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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,10:19   

Saw an interesting article here about the possible dangers of evangelical atheism. Orr takes on Dawkins:

   
Quote
H. Allen Orr is an evolutionary biologist who once called Mr. Dawkins a “professional atheist.” But now, Mr. Orr wrote in the Jan. 11 issue of The New York Review of Books, “I’m forced, after reading his new book, to conclude that he’s actually more of an amateur.”

It seems that these critics hold several odd ideas, the first being that anyone attacking theology should actually know some.

“The most disappointing feature of ‘The God Delusion,’” Mr. Orr wrote, “is Dawkins’s failure to engage religious thought in any serious way. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology” and “no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions.”


Orr, if you recall, was one of the first scientists to critique Behe's Darwin's Black Box.

Here's some more:

   
Quote
Mr. Orr, for example, noted the contrast between Mr. Dawkins’s skepticism toward traditional proofs for God’s existence and Mr. Dawkins’s confidence that his own “Ultimate Boeing 747” proof demonstrated scientifically that God’s existence was highly improbable.

Mr. Eagleton compared Mr. Dawkins’s volubility about religion’s vast wrongs with his silence “on the horrors that science and technology have wreaked on humanity” and the good that religion has produced.

“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”

In Mr. Orr’s view, “No decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion,” but atheism has to be held to the same standard: “Dawkins has a difficult time facing up to the dual fact that (1) the 20th century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.”

Finally, these critics stubbornly rejected the idea that rational meant scientific. “The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism,” Mr. Nagel wrote.


Nagel echoes a fear I've always had about militantly secular societies. I've noticed that formally atheistic governments can be every bit as violent and oppressive as theocracies, and that secular societies usually replace religious with political dogma. Given that people seem to have a need to be a part of something larger than themselves, isn't it dangerous to quash the religious impulse in the human heart? And what effect, if any, does it have on society's ethics? Many people seem to need an incentive to act morally.

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,10:57   

An amateur is someone who does something out of love.

Origin: 1775–85; < F, MF < L amâtor lover, equiv. to amâ- (s. of amâre to love) + -tor -tor, replaced by F -teur (< L -tôr-, obl. s. of -tor); see -eur

I cannot find the link again, but I have mentioned in several forums an online interview with Dawkins in which he is asked, point blank, if atheism should be imposed upon children and society. Dawkins is so shocked at first that his mouth falls open; then he says “No.” The way that he says it and his reaction to the question assure me that he’s not Stalinesque about atheism; it didn’t even occur to him to dream of imposing this kind of world that other people accuse him of wanting.

If I find the link I shall post it. Until then, let me say that I think people are confusing Dawkins’ emphatic arguments with a kind of Soviet-style repression that they are not.

To make a parallel here, is literature “dangerous”? I would say so! I don’t hold with the American idea that literature is “good for us.” (Americans justify all sorts of impractical things by saying that it's "good for us," and then they don't follow through, anyway. Few Americans read.) Good literature is about successfully causing a change within the reader, not moral purity, and while the author’s intentions are to have and to share a deeper experience of being alive, that could lead to any kind of behavior. Think of de Sade, or Baudelaire. So let me also argue that Dawkins is also “dangerous,” yes, because life is danger, and literature is danger, and love is danger.

But that’s just me. I hate safety and security and routine – always have.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,12:33   

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Kristine. There's one point I'd like to address:

 
Quote
I cannot find the link again, but I have mentioned in several forums an online interview with Dawkins in which he is asked, point blank, if atheism should be imposed upon children and society. Dawkins is so shocked at first that his mouth falls open; then he says “No.” The way that he says it and his reaction to the question assure me that he’s not Stalinesque about atheism; it didn’t even occur to him to dream of imposing this kind of world that other people accuse him of wanting.


I agree that Dawkins does not wish to force his beliefs on others; nevertheless, he certainly wishes to persuade others that his world view should be reflected in the dominant culture. My question is, "Is an atheistic orientation healthy for society?" I suspect that atheism is fine as a personal philosophy, but it tends to hurt those societies that adopt it as a norm. One reason might be that the religious impulse doesn't go away, but is free to mutate into something else. And I'm skeptical that most of these mutations will be beneficial or even neutral, because they might be working against the historical selective forces that "chose" religious societies over nonreligious ones.

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Mr_Christopher



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,12:44   

This is simply crazy/ignorant talk:

"I suspect that atheism is fine as a personal philosophy, but it tends to hurt those societies that adopt it as a norm"

Fucking ignorant statement that.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,12:58   

Mr_Christopher:

 
Quote
This is simply crazy/ignorant talk:

"I suspect that atheism is fine as a personal philosophy, but it tends to hurt those societies that adopt it as a norm"


Why is it necessarily crazy? What's fine for the individual might not be good for society. Think about individuals who are extreme risk takers for example.

Kristine:

Quote
To make a parallel here, is literature “dangerous”? I would say so! I don’t hold with the American idea that literature is “good for us.” (Americans justify all sorts of impractical things by saying that it's "good for us," and then they don't follow through, anyway. Few Americans read.) Good literature is about successfully causing a change within the reader, not moral purity, and while the author’s intentions are to have and to share a deeper experience of being alive, that could lead to any kind of behavior. Think of de Sade, or Baudelaire. So let me also argue that Dawkins is also “dangerous,” yes, because life is danger, and literature is danger, and love is danger.

But that’s just me. I hate safety and security and routine – always have.


I forgot to address this point. Certain types of literature may be dangerous, but literature itself need not be -- in fact, literature (or oral poetry) often binds social classes together in nontechnological societies. It has passed the test of history; it has survived as a tradition. In addition, art -- like religion -- seems to satisfy a primal craving in humanity. This is why I don't find the comparison compelling.

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,14:52   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,09:19)
Mr. Eagleton compared Mr. Dawkins’s volubility about religion’s vast wrongs with his silence “on the horrors that science and technology have wreaked on humanity” and the good that religion has produced.
Science lacks the ability to destroy. That capacity belongs to man. The horrors rendered by scientific discovery tend to be horrors consciously perpetrated on the bulk of civilisation  by financiers of corporate entities. Think Pinto, Nitrogen inputs into farming, Military industrial complex- oh, those are all the same. Right. Inthe old days, the rubes killed the boss's enemy in the name of god. Now we justify killing innocent people, poisoning Earth and lying to our children in the name of god AND country for truth, justice and the [insert country here] way. But it's a hel! of a lot harder without god. Some horrors are accidental but most are not.

Quote
“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”
Budda is not god. Your argument doesn't work without Buddha. In the name of god, only falsehoods driven home through indoctrination survive the test of time.

Quote
In Mr. Orr’s view, “No decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion,” but atheism has to be held to the same standard: “Dawkins has a difficult time facing up to the dual fact that (1) the 20th century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.”
No. Utterly wrong. First, he most lilely refers to stalin and mao, perhaps kmer rouge and some other smaller dictators. Aside from the fact that Stalin actually professed to be a christian, they were not substantially worse than christian or muslim autocrats. Think Hitler (christian) Charlemaign (Holy Roman Emperor- christian) ,[c&ped but I just closed the page and so, if you wish to find it, search the folloing in google] David Koresh, James Jones, Timothy McVeigh, Joseph Mengele, the people who brought you the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, the people who firebomb school buses in northern Ireland, The Ku Klux Klan are devoutly Christian;" think about that kind of thing and see if you can use the same word to describe Priestly, Mother Theresa, Um, what was the third christian that did something good? ANyway Priestly wasn't strictly a xian unless you follow AFDave's definition. Muslim list: all the crazy bastards over there who think it's ok to stone people to death, et. al.

Quote
Finally, these critics stubbornly rejected the idea that rational meant scientific. “The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism,” Mr. Nagel wrote.
Because people kill for god, sex and money. Knocking the other two off the list leads to other problems.

Quote
Nagel echoes a fear I've always had about militantly secular societies. I've noticed that formally atheistic governments can be every bit as violent and oppressive as theocracies, and that secular societies usually replace religious with political dogma. Given that people seem to have a need to be a part of something larger than their own identities, isn't it dangerous to quash the religious impulse in the human heart? And what effect, if any, does it have on society's ethics? Many people seem to need an incentive to act morally.

Really? You've noticed? It sort of popped into your field of vision? Whaaaaat?  Where were you when you noticed this? Was it like noticing that the sun came out from behind a cloud? Funny, I'm not an atheist but I can't call willingly perpetuating a demostrably falsifiable idea through militant indoctrination a good thing. TYhat is what both xian and islam are. Nothing more, nothing less. It's wrong and it leads people into evil (hurting other people on purpose) without even knowing it. If you were a global warming denier, it would be because you are woefully ignorant of climate modeling science and that someone told you to follow the well-worn rut in your brain of ignoring evidence and believing your priests. Not that global warming is everything the MSM says it is either. But the SCIENCE isn't wrong. And, if you want to understand it, learn the science or ask someone who knows it. But don't then accuse the person you asked of lying. Religion -dogmatic religion anyway- intentionally carried a lie from one generation to another. THat is evil all by itself.


THere is also a meta question about relpacing one addiction with another

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,16:08   

BWE:

 
Quote
Science lacks the ability to destroy. That capacity belongs to man. The horrors rendered by scientific discovery tend to be horrors consciously perpetrated on the bulk of civilisation  by financiers of corporate entities. Think Pinto, Nitrogen inputs into farming, Military industrial complex- oh, those are all the same. Right. Inthe old days, the rubes killed the boss's enemy in the name of god. Now we justify killing innocent people, poisoning Earth and lying to our children in the name of god AND country for truth, justice and the [insert country here] way. But it's a hel! of a lot harder without god. Some horrors are accidental but most are not.


Sure. Mankind's history is littered with violence, and people often misuse the fruits of scientific discovery. In fact, many inventions are driven by a need to kill or dominate other societies. No one argues this.

The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start. Take warfare for instance. Have nations fought each other for religious reasons? Certainly. But if your hypothesis was true, we should have seen a net reduction in bloodshed in the more secular 20th Century. This did not happen. In fact, the barbarity seemed to escalate until nuclear weapons provided a deterrent for large-scale conflict in Western societies.

 
Quote
 
Quote
 
“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”
 
Budda is not god. Your argument doesn't work without Buddha. In the name of god, only falsehoods driven home through indoctrination survive the test of time.


I don't understand what you're arguing here.

Quote
No. Utterly wrong. First, he most lilely refers to stalin and mao, perhaps kmer rouge and some other smaller dictators. Aside from the fact that Stalin actually professed to be a christian, they were not substantially worse than christian or muslim autocrats. Think Hitler (christian) Charlemaign (Holy Roman Emperor- christian) ,[c&ped but I just closed the page and so, if you wish to find it, search the folloing in google] David Koresh, James Jones, Timothy McVeigh, Joseph Mengele, the people who brought you the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, the people who firebomb school buses in northern Ireland, The Ku Klux Klan are devoutly Christian;" think about that kind of thing and see if you can use the same word to describe Priestly, Mother Theresa, Um, what was the third christian that did something good? ANyway Priestly wasn't strictly a xian unless you follow AFDave's definition. Muslim list: all the crazy bastards over there who think it's ok to stone people to death, et. al.


First, historians are not sure that Hitler was a Christian. And I was under the impression that Stalin was an atheist when he left the seminary and never looked back. In any case, Stalin's (and to a lesser extent, Hitler's) policies were explicitly antireligious. The Jews, who had earlier endured pogroms in Christian hands, were targeted for annihilation in Nazi Germany. Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity. And the Jews certainly learned the meaning of Stalin's catch phrase: "est chelovek, est problema, net cheloveka — net problemy." Fortunately his government's incompetence prevented another Holocaust.

Eh....out of time. Will pick up.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,16:19   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,12:33)
My question is, "Is an atheistic orientation healthy for society?" I suspect that atheism is fine as a personal philosophy, but it tends to hurt those societies that adopt it as a norm.

And, what examples are you basing that on?  In every one, I'll bet that it was a autocratic dictatorship style government where the ruler quashed religion as a way of eliminating his competition.

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,16:34   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,16:08)
The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start.

Do you know of one?  I sure don't?  The prevailing major religions of this country are borne of war gods and human sacrifices.  They are not peachful or life-affirming.

Quote
Take warfare for instance. Have nations fought each other for religious reasons? Certainly. But if your hypothesis was true, we should have seen a net reduction in bloodshed in the more secular 20th Century. This did not happen. In fact, the barbarity seemed to escalate until nuclear weapons provided a deterrent for large-scale conflict in Western societies.


To believe that religion had little to do with the conflicts of the 20th Century is to turn a blind eye to just about every conflict that occurred.

Quote
Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity.


What moral brakes?  Those same Christians reviled the Jews and repressed them for hundreds of years.  They accused the Jews of drinking Christian blood in order to do all manner of rituals and other things.  Instead of going into detail I'll just note that Hitler could not have been successful in demonizing the Jews if the Christians had not already done so.  It was those Christian morals that did the opposite of provide brakes.  Are you really that blind?

Stalin also relied on Christian historical hatred of Jews.  Both regimes used that Christian anger and hatred in order to provide an enemy that would whip the masses up into fury and make them forget about the other attrocities or simply write them off, and it was Christian "morals" that allowed this.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,16:57   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,15:08)
Eh....out of time. Will pick up.

Ah, that old familiar tune...

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J. G. Cox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,17:13   

In my younger days as an atheist, I shared Dawkins' view that religion was a major cause of evil in the world. Now, however, I disagree with him. Perhaps I have just become more cynical, but it seems to me that people will always find a reason to kill one another. If you take away religious motives (or excuses), they'll just be replaced by nationalism or some other tribal ideology. Indeed, it seems that a good number of supposedly religious conflicts were in fact motivated by more materialistic desires but merely given a religious veneer in order to help justify the killing and taking of land or wealth. If the religious veneer is not available, some other means will be found for reducing a target of aggression to something that people are willing to kill. I think that this is akin to the relationship between religion and ethics. Religion is a vehicle for ethics, but it is certainly not the only one; without religion, people find other ways to pass on their ethical views to their offspring and compatriots. In the same mien, religion is a vehicle for abhorrent behavior, but it is certainly not the only one.

That said, I can still immediately come up with two reasons why I might personally prefer a society without religion. The first is simply that I think such beliefs are wrong, and as a lover of truth, I find it upsetting to observe so many people believing something to be true that I think is indefensible. I just cannot feel comfortable with a system that is based on what I see as a profound deceit. Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc. Having taught college kids in the Midwest for a couple of years, I have seen what the long term influence of this is: people who do not know how to think, who are influenced more by charisma than content, and who are incapable of challenging their own assumptions  when these prove insufficient for solving a real world question. Lack of critical thinking cannot be anything but bad. Remember, the full Descartes quote is 'dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum'

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,17:29   

Trolling again, Paley . . . . ?

Overcome by the dark side again, Paley . . . . ?

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,17:49   

GoP, you're a glutton for punishment my man.  Why, oh why did you ever start this one?  There is no rational conversation here.  Kristine's comment is as nice as it's going to get and, trust me, it's probably going to get really bad before it's done.  In this case, I have to agree with the Good Reverend, do you enjoy the conflict?

  
qetzal



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,18:37   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,11:33)
And I'm skeptical that most of these mutations will be beneficial or even neutral, because they might be working against the historical selective forces that "chose" religious societies over nonreligious ones.

It's not clear that religiousness was ever directly selected for. Didn't you read the recent posts on spandrels?

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007, 15:08)
The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start.


Religion is not necessarily a requirement for such a philosophy.

Quote
warfare for instance. Have nations fought each other for religious reasons? Certainly. But if your hypothesis was true, we should have seen a net reduction in bloodshed in the more secular 20th Century.

Only if you assume there were no confounding factors. That's hardly the case. Societies and technologies have both changed enormously since the 1900s. It's ludicrous to ignore those changes and only cite increased secularism.

I doubt you could ever tease out all the confounding variables, but if you were going to try, you'd do better to compare more versus less secular societies in a given time period. At least then you could attempt to control for relative wealth, technology, etc.

If you take that approach today, my guess is the more religious societies will not look so good by comparison, but I freely admit it's purely a guess.

  
Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,20:20   

Quote
That said, I can still immediately come up with two reasons why I might personally prefer a society without religion. The first is simply that I think such beliefs are wrong, and as a lover of truth, I find it upsetting to observe so many people believing something to be true that I think is indefensible. I just cannot feel comfortable with a system that is based on what I see as a profound deceit.
Precisely. The atheism that I would like to see on a large scale has never existed. However, there's always a part of me that likes to play, "What if...?" Hey, what if we actually do need religion? For that matter, what if God does exist after all? (Not holding my breath.) I'm not scared to ask that question - I just think that we'll never know the answer to our satisfaction until the world jettisons all preconceived ideas and lets observation unfold. Then we may have the opportunity to create the spirituality that has also never existed - and who knows, perhaps my ideal atheism and that spirituality will be the same thing...  As Louis Aragon (or was it Duchamp?) said, "Thank God I'm still an atheist."  
Quote
Certain types of literature may be dangerous, but literature itself need not be -- in fact, literature (or oral poetry) often binds social classes together in nontechnological societies. It has passed the test of history; it has survived as a tradition. In addition, art -- like religion -- seems to satisfy a primal craving in humanity. This is why I don't find the comparison compelling.
Well, surely there are different types of literature. I tend to prefer the edge-pushing, avant guarde lit, so I'm talking about my own concerns here. I'm not the person to make the case that, "Yes, we atheists are just like you all, middle class, cuddly family types" because that's not me. I've lived with my boyfriend for fifteen years and we're not married - no kids - I write about politics and eroticism - my favorite book of all time is Lolita - all of which is probably why I've been accused three times in three different forums of being a man's sock puppet. :) (Not very feminine I guess.) I mean, I just can't make the "it's all wholesome" argument, because I'm not interested in being a good girl - never was. (Although in person I'm pretty boring and for the most part a good girl.) So maybe I'm not the person to answer this question. However, I do believe, yes, that one can build a society on atheism, Ghost, because most of them are the bourgeois type. (And I believe in making the world a better place for other people's children, so of course I have some solid bourgeois values.)

It's just wrong to say that a society cannot be stable and atheist. No one really tried - Stalin made himself into a religion and that's not the same thing.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 12 2007,21:03   

Skeptic:

     
Quote
GoP, you're a glutton for punishment my man.  Why, oh why did you ever start this one?  There is no rational conversation here.  Kristine's comment is as nice as it's going to get and, trust me, it's probably going to get really bad before it's done.  In this case, I have to agree with the Good Reverend, do you enjoy the conflict?


Actually, most of the responses have been pretty good so far. And since I learn so much from people who disagree with me, why not take advantage of the opportunity?

BWE:

     
Quote
Really? You've noticed? It sort of popped into your field of vision? Whaaaaat?  Where were you when you noticed this? Was it like noticing that the sun came out from behind a cloud? Funny, I'm not an atheist but I can't call willingly perpetuating a demostrably falsifiable idea through militant indoctrination a good thing. TYhat is what both xian and islam are. Nothing more, nothing less. It's wrong and it leads people into evil (hurting other people on purpose) without even knowing it. If you were a global warming denier, it would be because you are woefully ignorant of climate modeling science and that someone told you to follow the well-worn rut in your brain of ignoring evidence and believing your priests. Not that global warming is everything the MSM says it is either. But the SCIENCE isn't wrong. And, if you want to understand it, learn the science or ask someone who knows it. But don't then accuse the person you asked of lying. Religion -dogmatic religion anyway- intentionally carried a lie from one generation to another. THat is evil all by itself.


If a religion makes a testable claim that conflicts with science, then it should admit the conflict or retract the claim. Anything less would be dishonest. But except for fundamentalists, most religious people shield their beliefs from falsification. In that case they're not being dishonest and no conflict arises. As you know, theists are awfully good at harmonising potentially devastating evidence, so I wouldn't characterise their dogma as lies..."wishful thinking" might be a better phrase. Is wishful thinking evil? Not if it leads to a more stable society IMHO. Of course one must weigh the benefits against the harm of this mindset.

GCT:

   
Quote
And, what examples are you basing that on?  In every one, I'll bet that it was a autocratic dictatorship style government where the ruler quashed religion as a way of eliminating his competition.


Oh sure, the worst examples were very autocratic. The problem is, many of these societies were based on lofty ideals that bear little resemblance to the ultimate product. I've been told that we haven't seen a Marxist state yet. My response is, "Probably not, and that's precisely what's wrong with it." Or look at how the French Revolution turned out, despite the fact that it was modeled in part on the relatively successful American experiment, and boasted impeccable Enlightenment values. But Jefferson didn't try to supplant Christianity with his upstart Deism like Robespierre did, and America didn't suffer from oppressive anticlerical legislation (for obvious reasons). The hostility to the dominant faith was a key difference between the two movements IMHO.

 
Quote
 
Quote
(The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,16:08)
The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start.


Do you know of one?  I sure don't?  The prevailing major religions of this country are borne of war gods and human sacrifices.  They are not peachful or life-affirming.


Nevertheless, many religions have become more temperate over time. Christianity and modern Judaism are two responses to the earlier, more "primitive", Judaism.

More tomorrow.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,09:41   

GCT:

Quote
What moral brakes?  Those same Christians reviled the Jews and repressed them for hundreds of years.  They accused the Jews of drinking Christian blood in order to do all manner of rituals and other things.  Instead of going into detail I'll just note that Hitler could not have been successful in demonizing the Jews if the Christians had not already done so.  It was those Christian morals that did the opposite of provide brakes.  Are you really that blind?

Stalin also relied on Christian historical hatred of Jews.  Both regimes used that Christian anger and hatred in order to provide an enemy that would whip the masses up into fury and make them forget about the other attrocities or simply write them off, and it was Christian "morals" that allowed this.


But isn't it odd that antisemitism increased when more secular governments took over? Make no mistake about it, Hitler placed the State above the Church.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Fross



Posts: 71
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,09:58   

i find no faults with non-extremist religions, but I do think it's strange that if religion is even questioned, it's seen as an attack.  (ie James Cameron's new pseudo-scientific documentary)  I also don't like how certain aspects of it are left un-touchable by modern society.  For instance, once someone gives a religious reason/excuse of why they're doing something, we're expected to accept that without question. (a religious sect can legally do mushrooms for their ceremony, meanwhile someone dying of cancer can't smoke a blunt to relieve some pain)

If religion is to exist in modern society, it needs to take more of a rational approach to itself and cut back on most of the mysticism.

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"For everything else, there's Mastertard"

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,10:20   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 13 2007,08:41)
GCT:

Quote
What moral brakes?  Those same Christians reviled the Jews and repressed them for hundreds of years.  They accused the Jews of drinking Christian blood in order to do all manner of rituals and other things.  Instead of going into detail I'll just note that Hitler could not have been successful in demonizing the Jews if the Christians had not already done so.  It was those Christian morals that did the opposite of provide brakes.  Are you really that blind?

Stalin also relied on Christian historical hatred of Jews.  Both regimes used that Christian anger and hatred in order to provide an enemy that would whip the masses up into fury and make them forget about the other attrocities or simply write them off, and it was Christian "morals" that allowed this.


But isn't it odd that antisemitism increased when more secular governments took over? Make no mistake about it, Hitler placed the State above the Church.

But wait, didn't you say last year that Hitler was a Wiccan?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,11:25   

J. G. Cox,
   
Quote
Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc.

That is unsubstantiated garbage—a generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that, if this is an example of your critical thinking, then most American Christians I know would run circles around you. For the record, of the hundreds of Christian families I know, I have never seen one case of a child being punished for asking "why?" too much.

Kristine,
   
Quote
It's just wrong to say that a society cannot be stable and atheist. No one really tried - Stalin made himself into a religion and that's not the same thing.

I agree with the first part—but I think the standard dismissal of Stalin—that he (or Soviet communism) was really a religion is just sleight of hand. Don't like certain inconvenient examples of societies based on atheism? Then simply redefine them as actually being based on religion. Cheap trick. Why not just admit—at least the possibility—that Stalinism is an example of an atheistic experiment gone bad?

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,11:46   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,10:25)
J. G. Cox,
     
Quote
Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc.


That is unsubstantiated garbage—a generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that, if this is an example of your critical thinking, then most American Christians I know would run circles around you.

For the record, of the hundreds of Christian families I know, I have never seen one case of a child being punished for asking "why?" too much.

Kristine,
     
Quote
It's just wrong to say that a society cannot be stable and atheist. No one really tried - Stalin made himself into a religion and that's not the same thing.

I agree with the first part—but I think the standard dismissal of Stalin—that he (or Soviet communism) was really a religion is just sleight of hand. Don't like certain inconvenient examples of societies based on atheism? Then simply redefine them as actually being based on religion. Cheap trick. Why not just admit—at least the possibility—that Stalinism is an example of an atheistic experiment gone bad?


Jesus Christ Heddle - You are still the smarmiest poster I have ever run into. Unsubstantiated garbage"? Pot-kettle black!  

You blast poster J G Cox for "unsubstantiated garbage", then do the same thing to him, then add a little ad hominum for good measure:  "a generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that, if this is an example of your critical thinking, then most American Christians I know would run circles around you.

You continue:  "For the record, of the hundreds of Christian families I know, I have never seen one case of a child being punished for asking "why?" too much".

Heddle - Just cuz YOU say it's for the record, does NOT mean it's actually for the record, does it?

Also, your argument with Kristeine is also the same #### thing... Just cuz YOU say it's a "cheap trick" doesn't have any bearing at all about the actual truth of her argument does it?  Heddle says:  Don't like certain inconvenient examples of societies based on atheism? Then simply redefine them as actually being based on religion. Cheap trick.

Why not just admit—at least the possibility—that Stalinism is an example of an atheistic experiment gone bad?

Heddle _ Why don't YOU admit it?  You have been suckered into a belief in a figment of your underactive imagination, and you and your imaginary friend should, in the immortal words of Louis, just STFU.

So take your specious arguments and sophistry, and go play in someone else's sandbox.

--------------
Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,11:49   

Quote
I think the standard dismissal of Stalin—that he (or Soviet communism) was really a religion is just sleight of hand. Don't like certain inconvenient examples of societies based on atheism? Then simply redefine them as actually being based on religion. Cheap trick. Why not just admit—at least the possibility—that Stalinism is an example of an atheistic experiment gone bad?


Indeed, we object when Darwinism/atheism is touted as a religion. After all there are none of the trappings of a religion, such as churches of Darwin, monuments such as Darwin's mausoleum, no rallies or parades with grand displays of Darwin's likeness, no Darwin's face on billboards, no looming concrete statues in the parks....

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,11:59   

Quote
Quote
Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc.


That is unsubstantiated garbage—a generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that, if this is an example of your critical thinking, then most American Christians I know would run circles around you.


Heddle, remind me, how old did Methuselah live to be?

Quote
I agree with the first part—but I think the standard dismissal of Stalin—that he (or Soviet communism) was really a religion is just sleight of hand.


I see. Out of curiosity, do you believe that Hitler was a Christian, or that he at least believed he was one? Remember, no Scotsmen.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,12:20   

A. Chatfield:

   
Quote
But wait, didn't you say last year that Hitler was a Wiccan?


My parody did (well, sorta). As to what I really think: my guess is that Hitler hated traditional Christianity because of its Jewish base, so he wished to repackage it as "Aryan" for the yokels. Hitler himself was an atheist in his personal beliefs. Obviously, I can't prove this -- Hitler's true religion (if he had one) is the ultimate black box.

Cox & Kristine & the rest.....good posts. I need to address some of them tonight.

Hello, Heddle.  :D  :D  :D

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,12:28   

Arden,
Methusula: 969.

Hitler: He was not a Christian. It doesn't matter if he thought he was or not, and of course I have no way of knowing, although I suspect he did not. (OK, throw some Hitler quotes at me--as long as you are OK with the implied assumption that you always believe what Hitler said.) At any rate, the bible is quite clear that there are and will always be those who think they are Christians, but are not—primarily because mere intellectual assent is not what is called for.

You are are aware, by the way, of the Nuremberg project at Rutgers? New research that shows, among other things, that the Nazis had a master plan to persecute the church?

Here is a link reproducing an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the research (I have no comment about the site posting the article, it is just a convenient source for it.)

http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/endC.htm

A quote from the article, attributed to researcher Julie Mandel:

 
Quote
"A lot of people will say, 'I didn't realize that they were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.' . . . They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity."


Note the link to the actual research in the Inquirer article is broken, here is the current link to the research documents at Rutgers University:

http://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/nurinst1.shtml

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,12:50   

Quote

Arden,
Methusula: 969.


Then I say there is more truth to the assertion that "American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically" than you like to admit.

 
Quote

Hitler: He was not a Christian. It doesn't matter if he thought he was or not,


You know, I *had* been thinking you were smarter than I had thought you were. Now I realize I have to revise that, sadly. I'm afraid some of the harsher commenters here have a better handle on you than I thought.

Do I have your permission to consult you whenever someone says they're a Christian but I'm not sure they're 'right'? Or is there someone even better out there who's the World Authority On Who Is Or Is Not A Real Christian?

   
Quote
and of course I have no way of knowing, although I suspect he did not. (OK, throw some Hitler quotes at me--as long as you are OK with the implied assumption that you always believe what Hitler said.)


Not worth the bother, Heddle. You're so deep into your "Hitler Couldn't Have Been A Christian Because He Was Bad and By Definition No Christians Are Bad People, Therefore All Christians Are Good" mindset that you'd never change your mind. Besides, based on the way GoP ran through this rigamarole last fall, I can predict what you'll say.

Answer me this: when do you think Hitler 'quit being a Christian'?

 
Quote

You are are aware, by the way, of the Nuremberg project at Rutgers? New research that shows, among other things, that the Nazis had a master plan to persecute the church?


You're thinking very simplistically again, Heddle. That doesn't mean Hitler wasn't a Christian. Try harder.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,13:19   

Arden,


No, it demonstrates you don't understand what critical thinking means. My assumption is that God created the universe. It would represent a lack of critical thinking to assume that a God who can create a universe could not sustain a man for ten centuries. That would be the type of disconnect or self-inconsistency that is indicative of a lack of critical thinking. It is not your assumptions, but whether you can defend your conclusions based on your assumptions, that is the test of critical thinking.

Why bother asking if I think Hitler was a Christian, when all you are waiting to do is pounce, yet again, with some misapplied variant of the True Scotsman argument? The bible says (1) we are to judge those who claim to be believers and (2) judge them from their deeds and (3) treat as apostate those who come up short. By those standards I judge that Hitler was not a Christian.  (Nor is Fred Phelps.) That is independent of the Rutgers work on the Nazi persecution of the church—but that work certainly helps my argument. (I note that your response to the Rutgers project, essentially that it doesn't matter, is not exactly powerful.)

By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible. He may have stopped thinking he was a Christian, or he may or never really believed he was, I couldn't say.

If I claim that "I am an evolutionist, I believe that God created the diversity of life by supernaturally playing the genetic engineer, causing one species to evolve into another" does that mean I am a "true" evolutionist, just as good as Darwin? Just because I claim to be? Or is there some standard by which such a claim is judged, and does that only apply to "evolutionist?" Is that the only title that is immune from the true Scotsman fallacy?

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,13:29   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,15:08)
BWE:

     
Quote
Science lacks the ability to destroy. That capacity belongs to man. ….

Sure. Mankind's history is littered with violence, and people often misuse the fruits of scientific discovery. In fact, many inventions are driven by a need to kill or dominate other societies. No one argues this.
Then why argue that atheism is dangerous? Not to dismiss your question because of my personal opinions about religion but this approaches the evangelical talking point (nicely summarized by afdave) that modern horror resulted from a decline in religion. Remember that Italy and Turkey (Ottoman Empire) fought with Hitler and committed equally brutal acts. Can you defend the  claim that these societies didn’t have a religious underpinning?

To say that the 20th century ushered in a new era of violence is also a straw man. The 20th century saw the fastest human population growth in the history of Earth. Percentages of people involved in warfare or killed by warfare changed negligibly. Hydrocarbons alone drove that trend. Hydrocarbons also created new deadliness in warfare. The fact that some of the despots of the 20th C. claimed no official religious affiliation at the same time that weapons grew exponentially more deadly says nothing at all about religion or atheism.  


     
Quote
The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start. Take warfare for instance. Have nations fought each other for religious reasons? Certainly. But if your hypothesis was true, we should have seen a net reduction in bloodshed in the more secular 20th Century. This did not happen. In fact, the barbarity seemed to escalate until nuclear weapons provided a deterrent for large-scale conflict in Western societies.

1. And which religion is it that has this “ethical, life-affirming philosophy”?
2. Two parts: what is my hypothesis and why would it relult in a net reduction in harm? Religion provides a ready means to control the masses but it doesn’t need to be the only means. It is simply one of a panoply of bad things. And even that is footnoted that only religious claims to truth are bad. I personally am deeply religious but since I am the conduit to god, there is no danger of me being whipped into a frenzy by an appeal to religious truths.

 
Quote
     
Quote
 
“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”
 
Budda is not god. Your argument doesn't work without Buddha. In the name of god, only falsehoods driven home through indoctrination survive the test of time.


I don't understand what you're arguing here. [/quote]  My Argument: without Buddhism in that story, the religious peaceful people have to go outside the mainstream of the religion to be peaceful or helpful or whatever. They are islands rather than the norm. The churches only propagate the negative parts. The fear and intolerance of outsiders feeds the power of the church. That story is wrong. They fill the pages as the exceptional few rather than the hateful norm.

   
Quote
First, historians are not sure that Hitler was a Christian. And I was under the impression that Stalin was an atheist when he left the seminary and never looked back. In any case, Stalin's (and to a lesser extent, Hitler's) policies were explicitly antireligious. The Jews, who had earlier endured pogroms in Christian hands, were targeted for annihilation in Nazi Germany. Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity. And the Jews certainly learned the meaning of Stalin's catch phrase: "est chelovek, est problema, net cheloveka — net problemy." Fortunately his government's incompetence prevented another Holocaust.
Are you actually claiming that persecuting Jews is an anti-religious activity?

 
Quote
ARTIST: Tom Lehrer
TITLE: National Brotherhood Week
Lyrics and Chords


[ Abdim7 =   ]

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks
And the black folks hate the white folks
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule

/ E B7 / - E / E7 A / B7 EE7 /

But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark
Are dancing cheek to cheek
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school

/ A - / E - / B7 - / E E7 / A - / E - / B7 - EA EB7 EA EB7  /

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks
And the rich folks hate the poor folks
All of my folks hate all of your folks
It's American as apple pie

But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans
'Cause it's very chic
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand
You can tolerate him if you try

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Moslems
And everybody hates the Jews

But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-
One-Another-hood Week
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you
It's only for a week, so have no fear
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

/ A - / E - / B7 - / E E7 / A - / E - / B7 - E Abdim7 /
   / F#7 B7 E - /


--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,13:46   

BWE:

 
Quote
 
Quote
 
First, historians are not sure that Hitler was a Christian. And I was under the impression that Stalin was an atheist when he left the seminary and never looked back. In any case, Stalin's (and to a lesser extent, Hitler's) policies were explicitly antireligious. The Jews, who had earlier endured pogroms in Christian hands, were targeted for annihilation in Nazi Germany. Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity. And the Jews certainly learned the meaning of Stalin's catch phrase: "est chelovek, est problema, net cheloveka — net problemy." Fortunately his government's incompetence prevented another Holocaust.

Are you actually claiming that persecuting Jews is an anti-religious activity?


Sorry for the unintended meaning. What I was trying to say was:

1) If antisemitism is largely a byproduct of Christianity, then we should see antisemitism decline when the influence of the Church declines. In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia (particularly under Stalin), that didn't happen. In fact, we saw serious attempts to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. It doesn't get any more antisemitic than that;

2) Antisemitism is not confined to the religious -- many atheists have been and are virulently anti-Jewish; and

3) When evaluating whether or not a certain dictator was antireligious, I put more weight on his actions than his words. (And more weight on his private speech). Based on this standard, Stalin was clearly antireligious and Hitler was somewhat antireligious. I'll be happy to back this up if you wish, but it looks like Heddle has already provided some excellent supporting evidence.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,13:59   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,12:19)
No, it demonstrates you don't understand what critical thinking means.

My Irony Meter just broke....

Hedle - Anyone that believes in the Big Sky JuJu can not be jumping on anyone for a lack of critical thinking skills... Not unless they want to get laughed at!

I was happy to see that you broke with Buffalo Bill, and I expected you to be able to contribute here in a positive way, but you have reverted to the old, smarmy self that you used to be at Panda's Thumb.  Maybe your meds were changed?  Maybe you always get this way during Lent?  I do not think it is my place to make excuses for you, but you exceed the bounds of decorum in my opinion.

Maybe you could be the first poster to be banned at UD AND here?

--------------
Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,14:02   

Quote
No, it demonstrates you don't understand what critical thinking means. My assumption is that God created the universe. It would represent a lack of critical thinking to assume that a God who can create a universe could not sustain a man for ten centuries.


I think you're either missing or evading my point.

My assumption about Methuselah is that IF he existed at all, there's no way he made 969, since people do not live to be 969. I maintain that it's a far better example of critical thinking to assume he's part of Hebrew mythology and as worthy of taking seriously as part of the origin stories and legends of the Greeks, Australian Aboriginals, or the Sioux.

You clearly don't put the Methuselah legend in the same category. My position is, you have no logical basis for treating the story differently. Certainly not 'critical thinking'.

Quote
That would be the type of disconnect or self-inconsistency that is indicative of a lack of critical thinking. It is not your assumptions, but whether you can defend your conclusions based on your assumptions, that is the test of critical thinking.


But Heddle, as I've said to you before, it looks to me like all you're doing is suspending your critical thinking skills when it comes to implausible things stated in the Bible. You have no evidence whatsover to think Methuselah lived to be 969 except your decision to believe the Old Testament. Coming up with after-the-fact rationalizations designed to 'explain' how a person could live to be 969 are NOT 'critical thinking', since by that definition, ANY mythology could be consistent with 'critical thinking'.

Quote
By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible. He may have stopped thinking he was a Christian, or he may or never really believed he was, I couldn't say.


The point is not vacuous. If you read his biography, which I have, there's no reason to doubt he was a sincere, believing Catholic in his youth, and at least up to his service in WW1. But you say he 'wasn't a Christian', by which I assume you mean based on the last 15 or so years of his life. So somewhere along the line, someone in your position has to say that he 'quit' being a Christian. And I'd be curious to know how on earth one could make such a call.

At the very least, the 'Hitler wasn't a Christian' school still has to explain why his Christian upbringing, culture, and beliefs -- and the COMPLETELY Christian matrix that made him what he was -- didn't prevent him from doing what he did. My position is, of course, that nothing Hitler did makes sense EXCEPT as a result of his particular Christian background and culture -- a culture that evidently wasn't particularly anomalous for his time and place.

At best, you hit a similar problem with Stalin -- why wasn't his intensive Christian training in his childhood sufficient to prevent him from becoming what he did?

Quote
If I claim that "I am an evolutionist, I believe that God created the diversity of life by supernaturally playing the genetic engineer, causing one species to evolve into another" does that mean I am a "true" evolutionist, just as good as Darwin? Just because I claim to be?


Heddle, by positing such a question, you're assuming that we 'Darwinists' assume that 'Darwinism' is a zero sum game the same way that religious folk assume identity in a given religion is -- that is, that One Either Is Or Is Not a Darwinist. Aside from the fact that the term 'Darwinist' is more trouble than it's worth, people who believe evolution do not treat it like a creed. You know as well as I do that modern 'Darwinism' is not identical to what Charles believed when he was alive. It seems to me that if you accept the validity of all the crucial scientific statements of evolutionary biology, then yes, if you want, that makes you a 'Darwinist', complete with membership card and the key to the executive washroom. Whether that's true of you, I have no idea.

Quote
Or is there some standard by which such a claim is judged, and does that only apply to "evolutionist?" Is that the only title that is immune from the true Scotsman fallacy?


Again, I don't think 'evolutionists' view 'evolutionism' that way anyway, so the question is irrelevant.

Here's my problem with Christians who say "so and so wasn't REALLY a Christian": as you know, you'll find thousands of people, Protestants mostly, who are completely convinced that Catholics and Mormons aren't Christians. Yet they look plenty Christian to me, and they're all completely convinced they're Christians. While I'm making no statement about what YOU think of Mormons and Catholics, in what way is there any validity to this kind of gatekeeping? Why should anyone outside the group making these 'yes or no' pronouncements give any credence to it?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,14:19   

Quote
If antisemitism is largely a byproduct of Christianity, then we should see antisemitism decline when the influence of the Church declines.


Actually, that IS what we see, if you allot a reasonable amount of time for the effects of 'the church declining' to be felt. So that means if a government abolishes religion, that you can't judge what people are like 5 years later as an example of "that's what people are like without religion!" In Stalinist Russia, the ascendancy of the church in people's lives was still a very recent thing indeed. And of course, Hitler never did stamp out the Protestant or Catholic churches.

So, for what you're trying to prove here, it's bogus reasoning.

Antisemitism is a by-product of Christianity that gets embedded into Christian cultures. As long as said culture stays Christian, the  antisemitism can be rationalized by Christian rhetoric, yet remove the overt Christianity and the effects on the culture remain.

People happily agree that Jewish atheists can still be 'culturally Jewish'. It's the same thing here -- for many people and places, antisemitism is a part of being 'culturally Christian'.

Quote
When evaluating whether or not a certain dictator was antireligious,


(Not really the question we were asking, but never mind.)

Quote
I put more weight on his actions than his words. (And more weight on his private speech). Based on this standard, Stalin was clearly antireligious and Hitler was somewhat antireligious.


You're taking it as a given here that being 'antireligious' necessarily implies not being a Christian. I'm not convinced they're the same thing at all.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,14:21   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 13 2007,12:46)
BWE:

     
Quote
     
Quote
 
First, historians are not sure that Hitler was a Christian. And I was under the impression that Stalin was an atheist when he left the seminary and never looked back. In any case, Stalin's (and to a lesser extent, Hitler's) policies were explicitly antireligious. The Jews, who had earlier endured pogroms in Christian hands, were targeted for annihilation in Nazi Germany. Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity. And the Jews certainly learned the meaning of Stalin's catch phrase: "est chelovek, est problema, net cheloveka — net problemy." Fortunately his government's incompetence prevented another Holocaust.

Are you actually claiming that persecuting Jews is an anti-religious activity?


Sorry for the unintended meaning. What I was trying to say was:

1) If antisemitism is largely a byproduct of Christianity, then we should see antisemitism decline when the influence of the Church declines. In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia (particularly under Stalin), that didn't happen. In fact, we saw serious attempts to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. It doesn't get any more antisemitic than that;

2) Antisemitism is not confined to the religious -- many atheists have been and are virulently anti-Jewish; and

3) When evaluating whether or not a certain dictator was antireligious, I put more weight on his actions than his words. (And more weight on his private speech). Based on this standard, Stalin was clearly antireligious and Hitler was somewhat antireligious. I'll be happy to back this up if you wish, but it looks like Heddle has already provided some excellent supporting evidence.

And this involves your topic how? Are you claiming there are fewer xians/muslims now than in a previous time?

And your reply fails to address any of my points.
 
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It seems that these critics hold several odd ideas, the first being that anyone attacking theology should actually know some.

“The most disappointing feature of ‘The God Delusion,’” Mr. Orr wrote, “is Dawkins’s failure to engage religious thought in any serious way. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology” and “no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions.”
Straw man. First, Dawkins has no need to address orthoxy  or specific theology. He pushes a different issue. Second, the implicit assumption that Dawkins never learned any theology remains unsupported.
 
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“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”

See my previous post(s).
 
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In Mr. Orr’s view, “No decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion,” but atheism has to be held to the same standard: “Dawkins has a difficult time facing up to the dual fact that (1) the 20th century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.”

Seems a mite biased of a statement, eh? I would need a whole lot of context for the claim that the 20th century was an "experiment in secularism". And it was not "more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.” So the whole point is moot.

 
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Finally, these critics stubbornly rejected the idea that rational meant scientific. “The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism,” Mr. Nagel wrote.
I share this fear. Yet I still disapprove of intellectual dishonesty. Trying to map the interior dimensions as surfaces sometimes leads to a dehumanizing worldview, and the scientific method knows no other techniques. Yet the mapping of real surfaces through physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy and physical sciences also paints a very real backdrop from which to experience the interior dimensions. Religion offers niether.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,14:50   

Quote
By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible


Wait - do you mean "I don't believe such a thing IS possible"? Your double negative here is a little confusing.

If that's what you mean, wow.

Do you mean no one can QUIT being a Christian?

This statement makes so little sense to me I can only assume some extremely different thought processes than I'm used to went into making it.

Interesting. 'Cuz my sister used to be a devout Catholic, and she sure ain't a Christian of any kind now...

Can people quit being, say, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or Scientologists? Is this just a Christian thing, or is it applicable to all religions?

If one can quit being an atheist, why can't one quit being a Christian?

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,14:56   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,13:19)
By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible.

Is this a typo? Should I read it as "By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is possible.)

And do you mean to say it's not possible to stop being a christian?

Or if the original line is correct, can someone explain it to me?

   
J. G. Cox



Posts: 38
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:00   

Off-topic
@ heddle
     
Quote
unsubstantiated
well, yes; I thought that it was clear from the context that these were personal observations, not independently verified empirical facts
 
Quote
generalization of such simplicity that I can only say that... most American Christians I know would run circles around you.
I actually was suggesting that exposure to the a substantial proportion of the methods that I see used for inculcating American Protestant faith inhibit the development of critical thinking skills. That is not the same as saying that all, or even a majority, of American Protestants are weak thinkers. ####, I could pull of all sorts of people from my own life that are both faithful Christians and extremely rigorous thinkers. It is not also to say that such is a necessary symptom of religion; I very much like, for instance, the emphasis on intellectualism in Jewish (sub)culture. My point was only that, given my own observations of the effect of a portion of the subculture of American Protestantism, I am more inclined to react favorably to the idea of an atheist society.  Although this is certainly an interesting question, it is thoroughly off topic and one that would require more of my time to address properly than I am willing to devote to it, so let's just agree to play nice on this subject.
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However For the record, of the hundreds of Christian families I know, I have never seen one case of a child being punished for asking "why?" too much.
Then your friends and acquaintances are blessed with good pastors and Sunday school teachers, and should be thankful.
 
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if this is an example of your critical thinking...
no, it is a personal observation.


As for the 'True Scotsman' issue, I must agree that it is relevant. If you are examining the ethical quality of individuals with respect to their Christianity, but only call someone a Christian if they are an ethical person, then the Christian component becomes irrelevant. Any claims of ethical superiority must be ascribed to the fact that the person was 'good,' not Christian.

on-topic:
I think that there are two major issues here.
1: even in the putative examples of experiments in secular or atheist societies given here, it could be argued that the principal causes of the horrors in question were not atheism per se, but other ideologies. The question should be whether the constituents of an atheist society would be more vulnerable to adopting such nasty things as fascism or institutionalized racism than would the constituents of a theistic society. My personal intuition is no; I think that such abhorrent ideologies have been successful in various forms throughout history because they appeal to something deeper in human nature than the ephemeral -isms prevalent at the moment.
2: from what I have read, the data do now show that atheists are generally any less 'ethical' than theists (although I have my doubts about whether these data have been accurately corrected for other factors, such as level of education or age at marriage). However, those are essentially single generation data; things change at larger time scales. Here, I think that the question is what would the long-term stability of an ethical system be in an atheistic versus a theistic society.

  
J. G. Cox



Posts: 38
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:04   

Quote
By the way, I don’t think Hitler ever quit being a Christian, because I don't believe such a thing is not possible.
I interpreted this statement to mean that Heddle did not believe someone could stop being a Christian because a 'real' Christian would be unable to quit being so; anyone who appeared to have quit being a Christian was, in fact, not a Christian to begin with.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:10   

Quote
the 20th century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.”


I take away two things from this statement that are especially striking:

1) it reeks of the constant tendency of conservative Christians to view the past as a Golden Era when everyone was Christian and society had no problems. To me if you actually read serious history books about western civilization, and find out what life was really like in Europe for most of the last 2 millenia, or what life was like in America in the 18th & 19th centuries, this statement is so ridiculous it disproves itself, but of course it's a rhetorical device meant to lead to the conclusion "if only we could make people quit being nonchristian, all our problems would go away!"

2) his statement that "the 20th century was an experiment in secularism" is telling for its past tense. Does he assume that now that we're in Bush's new Christian American 21st century, that's all a thing of the past? That we're not 'secular' anymore?

Also, what's so secular about the 20th century? Through half of the 20th century, Americans were more consistently Christian than any other people of European descent. Moreover, I see nothing 'secular' about the Middle East at all...

Primarily, I have a problem with this implied bogus dichotomy that the only alternative to 'secularism' (whatever that is) is conservative Christianity. What exactly does he assume the alternative to this wicked 'secularism' should be? I'm afraid to even imagine...

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:11   

Quote (GCT @ Mar. 12 2007,16:19)
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,12:33)
My question is, "Is an atheistic orientation healthy for society?" I suspect that atheism is fine as a personal philosophy, but it tends to hurt those societies that adopt it as a norm.

And, what examples are you basing that on?  In every one, I'll bet that it was a autocratic dictatorship style government where the ruler quashed religion as a way of eliminating his competition.

Blaming Stalin's atheism for his crimes is like blaming his moustache. Hey wait a minute..Hitler had a moustache...Saddam had a moustache...

   
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:19   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 13 2007,15:10)
1) it reeks of the constant tendency of conservative Christians to view the past as a Golden Era when everyone was Christian and society had no problems.

Nostalgia is a powerful delusion. Just today someone sent me a Peggy Noonan article where she talks about how nice everyone used to be, and just look at 'ol granpa and granma, see how nice and pleasant they are, not like today's jerks on cable tv. O how degenerate we are these days.

If I were prone to such delusions, I'd just have to remind myself of my grandmother asking my brother, some 15 years ago when he was pleading for a Nike t-shirt with Michael Jordan on it, "Why do you want to wear a shirt with a nigger on it?" or that Kentucky family reunion where elderly relatives reminisced about volunteering for George Wallace back in the day...

   
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:40   

Jdog,
   
Quote
Maybe you could be the first poster to be banned at UD AND here?

Well, that wouldn't be the end of the world. I would find it ironic that I would be banned for calling someone out for making sweeping generalizations about Christians (that we punish our kids for asking "why?" too much) and for suggesting to Kristine that she is too quickly giving atheism a free pass when it comes to Stalin, when you, on multiple occasions, make what I would consider crass sexual innuendos toward Kristine. Were I the moderator of this forum, I'd consider that a much worse offense (and if I were her husband, I'd hunt you down and give you a can of whoop-ass) —but hey, that's me. This is steve s’s domain, if I recall. He doesn't have to ban me, just tell me to go away and I will. PZ told me to stay away from his blog, and I do (that is, I don't comment on it.)

Both you an Arden are not really addressing critical thinking, you are really just saying: you're a fool for believing in a supernatural God. That's a reasonable view, but it has nothing to do with critical thinking, nothing at all. It's just a circular argument, no different from mine, which is that because you have not been illuminated by the Spirit, then of course you find the idea of a supernatural God foolishness. However I'd evaluate your critical thinking based on your ability to defend your conclusions given your premise, not your premise (that there is no God) which I find just as foolish as you find mine. As for no logical reason to believe what I believe, I think you (Arden) may actually mean no scientific reason to believe what I believe—but that's not the same thing.

As for reading Hitler’s biography, I have, given that Hitler was Hitler, ample reason to believe that he was not sincere, and in general would not give him the benefit of the doubt regarding anything he said or wrote, even if he claimed to be a stout evolutionist. But as I said, it doesn't matter—it is quite possible to believe you are a Christian when you are not—as Christ taught, to some who believed they were saved he will say, "Go away, I never knew you."

By the way (Arden), you are lecturing me on the term "Darwinist." Now I think y’all make too much of that term, but regardless, I didn't use it, at least I don’t think I did. I used "evolutionist" simply as meaning "one who affirms evolution." I think you evaded my question—is that term (or whatever term you want to apply to people who support evolution) immune from the True Scotsman Fallacy?

The bottom line is: this thing with "true" Christian is just plain silly. As a great critical thinker, I really don’t see how you could find it unreasonable that any Christian would claim the right to say that someone like a Hitler is, at best, an apostate. Excommunication is often, in effect, telling someone that in our view (whatever church it happens to be) you, though you claim to be an adherent, are not, by our standards. Is excommunication always an example of the True Scotsman Fallacy in action?

As for some Christians (say fundamentalist Protestants) saying other Christians (say Catholics) are not Christians, I disagree of course (in this case) but so what? I do happen to think the LDS and the Jehovah Witnesses are not Christians, even though they claim to be--but if they think the same of me, that's OK, I'm not offended. In fact they should have standards.

It's very transparent what you're after, it's the chain: 1) Hitler said he was a Christian. 2) Hitler almost always lies, except when he claims to be a Christian,  3) anyone who claims to be a Christian must be accepted by all others making the claim as a true Christian, regardless of the fact that we are to be known by our fruit and so, finally 4) see what atrocities Christians are capable of!

To all who caught my double negative typo: yes I meant that I don't think it is possible to stop being a Christian (that is, to lose your salvation.) That is the doctrine of eternal security, and it is held to fairly widely, but not universally, among Protestants (and definitely all Calvinists, it being the ‘P’ in TULIP.)

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,15:49   

There's no bright line about when a negative statement about someone becomes an insult, but let me recommend that people discuss the substance of the arguments and not each others' personal failings, lest you find your work moved to...


   
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:04   

The purpose of this board is not to praise or bash religion, that's something much more fit for RichardDawkins.net. I'm not shutting this thread down because GOP linked the topic to Dawkins and so it's obliquely evolution related.

All I'm going to do is scan it for personal insults directed towards commenters here and kick any such posts to the bathroom wall.

Myself, I'm not going to comment much on the discussion. This is Wesley's forum and it's supposed to be about evolution/creationism and Wesley's a christian and I'm his stand-in and I'm not such a jackass that I would turn around and bash his beliefs here*.

W/R/T Kristine, I've found a few of the comments toward her to be tasteless. But she's an adult woman and she knows a lot more than I do about handling guys and if she thinks everything's going fine then I'm not going to intrude. I presume she knows that if she were to have any concerns here, Wesley and I would be serious about fixing the problem.

I do want a little clarification on one thing, though--in Heddle's posts he's said both that Hitler wasn't a christian and that he couldn't but have been a christian. I haven't been following the discussion closely. Can someone who's been following it closely label as true or false the statement "Heddle thinks Hitler was a christian." Just curious.

* On the board proper, of course. On the bathroom wall, nearly anything goes. That's the point.

   
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:19   

False.

J-dog,

Skip Heddle's posts. There isn't usually any thing in them anyway.

THat's what I do.

I can't wait to see what GoP does next.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:21   

Steve S,

Maybe it's my typos that caused the problem, but let me clarify:

1) I do not think Hitler was a Christian. Period.
2) Whether or not Hitler thought he was a Christian, I couldn't say--although given the Rutgers Nuremberg project I have my doubts that he did. It is not easy to reconcile Hitler sincerely believing he was a Christian with a Nazi plan to persecute Christians, but with a madman, who knows?
3) Even if he thought he was, I claim he was not, because it is not by our affirmation alone that we are to be judged.
4) As a side point, I think it would be impossible for Hitler or anyone else to be a Christian and then stop being a Christian.

J-Dog,

Then I think you are just too sensitive. My style is never touchy-feely, and even on my own blog I get criticized as sounding too harsh. That's just how I write, and is possibly part of the reason I got kicked off two ID lists and off of UD. But I guarantee you I can find posts on this forum, on PT, and on Ed's blog where I conceded someone made a good point. Even with Kristine's comment, I agreed with her that there is no reason to suspect that an atheist based society could not be a stable society, or however she worded it.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:33   

Quote (BWE @ Mar. 13 2007,10:19)
False.

J-dog,

Skip Heddle's posts. There isn't usually any thing in them anyway.

THat's what I do.

I can't wait to see what GoP does next.

I don't find Heddle particularly annoying, though I am not attracted to his brand of Christianity. It's Paley's posts that irritate me. I find skipping them is best for my digestion.

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:49   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,16:21)
Steve S,

Maybe it's my typos that caused the problem, but let me clarify:

1) I do not think Hitler was a Christian. Period.
2) Whether or not Hitler thought he was a Christian, I couldn't say--although given the Rutgers Nuremberg project I have my doubts that he did. It is not easy to reconcile Hitler sincerely believing he was a Christian with a Nazi plan to persecute Christians, but with a madman, who knows?
3) Even if he thought he was, I claim he was not, because it is not by our affirmation alone that we are to be judged.
4) As a side point, I think it would be impossible for Hitler or anyone else to be a Christian and then stop being a Christian.

J-Dog,

Then I think you are just too sensitive. My style is never touchy-feely, and even on my own blog I get criticized as sounding too harsh. That's just how I write, and is possibly part of the reason I got kicked off two ID lists and off of UD. But I guarantee you I can find posts on this forum, on PT, and on Ed's blog where I conceded someone made a good point. Even with Kristine's comment, I agreed with her that there is no reason to suspect that an atheist based society could not be a stable society, or however she worded it.

Mr. Heddle: given this scenario:

1 Mary is raised a christian, sincerely believes in jesus, prays, converts others, gives what she can to the church, meets and exceeds all behavioral requirements for being christian for 35 consecutive years.
2 On her 35th birthday her cheating husband leaves her, she's laid off at work, she can't find a job, falls in with destructive relatives, and in a moment of weakness turns to drinking.
3 After 3 years of drinking and suffering abuse from the relatives, one day in an act of despair she drowns her kids and shoots her relatives and then herself.

I think most of us here would summarize the scenario something like "Mary was a christian for 35 years, then endured a lot of trauma and committed some terrible acts." Would your position be something like, "For 35 years I erroneously thought Mary was a christian, but after the final acts I retroactively strip her of that designation. She was never a christian."?

   
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,16:58   

Steve S,

Well, my gut instinct based on the scenario you described is that Mary was a Christian who slid into despair, killed her kids, and committed suicide, and died a Christian. Christians are not immune from depression, mental illness, or committing heinous crimes.

Of course, as with the case with Hitler I couldn't say for sure--nor could I say for sure with anyone I know. I only know that we are supposed to judge, but are not promised that we'll get it right.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:03   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,15:58)
Steve S,

Well, my gut instinct based on the scenario you described is that Mary was a Christian who slid into despair, killed her kids, and committed suicide, and died a Christian. Christians are not immune from depression, mental illness, or committing heinous crimes.

Of course, as with the case with Hitler I couldn't say for sure--nor could I say for sure with anyone I know. I only know that we are supposed to judge, but are not promised that we'll get it right.

Is that the "Maybe a true Scotsman" fallacy?

--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:13   

Quote
I only know that we are supposed to judge,


What happened to "Judge not, that ye be not judged."?

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:15   

I prefer "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:36   

Better sense tells me to drop it, but I'm trying to get a fix on this set of beliefs. I'm going to try to refrain from editorializing, and just ask a few questions.

1 So, Mr. Heddle, if it's not possible to drop christianity, and you yourself are a convert, then would you say that it's impossible for you to deconvert, no matter the evidence and arguments? Has some amount of your free will been revoked?

2 You meet a guy like Dan Barker. He tells you, "I was a christian, but I changed my mind." You tell him, "Well, you weren't really a christian then." He says, "Looky here, I was a god fearing christian for 30 years. I grew up christian, I read the bible, I deeply believed in Jesus, I prayed every day, yada yada yada, I was even an ordained minister. You recently converted. I was a christian 3 times longer than you** and I have 3 decades of christian belief and acts certifying my status. Then I changed my mind."   Should a reasonable person conclude

a) Dan was a christian, and isn't now. He changed his mind. People do that.
b) Mr. Heddle is right, Dan believed and acted as a christian for 30 years, but must not have really been a christian the whole time.
c) Mr. Heddle is right, and Dan is still secretly a christian. He's lying about what he believes.
d) Mr. Heddle is right, and Dan is still secretly a christian. He thinks he's an atheist, but he's a special type of christian who consciously disbelieves in jesus.
e) Mr. Heddle is right, since Dan Barker hasn't yet become a tyrranical monster. He was a christian back then, and will remain so until he kills x number of people, at which point he will not have been.  


**for the sake of argument; I don't know how long since you converted, of course.

   
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:36   

Alan Fox,
Quote
What happened to "Judge not, that ye be not judged."?

If that were the only verse related to judging, you'd have a point. But it (Matt. 7:1) is immediately followed (v. 6) by ""Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. " (which presumes we must attempt to discern who are dogs and who are pigs, i.e., judge) and, v. 17 "Watch out for false prophets" which, again, presumes judging and v. 18 "By their fruit you will recognize them," which again presumes judging. Verse 1, in light of these and other passages, in then taken to mean to avoid a Pharisaical judging of the faults of our brothers, or to speak evil of our brothers. It does not refer to judging the apostasy of others.

And then we have, just to pick one of several possible examples, Paul telling the Corinthian church to toss out the man who was sleeping with his step mother. He clearly judged the man, and scolded the church for not doing the judging themselves, saying "And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?"

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:40   

Quote
Both you an Arden are not really addressing critical thinking, you are really just saying: you're a fool for believing in a supernatural God.


Actually, that's NOT what I'm saying, or at least not what I mean. What I mean is, you're trying to take your belief in a literal Old testament under an umbrella of 'critical thinking'. My opinion is that your Biblical literalism in fact stands outside your critical thinking apparatus, unless you dilute the meaning of 'critical thinking' beyond recognition.

If your 'critical thinking' can be part of why you believe Methusalah made 969, then essentially anyone can justify literal belief in ANY kind of religious belief, even kinds that are wildly contradictory with each other. Scientology and Christianity and Hinduism and Chinigchinich are all true. This is a conclusion I find, um, troubling, and I bet you don't endorse that, either.

 
Quote
That's a reasonable view, but it has nothing to do with critical thinking, nothing at all. It's just a circular argument, no different from mine, which is that because you have not been illuminated by the Spirit, then of course you find the idea of a supernatural God foolishness.


Not so much foolish as no more or less 'reasonable' than a million other ways of interpreting the world.

 
Quote
However I'd evaluate your critical thinking based on your ability to defend your conclusions given your premise, not your premise (that there is no God)


Actually, I didn't say that.

 
Quote
which I find just as foolish as you find mine. As for no logical reason to believe what I believe, I think you (Arden) may actually mean no scientific reason to believe what I believe—but that's not the same thing.


I'm not convinced you consistently keep the two separate when you express yourself, but never mind.

 
Quote
To all who caught my double negative typo: yes I meant that I don't think it is possible to stop being a Christian (that is, to lose your salvation.) That is the doctrine of eternal security, and it is held to fairly widely, but not universally, among Protestants


Okay, this just clarifies the original thing you said but doesn't address the problems with it. I assume this must be some arcane point of Calvinist theology I've never heard of.

But: Is it therefore your assumption that if a person is a apparently a Christian for the first half of their life, but later in their life either switches to another religion, becomes an atheist, or does some behavior horribly unbecoming of a Christian, then that proves the person was never a Christian to begin with?

Or, is it that they're 'still a Christian' in some way they can't detect, even if they think they're now an atheist or a Muslim? Or is it that no matter what turn they make they're still 'saved'?

Quote

What happened to "Judge not, that ye be not judged."?


Yeah, or what about "Blessed are the cheesemakers"?

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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:46   

I'm sorry if I caused you to write a long post, David, I was being flippant. I honestly have no interest at all in your interpretation of the Bible. When and if I have my "road to Damascus" moment, I'll look you up. Until then, my best wishes.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:49   

Quote

a) Dan was a christian, and isn't now. He changed his mind. People do that.
b) Mr. Heddle is right, Dan believed and acted as a christian for 30 years, but must not have really been a christian the whole time.
c) Mr. Heddle is right, and Dan is still secretly a christian. He's either lying about what he believes.
d) Mr. Heddle is right, and Dan is still secretly a christian. He thinks he's an atheist, but he's a special type of christian who consciously disbelieves in jesus.
e) Mr. Heddle is right, since Dan Barker hasn't yet become a tyrranical monster. He was a christian back then, and will remain so until he kills x number of people, at which point he will not have been.  


Post of the week to Steve. Loudest I've laughed in weeks, especially (d) and (e).

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,17:52   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 13 2007,16:40)
Okay, this just clarifies the original thing you said but doesn't address the problems with it. I assume this must be some arcane point of Calvinist theology I've never heard of.

But: Is it therefore your assumption that if a person is a apparently a Christian for the first half of their life, but later in their life either switches to another religion, becomes an atheist, or does some behavior horribly unbecoming of a Christian, then that proves the person was never a Christian to begin with?

Or, is it that they're 'still a Christian' in some way they can't detect, even if they think they're now an atheist or a Muslim? Or is it that no matter what turn they make they're still 'saved'?

Arden,

Eternal security is a doctrine of most fundy protestantism, not just Calvinism.

One of the things that separates Calvinism from the rest is that God decides if you will be a Christian or not before you're ever born.  (Predestination - The "P" in the TULIP)

So if you get tossed in the #### pile, it doesn't matter what you do or believe, you still get fried.  If you get tossed in with the Christians, it still doesn't matter what you do, you get to go to Heaven.

They just do the verbal tapdance:

"By their works ye shall know them" so if you commit mass murder after having led 80 years of Christian life, it just means you were only faking it all that time.

Perhaps a bit of hyperbole for purposes of illustration, but that's the gist of it.

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:00   

Quote
As a side point, I think it would be impossible for Hitler or anyone else to be a Christian and then stop being a Christian.


But...why? Doesn't this make a very sweeping statement that Hitler's Catholicism could NEVER have been valid, not even when he was a teenager, on no basis other than the fact that he was unpleasant as an adult? When he was 15 was he somehow already guilty of all the stuff he later did?

 
Quote
As for some Christians (say fundamentalist Protestants) saying other Christians (say Catholics) are not Christians, I disagree of course (in this case) but so what? I do happen to think the LDS and the Jehovah Witnesses are not Christians, even though they claim to be--but if they think the same of me, that's OK, I'm not offended.


Why do you accept Catholics to the club but not Mormons and JW's?

Do you also therefore assume Mormons and JW's are not saved?

Quote
And then we have, just to pick one of several possible examples, Paul telling the Corinthian church to toss out the man who was sleeping with his step mother. He clearly judged the man, and scolded the church for not doing the judging themselves, saying "And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?"


No offense, but Christians need to worship Paul a lot less than they do.

Quote
Eternal security is a doctrine of most fundy protestantism, not just Calvinism.


Ah. Well, my parents used to be Catholics, and they raised my older siblings as Catholic, but they dropped the whole thing when I was little. So I didn't get much Catholic imprinting, and even less Protestant imprinting.

 
Quote

So if you get tossed in the #### pile, it doesn't matter what you do or believe, you still get fried.  If you get tossed in with the Christians, it still doesn't matter what you do, you get to go to Heaven.


If that's accurate, that's rather, uh, repugnant.

Lou, were you raised Calvinist?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
heddle



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:16   

Steve S,

 
Quote
So, Mr. Heddle, if it's not possible to drop christianity, and you yourself are a convert, then would you say that it's impossible for you to deconvert, no matter the evidence and arguments? Has some amount of your free will been revoked?

I’ve been asked this many times, and find it difficult to answer. If Christianity is correct, and if I understand it correctly, then I cannot deconvert. It’s no loss of free will, because I don’t believe free will means to “choose what you don’t want,” but rather that you “always choose what you do want.” But free will is, I think you’ll agree, complicated and filled with seeming paradoxes, and not just for theists. On the other hand, what if I woke up tomorrow convinced I’ve been a fool? Well then I wouldn’t think I deconverted, I’d think I had been deluded. That is, since I would then think Christianity is false, a “true” Christian has no meaning. Of course, the possibility would remain, I would have to admit even as I didn’t believe it, that Christianity is true but I never was a true Christian, or that I had been a true Christian but my belief in eternal security was incorrect, that is I really did deconvert and hence lost my salvation. Sorry—I just don’t know how to answer that question simply, there are too many wrinkles.

Your second question, based on how you wrote it, is not for me. But what I would say is that for any person who states “I changed my mind” I don’t doubt their sincerity. I believe they believed that they were a Christian, But the truth is, as I read scripture, either “they were never really of us,” or they will return, or there is even the possibility that they will die thinking they are lost, only to find out they aren’t. The beauty of being a Calvinist is you get to take literally the verse that states “God will have mercy upon whom God will have mercy.”

Arden,

I think, for example,  the premise of Islam, that Mohamed was a true prophet, is false. However, I have no doubt that there are great Moslem critical thinkers. By the way, I’m not a biblical literalist, I just believe in biblical inerrancy.  If I read a convincing rationale as to why the description of long lifetimes in Genesis were figures of speech, I’d be open to that interpretation. However, I have never seen a compelling argument to that effect. As to why I accept Catholics, I would say that I consider the very basics of the faith as outlined by the historic creeds (say the Nicene) as a minimal definition of Christian orthodoxy. Since these include the eternality of Christ and the Trinity, both LDS's and JW’s deny them, while both Catholics and Protestants affirm them. I would not say that “no JW or Mormon” is a Christian, or is not saved, or that no Jew or Moslem or atheist is saved,  because, well, God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. The only thing I know for sure is that the normative process is to profess a belief in Christ and to live by faith. I will say that to the best of our ability we are to discern false teachings and to react to them accordingly.

As for your comments on eternal security, see my points to steve s, above.

Lou FCD,

No, predestination is the ‘U’ in TULIP (Unconditional election), not the ‘P’, which is "Perseverance of the Saints,” i.e. eternal security. It is not a doctrine of fundamentalists, not universally. Many fundamentalists despise Calvinism, and certainly teach that you can place your salvation at risk if you don’t behave a certain way.

Needless to say your characterization of Calvinism is wrong—although it does sound exactly how Jimmy Swaggart characterizes it—but this is not the place to defend Calvinism.

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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:24   

I have nothing further to add to this discussion. I'm going back to drinking Heineken and watching  Origins on DVD. If I ever wish to publicly continue thinking about these questions I will start a thread at RichardDawkins.net. If anyone else is interested in starting such a thread there, go right ahead, because it's not likely I will.

   
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:40   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,11:28)
Arden,
Methusula: 969.

Hitler: He was not a Christian. It doesn't matter if he thought he was or not, and of course I have no way of knowing, although I suspect he did not. (OK, throw some Hitler quotes at me--as long as you are OK with the implied assumption that you always believe what Hitler said.) At any rate, the bible is quite clear that there are and will always be those who think they are Christians, but are not—primarily because mere intellectual assent is not what is called for.

My, my, my.  Every once in a while, Davey goes off his nut, and seems to get it in his holy little head that he's some sort of Divine Judge as to who is or isn't a "Real Christian<tm>©".  And when Davey starts to get on his holy high horse yet again, I always have to step in and perform the same role that Julius Caesar's slave had to fill (back when Caesar was riding on his chariot through Rome in triumph, a slave standing next to him would periodically whisper in his ear 'You are just a man'):

*ahem*

Davey, you are just a man.  You are not a prophet, not God's Chosen, not God's Spokesman, and not God's Favorite Preacher.  You are no more divine than anyone else; you don't know any more about God than anyone else does, and you are no holier than anyone else is.  You are nobody's Judge, Davey.  Nobody's.  Your religious opinions are just that --- your opinions.  They are no more holy or authoritative than anybody else's religious opinions.

You are just a man, Davey.

Just a man.

You, uh, do tend to forget that from time to time.  

No need to thank me for reminding you of it though, Davey.  I'm very happy to do that for you.  After all, we don't want people to think that you, like every other fundie, are just an arrogant self-righteous pride-filled prick who thinks, quite literally, that he is holier than everyone else.

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:42   

Quote
If I read a convincing rationale as to why the description of long lifetimes in Genesis were figures of speech, I’d be open to that interpretation. However, I have never seen a compelling argument to that effect.


Um, the fact that people don't live to be 900 doesn't suffice?

I'm afraid to ask this, but do you believe in the literal truth of the Noah's Ark story?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:47   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,14:40)
Jdog,
   
Quote
Maybe you could be the first poster to be banned at UD AND here?


Well, that wouldn't be the end of the world. I would find it ironic that I would be banned for calling someone out for making sweeping generalizations about Christians

####, now you've piqued Heddle's massive martyr complex.  

Now we'll never hear the end of it.

"Help, help!!  I'm being repressed !!!!!!"

(yawn)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,18:50   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 13 2007,16:46)
I'm sorry if I caused you to write a long post, David, I was being flippant. I honestly have no interest at all in your interpretation of the Bible.

Neither, of course, does anyone else.  (shrug)

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GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,19:24   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 13 2007,09:41)
GCT:

Quote
What moral brakes?  Those same Christians reviled the Jews and repressed them for hundreds of years.  They accused the Jews of drinking Christian blood in order to do all manner of rituals and other things.  Instead of going into detail I'll just note that Hitler could not have been successful in demonizing the Jews if the Christians had not already done so.  It was those Christian morals that did the opposite of provide brakes.  Are you really that blind?

Stalin also relied on Christian historical hatred of Jews.  Both regimes used that Christian anger and hatred in order to provide an enemy that would whip the masses up into fury and make them forget about the other attrocities or simply write them off, and it was Christian "morals" that allowed this.


But isn't it odd that antisemitism increased when more secular governments took over? Make no mistake about it, Hitler placed the State above the Church.

No, it did not increase.  The ability to kill people increased.  The sentiment did not.  Make no mistake about it, Hitler could not have succeeded had Christianity not set the way through hatred of the Jews.  It was Christian hatred that put the Jews in the oven plain and simple.

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,19:38   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,21:03)
GCT:

     
Quote
And, what examples are you basing that on?  In every one, I'll bet that it was a autocratic dictatorship style government where the ruler quashed religion as a way of eliminating his competition.


Oh sure, the worst examples were very autocratic. The problem is, many of these societies were based on lofty ideals that bear little resemblance to the ultimate product. I've been told that we haven't seen a Marxist state yet. My response is, "Probably not, and that's precisely what's wrong with it." Or look at how the French Revolution turned out, despite the fact that it was modeled in part on the relatively successful American experiment, and boasted impeccable Enlightenment values. But Jefferson didn't try to supplant Christianity with his upstart Deism like Robespierre did, and America didn't suffer from oppressive anticlerical legislation (for obvious reasons). The hostility to the dominant faith was a key difference between the two movements IMHO.

We haven't seen a truly capitalist state yet either, so I guess there's something wrong with it, eh?

And, yes Jefferson did not try to supplant Christianity, but he did do his best to marginalize it.

Quote
   
Quote
   
Quote
(The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 12 2007,16:08)
The question becomes, "How can we minimise harm?" I don't know the answer either, but a society predicated on an ethical, life-affirming philosophy seems like a good place to start.


Do you know of one?  I sure don't?  The prevailing major religions of this country are borne of war gods and human sacrifices.  They are not peachful or life-affirming.


Nevertheless, many religions have become more temperate over time. Christianity and modern Judaism are two responses to the earlier, more "primitive", Judaism.


Yes, they have become more temperate over time as they have become more influenced by secular ideas.

Quote
1) If antisemitism is largely a byproduct of Christianity, then we should see antisemitism decline when the influence of the Church declines. In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia (particularly under Stalin), that didn't happen. In fact, we saw serious attempts to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. It doesn't get any more antisemitic than that;


Even if Hitler was a stone cold atheist, does that mean that everyone else in Germany all of a sudden became atheist, and that is why they killed the Jews?  You can't ignore the fact that it was Christian hatred of the Jews that made all of that possible.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,19:54   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,17:16)
Lou FCD,

No, predestination is the ‘U’ in TULIP (Unconditional election), not the ‘P’, which is "Perseverance of the Saints,” i.e. eternal security.


Quite right, Heddle.  My mistake, it's been a few years and I never could remember the U and P in that TULIP thing right.

 
Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,17:16)
It is not a doctrine of fundamentalists, not universally. Many fundamentalists despise Calvinism, and certainly teach that you can place your salvation at risk if you don’t behave a certain way.


Eternal security most certainly is a characteristic of most fundyism.

There are only a handful of sects that believe in the loss of salvation.  Pentecostals and the other charismatic movement churches, off the top of my head.

It is true that many fundies hate Calvinists with a passion, though.  Easy whippin' boy syndrome.

 
Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,17:16)
Needless to say your characterization of Calvinism is wrong—although it does sound exactly how Jimmy Swaggart characterizes it—but this is not the place to defend Calvinism.


I wasn't raised Calvinist for the most part, although I was involved with it for a short time.  My characterization of Calvinism was what I learned from Calvinists in a Calvinist church, so you can take that up with them.

And as far as Swaggart goes, pretty much all the churches I attended growing up, the Christian High School I attended, and Bob Jones U. where I first attended college all called him a liberal apostate right up there with Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson and Billy Graham.

FWIW

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GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,20:05   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 13 2007,15:40)
The bottom line is: this thing with "true" Christian is just plain silly. As a great critical thinker, I really don’t see how you could find it unreasonable that any Christian would claim the right to say that someone like a Hitler is, at best, an apostate. Excommunication is often, in effect, telling someone that in our view (whatever church it happens to be) you, though you claim to be an adherent, are not, by our standards. Is excommunication always an example of the True Scotsman Fallacy in action?

Was Hitler excommunicated?  (I know the answer actually.)

Quote
2) Hitler almost always lies, except when he claims to be a Christian,


I'm not aware of anyone saying Hitler was a habitual liar.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,20:14   

Quote (GCT @ Mar. 13 2007,19:05)
I'm not aware of anyone saying Hitler was a habitual liar.

Indeed, he wrote an entire book explaining exactly what he was going to do, and then he did exactly what he said he would do.

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,20:48   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 13 2007,19:14)
Quote (GCT @ Mar. 13 2007,19:05)
I'm not aware of anyone saying Hitler was a habitual liar.

Indeed, he wrote an entire book explaining exactly what he was going to do, and then he did exactly what he said he would do.

Indeed.

One bio of Hitler I read (Shirer?) said sth. like "he belonged to that very dangerous category of man who dreams concretely".

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,21:00   

J. G. Cox:

   
Quote
[I]t seems that a good number of supposedly religious conflicts were in fact motivated by more materialistic desires but merely given a religious veneer in order to help justify the killing and taking of land or wealth. If the religious veneer is not available, some other means will be found for reducing a target of aggression to something that people are willing to kill. I think that this is akin to the relationship between religion and ethics. Religion is a vehicle for ethics, but it is certainly not the only one; without religion, people find other ways to pass on their ethical views to their offspring and compatriots. In the same mien, religion is a vehicle for abhorrent behavior, but it is certainly not the only one.


If humans possess selfish and violent drives, it seems that a good society would work hard to mitigate these impulses. You assume that religion acts as scaffolding for a system of ethics (when it's not an excuse for unethical behaviour), so a society can discard religion as soon as it becomes progressive enough to deal with these issues in a mature fashion.

But if humans are prone to justify their evil under the name of some doctrine, wouldn't it be better to follow a relatively rigid ethical code that derives from a source higher than human nature? Religion brings many advantages:

1) The ethical code is clearly outlined and taught from early childhood. This provides a moral framework for those who need one.

2) The adherents are encouraged to congregate and perform rituals that develop an adherence to these ethical values. This also provides a matrix for developing social skills;

3) People who need to rebel are given something to rebel against. This sublimates antisocial impulses. As Bertrand Russell once noted, people have a need to feel naughty. Religion provides a harmless outlet for satisfying that desire.

   
Quote
That said, I can still immediately come up with two reasons why I might personally prefer a society without religion. The first is simply that I think such beliefs are wrong, and as a lover of truth, I find it upsetting to observe so many people believing something to be true that I think is indefensible. I just cannot feel comfortable with a system that is based on what I see as a profound deceit.


True. A religion can teach things that are untrue, and this compromises the entire corpus. Many believers respond to this dilemma by relativising those parts of the religion that are obviously false. But these changes invite disdain for those parts that are not obviously false. Others, meanwhile, retreat into superstition.

Is this process inexorable? Well, most of us would agree that people are very good at compartmentalising discordant ideas. The human need for meaning can paper over a multitude of flaws, so if doublethink occurs, better it occur in service of well-tested ideas that have a moral authority only religion can provide.

Quote
Second, American Christianity, at least, seems very much to promote the inability to think critically. The way in which faith is instilled in American Christians seems to rely heavily on quashing doubts instead of addressing them; children are punished for asking "why?" too much, arguments are attacked not on their merit but on their consequences, etc. Having taught college kids in the Midwest for a couple of years, I have seen what the long term influence of this is: people who do not know how to think, who are influenced more by charisma than content, and who are incapable of challenging their own assumptions  when these prove insufficient for solving a real world question. Lack of critical thinking cannot be anything but bad. Remember, the full Descartes quote is 'dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum'


And yet America does rather well for all that. Perhaps those mental gymnastics exercise as well as diminish the creative impulse. In any case, most religions have a robust intellectual tradition -- for example, the rabbinical give-and-take throughout the Talmud probably played a role in developing the Jewish intellectual tradition. Christian societies have produced more than their share of science, art, and literature as well.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,21:48   

Is Paley still trolling?

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,23:07   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 13 2007,20:48)
Is Paley still trolling?

Insofar as he still lives, breathes, and walks the earth, yes.

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 13 2007,23:36   

Quote
And yet America does rather well for all that. Perhaps those mental gymnastics exercise as well as diminish the creative impulse. In any case, most religions have a robust intellectual tradition -- for example, the rabbinical give-and-take throughout the Talmud probably played a role in developing the Jewish intellectual tradition. Christian societies have produced more than their share of science, art, and literature as well.

Yeah, I see.  :p

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heddle



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,08:28   

Oh, brother. Not that it was a terribly important point, but I see a couple of you disputed that Hitler was a habitual liar, and instead characterized him as a sort of green beret who, according the the ballad thereof, is a man who "does just what he says."

That is somewhat trivial to repudiate. One could merely, just for a start, examine several famous speeches he gave prior to the onset of hostilities when he stated quite plainly that he had only peaceful intentions. On at least two occasions he said to the Reichstag that Germany had no intentions to proceed against Poland. According to you guys, that must be revised history. He must have boldly and consistently proclaimed "I am going to take Poland and I don't care what the Brits, French, Russians, Americans, and especially the Poles think about it. I'm going to do it, just you wait and see!"

Of course it is convenient for you if, in spite of all his other faults, Hitler wasn't a liar, then when he claimed to be a Christian it must be so.

Lou FCD wrote:

 
Quote
There are only a handful of sects that believe in the loss of salvation.  Pentecostals and the other charismatic movement churches, off the top of my head.


I know about a gazillion Baptists that believe you can lose your salvation. I’m not sure how you missed them, off the top of your head.

and he wrote:
Quote
My characterization of Calvinism was what I learned from Calvinists in a Calvinist church, so you can take that up with them.


I'll refer back  to a previous post where he wrote, explaining predestination:
Quote
So if you get tossed in the #### pile, it doesn't matter what you do or believe, you still get fried.  If you get tossed in with the Christians, it still doesn't matter what you do, you get to go to Heaven.


I don’t believe you—no Calvinist would have explained predestination this way. You did not learn this characterization from Calvinists at a Calvinist church. It would be like me quoting the grossest misrepresentation of evolution imaginable and saying: "I learned that from PZ when I took his class, take it up with him." You are not telling the truth.

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,08:35   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 14 2007,07:28)
I don’t believe you

Don't really care, Heddle.

It is what it is, and once you strip away all the verbal tap dancing, that's what's left.

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,09:43   

Quote (Calvinists Themselves @ Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics)
U
Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would "accept" the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).

This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism.

The elect are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, though good works will never bridge the gulf between man and God that was formed in the Fall, good works are a result of God's saving grace. This is what Peter means when he admonishes the Christian reader to make his "calling" and "election" sure (2 Peter 1:10). Bearing the fruit of good works is an indication that God has sown seeds of grace in fertile soil.


(My bold.)

Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics

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Ogee



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,10:20   

It's legitimate question whether Hitler was genuine in his religious posturing, or whether he merely found Christianity to be a useful tool in motivating genocide.

  
heddle



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,10:39   

Lou FCD,

Yes, that is a fair introduction to the idea of predestination. If you think that jibes with your characterization, which you claim to have learned from Calvinists and a Calvinist church, then, well, I'm happy for you.

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Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,10:45   

Quote (Ogee @ Mar. 14 2007,09:20)
It's legitimate question whether Hitler was genuine in his religious posturing, or whether he merely found Christianity to be a useful tool in motivating genocide.

My sense is that he actually was a Christian in his barmy way, but believed that all the Churches then-current in Germany 'got it wrong', and that it was up to him to do what Jesus 'really wanted'.

Which is why I think it's childishly naive to think that because he said some bad things about Christian churches in Germany, that means he 'wasn't Christian'. This seems to reflect a notion that you're only a Christian insofar as you sign on the bottom line with some respected church.

Another interesting factoid is that I've had this 'was Hitler Christian?' discussion with several different people, and all the people I've encountered who flat-out denied it were Protestants. When I've discussed this with Catholics, they've ruefully admitted that Little Old Adolf was indeed 'one of them'. They don't try some sillyass theological word play to claim he was 'never a Christian, even when he was a child' or that he was a 'Wiccan'. I suppose since the Vatican never excommunicated him, they can't really deny it.

I think the most dishonest aspect of the fundies' attitude about this is their attempt to completely detach Hitler's actions from Christianity. They try and portray Hitler as a kind of 'lone gunman' who was able to do what he did DESPITE Christianity, like he was just some historical anomaly who became an atheist and did horrible things as a result of his atheism. A total fluke. People certainly never hurt Jews in Europe before Hitler. Somehow Christian culture WOULD have stopped him, only he was too powerful. I think you can only believe this if you make a deliberate decision to remain completely ignorant about German/European history and the history of the Third Reich, which more than enough fundies are happy to do. The fact remains AH's program was completely a culmination of a long history and culture of Christian antisemitism that Germans were totally used to, and that's why the vast majority of Christians in Germany were quite happy to go along with it.

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,11:18   

I doubt that Hitler was a Christian. Although I would agree that he used Christian imagery as propaganda. As for Hitler not being a liar, that beggars belief. Does anyone here seriously believe that Hitler was mainly honest? ???

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,11:41   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Mar. 14 2007,10:18)
As for Hitler not being a liar, that beggars belief. Does anyone here seriously believe that Hitler was mainly honest? ???

That is Heddle's straw man. If you read enough about Hitler, you realize that he was simultaneously a total blowhard and egomaniac who was completely convinced that the whole world wanted to know every opinion that ever crossed his mind, and at the same time extremely disingenuous. I'm hardly saying he was 'mainly honest', but I think it's ridiculous to adopt the position that whenever he said anything embarassing he was lying. As Lenny pointed out, if you read Mein Kampf, written while Hitler was a nobody in prison, he laid out in excrutiating detail what he intended to do as Germany's leader and indeed, he did everything he said.

Anyway, this must be getting very boring. Sorry. This and my previous message are all I have to say on this.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,15:54   

Quote (heddle @ Mar. 14 2007,09:39)
Lou FCD,

Yes, that is a fair introduction to the idea of predestination. If you think that jibes with your characterization, which you claim to have learned from Calvinists and a Calvinist church, then, well, I'm happy for you.

Jibes or Jives?

It *really& effects the meaning.

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GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,17:20   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 13 2007,21:00)
But if humans are prone to justify their evil under the name of some doctrine, wouldn't it be better to follow a relatively rigid ethical code that derives from a source higher than human nature? Religion brings many advantages:

1) The ethical code is clearly outlined and taught from early childhood. This provides a moral framework for those who need one.

Where did your ethical code come from?  I can almost guarantee that it didn't come from the Bible.

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,17:28   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 14 2007,11:41)
That is Heddle's straw man. If you read enough about Hitler, you realize that he was simultaneously a total blowhard and egomaniac who was completely convinced that the whole world wanted to know every opinion that ever crossed his mind, and at the same time extremely disingenuous. I'm hardly saying he was 'mainly honest', but I think it's ridiculous to adopt the position that whenever he said anything embarassing he was lying. As Lenny pointed out, if you read Mein Kampf, written while Hitler was a nobody in prison, he laid out in excrutiating detail what he intended to do as Germany's leader and indeed, he did everything he said.

Exactly.

If Hitler had said, "I am not a Christian" then Heddle would be jumping on that, pointing out how Hitler himself denied his Christianity.  Of course, since he didn't say that, Heddle can comfortably say that everything Hitler said was a lie.  Of course, he points to the documents that "prove that the Nazis were going to persecute the church next" and believes that those are truthful, because they fit his preconceived notions, all the while projecting that same problem onto all of us.  None of us, however, said that he lied all the time, except when he said he was a Christian, that was all straw from Heddle.

Oh, and I too have found that Protestants will go to the grave in defense of the position that Hitler wasn't a Christian, but once I did meet a Catholic that admitted that he was still Catholic since the pope didn't ex-communicate him.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,17:47   

Heddle, one correction, Southern Baptists accept eternal salvation.  I'm not going to speak for American, General, Primitive, or any other flavor but I can speak for the S. Baptists.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,17:52   

Quote (Ogee @ Mar. 14 2007,09:20)
It's legitimate question whether Hitler was genuine in his religious posturing, or whether he merely found Christianity to be a useful tool in motivating genocide.

Of course, it's an equally legitimate question to ask about the fundies, who, it certainly appears to me, find Christianity a useful tool in motivating "theocracy" with themselves as "theo".

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,17:56   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 14 2007,09:45)
My sense is that he actually was a Christian in his barmy way, but believed that all the Churches then-current in Germany 'got it wrong', and that it was up to him to do what Jesus 'really wanted'.

Hey, that sounds awfully familiar . . .  who else is it, again, that castigates all the "liberal churches" and "effective atheists" and "compromisers" that don't agree with their own peculiar theology . . . . . . . . ?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,18:00   

Heddle, you seem to be under the delusion that someone here gives a flying #### about your religious opinions.

Uh, nobody does.

Sorry about that.  (shrug)

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,18:20   

Another correction, Rev, that's just your opinion and it is not shared as demonstrated by the multiple questions concerning Heddle's beliefs.  Just keepin' it real.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,18:34   

Well, just remember that they're not laughing *with* him; they're laughing *at* him.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,18:38   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 14 2007,16:47)
I can speak for the S. Baptists.

Which ones?  The ones who think evolution is godless atheistic liberalism, or the ones who filed as plaintiffs in Arkansas to have creation "science" kickedout of schools . . . ?

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,18:39   

lol

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,20:24   

Why is everyone focusing on Hitler's beliefs rather than his actions? Beliefs are hard to pin down; actions are a matter of public record. And the record indicates that Hitler was not fond of the Catholic Church:

Reichskonkordat:

   
Quote
The main points of the concordat are

The right to freedom of the Roman Catholic religion. (Article 1)
The state concordats with Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929), and Baden (1932) remain valid. (Article 2)
Unhindered correspondence between the Holy See and German Catholics. (Article 4)
The right of the church to collect church taxes. (Article 13)
The oath of allegiance of the bishops: "(...) Ich schwöre und verspreche, die verfassungsmässig gebildete Regierung zu achten und von meinem Klerus achten zu lassen (...)" ("I swear and vow to honor the constitutional government and to make my clergy honor it") (Article 16)
State services to the church can be abolished only in mutual agreement. (Article 18)
Catholic religion is taught in school (article 21) and teachers for Catholic religion can be employed only with the approval of the bishop (article 22).
Protection of Catholic organizations and freedom of religious practice. (Article 31)
Clerics may not be members of or be active for political parties. (Article 32)

Here's another source.

Now let's see what happened after the treaty was signed:

   
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An "Editors Law" was passed in December 1933, forcing all editors to become members of the "Literary Chamber of the Reich" and to obey whatever directives might follow. This law made it an offense to give detailed accounts of pilgrimages, print liturgical calendars or even announce meetings of local Catholic clubs. In its definition of what constituted anti-State propaganda, the "Editors Law" was a death sentence for the large and thriving Catholic press.
[...]
Mueller's documentation established a clear progression of anti-Catholic measures between 1933 and 1939, ordered by a State determined to force young Catholics into the ranks of the Hitler Youth. Catholic schools and trade unions were dismantled and clergy targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. Clergy were humiliated and punished in "Currency" and "Immorality" show trials throughout 1935 and 1936. (Laws had been passed from 1933 onwards to regulate the import and export of currency. Exporting currency was made "high treason" and "economic sabotage." These were familiar principles to those used to a totalitarian economic system, but the Catholic clergy were not.)
[...]
That Easter [1935], pilgrims returning to Germany from Pius XII's blessing in Rome were punished at border checkpoints by Gestapo and SS units. They were put out of their trains and kept waiting for seven hours in pouring rain, while suitcases were ripped open and the contents scattered. Anything belonging to a "denominational organization" — flags, banners, books, tents, even knives and forks — was confiscated. Insults were hurled at the pilgrims: "So these are the Papists, the people who stabbed Germany in the back in 1918! They ought to be beaten and sent to a concentration camp... cutting their throats would be the best thing." In the teeth of outraged protests, the local police merely said they had been searching for illegal uniforms.
[...]
The Nazi strategy was, essentially, to destroy Catholicism by eliminating all organizations supported by the Church, from schools and children's groups to Catholic trade unions. By 1939, Catholic schools and trade unions were virtually destroyed. Replacing them were National Socialist Schools, the Nazi Labor Front and the Hitler Youth with its female counterpart, The German Girls League.


The initial attack on Catholic schools in Munich reduced the percentage of students from 84% in 1934 to 65% percent in 1935. In 1937, parents were forced to choose their child's school in front of two witnesses, usually storm troopers in full uniform. These witnesses warned of future trouble and loss of employment. The children themselves would also suffer. There would be no primary school prizes for them; prizes were funded only in State schools. Parents still in favor of Catholic schools might be told that, "your little ones will have to go to a school on the outskirts, miles away."


Meetings were regularly held to vote on the issue of Catholic or "Community" schools. In Speyer, a town of some 40,000 inhabitants situated on the Rhine, one working man gave his bishop details of how his "vote" had been obtained in 1937: "I was told to go to the Parish Council offices. On arriving there I declared, I want the Roman Catholic school' and prepared to leave. The local Nazi cell-leader held me back and wrote a note to my firm stating that because of my declaration I would be dismissed from my job. A police constable then told me if I didn't change my mind I would never obtain public work again."
[...]
The government in Germany funded all schools, Catholic and State. A councilor of the Bavarian Ministry of Education announced that in 1936 alone, of 1,600 teaching posts formerly awarded to nuns, 600 would be taken away from them and transferred to secular staff. The councilor did not bother to explain what would happen to the unfortunate 600. The economic effects of such enforced layoffs forced many religious houses to close. Nuns were driven into subsistence jobs. Some had to return to their parents or move in with sympathetic relatives. Yet others applied for jobs in industry. In Baden, in the summer of 1938, there were 41 nuns working in one textile factory, all former teachers. The government then announced that all nuns renouncing vows would be automatically entitled to State employment!


Thus, on October 27, 1938, Adolf Wagner, Bavarian Minister of the Interior stated with pride: "The denominational schools throughout the whole of Bavaria have now been transformed into Community schools." By January 1939, more than 10,000 Catholic schools had been suppressed in Germany, and by the end of April that year, the Catholic Herald (London) reported that a further 3,300 schools had been abolished by decree in what was described as "A Black Day for the Catholic Rhineland."


Catholic youth associations, with a collective membership in the hundreds of thousands, were attacked for being "un-German." Teachers were reminded that as employees of the State, they had a duty to encourage their pupils to join the Hitler Youth or German Girls League (GGL). One teacher told her girls: "Join the German Girls League. When you leave school you'll be wanting a boy friend and if you've not been in the GGL you won't get one. And then, when you get married, your husband will lose his job the second they find out you haven't been a member of the GGL." Thousands of Catholic employees were threatened with disciplinary measures or dismissal unless they ensured their children were enrolled in the Hitler Youth or German Girls League. Training guilds, such as the Prussian Master-Craftsman Association, began announcing from 1935 onwards that only those enrolled in Nazi Party organizations would be accepted as apprentices. German Railways, employing hundreds of thousands, passed a similar ordinance the same year. Even farmers began issuing notices to the same effect, with shops advertising part-time jobs following suit. The New York Times on June 1, 1937 reported a Hitler speech stating: "We will take away their children. They shall not escape us."


Now combine these incidents with Heddle's links.

Here are two sources that discuss Hitler's relationship with Protestant churches. Admittedly, Hitler backed off some of his major attempts to persecute unruly Protestant clergy:

 
Quote
As resistance to his policies mounted, Hitler began to separate himself from the German Christians.  He emphasized the separation between church and state, and took a less active role in intimidating other church groups.

Muller, however continued to serve as Reich Bishop, even as Hitler's interest in the German Christians waned.  In an effort to forestall the collapse of the German Christian Church, Muller declared that all Evangelical youth groups would be incorporated into the Hitler jugend.  This created a furor among the opposition, because the Baldur von Shirach, the jugend's leader, was a declared atheist who placed the State ahead of all else.  Muller also ordered the Gestapo to go to churches and monitor what was said.

By the middle of 1934, Protestant opposition to Hitler was well organized, and the German Christian Church became fraught with internal division.  Without support from the government, the German Christians and Muller became totally ineffective.

This did not stop Jager from brutally oppressing pastors in Wurttemberg (although the strength of the resistance in Prussia handicapped Jager's ability to interfere with church operations), and continuing to spread propaganda denouncing the Protestant opposition.  A Protestant Kulturkampf was instituted, and throughout Germany, with the exception of Westphalia, opposition was brutally repressed.  Pastors were fired, arrested, and jailed.

In October of 1934 Jager was dismissed by Hitler, and all measures against dissenting bishops were annulled.  Opposition leaders were summoned to Berlin, and Frick assured them that neutrality was now the official government policy towards the German Evangelical Church.



Some of these sources have obvious biases, so proceed with caution! Nevertheless, these links provide a little background to the debate.

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 14 2007,20:41   

The "debate"?

Oh, you mean the side debate people would rather have with almost anyone--even Heddle!--rather than talk about your topic...?

Now I got ya...

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,12:25   

"He's bringing facts to the debate? Facts?!!!"

"He must be either desperate or conservative. Git a rope."

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The_Shadow_Of_Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,14:26   

Some on this thread have attempted to cite Stalin as an example of how "secularism" fails to provide an adequate moral foundation. Well, it seems to me Stalin and those like him succeded magnificiently in providing exactly this kind of belief, for large scale slaughter can not be inspired by "amorality" or "nihilism" but rather by unbridled moral rightgeousness. While this can involve god-beliefs, it certainly doesn't have to.

I will admit right away I have no wider grounding for my own moral and aesthetic preferences than personal opinion. True believers of all sorts would  classify me as "evil" or "nihilistic", but perhaps I am just honest. I don't have a "moral foundation" and I don't need one. Would any of the godly or the godless alike like to explain why I do?

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,14:52   

Before we proceed further, are you one of Ghost of Paley's multiple personalities?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
The_Shadow_Of_Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,16:28   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 15 2007,13:52)
Before we proceed further, are you one of Ghost of Paley's multiple personalities?

We've already been through this on another thread. I was a part of the geocentric, presuppositionalist tag team the Ghost character was during his troll days. My partner has kept the Ghost account since then and I have started a new one.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,16:41   

Quote (The_Shadow_Of_Paley @ Mar. 15 2007,15:28)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 15 2007,13:52)
Before we proceed further, are you one of Ghost of Paley's multiple personalities?

We've already been through this on another thread. I was a part of the geocentric, presuppositionalist tag team the Ghost character was during his troll days. My partner has kept the Ghost account since then and I have started a new one.

So yes, basically.

Remind me, were you GoP's evil twin or his good twin?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
The_Shadow_Of_Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,17:47   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 15 2007,15:41)
Quote (The_Shadow_Of_Paley @ Mar. 15 2007,15:28)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 15 2007,13:52)
Before we proceed further, are you one of Ghost of Paley's multiple personalities?

We've already been through this on another thread. I was a part of the geocentric, presuppositionalist tag team the Ghost character was during his troll days. My partner has kept the Ghost account since then and I have started a new one.

So yes, basically.

Remind me, were you GoP's evil twin or his good twin?

I was the evil one. While he is a mere ghost who could have emerged from the plays of Shakespeare, I am one of those more incomprehensible and  frightening things crawling from the pages of Lovecraft or Dean Koontz on his better days.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,18:18   

To Paley (all of them):

(yawn)

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The_Shadow_Of_Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,19:31   

It has been a long time since I've read Hitler's magnum opus, and his writing on Christianity seemed to me even more inane than the rest of the work. While condeming the Jews, he still seems to be enamoured with Jesus with whom he thinks shares some sort of spiritual nexus with him. In light of the fact he suspected he had Jewish ancestry and hence was not a part of his own "master race," my understanding of his "Christianity" was to link himself to Jesus so he could "overcome" his racial inferiority as, in what appears to his idiosyncratic interpretation of the Gospels, Jesus had done. According to John Toland, Nazi law defining Jewishness explicitly excluded Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler (primary source?).

One thing he makes clear his Anti-Semitism is explcitly racial and not religious. One of the points he repeats ad nauseum is that the religion of Judaism is a sham and ruse designed to fool Aryan societies of the Jew's true (racial) nature. Christian "Anti-Semites" certainly hate Jews, but they also hate anybody else who fails to share their theology. Hatred based on theology is not the same as hatred based on race.

With that thought let us take up why it is so #### important to some people to make Hitler as Christian as possible. The point is not to link Hitler to Christianity qua Christianity, but to link Hitler's racism and anti-semitism to American Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who form the core of the "religious right." As a former Christian fundamentalist, I know from personal experience this is a crock.

What Evangel/fundie Christians out to do above and beyond everything else is convert as many people as possible. Recalling the discussion of eternal security a page or two ago, this doctrine implies once a man make s a public profession of his Christian faith, he is "saved" and is guaranteed a place in Heaven upon death. Everything these people do revolves around persuading others to do this. It goes without saying that bigotry is utterly inimical to this purpose. No serious fundie would ever publicly say anything that might alienate a member of an ethnic group for this reason. The appearance of loving everybody is paramount in their churches. Even the homosexual issue is not as cut-and-dried as often thought. While they believe that homosexuality is a sin, this does not impede their desire to get as many homosexuals "saved" as possible. It is up to each congregation, and each believer, to decide where to strike the delicate balance between "Hating the sin" and "Loving the sinner."  Guys like Fred Phelps are not typical at all. To the extent fundamentalists are "hate-mongers", their hatred is directed at beliefs different from their own, not on race, national origin, or even for the most part sexual orientation.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 15 2007,21:35   

Quote (The_Shadow_Of_Paley @ Mar. 15 2007,18:31)
To the extent fundamentalists are "hate-mongers", their hatred is directed at beliefs different from their own, not on race, national origin, or even for the most part sexual orientation.

A history lesson for you -------------->

Why were so many private Christians schools formed in the South after 1954?

Extra credit:  What year did Bob Jones University finally allow blacks as students, and why?

Extra Extra Credit:  What year did BJU finally stop banning interracial dating amongst its students, and why?

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,00:44   

Quote (BWE @ Mar. 13 2007,13:21)
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 13 2007,12:46)
BWE:

     
Quote
     
Quote
 
First, historians are not sure that Hitler was a Christian. And I was under the impression that Stalin was an atheist when he left the seminary and never looked back. In any case, Stalin's (and to a lesser extent, Hitler's) policies were explicitly antireligious. The Jews, who had earlier endured pogroms in Christian hands, were targeted for annihilation in Nazi Germany. Apparently, subordinating the Church to an all-powerful state did not protect the Jews from physical harm, and may have removed the moral brakes provided by Christianity. And the Jews certainly learned the meaning of Stalin's catch phrase: "est chelovek, est problema, net cheloveka — net problemy." Fortunately his government's incompetence prevented another Holocaust.

Are you actually claiming that persecuting Jews is an anti-religious activity?


Sorry for the unintended meaning. What I was trying to say was:

1) If antisemitism is largely a byproduct of Christianity, then we should see antisemitism decline when the influence of the Church declines. In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia (particularly under Stalin), that didn't happen. In fact, we saw serious attempts to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. It doesn't get any more antisemitic than that;

2) Antisemitism is not confined to the religious -- many atheists have been and are virulently anti-Jewish; and

3) When evaluating whether or not a certain dictator was antireligious, I put more weight on his actions than his words. (And more weight on his private speech). Based on this standard, Stalin was clearly antireligious and Hitler was somewhat antireligious. I'll be happy to back this up if you wish, but it looks like Heddle has already provided some excellent supporting evidence.

And this involves your topic how? Are you claiming there are fewer xians/muslims now than in a previous time?

And your reply fails to address any of my points.
 
Quote
It seems that these critics hold several odd ideas, the first being that anyone attacking theology should actually know some.

“The most disappointing feature of ‘The God Delusion,’” Mr. Orr wrote, “is Dawkins’s failure to engage religious thought in any serious way. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology” and “no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions.”
Straw man. First, Dawkins has no need to address orthoxy  or specific theology. He pushes a different issue. Second, the implicit assumption that Dawkins never learned any theology remains unsupported.
 
Quote
“In a book of almost 400 pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false,” Mr. Eagleton wrote. “The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.”

See my previous post(s).
 
Quote
In Mr. Orr’s view, “No decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion,” but atheism has to be held to the same standard: “Dawkins has a difficult time facing up to the dual fact that (1) the 20th century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.”

Seems a mite biased of a statement, eh? I would need a whole lot of context for the claim that the 20th century was an "experiment in secularism". And it was not "more spectacularly virulent than that which came before.” So the whole point is moot.

 
Quote
Finally, these critics stubbornly rejected the idea that rational meant scientific. “The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism,” Mr. Nagel wrote.
I share this fear. Yet I still disapprove of intellectual dishonesty. Trying to map the interior dimensions as surfaces sometimes leads to a dehumanizing worldview, and the scientific method knows no other techniques. Yet the mapping of real surfaces through physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy and physical sciences also paints a very real backdrop from which to experience the interior dimensions. Religion offers niether.

Paley, did this just go down the drain?

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,11:00   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 15 2007,20:35)
A history lesson for you -------------->

Why were so many private Christians schools formed in the South after 1954?

Extra credit:  What year did Bob Jones University finally allow blacks as students, and why?

Extra Extra Credit:  What year did BJU finally stop banning interracial dating amongst its students, and why?

I know the answers to all three, but that's sort of unfair.

:D

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,13:24   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 15 2007,20:35)
Why were so many private Christians schools formed in the South after 1954?

Extra credit:  What year did Bob Jones University finally allow blacks as students, and why?

Extra Extra Credit:  What year did BJU finally stop banning interracial dating amongst its students, and why?

Let's see...

1) 1954. Wasn't that the year that god commanded the creation of religious schools? It's in the bible.
2) BJU let the first black in the same year that the first black applied for admission.
3)BJU has never allowed dating of any kind.

(Am I close?)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,14:15   

BWE:

 
Quote
Paley, did [my response] just go down the drain?


Sorry for being a little tardy.....but I need one favour. Would you mind restating your objections in one post? The post you quoted is a little vague, and I'm trying to respond to your actual position. No hurry.....I will probably be tied up until Monday evening.

Kristine:

While I respect your right to be rebellious, I sometimes wonder if your lifestyle doesn't play into the Establishment's hands. After all, you're a hard-working taxpayer who pursues mild decadence in her limited spare time while refusing to reproduce. Isn't this what our media and government want from intelligent white women?

I'll let my shadowy shade reply to the attempted history lesson, but I'd like to note that Evangelical Christianity limits the evil that men do to other human beings, because the emphasis is on saving souls, which in turn implies that the lamb has a soul worth saving. It's like an Irish Nationalist in a Columbo episode who would mark his whisky bottle with his ring before pouring a shot, while saying "This far and no farther".

This far and no farther. Segregation perhaps, but extermination.....no. This reinforces the point I made earlier: the Most Secular Century witnessed deliberate genocide on an unprecedented scale. Technology certainly played a role, but the impulse to wipe out the "vermin" -- born on the lack of respect afforded "bad" individuals under secular philosophies -- cannot be ascribed to noncultural factors.

I sometimes wonder if liberals recognise the implicit compliment that they give people in Western societies by holding them, and ONLY them, accountable for past misdeeds. It's almost as if they don't expect the same level of moral reflection from non-Westerners.

Just find it interesting, is all.

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,16:09   

Paley,
I do believe that you are trolling now.
But as an honest answer to the OP, I think it is always dodgey when someone wishes to impose their World View upon somebody else.
That could work either way BTW. Religious upon atheist is wrong and so is the reverse.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,17:49   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 16 2007,13:15)
Sorry for being a little tardy

No, no, no, Paley -- you are a GIGANTIC tardy.

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,18:07   

Quote (BWE @ Mar. 16 2007,12:24)
Let's see...

1) 1954. Wasn't that the year that god commanded the creation of religious schools? It's in the bible.
2) BJU let the first black in the same year that the first black applied for admission.
3)BJU has never allowed dating of any kind.

(Am I close?)

(hint: follow the money)

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2007,18:16   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 16 2007,14:15)
I'll let my shadowy shade reply to the attempted history lesson, but I'd like to note that Evangelical Christianity limits the evil that men do to other human beings, because the emphasis is on saving souls, which in turn implies that the lamb has a soul worth saving.

That's laughable.  Nice try.  Mind telling us why fundies support Zionism?

Quote
This far and no farther. Segregation perhaps, but extermination.....no. This reinforces the point I made earlier: the Most Secular Century witnessed deliberate genocide on an unprecedented scale. Technology certainly played a role, but the impulse to wipe out the "vermin" -- born on the lack of respect afforded "bad" individuals under secular philosophies -- cannot be ascribed to noncultural factors.


This is why I generally don't go onto your threads.  It's completely fruitless.  You made this claim and I countered it, as did many others here.  Yet, here you are making the same claim.  You make a token comment about technology, but you continue to hold to your belief that religious people are just simply more moral?  Whatever.  At this point, you're just being an ostrich.  If Christian hatred towards the Jews didn't exist, it wouldn't have been so easy to put them in the oven.  Period.  You won't even acknowledge that, so there's really no point in continuing.

Quote
I sometimes wonder if liberals recognise the implicit compliment that they give people in Western societies by holding them, and ONLY them, accountable for past misdeeds. It's almost as if they don't expect the same level of moral reflection from non-Westerners.


And a straw man for the tri-fecta.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,11:50   

This is all so pointless.  There's no way to quantify "christian hatred" or any other hatred towards the Jews.  The Jews (and gypsys) just happen to be among the most persecuted people on the Earth so from anyone's perspective this group or that group is the root.  That's crap and lazy thinking.  That's why I warned you in the beginning, GoP, this is not a discussion.  To most here, religion and specifically Christianity, is the root of all evil and for the them to even entertain any other concept is beyond their ability.  

We can throw out any example of Christian or non-Christian evil and it means nothing.  You say Hilter, I say Pol Pot, you say Crusades and I say Stalin, blah, blah, blah.

This is just an example of how atheists try to justify their belief with some moral higher ground and how Christians try to label atheists as little satans.  Until we get beyond that, there simply is no discussion.

I apologize for the rant, I'll now step of my soapbox and fade back into the gallery.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,13:33   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,10:50)
This is all so pointless.

I'm, uh, not an atheist, Skeptic.

And the reason all this DOES have a point is because it is the foaming fundies who are declaring that they should run things because they are so much more godly and more moral and blah blah blah than the rest of us mere mortal humans.  Just ask Heddle.

I've not seen any atheists advocating taking over the government and using it to force their religious opinions onto everyone else.  I *have* seen the fundies do exactly that (and more).  When the atheists try to do so, I will fight them just as hard as I fight the fundies.  And for exactly the same reasons.  Just ask PZ.

As for your self-righteous clucking, until you get off your ass and begin to do something about the world around you, I see no reason to listen to your sermonizing.  You are just as much a part of the problem as the fundies are.

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GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,14:19   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,11:50)
The Jews (and gypsys) just happen to be among the most persecuted people on the Earth so from anyone's perspective this group or that group is the root.  That's crap and lazy thinking.

Yes, it is lazy thinking to just say, "Alas, the Jews just happen to be persecuted and we just can't tell who is doing it."  There are pretty well documented accounts of why the Jews were persecuted and who was doing it.

Edit:  Of course, I'm not at all surprised that Skeptic would be intellectually lazy.

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,14:37   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 17 2007,13:33)
Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,10:50)
This is all so pointless.

And the reason all this DOES have a point is because it is the foaming fundies who are declaring that they should run things because they are so much more godly and more moral and blah blah blah than the rest of us mere mortal humans.  Just ask Heddle.

I've not seen any atheists advocating taking over the government and using it to force their religious opinions onto everyone else.  I *have* seen the fundies do exactly that (and more).  When the atheists try to do so, I will fight them just as hard as I fight the fundies.  And for exactly the same reasons.  Just ask PZ.

And, that's annoying as heck as well, when some fundie tells me that I'm a bad person unless I have Jesus in my life.  That, people are incapable of being good, unless they have Jesus in their lives.  Nevermind the fact that Jesus tells us that we are all sinners and bad people inherently, because that contradiction is never acknowledged.  Nevermind the fact that being a Christian does not guarantee that you won't be a murderer or some other form of low-life (just ask the Catholic priests that like to fondle little boys.)  Nevermind the fact that the Bible is full of immoral teachings and events, all sanctioned in the name of god.  Nevermind the well documented history of Biblical teachings that has led Christians to commit all sorts of attrocities.

If you want to found a country that will be the most moral, I suggest you look no further than the founding fathers of this country.  They did not look to impose religion on anyone as most of them were irreligious.  Instead, they decided to codify everyone's right to worship or not as they please.

I suspect that GOP sees this country as a Christian nation and therefore moral, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  The truth is that this was intentionally founded as a secular nation that allowed for religious freedom where no one is coerced to be religious or not.  This country puts the lie to GOPs notions right from the start, unless GOP wants to say that the US is immoral because it is a secular state that does whatever he thinks is immoral.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,17:03   

Quote (GCT @ Mar. 17 2007,13:37)
I suspect that GOP sees this country as a Christian nation

Well, I suspect that Paley is just trolling again, since nobody has been paying any attention to him whatsoever lately, and Paley needs attention like a tapeworm needs shit.

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qetzal



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,18:41   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,10:50)
That's crap and lazy thinking...To most here, religion and specifically Christianity, is the root of all evil and for the them to even entertain any other concept is beyond their ability.

[snip]

This is just an example of how atheists try to justify their belief with some moral higher ground and how Christians try to label atheists as little satans.  Until we get beyond that, there simply is no discussion.

Lessee: sweeping generalizations? Check. Blatant projection? Check. Crap and lazy thinking? Absolutely.

Skeptic, you're a riot.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 17 2007,23:34   

Thank you all for proving my point.  Do you just enjoy this, GoP or do you have some unrevealed sinister plan?

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 18 2007,11:56   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,22:34)
Thank you all for proving my point.  Do you just enjoy this, GoP or do you have some unrevealed sinister plan?

Thank you for proving mine.

As noted, Paley is just trolling.  It's all Paley has EVER done. Why is he trolling now?  Because we've been ignoring him, and Paley craves attention.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,09:54   

I see that BWE hasn't had time to repost his objections, so let me explain why Christian antisemitism is qualitatively different from the more secular variety.

Christians could be every bit as ruthless and brutally efficient as Nazis when they addressed the "Jewish" question. During the First Crusade, for example, Crusaders slaughtered around 12,000 Jews in the Rhine Valley alone and butchered almost all the inhabitants of Jerusalem after they breached the city's walls, with the Muslims and Jews being the primary target.

This source gives a nice overview of the historical issues, while this admittedly biased source catalogues some of the major butcheries Christians perpetrated during the Medieval period. So unfettered religion can certainly create much bloodshed.

Nevertheless, there are several differences between the Medieval Christian pogroms and the Nazi Holocaust:

1) The massacres were either perpetrated by Christian thugs acting outside the authority of the Church, and often against the Church's explicit commandments*. The Holocaust, on the other hand, was done with the blessings of the Nazi government.


2) Many Christians and some Christian areas acted as sanctuary for the Jews. For example, Casimir III took in Jewish refugees who were fleeing the antisemetic pogroms inspired in part by the Jews being blamed for the Black Death.

More later.

*Although the Church's teachings whipped up the antisemitic fury in the first place, so it receives much of the blame here, of course.

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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,10:12   

Paley, do you have anything related to evolutionism/creationism you wish to talk about?

   
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,11:18   

Your Honor, I plan on showing the relevance of this line of inquiry in the very next post.  :)

I am not trolling. I find this issue fascinating, as does Orr, Dawkins, and Gould (as we shall see).

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,12:27   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 19 2007,10:18)
I am not trolling.

And I bet you're not a crook, either.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,13:51   

Thanks, Arden, for supplying an example of trolling so that people may compare (and contrast!;)) it with my posts.  ;)

Anyhoo, so what made the Nazis different from, say, the Crusaders? Certainly not the ability to commit genocide -- in fact, the unorganised pogroms themselves almost wiped out the German Jews (the Jews in about 350 towns were annihilated by one atrocity or another), so Medieval Christians could very easily have finished the job if they had been ordered to do so by the Church.

And self-interest doesn't completely explain the reluctance either. Sure, many Jews were useful merchants and lenders, but the Jews played an important role in German science, law, and art in the 20th Century as well. Didn't stop the Nazis.

I suspect one important factor is the role secular ideologies played among influential Germans. One of those ideologies, of course, was Social Darwinism, a Darwinism that encouraged the worst aspects of German Nationalism and Militarism. And much of this Darwinism came straight from the biologists, so it can't be ascribed to simple ignorance about the Theory of Natural Selection.

Supporting evidence later.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,16:59   

I'd really encourage you to post the supporting evidence, if it exists, now.  The reason I say this is that it may appear that there is a time relationship between the Holocaust, social Darwinism, eugenics, etc but that in no way establishes a causal relationship and to imply so with no supplied evidence is both misleading and an insult to one's intelligence.  I'm not implying that you intention is so but to remove doubt and the inevitable posts stating these objections, how about the evidence now? :D

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,17:10   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 19 2007,12:51)
Thanks, Arden, for supplying an example of trolling so that people may compare (and contrast!)) it with my posts.  ;)

Far be it from me to presume to tell you what trolling is.

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,18:15   

The last thing anybody wanting to educate themselves about whether German Christianity "set the plate" for the Nazi extermination campaign should do is get their information from Paley, of all trolls.

Those seriously interested may wish to start with Daniel J. Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners" and then (of course) move on to the various critiques and reanalyses of that work.

Attending to Paley is not just a waste of time.  It's an actual misdirection of valuable resources.  Which is, of course, Paley's principal motivation.

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,20:01   

Steviepinhead:

     
Quote
Those seriously interested may wish to start with Daniel J. Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners" and then (of course) move on to the various critiques and reanalyses of that work.


Yes, it's a very good book (I own it, in fact), but Goldhagen's thesis and documentation are centered on the WWII era (in particular one reserve police battalion), and even his historical section focuses on the latter half of the 1800s, which disallows a broad historical comparison between Medieval German Christianity and its modern variants. There's nothing wrong with this, but you have to recognise the limitations of his research, and how it might beg the question of how eliminationist antisemitism allegedly arose during the 19th Century. I'm glad that you acknowledge the mixed reaction the scholarly community has given Goldhagen's work, however.

   
Quote
Attending to Paley is not just a waste of time.  It's an actual misdirection of valuable resources.  Which is, of course, Paley's principal motivation.


Why do you pretend to know my motivation when you so clearly don't? One of my sources is none other than SJ Gould. Was he a troll?

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,20:14   

Just one more thing: the truth of a scientific theory does not hinge on how it influences social policy. I think that Common Descent and Natural Selection are factual and value-free (in the good sense). Nevertheless, if people have a tendency to put undesirable social spins on the theory, we should investigate why. My affection for Deism doesn't alter Robespierre's actions, so why would I wish to deny the possible evil stemming from my religion?

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 19 2007,20:24   

Quote

Why do you pretend to know my motivation when you so clearly don't?


Let's just say you haven't exactly built up the best level of credibility here over the past 2 years.

I know, it's a total mystery to me, too.

Quote
One of my sources is none other than SJ Gould. Was he a troll?


If you quote someone who isn't a troll, that means you're not a troll?

You can probably do better than that.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 20 2007,09:56   

Stephen Jay Gould in "William Jennings Bryan's Last Campaign":

     
Quote
But what of Bryan's first two arguments about the influence of Darwinism on militarism and domestic exploitation? We detect the touch of the Philistine in Bryan's claims, but I think we must also admit that he had identifed something deeply troubling and that the fault does lie partly with scientists and their acolytes. Bryan often stated that two books had fueled his transition from liassez-faire to vigorous action: Headquarters Nights, by Vernon L. Kellogg (1917), and The Science of Power, by Benjamin Kidd (1918)[...]

Vernon Kellogg was an entomologist and perhaps the leading teacher of evolution in America (he held a professorship at Stanford and wrote a major textbook, Evolution and Animal Life, with his mentor and Darwin's leading disciple in America, David Start Jordan, ichthyologist and president of Stanford University)[...]

In this capacity, he was posted at the headquarters of the German Great General Staff, the only American on the premises. Night after night, he listened to dinner discussions and arguments, sometimes in the presence of the Kaiser himself, among Germany's highest military officers. Headquarters Nights is Kellogg's account of this exchanges. He arrived in Eruope as a pacifist, but left committed to the destruction of German Militarism by force.
 Kellogg was appalled, above all, at the justification for war and German supremacy advanced by these officers, many of whom had been university professors before the war. They not only proposed an evolutionary rationale but advocated a particularly crude from of natural selection, defined as inexorable, bloody battle:

 
Quote
Professor Von Flussen is Neo-Darwinian, as are most German biologists and natural philosophers. The creed of the Allmacht ["all might" or omnipotence] of natural selection based on violent and competitive struggle is the Gospel of German intellectuals; all else is illusion and anathema.


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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 20 2007,17:54   

Give it up, Paley ---- no one here cares about you or what you think.   Go troll somewhere else.

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 20 2007,19:30   

Quote
Give it up, Paley ---- no one here cares about you or what you think.   Go troll somewhere else.


Says the troll who can't stop posting in my threads. If only you were as indifferent as you claimed to be.....

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,12:13   

Hitler's Euthanasia Programs

 
Quote
In his book Mein Kampf (1924), Hitler wrote:

He who is bodily and mentally not sound and deserving may not perpetuate this misfortune in the bodies of his children. The völkische [racial] state has to perform the most gigantic rearing-task here. One day, however, it will appear as a deed greater than the most victorious wars of our present bourgeois era.[6]
The Nazi regime began to implement racial hygienist policies as soon as it came to power. The July 1933 “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring” prescribed compulsory sterilisation for people with a range of hereditary conditions such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea and “imbecility.” Sterilisation was also mandated for chronic alcoholism and other forms of social deviance.[7] This law was administered by the Interior Ministry under Wilhelm Frick through special Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichten), which examined the inmates of nursing homes, asylums, prisons, aged care homes and special schools to select those to be sterilised.

It is estimated that 360,000 people were sterilised under this law between 1933 and 1939. The law was used punitively in some cases, against women convicted of prostitution, for example (although the regime may have been concerned with eliminating congenital syphilis[8]). Some people with non-hereditary disabilities were also affected. There were some suggestions that the program should be extended to people with physical disabilities, but such ideas had to be expressed carefully given that one of the most powerful figures of the regime, Joseph Goebbels, suffered from congenital club foot. Philipp Bouhler himself was very lame as a result of war wounds to his legs. After 1937 the acute shortage of labour in Germany arising from the crash rearmament program meant that anyone capable of work was deemed to be “useful” and was exempted from the law, and the rate of sterilisation declined.[9]

It may be noted that racial hygienist ideas were far from unique to the Nazi movement, although Hitler expressed them in an extreme form. The ideas of social Darwinism were widespread in all western countries in the early 20th century, and the eugenics movement had many followers among educated people, being particularly strong in the United States. The idea of sterilising those carrying hereditary defects or exhibiting what was thought to be hereditary anti-social behaviour was widely accepted, and was put into law in the United States, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries. Between 1935 and 1975, for example, 63,000 people were sterilised on eugenicist grounds in Sweden.[10]


 
Quote
Hitler had always been in favour of killing those whose lives he judged to be “unworthy of life.” Both his physician, Dr Karl Brandt, and the head of the Reich Chancellery, Hans Lammers, testified after the war that Hitler had told them in 1933, at the time the sterilisation law was passed, that he favoured killing the incurably ill, but recognised that public opinion would not accept this. [11] In 1935 he told the Reich Doctors’ Leader, Dr Gerhard Wagner, that the question could not be taken up in peacetime: “such a problem could be more smoothly and easily carried out in war,” he said. He intended, he wrote, “in the event of a war radically to solve the problem of the mental asylums.”[12]

The outbreak of war thus opened up for Hitler the possibility of carrying out a policy he had long favoured. The war also gave this issue a new urgency in the eyes of the Nazi regime. People with severe disabilities, even when sterilised, still needed institutional care. They occupied places in facilities which would soon be needed for wounded soldiers and people evacuated from bombed cities. They were housed and fed at the expense of the state and took up the time of doctors and nurses. All this the Nazis found barely tolerable even in peacetime, and totally unacceptable in wartime. As a leading Nazi doctor, Dr Hermann Pfannmüller, said: "The idea is unbearable to me that the best, the flower of our youth must lose its life at the front in order that feebleminded and irresponsible asocial elements can have a secure existence in the asylum."[13]

Even before the Nazis came to power, the German eugenics movement had an extreme wing, led by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding, who as early as 1920 had advocated killing those judged to be “unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben).[14] Germany in the years after World War I was particularly susceptible to ideas of this kind. They interpreted Darwinism to suggest that a nation must promote the propagation of "beneficial" genes and prevent the propagation of "harmful" ones. Lifton notes: "The argument went that the best young men died in war, causing a loss to the Volk of the best available genes. The genes of those who did not fight (the worst genes) then proliferated freely, accelerating biological and cultural degeneration."[15] The state, the eugenicists argued, must intervene to prevent this.


Quote
Hitler and his colleagues were aware from the start that a program of killing large numbers of Germans with disabilities would be unpopular with the German public. Although Hitler had a fixed policy of not issuing written instructions for policies relating what would later be classed as crimes against humanity[citation needed], he made an exception when he provided Bouhler and Brack with written authority for the T4 program in his confidential October 1939 letter. This was apparently to overcome opposition within the German state bureaucracy – the Justice Minister, Franz Gürtner, needed to be shown Hitler’s letter in August 1940 to gain his co-operation.[46]

Hitler told Bouhler at the outset that “the Führer’s Chancellery must under no circumstances be seen to be active in this matter.”[47] There was a particular need for caution in Catholic areas, which after the annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938 included nearly half the population of Greater Germany, and where public opinion could be expected to be hostile. In March 1940 a confidential report from the SD in Austria warned that the killing program must be implemented with stealth “in order to avoid a probable backlash of public opinion during the war.”[48]

Opposition persisted within the bureaucracy. A district judge, Lothar Kreyssig, wrote to Gürtner protesting (correctly) that the T4 program was illegal (since no law or formal decree from Hitler had authorised it), Gürtner replied “If you cannot recognise the will of the Führer as a source of law, then you cannot remain a judge,” and had Kreyssig dismissed.[49]

The Catholic Church had agreed to withdraw from all political activity in the Concordat of 1933 between Germany and the Holy See, but the prospect of state-sanctioned mass killing of German citizens and such a challenge to fundamental Catholic belief in the sanctity of human life posed a serious dilemma for German Catholics. In 1935 the Church had protested in a private memorandum against proposals to pass a law legalising euthanasia (in the true sense of the word): this was one reason the law was not proceeded with.[citation needed]

In January 1939, however, Brack commissioned a paper from Dr Joseph Mayer, Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Paderborn, on the likely reactions of the churches in the event of a state euthanasia program being instituted. Mayer – a longstanding euthanasia advocate – reported that the churches would not oppose such a program if it was seen to be in the national interest. Brack showed this paper to Hitler in July, and it may have increased his confidence that a “euthanasia” program would be acceptable to German public opinion.[50] (When Gitta Sereny interviewed Mayer shortly before his death in 1967, he denied that he had approved of killing people with disabilities, but since no copies of this paper are known to survive, this cannot be determined.)[51] This turned out not to be the case. In fact the T4 program was the sole example of an action by the Nazi regime which provoked large-scale public protests.


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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,12:15   

Geez Paley, don't you have any friends, or at least neighbors who'll talk to you?

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,12:47   

B-b-but....aren't you guys my friends?  :(

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,15:17   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 17 2007,11:33)

 
Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 17 2007,10:50)
This is all so pointless.

I'm, uh, not an atheist, Skeptic.

And the reason all this DOES have a point is because it is the foaming fundies who are declaring that they should run things because they are so much more godly and more moral and blah blah blah than the rest of us mere mortal humans.  Just ask Heddle.

I've not seen any atheists advocating taking over the government and using it to force their religious opinions onto everyone else.  I *have* seen the fundies do exactly that (and more).  When the atheists try to do so, I will fight them just as hard as I fight the fundies.  And for exactly the same reasons.  Just ask PZ.

As for your self-righteous clucking, until you get off your ass and begin to do something about the world around you, I see no reason to listen to your sermonizing.  You are just as much a part of the problem as the fundies are.
I just want to add that I managed to get a line deleted from the MN Atheists newsletter that said "we are going to crush religion beneath our heel" etc. Eeaaugh! :O  And after I rewrote that piece, also leaving out all the blather about atheists being the new French Resistance and all that, my friend the original author said, "I was disappointed that you took that out." Well, tough beans. "Crush it under our heel." Gaaa! I can resist peer pressure. The real difference is between those who see the world simplistically and those who don't. It's the simplistic thinkers who are dangerous.

However, I am particularly dangerous today (if anyone checks the calendar...)  :)

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,16:17   

Kristine shimmied thusly:
Quote
However, I am particularly dangerous today (if anyone checks the calendar...)

Eh?  Do you have a communicable case of spring fever?

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,17:05   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Mar. 22 2007,14:17)

Kristine shimmied thusly:
Quote
However, I am particularly dangerous today (if anyone checks the calendar...)

Eh?  Do you have a communicable case of spring fever?
Would you check the friggin calendar! Two people from Uncommon Descent, I kid you not, have already visited my blog and wished me well.

It's a plot. They're trying to pull ahead...now come on, everyone, I've dropped enough hints!  :p

And I'm going to the Guthrie tonight, so you better work fast! :)

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Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,17:31   

Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 22 2007,16:05)
Quote (Steviepinhead @ Mar. 22 2007,14:17)

Kristine shimmied thusly:
 
Quote
However, I am particularly dangerous today (if anyone checks the calendar...)

Eh?  Do you have a communicable case of spring fever?
Would you check the friggin calendar! Two people from Uncommon Descent, I kid you not, have already visited my blog and wished me well.

It's a plot. They're trying to pull ahead...now come on, everyone, I've dropped enough hints!  :p

And I'm going to the Guthrie tonight, so you better work fast! :)

So happy birthday!!!   :)  :)

42 years young, eh? Are you still spry?

:p

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,17:48   

Kristine:

   
Quote
now come on, everyone, I've dropped enough hints!






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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2007,18:34   

Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 22 2007,14:17)
I just want to add that I managed to get a line deleted from the MN Atheists newsletter that said "we are going to crush religion beneath our heel" etc. Eeaaugh! :O  And after I rewrote that piece, also leaving out all the blather about atheists being the new French Resistance and all that, my friend the original author said, "I was disappointed that you took that out." Well, tough beans. "Crush it under our heel." Gaaa! I can resist peer pressure. The real difference is between those who see the world simplistically and those who don't. It's the simplistic thinkers who are dangerous.

Alas, unfortunately, many atheist activists have become the very thing they are fighting against --- intolerant pricks who want to tell everyone what to think and can't stand anyone having opinions different from theirs.  Just like the fundies.  Different feathers, same bird.

It seems to be a rather common trait amongst ideologues.  You should have seen some of the knock-down drag-outs I had with various Leninist organizations back in my younger days . . . They are the same way.

BTW, happy b-day.  (raises glass of Viking Piss).    :)

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2007,09:20   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 22 2007,16:34)

Alas, unfortunately, many atheist activists have become the very thing they are fighting against --- intolerant pricks who want to tell everyone what to think and can't stand anyone having opinions different from theirs.  Just like the fundies.  Different feathers, same bird.

It seems to be a rather common trait amongst ideologues.  You should have seen some of the knock-down drag-outs I had with various Leninist organizations back in my younger days . . . They are the same way.

BTW, happy b-day.  (raises glass of Viking Piss).    :)
Thanks you guys! ;)

It's not that I don't want people to agree with me/us/whoever - it's just that they're never going to. New religions are being invented all the time, so it's silly to project a religion-free (or a one-religion) future. I really don't think Dawkins is the jerk some people make him out to be, though - he's just cranky, like me. :)

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Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

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"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2007,11:31   

Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 23 2007,09:20)
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 22 2007,16:34)

Alas, unfortunately, many atheist activists have become the very thing they are fighting against --- intolerant pricks who want to tell everyone what to think and can't stand anyone having opinions different from theirs.  Just like the fundies.  Different feathers, same bird.

It seems to be a rather common trait amongst ideologues.  You should have seen some of the knock-down drag-outs I had with various Leninist organizations back in my younger days . . . They are the same way.

BTW, happy b-day.  (raises glass of Viking Piss).    :)
Thanks you guys! ;)

It's not that I don't want people to agree with me/us/whoever - it's just that they're never going to. New religions are being invented all the time, so it's silly to project a religion-free (or a one-religion) future. I really don't think Dawkins is the jerk some people make him out to be, though - he's just cranky, like me. :)

Oh, but Dawkins must be evil and vile and hate-filled and all that, because to believe otherwise might serve as counter-point to dogma.  So, being an atheist, he must be stopped, because atheism itself must be stopped.  Why?  Who knows.  But remember, even though we must stop you from being atheist, it is you who is trying to impose your beliefs on me by wanting to be left alone to live your own life without me being able to impose my beliefs on you.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2007,18:34   

Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 23 2007,08:20)
I really don't think Dawkins is the jerk some people make him out to be, though - he's just cranky, like me. :)

Nah, I don't think Dawkins is a jerk.  It just pains me to see someone like him, who could be such a wonderful messenger for bringing science to lots and lots of people, instead choose to waste his time on an unwinnable quixotic crusade to stamp out religion.



PZ, though, is a jerk.   ;)

I'M ONLY KIDDING !!!!!!!!!!!!  DON'T JUMP ALL OVER ME, I'M ONLY KIDDING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heck, I do miss getting to yank PZ's chain, though  . . . . .

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,11:51   

To Skeptic & all interested parties: I'm not done linking pop Darwinism to Nazi policies. I do notice that people have lost their desire to give us Paleys history lessons....surprise, surprise. I can't believe that people won't acknowledge the most obvious things, and try to misdirect lurkers by discussing motives. Once again, it would be like me trying to deny the link between Deism and the French Revolution, or Christianity and the Inquisition.

Oh well.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,12:37   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 24 2007,10:51)
To Skeptic & all interested parties: I'm not done linking pop Darwinism to Nazi policies. I do notice that people have lost their desire to give us Paleys history lessons....surprise, surprise. I can't believe that people won't acknowledge the most obvious things, and try to misdirect lurkers by discussing motives. Once again, it would be like me trying to deny the link between Deism and the French Revolution, or Christianity and the Inquisition.

Oh well.

my bolding

Why bother? I cannot see why Nazi policies being linked to "darwinism" (or anything else) has any relevence to wether "radical atheists" are dangerous or not.

IMO it is very unlikely that Hitler studied Christianity or Darwin (or anything else), and then decided to wipe out people he considered undesirable because of the logical steps of such study. Rather, I suspect that Hitler already had his dislikes and a desire to wipe them out and then searched for arguments to use to that end.

  
Faid



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,12:43   

To Ghost:

The only time people here gave you a (well-earned) history lesson in this forum, was when you tried to show that Hitler was an Odinist leftie pinko liberal (your words, more or less).

But you admitted you were trolling then. So: What purpose do your (blatantly provocative, in tone and phrasing) posts serve NOW, Ghost?

This is going the way of the OOL thread. Your posts try to make a big deal of things that, in the real world, are more or less a non-issue, and present a problem only under the distorting, deceiving and grossly-generalizing views of creationists.

And yet you claim not to be one.

If you really try to build a respectable and serious image for yourself in this forum, Ghost, you're going about it the wrong way.

--------------
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"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
Faid



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,13:02   

BTW (and because I can't resist playing your game, if only for a second ), I can't help wondering how that demon Darwin's Nazi eugenic theories managed, not only to influence Hitler and sink the world into a sea of blood...

...But also to travel back in time and influence this guy's society:




Maybe the old geezer used young HG Wells' time machine or something.
Makes sence that those two pinkos would be in cahoots, after all.

--------------
A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,13:16   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Mar. 23 2007,17:34)
 
Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 23 2007,08:20)
I really don't think Dawkins is the jerk some people make him out to be, though - he's just cranky, like me. :)

Nah, I don't think Dawkins is a jerk.  It just pains me to see someone like him, who could be such a wonderful messenger for bringing science to lots and lots of people, instead choose to waste his time on an unwinnable quixotic crusade to stamp out religion.

I would pretty much agree with that. Not that I am an expert or anything.

So far I have only completed one of his books (unweaving the rainbow), which I thoroughly enjoyed. ATM I am almost halfway through The Ancestor's Tale, also very good. The last few days I have been watching some of his Christmas lectures (on youtube) at the Royal Society (most excelent) and I atended a lecture by Susan Blackmore that he chaired and had a very brief chat with the man. He is an excelent communicator for evolutionary science (in my unqualified opinion).

No matter the medium that I have seen his arguments for evolutionary science, Dawkins comes across as a very intelligent, articulate, well educated and affable man. Basically, a very strong force for the promotion of evolution.

I really don't understand why he wastes his time battling religion (if that is waht he is doing). Particularly in-light of a comment of his I read about visiting a popular bookstore in Oxford and being dismayed that occult/religious books far outnumbered science ones. I am surprised that experience didn't give him the insight that a lot of people "demand" supernatural answers and they will get them regardless of any success against religious thinking/organisation that he may achieve.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,13:25   

Quote (Faid @ Mar. 24 2007,12:02)
BTW (and because I can't resist playing your game, if only for a second ), I can't help wondering how that demon Darwin's Nazi eugenic theories managed, not only to influence Hitler and sink the world into a sea of blood...

...But also to travel back in time and influence this guy's society:




Maybe the old geezer used young HG Wells' time machine or something.
Makes sence that those two pinkos would be in cahoots, after all.

You know what? Despite all it's faults I cannot but admire the Spartans. *This maybe due to an early exposure to the film The 300 Spartans. Silly I know.

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,15:11   

Faid:

Quote
This is going the way of the OOL thread. Your posts try to make a big deal of things that, in the real world, are more or less a non-issue, and present a problem only under the distorting, deceiving and grossly-generalizing views of creationists.


I think part of the problem is that some atheists try to deny any connection whatsoever between some secular philosophies and the Holocaust. Now it's certainly true that Hitler was influenced by multiple philosophies, and that Chrisitian antisemitism was one of them, but as Orr was trying to point out, some trendy secular ideas also inspired a lot of evil. I would go further and say that humans in general are irrational, and that religion is an important sink for these impulses. Without the guiding power of transcendent ideas, that genetic irrationality can take some pretty dangerous forms (not that the religious impulse can't be very dangerous as well).

The focus on Darwinism is to keep this on topic.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2007,19:31   

Go troll somewhere else, Paley.

No one here cares what you think.  (shrug)

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 25 2007,14:50   

By the way Faid, I'm not saying that the Nazis were the first society to practice a brutal form of Eugenics. Obviously a lot of earlier societies practiced selective infanticide, etc. But some pop Darwinian ideas might have led the Nazis to reinstate the practice, while making it more systematic. Is there even a purely logical argument to be made against Nazi-style eugenics? I don't think there is. This is where emotion comes into play (I know, false dilemma, but religion encourages emotional "reasoning" that is useful in this context).

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Faid



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 25 2007,18:51   

[quote=The Ghost of Paley,Mar. 25 2007,13:50][/quote]
Quote
By the way Faid, I'm not saying that the Nazis were the first society to practice a brutal form of Eugenics. Obviously a lot of earlier societies practiced selective infanticide, etc. But some pop Darwinian ideas might have led the Nazis to reinstate the practice, while making it more systematic.



I'm not sure what you mean by "Darwinian" in this and your previous post, Ghost. I'd know what a creationist would mean (for whom, Social "Darwinism" and the ToE are one and the same), but I'd wish you clarified it for me.

As for whether these ideas "might" have influenced Fascism, well, I'm not good at guesses- but I can point you to some ideas that is a well-known fact they influenced Fascism:

Here you go again.

So, if the "Spartan Ideal" that Fascists admired was based on eugenics, why did Hitler need "Darwinian" ideas again?

Quote
Is there even a purely logical argument to be made against Nazi-style eugenics? I don't think there is. This is where emotion comes into play (I know, false dilemma, but religion encourages emotional "reasoning" that is useful in this context).


Again, I'm not sure what you're saying here. No logical arguments against nazi-style eugenics? There's plenty of those- unless you think the Aryan "race" is, in fact, objectively superior than others, and only our compassion for humanity stops us from using it as a eugenics model. Come on.

Bigotry and racial persecution was ALWAYS based on emotion and not logic, Ghost. We both know it. So I'll let you figure out what emotional "reasoning" is useful for.

--------------
A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 26 2007,14:39   

Faid:

Quote
I'm not sure what you mean by "Darwinian" in this and your previous post, Ghost. I'd know what a creationist would mean (for whom, Social "Darwinism" and the ToE are one and the same), but I'd wish you clarified it for me.


I meant "Social Darwinism". I just don't like the term...too redolent of British Victorian society.

Quote
As for whether these ideas "might" have influenced Fascism, well, I'm not good at guesses- but I can point you to some ideas that is a well-known fact they influenced Fascism:

Here you go again.


But was Sparta a bigger influence than Social Darwinism? Remember my links.  :D

Quote
Again, I'm not sure what you're saying here. No logical arguments against nazi-style eugenics? There's plenty of those- unless you think the Aryan "race" is, in fact, objectively superior than others, and only our compassion for humanity stops us from using it as a eugenics model. Come on.


Sorry for not being clear. I meant the T4 medical programs, not the racial policies. Of course there are purely logical arguments against killing Jews, who have made invaluable contributions to Western societies (along with a bunch of other groups, of course).

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 26 2007,17:51   

Dudes, don't feed the troll.  Let him find another bridge.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 26 2007,22:17   

Lenny, if others are speaking who then becomes the troll?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,13:23   

Quote
Is there even a purely logical argument to be made against Nazi-style eugenics? I don't think there is.


Yikes! Your prejudices are showing again GoP. Two words: genetic diversity.

Now how's about how you show us those causative links between evolutionary biology and killing Jews.

While you're at it I am DYING to hear how we radical atheists are dangerous. After all, what is not life affirming and nice about lacking a belief in a deity?

Louis

Edited for Niceness!

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Bye.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,13:35   

Good to see you are back Louis. Does this mean that you are playing here again on a regular basis?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,13:40   

Thanks Steve. Yes, no, maybe! Excruciatingly busy as usual, but I have sufficient time for beer and occasional internet excitement.

Now I am all moved in and have found a really good Wing Chun club I can play a bit more than the last few weeks. I've also had a nice chat with SteveS, which is lovely.

Beers next week?

Louis

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Bye.

  
J-Dog



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,14:07   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Mar. 27 2007,12:35)
Good to see you are back Louis. Does this mean that you are playing here again on a regular basis?

Yes, good to see you back again.

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,14:09   

Quote (Louis @ Mar. 27 2007,12:23)
Quote
Is there even a purely logical argument to be made against Nazi-style eugenics? I don't think there is.


Yikes! Your prejudices are showing again GoP. Two words: genetic diversity.

Now how's about how you show us those causative links between evolutionary biology and killing Jews.

While you're at it I am DYING to hear how we radical atheists are dangerous. After all, what is not life affirming and nice about lacking a belief in a deity?

Louis

Edited for Niceness!

We missed ya, Louis.

Now get out there and start pummeling GoP!

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,14:19   

I will not pummel GoP. I am going to be extremely nice to him.

I really am genuinely interested to understand how a lack of belief in a deity leads to social discord and all round naughtiness. Obviously GoP won't fall into the silly trap of Zombie Stalin because he's far too intelligent and well read to think that Stalinist antireligion was in any way equivalent to liberal secularism or indeed was based on anything other than removing possible institutional sources of opposition.

I also think he's far too clever to fall for the pervasive urban myth that Hitler was an atheist and perform the standard logically fallacious drivel that he committed his atrocities because of his falsely claimed lack of belief in a deity.

I am certain that GoP is far too smart to fall for these obvious red herrings which would be the hallmark of a pointless attention whoring troll. I'm also sure that Skeptic can actually have a conversation without whining about antichristian bias simply because someone doesn't share his asinine faith, but far be it from me to prevent him doing so if he wishes.

Yes, I'm overjoyed to note that the usual suspects are not merrily slurring people simply because they lack a belief in a deity and that this is somehow a defining characteristic for all moral effort. I'm sure these gents are way, way to sophisticated to fall for that red-neck propaganda.

Louis

P.S. Good to be back.

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Bye.

  
Faid



Posts: 1143
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,14:55   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 26 2007,13:39)
I meant "Social Darwinism". I just don't like the term...too redolent of British Victorian society.

In that case, like I said, all this is, in fact, a non-issue.

Social Darwinism is a coined-up term, and has no relation with actual Darwin's theory, even in fundamental issues: Darwinian evolution proposes no determinism in nature, no "model organism" that a species aspires to, nothing from all that crap which made SD attractive to Nazi ideals. So you won't find people here that support it, or that will deny its usage by Fascism. And since SD is also NOT a secular philosophy by default, it makes your previous explanation on why you're discussing it meaningless.

I feel silly discussing this with you, since you're not a creationist, and you should know it as well as I do.

As for whether Sparta or social "Darwinism" influenced the Nazis more- what can I say?
Ghost: Essentially, SD IS just a rationalisation of the spartan way (minus the glorifying of the Nation and military valour, but Futurism took care of that part). Just a "sciency" philosophical attempt to justify beliefs that were rooted long before bearing their bitter fruit.
Maybe you don't know how much Fascism idolized and aspired to the "spartan ideal", in doctrine and aesthetics both, but that doesn't change the fact.

Anyway, like I said, is there a point to all this? I think not.

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A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,17:54   

Quote (Louis @ Mar. 27 2007,12:23)
Yikes! Your prejudices are showing again GoP. Two words: genetic diversity.

Indeed, that is the very point I bring up with all the dolts who equate Hitler with evolution.

Evolution is utterly dependent upon genetic diversity wherein populations vary over a wide range, which provides the raw material for selection.

By producing a "genetically pure(*)" "master race", though, the nutters are basically wanting to turn humans into a monoculture, which is, in evolutionary terms, the LEAST STABLE sort of population, and one that generally goes extinct pretty quickly.

(*) -- whatever the #### THAT means . . . .


Hence, if the nazi and kkk-types were to base their crap on evolutionary biology, they'd only be demonstrating that they (like the fundies) don't have a goddamn clue what evolution is or how it works.

But then, none of the nazis or klansmen I've ever met, based their crap on evolution anyway -- they all claimed to be "The Real Christians™©" instead.  Just do a Google for "Christian Identity" (but don't eat anything first).

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www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,18:49   

Louis, I am deeply offended!  I've never worshipped asses of any kind.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,19:07   

Quote
But then, none of the nazis or klansmen I've ever met, based their crap on evolution anyway -- they all claimed to be "The Real Christians™©" instead.
Iv'e only ever asked two of the racists I've ever met* to explain to me what they have against black people. The first said it was something to do with Noah's son Ham that I can't recall, and the second said that because we can trace a line from Adam to Solomon who is white, black people aren't really human.

*I've actually met a lot more but they mostly just hate "Islamics".

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,19:31   

Quote (Chris Hyland @ Mar. 27 2007,18:07)
Quote
But then, none of the nazis or klansmen I've ever met, based their crap on evolution anyway -- they all claimed to be "The Real Christians™©" instead.
Iv'e only ever asked two of the racists I've ever met* to explain to me what they have against black people. The first said it was something to do with Noah's son Ham that I can't recall, and the second said that because we can trace a line from Adam to Solomon who is white, black people aren't really human.

*I've actually met a lot more but they mostly just hate "Islamics".

Well, unfortunately, I've met far more than my share of racist neo-Nazi Klan types --- I used to live near Berks County, Pennsylvania, which back in the late 80's/early 90's had one of Aryan Nation's largest training camps.  Being politically active (I was with the Wobblies back then), I ran into the neo-nazi-nutters pretty regularly.

One guy in particular used to work at the same place as me, and made a point of repeatedly telling me that one night he and his "friends" would come to "pay me a visit".  I always responded by reminding him to make sure there were at least 31 of them, since my AK-47 holds 30 rounds, and I never miss.

The "curse of Ham" thingie is kinda old now . . . it's some sort of Biblical bullshit about the descendents of Ham being cursed to draw water and hew wood for everyone else (I think because he barged in on Noah and saw his naughty bits or something), which of course in the KKK view means that Ham was black and all his descendents are therefore slaves, by the will of God.  It was one of the Biblical justifications that the slavers used to justify slavery in the pre-civil war South, and was also used by the Southern segregationists to oppose the civil rights movement in the 60's on Biblical grounds.

The "Adam to Solomon" thingie sounds like a garbled version of "Christian Identity", which, in one version, postulates that there was actually a Creation previous to the Genesis one, but it was Satan who produced it, not God.  Satan created "pre-Adamic people" and then bred with them, producing --- you guessed it --- Jews and nonwhite "mud people" (who are, therefore, literally the Sons of Satan).  Later, God came along and did his thing, creating Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the godly white race, who were then given dominion over the "mud people" along with all the other, uh, animals.

For some odd reason, fundies don't like talking about all the idiotic Bible Babble that comes out of neo-Nazi and KKK mouths . . . . .

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,19:37   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 27 2007,17:49)
Louis, I am deeply offended!  I've never worshipped asses of any kind.

Only kissed them.

Especially if they have an "R" after their name.

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The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,20:23   

First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to, so I'm going to ignore their posts entirely. They should know who they are. If anyone thinks I'm ducking a valid point either of them present, let me know and I'll address it. But otherwise, no dice.

Faid:

     
Quote
     
Quote
(The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 26 2007,13:39)
I meant "Social Darwinism". I just don't like the term...too redolent of British Victorian society.


In that case, like I said, all this is, in fact, a non-issue.

Social Darwinism is a coined-up term, and has no relation with actual Darwin's theory, even in fundamental issues: Darwinian evolution proposes no determinism in nature, no "model organism" that a species aspires to, nothing from all that crap which made SD attractive to Nazi ideals. So you won't find people here that support it, or that will deny its usage by Fascism. And since SD is also NOT a secular philosophy by default, it makes your previous explanation on why you're discussing it meaningless.


Faid, I respect you, but that's not good enough. Many of these ideas were emanating from German biologists and other assorted academics. Even SJ Gould admits that, and in addition to the part of the essay I quoted, he also brings up examples from American textbooks from the time period. If the pros get confused on issues like this, then the average citizen has no chance. And the average citizen is all that matters in the end.

So the question becomes, why the confusion? I think part of it arises from the fact that although Nature herself may have no ambition, social policies certainly do. Politicians use science insofar as it helps them achieve their goals. And if evolutionary biology suggests that "negative" trait x (as defined by the cultural values of said society) is caused by trend y, then politicians are not going to sweat the philosophical details. They're going to attempt to address the causes behind x, and if that means removing society's "burdens" (once again as defined by the society), then they will not hesitate to do so unless something prohibits them.

And that's where the T4 programs come in. Most people assume that the intelligent provide more material benefits to society than the not-so-intelligent, unless these citizens bring something else to the table (physical beauty, athleticism, charisma, etc.) Unfortunately, many of the mentally handicapped struggle in all areas. Furthermore, their disability can actually produce a net cost to society (measured in purely cold-blooded economic terms). So why not do the logical thing and "improve" the future stock at the same time? After all, humans have already applied eugenic principles with great success to plants and animals. Darwin struggled with this issue, Galton struggled with the issue, Julian Huxley struggled with the issue (although he strongly criticized the Nazi programs). It's not something that's so lightly dismissed.

Which brings us to point number two. How in the world is SD not a secular philosophy? Certain many secularists considered it so. And the fact that this body of dogma was useful in justifying a return to and systematization of Spartan principles illustrates its inherent danger.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,20:33   

Skeptic,

Quote
Louis, I am deeply offended!  I've never worshipped asses of any kind.


Good lad! Now why does the song "I like big butts" seem to be playing in my head ;-)

GoP,

Quote
First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to, so I'm going to ignore their posts entirely. They should know who they are. If anyone thinks I'm ducking a valid point either of them present, let me know and I'll address it. But otherwise, no dice.


Oops now the song has changed to the sound of a baby crying. Hmmm interesting.

Louis

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Bye.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2007,22:35   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 27 2007,19:23)
First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to

Weep away, troll.  (shrug)

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Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,09:29   

Quote
First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to,


Well, you're two different posters yourself, so it all works out very neatly.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,09:46   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 28 2007,08:29)
Quote
First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to,


Well, you're two different posters yourself, so it all works out very neatly.

Please make that 3 posters you don't talk to, and add me to your list.

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,09:55   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 28 2007,15:29)
Well, you're two different posters yourself, so it all works out very neatly.

You don't actually BUY that crap of his do you Arden? GoP is a troll, pure and simple. A proven liar, proven racist (or at least plays one for effect on the net), and proven troll. His whole deal is to disrupt and play silly games. There were never two posters, it's all one sad little loser with delusions of significance.

GoP won't talk to Lenny or me because he knows we see straight through him (and I'm not for a second suggesting that anyone else doesn't, I think everyone does) and won't let him forget it. Oh he'll make up some whine about our barbarity, frankly it's a joke. He claims to be an old TO hand, well which one is he? If he knows about Pagano and Nykios he goes back a reasonable distance. This is an old troll in a new disguise and new venue. Either that or someone is playing him for effect. Last year he was a geocentrist creationist, this year he's a conservative deist science buff (cough cough), who knows what he'll be next year. One of the few constant threads in his crap is his racism (or pretend racism) which he does a terrible job of hiding. I have my suspicions! Mocking him, countering his crap, is like shooting fish in a barrel. It's just like AFDave, Thordaddy, etc etc. The tactics he uses are the same: biased nonsense, quote mines, lies and appeals to prejudice.

Louis

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Bye.

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,10:02   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 25 2007,13:50)
By the way Faid, I'm not saying that the Nazis were the first society to practice a brutal form of Eugenics.

The US was pretty good at it as well:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/021500-02.htm

U.S. doctors who once believed that sterilization could help rid society of mental illness and crime launched a 20th century eugenics movement that in some ways paralleled the policies of Nazi Germany, researchers said on Monday.

A Yale study tracing a once-popular movement aimed at improving society through selective breeding, indicates that state-authorized sterilizations were carried out longer and on a larger scale in the United States than previously believed, beginning with the first state eugenics law in Indiana in 1907.

Despite modern assumptions that American interest in eugenics waned during the 1920s, researchers said sterilization laws had authorized the neutering of more than 40,000 people classed as insane or ``feebleminded'' in 30 states by 1944.

Another 22,000 underwent sterilization from the mid-1940s to 1963, despite weakening public support and revelations of Nazi atrocities, according to the study, funded by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Merck Co. Foundation.

Forced sterilization was legal in 18 U.S. states, and most states with eugenics laws allowed people to be sterilized without their consent by leaving the decision to a third party.

``The comparative histories of the eugenical sterilization campaigns in the United States and Nazi Germany reveal important similarities of motivation, intent and strategy,'' the study's authors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

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If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,10:35   

Quote (Louis @ Mar. 28 2007,08:55)
 
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Mar. 28 2007,15:29)
Well, you're two different posters yourself, so it all works out very neatly.

You don't actually BUY that crap of his do you Arden? GoP is a troll, pure and simple. A proven liar, proven racist (or at least plays one for effect on the net), and proven troll. His whole deal is to disrupt and play silly games. There were never two posters, it's all one sad little loser with delusions of significance.

Well, I'd agree with that final description, but back before GoP 'came out', I did notice that there did seem to be a lot of variation in the 'tone' of his messages. So it actually did seem believable that two different people were doing GoP's posts for a couple years there. But the primary effect of this, um, confession was to make it completely impossible to take anything he said seriously anymore. As for whether he really is two people or not, maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Ultimately the question isn't all that interesting.

Here, one of GoP's "hang out at the gymnasium" pictures, since he hasn't posted one for a while:



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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
GCT



Posts: 1001
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,11:32   

Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 27 2007,20:23)
First of all, there are two posters here who I don't talk to, so I'm going to ignore their posts entirely.

It's actually at least three.

Edit:  Sorta beaten to the punch by J-Dog...touche.

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 28 2007,15:32   

Midnight Voice:

 
Quote
 
Quote
(The Ghost of Paley @ Mar. 25 2007,13:50)
By the way Faid, I'm not saying that the Nazis were the first society to practice a brutal form of Eugenics.


The US was pretty good at it as well:[snip]


Excellent point, and one all too often neglected in American textbooks. Now I wonder why that would be?  ;)

Yet I don't see the moral equivalence between America and Nazi Germany on the eugenics front. The question is why. One possible answer: America's religious tradition. And perhaps we were too busy whaling on other minorities.....

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,05:36   

LOL American religion made teh nasty eugenics go away. German religion was irrelevant to teh nasty eugenics.

1) Your prejudices are showing again.
2) Bullshit.

Remind me, where's this evidence that liberal state secularism (the  political outgrowth of a lack of belief in a deity) is harmful to society? ~300 million Europeans can't be wrong!

Society, at least here in the EU, has generally tended towards becoming more secular and more liberal over the last few centuries. Oh sure there have been blips, reversals and as with anything few things are perfect, but that's the general trend. Zombie Stalin is a total irrelevance, his atrocities were not based on his lack of belief in a deity. As others have pointed out they were based on his absolutist approach to an ideal. Sure it was a SECULAR ideal in that it removed state religion, but you seem to miss the key word: ABSOLUTIST. Absolutist religion is a problem, absolutist idealism is a problem. There is no such thing as absolutist atheism. It doesn't exist, it's a non sequitur. The problem you have is that you are importing a whole swathe of genuinely problematic ideologies and politics and stapling them to atheism. Stalin's moustache is as relevant as his atheism.

What IS the problem as I've said, is the assumption of absolute moral authority, the assumption of state homogeneity as superior to the rights of the individual, the assumption that totalitarian control is necessary. As it happens religions of all stripes (apart from some confuscian, buddhist, shinto and taoist things off the top of my head) esp those which have a patriarchal hierarchy or a priestly hierarchy directly feed into these sorts of problems. Theocracies are directly derived from the teachings of a religion. Atheism has none of these characteristics, it is simply the lack of belief in a deity. Religious societies don't HAVE to become theocracies, that would be a ridiculous thing to say, but within the ideologies of many religions are the tools for totalitarianism, just like within the ideologies of certain types of communism etc. That's also not to say these religions and ideas are BAD per se, just a recognition of the fact that the reliance on an authoritarian structure or ideology predisposes misuse of that structure or ideology for totalitarian ends.

Liberal secularism does away with this, it fits well with democracy and a meritocratic state and indeed flows directly from the very philosophies from which those things are derived. No religion is legally or socially preferred, nor are they eradicated, they are relegated to the same realm as politics: the personal sphere. You want a fair state? Stop preferring one religion, one group, over all others. It's not rocket science. State secularism is a positive benefit, an increasingly secular Europe gave us the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and every aspect of the modern world (most of which they pinched from the ancient Greeks!) we enjoy today. Sure much of the Judeo-Christian tradition of Europe helped pave the way, in just the same way that the Islamic tradition of the middle east paved the way for their "enlightenment" centuries earlier. What went wrong was the return to the state of affairs before the proto-secularist systems arose. It wasn't a coincidence that the absolutist, dogmatic adherence to religions across the world subsided PRIOR to episodes like the Enlightenment. The secularisation (partial, gradual, incremental) of states permitted "heresies" and questions which directly produced the good bits of society we like today.

So sorry GoP, but increasingly secular states are THE best possible states we can hope to have. These do not equate to the banning of religion, they equate to the lack of preference for religion. Two very different things. Dawkins, and I and PZ and all the "radical atheists" you will encounter (bar I am sure a few insignificant nutters even I can dredge up from the recesses of humanity) will advocate the "lack of preference" not the "banning" strawman. Get over it.

Louis

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Bye.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,07:52   

Just some quick clarifications, Louis, if you don't mind.  While it is evident that Europe has become more secular, I don't think it is fair to hold it up as an example of secular society.  This secular society does not exist in a vacuum and there is still a heavy religious influence in many parts of Europe.  There may have been active attempts to remove the influence of religion from govt but that is not the same as removing the influence on the individual who then participates in govt.

In fact, if you look at recent influences of religion upon govts of Europe it is safe to say that religion still has a very strong influence.  Look at the impacts of muslim traditions in France and England.

The Enlightenment wasn't as secular as you might think as the vast majority of the participants were very religious.  The progress may have been incidental of religion or even encouraged by the nature of the religious infrastructure, I don't think we can say.  We might want to consult an expert in this area.

Finally, your precious atheism.  Again, it does not exist in a bubble.  Maybe if it did you could claim no religious affiliation.  The reality is atheism and especially "radical" atheism is decidedly anti-traditional religion.  That is the binding principle, dogma, if you please.  Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.  

This is a bit rambling, but the point is, if you can attribute to religion the capacity to do harm then you have to accept that same possiblity in an atheistic society because they are both religions and the common denomiator in each is man.  That is truely where the capacity for harm resides and the justification is just a convience as a suitable reason to proceed with the desired action will always be found.

Just my observation.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,09:06   

Skeptic,

1) Europe is not "SECULAR" (a 100% absolute), Europe now is MORE secular than it once was. Not black or white, Skeptic, but GREY, and gradually lightening from darker grey to lighter grey.

You also clearly don't understand what I said about the Enlightenment. What I said was increasing secularism allowed the Enlightenment to occur, not that the Enlightenment was 100% secular. Of course many people in the Enlightenment were religious, so are many people now, it's totally irrelevant. You might want to learn to read before you attempt to patronise people.

As for the religious tradition of the nations in which the Enlightenment occurred, your strawman of what I said is the usual laughable nonsense. Here's what is again:

"Sure much of the Judeo-Christian tradition of Europe helped pave the way, in just the same way that the Islamic tradition of the middle east paved the way for their "enlightenment" centuries earlier. What went wrong was the return to the state of affairs before the proto-secularist systems arose. It wasn't a coincidence that the absolutist, dogmatic adherence to religions across the world subsided PRIOR to episodes like the Enlightenment. The secularisation (partial, gradual, incremental) of states permitted "heresies" and questions which directly produced the good bits of society we like today."

Not only do I recognise the contributions of religious systems, societies, ideas, and people, I celebrate them. What you don't get is that it isn't the supernatural bits of those systems, societies, ideas and people that did the "good" things, it's the reason based, evidence based, "deal with reality as it is not as we wish it to be" bits that did the "good" things. Your strawman is noted, refuted and wholly asinine and irrelevant.

What people like you don't obviously (i.e. based on your own words) understand is people like me are NOT anti-religion in some sort of caricatured blanket sense. What we are anti is "the worst excesses of human naughtiness", those come from both religious and non-religious sources. What is slightly "revolutionary" (it really isn't, but it clearly is to the likes of you) is that there are facets of some religious ideologies that make these "worst excesses of human naughtiness". We're not saying "All religion is naughty" or "All non-religion is good" what we are saying is "some ideas help to foster certain naughtiness and some of those ideas are contained in some religions". That's VERY different from your strawman.

2) Oh and THIS piece of egregious bollocks from you is so nauseatingly wrong as to be unpleasant:

Quote
The reality is atheism and especially "radical" atheism is decidedly anti-traditional religion.  That is the binding principle, dogma, if you please.  Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.


First and foremost Skeptic, atheism is in no way a religion. Let's just make it clear what we're talking about.

Atheism is a lack of belief in a deity or set of deities. The Greek prefix "a" denotes a lack, not an opposition (usually the Latin "anti" or the Greek "antero" denote opposition). Theism is "belief in the existence of a god", atheism is simply the "lack of belief in the existence of a god", NOT "the opposition to belief in the existence of a god" nor "the belief that a god does not exist". There are "subsets" of  atheism, usually called weak and strong atheism. I think this causes MASSIVE confusion by the way, and I think we need a different word for "strong atheism" (I believe there is no god) and "weak atheism" (I have no belief in the existence of a god". One is a positive statement of faith (belief of an absence) the other is a statement of the absence of faith. So no Skeptic, your stupid straw version of atheism is NOT accurate. Go away and read. There is a massive difference between a belief in an absence and an absence of belief. For the sake of clarity I'm going to refer to "strong atheism", i.e. the belief that gods do not exist, as "antitheism". There is in fact a really good set of philosophical precedents for that usage, even though it linguistically a hybrid Latin/Greek word and as such a bit ugly!

Also there is no dogma to atheism. You can assert it all you like, but it simply isn't true as I explained earlier:

Quote
The problem you have is that you are importing a whole swathe of genuinely problematic ideologies and politics and stapling them to atheism.


You are bolting on a whole bag of crap to a simple lack of belief in a deity or deities. Get this strawman right out of your head. I am an atheist, as radical as they come. I am not an antitheist, nor is Dawkins (for example). I'd grant you on the basis of the evidence (we don't have any positive empirical evidence for a god or gods) I would openly say I lean towards antitheism, but I don't make that leap of faith because faith itself is part of the problem. It's an epistemological issue not a religious one.

If one is an atheist it says nothing about one's politics, one's moral standpoints, or one's desire for the abolition of religion. SOME people who are atheists have views on those issues that are similar to the ones you describe, but this is a separate set of ideas from their atheism. Religions are simply not like that, there are ideas within religions that define them to a much greater extent. A christian believes in a second testament from the Judeo-Christian god and at least in the divinity of Jesus and a few other bits, if they don't they cannot be a christian, that's what the word means. A muslim believes in a third testament with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god that came through Muhammed, again that's what the word "muslim" means. These are distinct claims about the nature of the universe. Atheism has none of this, it is simply the lack of belief in a deity or set of deities. Antitheism DOES have one of these types of faith claims, it claims that god or gods absolutely do not exist. Atheism is simply the position that the existence of god or gods has not been demonstrated, thus an atheist lacks a belief in a deity. No faith based claim has been made.

Important aside: This is NOT the same thing as agnosticism. Agnosticism is the faith based position that the question of the existence of god or gods is unknowable., i.e. we cannot know if god or gods exist. That again is an explicit faith claim. Atheism is the only one of these positions that makes no such faith claim. BTW this is also NOT the same thing as saying "the chance of god's existence is 50:50", which is why I said I would sway towards antitheism but never reach it. I can categorically say that on the basis of the evidence we have today there is no god just as there is no tooth fairy. As an atheist and NOT an antitheist I admit that there is a vanishingly small chance that I might be wrong, but it is the evidence that will decide that not my faith one way or the other.

So Skeptic not only are you mischaracterising my argument (I've already said that "naughtiness" exists separate to religion, and that only some aspects of religious ideas encourage said "naughtiness") you are demonstrating your total lack of understanding as to what atheism is. What you don't understand is that this is not a conflict between two religions, two faith based dogmatic ideologies, but an epistemological clash between faith as a mechanism of acquiring knowledge and reason as a mechanism of acquiring knowledge. The Enlightenment was about the promotion of reason. Faith in inherently antithetical to reason (let's just see how you mangle THAT little gem). That doesn't mean religious people cannot use reason, or that religion contains no reason or any of the utterly stupid strawmen you will undoubtedly produce. What it means is that knowledge obtained purely by faith is not open to reason, it cannot be examined in the same way, and thus were we to claim two opposing faith based pieces of knowledge we would reach an intellectual impasse because there is no way to distinguish between them. The very second one proposes that they are distinguished between on some reasoned basis, one undermines the faith process entirely. THAT was the "terrible truth" of the European (and other) Enlightenment(s).

In your rush to paint me and everyone here (yes I've read the thread) as evil anti-religionists (whether they are or not) you have demonstrated that you cannot even begin to understand the basics of the argument being made. Frankly, it's a bit pathetic of you.

Louis

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,09:46   

Skeptic:

Quote
The Enlightenment wasn't as secular as you might think as the vast majority of the participants were very religious.  The progress may have been incidental of religion or even encouraged by the nature of the religious infrastructure, I don't think we can say.  We might want to consult an expert in this area.


Yes. While the enlightenment itself had a secularising effect on societies, the central figures were a motley assortment of Deists, Christians, and Jews (OK, most of these Jews embraced Christianity, but still......). Many people neglect this fact.

Quote
Finally, your precious atheism.  Again, it does not exist in a bubble.  Maybe if it did you could claim no religious affiliation.  The reality is atheism and especially "radical" atheism is decidedly anti-traditional religion.  That is the binding principle, dogma, if you please.  Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.  


This is very good and I don't have too much to add here, except for the fact that secular culture "inherited" the fruits of Western civilisation from the religious culture, so there was a lag time before the injuries became apparent. Now, of course, we see that the West is slowly dying and has to prop itself up with other cultures in order to remain vibrant.

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Ogee



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,11:54   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 29 2007,06:52)
Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.  

Ridiculous.  Atheism is no more a religion than is disbelief in Harry Potter or Santa Claus.  There is absolutely no reason to privelege your preferred fantasy character.

  
The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,12:08   

Ogee:

 
Quote
Quote
(skeptic @ Mar. 29 2007,06:52)
Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.
 

Ridiculous.  Atheism is no more a religion than is disbelief in Harry Potter or Santa Claus.  There is absolutely no reason to privelege your preferred fantasy character.


It's nice to see you drop in. You have a good mind and I appreciate your input into our last scuffle.

I don't know what Skeptic would say to this, but I know that belief systems tend to become more religious over time as the proponents become organised, identify outgroups, etc. I've seen this process itself among publications such as the Skeptical Inquirer. What used to be a hard-headed investigatory approach has mutated into a lot atheists writing opinion pieces about how stupid non-skeptics are. Opposing viewpoints are not welcome.

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,12:09   

Quote
Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.


And not collecting stamps is a hobby.

In fact, anything that you DON'T do is in fact its own activity.

Bravo, Skeptic.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,17:31   

Louis, you've gone a long way out of your way to make a point and I still think you miss mine.  Going back, it might be understandable because it was early when I posted and my post didn't seem as coherant even to me.  So, I'll try again.

A religion is a set of beliefs based upon faith to explain or provide some sort of spiritual basis for one's life, in the context that I have used it.  I didn't consult Webster's for this definition so we may disagree on the specifics.  Atheism fits this in nearly everyway as it is observed currently.  The comment you keep going back to that is utter nonsense is that there is no empirical basis for a belief in God.  Couple this with the statement that there is an increasingly vanishing possiblility for the existence of God and it is evident that you are relying upon these claims to justify your belief.  Not to belabor the point, but I'm emphasizing belief over an over again for a reason.  Even a belief in nothing is a belief.  Your belief is based upon the false premise that if there were a God we should be able to detect him in some way.  How?  You figure that out and you might just become the most famous person in history.  The problem, as you might well see, is that that which is supernatural or irrational is beyond the bounds of reason or measure.  

I don't know how to make it more plain but a statement of the empirical nature of God is a statement of faith and faith denotes religion.  We can argue about the structure and hiearchy but the basis is there.

Now, Ogee raises a good point and to that I would say that it all comes down to a level of acceptance or organization.  If there was an organized Church of Harry Potter (which we call now a fan club) that was accepted by it's members as a true belief and reaches a critical mass of acceptance in the community then it is a religion.  As an example, I would present the Church of Scientology.  What I would consider the fantasy of a science fiction writer is accepted by many (including the US Govt) as a valid religion.  I would put Scientology in the same catagory that you place Harry Potter.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,17:34   

Quote
A religion is a set of beliefs based upon faith to explain or provide some sort of spiritual basis for one's life, in the context that I have used it.  I didn't consult Webster's for this definition so we may disagree on the specifics.  Atheism fits this in nearly everyway as it is observed currently.  


Splendid. Tell us how atheism is a 'set of beliefs based upon faith to explain or provide some sort of spiritual basis for one's life'. I can't wait.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,17:50   

Arden, please tell me you're joking.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,18:11   

Quote (skeptic @ Mar. 29 2007,16:50)
Arden, please tell me you're joking.

Nope. Quite serious.

I'm especially interested in hearing how atheism (a) is a 'set of beliefs based upon faith' and (b) 'provide[s] some sort of spiritual basis for one's life'.

While you're at it, if atheism is a religion, please list its doctrines, plural.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,18:16   

Don't be too hard on Skeptic -- he doesn't know much history.  After all, he thinks it doesn't matter anyway.

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swbarnes2



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,19:03   

Skeptic..

You don't believethat Zeus exists, do you?  Or that Thor and Freya are real?  Do you believe in Indra, or Vishnu?  How about Marduk?  Can't I go on to list a hundred other gods that you are atheist about?  Couldn't I make a grand list of all the gods and goddesses you dont believe in?  You probably don't believe that there are pink unicorns living on Pluto,or that there is an invisible massless elephant perched on your shoulder right now.  I can make an ever larger list of absolutely insane things that you don't believe, can't I?

My my, isn't the above a "set of beliefs based on faith"?  You probably will claim that you don't use such a long list of negatives to "provide any spiritual basis for your life".

So why do you call atheists liars when they say that they don't either?

(Or maybe you will explain how you build your spiritual life around your belief that Elvis wasn't beamed away by aliens, Mayan mythology is just mythology, and that there's no such thing as a sock-stealing pixie.  That might prove to be a keeper of a thread, if you did)

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,19:43   

Are we gonna have yet another pointless war between the theists and the atheists . . . .?  (yawn)

Don't we get enough of that over at PT?

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The Ghost of Paley



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 29 2007,20:40   

I think there's a problem with bait-and-switch tactics among militant atheists. Atheists often claim that they simply choose not to accept the existenc