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  Topic: The Ususal Futile Religious War on PT and Elsewher, With apologies to Lenny!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,10:21   

Dear All,

I (as someone who would probably be described by Ed Brayton, Nick Matzke et al. as an "evangelical atheist") am continually amazed by the bitterness and, let me be blunt, downright exuberant tardacity shown by many participants in the debate from both "sides".

To get my love of naughty jokes out of the way first I'll give you an analogy. The late, great Bill Hicks once said something along the lines of:

"Gee, this abortion debate is so heated. Even my friends can't agree on it. Some of my friends think these pro-lifers are annoying idiots. Other of my friends think they're evil fucks. Brothers, sisters, I beseech you! Can't we come together and agree that they are annoying evil idiot fucks?".

I have very, very rarely ever seen an atheist, secularist or rationalist advocate the banning, utter destruction or total removal of religion from human society. Yet accusations of precisely this advocacy are constantly thrust at Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers (or is that spelt Ngmaellaahsch?) and a whole host of openly atheist, stridently secularist people. People with attitudes very much like my own, who I have certainly never seen advocate such nonsense.

I understand the quotemines are rich with Dawkins quotes etc that people choose to take from the warm bosom of their context and use to mean that dear old Prof D wants the Archbishop of Canterbury to be summarily rogered by wild boars and rent asunder by packs of frothing paperazzi, but any even fleeting reading of anything the man has written shows this strawman version of Richard Dawkins' arguments to be false. The phenomenon is so pernicious and prevalent I have coined my own (patent pending you theiving muthafukkas!;) term for it. There are two people in the rationalist camp with similar names: Richard Dawkins and Richard Strawkins. The first I have met, read all he has written and find him a congenial and intelligent man frustrated at a world gang aft agly. The second I have yet to meet. By the way, this is not a defense of Dawkins as some sort of  atheist saint, incapable of mistake or wrong. It is sheer amazement that my co-espousers of reason and rationalism stoop to precisely the same prurient rhetoric and underhanded dishonesty that the very people we are "fighting" do when it comes to atheists, RD especially. It also amazes me when the so called "evangelical atheist" bunch do similar nonsense. Whither reason?

With that in mind, I want to start that religious war currently flaming its merry way across PT, Pharyngula and elsewhere right here at ATBC. Personally I think the after-bar boozy nightclub atmosphere of ATBC, where the pint glasses can fly and let's be honest, we've all had too much booze.

1) Here is one of the kick of points for this latest round: Larry Moran says that creationist kids coming to university biology courses should be auto-flunked in favour of kids with a better appreciation of biology. Guess what, to an extent, I agree. I don't think that they should be auto-flunked, I think they should be given an opportunity (i.e. their creationist ideology is not a sufficient condition for their flunking) to demonstrate their ability or lack thereof. I also think that  they shouldn't be given remedial biology classes. The reasons I think this have little, if anything to do with religion/creationism and everything to do with educational standards. Which I suspect is also Larry's reasoning (but I don't know for certain). University attendance isn't a right, it's a priviledge you earn by your efforts and abilities. If these kids, regardless of their religious ideologies, class, wealth or myriad red herring aspects of their upbringing and character cannot meet those minimum requirements (whatever they might be). If a kid is exposed to a year or so of university level biology and STILL holds to the misinterpretations and outright lies of creationist ideologies, then flunk away. It shouldn't be beyond the ability of academics to design exams that test this aspect of a student's understanding of biology.

Now I know some of the members of the IDCist/YECist/Chamberlains/whatever crowds (for different and diverse they are) will cry "indoctrination" "fear of dissent" and perhaps "Lysenkoism", but they are wrong. Let us not mince our words here: If a student after exposure to biology at the university level are either a) demonstrably incapable of understanding the errors and falsity of IDC/YEC/etc, or b) demonstrably incapable of correcting their cherished ideas in the face of overwhelming evidence then they lack either a) the intellectual ability, or b) the intellectual honesty required of a qualified scientist.

A science degree isn't something nice for the mantlepiece, it is the rigourous, demanding and expensive training for a career scientist. Whether or not all students go on to become scientists is irrelevant, we need to get away from the intellectual snobbery here. The purpose of a science degree is to begin the training of a scientist, that these skills are useful elsewhere is lovely, and good luck to those people who use them, but we cannot expect that the university system makes every course suitable for every purpose. Individual courses should be tailored to a specific set of purposes. We need to serve our kids better, give them a better idea of what is expected of them in certain careers and what requirements will be made of them to commence those careers. Perhaps even to delay university start, or make our school education system more rigourous. I favour the delay strategy because people mature at different rates and blossom at different periods in their lives. Oops I've digressed.

The issue with exclusion of creationist students is simple. We are not dealing with a Hegelian vs a Kantian philosophical perspective, nor a Smithian vs Vandenburgian economic perspective. We are not even dealing with a physicist who supports M-theory vs "non string" supersymmetric physics. We are dealing with a student who so profoundly lacks the intellectual gifts or honesty that they don't understand one of the singley best supported ideas in science. That is a flunking requirement. We are not debating geocentrist astronomers or flat earth geographers. The only reason this idea gets its credence is because of the undue feraful respect religious ideas recieve in every part of the globe.

2) I respect religious people and religious ideas.

I'll say that again in case some people missed it or didn't understand it.

I respect religious people and religious ideas.

100%, totally and utterly. I devote the same automatic, unswerving and unthinking respect to relgious people and religious ideas I give to all people and all ideas. This means that I expect religious people to be able to demonstrate the coherence and validity of their ideas, and for those ideas to be absed on some form of evidence, to be coherent, to be demonstrable. And before I get the strawmen, yes I can demonstrate my feelings for my wife, yes they are based on reason and observation (whether conscious or not) and yes my passions and emotions are entirely based on interaction with the universe as it is. These aspects of my humanity do not arrive from some supernatural arena, they are natural, reality based aspects of an evolved organism. The conscious processing or otherwise is nothing to do with their rational nature.

I firmly believe (yes believe) that religious people and ideas DESERVE (yes deserve) to be held to the same standards that ALL people and ideas are held. I respect them so much I don't think they should be made exempt from critique or examination like the fantasies of silly fragile children. I respect them as adults capable of reason and adult ideas espoused by adults capable of reasonably supporting them. I think the Chamberlain school are missing the point and patronising religious people and ideas. I think this fearful protectionism is condescending and in error. In the arena of gladatorial combat ALL ideas get to stand up and fight. Realise that not all ideas will win, and some of them will be cherished losers.

Does this contradict my previous point about excluding creationist biology undergrads? No, not at all. University is one gladatorial arena of ideas. It is a training camp for the top flight scientific global arena. It is an abrogation of the responsibility of the university gladiator trainers to let their proteges move up to the global arena unarmed. The IDCist/YECist ideas are old tricks. Tricks we in the arena know well. At one point in our history they were potent weapons, potent tricks. But we learnt their secrets, we learnt where they fell down, why they failed and why they weren't any good in a scrap. These are not new, nor successful, tricks! We aren't equipping young gladiators for combat in the 1300s, but the 21st century. We've learnt since then. This also doesn't mean a bad scientist is a bad historian or plumber or athlete or politician, although I would argue that someone who is bad at reason and rational thought is going to have difficulties everywhere. Science is one area that practises reasoned rational thought, perhaps the area in which it is best and most closely practised, but it's not the only one.

Let battle commence!

Louis

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Bye.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,10:50   

Seems like TYPO the gawd of clerical errors has smitten me left and right both in title and post. Forgive me oh TYPO I meant not to sin and use the evil correction fluid of the desolate one.

Louis

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Bye.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,11:13   

With apologies for not firing per se in the beginning of this war, I have to be honest and say I'm not sure to which side I belong.

Yep, I think people have the right to believe whatever silly thing they want.

Yep, I think religious ideas are silly and belong in the 13th century.

Nope, science (indeed most of the world outside of my home and UDoJ) "doesn't give a flying fig about my religious opinions".  (That's a Lenny quote, for the one person on earth who may not have recognized it.)

I certainly see the value of the position of Ed Brayton et al. that knocking a religious person over the head with a biology textbook will probably not have the desired effect.

Personally, as long as the superstitious don't bother me or the education of my children or the law of my country, I don't give a flying fig what they believe.

Herein lies the crux of the matter.

They do.  At least a certain very vocal subset of them do.  They absolutely refuse to leave me alone, they absolutely insist on mucking about with my children's science education trying to force their superstitions on my kids, and they absolutely demand that my freedoms and the freedoms of the rest of the country (and the world) be restricted according to their superstitions.

Because they are so very vocal, these folks have come to be seen as the representatives of religion in this discussion, for better or for worse.

And so while I would in theory like to be a part of the Brayton camp, wherein reason and kindness and logic and evidence are used to simply persuade the religious to not enforce their religion on me, as a practical matter I often find myself in the Dawkins/Myers camp, chagrined that I feel forced to be less amicable.

I read an article by Ed, and I agree.  Then I read a counter-argument by PZ, and I agree.  I suppose I am hopelessly agreeable.

I suppose I often feel like a man without a country within the ranks of the godless and rational.

I am, however, very distressed by this endless war amongst our own.  We are the sane, the rational, the logical.  Yet we are human, and we are passionate.  It just seems that this debate would be better served by our former set of attributes rather than our latter set.

Let us not allow the religious extremists to define the terms of our internal discourse any longer.

And yet upon review of this comment, I must again apologize, for this lengthy answer is not an answer at all, it would seem.

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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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Louis



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,12:07   

You've hit on the crux of the matter Lou.

I agree with both the Ed Brayton "side" and the PZ Myers "side" about pretty much everything too. I don't understand all the talking past each other, but I DO understand the reasons why people are so sensitive about appearing to be anti-religious or at least hostile to religion (or however it is to be semanticised! I hope people understand what I'm driving at there).

Louis

P.S. Liked the Lenny quote, sums up my feelings. I couldn't give several rats' bottoms about what people believe as long as they don't think they can have it automatically declared as legally applying to everyone else, declared to be demonstrably true when it isn't, and declared to be absolutely the "ONE TRUE WAY" to the "ONE TRUE GOD" (TM, Patent Pending,  the one true way has been brought to you by GodCorp, a division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy, please use faith responsibly). Some fundamentalists of various stripes seem to disagree with me on this one. There are two problems we face: unselfcritical belief and dogmatism. That might crop up in Stalin or in Torquemada. The god bit is the frippery, the window dressing. it's the inability to honestly examine oneself (NOT IN THAT WAY!!!! ), one's own ideas and dogmatic adherence to said ideas that's the kicker. Lenny (that disgusting and despicable believer [cough hack ptooie]) and I seem to agree mightily on a number of key topics, not least the loveliness of reptiles.

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Bye.

  
Kristine



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Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,12:08   

Quote
I am, however, very distressed by this endless war amongst our own.


So am I. Excuse me but I don't think that this issue (evangelical atheism versus collaboration) is all that important, or even if it is an issue. Out of necessity I "collaborate" with theists every day. I think that it's just that after having locked horns it's hard to walk away (but it can be done, I am living proof). This argument is a niggling point in my opinion between articulate people who like to tangle on abstract points but need to back off of this one.

The last thing we need is everyone who giggled at "Science curse you, United Atheist Alliance!" on SouthPark to start giggling now. This argument is painful and not funny.

It's painful enough for me to read at UD the "atheists just hate us, they want to put us all in camps, they offer the mother of a dead child no hope because they don't believe in heaven" without this added layer of bruised feelings. All I advocate for is that one should approach life without preconceived ideas and set, puritanical dogmas. I don't think anyone has ever seen reality as it is (and ironically, that puts me in agreement with Dembski's conception of evolution as selecting for survival and reproduction, not for those who apprehend reality) and I don't think we ever will until we shed, at least temporarily, all the dogmas and the thou-shalt-nots and the shame and the fear that has co-evolved with our curiosity. That's it.

(And I've had as many crushes on cutie Christians as I have on atheists, but my Christian boyfriends turned out to be all uptight and to have ridiculous fears, and it caused lots of problems. And yes, I resent religion all the more for that. They're already in their own prison camps, snapping at me for having thrown open the gate. They followed me to a certain extent into freedom because they were drawn to my joie de vivre, if I may say so myself, but then wanted me to settle down and sit in church and give up this and that part of my individuality until I ended up looking like every other church lady. I can't do it. Thanks but no thanks. Who was putting whom into a prison camp?)

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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

  
Stephen Elliott



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,12:39   

I thought I was a Christian, but had my POV slammed and I guess I am not.

Then I thought I was a theist, saw the arguments and now I guess I aint that either.

Right now, I am probably an agnostic that hopes there is a God.

When I use the word "believe" it seemed missunderstood. Maybe "hope" is a better word. Whatever.

I am disturbed at the completely anti-religious posts, here (ATBC, not this thread) and on PT.

I have no problem with Atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Budhists etc. I do have a problem when people try to force their views upon others.

Since the death of ID some Atheists have gone on the offensive. I dislike that.

WTF is wrong with tolerance? Let people believe whatever they wish, so long as they don't want to make it law or enforce it upon others.

Religion is the root of all evil? Bollocks! Just about everything mankind has come up with has been used for both bad and good.

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,14:31   

Quote
WTF is wrong with tolerance? Let people believe whatever they wish, so long as they don't want to make it law or enforce it upon others.


But we're interested in how things really are, Stephen. Isn't that the whole point?

At some point, someone who believes is going to enforce it upon others. That's what happened to me. I had a boyfriend who was a Christian and spoke in tongues, all that stuff. Eventually, he started in with the "You've got to accept God because otherwise I won't see you in Heaven" prodding. If everyone believes what they want to, what's the basis for their belief? Is it true, or isn't it? If everybody believes something different, isn't that the same as nobody believing anything?

My father believed that everyone who didn't accept Jesus Christ as his/her savior didn't go to heaven. My uncle told me that if I believed in evolution I was going to ####. (Yes, he put it just that way.) Naturally, I "tolerated" these beliefs. What room was there for their "tolerance"? I believe that they were both sincere, but wrong. Am I being intolerant, then?

Fighting with loved ones over religion is just agony. I don't really care about God but I would love there to be an afterlife. I can't stand the thought not ever knowing some things, or seeing what the future holds for humanity, or never seeing certain people again (or never meeting certain people). But wishing isn't knowing, and believing doesn't make things true. That's all I'm saying.

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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

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,14:54   

Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 26 2006,14:31)
Quote
WTF is wrong with tolerance? Let people believe whatever they wish, so long as they don't want to make it law or enforce it upon others.


But we're interested in how things really are, Stephen. Isn't that the whole point?

At some point, someone who believes is going to enforce it upon others.

How are things really? Do you know?

Just about the only thing that I am sure of is that I do not know.

What is the difference between entirely certain religious people and entirely certain Atheists?

Damned if I know. But the end result tends to be the same. Persecution.

Is there a major difference between the thought police of religions and the thought police of Atheists?

  
someotherguy



Posts: 398
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:05   

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that's bothered by this massive cluster fuck of an argument.  For what it's worth, I'm an atheist, but I think I must belong to Moran's "Neville Chamberlain school of Evolutionists" because I just can't seem to be able to get all hot and bothered about what a person believes as long as religion is kept out of the science classroom and they don't force anything on me (I know that's a bit of a cliche position, but it's pretty much an accurate representation of what I think).  Having said that, what really bothers me about this whole debate is not any of the positions being supported, but the massive amount of invective being expressed by the proponents.  To me, seeing people I otherwise respect go straight for each other's jugulars instead of arguing calmly and rationally is somewhat disconcerting.

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Evolander in training

  
Kristine



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Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:25   

Quote
How are things really? Do you know?


Of course not. But I know that some things aren't. Such as, there's no way I'm ever going to enjoy church or need it, no matter how much I "open my heart." (I hate what I consider to be a waste of time and I hate getting stuck with the women. I don't really get along with church ladies; they often snub me, are cruel, and suspect my morals; they aren't interested in the things that I am. And I can't stand the pop music; something wrong with Bach?) Isn't that judgemental, me hearing so often that I've "hardened my heart" when I'm the one who likes art and music and culture, who can't stand to see an animal or a child mistreated, and who is more sensitive and attentive to the details that so often escape these people? (They want to completely change me and I sometimes think they should try to be like me!;)

   
Quote
Just about the only thing that I am sure of is that I do not know.


I guess I would be fine if we were to all say we don't know. But I tend to say atheist rather than agnostic, being that there would then be an infinite number of things about which I would be an agnostic. (I mean, just how many things don't seem to exist?)

One problem I have is that I am, among many things, a dancer, someone who lives a great deal of her life in silence, someone who is and who does, and here we are, talking.

I am with Voltaire: "Men argue, natural acts." Ultimately, truth is action, not religious theology and not even scientific theory. It drove me nuts when my folks would sit and argue about the Trinity (I'm not kidding) on a beautiful sunny day. Is that not a form of heresy? I love science, but life is to be lived, unless, of course, one thinks that living it up is immoral. (I was even invited to join a Baptist church--can you imagine? I would have to give up dancing. No thanks!;)

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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

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:36   

Wanna know my opinion?
Of course you do! Who wouldn't?

But seriously, folks. If you total up the proportion of any given population that is "racist" based on a survey where you ask them, "Are you a racist?" I'm willing to bet large sums that you're going to get a figure far lower than you'd get by some sneakier but more objective measure. Hey, just ask Michael Richards. Or Mel Gibson.

It's pretty similar with this argument. Ask, "Are you a tolerant, or an intolerant person"? I bet you'll find, at least here in the U.S., we're one heck of a tolerant bunch. But now, ask "Do you think every public schoolchild should begin the day reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance...one nation under God". Weeeellll... that's another matter. When this matter came up in a court case not long ago, not only the President, but I believe 100 out of 100 Senators, and a similar if not identical proportion of Representatives rushed to the nearest microphone to broadcast their outrage that the question should even be asked.

So I take questions like this:
Quote
Is there a major difference between the thought police of religions and the thought police of Atheists?
with a grain of salt.

Actually, the answer to the question is "Yes". One group is numerous, the other is not. One group has the sympathy and tacit approval of the majority, the other does not. While both groups have, theoretically, equal treatment under the Constitution, one group is consistently favored with legalistic legerdemain like "It's not really religion, it's just 'ceremonial Deism'".

I'm going to go way out on a limb here, and boldly declare that, given a choice, I prefer tolerance over intolerance. [applause, applause; thank you, thank you]. But you shouldn't take my word for it. You should look at specifics. It's way too easy to say "I condemn religious bigots, from Pat Robertson to Richard Dawkins."  You need to specify what each of them says that you find so damnable.

I, for one, suspect that the truth (or wisest counsel, as the case may be) is unlikely to the exact midpoint between the two.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:38   

Louis, I hate to say it my good man but this is the biggest load of crap that I've read in a long time.  You respect religious people just as long as they're not religious and they don't have religious beliefs!!!  What utter arrogance!  So now you need thought police in science classes to determine not only what students can regurgitate but also what they think?  All in the name of reason and logic?  Well, my friend, you've fallen in the same trap that Dawkins finds himself.  Reason and logic are not sufficient to answers matters of faith.

The evangelistic atheist not only expresses his lack of belief but also wishes to convert others and in that way he's just another fundamentalist.  Dawkins is not a scientist anymore he's a high priest and he has many acolytes on these boards.  He believes that all religion is a delusion and dangerous.  There's no misinterpretation.  He's just gone one step farther than you, Louis, he has the courage to admit it.

Most of the time I spend on this board I'm amused at the banter and occasional wit but it's discussions such as these that burn me.  So to settle this once and for all and allow us all to get back to our less hostile dialogue, Louis using reason and logic prove to me that God does not exist!

  
Louis



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:45   

Steve,

Quote
Is there a major difference between the thought police of religions and the thought police of Atheists?


No there isn't. That's the point. It's the thought police element that the problem not the window dressing.

The only difference between having a dogmatic religion/ideology and not having a dogmatic religion/ideology when it comes to the thought police type antics is that the former encourages such nonsense, the latter doesn't.

The extremes of religious nuttery are one example of unselfcritical dogmatic faith, there are many others. Look at Stalinist Russia or Lysenko. No god needed, they had ideology enough for ten Osama Bin Ladens! The problem with ideologies like this, and with the big monotheistic religions is that they make a virtue out of uncritical faith. It is GOOD to believe in the absence of evidence, or even contrary to it. Adherence to the party line regardless of anything is a virtue. We don't just see this behaviour in religion, we see it in all walks of life from the "letter of the law" bureaucratic jobsworth to the worst excesses of a racist, seperatist nutter.

The only problem is that religions in general just tend to be the areas of human endeavour where the most extreme examples occur. That's a general tendancy, not an absolutist decrial of all religion. The problem the so called "Chamberlain" bunch are having is that there is a huge social cache attached to religion, we are actively discouraged from criticising it. The idea that there is a funny man in the sky who watches you masturbate doesn't recieve the ridicule it should.

Ah I can here the cries of OUTRAGED THEISTS as I type! "But no one seriously believes the funny man in the sky nonsense, our faith is so much more sophicsticated!". Ok then, I'm more than willing to concede that this is the case. But then, in what is your faith placed, my outraged chum? The wonderful unifying force that pervades the universe? The beauty of nature? Pretty indistinguishable from my atheism (apart from the anthropomorphism). The idea that to have faith is a unifying and joyful thing? Sounds like  faith in faith to me. In fact I've yet to encounter a coherent, novel god concept. And believe me I've looked. A lot!

As for the "do you know how things really are?" stuff. No I don't know, but I have a series of ideas that seem to have some ability to be good models of the universe I and other people see around us. Those models and ideas might be wrong, or need a tweak here or there. Shit probably most of them actually do, and that's my job!

This is Kristine's point, we don't know everything but we do know something and we do know how to find things out to a pretty shocking degree of reliability. Some of our religious chums claim to know it all, some of our religious chums not only claim to know it all but that those who don't know what they claim to should be forcibly made to know it. In America you can be as gay as a treeful of monkies on laughing gas, as black as the ace of spades, shit you can even be female of all things and find little opposition to you holding public office. (This part is humourously phrased). But be an open atheist and you stand little to no chance. And we don't have to go to the US of A to find this sort of bigotry. Look at the shit being thrown at PZ, Dawkins and others all because they have the temerity to call it as it actually is, to point out that the Emperor has no clothes and try to find a suitable tailoring policy.

It's not that atheists like me don't understand religious faith and religious ideas. Not at all. It's that we understand them far too well, we realise that they are a series of ideas in the great human pool of ideas, and not spectacularly good ones. Certainly not deserving of the almost European Common Market style protectionism they receive.

Cheers

Louis

P.S. I love the idea of atheist thought police. I picture the scene very much like Monty Python's Life of Brian:

"Do you lack belief in god or gods?"
"Yes!"
"Oh yeah? How many?"
"All of them!"
"And how much do you lack belief in god or gods?"
"A LOT!".
"Good. You're in!".

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Bye.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:45   

At a guess, I have been to a church aproximately 3 times in the last 5 years. 2 funerals and 1 christening.

I am not arguing the case of God. I am arguing that people should be judged on their actions and not beliefs.

WRT God. TBH, I don't know. But right now I have seen people claim, theist = anti science. That is arant nonsense.

  
guthrie



Posts: 696
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:46   

I cant come up with any particular sensible thing to say about this.
Maybe a short tale from my student days will help:

One saturday morning, I was sitting in the kitchen in our student flat, I think eating breakfast, when one of my flatmates came in with his girlfriend.  (SHe is now his wife, this was ummm 8 years ago)  They proceeded to disgree about something not too important, but they did raise their voices a bit.  Eventually, after I'd heard them go on like this for a while, I tried to point out that they were actually arguing straight past each other due to using different definitions for somehting related to whatever they were arguing about.
They stopped long enough to agree with me, then carried on, partly out of ritual I think, for another minute, then they stopped and left.  

HHMMmm, so maybe the two sides are really going to get married and live happily ever after?  
I doubt it.  But it seems to me that there is a similar amount of talking past each other going on here.  

If I had a week to spare, maybe I could write a dissertation on who started it and what the different strands are, but I dont have the time or the willpower.  
I think in MY ideal world, I would have teleported into the rooms that the people who are involved in this are in, and slugged them with some "perspective juice" to bring them down from their hobby horses.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:50   

Hi again Louis,

I will gladly concede that horrible crimes have been done in the name of religion.

But horrible crimes have been done in the name of Atheism also.

It isn't the belief that is the problem. It is the actions carried out in it's name.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:52   

Skeptic,

I think if you knew the first thing about Dawkins or his writings and opinions you'd know full well he isn't about converting anyone, and neither am I. That Strawkins bloke's a bugger though. When I give half a shit about the opinion of someone, like you, who can neither read for comprehension nor reason their way out of a wet paper bag, I'll let you know. Until then, hush now child. Grown ups are talking.

Louis

P.S. Oh yeah, logic and reason prove god doesn't exist? When the gibbering fuck has anyone claimed that? You can't prove a negative for starters. Add to that the simple fact that as a theist (i.e. proponent of a specifc positive claim) the burden of proof rests on your shoulder, and we see yet again another dishonest theistic attempt to shift the burden of proof away from where it belongs. Wake up and smell your unselfcritical cognitive dissonance.

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:57   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,15:52)
Skeptic,

I think if you knew the first thing about Dawkins...

Have I missed a post? Not seen a post by skeptic

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,15:59   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,10:21)
Let battle commence!

Alas, there no longer is any point to that "battle".

Previously, I fought against the extremist atheist ideologues as best I could, as a matter of political tactics.  They weaken the anti-creationist movement and make it that much harder for us to beat the fundies.

Now, though, the fight is over.  ID is dead, it will never come back, and there's nothing for us to do anymore until the fundies come back, in a few years, with their new release of Creationism 4.0  (whatever the heck they end up calling it).  Indeed, given the thorough trouncing that the fundies took in the last election, I think it will be a LOT of years before they are any sort of serious political threat again.

So there's simply no point any more in arguing tactics.  The fight is over.

I do recognize, of course, that fratricide has ALWAYS been the favorite hobby of the progressive political movement, hence this unending holy war will be . .  well . . . unending.  Fights will be picked over it, friendships will be lost over it, certain people will refuse to enter the same room as others over it, some people will refuse to even work any more with "those people" -- and in the end, it will accomplish nothing.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch. Nada. Nothing.  Nothing at all whatsoever.  (shrug)

Now, pretty much all I'm interested in is getting PZ to stop acting like a dick and allow me to post on his threads again.  (shrug)

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:04   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Nov. 26 2006,11:13)
Personally, as long as the superstitious don't bother me or the education of my children or the law of my country, I don't give a flying fig what they believe.

Herein lies the crux of the matter.

They do.  At least a certain very vocal subset of them do.

THAT is the crux of the matter.

It is indeed a very small subset.  And indeed, most of the theists in the US are helping us *fight against that small subset*.

Do we welcome their help, or do we refuse to associate with people whose religious opinions we don't like.

I welcome their help and am happy to fight alongside them against our mutual enemy.

Others simply can't tolerate having a theist of any sort anywhere within smelling distance.

And that is what the whole "fight" is about.

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:04   

Steve,

Your sort of saying what I am. Two things though:

1)
Quote
But horrible crimes have been done in the name of Atheism also.


Name one.

I've got to be honest, I've seen atrocities a plenty done by people who lack a faith in a god, and thus are atheists, but I know of not one single example of an atrocity done specifically in the "name of atheism" (whatever that is). And don't raise Zombie Stalin from his grave, I've already explained (as have many others) that he was acting in the grip of a dogmatic ideology. The fact that it wasn't a religious ideology is like saying murder done with a sword is worse than murder done with a gun. It's irrelevant window dressing, the murder's the naughty bit.

Atheism isn't a belief system than can have anything done in it's name like, say christianity or communism or national supremacy.

2) Read back over what I said above. It's not the belief in a deity that's necessarily the problem. The problem is that certain ideologies actively discourage critical thought and religions are commonly amongst the worst offenders. That doesn't mean they're the only ones, they're not, see Stalinism, Lysenkoism, Pol Pot etc etc etc. Strong, dogmatic ideologies in which dissent and criticism was verboten.

Louis

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:05   

Kristine,
The idea of meeting loved ones again is a pretty emotional tie for me (it would be nice).
However, oblivion holds no terrors.

As I said before, I do not know.

The main thing that makes me hope God exists is the chance that I will see loved ones again. I know that is week. But what can you do?

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:09   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:04)
Steve,

Your sort of saying what I am. Two things though:

1)  
Quote
But horrible crimes have been done in the name of Atheism also.


Name one.

I wil name 3

Comunist Russia, China and polpot's Cambodia

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:13   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,12:07)
Lenny (that disgusting and despicable believer [cough hack ptooie]) and I seem to agree mightily on a number of key topics, not least the loveliness of reptiles.

I do realize that you're just kidding, but there is a serious point behind that.

I am not a theist.

I do not assert, and do not accept, the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or supernatural entities of any sort whatsoever.  In any way, shape, or form.

It's necessary for me to say that from time to time, since many of the extremist atheist ideologues seem to not only hate theists of any sort, but also hate people who DON'T hate theists (like, uh, me).  Apparently to them a theist is a theist is a theist -- even if they're, uh, not a theist.  To these ideologues, they're all the same thing, and they're *all* the enemy.

(sigh)

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:21   

Could we pretend for a minute that religion did not exist?

Does anyone seriously believe that evil would dissapear? Nationalism could not be used?

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:21   

I'm supposed to be writing a paper instead of blatting my brains out here, and at any rate I can't find the quote I'm looking for,

but somewhere there's an interview with Richard Dawkins in which the reporter asks him straight out if he would enforce atheism onto people or have children be taught pure atheism,

and the reporter says that Dawkins' mouth fell open and he was silent for a moment, and then stammered that he would never advocate such a thing. Dawkins was, according to the reporter, visibly shocked by the idea.

I agree that it wouldn't work, and probably is an abusive idea. (I'm not as nice as Dawkins is.)

But what drives me nuts is what's not done in religion's name, frankly much of the world's recent art, much of the world's science, much of the world's once-heretical ideas and inventions that have become gifts to us.

Religious wars are one thing, but plain old conformity and respectability is another, and to me that's living death.

As for the afterlife, I do admit that I pray a simple prayer every day, and that is, I wish I could be billions of women all at once, at least one for every guy I've ever had a crush on (which is an extensive list!;), past, present, or future.

I don't believe in astrology either but, hey, I'm an Aries, in love with being in love, and none of you are safe, BTW! (Which probably means I'm not going to heaven but if I do, Dembski's going to be really sorry that I did.)

--------------
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:24   

Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 26 2006,14:31)
Fighting with loved ones over religion is just agony.

Tell me about it.  My father was, while I was growing up, a fundamentalist minister for the Nazarene church.  Me, on the other hand, by the time I was 16, I was (1) a Marxist, and (2)  a practitioner of Taoism and Buddhism.

He too gave me the "you're going to ####" speech.  My reply was just to shrug and say "OK, then I'm going to ####".  Eventually he gave up.

My sister, on the other hand, is very active in the UCC church, and is heavily involved in such things as food banks, soup kitchens, free clinics, and such.  The contrast between her and my father could not be more great.

That is why I'm mildly annoyed when I hear the atheist ideologues condemn "religion" as if it were all monolithic, as if *all* "religion" equals "fundamentalist".  Oddly, that is precisely the same argument that the fundies make  -- it always amazes me how utterly alike the extremists on both sides are.  Oddly, too, the atheistic ideologues seem to get all upset whenever I mention that the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge were all, officially, atheists --- then they start jumping up and down about how "they were DIFFERENT from me!!!"  Ironic, huh.

I don't give a flying fig about anyone's religious beliefs.  I care only of someone wants to make the world a better place, or doesn't.  If they do, they're entirely welcome to share my table.  No matter what religion (or lack of it) they hold.

I leave the pointless religious wars to the extremists, who seem to enjoy it.

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:25   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,15:52)
Skeptic,

I think if you knew the first thing about Dawkins or his writings and opinions you'd know full well he isn't about converting anyone, and neither am I. That Strawkins bloke's a bugger though. When I give half a shit about the opinion of someone, like you, who can neither read for comprehension nor reason their way out of a wet paper bag, I'll let you know. Until then, hush now child. Grown ups are talking.

Louis

P.S. Oh yeah, logic and reason prove god doesn't exist? When the gibbering fuck has anyone claimed that? You can't prove a negative for starters. Add to that the simple fact that as a theist (i.e. proponent of a specifc positive claim) the burden of proof rests on your shoulder, and we see yet again another dishonest theistic attempt to shift the burden of proof away from where it belongs. Wake up and smell your unselfcritical cognitive dissonance.

Wrong, Dawkins doesn't write a book claiming that God is a delusion because he has no aspirations about converting others to his point of view.  Watch his debate with Collins and you'll see his hostility on display.  You're in denial.

The burden of proof does not rest upon me because I make no claims.  You, on the other hand, are flaunting your atheistic beliefs and waving them in the face of religious people as evidence of your superiority and I say that is unfounded.  Prove to me that there is no God and then you can make these statements and tell us how stupid believers are.  Otherwise, you're just talking nonsense.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:28   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 26 2006,15:38)
The evangelistic atheist not only expresses his lack of belief but also wishes to convert others and in that way he's just another fundamentalist.  Dawkins is not a scientist anymore he's a high priest and he has many acolytes on these boards.  He believes that all religion is a delusion and dangerous.  There's no misinterpretation.

Shockingly, I think Skeptic is right when he says this.


After that, alas, he just goes right back into "fundie mode" and becomes just as intolerant and priest-y as every OTHER fundie is.  (shrug)

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:35   

I am losing the plot here.

I am not really a fundy. Neither am I an Atheist. Just confused would be the best description of me.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:38   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 26 2006,16:25)
Wrong, Dawkins doesn't write a book claiming that God is a delusion because he has no aspirations about converting others to his point of view.  Watch his debate with Collins and you'll see his hostility on display.

Shockingly enough, I agree with Skeptic once again when he says this.

Shockingly enough, Skeptic is just as much an ideologue and evangelist as Dawkins is.  Both are convinced that their religious opinions are correct, both of them want to assert that "science" supports their religious  opinions, and neither seem willing to rest until everyone ELSE accepts that their religious opinions are correct too.

Under the feathers, they're both the same bird.  (shrug)

Dawkins disappoints me.  He is one of the leading spokesmen for science, and could do a world of good explaining science and exposing people to it who otherwise would pay no attention to it.  And instead, he wastes his position on sterile pointless unwinnable arguments over whose religious opinions are right.  (sigh)

What a waste.

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:40   

1 thing I do hate though. Is when an atheist claims science to be on their side and anyone else is irational.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:43   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 26 2006,16:28)
After that, alas, he just goes right back into "fundie mode" and becomes just as intolerant and priest-y as every OTHER fundie is.  (shrug)

I'm not sure what you're referring to here.

Ah, I see.  Sometimes I only get one line of a post, slow server I guess.

Anyway, before I am mischaracterized too much.  I accept no support for religion from science nor do I believe that science can make claims about religion.  Gould and I are of one mind on this topic, religion and science exist in two completely incompatible spheres of human knowledge.

I've always been amused that because I have problems with ToE it has been widely assumed that I'm a religious fundamentalists trying to push my religion beliefs on young school children.  No one of any education and rational thought could possibly disagree with ToE, right?  Dawkins makes a very similar statement when he assumes that proper education of children in logic and rational thought would do any with these superstitions called religion.  Kristine, I think I recall the quote you're referring to but what Dawkins recoils from is the forced instruction of children.  He still believes that the result of such instruction would be non-religious communities and in his eyes that is an improvement.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:45   

Hi Lenny,

I was eagerly anticipating your arrival. Good to have you.

This fight is indeed pointless, and indeed is yet again the standard fratricide of the progressive bunch. Hey we're argumentative fuckers, when our chew toy is bust we get all nasty until a new one shows up.

However, THE fight isn't over outside of the US. Granted the US fundies have taken a whopping great beating but things like ID appeal to (for example) the vague deistic agnosticism of the UK, it needs combatting wherever it raises it's silly head.

Another however is this:

Quote
Do we welcome their help, or do we refuse to associate with people whose religious opinions we don't like.

I welcome their help and am happy to fight alongside them against our mutual enemy.

Others simply can't tolerate having a theist of any sort anywhere within smelling distance.


I couldn't disagree more strongly with this mischaracterisation of the PZ stance. PZ and I and many others are more than happy to admit that the enemy of my enemy is a potential friend. I agree that admitting that one can be a scientist and a religious person is no problem, and I agree that there are a LOT more religious people than atheists and that our fight against fundies needs these allies.

Take all of that as a given. What I and PZ and many others take massive issue with is the sweeping under the carpet of the simple fact that these people's religious ideas have no evidenciary basis, and thus as you are fond of saying are no more right and true than my religious ideas, yours, or your pizza boy's.

Reason is anathema to faith. Period. End of story. Does that mean that people cannot use both? No. Does that mean that people with faith are not reasonable, cannot use reason or are dumb? No. What it does mean is that the process of reason directly contradicts ideas based on faith alone. Is this a problem? No, not really, and at the same time, yes. It depends how we act (and this is where the other aspect of this pointless scrap comes in).

I think a great example of this was mentioned by the Dalai Lama. When asked if some aspect of science demonstrated the falsity of some aspect of Tibetan Buddhism would Tibetan Buddhism change, he answered yes. When asked if it were a really critical tenet of the faith like reincarnation The Dalai Lama replied, yes even then. But with a twinkle in his eye he said that it's going to be hard to disprove reincarnation! The Dalai Lama and I (and PZ I'm certain) have no reason for conflict on this issue.

The only problem with an alliance with moderate religious people is in how we do it. If we do it in a "on many things we disagree, but on this we agree" manner, then you won't hear a peep of disagreement from me or anyone else. I am more than capable of agreeing on one issue with someone and disagreeing with them on another.

If we do it in the false way "come in come in, science and reason are no threat to your faith, ignore those nasty atheists" then I have a problem. Faith that the world is flat (a nice noncontroversial example) will never, ever be a scientifically supported idea again, nor one based on any form of reason at all. If you believe that the earth is flat, science is not going to be your buddy. Therein lies the problem, unless we are open and honest about this aspect of our alliance we are storing up problems for the future. It's sweet fuck all to do with not being able to tolerate even the smell of a theist near by. It's about intellectual honesty.

I have no problems with anyone believing as they will, but claiming it to be true without basis, and attempting to make everyone else believe it is a different issue as I know you agree. If every religious person shared your tolerant attitude to differing faith opinions this conversation wouldn't be happening. I mentioned earlier that in the US and elsewhere being openly atheist is tantamount to electoral suicide. This is not being accomplished by a vocal minority, but by a substantial and misguided majority. It's THIS that garners the Chamberlain epithet, not the working with theists.

Only a total idiot thinks that not working hand in hand on an issue about which so many people agree regardless of other disagreements is a bad idea. I don't think I've seen PZ, Dawkins or anyone advocate such asinine nonsense. Nor have I seen any of the Chamberlain group advocate rolling over and letting the theists rub our bellies whilst we purr. The thing that frustrates me is the talking past each other and the pointless hostility.

A little exercise I did a while ago was to replace the word "atheist" with the word "black" in some of the arguments (and all the appropriate terms with their appropriate counterparts) it was pretty conclusive.

I suggest you, and everyone else, do this exercise. Because I see vast tracts of agreement between both camps, I really don't understand for example why you and PZ have such a massive issue, because you both appear to be mostly making excellent and accurate points that aren't mutually contradictory in any way.

Hey, but what do I know. I just want this fratricide to stop, which was the purpose of setting up this thread, so I could see if I could help in some way. I probably won't be able to, but I'd like to try.

Louis

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,16:55   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
The only problem with an alliance with moderate religious people is in how we do it. If we do it in a "on many things we disagree, but on this we agree" manner, then you won't hear a peep of disagreement from me or anyone else. I am more than capable of agreeing on one issue with someone and disagreeing with them on another.

If we do it in the false way "come in come in, science and reason are no threat to your faith, ignore those nasty atheists" then I have a problem.

Fine.  Me, I think capitalists are full of shit, and I see no reason why in the US, criticism of capitalism is not allowed. (shrug)  But that doesn't mean that I harangue every businessperson who sits next to me at an environmentalist meeting or an anti-ID meeting.

What's the point to picking fights with your allies, over issues that have nothing to do with what we are fighting together against?

Sure, I have every right -- legal, moral, ethical -- to criticize capitalists right there in front of the whole entire Greenpeace meeting, just as PZ and the others have every right  -- moral, ethical and legal -- to stand up in front of the anti-ID meeting and yell "RELIGION IS STUPID !!!!" at all the theists sitting there.

But why on earth would I *want* to do something so stupid and counterproductive?  How on earth does it help us beat whomever it is that we're fighting?

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:00   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
Reason is anathema to faith. Period. End of story. Does that mean that people cannot use both? No. Does that mean that people with faith are not reasonable, cannot use reason or are dumb? No. What it does mean is that the process of reason directly contradicts ideas based on faith alone. Is this a problem? No, not really, and at the same time, yes. It depends how we act (and this is where the other aspect of this pointless scrap comes in).

This is the nonsense that I'm talking about.  How does Reason have anything at all to say about God?  You have no credibility with statements such as this unless you can back it up and I tell you right now that you can not.  Greater minds than yours or mine have struggled with it for centuries and have come up empty.  But feel free to try...

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:03   

LMFAO

And as I predicted not one of my current "critics" has read what I have actually written! Stop trying to talk past me and deal with what I have written, not the strawman version. You are missing just how much we agree.

Skeptic:

All religious people are stupid? I have not said that, I will never say that, I don't think that. Read what is written not your strawman version of it in your head. There has been no expression of superiority at all, mainly because I don't claim it, don't think it, and in no way believe it. Try to read for comprehenision.

Lenny and Skeptic:

Read the fucking book! Read it, honestly I have and NONE of the distortions you are making exist. I have seen the Collins argument also, and got an entirely different point from it. Dawkins really isn't the monster people pretend he is. Strawkins on the other hand is a total bastard.

When RD published the Selfish Gene he got a whole slew of criticism and argumentation about the fact that genes aren't selfish. The title is not the whole book. Deal with the arguments he actually makes, not your strawmen versions of them.

Oh and Lenny, I know you are not a theist. That was the joke. There really is no hostility to believers on my part, none at all as indeed anyone who knows me (or can read! Oh that's a cheap joke, sorry! ) will tell you. I have no hate in me at all, it seems like such a waste of effort! I don't hate theists, not even a little bit. My comment was a caricature of a brush I am being wrongly tarred with. You don't need to remind me of your lack of belief in a deity because it is identical to my own. You have some spiritual and religious beliefs I lack, but so what? It's the VAST areas of common ground I wish to focus on, not these undemonstrable areas on which we really don't have anything to talk about other than to take a polite interest.

Stephen:

Be it RD, PZ, me, whoever not one of us claims that atheism has science on its side. It doesn't. Atheism is a lack of belief in god or gods, nothing more. Science has yet to discover any evidence of any gods proposed by humanity throughout history. So what? Science didn't have any evidence of black holes until relatively recently, does that mean they didn't exist until we got some data? Nope.

What we can say (which is a very important distinction) is that there is no scientific basis for the god hypothesis. There isn't. So what?  If anyone wants to believe it that's really up to them. If they want to claim there is a scientific basis that's a different bag.

The same goes for reason and rational thought. These are very specific philosophical terms. Rational doesn't mean JUST what it colloquially means, nor does irrational. Faith is irrational in philosophical terms, it could be perfectly rational in colloquial terms. Religious people are no more or less irrational in the colloquial sense than are other people. But the very process of faith and belief and revelation are, epistemologically speaking, irrational. I.e. not based on reason. This distinction is not made enough and is the cause of much conflict.

Cheers

Louis

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:05   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
I mentioned earlier that in the US and elsewhere being openly atheist is tantamount to electoral suicide. This is not being accomplished by a vocal minority, but by a substantial and misguided majority. It's THIS that garners the Chamberlain epithet, not the working with theists.

Alas, that is a different fight, and the anti-creationism movement is not the place to fight it.  Just as my anti-capitalist fight is a different fight, and the anti-creationism movement is not the place to fight it.

If y'all want to form a National Association for the Advancement of Atheist People, or a National Organization for Atheists, or whatever, count me in.  But in the meantime, bitching at anti-creationist theists about it, won't help you. Don't drag your fight into my fight.  There's no point to it, and it doesn't help either one of us.

By the way, when it comes to political ostracism and social disavowal, there's not very much that you can teach a Marxist about that.  I've been arrested, beaten up, tear-gassed, and visited by the FBI.  

I doubt very many atheists have been.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:15   

Louis, I'm reading what you've written and hearing what you've said and you're talking out of both sides of your mouth.  Maybe you don't even know you're doing it.  A comment about the scientific basis of the God hypothesis really demonstrates your lack of understanding.

As for Dawkins, I think you just see what you want to.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:24   

Quote
What's the point to picking fights with your allies, over issues that have nothing to do with what we are fighting together against?

Sure, I have every right -- legal, moral, ethical -- to criticize capitalists right there in front of the whole entire Greenpeace meeting, just as PZ and the others have every right  -- moral, ethical and legal -- to stand up in front of the anti-ID meeting and yell "RELIGION IS STUPID !!!!" at all the theists sitting there.

But why on earth would I *want* to do something so stupid and counterproductive?  How on earth does it help us beat whomever it is that we're fighting?


Ah Lenny! This is the whole point. PZ and others are NOT saying "RELIGION IS STUPID", expressedly not. Nor are they advocating the harranguing of every theist in the vicinity. Nor am I! This is the strawman of which I spoke.

The Chamberlain people ARE saying "Ignore the scary atheists, they aren't important". That is the issue PZ and others have. Possibly we need to be less scary and atheist about it, but I don't think you cure racism by painting black people white. It isn't the atheist minority having such a hard time accepting the religious majority, it is very very much the other way around.

All PZ and I and many other are saying is that IF you are going to have to lie about the consequences and implications of scientific thought, reason etc on certain types of ideas in order to encourage participation against the worst excesses of certain groups, then we are shooting ourselves in the feet. We are encouraging those extreme groups my failing to deal with what made them extreme in the first place. By the way, before I am misunderstood AGAIN, this isn't religion, it's dogmatism and unselfcritical examination. If you teach people that all their ideas will be supported always then don't be shocked when some of them have nasty ideas. You don't discourage racism by showing the racists the friendly slightly differently coloured people and pushing the really differently coloured people behind a curtain. Atheists are just as much part of the fight against creationism as are theists and we don't like being abused and patronised any more than anyone else.

Personally I'd add that were I a religious person, I'd be pretty insulted that all these patronising appeasers were trying to hide the consequences of reason from me. But that's a different story.

Louis

P.S. Skeptic. Wow you really do exhibit a whole world of dumb don't you? Reason has nothing to say about god does it? Ok then, which god? If I claim that my god is a pink elephant named Cyril sat in my lap and has attributes A, B and C and no such attributes are detected, what does that say about Cyril? Does it say he doesn't exist? Nope. Does it say he is highly unlikely to exist based on the given definition of him? Yup. See the distinction? I doubt it. Icthyic is right, you ARE an obliviot. ONE single god concept has not been proposed. Humanity has come up with myriad god concepts with myriad attributes. To date not a single solitary one of those claims has EVER stood up to scrutiny. This says nothing about the existance of all possible gods, but it says something about the existance of those specific gods. If you wish to believe in an as yet untested (or perhaps untestable) god concept then go right ahead with my blessing. Just don't claim it's based on reason because it isn't and have the humility to appreciate that your belief is as valid as anyone else's lack of belief or different, equally unsupported/unsupportable belief. Also I note you have not refuted, rebutted or dealt in any way with ONE single point I have made. You've merely been resorting to abuse. So fragile your petty little faith is. You have both my contempt and my pity.

P.P.S. Stephen, didn't I already mention Pol Pot, Stalin and chums.

Lordy Lordy people, I love you all like the virtual electronic brothers I never had, but do me the fucking courtesy of reading what I actually write and responding to it based on some modicum of actual comprehension!

And with that I'm off to bed, worky poos in the morning!

P.P.P.S. Oh bugger! Lenny, I actually agree to an extent. The problem being that it wasn't me who brought the "atheist activism" issue up.It was our good friends the Chamberlain group. They are the ones telling us to ignore the nasty atheists, they are the ones bringing it into anticreationism. I and others are perfectly content with the "On THIS we agree, regardless of other disagreements" aspect of our interaction. In fact I see it as the only possible productive way to operate. Oh and by the way, I agree entirely with your comments about Marxists in the USA. There really is nothing an atheist can teach you guys about persecution and I wouldn't try to do so. Imagine for a second if in the anticreationist debate there were a section of people who, when faced with the "evolution leads to communism" claim (which we both have seen) said "oh yes there are communist evolutionists like Gould, but don't worry about them, come in and ignore the nasty commies.". I think you'd be pretty pissed off at the irrelevance of such an appeasement and the fact that some thought it necessary. I'd be stood right by you, shoulder to shoulder, fighting it too.

P.P.P.P.S. Skeptic. Talking out of both sides of my mouth? How so, do prove me doing this, rather than, ya know making unsupported assertions and insults and not following arguments or reading for comprehension. I'd be glad of the change.

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:44   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,17:24)
Ah Lenny! This is the whole point. PZ and others are NOT saying "RELIGION IS STUPID", expressedly not.

Baloney.


And in any case, that doesn't change the fact that the anti-ID movement is not the place for atheists to argue religion with theists.

It doesn't help anyone.  Least of all the atheists.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:49   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,17:24)
P.S. Skeptic. Wow you really do exhibit a whole world of dumb don't you? Reason has nothing to say about god does it? Ok then, which god? If I claim that my god is a pink elephant named Cyril sat in my lap and has attributes A, B and C and no such attributes are detected, what does that say about Cyril? Does it say he doesn't exist? Nope. Does it say he is highly unlikely to exist based on the given definition of him? Yup. See the distinction? I doubt it. Icthyic is right, you ARE an obliviot. ONE single god concept has not been proposed. Humanity has come up with myriad god concepts with myriad attributes. To date not a single solitary one of those claims has EVER stood up to scrutiny. This says nothing about the existance of all possible gods, but it says something about the existance of those specific gods. If you wish to believe in an as yet untested (or perhaps untestable) god concept then go right ahead with my blessing. Just don't claim it's based on reason because it isn't and have the humility to appreciate that your belief is as valid as anyone else's lack of belief or different, equally unsupported/unsupportable belief. Also I note you have not refuted, rebutted or dealt in any way with ONE single point I have made. You've merely been resorting to abuse. So fragile your petty little faith is. You have both my contempt and my pity.

Assessing the existence of God using scientific means is about as useful as measuring the speed of a bowling ball with a slingshot.  The fact that you keep referencing no valid scientific proof is a sign of your limitations.  

Just a quick lesson for you, science is based upon human knowledge and human knowledge is limited by our senses and experience.  Faith relies upon something beyond our senses and experience.  So how do we measure, observe or test something beyond the reaches of our science?  While you're working on that one consider these?

Was Christ resurrected?
Did Mohammad take the Midnight Ride?
Did Moses part the Red Sea?

Human knowledge tells me that those events (in general) are not possible but did those specific events happen?  No answer to that one, huh?  Are those events mutually exclusive?  That's a tough one too.  What is are three of those are false, does that have any impact upon the existence of God?

The problem is these questions are beyond you.  You have decided that there is no God because you can not measure him.  The problem is you lack the instruments to make that measurement.

So you want to fail students who take biology courses but continue to believe in creation.  So at the completion of an examination of biology students should convert to atheism or fail?  That is what you are saying whether you know it or not.  Pity and contempt, huh?  Now I'm amused again.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:54   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,17:24)
It isn't the atheist minority having such a hard time accepting the religious majority, it is very very much the other way around.

In all my years on PT and various other anti-ID sites, I have never, ever, not even once, ever see any science-supporting theist criticize or reject anyone at all whatsoever for their atheism.  Never.  If anyone can cite an instance of such, I'd very much like to see it.

But I long ago lost count of how many of the rabid atheist ideologues felt it their divine duty to harangue the science-supporting theists because of their "irrational theism".  

Every single instance I have seen of "having a hard time accepting" has come from just one side.  Just one.  Indeed, in nearly every case that I've seen, it is the same four or five people who "have a hard time accepting" and who seem eager to pipe up with "religion is stupid !!!!" and thus start a fight over it.  Every time.

And if that is NOT the message that the evangelical atheists want everyone to carry away, then perhaps they should consider for a moment why everyone DOES carry that message away. Either (1) the evangelical atheists are kidding themselves about what their motives are, or (2) they are doing a piss-poor job of expressing and explaining those motives to everyone else.

In either case, rather than weeping and whining about how "everyone misunderstands us  boo hoo hoo", they should take a look or ten at what they are saying and how they are saying it, and make a few attitude adjustments as necessary.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:59   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,17:24)
The Chamberlain people ARE saying "Ignore the scary atheists, they aren't important".

No one is telling anyone to "ignore the scary atheists".

What we're telling everyone is "We're here to fight ID.  If you're here to fight something else (like, say, theism), then go fight it elsewhere. This ain't the place for it."

Were I to start haranguing all the capitalists, they'd tell me the very same thing.

And they'd be entirely correct to do so.

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,17:59   

Quote
PZ and others are NOT saying "RELIGION IS STUPID", expressedly not.


Oh, come on. He has and I have too. If you check Pharyngula for my comments you'll see I'm vehemently against religion. When I am, I'm arguing my point against another's point. A point is not a person. It's not a personal condemnation. I don't get religion--I have never gotten it--and I admit it.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:00   

Lenny, excellent post.  I couldn't agree more.  The only times I get really offended is when individuals attempt to use science for their own agenda.  With that, I will resign and let greater minds continue this discussion.

  
mcc



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:03   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
This fight is indeed pointless, and indeed is yet again the standard fratricide of the progressive bunch. Hey we're argumentative fuckers, when our chew toy is bust we get all nasty until a new one shows up.

I don't really think it has anything to do with progressives. I think there's just a tendency of people in general being unable to discuss religion in a reasonable manner.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:07   

Skeptic,

This shows just how much you simply don't get anything I've said:

Quote
at the completion of an examination of biology students should convert to atheism or fail? That is what you are saying whether you know it or not


No no no no no no no no no no no. The opposite of creationism is not atheism. Creationism is a specific set of claims based on a specific religious belief (not all religious people are creationists, all creationists are religious). They are real world claims about the mechanisms and operation of the universe. They are claims that are open to falsification on the basis of evidence. They have also already been falsified. The world, for example, is not 6000 years old, based on the available evidence. If a student's understanding of biology is so poor at the end of X amount of time's study that they consider the creationist claims as valid as those advanced and supported by scientific evidence then they are not doing science at all. Therefore they have failed any scientific undertaking based in that field. They may be excellent engineers, physicists mathematicians or whatever, but they are not excellent biologists, they are failed biologists. They can believe in as many and as varied a series of gods as they like, but to hold to specific creationist ideas in the face of the overwhelming evidence is NOT SCIENCE. Get it? Again I doubt it.

As for Moses, Muhammed, and Jesus' antics, no, as far as can be told they never happened, nor is there any good or rational reason to expect they did. They are stories in an old book and the only reason people choose to beleive them to be true is that they are tied in with a whole swathe of other beliefs.

As for your gross misunderstanding of my point (AGAIN) no I am not saying that god doesn't exist because I can't measure it. I am saying that when anyone has proposed a god it has in some fashion been measurable. When such things have been measured they have been found to be non existant. I notice you skipped over Cyril. Naughty naughty. If someone proposes a god that is utterly unmeasurable in any sense, then how is that a) different from total fantasy and on what basis, and b) any more real than any other unmeasurable proposition.

Forgive me if I tire rapidly of trying to educate you in the very basics of epistemology.

Louis

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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:18   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
Hey, but what do I know. I just want this fratricide to stop

Alas, it won't.  Ever.  It is, at root, quite literally a religious argument over two differing religious opinions.  It will never end.

The best we can do is kick it outside the bar to let the participants brawl on the street if they want to, while the rest of us go about the real business of focusing on fighting the IDers.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:26   

Lenny,

Some excellent points.

Quote
In all my years on PT and various other anti-ID sites, I have never, ever, not even once, ever see any science-supporting theist criticize or reject anyone at all whatsoever for their atheism.  Never.  If anyone can cite an instance of such, I'd very much like to see it.

But I long ago lost count of how many of the rabid atheist ideologues felt it their divine duty to harangue the science-supporting theists because of their "irrational theism".


I agree almost entirely. Too many dumb atheists giving us all a bad name, I've met 'em myself.

The bit that does concern me is the standard "evolution = atheism" boilerplate we get. Shit Skeptic has just rehashed it for us on this very page. Evolution =/= atheism is a point that's been made a bunch of times quite correctly. Science =/= atheism also good. Claims that god(s) exist(s) are supported by reason and that science reinforces and proves the existance of god(s) are a different bag. Unless of course someone has found peskily elusive rational, evidence based proof of god whilst I wasn't looking!

The rational, reasoned, scientific evidence simply doesn't show the existance of god or gods. End of story. It might do so tomorrow, but it doesn't today. This DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD(S) DO NOT EXIST. (I'm saying this out loud for Skeptic's benefit, I know you already know this). This simply means that there is no rational (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning), reasoned (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning) scientific basis for accepting the veracity of the god hypothesis.

One can accept the veracity of the god hypothesis on a number of other bases, just not a scientific or rational (TECHNICAL!!!! ) one. The Chamberlain camp want to hide the fact that, if one follows the available scientific evidence, then there is no scientific reason to accept the god hypothesis, because they think this scares off the fragile little theists. Personally I think this is wrong, I think the theists are made of sterner stuff, and I think that the whole point of religious faith is that it isn't based on a rational (technical!!!! Have I made this point clearly enough yet?) assessment of the available evidence.

Quote
And if that is NOT the message that the evangelical atheists want everyone to carry away, then perhaps they should consider for a moment why everyone DOES carry that message away. Either (1) the evangelical atheists are kidding themselves about what their motives are, or (2) they are doing a piss-poor job of expressing and explaining those motives to everyone else.

In either case, rather than weeping and whining about how "everyone misunderstands us  boo hoo hoo", they should take a look or ten at what they are saying and how they are saying it, and make a few attitude adjustments as necessary.


I agree, and dare I say a similarly self critical mirror should be held up to the "misunderstanders" too? Perhaps they are reading into the "evangelical atheist's"  words what they want to be there on occasion. Just as on occasion the "evangelical atheists" commit the PR fuck up of the century.

[QUOTE]The Chamberlain people ARE saying "Ignore the scary atheists, they aren't important".

No one is telling anyone to "ignore the scary atheists".[?QUOTE]

Wrong. Read Collins, Brayton, Matzke et all. All guys with whom I agree hugely on many many things. All guys I have a huge amount of respect for. On this I disagree however.

Quote
What we're telling everyone is "We're here to fight ID.  If you're here to fight something else (like, say, theism), then go fight it elsewhere. This ain't the place for it."

Were I to start haranguing all the capitalists, they'd tell me the very same thing.

And they'd be entirely correct to do so.


And as I said before, I agree entirely.

Louis

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:30   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,18:07)
Skeptic,

This shows just how much you simply don't get anything I've said:

Quote
at the completion of an examination of biology students should convert to atheism or fail? That is what you are saying whether you know it or not


No no no no no no no no no no no. The opposite of creationism is not atheism. Creationism is a specific set of claims based on a specific religious belief (not all religious people are creationists, all creationists are religious). They are real world claims about the mechanisms and operation of the universe. They are claims that are open to falsification on the basis of evidence. They have also already been falsified. The world, for example, is not 6000 years old, based on the available evidence. If a student's understanding of biology is so poor at the end of X amount of time's study that they consider the creationist claims as valid as those advanced and supported by scientific evidence then they are not doing science at all. Therefore they have failed any scientific undertaking based in that field. They may be excellent engineers, physicists mathematicians or whatever, but they are not excellent biologists, they are failed biologists. They can believe in as many and as varied a series of gods as they like, but to hold to specific creationist ideas in the face of the overwhelming evidence is NOT SCIENCE. Get it? Again I doubt it.

As for Moses, Muhammed, and Jesus' antics, no, as far as can be told they never happened, nor is there any good or rational reason to expect they did. They are stories in an old book and the only reason people choose to beleive them to be true is that they are tied in with a whole swathe of other beliefs.

As for your gross misunderstanding of my point (AGAIN) no I am not saying that god doesn't exist because I can't measure it. I am saying that when anyone has proposed a god it has in some fashion been measurable. When such things have been measured they have been found to be non existant. I notice you skipped over Cyril. Naughty naughty. If someone proposes a god that is utterly unmeasurable in any sense, then how is that a) different from total fantasy and on what basis, and b) any more real than any other unmeasurable proposition.

Forgive me if I tire rapidly of trying to educate you in the very basics of epistemology.

Louis

It's like gravity in here...

Anyway, all religious people are essentially creationists as some God or another is the First Cause.  YECs are a specific case which by inference you associate with all religious people.

The three events I mentioned you say never happened.  How do you know?  Is it because there is no evidence to support the occurance of these events?  Are you sure?  It is more accurate to say that you do not know if these events happened than to say that these events did not happen unless you are proven otherwise.  Do you understand the difference?

As for your little monkey, again there is no relation between your monkey and the existence of God.  A, B, and C may all be proven wrong and you might admit that you made him up and still that has no relavance in this discussion.  You comment about epistemology and yet you demonstrate no understanding of the study.

God, the First Cause, Supreme Being, etc are beyond measure, utterly unmeasurable as you say.  That may be offensive to you but your denial doesn't change it.  The basis of belief is not testable so to invoke science as proof is foolish.  You will continue to look foolish as long as you do so.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:34   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,18:26)
One can accept the veracity of the god hypothesis on a number of other bases, just not a scientific or rational (TECHNICAL!!!! ) one.

Perhaps, perhaps not.  People have been arguing that for thousands of years, and will continue to argue it for thousand of more years.

But the middle of the ID fight is not the place to argue over it.  (shrug)

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:40   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,18:26)
The rational, reasoned, scientific evidence simply doesn't show the existance of god or gods. End of story. It might do so tomorrow, but it doesn't today. This DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD(S) DO NOT EXIST. (I'm saying this out loud for Skeptic's benefit, I know you already know this). This simply means that there is no rational (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning), reasoned (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning) scientific basis for accepting the veracity of the god hypothesis.

One can accept the veracity of the god hypothesis on a number of other bases, just not a scientific or rational (TECHNICAL!!!! ) one. The Chamberlain camp want to hide the fact that, if one follows the available scientific evidence, then there is no scientific reason to accept the god hypothesis, because they think this scares off the fragile little theists. Personally I think this is wrong, I think the theists are made of sterner stuff, and I think that the whole point of religious faith is that it isn't based on a rational (technical!!!! Have I made this point clearly enough yet?) assessment of the available evidence.

I guess you just fail to understand what you are saying.  Scientific evidence has standing in the discussion of the existance of God.  It is not even a valid statement.  Think of using a thermometer to measure rainfall.  It is an error to say that it didn't rain because the mercury didn't move.  You can yell all you like but you're still missing the point.

  
PennyBright



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,18:47   

I actually think that "Ignore the nasty atheists"  might be a #### fine tactic.  Emphasis on the "nasty" - most atheists aren't.   Y'all have your fair share of total jerks, just like every other group out there.

If someone I am trying to talk to or work with on anti-creationism/pro-science issues starts railing at me for being (dumb/stupid/irrational/whatever) solely because I'm religious,  I think ignoring them would work well --  there just aren't that many "nasty atheists"  out there.  Ignoring them - even if I ignored every single one -  won't damage me (or the pro-science movement as a whole) one #### bit.

Vocally abusive anti-religionists are, like religious extremists,  a minority.  Unless they, like the religious extremists,  start demanding that the government advocate their POV, ignoring them is perfectly safe.  I'd love to be able to ignore the religious fundies as well, but they just can't seem to be persuaded to keep their hands off the government, and I'm afraid they'll break it if left unsupervised.

Just to be clear - the great majority of atheists are *not*   "nasty atheists".  Even many vocal anti-religionists that I know are able to express their perspectives clearly and politely without resorting to personal attacks.  I enjoy and appreciate knowing such people and being able to talk with them about what they believe, don't believe and why.  

As for the nasties,  I say  ignore them.   If they can't play well with others, then lets not bother to include them at all.


Edit:  I just took a look at this post,  and I cannot begin to describe how deeply it amuses me to see the word d__mn being auto-censored by this thorougly secular site.

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,19:35   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 26 2006,15:38)
Louis, I hate to say it my good man but this is the biggest load of crap that I've read in a long time.  You respect religious people just as long as they're not religious and they don't have religious beliefs!!!  What utter arrogance!  So now you need thought police in science classes to determine not only what students can regurgitate but also what they think?  All in the name of reason and logic?  Well, my friend, you've fallen in the same trap that Dawkins finds himself.  Reason and logic are not sufficient to answers matters of faith.

The evangelistic atheist not only expresses his lack of belief but also wishes to convert others and in that way he's just another fundamentalist.  Dawkins is not a scientist anymore he's a high priest and he has many acolytes on these boards.  He believes that all religion is a delusion and dangerous.  There's no misinterpretation.  He's just gone one step farther than you, Louis, he has the courage to admit it.

Most of the time I spend on this board I'm amused at the banter and occasional wit but it's discussions such as these that burn me.  So to settle this once and for all and allow us all to get back to our less hostile dialogue, Louis using reason and logic prove to me that God does not exist!

Gotta say, I'm with Skeptic here. I don't respect religious people. I want to but they keep allowing themselves to be duped and then run out proclaiming their new truths just like a gossip. With similarly deleterious effects.

Exploration of consciousness-Fine. Sense of wonder and humility-Fine. Belief that you can know something of the "mind" of god- Not fine. Not, that is, if you can not show why. Religion like what mystics do is kind of ok but when there are truths told, not cool. Preachers are the result. And preachers preseve the lies and intentional falsehoods.

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Look what it's done so far

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ericmurphy



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,20:21   

The only real problem I have with religion is that most followers of religion believe that their worldview is the only correct one. Most religions (at least most Western religions) seem to pretty much demand that stance.

A consequence of that belief is that, necessarily, everyone (like me) who subscribes to a different worldview must necessarily be wrong.

Now, I don't particularly mind if someone thinks I'm wrong about something. It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about something. But this need to correct my worldview is where I run into problems with religious people. I frankly couldn't care less (my arguments with AF Dave notwithstanding) if a religious person thinks God created the universe 6,000 years ago, a global flood wiped out almost all living creatures 4,500 years ago, and that God personally cares whether I masturbate or not. That's fine; they're certainly entitled to whatever goofy beliefs they want to have.

But when they try to enforce that belief system on me (and by extension, the rest of whatever society they happen to live in), that's where the sparks fly. The only reason Intelligent Design was ever a problem was because it was an attempt to circumvent the courts and get the fundamentalist Christian worldview forced down the throats of unwitting schoolchildren.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,20:31   

Eric, I agree but I'm inclined to also agree with an earlier post, Lenny I believe, that this dicotomy is not confined just to religion.  Is it possible for Marxism and Capitalism to peacably coexist?  

Any time a person takes a stand on an issue they eliminate other choices as possibilities.  If I say McDonald's has the best fries then it becomes impossible for Wendy's or Burger King to have the best fries, in this worldview.  

It could be more a consequence of human nature than religion.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,20:49   

Quote (ericmurphy @ Nov. 26 2006,20:21)
I frankly couldn't care less (my arguments with AF Dave notwithstanding) if a religious person thinks God created the universe 6,000 years ago, a global flood wiped out almost all living creatures 4,500 years ago, and that God personally cares whether I masturbate or not. That's fine; they're certainly entitled to whatever goofy beliefs they want to have.

But when they try to enforce that belief system on me (and by extension, the rest of whatever society they happen to live in), that's where the sparks fly.

But then, most religious people DON'T believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, or that a global flood wiped out most life, or even that God cares whether you jerk off.  Indeed, most religious people are out there, along with us, FIGHTING AGAINST the people who believe that.

As I said before, too many of us don't know who our enemy is, and more importantly, who our enemy AIN'T.

Believe it or not, not all religious people are fundies.  Most religious people, indeed, think the fundies are nuts.

They stand with us in fighting the fundies.  I welcome their help.  We will not win without it.

That whole "a theist is a theist is a theist, and they're all our enemy" thingie, is the root cause of this whole stupid "debate".

People who support ID, are our enemy.
People who don't, aren't.

It really is that simple.

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Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
ericmurphy



Posts: 2460
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,20:54   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 26 2006,20:31)
Eric, I agree but I'm inclined to also agree with an earlier post, Lenny I believe, that this dicotomy is not confined just to religion.  Is it possible for Marxism and Capitalism to peacably coexist?
 
It's possible, sure. Why not? If some little country takes a vote, and everyone there wants to live as Marxists, is there some reason all the capitalists should be alarmed? Why?

Even if that Marxist country is forcibly Marxist (i.e., against the will of the inhabitants), that's surely a shame, but unless said country wants to start exporting its Marxism to other countries that would prefer not to be Marxists, it's still not a problem. In other words, there's no reason in principle why Marxism and Capitalism need to be at each other's throats, any more than theists and atheists need be at each other's throats. That it rarely happens that way is not evidence to the contrary.
Quote
Any time a person takes a stand on an issue they eliminate other choices as possibilities.  If I say McDonald's has the best fries then it becomes impossible for Wendy's or Burger King to have the best fries, in this worldview.

Really? I think the Sex Pistols are better than the Clash. Does that somehow imply that everyone who thinks t'other way around must be forcibly re-educated to my point of view? Is there some reason a personal preference must be forced on everyone else? What would that reason be?  
Quote
It could be more a consequence of human nature than religion.

My point is not that there's something inherent in religion that makes people who believe want to enforce their beliefs on others. In fact, many religious people (take the Jews, for instance) do not wish to enforce their beliefs on others. It's an observation that many religious people do, in fact, wish to enforce their belief system against others. And that's the point at which I start to have problems with religion.

I have to say, people have argued Marxism with me, they've argued that any music written after 1870 is crap, they've argued politics with me, but generally none of them have threatened me with damnation and hellfire for not changing my mind. I've only seen this kind of behavior in religious people. AF Dave, who compares the Jews' obliviousness about Hitler to "evolutionists'" obliviousness to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, is an example of a religious person who has made those sort of threats.

And those threats aren't always empty.

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2006 MVD award for most dogged defense of scientific sanity

"Atheism is a religion the same way NOT collecting stamps is a hobby." —Scott Adams

  
ericmurphy



Posts: 2460
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,21:01   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 26 2006,20:49)
But then, most religious people DON'T believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, or that a global flood wiped out most life, or even that God cares whether you jerk off.  Indeed, most religious people are out there, along with us, FIGHTING AGAINST the people who believe that.

As I said before, too many of us don't know who our enemy is, and more importantly, who our enemy AIN'T.

Believe it or not, not all religious people are fundies.  Most religious people, indeed, think the fundies are nuts.

Yep. Ken Miller would be a good example.

I would venture to guess that the vast majority of religious people worldwide have no problem with science in general or even the Theory of Evolution in particular. Those people are all natural allies against religious fundamentalists. Fundies, even in the U.S., are likely a minority (albeit a vocal one) even amongst religious people. I have no more of a problem with someone who believes in god than I do with someone who thinks seventies disco is "art." I question their judgment, but not their fitness for living.

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2006 MVD award for most dogged defense of scientific sanity

"Atheism is a religion the same way NOT collecting stamps is a hobby." —Scott Adams

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,21:55   

Eric, you're standing on the edge of a slippery slope.  You question the judgement of people who believe in God?  Why, because you do not?  You are opposed to religion being forced upon and yet you set yourself up to commit the very same sin by evaluating people for beliefs that differ from your own.  Now is it religion or human nature?  (I guess it depends upon whether you believe atheism is religion)

Earlier it was asked that if you removed religion would something else step to be just as divisive.  I'm inclined to think so but then I think it would ultimately be called religion, if you get my meaning.  The eternal question is a pretty big question and I think it will always dominate human thought.  Not a pretty outlook for the evangelical, militant atheists, huh?

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,22:18   

Have I ever shared with you all my concept of "insomesensism"?

I don't care what anyone "believes". I'm willing to grant that, however bizarre or irrational their religion appears to me, I may be missing something. I probably am. "in some sense, their God, Jesus, Koran, Revelation of St. John... what have you, may mean something, in some way that I just don't get. Fine.

As long as they don't try to proselytize me or my kid, or try to "them-ify" (as in "us" vs. "them") me and mine in the public square, I couldn't care less. But apparently some people feel that this position represents proselytizing on my part for atheism. (I'm speaking of the ID/creationism crowd.) As long as society bends over backwards to assure these folks that "In God we Trust" is OK on the coins; that "Pledge of allegiance... under God" is harmless; or (here in Ohio) the state motto being "With God, all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26) is just hunky-dory, is it any wonder they feel entitled to christianize the science curriculum?

The trick is distinguishing between "tolerance" and "tolerance of intolerance". As long as people are speaking in broad generalities, and vilifying Person X without specific reference to a specific statement or action, I have no idea where they stand in that "tolerance to tolerance of intolerance" spectrum. Sorry. without these specifics, I'm going to dismiss your opinions out of hand.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,22:39   

It seems as if both extremes overstep themselves.  After the removal of school prayer I guess the atheists thought The Pledge and "In God We Trust".  Maybe ID was the creationists attempt to get a little back.  Both instances are flawed for the same reason.  The vast majority of the public do not accept either premise.  Society as a whole does not bend over backwards to accept The Pledge and "In God we Trust", they are the norm and unthreatening.  Equally, society as a whole isn't threatened by evolution in science class.  They may not fully accept or understand the theory but within the scope of science education it is the norm also.  Thus there are no real popular movements to change either.

Maybe we're entering a phase where the shrill extremes alienate themselves and moderation and tolerance surfaces as the prevailing modes of thought.  Boy, I really stepped fully into fantasy there, didn't I?

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 26 2006,23:29   

Quote
Maybe we're entering a phase where the shrill extremes alienate themselves and moderation and tolerance surfaces as the prevailing modes of thought.  Boy, I really stepped fully into fantasy there, didn't I?


Yeah, you are. ;)

For what it's worth, I personally believe that people have a right to proselytize. I never like when they do it to me, but it's free speech and anyway, what's the point of believing in something if you don't think it's right and that therefore everyone should believe it, too?

So believers have a right to try to convert me and I have a right to try to convert (or corrupt) them.

So we argue, make snarky comments, and disagree. That's freedom of speech. I see that as all Dawkins and PZ are doing.

As far as I'm concerned it's nothing to do with evolution, which has some definite parallels with Christianity, in my opinion. (PZ and Dawkins would disagree with me there. Oh gasp, guess what, I think for myself.)

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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

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,01:44   

Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

I could go on. In each case you will not find a single example. People, STOP now. STOP claiming the arguments I am making are somehow the same as the strawmen in your heads. They are not.

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOR LACK OF ABILITY TO FOLLOW AN ARGUMENT OR READ FOR COMPREHENSION.

For Skeptic (or more properly Spastic, you've moved from the mildly annoying camp into the GoP camp of shrill dishonesty and total lack of comprehension). Why should anyone expect the parting of the Red Sea to be a real event. On what basis does one claim this to even possibly be a real event? Is there any evidence for it at all of any kind? If THIS event is claimed to be real (or possibly real) then why is the story surrounding the Trojan horse any less or more real, or Odysseus meeting Cassandra? The point here is simple. Claims like the parting of the Red Sea ONLY recieve any credence at all because they are claims made by current religions.

A deist god who set the universe up and takes no part in it after that point is, at this time at least, totally undetectable by science or any rational means. That doesn't bother me in the slightest, it in no way offends me (very little does except wanton stupidity). In fact I have a very good friend who believes just this and as far as I am concerned he is just as correct in his belief in such a deity as I am in my lack of belief. The one question I (and indeed he) ask is this: why is this idea, the idea of a creator, non-interventionist god given any credence greater than that of say the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Oh and Spastic, my example was Cyril the Elephant, not Cyril the monkey. If it is different from a god concept please explain how (it really isn't by the way), rather than just shrilly asserting it and calling me names. Rather ironically you haven't understood one single point I've made and yet you claim they're stupid. Try harder dumbass!

In the very loosest sense, yes all theists are creationists, but is that what the anti-creationist group here at ATBC are combatting? No. Is that what I am combatting? No. The creationists of which we speak are the OECs, the YECs, the IDCists. These are a minority amongst religious people, just as fundamentalists and extremists are a minority amongst theists. These creationists are making a fundamentally scientific series of claims. A 6000 year old earth is fucking different from a 4.6 billion year old earth.One (or neither) of these claims is true, they cannot both be true, they are mutually exclusive.

It doesn't matter if we use the young earth claim, or we use one of a million other dumb claims (flagella didn't evolve, the clotting sequence can't evolve, the flood happened, yadda yadda yadda). Don't focus on the window dressing, focus on the phenomenon behind the claims. Creationists are making claims about the nature of reality. End of story. Those claims are open to falsification on the basis of the available evidence. End of story. To date, every single one of them has been falsified on the basis of the evidence. End of story. They COULD have been supported by the evidence, no on knew until they went and researched it, but they weren't. End of story. Next claim please.

The relevant point of people like PZ and myself to this issue is that it isn't only the extreme  fringe of religion that makes testable claims. The deist god concept might not be testable (and therefore on a scientific basis is indistinguishable from fantasy. We simply can't use science to probe it's accuracy) but there are a whole swathe of god concepts that ARE scientifically testable. All we are saying is that to lie to people about the fact that science has and will falsify some or all of these testable god concepts does us all a disservice. It's patronising and dishonest to the theists and it doesn't serve the ends of the anticreationist movement because it fails to deal with the actual problem.

Lenny says it best: why should anyone take my religious ideas more seriously than yours, his, the bloke down the street's ideas, or your hot food delivery merchant of choice? I absolutely do not claim to have the answer to the existance of god or gods. What I do claim is that it is possble to formulate god concepts that are open to rational disproof and millions people have done this millions of times. This is a clear indication that one person's religious claims that are not open to rational enquiry should be taken no more seriously than another person's untestable claims. Lenny's religious views are just as valid on a rational basis as mine are. I am more than happy to admit that, as is he.

The problem with creationism is that it usually rears its ugly head as part of an unquestioning, unselfcritical dogma. Look at how creationists tie their religious interpretation of certain texts to their religious identity. I've had many creationists say that if their literal reading of Genesis is wrong then their whole faith in god is wrong. Firstly this simply isn't true, secondly this is a consequence of a culture and an ideology which fears rational enquiry and actively seeks to prevent it. It's not only religious ideologies that do this, look at Stalinism or Lysenkoism for examples (as I think I've said about 20 times now. It's nice to have your actual arguments ignored isn't it?). The problem is NOT religion but unquestioning adherence to dogma and ideology. The unfortunate thing is that this appears to occur in religions far more than in other areas of human endeavour. There are obvious reasons for this, religions on average tend to be ideological systems based on the faith in certain prospects, there are typically tenets that are beyond question, and there are typically aspects of that ideology that have no supporting evidence. There are exceptions, and there are non-religious ideologies that share these traits. The point is not that we atheists get our hackles up whenever someone mentions the word god, we don't (although I'm sure some do, but I don't) but that we see no reason to grant an automatic free pass to certain ideas, that are as flawed as other ideas, simply because they are religious.

To close: please I beg you all, humbly and earnestly, and with no small degree of passion and frustration deal with my arguments as they are, not as you think they are.

Louis

P.S. Added in edit:

I AM a nasty fucker, both on and off line. I suffer fools not at all and have won the international all comers intolerant bastard award every year for the last ten years. Life's far too short to be nice to total dishonest morons. What utter fuckwits like Spastic Colon, AmazinglyFoolishDimwit, and Gimp of Putresence fail to understand is that disagreement has nothing to do with it. I disagree with Lenny about loads of things, Nick Matzke too, and many people about many things. Guess what, as long as they're honest (and these guys are as honest as the day is long) I couldn't give a shit. I certainly don't claim to be right about everything, or even anything. I've learnt more from Lenny and Nick and PZ and Larry and Wesley and...... the list goes on than I'll ever be able to repay them in beers (beers they undoubtably deserve) precisely because of our disagreements. Listening to Lenny about religion and Marxism (doubtful any of them remember me from T.O. I haven't posted in ages) taught me a lot for example, and I'm not a Marxist or religious and disagree about some aspects of both. Disagreement is good. Dishonesty and subintellectual blather isn't. None of the people I disagree with do anything like it, excpet for the obvious muppets.

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Bye.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,01:53   

Kristine,

You made a comment that really interests me. Just what do you think the similarities between christianity and evolutionary biology are?

Cheers

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,02:05   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 27 2006,01:44)
Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

I could go on. In each case you will not find a single example. People, STOP now. STOP claiming the arguments I am making are somehow the same as the strawmen in your heads. They are not.

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOR LACK OF ABILITY TO FOLLOW AN ARGUMENT OR READ FOR COMPREHENSION.

For Skeptic (or more properly Spastic, you've moved from the mildly annoying camp into the GoP camp of shrill dishonesty and total lack of comprehension). Why should anyone expect the parting of the Red Sea to be a real event. On what basis does one claim this to even possibly be a real event? Is there any evidence for it at all of any kind? If THIS event is claimed to be real (or possibly real) then why is the story surrounding the Trojan horse any less or more real, or Odysseus meeting Cassandra? The point here is simple. Claims like the parting of the Red Sea ONLY recieve any credence at all because they are claims made by current religions.

A deist god who set the universe up and takes no part in it after that point is, at this time at least, totally undetectable by science or any rational means. That doesn't bother me in the slightest, it in no way offends me (very little does except wanton stupidity). In fact I have a very good friend who believes just this and as far as I am concerned he is just as correct in his belief in such a deity as I am in my lack of belief. The one question I (and indeed he) ask is this: why is this idea, the idea of a creator, non-interventionist god given any credence greater than that of say the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Oh and Spastic, my example was Cyril the Elephant, not Cyril the monkey. If it is different from a god concept please explain how (it really isn't by the way), rather than just shrilly asserting it and calling me names. Rather ironically you haven't understood one single point I've made and yet you claim they're stupid. Try harder dumbass!

In the very loosest sense, yes all theists are creationists, but is that what the anti-creationist group here at ATBC are combatting? No. Is that what I am combatting? No. The creationists of which we speak are the OECs, the YECs, the IDCists. These are a minority amongst religious people, just as fundamentalists and extremists are a minority amongst theists. These creationists are making a fundamentally scientific series of claims. A 6000 year old earth is fucking different from a 4.6 billion year old earth.One (or neither) of these claims is true, they cannot both be true, they are mutually exclusive.

It doesn't matter if we use the young earth claim, or we use one of a million other dumb claims (flagella didn't evolve, the clotting sequence can't evolve, the flood happened, yadda yadda yadda). Don't focus on the window dressing, focus on the phenomenon behind the claims. Creationists are making claims about the nature of reality. End of story. Those claims are open to falsification on the basis of the available evidence. End of story. To date, every single one of them has been falsified on the basis of the evidence. End of story. They COULD have been supported by the evidence, no on knew until they went and researched it, but they weren't. End of story. Next claim please.

The relevant point of people like PZ and myself to this issue is that it isn't only the extreme  fringe of religion that makes testable claims. The deist god concept might not be testable (and therefore on a scientific basis is indistinguishable from fantasy. We simply can't use science to probe it's accuracy) but there are a whole swathe of god concepts that ARE scientifically testable. All we are saying is that to lie to people about the fact that science has and will falsify some or all of these testable god concepts does us all a disservice. It's patronising and dishonest to the theists and it doesn't serve the ends of the anticreationist movement because it fails to deal with the actual problem.

Lenny says it best: why should anyone take my religious ideas more seriously than yours, his, the bloke down the street's ideas, or your hot food delivery merchant of choice? I absolutely do not claim to have the answer to the existance of god or gods. What I do claim is that it is possble to formulate god concepts that are open to rational disproof and millions people have done this millions of times. This is a clear indication that one person's religious claims that are not open to rational enquiry should be taken no more seriously than another person's untestable claims. Lenny's religious views are just as valid on a rational basis as mine are. I am more than happy to admit that, as is he.

The problem with creationism is that it usually rears its ugly head as part of an unquestioning, unselfcritical dogma. Look at how creationists tie their religious interpretation of certain texts to their religious identity. I've had many creationists say that if their literal reading of Genesis is wrong then their whole faith in god is wrong. Firstly this simply isn't true, secondly this is a consequence of a culture and an ideology which fears rational enquiry and actively seeks to prevent it. It's not only religious ideologies that do this, look at Stalinism or Lysenkoism for examples (as I think I've said about 20 times now. It's nice to have your actual arguments ignored isn't it?). The problem is NOT religion but unquestioning adherence to dogma and ideology. The unfortunate thing is that this appears to occur in religions far more than in other areas of human endeavour. There are obvious reasons for this, religions on average tend to be ideological systems based on the faith in certain prospects, there are typically tenets that are beyond question, and there are typically aspects of that ideology that have no supporting evidence. There are exceptions, and there are non-religious ideologies that share these traits. The point is not that we atheists get our hackles up whenever someone mentions the word god, we don't (although I'm sure some do, but I don't) but that we see no reason to grant an automatic free pass to certain ideas, that are as flawed as other ideas, simply because they are religious.

To close: please I beg you all, humbly and earnestly, and with no small degree of passion and frustration deal with my arguments as they are, not as you think they are.

Louis

Louis,
I don't think you are nasty.

Find ONE example where I have said any of the things that you claim to be accused of.

I have never seen you claim:
"all religious people are stupid"
"religious people are not entitled to their beliefs"
etc.

Now when a religion makes a claim about the world we live in and science proves that claim wrong, I go along with the science.

In the real world (as oposed to cyberspace) I have knowingly spoken with 1 (only 1) YEC fundy. He was a nice guy. I didn't believe in his world-view one little bit but saw no reason to ridicule him (and I am not saying you ridicule people [willy nilly] here BTW).

Anyway. I like this subject and so far the conversation here has been far more interesting than it's equivalent on PT.

EDIT: BTW. I agree that there isn't any scientific evidence that God exists. Not a bit.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,02:48   

Wow, stepped away to watch a movie and then watch the Colts kick the crap out of the Eagles (fell asleep late in the fourth quarter) and all sorts of stuff gets posted here.

Who went and decided it was ok for you guys to voice opinions without my permission?  Bastards.

Ok lemme start at the top....

       
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,12:07)
I hope people understand what I'm driving at there).


I think you and I are on the same page, Louis.  Not surprising as we share such a great name.

       
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,12:07)
P.S. Liked the Lenny quote


I doubt one can ever go seriously wrong quoting the good Rev. Dr.

As for snakes...  snakes are very cool, but ever since the incident wherein one decided in the middle of the night to share my sleeping bag whilst I was on military maneuvers, I confess that I prefer them on the other side of some very thick glass.  You will, I hope, forgive me this small idiosyncrasy.

       
Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 26 2006,12:08)
They followed me to a certain extent into freedom because they were drawn to my joie de vivre, if I may say so myself, but then wanted me to settle down and sit in church and give up this and that part of my individuality until I ended up looking like every other church lady.


Always good to see your smiling face, Kristine.  Please don't ever become a church lady.  I fear we godless bastards would stand no chance against you.

:D

       
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 26 2006,12:39)
Religion is the root of all evil? Bollocks! Just about everything mankind has come up with has been used for both bad and good.


While religion may not be the Root of all evil, it is certainly the kludge of a great many evil doers.  A disproportionately large amount of them, I dare say.  That being said, let me reiterate my contention that I don't give a flying fig about anyone's religious opinions, so long as they are not being pushed on anyone else.

Again, the heart of this particular fight is that they are being pushed on everyone else.

While I have no problem with saying "Science has nothing to say about your supernatural god fellow," I do see a problem with "Science can accommodate your supernatural god fellow".  That shoe is on the wrong foot.

       
Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 26 2006,14:31)
My father believed that everyone who didn't accept Jesus Christ as his/her savior didn't go to heaven. My uncle told me that if I believed in evolution I was going to ####.


Kristine, I don't wish to upset you in any way, but tangentially, it seems to me that going around threatening children with everlasting torture and pain if they don't think along the party lines is abusive.  But that is another fight, which has been taken up in this AtBC thread, a while back.

     
Quote (someotherguy @ Nov. 26 2006,15:05)
I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that's bothered by this massive cluster fuck of an argument.


Indeed you are not.  Take comfort in that.

     
Quote (Russel @ Nov. 26 2006,15:36)
Wanna know my opinion?
Of course you do! Who wouldn't?


Yes, of course we do!  Seriously, an interesting proposal, and one which I shall keep in mind henceforth.  Thank you for that.

     
Quote (the egregiously misnomered skeptic @ anytime he has ever said anything, it's really all the same shit repeated ad nauseum)
blah blah blah


Please do not construe my policy of ignoring your comments in their entirety to in any way be related to the fact that you are religious.  It is not.  It is, however, a direct result of the fact that you are an unentertaining idiot.

     
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 26 2006,15:45)
I am arguing that people should be judged on their actions and not beliefs.


Quite.  It is the actions that matter.  In this case, it is specifically the actions of people who would see their superstitions taught in my children's science class.  I'm also vehemently opposed to being forced to live my life according to those superstitions.  Different fight, same enemy.

guthrie, you begin your comment with
     
Quote (guthrie the first part @ Nov. 26 2006,15:46)
I cant come up with any particular sensible thing to say about this.


and yet you say

     
Quote (guthrie the second part @ Nov. 26 2006,15:46)
HHMMmm, so maybe the two sides are really going to get married and live happily ever after?  
I doubt it.  But it seems to me that there is a similar amount of talking past each other going on here.  


which is rather sensible from my seat here by the light of my brand new flat LCD monitor.  (I just had to brag on my wife who bought me a new computer!;)

Further, you mentioned

     
Quote (guthrie in conclusion @ Nov. 26 2006,15:46)
I think in MY ideal world, I would have teleported into the rooms that the people who are involved in this are in, and slugged them with some "perspective juice" to bring them down from their hobby horses.


I do hope you would include me in such an adventure.

As this comment is getting boringly long and it is now nearly 4AM, I suppose I shall finish (for now)with this...

     
Quote (The Good Reverend Dr. Lenny Flank @ Nov. 26 2006,16:04)
     
Quote (Lou FCD @ Nov. 26 2006,11:13)
Personally, as long as the superstitious don't bother me or the education of my children or the law of my country, I don't give a flying fig what they believe.

Herein lies the crux of the matter.

They do.  At least a certain very vocal subset of them do.
THAT is the crux of the matter.

It is indeed a very small subset.  And indeed, most of the theists in the US are helping us *fight against that small subset*.

Do we welcome their help, or do we refuse to associate with people whose religious opinions we don't like.

I welcome their help and am happy to fight alongside them against our mutual enemy.

Others simply can't tolerate having a theist of any sort anywhere within smelling distance.

And that is what the whole "fight" is about.


While I admit to a certain immodest penchant for "hearing" my own "voice", it is a special occasion to be quoted by the esteemed good Dr. and I freely admit a large cranial swelling occurs in such rare instances.

But if I may, please allow me a small addendum to your comment.  There are, in fact, some of us who are simply rubbed the wrong way when we feel like we have been shoved behind the curtain to make room at the public lectern for a theistic ally.  It does seem sometimes that the stage becomes inexplicably small at their arrival.

My utter lack of scientific qualifications notwithstanding, is there truly no room for me upon the stage?

More plainly, I believe that at least some of this internal dispute might be resolved if the likes of Drs. Dawkins and Myers weren't made to feel that they were unceremoniously dismissed to allow for the dog and pony show of the likes of Dr. Miller.

I cast no dispersion on the qualifications of Dr. Miller, and certainly not based on his theism.  I certainly welcome his help, his voice, which carries much more weight than my own.  Indeed that is the point.  But in our efforts to reason with the reasonable theists and say "Hey lookee here, you can be a scientist AND a theist", it does seem that Drs. Dawkins and Myers sometimes get treated as our "dirty little secret".  Perhaps this is the source of at least some of their rancor.

So yes, Lenny.  Of course I personally welcome Ken Miller's help.  I just don't want Richard Dawkins to be shoved away in the process.

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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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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,03:10   

My 2 cents worth.

(posted 2 hours before Louis started this thread)

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,04:06   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Nov. 27 2006,02:48)
...    
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 26 2006,12:39)
Religion is the root of all evil? Bollocks! Just about everything mankind has come up with has been used for both bad and good.


1)While religion may not be the Root of all evil, it is certainly the kludge of a great many evil doers.  A disproportionately large amount of them, I dare say.  That being said, let me reiterate my contention that I don't give a flying fig about anyone's religious opinions, so long as they are not being pushed on anyone else.

Again, the heart of this particular fight is that they are being pushed on everyone else.

While I have no problem with saying "Science has nothing to say about your supernatural god fellow," I do see a problem with "Science can accommodate your supernatural god fellow".  That shoe is on the wrong foot.

   
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 26 2006,15:45)
I am arguing that people should be judged on their actions and not beliefs.


2)Quite.  It is the actions that matter.  In this case, it is specifically the actions of people who would see their superstitions taught in my children's science class.  I'm also vehemently opposed to being forced to live my life according to those superstitions.  Different fight, same enemy.
Herein lies the crux of the matter.

They do.  At least a certain very vocal subset of them do...

1) Who is pushing their religious POV on others here? I certainly don't see many religious regular posters on this site trying to "evangelise". Yes, some people do use religion for "wrong-doing", no denying that. But everything can be used both ways and is.

2) To me it seems far more atheists want to "fight" here than religious people. Again, how many people here think that religion=science? I certainly do not want religion in science classes. It is extremists (on both sides) that want that.

  
mcc



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,04:20   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 27 2006,01:44)
Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

I could go on. In each case you will not find a single example. People, STOP now. STOP claiming the arguments I am making are somehow the same as the strawmen in your heads. They are not.

So... I might be about to ramble a bit here, please bear with me if so:

Personally I have a problem with people who claim that: all religious people are stupid; that religious people are not entitled to believe as they will; or that religionists should be barred from participating in the fight against fundamentalism.

But I haven't seen you espousing a single one of these viewpoints. In fact I haven't really seen you say anything particularly unreasonable in this thread at all, though I have to admit I mostly skimmed it. I can't know for sure, but I think pretty much any lurkers reading this thread will find it painfully obvious that you're the one being reasonable here and "skeptic" is being just a crazy, straw-man flinging fundie.

I'm making this post mostly to say: The people at PT and such who have been expressing concern with "burn the religionists"-flavored atheism over the last week or so aren't trying to say all atheists, all materialists, or even all people who think religion is harmful, fall into this excessive category. I think many or most of the people expressing this have been atheists, or nearly so, ourselves.

I am just posting to say I hope you realize there's a difference, and people like Skeptic who are just trying to paint anyone who won't accept their own religious viewpoint with the "evangelical atheist" strawman brush are not in any way the same as people who just plain think "evangelical atheism" (if it exists) is bad or to be avoided. Personally, when I speak out against what I would label as "evangelical atheism", I do so because I want the gibberish people like "skeptic" fling to remain straw men, and not valid criticisms-- I want it to be publicly clear to any honest observer that the intolerance toward others that is so standard in right-wing christian circles will not get be accepted in the same way if it tries to creep into rationalist communities.

(And to be clear, when I talk about evangelical atheism in the post above, I don't mean "strong atheists" or "atheists who actively believe religion is societally and personally harmful". I pretty much just mean "atheists who are dicks about it and/or run around trying to convert everyone whether they're okay with that or not". I'm beginning to suspect "evangelical atheism" isn't a very good term for this, as it's so ambiguous and so easy to turn into a straw man, but I'm not sure what best to use. If you can think of a better term to use, let me know. While I agree with Nick Matzke's side of the PT argument in principle, I have to admit I worry that he's doing the same thing he's accusing Dawkins of by using this loaded "evangelical atheist" term-- stating his viewpoint in impolite or excessive terms, and thus turning off people who might otherwise have agreed with his viewpoint if he'd just argued it calmly rather than bashing people over the head with it.)

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,05:56   

Quote
I think pretty much any lurkers reading this thread will find it painfully obvious that you're the one being reasonable here and "skeptic" is being just a crazy, straw-man flinging fundie.
Well, now, that's not quite fair. "Skeptic" may be somewhat irrational, and is certainly given to flinging straw-men, but "fundie"? How so?

And, give credit where credit is due. He finally, though perhaps unwittingly, provided an answer to Lenny's oft-posed but never addressed question:  
Quote
why should anyone take my religious ideas more seriously than yours [etc.]
According to "Skeptic":  
Quote
they are the norm and unthreatening


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Altabin



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,06:36   

I'm coming to this late, and find myself agreeing with many of the positions expressed here - at least the moderate ones, and particularly LouFCD's first post.  I think he expresses my own two-mindedness over the whole religion issue. As I drive through the  crappy mid-Western town where I've ended up teaching, I can't help thinking, as I see the ever-growing profusion of "non-denominational" Jesus temples, that this is a kind of growing cancer on the American intellect, selling snake-oil and sowing confusion and ignorance.  And yet, and yet - so often the position of someone like PZ seems to rid so much of the human experience of its beauty.  His levelling down of all religious belief to a single, false, categorical proposition is ultimately impoverishing. I'm in Rome at the moment (thank God, or at least the NEH); it seems impossible to entertain the idea that it would have been better for religion never to exist - or for it to pass away altogether now - even given the injustice and stupidity it has so often been responsible for.  It has also inspired some of the greatest human achievements - and yes, even scientific ones.

But what I really wanted everyone to read was this, Philip Larkin's beautiful poem "Churchgoing" - a poem by an atheist which articulates, for me at least, the discomfort I feel at the reduction of all religious sentiment by its critics to its basest form.

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,08:12   

Alas and alack, I'm afraid I can be a bit fuzzy of thought at 4AM, not to mention cantankerous, especially when I'm in rather a lot of pain (which is usually the case if I'm up at 4AM).

Sorry 'bout that Stephen, I believe I was drifting back and forth between the fight I feel needs to be continued and the one I would like to see ended.

A few things from ericmurphy I'd like to take a moment to address:

Quote (ericmurphy @ Nov. 26 2006,20:21)
Now, I don't particularly mind if someone thinks I'm wrong about something. It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about something. But this need to correct my worldview is where I run into problems with religious people. I frankly couldn't care less (my arguments with AF Dave notwithstanding) if a religious person thinks God created the universe 6,000 years ago, a global flood wiped out almost all living creatures 4,500 years ago, and that God personally cares whether I masturbate or not. That's fine; they're certainly entitled to whatever goofy beliefs they want to have.

But when they try to enforce that belief system on me (and by extension, the rest of whatever society they happen to live in), that's where the sparks fly. The only reason Intelligent Design was ever a problem was because it was an attempt to circumvent the courts and get the fundamentalist Christian worldview forced down the throats of unwitting schoolchildren.


Exactly.

Quote (ericmurphy @ Nov. 26 2006,20:54)
Really? I think the Sex Pistols are better than the Clash.  Does that somehow imply that everyone who thinks t'other way around must be forcibly re-educated to my point of view?


Yes.

Quote (mcc @ Nov. 27 2006,04:20)
So... I might be about to ramble a bit here, please bear with me if so:


Ramble on, brother.  I do.

Quote (Altabin @ Nov. 27 2006,06:36)
I'm coming to this late, and find myself agreeing with many of the positions expressed here - at least the moderate ones, and particularly LouFCD's first post.


Man, I love it when people agree with me.  That means they're right.

:D

After reading the rest of your comment, I'm reminded of the great beauty of Westminster Abbey, and I am inclined to concur.  Surely the world would be a lesser place for the lack of such architecture.  And I'm also reminded of the Natural History Museum in London.  The world would be a lesser place for the lack of that architecture.

And then I'm reminded of the Tate Modern, set up in an abandoned electrical power plant.  Not so much.  Although I was there before the slide exhibit opened, so perhaps that would have improved my review of the architecture.

:D

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,08:24   

Quote (Louis @ Nov. 27 2006,01:44)
Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

Louis, go back and read your opening posts and tell me that you're not talking about religious people as a whole.  If you're only discussing the tiny minority of YECs then there is no point whatsoever to this entire post.  Do you advocate altering biology courses to weed-out the vast minority?  No, I believe, as I stated, that you share the thoughts of Dawkins but you don't want to appear rude or intolerant.

He does and I assume by inference that PZ, whomever that is, comes off the same way.  Not only do they appear rude but also foolish.  Dawkins' comment that evolution allowed him to be an intellectually honest atheist is a perfect example of this kind of nonsense.

You may join him and believe that science justifies your beliefs but in doing so you are the same as ID advocates.  ID is nothing more than The Argument from Design v2.0 and has no standing in scientific discussions and likewise science has no standing in discussions of faith.  To invoke either one in these cases is invalid.

So back to your original idea, to advocate the failure of students based upon their religious beliefs because they are somehow incompatible with the study of science is foolish.  The one has nothing to do with the other.  And again if, as you say, you're only focusing on that tiny minority then you're idea is unnecessary, if not impractical.

Consider this, if a test question asks "How old is the Earth?", and the student answers 6,000 years then he got the question wrong and will suffer the consequences through his grade lowering.  If the student answers, "current theory states that the Earth is 6.5 billion years old", do you then question whether or not the student actually believes that the Earth is 6.5 billion years old and mark that question wrong if your instincts tell you he is actually a YEC in disguise?  Impractical and it really amounts to an attack on religious people whether you realize it or not.

You can say what you like about me (and most of it is dead wrong) but I will continue to point out invalid statements, intentional or otherwise.  Dawkins is attempting to create an atmosphere in which it is ok for scientists to look down on religious people because they are delusional.  Whether they are or not is open for debate but one thing is certain, science cannot be used as evidence in that debate.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,08:55   

The quintessential "Skeptic":    
Quote
I assume by inference that PZ, whomever [sic] that is, comes off the same way.  Not only do they appear rude but also foolish.
"I don't know who you're talking about, but one thing I do know: he (or she) is rude and foolish"

At least in some circles, I appear to be making zero headway in my plea for specifics. Here. Let's try it this way:    
Quote
Dawkins [when he writes "___" (fill in the blank) ] is attempting to create an atmosphere in which it is ok for scientists to look down on religious people because they are delusional.

Quote
You can say what you like about me (and most of it is dead wrong)
How can you be sure? Perhaps it's just another, equally valid viewpoint.
Quote
but I will continue to point out invalid statements, intentional or otherwise
"I do, however, reserve the right to issue blanket condemnations of people I don't know for things I've heard they might have said, but can't be bothered to check, let alone quote."

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,09:59   

Quote
Kristine, You made a comment that really interests me. Just what do you think the similarities between christianity and evolutionary biology are?


How about “the last shall be first and the first shall be last”?

Well, perhaps that’s not a good example, but it seems to me that whenever Dembski talks of the improbability of speciation, I am reminded of the parable of the mustard seed, and I wonder why he does not think of this. (No, I do know after all. Dembski longs for religion to be the towering Lebanese cedar tree, which was the dominant symbol back in the Israelites’ time and which this parable ridicules, chosing instead for its symbol a seed that produces a lowly bush (like the phyletic bush?) that is illegal to plant and lacks the superficial majesty of a towering theocracy.)

A frequent theme in Judeo-Christian literature is that of the smallest, weakest, or most unlikliest of persons achieving greatness, and its seems to me that that is often the story of evolution (who would have expected a small tree-dwelling creature to become the ancestor of apes and man, or a land-dwelling mammal to eventual evolve into whales? How about mammals themselves, survivor from the age of the dinosaurs? And don’t forget bacteria, the ultimate winners in life).

I abhor the whole dog-eat-dog “survival of the fittest” crap—Darwin barely tolerated it and Dawkins has spoken against it. I think it’s a gross mischaracterization of evolution. During natural disasters (even Hurricane Katrina) it is the working-class stiffs who shake a leg and display their creativity and adaptability, not upper management. “There will be poor always” because the poor are more resourceful (dare we say, more “fit”?)!

When I get done with finals I’ll get back to working on my novel which includes a Christian main character who accepts evolution. However, I’d like to reiterate that I am an atheist, but an atheist with extensive religious training and one never entirely throws that away.

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,10:13   

Quote
Please don't ever become a church lady.


No fear. I'm too much of a fuddy-duddy to become fundy at this point.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,10:14   

Spastic,

Yet again no no no no no no no no. I AM and HAVE BEEN talking about creationists with regards to dismissal from biology courses. What the fuck has belief in god got to do with biology?  Belief in the fixedness of species for example is a different ball game. Yet again, not all religious people are creationists, all creationists are religious people.

Since you manifestly a) don't understand anything I've written (you are taking dumb and dishonest to almost GoPlike levels, bravo a new low) and b) you don't understand what the whole debate is about in the first place, allow me one last attempt at cramming some scintilla of a clue into the sorry spongey object between your ears.

The internecine "war" going on at PT, Pharyngula and many places elsewhere is a staggering example of nonsensical fratricide. Otherwise intelligent and erudite people are simply talking past each other and accusding each other of wildly inaccurate evils.

On the one "side" (for as far as I can tell everyone really agrees on the vast majority of this issue, it's just a futile war of misunderstandings) we have what has been termed the "Chamberlain Group" (this was a name that was used prior to Dawkins' recent book, but is apt of the strawman). On the other "side" we have what have been called the "Evangelical Atheists" (of which I am probably one, regardless of the fact that I certainly don't agree with the asinine caricature of my ideas).

The Chamberlain Group are mischaracterised as wanting to appease ALL religious people by diluting science education in some fashion in order to prevent the small subsection of religious people loosely called creationists debasing science education.

The Evangelical Atheists are mischaracterised as wanting to beat the shit out of any religious person who has the temerity to claim to be on the side of science.

Neither strawman is accurate, although as with any group there are extremists at both ends who make the strawman description appear true. On the "EA side" neither Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, me or any number of people represent that extreme. On the "CG side" neither Nick Matzke, Francis Collins, Ed Brayton or numerous others represent the relevant extreme. Yet somehow the majority keep talking past eah other and getting increasingly heated.

Both groups have no problem with engaging with religious opponents of creationism or non-religious opponents of creationism (depending on personal religious stance). Both groups are stridently anticreationist. Both groups agree that the utter destruction of science education that the creationists seek is false, vile, unconstitutional (in the USA), and a total abandonment of the responsibility of educators should it be allowed. In most cases, both groups totally agree on the tactics and strategy.

Then comes the bone of contention:  every time the religious canard of "science/evolution leads to atheism" is brought up, a certain subsection of one group hand wave away the correct aspects of this statement (for it's not entirely correct but the religious is approximating something that is correct) and appear to tell the incoming religionist not to worry about the atheists growling in the corner, it's really nothing to do with them. I don't agree by the way that this is what this subset of the CG are doing, but it could be seen to APPEAR that way (which is the problem).

This understandably pisses off (not matter how misinterpreted this appearance is) a subset of the EAs. Now, way back in dim and distant history (or perhaps the present) there will have been heated conversations in which some subset of the EAs will have said something unsupportably derogatory about religious people. Not the sort of puerile misunderstandings you are wanking on about, but outright bone fide hateful abuse. It's an unfortunate fact that there exists a minority of atheists who are bitterly recovering from their previous religious beliefs and are vicious about it (I escape this, I'm not bitter and I never had any religious faith). Sometimes these people do and say totally undefensible things.

Straight away everyone leaps for their respective high horses. The CG guys accuse all the EA guys of being a bunch of religion hating bozos who are shooting themselves and everyone else in the feet. The EA guys accuse all the CG guys of being hypocrites who are accelerating the demise of science at the hands of fundies by appeasing their weaker demands, and by pretending that rational thought, reason and observation (and even science) are silent on the subject of the existance of god or gods.

Reason is anathema to faith. They are diametrically opposite ways of interrogating the universe. This expressedly refers to the strict philosophical uses of the words. It does not mean, nor seek to imply, that religious people are incapable of reason, or that in religious thought reason is never employed. Please, before you witter off on your strawman ludicrousness, try to crack this through your skull. Just like the title of Dawkins' books The Selfish Gene and the God Delusion don't mean what you think they mean (you'd have to actually read the books to find that out, which you clearly haven't), try to appreciate the simple fact that a word can be used in different contexts and have different meanings.

I'll give you an example:

Religious belief is irrational (True in the philosophical, technical sense, not necessarily true in the colloquial sense). This is a really key distinction. When Dawkins is talking about the God Delusion he is using those words in a very specific sense, a point he makes extremely clear early on. One way to commit th strawman fallacy is to deal with the weakest possible interpretation of someone's argument despite the fact that this has been made abundantly clear that it is not this interpretation being used.

The whole kerfuffle has arisen because of misunderstandings just like the ones you are making. Although to be honest, you are making a whole slew of others as well.

Louis

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Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,10:23   

Quote
I abhor the whole dog-eat-dog “survival of the fittest” crap—Darwin barely tolerated it and Dawkins has spoken against it.
It's interesting the way the evo-phile - evo-phobe spectrum meshes with the left-right political spectrum.

On the one hand, there seems to be a general correlation between "evophilicity" and "left". (Not, I hasten to add, without significant exceptions). But "Social Darwinism" was (is?) associated more with "right".

I gather William Jennings Bryan, of Scopes trial creationist notoriety, was the equivalent of a "leftist" for that era, and was motivated at least in part by a reaction against this aspect of "Darwinism".

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,10:29   

Kristine,

Thanks for that. I was curious as to what you meant. I see no similarity between christianity and any scientific field, bar the sort of superficial similarities or literary concordance you mention.

Cheers

Louis

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,10:41   

Quote
I see no similarity between christianity and any scientific field, bar the sort of superficial similarities or literary concordance you mention.


Well, I don’t really see any deep, scientific, or lasting connection either. But it’s the kind of thing that springs to mind when I hear Christians argue against evolution. It strikes me as ironic, since they're not making scientific arguments but literary/emotional ones.

ID is heading for its own apocalypse BTW (like so many ambitiously apocalyptic paradigms), and betrayal-with-a-kiss is what I see in Dembski's future. It just astonishes me that he can't recognize it. Literature has symbolic truths that are applicable locally--not globally--but people never learn.

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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

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guthrie



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,12:13   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 26 2006,16:35)
I am losing the plot here.

I am not really a fundy. Neither am I an Atheist. Just confused would be the best description of me.

MAybe you could join my club!
I'm in the "whats this religion stuff everyone gos on about?  oh I cant seem to BELEIVE in anything, so I'll just sit on the sidelines for now." club.  Or maybe the "Whats all the fuss about, they cant all be correct, and I cant choose between them" club.  
Or something.

  
Mr_Christopher



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,12:24   

I don't blame guys like Dawkins for calling open season on religious belief.  Every day we see where leading religionists equate atheism with everything dark and demonic.  We see political leaders make similar claims, even going as far as to say atheists are not patriots (bush I).  Bush II has said all non-christians are all going to #### (as did Texas Gov Rick Perry last month).

It's been open season on non-religionists for thousands of years.  We've been taking the blame for everything bad and wrong in the world, from Hitler to Stalin to 9/11 the atheists, secular humanists get the public blame and scorn.

I am not one to argue about religion with religionists and I could care less what people believe in but I have no issue with people criticizing religious beliefs.  I hope Dawkins writes a dozen more just like his last one.  At least his arguments are thought out and reasoned and not emotional/hateful garbage like we read from the ID crowd and other tard communities.

We need more, not less, reasoned criticisms of religious belief.

Chris

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Ved



Posts: 398
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,12:24   

Quote (skeptic @ ,)
You may join him and believe that science justifies your beliefs but in doing so you are the same as ID advocates.

You are completely wrong. Science can't justify my "beliefs", because as an athiest, I don't have any "beliefs".

Have a look at the Dawkins quote you're twisting around, in it's entirety:  
Quote
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

It's really hard to say it much better than that. Do I believe in god? No? Well than where did we come from? The science of evolution tells us we're descended and evolved from a common ancestor of just about everything else on earth (and it's not inconceivable that this ancestor came about naturally). Do I believe this??? No. I know it as a fact. Do I trust in Darwinism? No! I don't have faith in Darwinism any farther than I could throw it. And by throw it I mean: answers that are proven true, I'll take as fact, and questions that remain open, remain open.

Here's another question. By joining this discussion, have I outed myself as an Evangelical Atheist?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,12:42   

Ved,

Have you outed yourself as an Evangelical Atheist? Naaaaah, not in my opinion at least. But then I'm exactly the same sort of Evangelical Atheist you are. Perhaps if you littered your posts with comments about how stupid religious people are like I have (hmmmm, where are those then?) then you too could also earn the attention of the loathesomely stupid Spastic {Colon} (painful, annoying, squirts out shit).

Why is it we are lumbered with idiots whose objections could removed by them simply reading the first few posts for some modicum of comprehension? Sigh.

Louis

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Bye.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,12:49   

Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Nov. 27 2006,12:24)
...
It's been open season on non-religionists for thousands of years.  We've been taking the blame for everything bad and wrong in the world, from Hitler to Stalin to 9/11 the atheists, secular humanists get the public blame and scorn...
Chris

So what?

Nobody living is responsible for what happened a thousand years ago. Nobody living suffered it.

Who blames atheists for 9/11? Nobody I know, let alone the general public. Nor am I aware of atheists being blamed for Hitler.

Stalin may have been an atheist but I don't think many people equate all atheists as being Stalin-like.

How many regular posters here criticise people for being atheist? I can't think of any.

  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,14:49   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 27 2006,12:49)
Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Nov. 27 2006,12:24)
...
It's been open season on non-religionists for thousands of years.  We've been taking the blame for everything bad and wrong in the world, from Hitler to Stalin to 9/11 the atheists, secular humanists get the public blame and scorn...
Chris

So what?

Nobody living is responsible for what happened a thousand years ago. Nobody living suffered it.

Who blames atheists for 9/11? Nobody I know, let alone the general public. Nor am I aware of atheists being blamed for Hitler.

Stalin may have been an atheist but I don't think many people equate all atheists as being Stalin-like.

How many regular posters here criticise people for being atheist? I can't think of any.

It was Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who blamed 9/11 on secular humanists (they also credited lesbos and pagans as well).  And not a day goes by where the tards at UD don't blame hitler's deeds on his atheism.  Religionists also trelessly point to Stalin as an example of what secular humanism/atheism gets you at the godless store.

Intelligent design is a full frontal assault on secular humanism.  You've heard of Intelligent Design I assume.  It's like creationism but they use bigger words.

And you are aware that Bush I said atheists should not consider themselves citizens or patriots?  And his mentally retarded son said no one but christians get to go to heaven.  

This is pretty common stuff, religionists blaming atheism for pretty much everything as well as portraying them as wicked and dangerous (or just doomed to leading meaningless, unhappy lives).  I'm surprised you weren't aware of any of this.  You should get out more.  Read the paper even.

There are several tards here to either blame secular humanism/atheism for the worlds ills, or they simply try and save us.  

But my point was if the religionists dish it out they should plan to have some flung their way too.  And those who get their feelings hurt because Dawkins thinks their beliefs are stupid might consider growing up or adopting ideas that are more bullet proof.

Chris

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stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,14:49   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 27 2006,13:49)
Who blames atheists for 9/11?

Pat and Jerry discuss 9/11:

Quote
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

   
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,16:48   

Louis, good post I must say but I need some clarification.  I'm not in on the internal grumblings as I don't read these other sites.  Maybe I should but I honestly don't have the time.

So for better understanding, would Gould be a moderate or extreme member of the Chamberlin group?

How can Dawkins not be an extreme member of the EA group?  Are there others like him more extreme?

To address you and Ved, you might consider Outspoken Atheist to EA.  Evangelical implies not only outspoken and unashamed but also compelled to convert unbelievers.  Think of the Great Commission and the purpose not only spread the word but make believers of all people.

Also, you say that science = atheism is a misinterpretation but it appears that the prevailing message is science = reason = atheism.  Maybe there are multiple messages being sent here but your example of failing students can certainly be interpreted in this vein.

Faith is irrational and reason is purely rational.  I have no problem here but I take it one step further and call for a complete Wall of Separation between rational and irrational.  My problem is when rational is used to assess the irrational to declare false conclusions.  I'm going to assume from your characterization that this is the realm of the extreme EA.  If this is the case then I'm in full agreement with Lenny.  Such stances do infinitely more harm then good.  I would put myself in the extreme wing of the Chamberlin group but not to placate religious allies.  Its just a matter of principle for me.  It is invalid to justify atheistic beliefs (that better Ved?) using scientific methods.

So that being said, I'm ready to offer you the benefit of the doubt.  Could you please explain to me how failing students based upon YEC belief is practical or not an attack on religion.  Or were you just using that example as a gross exaggeration (that would make more sense)?

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,16:59   

Christopher, just as an explanation, it should not be surprising what Bush I & II have said.  A traditional interpretation of christianity says only believers (that and 144,000 jews, of course) will go to heaven.  Kinda harsh but that's not even an extreme belief.  As far as atheists being evil that's not a great step either if you take for granted that everything not of God belongs to the Devil whether intentional or not.  Remember the Salem Witch trials.  These aren't really radical beliefs, they're more of traditional doctrine.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,17:42   

Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Nov. 27 2006,14:49)
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 27 2006,12:49)
 
Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Nov. 27 2006,12:24)
...
It's been open season on non-religionists for thousands of years.  We've been taking the blame for everything bad and wrong in the world, from Hitler to Stalin to 9/11 the atheists, secular humanists get the public blame and scorn...
Chris

So what?

Nobody living is responsible for what happened a thousand years ago. Nobody living suffered it.

Who blames atheists for 9/11? Nobody I know, let alone the general public. Nor am I aware of atheists being blamed for Hitler.

Stalin may have been an atheist but I don't think many people equate all atheists as being Stalin-like.

How many regular posters here criticise people for being atheist? I can't think of any.

It was Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who blamed 9/11 on secular humanists (they also credited lesbos and pagans as well).  And not a day goes by where the tards at UD don't blame hitler's deeds on his atheism.  Religionists also trelessly point to Stalin as an example of what secular humanism/atheism gets you at the godless store.

Intelligent design is a full frontal assault on secular humanism.  You've heard of Intelligent Design I assume.  It's like creationism but they use bigger words.

And you are aware that Bush I said atheists should not consider themselves citizens or patriots?  And his mentally retarded son said no one but christians get to go to heaven.  

This is pretty common stuff, religionists blaming atheism for pretty much everything as well as portraying them as wicked and dangerous (or just doomed to leading meaningless, unhappy lives).  I'm surprised you weren't aware of any of this.  You should get out more.  Read the paper even.

There are several tards here to either blame secular humanism/atheism for the worlds ills, or they simply try and save us.  

But my point was if the religionists dish it out they should plan to have some flung their way too.  And those who get their feelings hurt because Dawkins thinks their beliefs are stupid might consider growing up or adopting ideas that are more bullet proof.

Chris

So a couple of whacko bible thumping pig-ignorant people make a claim and that is = to every none-atheist saying it? I don't think so. That is hardly the general public blaming atheists is it?

Inteligent Design was an atack on science (particularly evolution) rather than atheists.

I was not aware about the Bush comment against atheists. I am English so forgive my ignorance on that topic please.

Dawkins does not hurt my feelings. But it seems to me that you want to group everyone that isn't an atheist in the same camp. That is silly. Judge Jones isn't an atheist but he sure stomped on ID.

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,17:45   

In reading this thread, I wonder if an element of humility is not in order.

From where I sit, the most crucial drivers behind questions of religious belief pertain not to origins, but rather to the severe human dilemma presented by the inevitability of one’s personal death.  Although I happen to believe that oblivion will follow my own death, and indeed all deaths, I would be lying if I denied sometimes bolting upright in the middle of the night with the full realization of that reality, accompanied by a very cold fear.  Although this quickly passes, and indeed I cannot reproduce this feeling at will (psychological denial and intellectualization quickly reassert themselves, I suppose), it seems clear that this is really the central human dilemma.  

In view of that, I have enormous sympathy for those who cope with the spector of death by, in essence, denying its reality and positing an afterlife. In particular, having children and finding myself unable to even contemplate loosing one of them, I cannot fault those who have responded to such an unbearable grief by resorting to the comforting notion that death is not real.  Probably one of the most severe costs that accompany what I perhaps vainly fancy to be my intellectual honesty is that such comforts will not be available to me should I be faced with a similar loss. Part of me is sympathetic to whatever cover an individual wishes to take in the face of those realities.

A second point vis humility pertains more directly to questions of science and religion. I recall reading – I think that it was in Timothy Ferris’ “The Whole Shebang” - a description of some of the implications of inflationary models of the origins of the universe.  Ferris invited the reader to imagine the observable universe – that volume of the universe from which light (and hence any causation) will have had time to travel since the big bang - as a sphere with a radius of 13.9 billion light years.  Ferris asserted that, if inflationary models prove correct, that volume stands in proportion to the actual volume of the universe as the area of a silver dollar stands in relation to the area of the surface of the earth (I hope I am properly recalling this – I don’t have a copy handy).  That, frankly, blows my mind.  Undoubtedly, even if this proves to be inaccurate, the realities that do emerge from cosmology will be equally mind-blowing.

My personal response to facts like these is one of awe and humility. Although we have mathematics based upon powers of ten with which to calculate on such scales, I find that it is not really even remotely possible to directly imagine the reality that such facts denote.  Speaking for myself, I feel my level of comprehension of such things stands in relation to these facts much as an ocean going larva stands in relation to the Pacific ocean itself. Indeed, the universe being disclosed by contemporary science (and here I most emphatically include evolutionary biology) is so vastly larger and richer than any pre-modern view of any deity that I would argue that the concept of “God” is best properly viewed as an historical placeholder for these larger, vastly more rich realities, a placeholder that we could only just now have discarded. If some people are not quite ready for that, I understand completely.

What we don’t find in this contemporary view, however, is a larger agency that resembles human agency, nor refuge from death.  That’s the tradeoff. I am an atheist in that sense: I don’t believe in life after death, and I don’t believe that something resembling the human capacity for intentionality and design underlies this particular shebang.  I am sympathetic to those who believe that it does, but happen to believe that they are mistaken.  I wouldn’t presume to steal that belief from them, however.

All that said, the battle over science classrooms at the K-12 level is over for now, and it had the right outcome.  The battle was won at Doverloo.  That was my primary concern.

Personally, at the college level, I find it absurd to “pre-flunk” students who enter school rejecting contemporary evolutionary biology.  Indeed, I feel that any student who takes such a course, fully masters the materials, and demonstrates full comprehension by means of the relevant exams should get the grades that his or her performance warrants, regardless of whether they have retained their earlier beliefs, because that’s the academic bargain at that level.

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,17:51   

Quote (stevestory @ Nov. 27 2006,14:49)
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Nov. 27 2006,13:49)
Who blames atheists for 9/11?

Pat and Jerry discuss 9/11:

 
Quote
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

You quote mined that. Nobody I know blames atheists for 9/11.

The atrocities of 9/11 where commited by fundy religious extremists. Please don't try and make it look as though I believe otherwise.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,18:02   

Thoughtful and insightful post, Bill.  I for one, appreciated it.

 
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Nov. 27 2006,17:45)
From where I sit, the most crucial driver behind questions of religious belief pertain not to origins, but rather to the severe human dilemma presented by the inevitability of one’s personal death.  Although I happen to believe that oblivion will follow my own death, and indeed all deaths, I would be lying if I denied sometimes bolting upright in the middle of the night with the full realization of that reality, accompanied by a very cold fear.  Although this quickly passes, and indeed I cannot reproduce this feeling at will (psychological denial and intellectualization quickly reassert themselves, I suppose), it seems clear that this is really the central human dilemma.


The truth laid bare.  Perhaps you and I might start a support group.

Personally, I find some comfort (and indeed awe) in the thought that when I kick the bucket, whatever energy that was once used to fire the neurons in my brain will be assimilated back into the universe from whence it came.  My stinking, rotting corpse will become the fertilizer which feeds the grass, which feeds the animals which will shit on my grave.

It's the circle of life, baby.

(Ok, on those nights where I'm in the described predicament, I construct these thoughts with a fair amount less snark, and there are flowers and small children playing in the park, but you get the idea.)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,18:51   

Quote (mcc @ Nov. 27 2006,04:20)
The people at PT and such who have been expressing concern with "burn the religionists"-flavored atheism over the last week or so aren't trying to say all atheists, all materialists, or even all people who think religion is harmful, fall into this excessive category.

Indeed.  I can count the names of the primary offenders, almost, on the fingers of one hand.

Every time that the "religion is stupid!!!" invective starts to fly in PT, it's one of those same 5-6 people.  Every time.

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Ved



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,18:52   

Quote (skeptic @ ,)
...you might consider Outspoken Atheist to [Evangelical].

Heh, how 'bout Practical Atheist? Sure, I'm a "strong" atheist, I'm even "unashamed" (lol)... I could even conceive of something unknowable out there, but I know that if I ever gave it a name, 6 billion people would disagree with me.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,19:01   

Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Nov. 27 2006,12:24)
It's been open season on non-religionists for thousands of years.  We've been taking the blame for everything bad and wrong in the world, from Hitler to Stalin to 9/11 the atheists, secular humanists get the public blame and scorn.

Dude, any time you want to trade places with the Marxists, you just let me know.  I've been tear-gassed, arrested, beaten up, visited by the FBI, and threatened more times by more people than I can even remember.  Of course, if this were some Central American country where the police and army were trained by the US, I'd have been found long ago in a ditch, with a bullet in the back of my head.  As for my friends in the former USSR who were fighting the government there, I will spare the details of what happened to them, since I'm eating dinner right now.

You think atheists are "repressed"?  Dude, you have no idea at all what "repression" looks like.  Not a clue.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,19:05   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,16:59)
These aren't really radical beliefs, they're more of traditional doctrine.

Actually, there is nothing "traditional" about them.  Indeed, fundamentalism and Biblical literalism itself are not "traditional".  They didn't even appear as an organized religious movement until the 1910's.

Alas, I long ago learned that fundies are just as utterly pig-ignorant about the history of their own religion as they are about . . . well . . . everything else.  (shrug)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,19:13   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Nov. 27 2006,18:02)
Personally, I find some comfort (and indeed awe) in the thought that when I kick the bucket, whatever energy that was once used to fire the neurons in my brain will be assimilated back into the universe from whence it came.  My stinking, rotting corpse will become the fertilizer which feeds the grass, which feeds the animals which will shit on my grave.

It's the circle of life, baby.

In Taoist thought, this idea is depicted in the example of the Five Elements, which are  Earth, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire.

These form a cycle.  A seed is planted on the Earth, and begins its life.  With the help of Water, it grows, and after a period of growth becomes a mature tree of Wood.  Alas, an axe made of Metal cuts it down, and Fire consumes it, leaving behind ashes which return to the Earth, to nourish a new seed and start the cycle all over again.

Everything is born, grows, lives, declines, and dies.  Indeed, everything forms a cycle.  Everything, whether it's individual people, governments, empires, mountains or planets, is formed, grows, reaches maturity, dies and its constituents form the beginning of the next cycle.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,19:26   

Quote (Ved @ Nov. 27 2006,18:52)
I could even conceive of something unknowable out there, but I know that if I ever gave it a name, 6 billion people would disagree with me.

"If you can talk about it,  It is other than the constant Tao.
If you can name it,  It is other than the constant Name.
Nameless, Tao is the beginning Of Heaven and Earth.
Named, It is the mother of the 10,000 things."



(big fat evil grin)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,19:33   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Nov. 27 2006,17:45)
I
I wouldn’t presume to steal that belief from them, however.

Well, that is the difference between you and people like, say, PZ or Larry Moran.  You are quite willing to let people use their faith as a crutch if they need it.  PZ and Moran, however, would kick their crutch out from under them and scream "Walk on your own, you pussy!!!!"

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,20:26   

Bill, eloquent and very nearly poetic.  Thank you for that post.  I remember many a night in those pre-teen years lying awake and staring at the ceiling trying to wrap my brain around the concept of eternity.  Rite of passage, huh?

Lenny, wouldn't the various Inquisitions demonstrate the Christian view of the pagan unbelievers?  They certainly occurred before 1910.  Maybe I was using the "traditional" term incorrectly.

  
Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,20:48   

I tend to think that the biggest difference between Dawkins et al and myself is that I think an important part of this fight is explaining to the religious that theories such as evolution are not a threat to a belief in God, preferably through a proper understanding of the nature of science and the scientific method, taught in schools if at all possible. Also this presumably conflicts with the goal of some people who appear to use the terms 'critical thinking' and 'rational thought' as synonymous with atheism.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,20:55   

I fear that the question as to whether or not rational thought does equal atheism is what is currently up for grabs, if I am finally understanding Louis correctly.  But it is funny how the extremes, and I would say the minorities, are by far the loudest and most influential in popular thought.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,22:06   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,20:26)
Bill, eloquent and very nearly poetic.  Thank you for that post.  I remember many a night in those pre-teen years lying awake and staring at the ceiling trying to wrap my brain around the concept of eternity.  Rite of passage, huh?

Lenny, wouldn't the various Inquisitions demonstrate the Christian view of the pagan unbelievers?  They certainly occurred before 1910.  Maybe I was using the "traditional" term incorrectly.

The Inquisition didn't have a #### thing to do with "pagans" or "unbelievers".

Like I said, fundies are utterly completely pig-ignorant about the history of their own religion.

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mcc



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,22:16   

Quote (Russell @ Nov. 27 2006,05:56)
Quote
I think pretty much any lurkers reading this thread will find it painfully obvious that you're the one being reasonable here and "skeptic" is being just a crazy, straw-man flinging fundie.
Well, now, that's not quite fair. "Skeptic" may be somewhat irrational, and is certainly given to flinging straw-men, but "fundie"? How so?

Well, I decided to use the label due to some comments he made about school prayer and the pledge of allegiance that I took issue with. I may well have been unfairly jumping to conclusions.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 27 2006,22:49   

I guess I should set the record straight for MCC, Lenny and all other confused individuals.  I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.  I know that's hard to imagine anyone questioning ToE not from a religious agenda but it is the unfortunate truth.  If I remember right my references to school prayer and the pledge of allegiance were made in the broader context of the current conflict between religion and atheism and not the advocation thereof.

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,05:19   

Quote
I know that's hard to imagine anyone questioning ToE not from a religious agenda but it is the unfortunate truth.


hey now, don't think we all label you as a creobot.  I personally have always thought you just an intractable ignoramus.

it's just easy to get you confused with the intractable ignoramuses that also spout "goddidit" at the top of their lungs at the same time.

ignorance is ignorance, after all, and you commonly build your arguments based on nothing but.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,07:11   

Hey Ichy, welcome back from vacation.  It is good to see your smiling face again.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,07:16   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,22:49)
I know that's hard to imagine anyone questioning ToE not from a religious agenda but it is the unfortunate truth.

Don't bullshit us, Skeptic.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,07:23   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,22:49)
I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.

Five simple questions for you, Skeptic :

1.  Is the Bible wrong about anything?
2.  Was Jesus born of a virgin?
3.  Is faith in Jesus necessary for salvation?
4.  Did Jesus rise from the dead?
5.  Is Jesus going to return sometime in the future?

Answer as clearly and specifically as possible.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,08:07   

Spastic Colon,

I think you'll find that I've answered your questions re students at least twice in previous posts (before you even asked the questions).

Should you at any time desire to start reading what people write for a modicum of comprehension before going off half cocked, let me know. Until then.....

Louis

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Bye.

  
Mr_Christopher



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,09:24   

Some of you guys are nutty.

I am not saying atheists are oppressed and I don't lose any sleep over religionists blaming atheists for everything.  I think it's funny/absurd.  I also think it's funny to see guys like Dawkins pointing out how silly religious faith is and I hope he keeps it up.  

It is absurd to think atheists should keep their opinions to themselves while religionists portray atheists as evil and dangerous.

That's it.  That's my point.  Try not to read more into my comment(s) than what I have written.

Chris

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Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,11:07   

Quote
Although I happen to believe that oblivion will follow my own death, and indeed all deaths, I would be lying if I denied sometimes bolting upright in the middle of the night with the full realization of that reality, accompanied by a very cold fear...In view of that, I have enormous sympathy for those who cope with the spector of death by, in essence, denying its reality and positing an afterlife. In particular, having children and finding myself unable to even contemplate loosing one of them, I cannot fault those who have responded to such an unbearable grief by resorting to the comforting notion that death is not real.  Probably one of the most severe costs that accompany what I perhaps vainly fancy to be my intellectual honesty is that such comforts will not be available to me should I be faced with a similar losses. Part of me is sympathetic to whatever cover an individual wishes to take in the face of those realities.

A second point vis humility pertains more directly to questions of science and religion....My personal response to facts like these is one of awe and humility.


Humility also follows reading a post like this and recognizing my own experience in it (although I have no children). I find it amazing that human beings can have the same subjective experiences. Surely that is one thing that unites human beings. I do bear that in mind when I read the writings of Dembski and others like him. I do.

In light of that, let me say that though I know I am guilty of the "Religion is stupid!" fight myself on PT and Pharyngula, I was just offering what I truly felt and thought. As an atheist I like to say that I don't believe in anything that divides people, and yet I am frustrated by the sense that others, who are believers, divide themselves from me, and believe that it is I who is doing it. I don't buy the atheist = fundy believer, everyone-go-to-the-center plea for "tolerance." I want to believe in an afterlife, too, but if it is not true, going to the middle won't make it exist.

I most certainly do not hate believers, but I have come to hate what many religious beliefs do to believers. I don't hang around angry atheists either no matter how I may sometimes come off in an online forum. I can only say that, once we drop all of the baggage that we've been carrying with us since the development of consciousness in humans, we will then be free to finally see and discover what is. Logic and rationality are the beginning, not the end, of knowledge, but I see no value in stampeding to conclude the existence of a God or an afterlife at the outset when in fact this is mere wishful thinking.

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Ved



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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,12:28   

Lenny, it wouldn't be not Tao! ;) Oh, and I know it's not like getting shot or anything but when a man who became president of this country a couple years back said that he thinks atheists probably shouldn't be considered citizens, it's a bit disturbing.

Quote (skeptic @ ,)
Society as a whole does not bend over backwards to accept The Pledge and "In God we Trust", they are the norm and unthreatening.

Yeah, they're the norm now. "In God we trust" wasn't the norm until after 1864 for coins, and 1964 for paper money, and Congress didn't add "under God" to the pledge till 1954.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,12:43   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 28 2006,07:23)
Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,22:49)
I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.

Five simple questions for you, Skeptic :

1.  Is the Bible wrong about anything?
2.  Was Jesus born of a virgin?
3.  Is faith in Jesus necessary for salvation?
4.  Did Jesus rise from the dead?
5.  Is Jesus going to return sometime in the future?

Answer as clearly and specifically as possible.

I will have a go at those questions.

1) Probably, or God is a monster.
2) Dunno. Should be if Christianity is correct.
3) No.
4) Should have if Christianity is correct. Again I do not know.
5) Doubt it.

I have to admit that while I am not an atheist I don't have much faith either. Thought I was a Christian but guess I am realy an agnostic that has hope.

I will admit that I hope to get to see loved ones again that have died. I guess there is only 1 way to find out and I am not looking forward to it.

Saying that...Oblivion seems ok.

  
incorygible



Posts: 374
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,13:38   

Quote (Chris Hyland @ Nov. 27 2006,20:48)
I tend to think that the biggest difference between Dawkins et al and myself is that I think an important part of this fight is explaining to the religious that theories such as evolution are not a threat to a belief in God, preferably through a proper understanding of the nature of science and the scientific method, taught in schools if at all possible. Also this presumably conflicts with the goal of some people who appear to use the terms 'critical thinking' and 'rational thought' as synonymous with atheism.

The problem is that no anti-evolutionist really cares about whether evolution is "a threat to A belief in God"; they care about whether evolution is a threat to THEIR belief in God.

Those whose religion allows them to answer this question in the negative (e.g., Ken Miller) are not at risk of associating evolution with atheism (especially having already detached it from theism). They are perfectly capable of fighting PZ Myers et al. on different fronts, outside the evolution wars and outside the classrooms. Even if these pro-science religious folk are caught in "friendly fire", I seriously doubt that the flak from the attacks of more outspoken atheists upon more fundamentalist theists will turn them against evolution. And if it does, then you have not accomplished your stated goal of separating science from belief in God in the first place.

Meanwhile, for those who see evolution as a threat to THEIR God, no amount of, "but you can still believe in A God...just a slightly different version" will appease them. Politely tip-toeing around faith as it relates to anti-science fundamentalism in the well-meaning hopes of erecting a new brand of more science-friendly theism is a silly strategy: you will be rebuffed and/or blamed for your perceived attack as much as any atheist.

In short, the truly nuanced, potentially pro-science religious moderates have nothing to fear from zealous atheists and everything to fear from religious extremists, who will throw the Ken Millers of the world up against the wall of infidels with everyone else. If your goal is defending evolution from the faith wars, you accomplish little by muzzling rabid atheists -- the pro-science religious moderates will see no more association with distasteful atheists based on their science than they see association with distateful fundamentalists based on their faith.

As far as I can tell, there are VERY few people on the fence when it comes to evolution. There are those who are dogmatically against it. There are those who see it for what it is -- a scientific theory with no inherent connection to theism or atheism. Finally, there are those who (correctly or incorrectly) think it buttresses their worldviews, from PZ to Deepak Chopra (a wide range, that). Reaching the first group absolutely requires stripping away the dogma that generates anti-science, which, like it or not, is inextricably wound up in their religion. You cannot attack their 'science' without attacking THEIR faith, regardless of how you view faith in general. Therefore, I applaud the relentless attacks of Myers, Moran, Dawkins, etc. They might not win, they might not be palatable, and they might not be right, but they are at least engaging the enemy on the only flank that has the potential to be effective.

  
Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,15:00   

Well said, Incorygible.

 
Quote
the truly nuanced, potentially pro-science religious moderates have nothing to fear from zealous atheists and everything to fear from religious extremists, who will throw the Ken Millers of the world up against the wall of infidels with everyone else.


I have said this at RedStateRabble and I'll say it again, I not only fear the religious extremists myself, I think that the ID folks should fear them too and separate from them. I found a video of Dembski debating Eugenie Scott in which he asserts his belief in a billions-years-old earth and the recent development of man. I get the impression that this is the real William Dembski, not the slick operator who will take any position in order to get a dig in at Dawkins/Darwinism. Yet he's not willing to jettison the YECs, and I think he's out of his mind not to.

 
Quote
As far as I can tell, there are VERY few people on the fence when it comes to evolution.


Right on. YECs are certainly not on any fence. They want to hear that the 6-day creation is "scientific" and nothing else. Already some are grumbling about the "heresy" of ID and such (whereas I have also stated elsewhere that if evolutionary theory fell apart tomorrow--but I wouldn't bet on it--I wouldn't be devastated, but would simply accept that it's back to the drawing board for science). I don't like it or the vehemence of these Jesus Camp/megachurch types. When they go after the heretics, who will that be? Atheists like me, or the Dembski's? I am seriously scared that Dembski thinks he can tolerate the YECs the way Weimar Germany tolerated the Brown Shirts to beat up the Reds. Sometimes I fear that someone will get hurt and for heaven's sake I told DaveScot this.

I would never harm someone to defend my belief but other people are willing to do so to defend theirs.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,17:34   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 28 2006,07:23)
Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,22:49)
I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.

Five simple questions for you, Skeptic :

1.  Is the Bible wrong about anything?
2.  Was Jesus born of a virgin?
3.  Is faith in Jesus necessary for salvation?
4.  Did Jesus rise from the dead?
5.  Is Jesus going to return sometime in the future?

Answer as clearly and specifically as possible.

Interesting set of questions and I could answer them many different ways depending upon the intent but I'm going to try to answer them in the spirit that I believe you are asking:

1)  I think it would be a virtual impossibility for the Bible to be inerrant; although, I'm not aware of specific instances.  It essentially is a book written by men so for me that eliminates any possibility of perfection.

2) Don't know.  It tests believability and maybe that's the point but I don't really have any opinion one way or the other.  As a side note, I think I heard once of very rare cases of self-fertilization (which would result in a female if I remember correctly).

3) Again, I don't know.  I'd like to think not but I know what is taught.  That's a sticking point for me...

4) Ditto, for Jesus to be the Savior and Christianity to be true then it would have to be so.  So can a human being rise from the dead, not that I know of.  Does this mean Jesus did not?  No.

5) Same thing again, it would have to be true or all else is meaningless.  I remember a lecture on comparitive religion once in which the speaker was offerring the options of accepting Jesus as the son of God or just a really wise teacher.  He laughed and said that the choice didn't actually exist because either Jesus was the son of God or he was a raving lunatic.  I concur completely.

So where does that leave me?  I can accept that from a rational perspective these things defy possibility and they should otherwise there is no requirement for faith.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,18:25   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 28 2006,17:34)
Interesting set of questions and I could answer them many different ways depending upon the intent but I'm going to try to answer them in the spirit that I believe you are asking:

I'm not the one asking.  Those five points are THE DEFINITION of "fundamentalist" as originally spelled out in 1912 in "The Fundamentals", the founding document of the fundamentalist Christian movement and the document form which they take their name.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,18:30   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 28 2006,17:34)
So where does that leave me?

It leaves you a fundie with shaky faith.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,18:52   

Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 28 2006,17:34)
So where does that leave me?

Quote
It leaves you a fundie with shaky faith.


Really?  I wouldn't have guessed that, especially the shaky faith part.  I expected the "fundie" label no matter how I answered the questions.  I guess I'll have to get me a copy of this document and see for myself.

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,19:45   

What?

You're not willing to simply take Lenny's word for the veracity of the document?

Faithless heretic!

:p

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,19:47   

Quote
I expected the "fundie" label no matter how I answered the questions.
There, there.
I wouldn't apply the "fundie" label to you. Just overly credulous, and under the delusion that "giving the benefit of the doubt" to  pious fraud is somehow being "skeptical"; somehow "sticking it to the [science] man".

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 28 2006,23:11   

Lenny, I believe my respect for you may have broadened.  Did you read this entire set of books?  If so then I would have to say, based upon your beliefs as you've described yourself, that you may be the most tolerant of all men.

For all those interested here's a link (which I assume to be an accurate reproduction, but who knows it is the web):

The Fundamentals of Faith

Of course, there's no way I've even scratched the surface yet so I'm not about to say you're wrong in your characterization of me but I see a lot here that I cannot accept.  There's a consistent theme of literalism that I completely disagree with.  Additionally, there's much extrapolation directly from that literalism.  I think this alone may exclude me from the majority of these conclusions.

After reading a few of these chapters I also identify another theme and that is the distinction between knowing and believing.  For example, when you asked if Jesus was resurrected I phrase my response on the basis of belief not knowledge.  I may believe that Jesus was resurrected but I do not know this to be true.  Futhermore, I do not think that it is possible to know the answer to this question.  In order to know the answer we would have to be able to subject the question to rational examination and we cannot.  In the writings of these authors I read statements of knowledge and not belief.  These statements I concretely disagree with because I do not believe them to be valid.

If I'm not expressing myself adequately you may be thinking that this is nothing more than semantics but it goes much deeper than that on a more fundamental level (no pun intended).  I will continue to read to see if you are correct and it is also very interesting from a historical perspective to see the views at the turn of the century and contrast (or more rightly compare) them to the views held today.

  
Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,09:27   

I've been reading Jason Rosenhouse's latest post and I think I've kind of worked out what my problems with the Dawkins Moran et al. camp are, which I think are basically the same as Lennys point on that incredibly long thread on PT a few months ago.

In the UK, most people aren't religious, and most people that are are would certainly fall under the theistic evolutionist camp and don't buy anything that Dawkins or the creationists are selling as far as conflict between religion and science go. There are also quite a few atheists, but the majority of the population subscribe to some kind of agnostic deism, which is explained by phrases like 'there must be something beyond us', and 'something must have started it all off'. They don't believe in any kind of personal God, but can still believe in psychics and horoscopes if they want. Polls show the percentage of people who would be OK with ID is higher than the percentage of religious people, and this is becauseof a misunderstanding of ID (most think it is the same as theistic(deistic) evolution), and science, so they are OK to slot things like ID into the gaps that don't currently have a scientific explanation, or at least one that they know of. Therefore the best way to solve the problem in the UK is to improve the teaching of science, the scientific method, and evolution in particular.

In the US most people are religious. The only reason ID and creationism get a look in as far as education goes, even if we assume that its main adherents promote it for scientific reasons, is because a great deal of people think that evolution extrapolates to atheism. The reason that creationism may take over the public schools, is if the number of people that think this increases. Therefore there are two options.

a. Make more people atheists by teaching them critical thinking in science class, with the hope that it will cause them to question their religion.
b. Show the religious that science in general and evolution in particular are not in conflict with their faith.

I have no opinion on whether (a) is a worthy goal or not, but I do know that it will take decades maybe even longer to accomplish, especially combined with (b). Unfortunately if you don't do (b), the fight is going to be over pretty quickly, becuase no matter what you do, if religious people think that evolution and faith are incompatible in any way, the rate at which they become creationists is going to far outweigh the rate at which they become atheists or agnostics. Although I can't prove it, I suspect that becoming a creationist will lead to fundementalism in other areas as well. Therefore in the US, the number one most important way to keep creationism out of the classroom is to show religious people that evolution is not incompatible with their belief in God, otherwise we are going to loose the battle for education pretty quickly, and it is quite probable that the atheists will loose their long term goal as well.

Also, people have suggested that Miller and Collins are as harsh in their books about atheists as Myers and Moran are about theistc evolutionists, can anyone confirm this/provide quotes? Cheers.

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,10:14   

Great post Chris. I'm from the UK also, originally.

Although the fundy count seems to be up in the US, churchgoing goes down every year. They may have the loudest voices, but they dwindle.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,17:40   

Quote (Chris Hyland @ Nov. 30 2006,09:27)
Unfortunately if you don't do (b), the fight is going to be over pretty quickly, becuase no matter what you do, if religious people think that evolution and faith are incompatible in any way, the rate at which they become creationists is going to far outweigh the rate at which they become atheists or agnostics. Although I can't prove it, I suspect that becoming a creationist will lead to fundementalism in other areas as well. Therefore in the US, the number one most important way to keep creationism out of the classroom is to show religious people that evolution is not incompatible with their belief in God, otherwise we are going to loose the battle for education pretty quickly, and it is quite probable that the atheists will loose their long term goal as well.

Also, people have suggested that Miller and Collins are as harsh in their books about atheists as Myers and Moran are about theistc evolutionists, can anyone confirm this/provide quotes? Cheers.

Exactly my thoughts.

For everyone's info, I have left PT, and explaiend why in ym final post there:

Allow me to take this time to say “goodbye, farewell and amen” to everyone.

My motive in fighting the IDers was a simple one — I wanted to prevent the fundamentalist wackos from gaining political power, and since ID was the wedge issue that they chose to gain entry to political power, that is the issue where I fought them.

That fight is now over.

ID is dead. Dembski, Behe and the others have gone back to preaching. The fundamentalist organizations are all in disarray. The Republicrats who provided political support for the fundies are now political pariahs. The fundies and the Republicrats are already fighting with each other. And the recent election results make it pretty clear that it will be years, if not decades, before the fundies ever get near real political power again.

Meanwhile, with no longer any fundamentalist enemy to fight, the anti-ID movement has already collapsed into pointless Jihad amongst ourselves over religious opinions. I have no interest in that, nor do I see any utility to it.

So I am moving on to more pressing (and more useful) political matters. The recent election results have shown that the Democrats, while they still haven’t grown themselves a pair, do at least seem to have gained ONE gonad, which is better than the NONE they had before. Hence, I am moving on to the task of forcing the Democratic leadership to *be* Democratic, and not allow them to revert to their previous role as Democans who were indistinguishable from Republicrats.

In my years here, I have made many cyber-friends. Sadly, I also think I recently *lost* some of those cyber-friends over this silly Religious War. Regardless, whether you will miss me or will not miss me, I will miss ALL of you.

It goes without saying, of course, that the fundies will never go away. If, in future years, the fundie anti-evolutioners (whatever new name they choose for themselves) appear again as a semi-effective political movement, I will be back to fight them.

Till then, goodbye, all, and good luck to each of you.

Solidarity forever.



Since I've left, a little bird has told me, one of the hyper-atheists there has declared that I, yes me personally, am responsible for 9-11 and the ID movement because I "enable" the fundies by not helping the uber-atheists stamp out religion.  So apparently it's not enough for the hyper-atheists to hate theists, they also want to hate everyone who DOESN'T hate theists.  (sigh)

They are nutty.  They are no different than the fundies.  And there simply is no point in bothering any further with them. (shrug)

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,18:04   

Well I for one will miss you Lenny.

The girls will also miss you, of course.  After all, it was your "dick waving" comments and my response that got the two of us sent to the bathroom wall, which in turn sparked the conversation between Arden and myself, which in turn gave birth to the idea in my head which grew to be JanieBelle and Kate.

In a way, you're kind of their grand dad.

One quick question, if you're still around to answer.
Janie would like to know what color thong a buddhist atheist evolutionist church burnin' ebola boy wears.

Feel free to drop by UDoJ if you'd rather answer there.

--------------
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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,18:19   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Nov. 30 2006,18:04)
what color thong a buddhist atheist evolutionist church burnin' ebola boy wears.

We, uh, don't wear undies.    :)



I'm not planning on leaving ATBC.  There is still entertainment value in the UD show, and I do want to still keep my finger on the anti-ID pulse (without all the idiotic Holy Wars, which, fortunately, have not entered our isolated little forum).

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,20:52   

But, Lenny!

How can we miss you if you won't go away?

Just kidding.

Welcome back.  Or welcome-didn't-leave-in-the-first-place.

By the way, now that you're still here, I have a few questions for you...

Just kidding!

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,21:55   

I had intended on posting my thoughts concerning the science vs. religion conflict and how in the end it all becomes meaningless on both extremes but the departure of Lenny seems to me to signify the unofficial official end of this thread so i'll just save those thoughts for some future date.  Something was telling me not to stick my head in the hornet's nest and apparently that will not happen.

Best of luck Lenny; I've become too jaded by politicians to ever believe any of them will remember what democracy means but I wish you the best.

  
Kristine



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 30 2006,22:13   

Quote
Something was telling me not to stick my head in the hornet's nest and apparently that will not happen.


This from someone who's an agnostic about my existence.

JUST KIDDING! :D

But seriously, Rev. Dr. Lenny how can you go away? We've only just met... Drop by my blog sometime, huh?

Did you gawk at my photos at least?   ???

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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

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,07:34   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 30 2006,18:19)

I'm not planning on leaving ATBC.


Well, I'm glad of that.  Some things just really benefit from your touch.

 
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 30 2006,18:19)

We, uh, don't wear undies.    :)


The girls do that sometimes. They refer to that as "going all breezy under our dresses".

I'm sure they'll think of you when they do that from now on.

:D

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Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,09:19   

   
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 30 2006,18:19)
]        
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 30 2006,18:19)

We, uh, don't wear undies.    :)


The girls do that sometimes. They refer to that as "going all breezy under our dresses".

I thought the phrase was 'going commando'!

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,10:04   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 01 2006,09:19)
I thought the phrase was 'going commando'!

Well that's what I've always called it, but I got overruled (as usual).

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



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,16:43   

Quote
I'm not planning on leaving ATBC.


Well, that's a relief! You are sort of an institution. I'm still grateful for your support in a spat with ts many moons ago.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,19:15   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Dec. 01 2006,16:43)
I'm still grateful for your support in a spat with ts many moons ago.

TS/Popper's Ghost/whatever name he's using now,  is an #######.  (shrug)


But actually, I should thank Skeptic for something, since my latest project is, more or less, his fault (along with Stephen Elliott's).  A while back,  I had a discussion with both of them about the role of the US in the world.  Hence, I'm currently working on a new manuscript.  The working title says it all:  "Pax Americana: The Neocon Plan for Global Domination."

The most important chapter, I think, will be the last one, titled "What About the Democrats?"

I find it interesting that three things happened in 1979 (the year I graduated high school), and each has a direct connection to the US's current situation in the world.  In February 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran -- an event which led directly to the Iran/Iraq War, Iran-Contra, and the two Gulf Wars.  In July 1979, the Sandinistas overthrew the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza, which led directly to Iran-Contra, the COINTELPRO-type operations against CISPES, and became the event where most of the neocons cut their political eyeteeth.  And in December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, which led to the collapse of the USSR, the arming of the Islamic militant movement, and the emergence of the USA as the "only remaining superpower".

All of those intertwined threads still bind the US today.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 01 2006,22:04   

I've always found it fascinating in hindsight how interwoven individual events are with our present (and future for that matter).  I was reading a Time (or Newsweek, I forget which) which had a little expose on the Clinton's.  It showed a picture of the two of them at Yale, the stereotypical hippie look.  To look back now and see how much Vietnam affected him and his attitude towards the military and how that carried forward in policy.  I guess it may have been inevitable when that generation reached professional maturity but who can say.

I wouldn't mind taking a peek at you're new project when completed.  I know we're vastly opposed in political leanings but that doesn't mean I don't find the other side interesting.  And just to ease your mind, I would never advocate tear-gassing you but I had always assumed that a night in jail was the rite of passage for any self-respecting marxist.

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,00:14   

Quote
I had always assumed that a night in jail was the rite of passage for any self-respecting marxist.


maybe someday, something you read here will actually rub off on you and you will actually research something rather than go on your blithe assumptions?

nawwww.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,06:00   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 01 2006,22:04)
I wouldn't mind taking a peek at you're new project when completed.

I suspect you'll see the whole thing, a piece at a time.

When I was working on "Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America" (which, if all goes well, should be out in April or May), I posted more or less the entire manuscript, a piece at a time, on PT, T.O and other forums.  I like to get lots of feedback on manuscripts as I am working on them.

The aim of my newest project can be summed up by a quote from a prominent neocon named Max Boot that appears at the beginning of the manuscript:  "Almost no one is criticizing President Bush's pledge to maintain American military hegemony . . . The odd thing is that this dominance has occurred quietly and with little public debate."  

I'd like to help change that.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,07:36   

Not to ruin the surprise, but do you feel he's laid any lasting groundwork?  In light of the recent elections and only two years left in office (with no designated heir) doesn't it seems like its all been for naught at this point (especially if we look back say five or ten years from now)?

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,07:44   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,07:36)
Not to ruin the surprise, but do you feel he's laid any lasting groundwork?

Yes.  Like the Roman Sulla, he has shown the way to destroy the Republic.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,08:13   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Dec. 02 2006,00:14)
Quote
I had always assumed that a night in jail was the rite of passage for any self-respecting marxist.


maybe someday, something you read here will actually rub off on you and you will actually research something rather than go on your blithe assumptions?

nawwww.

Ichy, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were trolling.  Say it isn't so!

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,08:35   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,07:36)
In light of the recent elections and only two years left in office (with no designated heir) doesn't it seems like its all been for naught at this point (especially if we look back say five or ten years from now)?

Governments come and go, but interests remain the same.  

It is in the interests of the American economic/political elite to completely dominate the world, on its own terms.  Since the US can no longer compete or dominate economically, it has no alternative but to use the only power it has remaining -- its military might.  That is, so far, the one instrument that the US has that nobody else can match (alone, at least).

Alas, though, that awesome military instrument is utterly completely dependent upon one thing -- oil.  Every jet that flies, every tank that rolls, every naval task force that sails, is completely dependent upon oil. Therefore, for military reasons which have nothing to do with "economics", the US absolutely **must** control the flow of oil.  We simply cannot remain a world power without that control.  

And since the US cannot gain that level of control through economic competition (the US is now, economically, a Third World country that is utterly dependent upon outside sources of financing), it has no alternative but to use military force to gain control.  And that is indeed the central thrust of the neocon agenda.  All of their pet projects (overthrowing Saddam, supporting Israel, hostility to Arab regimes, removal of international and domestic dissent to military actions, removal of restrictions imposed by international law) center around one crucial key --- using military power to unilaterally control the flow of oil, thus allowing the US to continue to dominate militarily where it is unable to dominate economically.

Those interests, and the necessities behind them, remain the same whether it's Democrats or Republicans in power.  If the US is to remain a world power (and neither Democans nor Republicrats reject that aim), then it simply has no choice but to use military power to maintain that role --- and that means they simply have no choice but to control the flow of oil, by any means necessary.  To give up that goal, is to give up the US's role as dominant world power.  And neither the Democans nor the Republicrats are willing to give up that role.

So the Democans and the neocons have the same basic agenda.  They are both forced into that same basic agenda by hard reality.  If the US is to remain dominant, then it must have a military that can impose its will anywhere at any time.  That is inescapably dependent upon control of oil. That can only be done by controlling the Middle East.  And that can only be done by force.

The Democans will, of course, be "kinder and gentler" about it.  They will make a great show of "alliances" and "partnerships" (and any alliance with the US with anyone is, of course, by the very nature of the power imbalance involved, inherently one-sided -- as one "allied" foreign diplomat said of the US, while being briefed on the imminent Iraq invasion, "did you come here to ASK us, or did you come here to TELL us?").  Indeed, the Democan leadership still shows no willingness at all to end the war in Iraq -- they are instead being forced, kicking and screaming, into (verbally) opposing the war by their very own rank-and-file (who, I suspect, will be ignored as soon as the Democan leadership is safely in power). The Democan leadership knows just as well as the Republicrat leadership that without unilateral control of Middle Eastern oil, the US is doomed as a world power.  The US will continue to fight to control Iraq, under Democrats or Republicans, directly or indirectly, in one form or another, until the US has control of that oil.  Period. It has no choice.

It makes no difference who runs the country for the next few decades.  The path is already set.  Economic/military interests have already set the agenda.  The Democans cannot escape that agenda any more than the Republicrats can.

The only alternative is for the US to give up its global domination, to be Cincinnatus instead of Caesar, and to transform the entire global political system into a democratic one where **no** nation dictates or dominates the others, and where international economics and relationships are set democratically by *all nations* with their consent, and are not unilaterally imposed by this or that dominant military power acting in its own self-interests.

The US will not do that willingly.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,09:11   

Let me put my rose colored glasses on for a moment...

Ok, about dominating the world economically.  I don't think it is in the best interest to dominate or even necessary.  I would say that American and World interest coincide with open markets and environments conducive fair and free trade.  This may come down to semantics since you view it as a marxist and I as a capitalist.

I would say the same for oil.  There'e no direct need for the US to dominate the market just to insure that supply remains available for not only the US but the World (imagine the mayhem that would occur if there were supply disruptions for China).  I would agree that in the present environment it may be only military influence that can keep the pumps running.  Whether or not the situation is a product of US policy is at this time irrelevant.  It could be both our fault and still the necessary course of action at this time.  That's another debate for another time.

As you said, the Democrats are already back tracking but I'll agree that the difference between republicans and democrats is largely window-dressing except on issues of no consequence.

As far as the future of US policy there is a cycle that we're caught up in.  The World perpetuates the US super-power role by relying on the US for so much.  Regardless how much talk occurs about breaking the US dominance the need still remains and we are a necessary "evil" to much of the world.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,10:37   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Dec. 02 2006,08:35)
The only alternative is for the US to give up its global domination, to be Cincinnatus instead of Caesar, and to transform the entire global political system into a democratic one where **no** nation dictates or dominates the others, and where international economics and relationships are set democratically by *all nations* with their consent, and are not unilaterally imposed by this or that dominant military power acting in its own self-interests.

A pipe-dream, Lenny.  But a worthy one.

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,12:19   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Dec. 02 2006,08:35)
Governments come and go, but interests remain the same.  

It is in the interests of the American economic/political elite to completely dominate the world, on its own terms...  
Alas, though, that awesome military instrument is utterly completely dependent upon one thing -- oil.  Every jet that flies, every tank that rolls, every naval task force that sails, is completely dependent upon oil. Therefore, for military reasons which have nothing to do with "economics", the US absolutely **must** control the flow of oil...  

I think it goes further.

Because of the way the Industrial nations developed from the 20th Century to now Oil is a major economic neccessity.

It isn't just the military that need it. Almost all production and distribution in developed nations depends upon oil; As does power generation in a lot of countries.

How could your farmers grow and harvest food in the quantities they produce now without oil to make fuel for the tractors, combine harvesters, bailing machines etc?
How would it be transported to the cities without fuel for haulage vehicles?

Without fuel you would have no emergency services with a rapid response capability. Hospitals would not have back-up generators.

To cut it short. The developed world has made itself so dependent upon oil and it's products that it is not a luxury to ensure a supply it is a moral responsibility (in the short term at the very least).

Something needs to be done about the situation. What? Damned if I know.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,13:29   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,09:11)
Ok, about dominating the world economically.  I don't think it is in the best interest to dominate or even necessary.

Alas, the US economic/political elite does.  And they don't care what you or I think about it.  (shrug)

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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,13:43   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Dec. 02 2006,12:19)
It isn't just the military that need it. Almost all production and distribution in developed nations depends upon oil; As does power generation in a lot of countries.

That is true, but that is not the US motive -- after all, the US gets only about one-sixth of its oil from the Middle East.  The US military, meanwhile, is, far and away, the largest single user of oil in the country -- it utilizes, all by itself, about 2% of the ***entire annual consumption of oil in the US***.  The US Air Force, by itself, spends over $4.7 billion per year just on jet fuel.  

Industry and private consumers can, at least theoretically, utilize other sources of energy -- solar, wind power, etc.  The military can't.  It's stuff runs on oil, and nothing BUT oil.  There are no solar-powered aircraft carriers, and no hydrogen-powered battle tanks.  If it comes down to the choice between oil for the military and oil for the economy, the military will get it.  That is the purpose behind the US Strategic Oil Reserve, which is stored in Louisiana.  It's, uh, not there so people can heat their houses in the winter.

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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,14:07   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Dec. 02 2006,13:43)
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Dec. 02 2006,12:19)
It isn't just the military that need it. Almost all production and distribution in developed nations depends upon oil; As does power generation in a lot of countries.

That is true, but that is not the US motive -- after all, the US gets only about one-sixth of its oil from the Middle East.  The US military, meanwhile, is, far and away, the largest single user of oil in the country -- it utilizes, all by itself, about 2% of the ***entire annual consumption of oil in the US***.  The US Air Force, by itself, spends over $4.7 billion per year just on jet fuel.  

Industry and private consumers can, at least theoretically, utilize other sources of energy -- solar, wind power, etc.  The military can't.  It's stuff runs on oil, and nothing BUT oil.  There are no solar-powered aircraft carriers, and no hydrogen-powered battle tanks.  If it comes down to the choice between oil for the military and oil for the economy, the military will get it.  That is the purpose behind the US Strategic Oil Reserve, which is stored in Louisiana.  It's, uh, not there so people can heat their houses in the winter.

http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/oil.html

I am not sure of the reliability of that site, but it claims...
Quote
USA oil
The USA imports about 55% of its oil needs.
Sources of U.S. Oil Imports (millions of barrels per day, 2001): Canada: 1.79 - Saudi Arabia: 1.66 - Venezuela: 1.54 - Mexico: 1.42 - Nigeria: .86 - Iraq: .78 - Norway: .33 - Angola: .32 - United Kingdom: .31 - Total: 11.62. (Source: Energy Information Administration).

Sources of U.S. Oil Imports (%, 2002): Saudi Arabia: 16.9% - Mexico: 15.1% - Canada: 15.0% - Venezuela: 14.4% - Iraq: 11.4% - Nigeria: 5.9.%.

only about 30% of the USA's oil imports came from Arab countries in 2002. Since USA oil imports are about 55% of USA oil consumption, only about 15% of USA's oil consumption is provided by Arab countries.

About 40% of oil in the USA is used to produce gasoline.



Where did your figures come from? I just did a quick google search.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,15:49   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Dec. 02 2006,14:07)
Where did your figures come from?

From the US Department of Defense.

If you ask them nicely, they'll tell you just about anything you want to know.  :)

They're already worried about their dependecne on oil.  They are already seeking to have 25% of Defense Department electricity needs (the DoD itself uses about 55% of total US government electricity consumption) to come from renewable resources.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,20:11   

The US Navy operates the greatest number of nuclear reactors on the planet and they are also the most successful operators.  Obviously it is not feasable to run a nuclear-powered jet.  Still we have to be fair a give credit where credit is due.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,21:30   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,20:11)
The US Navy operates the greatest number of nuclear reactors on the planet and they are also the most successful operators.  Obviously it is not feasable to run a nuclear-powered jet.  Still we have to be fair a give credit where credit is due.

For the most part, only the carriers and the subs are nuclear.  Both of them will be drastically cut in coming years.

The support ships, moreover, all run on fuel oil.  And without them, the carriers can't sail ten miles.

The Navy, nuclear or not, is just as utterly dependent upon oil as all the rest of the military is.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,21:34   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,09:11)
The World perpetuates the US super-power role by relying on the US for so much.

Um, what, exactly, does "the world" rely on the US for . . . .

I'm a little curious.  Particularly since the US has, in the past six years particularly,. gone out of its way to openly thumb its nose at the rest of the world, and has openly declared that (1) international law doesn't apply to the US, and (2) we can do whatever the #### we want whether the UN (or anyone else) likes it or not.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 02 2006,22:57   

In the simplest terms the World relies on US money and international law has no meaning to the US, or it shouldn't but our Supreme Court failed to get that memo.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,00:01   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,22:57)
In the simplest terms the World relies on US money

Huh?

Are you REALLY that uninformed?

The US can't even compete, economically.

Were it not for CHINESE money, the US economy would have collapsed long ago.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,00:14   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,22:57)
international law has no meaning to the US, or it shouldn't but our Supreme Court failed to get that memo.

Perhaps the Supreme Court, unlike you, understands the simple fact that international law, all of it, takes the form of treaties that the US government signed and ratified.  And under US law, all of those treaties are legally binding on the US, and it is illegal, under American law, to violate any of them.

But I'm curious --- is it just the US that, you think, has the right to simply ignore international law, or do other nations have that right too?

Why, for example, didn't Saddam get to ignore international law when he invaded Kuwait?  Or when he used nerve gas against the Kurds?  Remember all that bitching and moaning the Reagan Administration did about the USSR violating all sorts of treaties? Remember all those "war crimes" under "international law" that the Nazis got hanged for?  Remember those "international laws" that Milosovic went on trial for?  Or the ones that Saddam went on trial for?  What the #### were we bitching and moaning about, if international law doesn't mean diddley?

Why is it, precisely, that others have to follow international law (didn't we launch both Gulf Wars under the authority of "United Nations Resolutions and International Law"?), but we *don't* have to follow them ourselves?  Just privileged, are we?

Note to the rest of the world:  THIS is the sort of pig-ignorant arrogance that you are dealing with.  PLEASE stop us before it is too late.  We absolutely will not stop ourselves.

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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,00:50   

Quote
That is true, but that is not the US motive -- after all, the US gets only about one-sixth of its oil from the Middle East.


Yes, but if the oil in the Middle East were taken out of circulation or used up, then all the countries that DO buy from the Middle East -- e.g. Japan, India, and especially, China -- would then start competing with us for oil from Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria. One of the big reasons for the price of oil going up is China's demand for it going through the roof.

And we may only get a fraction of our oil there, but just that amount still makes certain very well connected oil companies very wealthy.

Believe me, oil is half of why we're over there. The other half is Israel. The 'spreading democracy' line is a load of shit to make the rubes go along with it.

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,01:37   

Quote
Were it not for CHINESE money, the US economy would have collapsed long ago.


yup, the chinese are by far and away the largest holder of US debt.  It's around a trillion bucks, IIRC.

Imagine what would happen if they decided to call in that marker?

Morever, South America has been establishing its own standard economies for the last 15 years, and are now beginning to thumb their noses at the US (with good reason and to good effect).

The European dollar is gaining strength against the US dollar daily; the chinese are not cooperating with the US in raising the value of their own currency, which drops the value of the dollar even further...

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,02:19   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,22:57)
In the simplest terms the World relies on US money and international law has no meaning to the US, or it shouldn't but our Supreme Court failed to get that memo.

Are you serious, or just taking the piss?

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,08:01   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 03 2006,00:50)
Yes, but if the oil in the Middle East were taken out of circulation or used up, then all the countries that DO buy from the Middle East -- e.g. Japan, India, and especially, China -- would then start competing with us for oil from Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria.

Yep.

It is also a not inconsideable fact that Middle Eastern petro-dollars, invested in Europe and the US, help prop up the world economy.

As for Venezuela, the US dependence on Venezuelan oil is a major reason why Hugo Chavez's independent-from-the-US stance is so dangerous to the US (particularly since that independence is spreading to Bolivia and Nicaragua).

Look for the next administration (whether Democrat or Republican) to clamp down, hard, on South America.

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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,08:17   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 03 2006,00:50)
The 'spreading democracy' line is a load of shit to make the rubes go along with it.

The "spreading/supporting/defending democracy" line has ALWAYS been a load of shit.  US actions for the past 60 years demonstrate that it doesn't give a flying fig about "democracy".  In accordance with US interests, the US has, in the past few decades, supported a whole string of unelected dictators who never had to face an election (Marcos, Somoza, Batista, Pahlavi, Pinochet, every Arab regime in the Middle East), supported governments who flat-out stole dishonest elections (Mexico, Ukraine), overthrew democratically-elected governments that it didn't like (Mossadegh, Allende, Arbenz), and is currently withdrawing its support from governments it doesn't like who won elections (Palestine, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia).

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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,09:21   

Quote
The European dollar


Where can I get my hands on some?

  
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,11:33   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 02 2006,22:57)
In the simplest terms the World relies on US money and international law has no meaning to the US, or it shouldn't but our Supreme Court failed to get that memo.

I think someone watched too many films in high school civics class back in the 1950's...

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,14:37   

Quote
Where can I get my hands on some?


convert late night text: european dollars to:  Euros.

conversion rate one to one.


;)

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,15:16   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 03 2006,11:33)
I think someone watched too many films in high school civics class back in the 1950's...

Don't be too hard on Skeptic ---- he is the victim of a relentless propaganda blitz.  Virtually everyone in the US sincerely believes that the US is loved the world over, is every nation's friend, and is enthusiastically welcomed wherever it goes as a benevolent friend and liberator.  The US is simply the best at everything, and everyone loves us, follows our leadership willingly, and wants to be just like us.

The bitter truth, of course, is quite different.  In most of the world, the US is viewed, quite rightly, as predatory, selfish and hypocritical -- a supporter of unelected dictators who kill their own people, and the opponent of every social movement that attempts to make things better for people in other countries.  

However, we in the US are not exposed to any information to that effect, whatsoever.  On the rare occasions when we get a glimpse of global anti-American sentiment, we glibly dismiss it as just the work of a handful of malcontented commies (or, more recently, Islamic terrorists).

Since, in the US, we have no collective memory and therefore no history, we are quite unable to learn lessons from our own past.  Instead, we blunder again and again and again and again into the same old actions for the same old reasons, and never learn a thing from any of it.

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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,15:57   

Quote
The bitter truth, of course, is quite different.  In most of the world, the US is viewed, quite rightly, as predatory, selfish and hypocritical -- a supporter of unelected dictators who kill their own people, and the opponent of every social movement that attempts to make things better for people in other countries.


I think you are being too hard on the US, Lenny. People can distinguish between individuals and Government policy. It's MacDonald's that give the US a bad name in my part of the world. Learn to laugh at yourselves as a nation and the world will laugh with you.

  
tiredofthesos



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,16:27   

Lenny, answering Skeptic once is as much as any reasonable person should be willing to extend themselves, in the name of courtesy. He sees himself as reasonable and knowledgeable - a person whose very faults serve to accentuate his perfection - while having proven himself to be uninformed and completely unwilling (or unable) to challenge even the slightest of his rather foul set of nationalistic/spiritual beliefs.
 One can't really have a discussion with someone who, like Odysseus' crew, fears the song of the sirens so much they stop their ears with wax. ;)

  
tiredofthesos



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,16:47   

Oh, and Alan - I sincerely envy someone who is capable of spelling Mickey D's as "MacDonald's" as it proves you have not been exposed to lethal doses of the franchise's advertising. :D

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,18:47   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Dec. 03 2006,15:57)
I think you are being too hard on the US, Lenny. People can distinguish between individuals and Government policy.

Indeed, it is not the American people that brought this all about.

Although, it should be pointed out, most American people are utterly painfully pig-ignorant (perhaps willfully so) about anything that is going on around them.  We are, it seems, a servile people who are easily led around by the nose, unquestioningly.

In any other nation on this planet, if a leader had assumed power with less than half of the popular vote, abrogated international law, imprisoned people indefinately without trial based on secret evidence obtained through torture, and invaded several nations based on false premises, the people would be in the streets, and that government would fall.

In the US, we just shrug and go back to watching "American Idol".  And about half of us will, perhaps, bother to vote.

In a democracy, people get exactly the sort of government that they deserve.  

We deserve what we got.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,18:51   

Quote (tiredofthesos @ Dec. 03 2006,16:27)
Lenny, answering Skeptic once is as much as any reasonable person should be willing to extend themselves, in the name of courtesy. He sees himself as reasonable and knowledgeable - a person whose very faults serve to accentuate his perfection - while having proven himself to be uninformed and completely unwilling (or unable) to challenge even the slightest of his rather foul set of nationalistic/spiritual beliefs.
 One can't really have a discussion with someone who, like Odysseus' crew, fears the song of the sirens so much they stop their ears with wax. ;)

Alas, though, you will find that Skeptic is not atypical.  Most Americans are exactly the same way.

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Richard Simons



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,19:15   

Lenny - I hope your next endeavours are successful.

I think you are quite right in your assessment of the US's reputation. I'm a Brit who has spent half his life in Canada, where the US refusal to abide by the rules of NAFTA (the free trade agreement) has upset a lot of people. At the time of 7/11 I was working in Southern Africa where Americans are seen as being ignorant and arrogant. I tried to convince others that it is always the most objectionable people who are the most conspicuous and if you visit the US you'll find many people who are friendly and generous but I don't think I persuaded many.

The general reaction to 7/11 amongst my colleagues (many of whom had higher degrees from Western Europe or North America) was 'They've had it coming to them for a long time' and 'Perhaps now they will appreciate what they've done to other people'. It was widely hoped that it would encourage the US to take a step back and ask why they were so hated, but all I saw along these lines (but I could easily have missed the debate) was 'We're clearly great guys so we need to do a better selling job.'

And personally, I am rather cynical about the 'War on Terror' as I remember the IRA's bombing campaign in Britain, funded largely by Americans and with the support of many US politicians.

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Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,19:33   

Quote
In any other nation on this planet, if a leader had assumed power with less than half of the popular vote, abrogated international law, imprisoned people indefinitely without trial based on secret evidence obtained through torture, and invaded several nations based on false premises, the people would be in the streets, and that government would fall.


In the UK general election in 2005 Tony Blair won with 35% of the popular vote(22% of the electorate), although that generally represents a complete breakdown of public trust in government. There was a vote in the commons that was meant to extend the time people could be detained without trial that was narrowly defeated. The next day several papers declared the MPs who voted the bill down to be traitors. Although recently arrests in the UK actually mirrored the extreme scenario that the government said would require longer detention (involvement of foreign governments, encrypted files, etc.) and it was handled perfectly well in the time. Don't know about the torture thing, but our government has all but admitted it knows the CIA is using UK airports to transport people to eastern Europe for torture.

As for Americans we basically think you are either Larry the cable guy, Bill O'Reilly or George Clooney :D. I was going to say Ann Coulter instead of Bill O'Reilly but everyone here thinks she's a parody like Stephen Colbert.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,20:13   

Quote (Richard Simons @ Dec. 03 2006,19:15)
It was widely hoped that it would encourage the US to take a step back and ask why they were so hated

Alas, most people in the US don't even know that the US **is** so widely hated.

Like Skeptic, they think everyone loves the USA because we hand out chocolate bars, bubble gum and money to everyone.

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Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,20:16   

Yeah we would but your chocolate bars suck :p .

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,20:45   

Back during Gulf War I, the military started handing out special chocolate bars that were designed not to melt in the desert.  Since my brother-in-law was a Marine back then, I got to try some.

Blecccchhhhhh.

The poor Iraqi kids probably thought we were trying to poison them.

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Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 03 2006,22:48   

Lenny, I think you are a tad hard on the USA. The foreign policy may suck but that is true of just about every country in the World. Everybody seems to put short term national interest first.

Still the USA is one of the few countries I would consider living in should I choose to emigrate (but I doubt that will ever happen).

Coming under atack by the sort of people that carried out the Sep 11 atrocity should be a badge of honour rather than a cause for concern. Look at the policies those people endorse when they have power. Truly frightening.

EDIT: Having said that, I do think that it is irresponsible for any democratic government to sponsor dictatorships. Yet they all do so to some extent. Shamefull really.

I think I would like to see a world where democracies formed a new organisation and only dealt with each other. Probably too idealistic but it might just work and force more countries to treat their citizens better.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,01:14   

Quote (Chris Hyland @ Dec. 03 2006,20:16)
Yeah we would but your chocolate bars suck :p .

If you think this, clearly you haven't tried Russian chocolate.

Just don't. Trust me.

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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: Dec. 04 2006,06:56   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Dec. 03 2006,22:48)
Lenny, I think you are a tad hard on the USA. The foreign policy may suck but that is true of just about every country in the World. Everybody seems to put short term national interest first.

Yes.  But we are the only ones who not only *can* impose our policy on whomever we want to, but have made that our deliberate and conscious strategy.

Every nation wants to dictate to the whole world.

But we are the only one who CAN.  And does.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,07:58   

I forgot we were talking about "that" United States.  The cancer of modern civilization, murderer of millions, parasite of the global economy, destroyer of worlds...

Yeah, I got a little confused there.

But I'll offer one note.  There's this little thing called credibility and in order to have it you've got to be honest (intellectually at least).  There's plenty of things to fairly criticize the US about and there are plenty of aspects that should be applauded (or at least acknowledged as good).

Stephan highlights a good point.  The US is the destination of millions and some are literally dying to get here.  Someone's going to have to tell them they've lied too and the US is just the world's cesspool.

On a final note, as so often happens on this board, people make unfounded assumptions about things they can have no way of knowing.  Then they look foolish.  To that end, I have traveled extensively around the world and lived outside the US in a third world country for many years.  I can actually make an informed comparison of the US to other countries.  I'm sure that really doesn't matter to most here so let the mantra continue.

  
Stephen Elliott



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,11:51   

Skeptic.

You did not answer my question.

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,14:34   

Heck, he didn't even spell your name right!

If you're going to be all skeptical in the Land'O'Steves, ya gotta get the little things down...

:p

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,15:56   

Sorry, Stephen (for the misspelling also), I must have missed the question.  What were you asking?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,16:09   

Brief 'cos I'm feckin busy:

One on the current thread of America worship/bashing/occasional reason:

Independent 04/12/06 Comment

And one on the actual views of Richard Dawkins (although I STRONGLY suggest wider reading. Otherwise gentle readers, some amongst you might get confused with that notorious bounder and fount of all evil Richard Strawkins)

Independent 04/12/06 You Ask the Questions

Here's some further clarification of what I was saying much earlier that I squeezed in earlier today in a break between meetings (yuck) and lab work (yay).

Pharyngula

Louis

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Bye.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,17:28   

Louis, welcome back.  The conversation diverged somewhat but has stayed lively.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,18:15   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,07:58)
The US is the destination of millions and some are literally dying to get here.

So is Europe.  (shrug)

Besides, if you happen to be Mexican or Latin American, the US doesn't want you here.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,18:21   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Dec. 04 2006,11:51)
Skeptic.

You did not answer my question.

Nor mine.

Skeptic, do other nations also have the right to ignore international law, or is that privilege reserved solely for the USA (and those particular nations that kiss the USA's ass)?

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,18:37   

In general, the laws of a nation should apply only to it's citizen's and no other nation's laws should also apply.  I can think of one exception and that is the European Union (but I don't believe that the Constitution has been fully ratified yet, someone correct me on that if I'm wrong) which I believe was intentionally designed for shared soverignty, so to speak.

So, no, in my opinion the US doesn't get to thumb their noses at the rest of the world because they can.  All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

  
Mike PSS



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:01   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,19:37)
In general, the laws of a nation should apply only to it's citizen's and no other nation's laws should also apply.  I can think of one exception and that is the European Union (but I don't believe that the Constitution has been fully ratified yet, someone correct me on that if I'm wrong) which I believe was intentionally designed for shared soverignty, so to speak.

So, no, in my opinion the US doesn't get to thumb their noses at the rest of the world because they can.  All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

The European Constitution in its present form is DOA because one or more countries have vetoed the document.  Both France and Netherlands (and Denmark I think) voted it down in a popular referendum.  Many other countries have ratified it either with public referendums or governmental votes (thus bypassing the citizens to vote on their own sovereignty).  The U.K. cancelled their referendum after France's rejection (why bother, the document is dead).

The EU at present has some common institutions.
*Agriculture Policy (more subsidy and field/crop rationing than anything)
*Monetary Policy (for those countries enrolled in the Euro mechanism).  This policy also cedes rights of each countries central banks to set interest rates and 'tries' to limit governments spending to maintain balanced budgets (not as successful as originally hoped).
*Trade Policy (the original Common Market type of set-up)
*Environmental Policy (still a little fragmented but since the Kyoto accord the EU laws are collectivising the national rules into a central body)
*Labor Policy (this Policy tends to provide rights of work withing the EU body more than dictate the countries working rules themselves)

Europe still barks with seperate voices at the UN and the International arena, but they are starting to share organs and morphing into a hydra-like entity.

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:11   

Quote
All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.


what about states' rights, you deep thinker you.

Quote
I forgot we were talking about "that" United States.  The cancer of modern civilization, murderer of millions, parasite of the global economy, destroyer of worlds...


hmm, how do you score on this poll, i wonder:

http://www.gotoquiz.com/do_you_want_the_terrorists_to_win

Quote
There's this little thing called credibility and in order to have it you've got to be honest (intellectually at least).  


considering you haven't the slightest clue what either means in practice, it ranks as the best piece of irony I have run across today.

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Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:17   

Skeptic:
Quote
All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

And what about "certain inalienable rights"?  Wouldn't you agree that some basic human rights should, in theory, apply trans-nationally, that is in spite or instead of national sovereignty?

  
ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:17   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,18:37)
All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

Iraq?

   
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:19   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Dec. 04 2006,19:17)
Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,18:37)
All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

Iraq?

yeah, he forgot to add:

...unless you carry a really big stick.

then you can impose jurisdiction on all other nations with smaller sticks.

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-CC

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:30   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Dec. 04 2006,19:19)
...unless you carry a really big stick.

then you can impose jurisdiction on all other nations with smaller sticks.

The winners never get tried for war crimes.

   
skeptic



Posts: 1163
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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,20:11   

Quote (Ichthyic @ Dec. 04 2006,19:11)
hmm, how do you score on this poll, i wonder:

http://www.gotoquiz.com/do_you_want_the_terrorists_to_win

I scored a 34%, which is good?  Actually I left quite a few unanswered.  All and all it was pretty mindless.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,20:21   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,18:37)
In general, the laws of a nation should apply only to it's citizen's and no other nation's laws should also apply.

Hey Skeptic, you, uh, do realize that everything that Hitler did was utterly absolutely legal under German law at the time?

Everything Saddam Hussein did in Iraq was completely totally legal under Iraqi law at the time?

So, in your opinion, nothing can or should have been done with either of them  . . . ?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,20:29   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,18:37)
So, no, in my opinion the US doesn't get to thumb their noses at the rest of the world because they can.  All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

As I noted before (and apparently it still hasn't penetrated your dense skull) all international law is spelled out in treaties that were ratified by the US, and under American law, all international treaties ratified by Congress therefore automatically become part of US law.

So I will ask again:  *ahem*  Is it just the US, in your opinion, that has the right to ignore international law?  Or do other nations also have that very same right?


Oh, and you do, uh, understand that the United Nations (which was ratified by the US and therefore has full legal force and effect under American law) also limits national sovereignty (not to mention that things such as, oh, invading other nations, has an awfully large limit on that nation's sovereignty), right?

Would you mind explaining to me what portion of law (American OR international) gives the US the right to decide which governments are acceptable in other nations and which are not, and gives us the right to unilaterally intervene to change the ones we don't like?  I'd very much like to hear that.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,20:32   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,18:37)
which I believe was intentionally designed for shared soverignty, so to speak.

Um, so was the UN, in case you didn't notice . . . .

And the US ratified and accepted the UN Charter, in case you didn't notice.

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ScaryFacts



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(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,20:34   

Quote (skeptic @ Dec. 04 2006,20:11)
I scored a 34%, which is good?  Actually I left quite a few unanswered.  All and all it was pretty mindless.

Mindless? Yes. That's the point.  Any