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6/29/09

Rise of Atheism in America While the Amish Survive Only By Kidnapping Little Children, part 2 of 4

Atheism is Dead now continues considering Nicholas Humphrey’s Oxford Amnesty Lecture of 1997 AD alternately published as “What shall we tell the children?” and “What shall we tell the children?” (PDF, HTML).

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4


Nicholas Humphrey primes the pump for his doxology to “science” by appealing to the typical besmirchments of America’s lack of scientific enlightenment: age of the Earth this, evolution that, superstition this, almighty science that…

He also gives the obligatory hat tip to Richard Dawkins for being on the forefront of turning children against parents and his references to religious ideas as viral:
…as Richard Dawkins has explained so well, this kind of self-restraint is not in the nature of successful belief systems

The “self-restraint” of which Nicholas Humphrey speaks is the restraint of not teaching one’s children one’s “faith.” As is perhaps obvious, we shall see (particularly at the end of part 4) that Nicholas Humphrey and co.’s answer is to teach, nay; indoctrinate, children into absolute materialism.

In this regard, consider his self-righteous us against them statement:
…their devotees will be obsessed with education and with discipline: insisting on the rightness of their own ways and rubbishing or preventing access to others. We should expect, moreover, that they will make a special point of targeting children in the home, while they are still available, impressionable and vulnerable.

It is hard to see how this can so very easily be turned around on him?
Nicholas Humphrey’s devotees are obsessed with education and with discipline: insisting on the rightness of their own ways and rubbishing or preventing access to others. We should expect, moreover, that they will make a special point of targeting children in the home, while they are still available, impressionable and vulnerable.

Of course, such atheists are beyond merely targeting their own children in the home, while they are still available, impressionable and vulnerable. But have for a long time smuggled atheism into the public schools not merely through the back door but right through the front in the form of textbooks, “science,” removing any reference to God, etc. They do not only want their children to be atheist but yours as well. This will become all too clear and troubling as we proceed in considering the lecture (and in the various posts to which I linked in part 1).



Nicholas Humphrey provides a token comment in apparently recognizing that retorts such as mine above could just as easily be made as he begins his various belittlements of the Amish; those kidnappers!
Donald Kraybill, an anthropologist who made a close study of an Amish community in Pennsylvania, was well placed to observe how this works out in practice. "Groups threatened by cultural extinction," he writes, "must indoctrinate their offspring if they want to preserve their unique heritage…The Amish contend that the Bible commissions parents to train their children in religious matters as well as the Amish way of life. . . An ethnic nursery, staffed by extended family and church members, moulds the Amish world view in the child's mind from the earliest moments of consciousness." [second ellipses in original]
…"An ethnic nursery, staffed by extended family and church members . . ." could be as much a description of the early environment of a Belfast Catholic, a Birmingham Sikh, a Brooklyn Hasidic Jew—or maybe the child of a North Oxford don.

I imagine that the North Oxford don is in reference to a supposed true intellectual and perhaps particularly to Richard Dawkins. Apparently, he is not familiar with the Amish year of freedom whereby an Amish teen is allowed to explore the world outside of the Amish community and decides whether or not to return. Surely, Nicholas Humphrey would argue that such as exercise is merely a farce as by that point the teen has been so indoctrinated as to ensure only the teen’s return to the Amish paradise.
However, he rejoices in a circa three decades old story about Amish teens choosing the outside world after being made to work in public hospitals in lieu of military service during the Vietnam war drafts: male teens with raging hormones being unleashed upon the world of whatever-whenever-however-anyone wants goes world—big surprise.

Nicholas Humphrey makes reference to “sectarian schools” such as those that insist on,
presenting all subjects only from a biblical point of view, and requiring all teachers, supervisors, and assistants to agree with the church's doctrinal position

As an example of the deleterious effects of such schooling he offers the following,
Dress a little boy in the uniform of the Hasidim, curl his side-locks, subject him to strange dietary taboos, make him spend all weekend reading the Torah, tell him that gentiles are dirty.

As becomes more and more evidence as the lecture progresses, Nicholas Humphrey’s response is to, for example, establish equally, or even more so, sectarian schools wherein the teachers will present all subjects only from an atheistic point of view and requiring all teachers, supervisors, and assistants to agree with the atheist’s doctrinal position (many have already been excommunicated from the realm of academia). These schools seek to dress a little boy in a lab coat and make him spend a minimum of twelve years being told that life, the universe and everything is the fortuitous result of happenstantial accidents and tell him that religious people are ignorant.

Nicholas Humphrey notes that a boy “actually escaped and lived to tell the tale” of being raised a Catholic and notes,
There are plenty of other examples, known to all of us, of men and women who as children were pressured into becoming junior members of a sect, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Marxist—and yet who came out the other side, free thinkers, and seemingly none the worse for their experience.

Indeed, there are plenty of other examples, known to all of us, of men and women who as children were pressured into becoming junior members of a sect of atheism—and yet who came out the other side, true free thinkers, and seemingly none the worse for their experience. Then again some of the pseudo-freethinkers of which Nicholas Humphrey refers end up becoming some of the most vitriolic expressers of prejudice one would never hope to hear—just asks the likes of Dan Barker and co.

In another attempt to appeal to his liberal audience in the form of liberal ideas about sex in stating,
someone who has learned as a child, for example, to think of sex as sinful may never again be able to be relaxed about making love.

Again, this is one-sided-well-within-the-box-liberal-group-think as I personally know many people who learned as a child to think of sex as a mere bio-function to be expressed anytime, anywhere, with anyone and may never again be able to be relaxed about making love as a pure thing; a God ordained sacred and holy union of a husband and wife.

Now we get into the full Monty of Nicholas Humphrey’s promulgations as he lays it on the line:
…what would happen if this kind of vicious circle were to be forcibly broken? What would happen if, for example, there were to be an externally imposed "time-out"? Wouldn't we predict that, just to the extent it is a vicious circle, the process of becoming a fully-fledged believer might be surprisingly easy to disrupt? I think the clearest evidence of how these belief systems typically hold sway over their followers can in fact be found in historical examples of what has happened when group members have been involuntarily exposed to the fresh air of the outside world.

This is exemplary of his proposal: to forcibly unleash the forces of atheism upon you, your children your worldview, you schools (even and especially home schools). Again, appealing to fellow militant activist atheist Richard Dawkins, Nicholas Humphrey makes reference to “cultural viruses.” Do not simply shrug off the fact that militant activist atheist are increasingly dehumanizing religious people: as with abortion; dehumanization precedes persecution and extermination.

Nicholas Humphrey gets to his bottom line point which he described thusly:
Suppose that, as the Amish case suggests, young members of such a faith would—if given the opportunity to make up their own minds—choose to leave. Doesn't this say something important about the morality of imposing any such faith on children to begin with? I think it does. In fact I think it says everything we need to know in order to condemn it…

So I'll come to the main point—and lesson—of this lecture. I want to propose a general test for deciding when and whether the teaching of a belief system to children is morally defensible. As follows. If it is ever the case that teaching this system to children will mean that later in life they come to hold beliefs that, were they in fact to have had access to alternatives, they would most likely not have chosen for themselves, then it is morally wrong of whoever presumes to impose this system and to chose for them to do so. No one has the right to choose badly for anyone else…

only if we know that teaching a system to children will mean that later in life they come to hold beliefs that, were they to have had access to alternatives, they would still have chosen for themselves, only then can it be morally allowable for whoever imposes this system and chooses for them to do so.

Thus, the only allowable result is a worldview that a child would have come to hold when, having been given access to alternatives, they would have most likely chosen. And then we are provided a typical baseless atheist assertion of moral condemnation. He had previously referred to giving the child “access to the full range of alternatives.”
Full range meaning that they may choose to become a Mother Theresa or an Adolf Hitler. Given the choice they may forgo working 40-80 hours per week and coming home to a wife who does not elicit constant goose bumpy adrenaline spiked feeling and choose the life of a pornographer. They may become a foster parent or an assassin. No, no! No? Why not, because of some vague and ultimately judicially impotent notion of right and wrong?
No indeed, because the view of such atheists is that of a Utopian human race wherein education of the “right” kind will produce pure benevolence.

58 comments:

  1. Mariano wrote, suggesting that atheists’ claims of Christian closemindedness can be turned back on atheists:
    >It is hard to see how this can so very easily be turned around on him?

    Ah, but Mariano, old chap, there is one *huge* difference!

    You see, I want my kids to know in great detail *exactly* what Christians think.

    I want them to understand that traditional Christians maintain that they, even though they are innocent young kids, really do deserve to suffer eternal torture in Hell, but that they might escape this if they can convince themselves to believe in some teachings that are, shall we say, rather doubtful in light of modern science.

    I explained this to them early in grade school.

    When they were in kindergarten, I had them read a kiddie Bible cover to cover.

    As they get older, I will have them read C. S. Lewis – “Mere Christianity,” “Screwtape,” etc.

    And, eventually, I will have them read the Bible cover to cover (of course, being homeschooled, they will be able to read the New Testament in the original Greek).

    I even encourage them to find out directly and personally from Christians themselves what Christians believe – straight from the horses’ mouths, so to speak.

    Now, how many Christians insist that their kids read Dawkins et al. in grade school – or ever?

    You see, some of us atheists are *not* trying to prevent our kids from learning the Christian position. On the contrary, we are making *sure* they learn of it. We are also of course making sure they learn the scientific and historical evidence that shows that Christianity is a bunch of lies. Before they finish middle school, I plan to have my kids read (and check the Biblical citations in) Bart Ehrman’s new “Jesus Interrupted,” so that they will understand what serious scholars over the last two hundred years have discovered about the lies in the Bible.

    (Parenthetically, I have not seen you review Ehrman’s book here, although it is getting a lot of attention. You might want to check it out: although Ehrman is a bit of a wishy-washy agnostic himself, rather than being one of us New Atheists, I think you will find that we New Atheists will be making very effective use of the book over the next few years.)

    Do you know any Christians who make sure their kids learn both sides of the story?

    Quite a big difference, eh?

    You also wrote:
    >Of course, such atheists are beyond merely targeting their own children in the home, while they are still available, impressionable and vulnerable. But have for a long time smuggled atheism into the public schools not merely through the back door but right through the front in the form of textbooks, “science,” removing any reference to God, etc. They do not only want their children to be atheist but yours as well.

    Oh, yes. A high-school girlfriend of mine was instrumental in getting me to see the truth about Christianity, and I certainly hope my kids can help many of their friends in the same way.

    As you know, I strongly disagree with Nick Humphrey’s apparent view that the state should intervene in religious matters, even if on behalf of atheism; indeed, I oppose any government involvement in any sort of education at all.

    But do we New Atheists advocate trying to tell the truth about the evil of Christianity to the children, to everyone’s children, to your children?

    As Gov. Palin says, “You betcha!”

    Frankly, I don’t think you can stop us: our actions are protected by the First Amendment.

    Dave

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  2. Trying to entice your children into your anti Christianity obsession ? Sure tell them if you wish thats its bogus and think its wrong but leave it at that, dont force them to read the bible cover to cover for fucks sake (they may not want to) otherwise I think you could be accused of a form of conditioning (child abuse)

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  3. A purveyor of obscenities wrote to me:
    >Trying to entice your children into your anti Christianity obsession ?

    No, just trying to see to it that they hear the arguments from *both* sides – C. S. Lewis as well as Richard Dawkins. I know that violates your religion.

    And not an “obsession,” but just a passionate and deep revulsion for the profound evil of Christianity.

    It was, after all, almost nineteen centuries ago that the great Roman historian Tacitus wrote that Christians are known for their “odium humani generis,” their hatred of the human race. And, surely, he spoke accurately of a “faith” that claims that the vast majority of the human race truly *deserves* eternal torture in Hell.

    Thank you for illustrating Tacitus’ point so nicely.

    You also wrote:
    > dont force them to read the bible cover to cover for f**ks sake (they may not want to) otherwise I think you could be accused of a form of conditioning (child abuse)

    I can be *accused* of being a space alien or Jack the Ripper.

    But, considering the great destruction of human lives due to the Bible, ranging from those murdered by the vicious ancient Israelites in the name of their bloodthirsty “God” to the lives ruined today by Christianity, no, I think having my kids read the Bible in its entirety (something very few Christians do, in my observation) is part of a prudent inoculation against that Book of Lies.

    After all, for any decent human being, to truly know the Bible in its entirety is to hate it.

    I want them to know what the Bible truly is, not just a few pretty parts from the Psalms, or the little fairy tales about the Christ child. Let them read the threats of Hellfire, the genocides ordered by “God” in the Old Testament, the murder of thousands of innocent Israelites by Moses in the Golden Calf incident, etc.

    Let them know the Bible in its entirety, and they will hate it as I do.

    Dave

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  4. Atheism, which is dead, is rising in America?

    Doesn't that qualify it as some kind of god?

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  5. Where did I say I was a Christian as I am not. You obviously make these assuptions because someone disagrees with you .
    Just as I said an obsession and the usual off track screed to try justify your position.

    "Space Alien or Jack the Ripper" There are many other choices you know. Dad actually works well.

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  6. Dave

    I have been reading your comments about your education of your children. Let me throw you a hypothetical. Suppose one or more of your children, because of or despite your educational standards, decides that this whole Christianity thing is pretty cool and decides to become a dyed-in-the-wool, Bible-thumping believer? Would you consider yourself a failure? Would you ostracize the child? Don't think it such a weird possibility. Madelyn Murray O'Hare (sp?),an outspoken atheist, today has a son who is a preacher. I would just warn you, the more you put down Christianity to your kids, the more you may stoke that natural childhood rebellion and the more they may want to try it out for themselves, if for no other reason than to figure out why Mommy and Daddy have such a beef against it.

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  7. >Let them know the Bible in its entirety, and they will hate it as I do.

    I reply: As a Catholic Christian I reject the Portestant Doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture & I reject Private Interpretation of scripture apart from Tradition(2 Thes 3:6)& the Authority of the Church.

    So tell me why should I accept your negative self serving interpretation of Scripture over & against my positive one?

    Are you the Infallible interpreter of a document that speaks of a non-existent god?

    An Atheist Pope? Who knew! Now I've seen everything.

    >genocides ordered by “God” in the Old Testament,

    I reply: Whenever I hear this self-righteous twaddle from a Fundie Atheist I imagine a Canannite survivor siting in the ashes of his desolated town after an Israelite raid screaming "Oh My gods! My wife & children have been killed by those bloody Hebrews! Now who am I going to sacrifice to Baal tommorow threw slow torture.

    OTOH according to Jewish Tradition specifically RaMBaM(i.e.Maimomodies) & other Rabbis, Cananite Villiages who accepted the Seven Noachide Laws where spared distruction.

    FYI, before you compair that to Forced Conversion, the 7 Laws of Noah are NEGATIVE Laws. They don't require any positive belief. An Atheist living in the Ancient Commonwealth of Israel could keep the 7 Laws & Still disbelieve in God. Just as long as he doesn't eat any live animal flesh or sacrifice his kids to Molech.

    >the murder of thousands of innocent Israelites by Moses in the Golden Calf incident, etc.

    I reply: how do you know they where innocent. According to Tradition they where commiting rape, human sacrifice & sexual perversion(the traditional elements of pagan worship).

    Cry me a river buddy.

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  8. jc1873 wrote:

    "Dave

    I have been reading your comments about your education of your children. Let me throw you a hypothetical. Suppose one or more of your children, because of or despite your educational standards, decides that this whole Christianity thing is pretty cool and decides to become a dyed-in-the-wool, Bible-thumping believer? Would you consider yourself a failure? Would you ostracize the child? Don't think it such a weird possibility. Madelyn Murray O'Hare (sp?),an outspoken atheist, today has a son who is a preacher. I would just warn you, the more you put down Christianity to your kids, the more you may stoke that natural childhood rebellion and the more they may want to try it out for themselves, if for no other reason than to figure out why Mommy and Daddy have such a beef against it."


    I've been thinking the exact same thing as I've been reading Dave's posts. Some of the most flaming of liberals I know, for example, were raised in very right-wing conservative homes.

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  9. Lou Gojira wrote with regard to me:
    >Some of the most flaming of liberals I know, for example, were raised in very right-wing conservative homes.

    Like Hillary Clinton, whose family was right-wing Republican.

    But that really makes sense, doesn’t it?

    After all, conservatives and liberals are basically the same: liberals want to use the power of the state to control other people’s pocketbooks, conservatives wish to use the power of the state to control other people’s personal lives and the internal affairs of other nations (the latter of which used to be a liberal obsession, in fact).

    *Of course*, many people flip-flop between conservative and liberal.

    Not really much difference.

    Dave

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  10. jc1873 wrote to me:
    >Let me throw you a hypothetical. Suppose one or more of your children, because of or despite your educational standards, decides that this whole Christianity thing is pretty cool and decides to become a dyed-in-the-wool, Bible-thumping believer? Would you consider yourself a failure? Would you ostracize the child?

    Fair question.

    Well.. if one of my kids came to think that Ku Klux Klanism or geocentrism or Flat Earthism or 2+2=5ism were really cool and adapted it, what would I think of that?

    Yeah, in all of these cases, I would indeed consider myself a profound failure as a parent… unless there were evidence of severe brain damage to the child.

    So, since traditional, orthodox, Nicene Christianity is, after all, a good deal less plausible than geocentrism or Ku Klux Klanism, yes, I would feel the same if any of my kids became traditional Christians. (Of course, some people have definitions of “Christianity” by which even I count as a “Christian”! I assume we are all excluding such eccentric definitions.)

    I would not necessarily ostracize a family member who became a Flat Earther or a Ku Kluxer, though I would certainly want to know what had gone seriously wrong with their mind!

    Same for a kid who became Christian.

    You also wrote:
    > Don't think it such a weird possibility. Madelyn Murray O'Hare (sp?),an outspoken atheist, today has a son who is a preacher.

    Dear little Madalyn was rather a pariah among atheists – she was a really rotten human being. As far as I know, she did not exactly make a stupendous effort to educate her kids.

    It shows.

    I’m not focusing on simply ridiculing Christians to my kids: indeed, I emphasize that many Christians are basically good folks who have fallen in with an evil bunch, more to be pitied than hated. Furthermore, rather than focusing on negativity towards Christianity, I am primarily focusing on actually learning positive things about science, about history, about the origins of the Bible, etc.

    As I’ve said, I know of no human being anywhere on earth who is intelligent, well-educated, and honest and also a Christian.

    I think indeed that that is an impossibility, for the same reason I think it is impossible for an honest, intelligent, well-educated person to be a geocentrist, a 2+2=5ist, etc. Some things do not and cannot happen.

    So, as long as my kids are indeed well-educated, I really do not think it is a possibility that they can become Christians, barring some brain injury.

    You also wrote:
    > I would just warn you, the more you put down Christianity to your kids, the more you may stoke that natural childhood rebellion and the more they may want to try it out for themselves, if for no other reason than to figure out why Mommy and Daddy have such a beef against it.

    Well… again, I simply do not accept the American concept that “childhood rebellion” is “natural.”

    My wife and I did not go through that “stage” ourselves (my parents, indeed, claim that my brother had all the rebelliousness in the family, which is actually unfair to him – neither of us went through the rebellious "stage").

    My wife is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and, in that culture, this idea of “childhood rebellion” is simply not taken for granted as it is in America.

    Frankly, I think American childhood rebellion” is often simply a sensible and justifiable reaction to the utter inanity of American public schooling and to the pervasive lies of American society – such as all the American Christian leaders who claim that every word in the Bible is true, although anyone who has studied it knows that there are numerous and blatant contradictions within the Bible.

    *That* kind of blatant lying justifies contempt and rebellion. To dismiss it as “childhood” rebellion is wrong.

    No, I do not expect my kids to exhibit “childhood rebellion” anymore than my wife and I did.

    But, even if they do, I do not think it will be mentally possible for them to be Christians, anymore than they could be 2+2=5ists, barring brain injury.

    Dave

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  11. BY wrote to me:
    > I reply: As a Catholic Christian I reject the Portestant Doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture & I reject Private Interpretation of scripture apart from Tradition(2 Thes 3:6)& the Authority of the Church.

    Well… I tend to address the Bible thumpers, because they are obviously the most plausible and most honest of traditional Christians.

    They do, after all, have a book written within a century or so of the events it claims to describe.

    Surely, that is more credible than relying on “tradition” that has had two millennia to mutate, to decay, to be twisted and distorted, etc.!

    Ever played the childhood game of telephone?

    Sorry, but the idea that mythical traditions about unbelievable events that supposedly occurred two millennia ago should be trusted is less plausible than believing in astrology (which has a similarly lengthy “tradition”).

    Again, I do not think that any honest, well-educate, intelligent person anyplace on earth can or does swallow that.

    But I’ll let you and the Bible-thumpers sort all that out among yourselves: I don’t want to involve myself in an internal family dispute!

    You also wrote:
    > I reply: how do you know they [those murdered by Moses] where innocent. According to Tradition they where commiting rape, human sacrifice & sexual perversion(the traditional elements of pagan worship).

    Tradition, again! As opposed, I suppose, to the traditional rape, human sacrifice, and sexual perversion so often engaged in by Christians and Jews (see the Gaza Strip or the Catholic priest pederasty story)

    Look, I think the whole Golden Calf incident never happened: it has all the trimmings of one more of the myths that make up the Exodus myth cycle. There is serious doubt among responsible historians and archaeologists that the Exodus ever happened at all.

    However, even though I think it is a myth, the point is that *as presented in the Old Testament* the story is told so as to treat the apostasy of the children of Israel, and, of course, the murderous command of Yahweh, as sufficient to justify the mass murders supposedly carried out by Moses.

    It is that moral point I was addressing.

    Dave

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  12. Some of the most flaming of liberals I know, for example, were raised in very right-wing conservative homes.

    Funny how discussions on religion usually come down to politics eventually... Its as if the Pie in the Sky When You Die crowd really cast their eyes toward power on the ground today. Christianity hasn't been the same since the Vatican disbanded its army.

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  13. >Well… I tend to address the Bible thumpers, because they are obviously the most plausible and most honest of traditional Christians.

    I reply: So Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East and other ANCIENT HISTORICAL manifestations of Christianity are NOT honest as compared to a late movement in American Protestantism? That is not a credible intellectual view.

    >They do, after all, have a book written within a century or so of the events it claims to describe.

    I reply: Actually the letters of Paul where written within about twenty years & the Gospels within about 30. Later dates are artificially ascribed to the Gospels because of an A-priori naturalistic bias against them predicting evens prior to 70AD. It’s silly.

    >Surely, that is more credible than relying on “tradition” that has had two millennia to mutate, to decay, to be twisted and distorted, etc.!

    I reply: This is a VERY ignorant statement. Have you READ the writings of the first & second century Fathers & extra-Biblical writings? They paint an accurate picture of the early Christians and many of them EXPLICITY did not believe the 6 days of creation where literally 144 hours. Some did & some did not.

    >Sorry, but the idea that mythical traditions about unbelievable events that supposedly occurred two millennia ago should be trusted is less plausible than believing in astrology (which has a similarly lengthy “tradition”).

    I reply: Sorry but tradition is the reliable guide to what the meaning of an ancient text is to the people who produced it. This is true regardless of wuther or not you believe the claims of the narrative. Any archeologist will tell you that. For a scientist you have a very un-scientific view of history & one that ironically enough is more in line with your average “Bible thumping” fundamentalist. Catholics & historically informed Protestants & historians in general know better.

    >Again, I do not think that any honest, well-educate, intelligent person anyplace on earth can or does swallow that.

    I reply: No person atheist or theist who understands basic logic would accept your sweeping generalization fallacy.

    You have fallen for the Atheist Fundie Meme that denial of “gods” equals instantaneous rationality & understanding. Reasoning is a learned process just because you deny “gods” doesn’t automatically make your rational. Your lame responses show that.

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  14. >Tradition, again! As opposed, I suppose, to the traditional rape, human sacrifice, and sexual perversion so often engaged in by Christians and Jews (see the Gaza Strip or the Catholic priest pederasty story)

    I reply: Your Ad hominim is lame. Tradition DOES forbid all these things. There is no guarantee an individual Christian will act in accord with Christian teaching. Just as there is no guarantee that an atheist will argue rationally as you have demonstrated here.

    >Look, I think the whole Golden Calf incident never happened: it has all the trimmings of one more of the myths that make up the Exodus myth cycle. There is serious doubt among responsible historians and archaeologists that the Exodus ever happened at all.
    I reply: Then logically any internal criticism of the morally of the events is pointless if you exclude the tradition handed down with the scripture from the people who held to it.
    It is regardless of one’s belief in God, from the stand point of the sciences of anthropology & history scientifically worthless. You are not as rational or intelligent as you think. Deal with it.

    >However, even though I think it is a myth, the point is that *as presented in the Old Testament* the story is told so as to treat the apostasy of the children of Israel, and, of course, the murderous command of Yahweh, as sufficient to justify the mass murders supposedly carried out by Moses.

    I reply: Rather what you are really saying here is according to your self-serving personal interpretation of this text, divorced from the historical understanding of it handed down by the people who kept it (produced if you prefer) it is teaching hateful things. You are also implicitly saying “Never mind that the historical understanding contradicts my self serving one. It’s what I want the bible to mean that counts not how the Jews or Christians historically understood it to mean.” That is just plain irrational & that is true regardless of what you think about “gods”.

    I don’t believe in the Koran. It is universally understood the Koran denies the Deity of Jesus Christ. But if I divorced the Koran from Muslim Tradition & read into it what I wanted it to mean I could with ease MAKE IT teach the deity of Christ. But not in anyway that would convince an informed Muslim who understands the Koran & the historical tradition around it. It also WOULD NOT CONVINCE any non-Muslim scholar of Koran on the same grounds. This is self-evidently logical.

    >It is that moral point I was addressing.

    I reply: You have clearly failed to make an intelligent, well-educate & honest case for it.

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  15. It may be observed that the typical strategy of militant atheists is one in which they lump all religions together as bloody evil, while presenting themselves as moral and intellectual saviors. However, one question is, who determines what is indeed morally superior? The athiest denigrates transcedent religious moral authority, most pricipally the Bible, while exalting the "golden compass" of atheism, by which we are assured, one will do what is reasonably right.

    However, while religion in general has commited its murders, history abudantly reveals how easily equal or greater atrocities can be justfied by men who operated out the objectively baseless moral reasoning that atheism promotes. Indeed, listening to the tenor of MA's today one can easily perceive an animosity that could easily justify removing Christians (in particalar i think) from any real place of influece, including from their children. And as with Mao, Pol Pot and Communism, that would only be the beginning.

    Now, i am aware that such "reasoning" can result in great atempts by atheists to disassociate atheism from such men, all the while stridently asserting that Hitler was a Christian, (while seeing "brites" come up with the truly skewed ideas of what a Christian is, let alone what the Bible teaches). Yet they were in fact doing what seemed "reasonable" to achieve their nooble goals.

    Meanwhile, i will gladly contend that no blood was shed by the New Testament church using the sword of men, as that was manifesly not their sanctioned means (2Cor. 6:1-10; 10:13,14; Eph. 6:12); nor did they have the church rule over those without, (1Cor. 5:11-13) while things like the Inquisitions required overall ignorance of the Bible (in which physical means of punishment were not used in ecclesiastical matters either, while upholding the just use of the sword by civl authoirities. (Rm. 13:1-7; 1Pt. 2:13,14).

    And i also posit that a sound conversion to Christ, and obedience to Him, is far more benefical to a both person and country than the ravings and goals of militant atheists. Dawkings, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  16. BY wrote to me:
    >Sorry but tradition is the reliable guide to what the meaning of an ancient text is to the people who produced it. This is true regardless of wuther or not you believe the claims of the narrative. Any archeologist will tell you that.

    Oh, now you’re just being silly. “Any archeologist” will say nothing of the sort.

    Most of what archaeologist dig up no longer *has* any tradition associated with it.

    Where are the Sumerian “traditions” now?

    Let’s be clear here: you have been using “tradition” to mean the nonsense handed down over two millennia about some myths invented nearly two millennia ago.

    I know some of you Christians worship tradition as others worship the Bible: neither will get you out of the hole you are in. For example, Jesus was not born of a Virgin: not even Paul of Tarsus maintains that in his writings we possess.

    If you agree with me that the Virgin Birth is just a silly myth, you do not adhere to Nicene Christianity. If you appeal to tradition to justify the claim that the Virgin Birth really did physically happen., well, I rest my case against you: you convict yourself by your own words.

    You also wrote:
    >>[Dave]>Again, I do not think that any honest, well-educate, intelligent person anyplace on earth can or does swallow that.
    > [BY] I reply: No person atheist or theist who understands basic logic would accept your sweeping generalization fallacy.

    Silly again, Some generalizations are true, some are not. There is not a general “generalization fallacy.” Science and math would be quite impossible without generalizations.

    This generalization happens to be spot-on true. I really have never been able to find a human being anywhere on earth who is intelligent, well-educated, and honest who truly believes in traditional, Nicene Christianity.

    You also wrote:
    > I reply: So Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East and other ANCIENT HISTORICAL manifestations of Christianity are NOT honest as compared to a late movement in American Protestantism?

    Yes, indeed – not that the late movement in Protestantism (i.e., the Bible-thumping fundies) are all that honest either.

    Look, you seem shocked, shocked! that some of us treat “Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East and other ANCIENT HISTORICAL manifestations of Christianity” as some sort of sick, pathetic joke (although I do like how you capitalize “ANCIENT HISTORICAL”: it, like, makes it ooooh so more impressive!).

    Tough -- we call ‘em as we see ‘em (even when you CAPITALIZE ‘em – but maybe if your entire post were in caps, it would be more convincing).

    Old is not good, impressive, profound, inspiring, etc.

    It is just old.

    Do you get it? We New Atheists, indeed any intelligent, well-educated, honest person, simply have contempt for all these old versions of Christianity that you appeal to.

    All old packs of lies aimed at separating ordinary people from the contents of their pocketbooks.

    Lies, very, very old lies, all.

    Dave

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  17. Dan wrote:
    >The athiest [sic] denigrates transcedent religious moral authority, most pricipally the Bible, while exalting the "golden compass" of atheism, by which we are assured, one will do what is reasonably right.

    I think you will have trouble finding atheists who refer to a “’golden compass’ of atheism” as a moral guide.

    Atheism is not a positive doctrine; it is an absence of belief in, or a rejection of belief in, certain doctrines (i.e., the different forms of theism).

    You also wrote:
    >However, while religion in general has commited its murders, history abudantly reveals how easily equal or greater atrocities can be justfied by men who operated out the objectively baseless moral reasoning that atheism promotes.

    *Some* atheists may indeed be moral relativists, just as our Christian host here has revealed himself to be. Many are not.

    I adhere to a well-grounded code of morality, based on human nature, that goes back through the Western tradition to the ancient Greeks: see Donagan’s “The Theory of Morality” for details.

    Try it, you’ll like it.

    Dan also wrote:
    >Meanwhile, i will gladly contend that no blood was shed by the New Testament church using the sword of men, as that was manifesly not their sanctioned means...

    Yeah, they could only do that when they came to power in the fourth century – then the mass murders started.

    Dan also wrote:
    >And i also posit that a sound conversion to Christ, and obedience to Him, is far more benefical to a both person and country than the ravings and goals of militant atheists. Dawkings [sic], etc.

    Interesting how Christians focus on how Christianity supposedly benefits you (although it always seems to benefit those who collect the money a little bit more!). Of course, all sorts of liars and quacks – astrologers, fortune tellers, homeopaths, etc. – say the same thing.

    Liars all.

    Jesus was not born of a Virgin – he needed a Y chromosome, but Mary only had two Xs. This we know more certainly than we know that the earth moves around the sun. (Anyone here want to say how he personally knows the earth moves around the sun? Very few Americans can give an intelligible answer.)

    Christianity is untrue.

    Christian belief in this country has declined from 86 percent to 76 percent in the last two decades. As people learn the truth, they leave Christianity.

    Science trumps Christ.

    Simple as that.

    The kingdom of God is dying; the day of humanity has dawned.

    Dave

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  18. In response to the oft repeated charge, by souls who actually are trying to use Christian morality against the Bible, that God was acting unjustly (though they usually do not state it so mildly) in mandating the cleansing of a land by wholesale annihilation, i would ask a few things.

    First, if you are God, who cares about righteousness and man, and so provide him with laws, which, while to some degree are moderated in condescension to his state, provide a superior and beneficial life than that of his neighbors.

    2. And if this level of morality, in heart and deed, and living would prove highly beneficial to not only those to whom it was given and their generation, but by way of influence and conversion, to the greater world.

    3. And if their neighbors have indeed degenerated into terminal and malignant immorality, and that of a a prolonged period of acting contrary to the truth they one had and is revealed to them, then

    4. is God unjust in finally decreeing that their land, which He gave them, be taken and given to another?

    5. And that it would be just to kill the wicked, as well as to save the innocent from becoming such by death (if you are God), especially if the people of God, being in much need of "processing" themselves, can hardly be thought able to become a vast social agency to and adopt all such children?

    The rhetorical question really is, does not God have a right to kill, as well as to make alive? And while we can judge man, the problem with such diatribes is not only that it ignores the Almighty right to justly take life, while presenting the situation as if it were unjust.

    But an effective part of this polemic is that it appeals to the horror of religions like Islam, who uses the badge of Deity to justify world conquests. However, in this some critical distinctions need to be made.

    The first is that, unlike the warrant for Muhammad war decrees, which apart from some early notable victories which are easily explained by natural means, in the Bible (and this argument deals upon the text, not the recourse to throw it out as fiction) before Israel eve raised sword, and later during battles, the Divine attestation of Moses and for the reality of God was of such a supernatural sort as to leave no question as to Divine warrant. The Hebrews saw God, via Moses, out do the local competition 10 to 3, then drown the armies of their captors, then feed them miraculously, and led them through the wilderness. When you woke up in the morning you saw the distinct cloud of God, and at night the pillar of fire. Later in battle more of such followed. That they still exist today as a distinct people, and possess (part) of the conquered land, and a "burdensome stone burdensome stone for all people" (Zec. 12:3) is also a testimony to the power of God, if not as dramatic.

    Moreover, the laws given to that nation were designed to save lives, not destroy them, and had unique aspects which still set them apart, into which i could go into detail. But that's all for now.

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  19. Marauder wrote:

    "Funny how discussions on religion usually come down to politics eventually... Its as if the Pie in the Sky When You Die crowd really cast their eyes toward power on the ground today. Christianity hasn't been the same since the Vatican disbanded its army."

    I wasn't trying to turn it to a discussion on politics, just giving an *example* of how sometimes children can turn out much different than their parents (and presuming how the parents try to raise them).

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  20. >Most of what archaeologist dig up no longer *has* any tradition associated with it.

    I reply: How do you know? I think it unlikely a person such as yourself with such contempt for Christianity & self imposed ignorance of it in general would bother to study Christian Near East archeology. I have read both Testa & Bigatti’s work on the Archaeology of the early Judaeo-Christians.
    Your claim is unimpressive and very ignorant.

    >Where are the Sumerian “traditions” now?

    I reply: Sumerian culture is dead. Judaism & Christianity are living cultures with continuity. Apples & Oranges.

    >Let’s be clear here: you have been using “tradition” to mean the nonsense handed down over two millennia about some myths invented nearly two millennia ago.

    I reply: Whatever helps you sleep at night.

    >I know some of you Christians worship tradition as others worship the Bible: neither will get you out of the hole you are in. For example, Jesus was not born of a Virgin: not even Paul of Tarsus maintains that in his writings we possess.

    I reply: This is an ironic charge considering that the only first century heretical Jewish Christian sect to deny the Virgin Birth (i.e. the Ebionites who accepted a single altered Gospel of Mathew as scripture & taught circumcision was needed for salvation) ALSO taught that Paul the Apostle was an apostate from the Law of God.
    Yet Jewish Christians who identified themselves as Nazarenes accepted BOTH the Virgin Aonception & the Apostle Paul’s Authority. So your argument from silence is comical. You would think if Paul knew nothing about the virgin birth someone would have pointed that out.

    >If you agree with me that the Virgin Birth is just a silly myth, you do not adhere to Nicene Christianity. If you appeal to tradition to justify the claim that the Virgin Birth really did physically happen., well, I rest my case against you: you convict yourself by your own words.

    I reply: Well according to Bagatti early first century extra biblical Jewish Christian sources like the Ascension of Isaiah, Letter of the Apostles, Odes of Solomon(an early collection of Jewish Christian Hymns), Sybylline Oracles, all explicitly refer to the virgin birth. It is the ancient first century belief of Christians. This came way before the Council of Nicene. To claim Paul was likely ignorant of the doctrine is plain silly. But if your only knowledge of first century Christianity is from reading bad Dan Brown novels I can’t help you.

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  21. >Silly again, Some generalizations are true, some are not. There is not a general “generalization fallacy.” Science and math would be quite impossible without generalizations.

    I reply: You are defending your sweeping generalization fallacy by making a category mistake. More comedy! Science & Math are disciplines of inquiry. They are not persons or groups of people. More apples and Oranges.

    >This generalization happens to be spot-on true.

    I reply: No, it is pretty much on the level of people who say “All blacks are lazy” or “all Jews are Cheap”..etc. You are simply not being rational.

    >I really have never been able to find a human being anywhere on earth who is intelligent, well-educated, and honest who truly believes in traditional, Nicene Christianity.

    I reply: Who said on the The Good Books Post? Thread of this very blog “I made quite clear that Ratzinger was my own choice among the viable candidates(for Pope).…..Benny XVI is in many ways a good man – a true lover of peace, and pretty intelligent and well-read as Christians go.” ?

    My friend’s father a wise old Muslim gentlemen once told me “If you are going to tell a small fibb at least don’t be forgetful”?

    >Do you get it? We New Atheists, indeed any intelligent, well-educated, honest person, simply have contempt for all these old versions of Christianity that you appeal to.

    I reply: New Atheists are nothing more than religious fundamentalists without belief in “gods”. With all of the faults of the religious fundies & practically none of their virtues. They are anti-intellectual, emotional, irrational & they have too much contempt for religion to make effective meaningful criticism of it. The Old Guard Atheists (Smith, Nagel, Flew, Russell) are far more intelligent, rational & challenging (but not unanswerable) to a thinking Christian. Not the New Atheists.

    To paraphrase Denish D’Souza “is not that the New Atheists are complete morons. It is that they are (in the case of the four horsemen) scientists of one discipline who know something about one thing but pretend that they know a lot about other things. Consequently they come across sounding like morons. Have pity on them.

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  22. BY wrote to me:
    > I reply: This is an ironic charge considering that the only first century heretical Jewish Christian sect to deny the Virgin Birth (i.e. the Ebionites who accepted a single altered Gospel of Mathew as scripture & taught circumcision was needed for salvation) ALSO taught that Paul the Apostle was an apostate from the Law of God.

    And, of course, they were obviously right on both counts!

    But, somehow, it does not surprise me that you and I have a radically different perspective on the issue of heresy.

    Personally, I have always been for it, ever since I learned the word when I was in grade school.

    I assume you know the Greek root of the word.

    You also wrote:
    > But if your only knowledge of first century Christianity is from reading bad Dan Brown novels I can’t help you.

    Nope, never read ‘em. Don’t interest me.

    BY also wrote to me:
    > >[Dave]I really have never been able to find a human being anywhere on earth who is intelligent, well-educated, and honest who truly believes in traditional, Nicene Christianity.
    >[BY]I reply: Who said on the The Good Books Post? Thread of this very blog “I made quite clear that Ratzinger was my own choice among the viable candidates(for Pope).…..Benny XVI is in many ways a good man – a true lover of peace, and pretty intelligent and well-read as Christians go.” ?

    BY, you really did not see that that was intended as a slur at most Christians?

    I carefully included the phrase “as Christians go” which was my main point.

    I don’t think Ratz is all that bright, well-educated, or honest, but, “as Christians go,” – i.e., compared to the lamentably low standards set by most contemporary Christians, yeah, Ratz looks pretty good. And, I do sincerely admire his stands for peace and against US imperialism.

    You also wrote:
    > The Old Guard Atheists (Smith, Nagel, Flew, Russell) are far more intelligent, rational & challenging (but not unanswerable) to a thinking Christian.

    Yep, the “Old Guard Atheists” were indeed “Uncle Toms” who were simply sell-outs to you Christians.

    I don’t think you are gonna like the future, BY.

    Not at all.

    Dave

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  23. Dan wrote to me:
    > The rhetorical question really is, does not God have a right to kill, as well as to make alive?

    That’s not quite the issue, is it?

    According to the OT, God did not directly engage in mass murder against the Israelites himself in that incident, rather he had Moses do it.

    So… the real question is: is it morally acceptable for a human being to murder thousands of innocent people because he knows that God has commanded him to do so?

    I think I know your answer, and, indeed, I have yet to meet a traditional Christian who answers “No!” to that question.

    In the light of the actual history of Christianity – Inquisitions, Crusades, witch burnings, etc. --I find that refusal of so many Christians to answer “No!” more than a little worrisome.

    Fortunately, Christianity is terminal.

    Dave

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  24. BY wrote, paraphrasing the neocon Dinesh D’Souza:
    > the New Atheists are … (in the case of the four horsemen) scientists of one discipline who know something about one thing but pretend that they know a lot about other things.

    Actually, one of the more important of the New Atheists is Richard Carrier, who is a historian, not a natural scientist.

    I know no natural scientist who thinks that physics or biology can explain everything in history.

    But you do raise an important point. While Carrier is not a scientist, he does openly and explicitly endorse the use of the scientific method in historical inquiry.

    And, I think it is fair to say, one of the central themes of the New Atheists, indeed a more important theme than atheism per se, is the primacy of the scientific method: no knowledge exists or can exist in any field except that knowledge which is acquired by the scientific method in the broad sense.

    Have you read Gellner – e.g., “The Legitimation of Belief”?

    That is the real significance of the last five centuries of human history – all of the belief systems that gave meaning to human life and provided coherence to human societies are being obliterated by the triumph of science: science uber alles.

    Not just Christianity but also Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, etc. are all being blown to pieces by science (although in many ways, as Gellner explained in detail – he held degrees in both anthropology and philosophy – Islam is the most modern of the old-fashioned belief systems).

    The destruction of the old humanistic belief systems gives me and many scientists great joy.

    In any case, it is unavoidable.

    We are moving to a unified global culture. The Chinese are not going to accept Christianity; the Brazilians are not going to accept Islam; the Egyptians are not going to accept Hinduism.

    The only belief system that can be an integral part of that new global culture is science.

    Indeed, it already is – I know numerous Chinese, Indians, Latin Americans, and even people from Moslem countries who accept the primacy of science.

    Your tradition and all the other old Great Traditions are being murdered by science.

    And that is one of the main things that attracted many of us scientists to science in the first place.

    Dave

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  25. >So… the real question is: is it morally acceptable for a human being to murder thousands of innocent people because he knows that God has commanded him to do so?<

    Aa you must know, context is key. The answer for a Christian, living under the New covenant, is no, as that would be clearly contrary to it. As for a man living in a physical theocracy, in which wars are fought as civil powers do today, they answer can be yes. Presupposing that is, that it is incontrovertible clear (as expressed in my prior post) that the Creator has indeed sanctioned it, as was the case in the conquest at issue (Dt. 7: 1Sam. 15), of which supernatural quality and quantity the Taliban can only dream about.

    In addition, it is not to be assumed, as such questions seem to infer, that this was to be a universal perpetual practice, when in reality -and in contrast to the mandate of Islam - wars of conquest were limited to a specific geographical area and people. Outside of that, the right to wage just physical war is given to all civil powers.

    This is an issue which Christian apologetics does take seriously, and which serves in part to correct some of the misconstruance of the situation by some. http://epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=63&ap=1 http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=45&mode=detail

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  26. I wasn't trying to turn it to a discussion on politics, just giving an *example* of how sometimes children can turn out much different than their parents (and presuming how the parents try to raise them).

    And yet that's how it goes. Its like the 2nd law of Theodynamics: religious energy tends toward acquiring political power. Its no coincidence that for most of history religion has been coextensive with with national boundaries, armies and laws. I know you'll say its not so, but look at history.

    One of my objections to most religions is that they aren't honest about this, and its hard to take something seriously that doesn't acknowledge history. The ancient jews carted their god around in an ark so they could biff their enemies wherever they could be found. Then, the story goes, they got the Roman government to execute Jesus. Nothing more need be said about the current political dynamics in the Middle East. Among christian sects, government-enforced exile of heretics began shortly after christians cosied up to the emperor and executions began not long after that, along with riots and wars to establish which One True Religion was THE One True Religion. Most of European history is the history of religious wars, the subduing of pagans, suppressions of heresies, crusades, persecutions of heretics, scientists and witches, the Holy Roman Emperor vs the Pope, Popes vs bishops, and then the wars of reformation. And finally down to today, at least in the US, where the nutty dominionists are grasping for secular power (global super-power, actually). Religions are about power. Plain power. Its trappings change, but its about earthly power in the end.

    How can anyone hold any theory of religion without regarding what it actually does and not just its self-serving lofty prospectus?

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  27. That is the real significance of the last five centuries of human history – all of the belief systems that gave meaning to human life and provided coherence to human societies are being obliterated by the triumph of science: science uber alles.

    Yipes! I don't see this at all. I think the enlightenment is all but dead, and science is rapidly losing ground. See Marshall McLuhan, or Morris Berman for a more realistic characterisation and prognosis.

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  28. Richard Carrier is that fringe guy who claims HITLER'TABLE TALK was a questionable document(mostly because it contradicts his weird thesis that Hitler was a "Faithful Christian").

    Carrier's claim is indefensible and years out of date. The debate was settled by the OSS documents from the post-war trials made public a few years ago. It can be found on the Rutgers site. Hitler and the Nazis were planning to eradicated Christianity once the Jewish problem was settled. Also look up the plans for the National Reichskirch.

    http://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/articles/RJLR_3_1_2.pdf

    Carrier is also a fringe recycler of the discredited 19th Century Atheist Thesis that Jesus never existed. Which is quite frankly the moral equivalent of me arguing the Earth is still the physical center of the Universe & Copernicus is full of smeg.

    >Yep, the “Old Guard Atheists” were indeed “Uncle Toms” who were simply sell-outs to you Christians.

    I reply: No they made strong rational & challenging arguments that caused me to doubt my faith at times. Because they relied on scholarship & reason. The New Atheists are just pop sensationalists fit for the simple minded.

    The New Atheists are nothing more than Fundamentalists. As Flew said about them they haven't read a word he wrote.

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  29. Marauder wrote:

    "And yet that's how it goes. Its like the 2nd law of Theodynamics: religious energy tends toward acquiring political power. Its no coincidence that for most of history religion has been coextensive with with national boundaries, armies and laws. I know you'll say its not so, but look at history."

    I'm glad you think you know me well enough from a few postings in the comments section of a blog to predict what I'd say to certain things.

    "One of my objections to most religions is that they aren't honest about this, and its hard to take something seriously that doesn't acknowledge history. The ancient jews carted their god around in an ark so they could biff their enemies wherever they could be found. Then, the story goes, they got the Roman government to execute Jesus. Nothing more need be said about the current political dynamics in the Middle East. Among christian sects, government-enforced exile of heretics began shortly after christians cosied up to the emperor and executions began not long after that, along with riots and wars to establish which One True Religion was THE One True Religion. Most of European history is the history of religious wars, the subduing of pagans, suppressions of heresies, crusades, persecutions of heretics, scientists and witches, the Holy Roman Emperor vs the Pope, Popes vs bishops, and then the wars of reformation. And finally down to today, at least in the US, where the nutty dominionists are grasping for secular power (global super-power, actually). Religions are about power. Plain power. Its trappings change, but its about earthly power in the end."

    And what I said about the gist of some of Dave's posts inspired this little rant how? I'm not saying that what you have to say isn't interesting Marauder, I'm just kinda' baffled as to why you're seemingly zoning in on what I've said in this particular comments section and using it as some sort of catalyst to take your place on a soap box.

    Honestly, I could give a rat's behind how Dave goes about raising his kids. As long as he's not abusive and they're provided for that's all that really matters in the end. All I was saying is that if he got too pushy with a certain world view or a particular agenda then he might actually push them into being the polar opposite of how he's hoping they'll turn out. And it's not just a matter of a certain religion (or lack thereof) or political view, but also about race relations, higher learning, or whatever the case may be. I mentioned the political because it was the easiest example, and one I've noticed more often than others.

    "How can anyone hold any theory of religion without regarding what it actually does and not just its self-serving lofty prospectus?"

    *shrugs* I don't know, I can't speak for other people, but as for myself I'm not a big fan of organized religion anyway. I believe what I believe because I choose to do so, and more importantly because I honestly can't see a way around it. I tried the atheist perspective in my late teens and early twenties and it failed to impress me or provide some answers, so it just didn't do anything for me. If the atheistic worldview works for you then knock yourself out. I don't agree with it but then I don't *have* to agree with it...that doesn't mean we can't all get along.

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  30. And what I said about the gist of some of Dave's posts inspired this little rant how?

    It wasn't meant for you exclusively, its just that you triggered it. You people talk about religion as if its just about sitting around, minding your own business, gazing at your own navel, and generally just pottering about killing time waiting for lions to lay down with lambs. And it isn't that way at all. And it never has been for any appreciable period of time.

    If I were a christian I'd be much more concerned about the state of christianity and its political aspirations in the US today than I'd be over The Four Horsemen of Atheism. Anyone who's watched the christian cable network for a few hours knows that it isn't the atheists that are making a mockery of christianity.

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  31. Re: MaskedMarauder >Religions are about power. Plain power.<

    You summation is overall fair, except that it

    1. pertains to any belief, including atheism, which enabled Communism: “Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.” (V.I. Lenin). As history shows,m man is religious by nature, inlcld. in the broad sense, and if he does not worship a formal deity he will worship a man or himself, as well as pleasures, possessions and power/prestige. What holds your ultimate allegiance, affection, or trust, is your god. And

    2. yet there is a difference in religions, with some being more manifest in promoting unjust violence, (Islam), while others may be seen at fault for denying desire too arbitrarily.

    3. your description stands in contrast to Christian faith revealed in the New Testament.

    You state "as the story goes they got the Roman government to execute Jesus", but the idea of "they" and "getting" the Romans do anything of the sort is foreign to the text. Only Judas was instrumental in that, while Jesus was doing just what God would do in showing grace and reproving sin, and was not purposely doing so to get crucified, though He knew that would be a result, and warned both Judas and them of the sobering consequences.

    Nor do you see in Jesus words or those of His apostles to the church things that foster lust to reign over those without in this world, rather such lust is contrary the enjoined humility and servanthood, and the rejection of an earthly kingdom by Christ under the New covenant. The latter of which Pilate assumed of Christ, but Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. - Jn. 18:36

    Instead of seeking to impose the faith, the early church honored suffering for it, and never advocated or used physical force for conversion, or for subduing their enemies. "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? - I Corinthians 5:12

    Nor do you see a providence for ruling as theocracy over those without, rather the kingdom of God in the church age is set up to be separate from the civil powers. A man named Williams had such views, but that was Providence.

    And unlike what often seems to be the case today, they were more concerned about not becoming like society, while seeking the personal salvation of those in it, rather than carving out a nice Mayberry to live in.

    "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. - James 1:27

    That such morality could indirectly result in political/social change, as seen in the case of the 2nd Great Awakening and abolition (and i know secularists worked for that also) does not mean that such power was a goal, and one can seek men of character to be rulers due to desire for justice and goodness, without that being lust for power, the latter of which is reproved. (James 4:6)

    Instead of this, after the Christian faith obtained State sanction AND the gov. remained a theocratic type system, the church increasingly became like the empire it was founded in, in form and in its means. The rest is much of history, though your rendition of it is decidedly one-sided, and leaves out what later happened under men operating out of the objectively baseless morality of atheism.

    As man will worship something, and overall seek to unjustly oppress, etc. (and in this i think souless Communism excelled in means more than even the Inquisitions did) and that man overall will do evil, thus what best brings souls to be controlled from within so that they need not be controlled from without is the issue, in addition to the ultimate eternal issue. And in this Jesus is the answer.

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  32. >Anyone who's watched the christian cable network for a few hours knows that it isn't [just]the atheists that are making a mockery of Christianity.<

    I agree, as amended. And i would add that in evangelical Christianity we need to be focused more upon not being like society than fighting those who are clearly opposed to Christianity politically.

    As concerns the latter, while perhaps some sites imagine James Dobson (no disrespect) becoming President, it is well evidenced that it is other ideologies which are ascending, and i see this as been the main cause of the increase in political involvement by churches, esp. in response to such radical moral departures such as regards homosexual, etc., and the manifest efforts to assent to the beliefs behind it and political correctness in general.

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  33. Marauder wrote:

    "It wasn't meant for you exclusively, its just that you triggered it."

    Thanks for clarifying. I was beginning to feel singled out, and I couldn't understand why, especially considering how you and I had a reasonably civil and enjoyable discussion in another post.

    "You people talk about religion as if its just about sitting around, minding your own business, gazing at your own navel, and generally just pottering about killing time waiting for lions to lay down with lambs. And it isn't that way at all. And it never has been for any appreciable period of time."

    That's probably because for a lot of religious people it is just that; an inner peace while minding their own business. And you as a nonreligious person should be particularly thankful that religious people aren't trying to mind your business for you.

    "If I were a christian I'd be much more concerned about the state of christianity and its political aspirations in the US today than I'd be over The Four Horsemen of Atheism."

    And if I were an atheist I'd find better things to do with my time than argue incessantly over the internet about a system of belief you feel is outdated. Why not go out and enjoy life to the fullest with this sense of "enlightenment" since this one life is all you get?

    I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but you know yourself that you have problems in your own camp as an atheist. Shouldn't you be dealing with those problems rather than trying to tell us Christians what we need to do?

    Brother, please do not think for a minute that all Christians think and act in lock-step. You can read some posts around here and see that. I know about religious grabs for power, both past and present and I hate it, and furthermore I'm ashamed of it. And I'd be willing to bet every Christian here shares the same sentiment to at least some small degree. But you can only do what you can do...you can vote accordingly, boycott where necessary, try to spread the word about certain issues, etc, etc, but the last thing you want to do is throw the baby out with the bath water.

    If something, whatever it may be, at its core is a good thing, and it works for you on a personal level to be a better person, should you discard it because some people find ways to pervert it? Atheism seems to work for you...so should you turn religious because of past atrocities linked to atheism? No one system of belief or thought hasn't been exploited at some point, and if there is one that's escaped exploitation completely I'd sure like to see it.

    "Anyone who's watched the christian cable network for a few hours knows that it isn't the atheists that are making a mockery of christianity."

    Atheists aren't making a mockery of religion...it's the anti-theists that are doing it, as well as the phoney-baloney's that are on that "Christian" station. No argument here.

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  34. >no knowledge exists or can exist in any field except that knowledge which is acquired by the scientific method in the broad sense.

    I reply: Of course logically you can't prove the above statement aout the scientific method is true using the scientific method (without begging the question) therefore the above statement cannot be knowlege that exists. OTOH it self-evidently exists thus it is at least ONE example of Knowlege that can exist apart from it being acquired by the scientific method.

    This is why I continue to not be impressed with the New Atheist's claims of intelligence. The Old Gaurd Atheists would never make the above mistake. Indeed Flew said decades before he became a Deist at the height of his Atheism he abandoned Logical Positivism. It was clearly a self-referental philosophy.

    Of course it is an oxymoron to claim Historians use the Scientific Method since History by definition cannot be repeated or tested. Historians have to use the Historical Method.

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  35. Dan wrote to me:
    > >[Dave]So… the real question is: is it morally acceptable for a human being to murder thousands of innocent people because he knows that God has commanded him to do so?<
    >Aa you must know, context is key. The answer for a Christian, living under the New covenant, is no, as that would be clearly contrary to it. As for a man living in a physical theocracy, in which wars are fought as civil powers do today, they answer can be yes. Presupposing that is, that it is incontrovertible clear (as expressed in my prior post) that the Creator has indeed sanctioned it, as was the case in the conquest at issue (Dt. 7: 1Sam. 15), of which supernatural quality and quantity the Taliban can only dream about.

    No, Dan, I most emphatically do *not* know that “context is key.”

    On the contrary, I think that “context” is only a brutally mendacious excuse for justifying mass murder.

    You give away the show when you state:
    > As for a man living in a physical theocracy, in which wars are fought as civil powers do today, they answer can be yes.

    Since you explicitly and directly analogize the situation back then to the way “in which wars are fought as civil powers do today,” I’m afraid you are quite clearly justifying the mass murder carried out in the circumstances of Moses’ time as well as the mass murders carried out in the way “in which wars are fought as civil powers do today.”

    That is what worries an awful lot of us non-Christians: you folks are awfully eager to come up with “contextual” justifications for mass murder.

    And, yes, I know that Christian apologetics has spent a great deal of attention on this subject. Unfortunately, most of that attention, with a very few honorable exceptions, has been devoted to manufacturing “contexts” in which mass murder is, supposedly, justified.

    This is what causes so many of us to laugh uproariously at the claim that you follow the “Prince of Peace.”

    Your own words belie that.

    Dave

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  36. B Y wrote to me:
    >>[Dave] >no knowledge exists or can exist in any field except that knowledge which is acquired by the scientific method in the broad sense.
    >[BY]I reply: Of course logically you can't prove the above statement aout the scientific method is true using the scientific method (without begging the question) therefore the above statement cannot be knowlege that exists. OTOH it self-evidently exists thus it is at least ONE example of Knowlege that can exist apart from it being acquired by the scientific method.

    Well, no. I take it you are not a scientist.

    Science begins with the normal sort of common sense reasoning that all normal humans commonly employ -- no begging the question there.

    Science is of course a specialized and more rigorous version of that common sense, and the success of that more specialized and rigorous version of common sense has indeed been tested by its fruits: it has worked stunningly well during the last five hundred years. Again, the specialized method tested by its common sense results -- not circular reasoning there either.

    It’s really silly that I should even have to mention this to you: neither you nor anyone else is surprised that the Chinese, the Indians, the Iranians, etc. are extremely eager to acquire Western scientific knowledge but not, by and large, all that eager to acquire Christianity.

    Science *has* been proven in a way that is cross-culturally obvious; Christianity has not been so proven.

    You can play all the games with logic you wish: that fact is obvious and not in serious dispute.

    As my mentor in physics, the Nobelist Richard Feynman, put it, science is our way of trying to avoid fooling ourselves. Religion is, of course, the means by which a group of people agree to help each other fool themselves, which is why science always tends towards universality and religion tends towards mutually exclusive groups.

    I know it is considered impolitic to point this out, but everyone knows it.

    You also wrote:
    > Indeed Flew said decades before he became a Deist at the height of his Atheism he abandoned Logical Positivism. It was clearly a self-referental philosophy.

    I read Flew decades ago when he was an atheist: at the time, I thought he was an intellectual incompetent unable to frame a logical thought.

    My opinion of him did not change when he became a deist.

    You also wrote:
    > Of course it is an oxymoron to claim Historians use the Scientific Method since History by definition cannot be repeated or tested. Historians have to use the Historical Method.

    Neither cosmology nor evolution can be repeated either! So, you deny that they are part of science?

    An awful lot of historians over the last century (not to mention cosmologists and evolutionary scientists!) would dispute your claim.

    BY, your religious tradition is dying.

    Western Europe is largely de-Christianized, and even in the last major holdout of Christianity, the USA, the ARIS surveys show a substantial decline in the last two decades.

    I think I have accurately laid out the reasons.

    You disagree.

    That’s your prerogative.

    But the fact remains: you are greatly attracted by a “tradition” which not only has never attracted a majority of the human race but which, during the last century, has come to attract an increasingly small fraction of the human race.

    You love tradition; I hate tradition. C’est la vie.

    History is on my side.

    There is nothing you can do about it.

    The kingdom of God is dying, and the day of humanity is dawning.

    That makes me happy. It does not seem to thrill you.

    Cool. Super cool.

    Dave

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  37. Lou Gojira wrote:
    >I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but you know yourself that you have problems in your own camp as an atheist.

    It’s not a “camp,” Lou.

    “Atheist” is an example of negative definition: the word does not pick out an organized or coherent group. It merely defines people by what they are not – i.e., not theists.

    My views on many subjects are closer to Mariano’s than to those of my “fellow atheist,” Nick Humphrey.

    The fact that Humprhey and I are both not theists does not make us allies, anymore than the fact that you and I are both non-Ecuadorans makes us natural allies.

    The word “atheist” is like the word “non-Ecuadoran”: it conveys one small bit of information, but does not indicate a broad commonality.

    Traditional Nicene Christians actually agree on a whole lot of positive points (vide the Nicene creed itself); atheists simply do not.

    Dave

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  38. BY wrote to me:
    > Richard Carrier is that fringe guy who claims HITLER'TABLE TALK was a questionable document(mostly because it contradicts his weird thesis that Hitler was a "Faithful Christian").

    As I understand it, Richard claims that the Trevor-Roper edition contains stuff not present in the original German edition.

    Have you checked the editions yourself to see who’s right here?

    At any rate, I did not expect you to like Richard, but his views on the possibility of a scientific approach to history have been very widespread within the historical profession since the nineteenth century.

    If you do not know that, you really need to brush up on historiography.

    And, of course, as I said before, if you really believe history cannot be scientific because it cannot be repeated, then you must also reject cosmology and evolution as parts of science.

    But then, maybe that is your view, eh?

    You also wrote:
    > The New Atheists are nothing more than Fundamentalists. As Flew said about them they haven't read a word he wrote.

    Fundamentalists are nice people, BY, much nicer than you. I am honored to be compared with them.

    And, since Flew has hardly written a word worth reading in his life, as I found to my sorrow, I hope no one reads him any longer!

    An atheist could learn much more from C. S. Lewis (my kind of guy!) than poor befuddled Tony Flew.

    Dave

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  39. Masked Marauder wrote to me:
    >>[Dave]That is the real significance of the last five centuries of human history – all of the belief systems that gave meaning to human life and provided coherence to human societies are being obliterated by the triumph of science: science uber alles.
    >[MM]Yipes! I don't see this at all. I think the enlightenment is all but dead, and science is rapidly losing ground. See Marshall McLuhan, or Morris Berman for a more realistic characterisation and prognosis.

    Well, McLuhan wrote at the height of the Cold War when the future did look truly bleak (I’m old enough to remember), and Mo Berman has spent a long time being pessimistic, probably due to living in the belly of the beast, the American Imperium.

    I do think the USA is collapsing, just as the old Soviet Union collapsed, and for much the same reason: the hubris of power.

    Anyone who reveres the US government should be depressed indeed, since it is not likely to last out the century.

    Personally, I’m glad to see it go.

    However, I have various friends from India and the Islamic world, and I married into a family of Chinese immigrants. From that perspective, the world looks pretty bright – at least as long as the USA does not blow everyone up in a nuclear holocaust in its dying days.

    And, remember: even in the USA, the ARIS surveys showed a ten point drop in Christian identification in less than two decades. That’s good news.

    No, the twentieth century was a conflict between nineteenth-century anti-rationalism (Marxism, fascism, and resurgent Christianity) vs. the Enlightenment.

    When Communism collapsed with the Soviet Empire, the irrationalists finally lost – despite their continuing, albeit diminishing, power in the USA.

    I’m helping my kids learn Mandarin; I don’t expect my grand-kids to spend most of their life in what’s left of the USA.

    But, if you recognize that the rest of the world may just have to write off the USA, the Enlightenment has won.

    Take cheer.

    Dave

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  40. Dave wrote:

    "It’s not a “camp,” Lou.

    “Atheist” is an example of negative definition: the word does not pick out an organized or coherent group. It merely defines people by what they are not – i.e., not theists.

    My views on many subjects are closer to Mariano’s than to those of my “fellow atheist,” Nick Humphrey.

    The fact that Humprhey and I are both not theists does not make us allies, anymore than the fact that you and I are both non-Ecuadorans makes us natural allies.

    The word “atheist” is like the word “non-Ecuadoran”: it conveys one small bit of information, but does not indicate a broad commonality.

    Traditional Nicene Christians actually agree on a whole lot of positive points (vide the Nicene creed itself); atheists simply do not."


    Fair enough. And when you get done educating everybody over here be sure to go over to rantsnraves.org (particularly the netdrama section) and set all of those atheists straight as well. They sure seem concerned about the sometimes questionable activities of organized atheist groups or outspoken anti-theists that tend to make secularists all around look bad to the rest of the world. Once they realize that there is no "broad commonality" between them they probably won't have as much to talk about.

    Dave wrote to Ben:

    "The kingdom of God is dying, and the day of humanity is dawning.

    That makes me happy. It does not seem to thrill you.

    Cool. Super cool."


    Granted atheism seems to be the en vogue apostasy at the moment, that hardly denotes that the trend will be as strong years from now. Even the Ku Klux Klan had members in the tens of thousands at one point, and you see where they are today. But if believing that people losing their religion en mass is here to stay makes you happy then don't let the fickle nature of humanity creep into your thoughts and rain on your parade.

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  41. >Neither cosmology nor evolution can be repeated either! So, you deny that they are part of science?

    Nice bait & switch BTW. Confusing the Scientific Method with the broad catagory of science in general. (The Empirical Sciences which rely on the Method with it's deductive warrent vs the other scientific disciplines (Evolution, History, Cosmology) which rely more on inductive method of inquiry.

    Most New Atheists I interact with usually as a rule equate science with the strict Empirical. This is mostly because Religion, Philosophy & Metaphysics aren't based directly the empirical & thus they use it as a cheap way to argue against any of these disciplines leading to truth. But of course as you admitted (& I reserve the right to hold this against you at a later date) such a narrow approch would undercut the sciences of Evolution & Cosmology.

    The scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

    The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then to write history.

    What one has to do with the other is a mystery to me. It's like claiming you can do psychoanalysis with a Large Hadron Collider . Apples N' Oranges again.

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  42. Dan: 1. pertains to any belief, including atheism, which enabled Communism: ... What holds your ultimate allegiance, affection, or trust, is your god.

    Not true, except in the trivial case where any "belief" is equated with religion. I have great affection and loyalty to a number of things and people, but I worship none of them and have no illusions that any hold supernatural powers. People do have a propensity to move toward religion, but that is mostly in situations of ignorance. Given a rational alternative, most people prefer it.

    your description stands in contrast to Christian faith revealed in the New Testament.

    OK, but since when did anyone pay attention to that? The NT philosophy is perfectly fine, but it isn't what drives history.

    I remember watching Rev Jerry Falwell, years ago, talking to his flock and telling them to pressure their representatives to get Oliver North pardoned for illegal arms dealing and lying to Congress, because, Rev. Falwell told us, North was a good christian and great patriot. The deal was that Jerry would send you a card festooned with eagles, flags and crosses that you were supposed to sign and send to Washington. That's how religion works around here.

    Anyone trying to be a good christian just gets chumped or ignored. That blood-drenched SOB Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Price and Father Berrigan got a stretch in chokey. For every peacenik christian there are hundreds of blood & thunder jingoist christians demanding he be lynched.

    My point isn't that religion makes peple that way, necessarily, its that it doesn't stop them from being that way. My impression is that people are who they are for lots of reasons and religion isn't one of them. On average, religion serves the purposes of the people, not the other way around. So, why waste time and money on something that doesn't deliver what it promises? The limited time we have is better spent looking for real solutions, not imaginary ones.

    ... thus what best brings souls to be controlled from within so that they need not be controlled from without is the issue, in addition to the ultimate eternal issue. And in this Jesus is the answer.

    History and psychology are against your conclusion. Other than personal bias and a few anecdotes, what evidence do you have to support it? The US brags about being the a tremendously religious nation, with more churches with bigger budgets and better attendance than anywhere else. And yet we have a higher proportion of our population behind bars than any industrialized country. More child poverty and hunger. More homelessness. The highest proportion of serial killers. The list goes on... If religion is so great and we're so religious, why are we such a shambles?

    If Merck peddled a pill it claimed protected against some disease and you looked at the disease statistics and saw no improvement among people taking the pill, would you still fight to take an ostensibly useless pill? I wouldn't. But then, I'm not committed to some ancient snapshot of once-living ideas now frozen in time, as nourishing as last month's mouldy leftovers.

    [PS: "(and in this i think souless Communism excelled in means more than even the Inquisitions did)" ... you're grossly underestimating the ruthless brutality of christian politics; there is much more than the inquisition to account for. Look at the history of European imperialism (US included). It was nothing short of genocidal. You may believe christianity saves souls, but its beyond dispute that it squanders lives. I'm no friend of communism, but your opinion is, I think, unfairly biased.)

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  43. Dan: .. it is well evidenced that it is other ideologies which are ascending, and i see this as been the main cause of the increase in political involvement by churches, esp. in response to such radical moral departures such as regards homosexual, etc., and the manifest efforts to assent to the beliefs behind it and political correctness in general.

    This is what I'm talking about. Homosexuality is biology, not ideology. Unless you're a homosexual yourself, why do you waste even a single moment thinking about other people's homosexuality, let alone see it as a major vexation? That attitude makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

    Surely there are more pressing problems for the church to address. Twenty thousand Americans die each year from preventable causes because they can't afford medical care and you're fussing over who perfect strangers go to bed with and what they do when they get there.

    And, not that its likely to change my mind on this, what did Jesus say that convinces you that suppressing homosexuality is the best use of our limited resources in efforts for social engineering?

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  44. Gojira: That's probably because for a lot of religious people it is just that; an inner peace while minding their own business. And you as a nonreligious person should be particularly thankful that religious people aren't trying to mind your business for you.

    But they are trying to mind my business for me. I was in the 3rd grade when they were force to stop making me recite the Lord's Prayer every day in school and they've been out for revenge and restitution ever since.

    It shouldn't be necessary to call attention to the baleful influence of religion on contemporary US politics. But in addition to all that obvious stuff, there's the persistent and well financed assault on rationality itself, such as the endless campaign to get creationism taught in public schools as science.

    And if I were an atheist I'd find better things to do with my time than argue incessantly over the internet about a system of belief you feel is outdated.

    Why? What's more important than defending life, truth and reason? It isn't the anachronistic character of religion that bothers me, its the desolation it aspires to and the lies, cheating and calumny its using to get there.

    Why not go out and enjoy life to the fullest with this sense of "enlightenment" since this one life is all you get?

    Like the song says, I can't do it when I'm gone.

    If something, whatever it may be, at its core is a good thing, and it works for you on a personal level to be a better person, should you discard it because some people find ways to pervert it? Atheism seems to work for you...so should you turn religious because of past atrocities linked to atheism?

    I don't accept that premise, see posts above. I don't think religion is a good thing to begin with. You can get the wisdom elsewhere without having to buy the mumbo-jumbo.

    And, for what its worth, I don't object to religion because christians have been evil in the past and won't stop being evil today. My take is that it is just plain useless for lessening evil, no matter who does it. People are who they are and do what they do with or without religion. Religion is anodyne, not cure.

    My basic stance on religion was best summed up in Ron Ferrell's immortal words: "A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle."

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  45. Phys.Dave: Well, McLuhan wrote at the height of the Cold War when the future did look truly bleak (I’m old enough to remember), and Mo Berman has spent a long time being pessimistic, probably due to living in the belly of the beast, the American Imperium.

    I think when he wrote matters less than what he wrote. His thesis was that cultures are structured by technology more than conscious ideas. Intervening history has, I think, vindicated his position. Its the facilitation of splintering mass culture through communications technologies, and its corrosive consequences, that is behind much of the mischief we see (certainly not Satan or Communism). (And, by the way, Dan, note that its capitalism, not communism, that's going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it, not communism.) And Berman is pretty optimistic, I think, he's predicting pretty much what you are, but with a good outcome. Eventually. Just not in our lifetime. Or your kids'. Or your grand kids'.

    I'm not as optimistic about India & China as you are. They have an even more intractable problem on their hands and not nearly enough time to fix it or get out of the way: they have too many people. Period. They need to lose about half their populations, and in a quickish sort of way. I don't see it going well for them.

    I'd bet on South America. They sat out the last century as victims and seem to have learned something from our mistakes.

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  46. BT wrote to me:
    > Most New Atheists I interact with usually as a rule equate science with the strict Empirical. This is mostly because Religion, Philosophy & Metaphysics aren't based directly the empirical & thus they use it as a cheap way to argue against any of these disciplines leading to truth. But of course as you admitted (& I reserve the right to hold this against you at a later date) such a narrow approch would undercut the sciences of Evolution & Cosmology.

    If you interact with New Atheists who exclude evolution and cosmology as part of science, you interact with a very, very strange group of New Atheists indeed!

    Certianly not Stenger, Dawkins, Harris, Carrier et al.!

    Somehow you have acquired a picture of science and scientists that has very little to do with real scientists or real science.

    You also wrote:
    > Nice bait & switch BTW. Confusing the Scientific Method with the broad catagory of science in general. (The Empirical Sciences which rely on the Method with it's deductive warrent vs the other scientific disciplines (Evolution, History, Cosmology) which rely more on inductive method of inquiry.

    Great Darwin’s ghost!! Bait and switch???

    Every scientist I know considers the techniques employed in cosmology and evolution to be wonderful examples of the scientific method!

    BY, you really hang with some very strange (or at least scientifically illiterate!) dudes.

    Dave

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  47. Lou wrote to me:
    >And when you get done educating everybody over here be sure to go over to rantsnraves.org (particularly the netdrama section) and set all of those atheists straight as well. They sure seem concerned about the sometimes questionable activities of organized atheist groups or outspoken anti-theists that tend to make secularists all around look bad to the rest of the world. Once they realize that there is no "broad commonality" between them they probably won't have as much to talk about.

    Nah.

    You actually make my point for me: atheists criticize other atheists for the same reason we criticize Christians, New Age mystics, etc. We *disagree* with them.

    Nothing in the world at all odd about atheists lashing out at other atheists they disagree with. It does not prove a non-existent commonality – quite the opposite, it proves the disunity among atheists. And, as an atheist, I say “Here’s to disunity! Let there never be a united atheist movement!”

    You also wrote:
    >Granted atheism seems to be the en vogue apostasy at the moment, that hardly denotes that the trend will be as strong years from now. Even the Ku Klux Klan had members in the tens of thousands at one point, and you see where they are today.

    The Klan started after the Civil War and had a second chance at life early in the twentieth century. Even if you count that as the same movement (it should probably be considered two separate movements), that is a lifetime of seventy years or so. After that, the Klan was only a bad joke (and an occasional terrorist who used some old insignias).

    The decline of Christianity is a much longer term phenomenon. You’ve heard of Voltaire, Paine, et al.?

    And you know of Arnold’s wonderful poem “Dover Beach” with its hauntingly uplifting metaphor:
    >The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar…

    The slow but rather steady decline of Christianity goes back over three hundred years.

    That decline is hardly a flash-in-the-pan.

    And the reason for that long-term decline is abundantly clear: science.

    Science is an alternative, competitive belief system to religion, and has been so since Galileo promulgated the idea that the “book of nature” took primacy over the Bible.

    It was not initially clear that science would win that battle. But science is now so central to the physical existence of our civilization, and so appealing to all the cultures around the world that are forming the new world culture, that the decision is in.

    Science can no longer be defeated. Christianity’s inexorable decline cannot be halted.

    I know you will not want to face up to that long-term historical reality.

    Cool.

    But Christ is dead.

    Dave

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  48. BY,

    I think the difference between the two of us is rooted in a very different orientation towards reality.

    You seem to me to be a “verbalist”: someone who believes that words can inform us about the nature of reality.

    That is shown, for example, by your stated admiration for Tony Flew in his old atheist days. Even though I am an atheist, I had contempt for Flew then (as I do now) because I viewed him as someone utterly ignorant of the knowledge we possess of the real world (science) but who thought he was doing something significant simply by playing games with words. (I remember his “proof” of the “impossibility” of immortality as being particularly stupid.)

    A similar point holds for your veneration of “tradition”: to me, old traditions are just silly myths, pointless verbiage that should be rejected now that we have true knowledge through science. That our conception of reality should be governed by the words of ignorant authors from thousands of years ago seems to me quite hilarious.

    And, again, your claims that scientists justify science by circular reasoning – when, in fact, people from contrasting cultures around the world are frantic to acquire scientific knowledge because of its proven power – seems to me just playing with words. Or your attempt to exclude cosmology and evolution from being examples of the scientific method, when every scientist I know of considers them sterling examples of the scientific method.

    I don’t recall if you have shared with us your profession. But, I am pretty sure it is not science!

    If I can hazard a guess, I suspect that you work in one of those “verbalist” professions that use words to control and manipulate people or, to put it more charitably, that use words to create a mutually consensual “reality”: lawyer, psychologist, journalist, clergyman, politician, salesman, social worker, public-school teacher, something of that sort.

    By all means, correct my misconception if you are really a Nobel laureate in physics!

    At any rate, I think that is the real difference between us. I think we humans should do what we can to avoid words’ controlling our understanding of reality: whether words form thousands of years ago or words from ignorant philosophers, priests, etc. now. We should not allow words to “poison the well”: to the degree possible, we should look beyond the words to clues from reality – scientific observation and experiment, etc.

    Incidentally, I’ve been told by many verbalists that this is quite impossible; that, indeed, there is no human thought that is not completely embodied in words.

    That, too, I find bizarre. I have talked this over with many people in various technical fields, and, for most of us, we quite commonly do our best thinking wordlessly. Of course, we need words to try to communicate those thoughts to others, but often we find that impossible (more often than not, a diagram succeeds where words fail).

    So, BY, I suspect that you and I come from two different sub-breeds of humanity: the scientists vs. the verbalists.

    Your side may well be in the majority. The problem is that my side has produced the only broad and cross-culturally, objectively verifiable knowledge of nature that humanity has ever possessed.

    And that makes it sort of hard to dismiss us: prayer commonly does not work. Our techniques generally do.

    Dave

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  49. Marauder wrote:

    "But they are trying to mind my business for me. I was in the 3rd grade when they were force to stop making me recite the Lord's Prayer every day in school and they've been out for revenge and restitution ever since.

    Hmmm...you're either considerably older than I am or the public schools were much different where you grew up. I never had to do anything like that while in school, ever. But personally speaking I think it's a good thing that the school was made to stop...I mean, I do believe in the separation of church and state, for what it's worth to you.

    But revenge and restitution? Come on man...I think what you have to say is interesting most of the time, but I can't help but think you're catastrophizing to a great degree here. How have "they" went about coming after you? What sort of restitution do "they" demand? And who exactly are "they" anyway? The majority of Christians in this country or a handful of overzealous loudmouths?

    "It shouldn't be necessary to call attention to the baleful influence of religion on contemporary US politics. But in addition to all that obvious stuff, there's the persistent and well financed assault on rationality itself, such as the endless campaign to get creationism taught in public schools as science."

    So some Young Earther's have some money. Big deal...how successful have they been? If they want to finance these "assaults" I say let them throw their money away. How many people are going to side with them? And for that matter, do you honestly think that the majority of Christians in this country buy into the literal seven 24 hour days of Creation? Sure you've probably got some old-timers that refuse to give up the ghost, and even fewer young-un's that think evolution is evil for whatever reason, but other than that it seems their quest to get Creationism taught as a science is doomed to fail. You say it's an assault, I say they're trying to kill a lion with a toothpick.

    But what other kinds of assaults on rationality and science are there? Also, in what ways have the sciences actually been crippled or halted because of Christians and/or Christian influence recently? I work in a laboratory at the university here in town, and not once has a church or a particular minister staged a protest outside our doors. PETA on the other hand is another story...

    "Why? What's more important than defending life, truth and reason?"

    But...dude...Bro...it's the internet. This is just a comments section of a blog aimed at Christians. How many minds are you going to change while "defending life, truth and reason" online? What sort of difference do any of these internet debates make? Sure, you can have some thought provoking discussions with all sorts of people and it can be fun sometimes, but this is about as quixotic as it can get my friend.

    Aren't there better ways for you to defend what you hold dear, while helping others to see the light, rather than hanging around an online blog that you're never going to agree with in the first place? I'm not trying to run you off, I just can't help but think you're sitting and spinning your wheels in the mud of the driveway while thinking you're driving to Disney Land.

    And that assessment isn't just for you Bro, I'm talking about a great majority of these internet warrior types. Sure, they're probably having a ball hanging out online and arguing with people at every turn, but how much good are they actually doing in the long run? More often than not websites serve to preach to choirs. If I'm wrong in saying that please show me.

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  50. Marauder wrote:

    "I don't accept that premise, see posts above. I don't think religion is a good thing to begin with. You can get the wisdom elsewhere without having to buy the mumbo-jumbo."

    You can get wisdom in other places, sure, but religion, in particular theism on a personal level is about more than that. I saw a line on the show Firefly once that summed it up better than I could hope to do it. The character named Shepherd Book (played by Ron Glass) had stopped a girl named River (played by the terminally pretty Summer Glau) from tearing up and rewriting his Bible (in particular the part of the flood of Noah). She claimed she had to fix some inconsistencies, and he told her that you don't fix the Bible, it fixes you. I know that trying to put emotional value into words is an uphill climb, especially since we're seeing opposite sides of the issue, but that is the reason people buy into the "mumbo-jumbo"...it works for them. The same reason you disregard religion, not having it works for you. You can't honestly expect everybody in the world to set their clocks the way you set your own.

    "And, for what its worth, I don't object to religion because christians have been evil in the past and won't stop being evil today. My take is that it is just plain useless for lessening evil, no matter who does it. People are who they are and do what they do with or without religion. Religion is anodyne, not cure."

    Depends on who you ask about all of that. I could elaborate, but I have to get my day started soon.

    *whew* Sorry for getting on a soap box in this post. But I know we'll probably just wind up agreeing to disagree again. For what it's worth it was fun though.

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  51. "Science can no longer be defeated. Christianity’s inexorable decline cannot be halted.

    I know you will not want to face up to that long-term historical reality.

    Cool.

    But Christ is dead."


    *looks around* Sorry folks, I was dumb enough to feed the troll. It'll never happen again.

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  52. gojira: Hmmm...you're either considerably older than I am or the public schools were much different where you grew up. I never had to do anything like that while in school,

    O'Hair brought the suit in 1960 and prayer was banned sometime in '63, so I was 12 or 13 when I was emancipated. Perhaps some schools didn't mandate the LP, but every one I went to, in Ohio, North Carolina and Connecticut did.

    This is just a comments section of a blog aimed at Christians.

    An exotic crowd I don't usually rub shoulders with. I do do other things, but I live in a small town and this is probably a bigger audience that I could assemble at home. Also, because I don't usually hobnob with anti-scientists, this is a better venu than most for just learning what and how they think. This is very educational.

    More often than not websites serve to preach to choirs.

    Well, yes. And a little dissonance is good thing here, I think. Tell me, since you're a repeat customer, is this the same old same old, or are you hearing things you don't usually hear?

    Ant this really was a big thing. "Mad" Madalyn Murray O'Hair stirred up a hornet's nest of christian hate, it was huge news at the time, and it galvanised the reactionary forces. The modern counter-enlightenment dates from about that time.

    So some Young Earther's have some money. Big deal...how successful have they been?

    Its not just them. The Discovery Institute is behind ID, for example, and that's bankrolled by the Moonies, among other things.

    So far, they haven't won a final victory, but they still do damage. From time to time they take over a school board and take a crowbar to the curriculum. Then people have to spend time and money repairing the damage they did.

    Also, by promoting pseudo- and junk-science as science in order to get "equal time" in schools, they're a significant factor in the dumbing down of the general population and so cause collateral damage in the process. I don't think the reality of global climate change would still be a "debate" if people hadn't been deliberately mislead by, mostly, anti-evolutionist agitation, about what science is, how its done and how it should be interpreted.

    Also, in what ways have the sciences actually been crippled or halted because of Christians and/or Christian influence recently?

    They have a considerable effect on research funding. Consider the hoo hah about human stem cell research for example. There are public health ramifications from their opposition to things like needle-exchange programs, condom distribution, and similar things. This also spills over into foreign policy by skewing population control assistance toward ineffective abstinence-only promotion over condom distribution. USAID and our own CDC censor distribution of information about effectiveness of condoms. Christians really hate condoms for some reason.

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  53. gojira: You can't honestly expect everybody in the world to set their clocks the way you set your own.

    True. But that's no reason to be complacent about error. This blog wouldn't be here if its maintainers didn't think it served a substantive purpose. If so, then pushing back isn't without purpose.

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  54. >*looks around* Sorry folks, I was dumb enough to feed the troll. It'll never happen again.

    I reply: I am getting that impression too. So far he has nothing specific, rational, coherant or logical to say & now he wants to ask personal questions about my profession.

    Ah well..........

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  55. Hey Marauder,

    I'm going to be away for a while, going out of town and getting ready for the trip and everything, but I wanted to try and answer at least one question you asked me before I vanished for a while. Before I do though I wanted to say once again how you bring up a lot of good points and I have yet to regret ever discussing things with you. So again, please don't think me rude for implying anything negative about you posting around here. I certainly like to see what you think just like I like to read the impressions from the other posters around here as well. Anyway, on to the question:

    "Tell me, since you're a repeat customer, is this the same old same old, or are you hearing things you don't usually hear?"

    Are you asking about the material Mariano and the other contributors write, or the comments sections? Well, just to cover both possible areas, it's sort of a mixed bag.

    While I don't always agree with *everything* Mariano writes, I usually find his articles intriguing and it's nice to know that he (along with other Christians) share my concern with the growing public acceptance of anti-theistic rhetoric. So there's a little something old there, plus much more of something new since he's WAY more on top of studying these issues than I could ever hope to be. Whereas I might be tempted to spend and hour or so of free time playing the game Plants vs Zombies (a dangerously fun and addictive computer game you should check out if you're into that sort of stuff), he's obviously taking his time and using it to make his rounds and accumulate information. I personally couldn't foresee his articles inspiring an atheist to bend their knee to Christ and accepting Him as their Lord and Savior, but you never know.

    As for the comments sections, in particular the contra-theism commentary from some atheist posters, again it's a mixed bag of old material and a bit of something new from time to time. Your posts are usually pretty thought-provoking, as well as others, and I like to see more of where all of us share common ground(s) rather than how different we are in certain beliefs. And again I can't foresee a series of atheistic posts making me abandon my beliefs, but sometimes they do serve to make me investigate certain issues a little further. I can learn a few things, sure, but I have yet to ever have a post rattle my beliefs.

    I hope that answers your question. I'd like to hit a few points, but time is scarce at the moment. Until later, take care.

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  56. Ben wrote:

    "I reply: I am getting that impression too. So far he has nothing specific, rational, coherant or logical to say & now he wants to ask personal questions about my profession.

    Ah well.........."


    Yeah, I had some suspicions about his need for attention as soon as he started posting; bragging about his education and then lacing his posts with plenty of flame bait. Don't feel bad Bro, I too took the bait once already. Live and learn I guess, and then deal with accordingly.

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  57. BY,

    I’ve been busy the last few days, and this comments thread seems to have petered out.

    So, perhaps I should summarize my own view of all this.

    What intrigues me about this sort of Internet “debate” is that I almost never see actual scientists feeling that they need to defend science by arguing that science is consistent with religion.

    Some scientists do believe that science and religion are compatible, of course, but I cannot think of any competent living scientist who thinks that science itself will collapse if it is proven that science and religion are incompatible.

    On the other hand, there are quite clearly a very large number of religious believers who do feel that, in defense of their religion, they need to show that science and religion are compatible. I.e., if religion and science can be shown to be necessarily incompatible, they feel that this would be a real blow to religion.

    Some of those religious believers try to create a compatibility between science and religion by altering science – this is true not only of ignorant “Young Earth Creationists” such as Ken Ham but also of slightly more sophisticated folks such as the “Intelligent Design” crowd.

    Other religious believers try to trim their religion around the edges a bit to make it more compatible with established science, while still hoping they can hold on to some of their core religious beliefs.

    But, I know of almost no religious believers who have the audacity to come right out and say, “If science disagrees with religion, then the human race should simply chuck science and be rid of it.”

    On the other hand, many scientists do indeed have the attitude (and many of us have said as much publicly) that if religion and science are incompatible, by all means let us dump religion.

    This situation, which of course everyone knows about, is very revealing.

    It is a tacit admission on everyone’s part that science now holds the whip hand, intellectually speaking, over religion.

    The human race as a whole has never accepted Christianity. It is quite easy to imagine a situation in the future in which the vast majority of the human race rejects Christianity as obvious nonsense.

    But the human race cannot simply reject science, not unless they wish most humans to die as a result: this planet cannot support nearly seven billion human beings if the human race rejects the tools given it by science.

    I know I come across as if I have no intellectual respect for Christianity. That is because I think even most Christians really recognize that Christianity has lost its intellectual respectability.

    I think you know that yourself, BY. I think you understand why few scientists care to prove that science and Christianity are compatible but many religious believers are eager to try to prove they are compatible.

    I really think you know the truth, BY: Jesus of Nazareth is dead.

    Dave

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  58. Atheist leaders like Rob Sherman, Madalyn O'Hair, and Jon Garth "Elmew Fudd" Murray are the worst possible representatives of Atheism.
    Organized atheism should cease to exist- atheists and other liberals should promote evolution and evolution only.

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