawkins, and I REALLY don't when, again, the sample is only representative of your own acquaintances. Somebody you know, likely a professor that you worship, dislikes Dennett or Dawkins and so you accept that as a blanket statement on their validity or accuracy. Typical of the pseudo-academic.
What would Dennett's demeanor have to do with his arguments, Mr. Philosophy? Hmmm...nothing? I have found him to be quite pleasant, personally. Of course, you know so much more about him than I, though, even if I have actually had conversations with him.
Are you getting the point that what your buddies down there at UNCC think of anybody has no bearing on their work whatsoever? I would say that for someone as dedicated to precision as yourself, you must admit that claiming that "any biology sophomore" or "anybody who knows anything" would be broad, unsubstantiated generalizations. You're getting sloppy.
So cute! Ten pages. Wow. Ten pages. Do you mean to say that - as a professional, here - your "rebuttal" to Aquinas, which was sufficient enough for you to leave metaphysics altogether, was thoroughly explicated in the space of a mere ten pages? Again, forgive me if I remain doubtful of the veracity of this claim. I would really like to read this. In all honesty, though, you may have been incredibly precise and you may have completely demonstrated that modality, motion, quality, design, and causality are all irrelevant and insufficient for metaphysical proofs of god. So I shouldn't say anything, really. Sorry.
Here we go again with the straw-men. Never said any of the above, so save your condescending and sanctimonious bullshit for somebody who gives a fuck what you think, because I don't.
I do hold positivist positions, but that doesn't mean tht I have committed the naturalistic fallacy (assuming that "is" equals "ought", in case you forgot) or have appealed to a code of ethics or morals to which everybody must adhere. If anybody has done this, it has been you with your subjective determination of what must be studied before one can hold any position.
[insert diatribe defending Todd Friel, professional con-man]
Your entire rant here was silly and lacking the necessary background to understand the hostility. Again, you clearly don't have sufficient knowledge of the situation to be justified in holding any position with a degree of certitude.
First of all, your friend was wrong. It did not originate with Muslim scholars; it was merely refined by them. Secondly, I suppose that the "reworking of Aquinas" statement was an opinion of mine. The major difference between the two was that Aquinas doubted the creation of the universe as it relates to temporal notions and was more focused on the sustainment of the universe. Other than minor variations, most cosmological arguments can be broken down to the same core components, which all can be reduced to an argumentum ad ignorantium. How I respond to this particular one is of little consequence. At best, it does nothing more than prove that something created the universe. Craig seems to indicate that it is ex nihilo, but that is unsubstantiated, as well as the assumption that it was not just one deity, but HIS deity. The possibility of acquiring new knowledge always exists within science, and just so I don't have to answer this question again, I really hope that it can explain "creation".
Just FYI, I have no "problem" with the jargon or terminology employed by Craig. I was merely stating that he was dressing up an old argument.
As far as the possibility of an actual infinity, I never said it was impossible, nor do I feel you can. Also, this is another example of you using straw-men--maybe you should start to look at your work objectively. I never said anything about it being "impossible" to conceive of anything; just difficult. And while the existence of actual infinities would be metaphysical, this is something that will never be witnessed or experienced and thus remains an exercise that will occur solely within the mind. There are possible ways to make it work, thus casting doubt on his claim that it de facto cannot exist.
Honestly, you have no shame.
Apparently, neither do you.
1) Do you agree with Mr. Atheist that skepticism is a valid and acceptable position? (don't worry about the ramifications to your cause, just answer the question honestly)
I think that the popular usage of the word is not the same as the philosophical concept, and I do not think that Mr. Atheist believes that nothing can be known of reality.
2) Have you even read through a full treatment of the kalam cosmological argument?
Yes. From both sides.
3) If the answer to 2) is in the affirmative, have you a response or, even more, a refutation? The one you linked to was very poor indeed and I have already addressed it. I have a meeting with some friends tomorrow night and I'm sure one of them or myself will happily articulate its flaws if you like.
But that wouldn't be an argument since you didn't come up with it or construct it yourself. Hypocrite. Where's your refutation?
4) Do you have a response to the charge of RRS' position on atheism/theism making use of etymological fallacies?
I believe I have given it to you.
5) Do you actually hold positivist positions?
Yes. Now kindly fuck off. I will not waste one more second of my life dealing with your immature nonsense that has become increasingly vitriolic. Attack the position, you hypocrite. You sure seem rational, you hypocrite. Any more personal attacks or baseless assertions and I will never read another one of your posts, much less respond. It's certainly not because I am afraid of your oh-so-powerful argumentation. Rather, I don't want to waste time reading your novels full of condescending rhetoric. So why don't you just go back to your friends and whine about how stupid and mean we are, k?
|Study Reports Anger Fuels Better Decisions||
This is from June of last year, but this is the first I've heard of it, so hopefully everybody isn't already familiar. A scientific experiment was conducted to determine the impact of anger on decision-making and rationality. It was concluded that anger actually improves your thought processes and helps you to make better decisions which you more strongly uphold. So, take that all of you nay-sayers who constantly criticize us for tossing away the facade of propriety and demeanor of respect for others' beliefs. We're actually better off precisely because we get angry.
|Damn Right I'm Angry: Part Two||
The Jewish Aphilosopher (Yeah - the A was intentional - figure it out)
Conflating Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy, of which I am not a fan, with atheism before the actual article even begins is just the tip of the iceberg. His depiction of atheists is nothing short of bigoted and disgusting. He's "The Jewish Philosopher"? I can't even find the philosophy under the pile of steaming shit that he excreted onto his site. I'm telling you this up front only because you're going to need those hip-high waders and possibly protection for your monitor before reading further.
He starts off with the claim that we cannot define what we mean by god when we say we don't believe in one. I have yet to see a theist who can give a coherent definition of their god, and they do believe in it. Projection, anybody? He claims that we don't mind the concept of a creator (which we do, mainly because it has no basis in factual data), but that we're terrified by the ever-looming punishment awaiting us from his loving god, and so we just pretend he doesn't exist. Let's turn this around-I propose that it is you doing the pretending. There is not a shred of evidence to support your ridiculous beliefs in some anthropomorphic voyeur with sadistic tendencies, but you are so terrified of the fact that one day you and everyone you love will simply cease to be. So, you just imagine that you're immortal so you don't have face the truth about life-there is no higher purpose other than what you assign to your life; there is no afterlife and you'll never see grandma again; sometimes life just sucks so learn to deal with it.
Atheists are also "invariably highly selfish people" and it's "impossible to find a well-documented case of an atheist who was kind, honest, sober, and sexually responsible." Of course, he also tries to covertly pull out the communism card as well. Where the fuck does this guy get off? What kind of statistical data can you present for your claims, Stein? We are all mean, lying, drunken nymphomaniacs, right? Well, chew on this for a minute-you are a bigoted asshole who can only validate his own beliefs by caricaturing those of others. One would expect more from a descendent of a group that once faced the same kind of prejudiced rhetoric.
He believes that science has disproven atheism with quantum mechanics and the Big Bang. First of all, the only way to disprove atheism is to prove theism. That certainly didn't happen with either of those scientific endeavors. He says that we "apparently don't depend on any evidence." Again, can anybody see how theists tend to project the shortcomings of their belief onto us? We don't need evidence to suspend belief in the supernatural! It is up to you to present the evidence that proves the existence of your imaginary friend! Apparently, Stein is even worse with science than he is with philosophy, and that is impressive.
Stein should familiarize himself with a recent Barna study that I referenced in a previous blog post before he makes the claim that there is a "linkage between pornography and atheism" that is evident in demographic studies and the fact that "The expansion of the Internet has made pornography more widely available and at the same time atheism seems to be becoming more popular." The difference in porn consumption by christians (there are no studies to my knowledge that focus on Jews) is negligible at best. This is another survey on christians and pornography that refutes his point. The only linkage between atheism and pornography is that we don't need to pretend to not have sexual urges, and we don't need to repent after we watch it.
He reiterates his hypothesis about our denial of god in this way:
Many people, especially young males leading secure lives in developed countries, feel no need for the comfort of religion. Furthermore, they are attracted to a very selfish, self-indulgent way of life, an attraction perhaps encouraged by viewing pornography. Therefore, in order to remove any feelings of guilt, they simply deny the existence of any divine judgment or afterlife.
That's not a non sequitor or anything. (/sarcasm) The excoriation continues with the piece de resistance-my favorite quote in the whole article. I'll let you savor it.
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is a symptom of narcissism and hedonism. Calling atheism a religion is like calling alcoholism a religion. It's a bad choice, a moral failing, perhaps a disease.
Now, for all of the criticism that we take for making the claim that theism should be considered a mental disorder, at least in some cases, we make the exception for the average person with the disclaimer that belief in god is still delusional, it just may not be causing that person any hardship at the present time. Here, we have a blanket statement on the moral character of every atheist. Not only does he clearly have no evidence to support his claim, but his false analogy is fallacious nonsense. Not to mention ignorant, asinine, and absolutely disgusting. If his assertion is true, why are less atheists in prison than our population would warrant? Why are atheistic societies healthier and have less violence and crime? When was the last time you saw an atheist suicide bomber, Stein?
His bigoted moronicism leads him to the conclusion that we deny reality, science confirms religion, and for the icing on the cake-atheism is akin to an addiction. If this is the product of "loving homes of an Orthodox Jewish community," I'll pass. The "brutal violence going on in secular neighborhoods" is an assertion unsupported by any factual evidence and apparently just pulled out of his ass along with the rest of this post. Have you ever been to Israel, Stein? I hear it's really peaceful there.
I try to limit my responses to more intellectual criticism and avoid this type of argument. Even D'Souza has never elicited a response like this one, but these two men are the personification of ignorant bigotry. Their vitriolic rhetoric exemplifies the stigma that atheists in this society still face, but ultimately, it says much more about their character than it does ours. And yet, they wonder why we seem angry.
Everybody's monitors ok?
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This piece is part of a year long series (ends Oct 31, 2008) that Kelly of the Rational Response Squad will be writing to address theist talking heads in the media. Kelly is a Psychology major, co-host of the RRS Radio show, and has been featured on ABC debating Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. All articles may be reprinted in any major media publication or any blog. All articles will be submitted by Kelly or an assistant to the major media outlet that initially published the story as well as to the author of the original piece(when possible). Reprints are encouraged in blogs and must link to source. Reprints in media will be thanked in our book, so please alert us if you repost any story. Media outlets may shorten articles if necessary without removing context. Upon completion, a book and documentary will be made about the year (ending Oct. 31, 2008) and our plight to have dishonest argumentation countered with rational and factual answers in the press. If you would like Kelly to address any major media story from a theist talking head, please post a link to the article in her blog. We welcome messages from leading atheists asking us to refute stories attacking them and their views. At the end of the year the writings will be given some bulk, some supporting citations, and edits from a publisher to be compiled in a book. The book will include a documentary DVD shot from Sapient's vantage point as he works alongside Kelly, asking her questions about the project as it moves along.
|Damn Right I’m Angry: Part One||
I don't find it surprising that the two writers I will be addressing here find atheists to be angry, selfish, and in one case, diseased. The patronizing attitudes of these men would drive the most timid among us into a fit. So, obviously, I nearly convulsed while reading these two articles-both full of condescension; spewing venomous rhetoric that does nothing more than add up to one giant attack on the character of everybody without a belief in their mythological friend.
Marty Fields, a pastor at a Presbyterian Church, and Jacob Stein, an orthodox Jew who has mistaken his skill in fallacious argumentation for philosophy: You two are winning the award for "Arrogant Deluded Fatuous Pricks of the Year." It's a coveted prize, and you were nearly overtaken by Dinesh D'Souza, but even he isn't this moronic.
Marty Fields, who will not be addressed as "Reverend" here as I have no reverence for him or his ilk, wrote an op-ed entitled "Angry Atheists". He starts out by accusing atheists of being philosophical dilettantes, using the "same old tired arguments that you heard in your freshman philosophy class." Ironic, coming from a proponent of a religion that hasn't come up with a new argument in 2000 years. I think that tops freshman year philosophy, eh?
He goes on to list the books of the "Four Horsemen", but his target here is mainly Christopher Hitchens. He passes over The End of Faith as being the first, and in his mind, the least offensive, tome published by the quartet. He must not have read it, because I have read all of the aforementioned, and Harris' The End of Faith is positively inauspicious in its relentless attack on religion. I guess it's in vogue these days to label Hitchens as the black sheep of the group, but in reality, Hitchens has stated that he has no desire to see the end of religion, in sharp contrast with the others. He uses Hitchens' God Is Not Great as the example of an increase in hostility from atheists, labeling his book "visceral and the angriest of all."
Hitchens is on the debate circuit quite frequently, and I have yet to see him be anything but mild-mannered and honest. The honesty is what is offensive to Fields. How dare you have an opinion that Mother Theresa or Jerry Falwell were anything but paragons of morality? In debates, Hitchens is respectful of his opponent, just as the example that he cited between Russell and Copleston. He has no obligation to be respectful of their beliefs or opinions, though, and neither do any of us.
Fields accuses us of being "intellectually inept," but with his clear lack of knowledge, one can only assume that he must be looking at his own internal mirror. Atheism is increasing worldwide, a fact easily proven by population studies and surveys. He calls us arrogant, and yet he is the one who claims to have the answer for every person on earth's search for meaning and value. Instead of "gasping for air", atheism is thriving, and it's not surprising to see the religious in denial-purposely pulling the wool over their eyes and pretending that their fairy tales have validity.
Of course, this shouldn't be shocking coming from people who base their lives on compartmentalization and self-deception. Speaking of dishonesty, I wonder what Fields would think of Jacob Stein's acerbic and unscrupulous diatribe titled "Why Atheism is Not a Religion." Trust me, that is the only thing upon which we agree.
To be continued...
|The Things That Keep Us Going in the Face of Adversity||
There is a quote from Dr. Albert Ellis in which I find some solace: "By not caring too much about what people think, I'm able to think for myself and propagate ideas which are very often unpopular. And I succeed." For some reason, it makes me feel less alone in this quest to expose religion for the fraudulent and dangerous idealogy that it is. The fact is, though, that without our community of people behind us, we would never be able to continue doing this.
We've grown pretty thick skins over the past two years, but an endless stream of criticism and insults gets to you no matter who you are. In the end, our controversial approach has acheived exactly what we intended and more. We've had a ton of publicity: We've been in periodicals, tv shows, respectable radio shows, and magazines. Our website is currently the number one atheist website in the world according to Alexa, and has been number one in the US for quite some time. Of course, some of that traffic is people who hate us, but we have still managed to acheive more in the 2 years that we've been around than others have in 20. Even if you disagree with our tactics, you can't deny that we get people talking.
Now, I'm not trying to blow my own horn here, but just giving the readers some perspective. We aren't perfect--we're normal human beings who make mistakes and try to learn from them. Despite any of our successes or failures, it seems that no matter how hard we try to explain the "method behind the madness" to people, they just don't get it. That's why seeing this blog post today was refreshing and exhilirating. It's so rare that somebody, on their own, gets it.
* This is a concept that we have been trying to elucidate since day one, but we have never done so as eloquently. That is precisely the intent. The content is hiding under a facade of ridicule--some of which is genuine, and also an effective tool against irrationality, in my opinion.
**I edited this sentence to reflect current status. The original was "currently to be found on the show phenomenon."