It’s Time to Change Something Other Than the Design


Over the last few days I have been looking for atheist bloggers who write good posts. Specifically, I have been looking for blogs that I’m not already following. In the course of doing this, I found a few things that disturb me. The first thing that I found was that there are hundreds of posts written daily that are by Christians talking about something pertaining to Christianity, but their are only a handful of posts written by atheists about atheism daily (at least in the three days I was looking). This on it’s own doesn’t bother me, but it did amuse me, since I’ve heard a lot of people say that atheists run the internet. But this led me to discover another trend: a good portion of the posts on atheism were defenses of atheist morality, and none of the posts I read contained any attacks directed at Christians, but a good number of the Christians (about 10-15) were written to be attacks on atheists. They were charges against atheist morality, charges that atheism is delusional, and straight up mockeries. And a good number of these posts made some claim about how atheists are attacking Christians. This trend really disappoints me (though it doesn’t in the least surprise me).

The second trend convinced me to start a bit of a project. I’ve picked out the worst of the anti-atheist posts and I’m going to write response posts to them. Clearly their are a number of Christian bloggers who want WordPress to be an Christian echo chamber. And it seems to me that right now they have just that. Personally, I don’t like being told that I am a bad person simply because I do not agree with someone. And I don’t like hate being spewed at me and then being told that I’m hateful. So I’m going to try to take the haters echo chambers away.

But I also found a third trend: I number of really good atheist bloggers have very few followers. This blog may not be huge, but we do have over 3000 followers, so I’m also going to draw some attention to some of the smaller atheist blogs. After all, I don’t want to drown myself in hate. Hopefully we can create a community that is more welcoming to atheists and less accepting of hate.

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98 responses to “It’s Time to Change Something Other Than the Design

  • sirratiocination

    Do you intend your blog to be focused on what is true or on the politics of expressing what is true? Presenting defeaters to philosophical propositions is not attacking the proponents of those philosophical propositions. If Christians are attacking people in an ad hominem way or attacking people at all then they are not acting according to Jesus’ teachings. If they are attacking behaviors or positions, then that should be acceptible to any person interested in discussion leading to truth.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Well Just because one is not attacking something other then a person doesn’t necessarily make it acceptable. The argument has to sill stand up, and be coherent. Just as the ad hominium Fallacy is only a fallacy when you attacking a person of this which have nothing to do with the argument there making. Like it’s isn’t an ad hominium to call into questions someones academic credibility if they are claiming said creditability as a premise in their argument. I’m just clarifying in case you or some one else doesn’t know this.

      This is a blog about what we think is important. That some times mean we talk about things we think are true and give arguments and evidence for our positions. Sometimes we talk about arguments themselves. PArticularly when we are inundated with bad arguments. As well sometimes we give our opinions.

      Now if you want to talk truth we can, but that an issue in itself, but in the standard usage of the term true being what reflects accurately on reality? Then we discuss both what we think is true, the manners in which be ought to express arguments, we also talk about subjects of ought, and should. Which do not always fit nicely into the true and false categories.

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    • equippedcat

      For Christian to attack “behaviors and positions” is also often inappropriate. The key word here is “attack”. Express their opinion, certainly. But unless they have more backing than “God says so” or “it’s in the Bible” or “It seems to me”, then an “attack” would not seem to be warranted. Remember folks, Christians are supposed to love…

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      • sirratiocination

        equippedcat, I sincerely disagree. The direct products of beliefs are behaviors and positions. If a belief is false, there may only be academic ramifications. More than likely, however, a false belief will form an evil behavior and a confused political position. Part of defeating a proposition is not only demonstrating the unsoundness its corresponding argument, but also demonstrating the wrongness of its corresponding behavior, thereby denouncing it. For example, imagine someone believed in henotheism. This is the belief from antiquity that each people had it own patron god. The Henotheist accepts the existence of gods from other cultures, but the Henotheist believes that his own god is perhaps stronger than the others. As long as his culture thrives, the god is vindicated as being stronger. When a people went to war with a people of another culture and conquered them, henotheism teaches that the vanquished were vanquished because their god was defeated by the conquering god. A corresponding behavior with the belief in henotheism is xenophobia and chauvinism. Both of these behaviors can rightly be denounced. They follow from the false belief of henotheism; they also conflict with the egalitarianism of modern ethics.
        I don’t know how you understand the concept of love, but let me propose the altruistic version. Love is not only some sort affection for someone, but also a commitment to place their well-being above you own. In considering how important your well-being is to you, you should think of well-being in a holistic sense. If someone fervently believes that every human is accountable to his creator and that a human’s status in the afterlife is dependent upon his relationship with his creator, then caring for someone’s well-being in the activity of love would dictate that they ought to be informed of this reality. If one truly loves someone else, then they ought not to only inform this person, but implore this person to reconsider. If all beliefs were merely neutral, along with their behaviors, then I suppose love would not incite a person to engage with a person whose belief and behavior are considered to be incorrect. Also, for the Christian, if he is correctly interpreting scripture, then within his worldview and that of other Christians and the Bible what he is saying is not merely his opinion, but God’s opinion, which of course would not be opinion, but truth.
        hessianwithteeth, bist du zufällig Deutscher? Wegen deines Namens behauptet man vielleicht, dass du aus der Region Hesse kommst, vielleicht doch nicht. Anyway, maybe attack is a charged word. I didn’t use it first; I simply followed your usage. Most of what you said, I would probably agree with. But, again, I would have to stress that rarely do I myself “attack” people verbally in the way we are talking about. Online and in real life, I attempt to maintain an aura of civility and kindness in conversion. It is not in my nature anyway to become angry at what people say to me or about me. Someone can criticize me personally, as well as my beliefs all day, it does not really affect me emotionally. Maybe, I’m cold. Maybe I’ve learned that being sensitive is useless. As a Christian, I have laid down all my rights, as if I had any in the first place in the presence of God. I realize that any unkindness thrown my way on account of my Lord is only to his glory.

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        • equippedcat

          Sorry, what was it you disagreed with, again? I said that Christians should deal with non-Christians (and other Christians too, for that matter) in a loving manner and not a hateful one. Love being that you care as much for their well-being as for your own. That includes indicating the possibility that they are at risk for being non-Christians. As far as I can tell, that is pretty much what you said too. I assure you, as an ex-non-Christian, being beat over the head with faulty logic and unsubstantiated claims, drove me further away. It took people who lead me calmly, lovingly, by being a living example of what Christianity COULD be, to consider Christianity, where personal experiences could seal the deal.

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          • sirratiocination

            There is a major concept in Christianity called walking in the Spirit. What is meant by this is that, as you know, when someone becomes a Christian (i.e. believes that Jesus atoned for their sins and submits to the will of their new Lord) God promises that the person will be regenerated and receive his Spirit. God promises that the his Spirit will work within the person to achieve his will. When a Christian’s attitude is changed and he produces fruit (good works) this is a result of the working of the Spirit. Nevertheless, lest a Christian’s free will should be violated, God does not force these things upon him. The Christian must continually submit to God’s will and allow his spiritual operation within himself. Hence, the picture is a walk, or a continuous activity. A Christian may stumble (not allow the Spirit to direct him, commit a sin) or a Christian may turn back (apostatize). When you experience Christians acting hatefully, as you might construe it, they are not walking by the Spirit. This is not a result of being a Christian, but of rebellion and not walking in the Spirit. Therefore, you should look at the person himself as the culprit and not God or the abstract idea of Christianity. Maybe the people you are referring to have never really repented in the first place; therefore, they are not even Christians.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Oh I do feel the need to pop in here and say to both of you that, the whole. Your eternal soul rest in your belief in the Christan God is at best amoral, though I’m comfortable going and saying it’s immortal. If it is true that all your good work are but rag in the eyes of the lord then that means your actions are meaningless it means God is little more than a petulant child saying

            “Praise me Tell me how good I am, give up all you have and are to give praise up on to me! And if you don’t I’ll burn you forever and ever and bring you never ending suffering. All because you refused to give praise to me your all loving father”

            Your life means nothing, all if it is decided by some arbitrary test set out by a spiteful, jealous, and wrathful god. Based on no more then how gullible you are. It seems as nothing more than a despicable lie build up by despicable con artists who wished to control the guessable and cast out those who wouldn’t take there shit.

            Truly I can see no way for a system of morality to be based not on actions, but on if you belief is some deity. There is nothing moral about that belief, all it means if you can be forgiven for anything, no matter what you do, if you down your head, but your refuse to bow your head, even if your a good person. Then you are cursed to suffer for all time.

            Thar’s not the promise of a loving anything, that’s the threat of a tyrant. Though luckily for me I don’t think such a tyrant exists but it just a story used to manipulate the masses and make the next generation as gullible as the last.

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          • equippedcat

            That is certainly one way to “spin” it. And I hope you are right or at least mostly right. It wouldn’t much bother me if my views turn out to be wrong.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well it certainty requires a lot of spin to ignore the fact the bible endorses slavery, and God is defined several times as jelous, and shown to be unfair, biased, and spiteful so I feel a little counter spin is necessary.

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          • equippedcat

            Picking and choosing things from the Bible can allow the person doing so to support “anything”. Context is key.. And judging God from a human point of view is just silly.

            If you don’t believe He exists, that is your right and your choice. In that case, assigning Him negative aspects is meaningless. On the other hand, the only way He COULD exist would be in an environment different than we are in, or even can comprehend. In this case, our judgement of Him would not have the information required in order to have any validity.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            We aren’t assigning God negative aspects. We’re simply looking at what the Bible says and saying “this is immoral.” If people assigned the Bible the same value that they assign other books, we wouldn’t care. But people take the Bible and say “this is the word of God. All good people accept this book and live by this book. If you don’t, you’re not a good person.” That is our concern, not whether or not God exists, but the way people behave and treat us as a result of their belief in the existence of God.

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          • sirratiocination

            hessianwithteeth, I shall venture to say something bold and you’re not going to like it. A human life does not have inherent meaning. Let me explain. Think of meaning in general. For anything to mean something it must fit within some systematized context directed at some end. For example, scratchings on a rock do not inherently have meaning, but if they are decoded and found to represent language of some sort, then meaning may be attributed to them insofar as they carry information through that language, which has the goal of expressing thought.

            When we attempt to attribute meaning to a human life, we must construct some sort of scheme, whereby the human life fits into as achieving some ultimate end, or telos. Now, in constructing this scheme we must be aware that prima facie this whole project will eventually run in the problem of infinity. What I mean by that is that when we have a system directed at a goal, we find that this goal in turn ought to justified in the same way, as achieving some further goal. Immediately, we, as well as Aristotle, see that such a project is doomed to failure.

            When constructing a scheme of morality, it seems, the best we will achieve is to reach some goal and have to stop there, apparently arbitrarily. In examining various ethical models, we must decide where would be a good stopping point. For many secular humanists, that stopping point is human flourishing; that is, something is good because it contributes to human flourishing. But, human flourishing must be seen as good in itself, intrinsically. Contrarily, a Christian might propose that something is good because it corresponds with God’s character. Now, how should we know which model to take? Well let’s examine the first one.

            Bear in mind, the point of going down these roads is to create a model, whereby morality has an objective nature. If, someone is a Nihilist and believes that morality is entirely subjective and, therefore, carries no authority, then pursuing other models isn’t going to be of interest. Apparently, you are not a Nihilist. It’s curious that more people who hold no regard for the spiritual realm aren’t Nihilists.

            Anyway, the human flourishing model for objective morality immediately begs the question, “Why should I care whether humans flourish or not?” You assume that the speaker here is a human, so you would point that out to him, but maybe he is only self-interested and would say, “Hang society, I’ll do as I please.” Considering the temporal nature of human existence, we must, on this view, think that objective morality emerged at some point in time, specifically, when humans became capable of being rational agents. But, what existed before this. Assuming there are no other rational beings (if there are, it wouldn’t solve the problem, only push it back a step), there would be no moral actions existing, therefore no morality. If you imagine that morality is somehow tied in with what is rational and that such a concept existed without humans since the beginning of the universe, then you might be disappointed in realizing that what is rational is merely a description of what is logical and what is logical is merely a description of accurate thinking. Accurate thinking is merely akin to proper causation, and therefore, the metaphysical operation of reality. Thus, in trying to couch morality in rational terms is simply trying to find some ultimate meaning in the mundane operation of universe with respect to time. These things hardly find their way to being ascribed with moral content.

            More realistically, moral content is achieved through personal interaction and not through some abstract concept. In the Christian model, God is triune in nature, but unified in character. When God commands something it proceeds from his character wherein his will resides. Since God is immutable in character and nature and eternal in being he has always been the way he is. He has always had the same desires and personal characteristics. On any reasonable concept of love, multiple people are required in order for it to work. This is where the trinity comes in. God is composed of three persons, meaning these persons can express love between each other and in fact have done so forever. Therefore, there was no time, if we can speak of that way, or place in which it was not true that God was expressing love between his persons. Since he is unified in character, there is no conflict of desires or of moral content. One standard emanating from his character has always existed and will always. There is no way to have existence without having his character inhabit that existence. When he created people he was multiplying beings with his character, but not with his nature (omniscient, omnipotent, immortal, etc.) Hence, when we do something good it is not because God commanded it, but because it matches his character which is eternal and immutable. These characteristics are exactly what we are looking for in objective morality. In response to why stop here, namely at God’s character, in an attempt to justify a model and make human life meaningful with respect to morality, I must ask what higher thing can you imagine. This is as good as it gets. Does multiplying the persons of the trinity make the model more satisfactory? Not particularly. Maybe you are dissatisfied, but I told you from the beginning that the nature of the whole discussion was going to run into the problem of the infinity, as does the issue of causation.

            Now, you mock God’s motives. But, what you must understand is that worship of God would not be true worship if the worshiper did not actually think God was great in some way. It is not like some despotistic regime in which the ruler demands praise even though the populace really hates him. Anytime God is praised, especially in the Bible, it is because the worshiper has realized something great about God. The worshiper is not forced, but rather chooses to worship because he finds something legitimately beautiful and powerful within God or his character. Maybe, you disagree with God, but where else can you derive objective morality? There is nothing inherently good in rebelling and avoiding “tyranny?” I would like to see how you might establish that as something good without using God’s character.

            You speak of hell, I can say that according to orthodox Christianity (not referring to Eastern Christianity) hell does exist. Whether it is eternal or not is another question. One can interpret annihilation of the soul as well as eternal punishment from the Bible. Maybe, the latter has more scriptural support. It doesn’t really matter however. Humans rely on God for existence, for everything. If he has decided that he does not want to coexist with beings with unworthy, villainous characters that did much damage to his character and that of his children, then he is not obligated to prolong their existence just because he created them. They have chosen against God; God has decided to honor their decision, except that life is found solely in God, so they cannot live apart from him. Therefore, they are thrown into the lake of fire. If God forced everyone into communion with him he would deny free will and make moral agency impossible. He would also be unjust, an aspect of his character, if he did so. God makes threats, but threats are only there because he’s hoping for repentance. If he didn’t really care for people he would let them live in ignorance and die apart from himself. Rather, God continually says that he is the only giver of life. If we want to live and achieve our purpose of being with him, then we can comply with God. If we do not accept the terms, then God will not accept us.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Oh okay, well thank you for what was an excellent laugh. I have no idea why you’d assume that I would think that life is inherently valuable. It’s not a bold thing to say at all, I’ve said multiple times on this blog that existence of reality itself is not off the table for discussion. (though that isn’t to say I think reality doesn’t exists, but that to me through we have to justify our belief in reality as well. Though there are simple pragmatic arguments which I feel tackle the job nicely in most cases.) Nothing you said in that first paragraph was what I’d call bold, nor does it bother me in the slightest. In fact I quite like what you said there. I agree that there lack inherent meaning in such things as language or life. I’d venture so far to say there is not inherent “meaning” to anything. That reality doesn’t need a reason or an end to exist. (This isn’t saying that reality does have a reason it began, but that is a separate question)

            Now moving on I don’t necessarily like anything which requires an ultimate end, the Aristotelian idea that things have some end in mind does not map with on to anything other than the works of sentient beings. Now this isn’t to tip my hand, evolutions as my favorite example does not need any teleological reasons to occur. Once you have life (or really once you have a system which can maintain ever increasing chemical complexity, though let’s not conflate abiogenesis with evolution) only that life which is capable of surviving, and does survive to reproduce will carry on. You don’t need teleological explanations for that. Teleological explanations are useful for explain what humans do, but I’d venture to say you could probably explain everything humans do in non-teleological ways.

            Now for the sake of this argument and due to my current lack of imagination I will agree that to justify meaning to a human life we are forced to use some teleological frame work. In truth I probably would anyway as it would be significantly easier. However I don’t agree that a teleological explanation needs to be explained by another teleological explanation. With sentient comes the ability to predict and make changes which will affect the future in a manner more fitting that critters designs. Though for that ability to arise you do not need any teleological explanations, because evolution does not need any teleological explanations to work.

            Another aside on Evolution: While it may be the case that we sometime talk about evolution is a teleological manner this has to do with conventions of language getting in the way of understanding.

            Now I don’t think we need to agree that there should be some good stopping point. I think we are too early in the discussion to be determining and ultimate points where morality will rest. I think it would be far more productive to try to find systems of morality which work well, and achieve goal which reflect those problems which face now, and ideally have the foresight to begin tackling the problems we will face further down the line. This way we don’t box are selves in too much and allow ourselves to change as new information undoubtedly comes in. It seems to me that as we overcome problems we discover or create more, so the “perfect” morality to face today’s challenges would like be different then one 100 or 1000 years in the future.

            Now when given the options between human flourishing, and gods character? Well one is massively arbitrary and self conflicting based on the testimony and book written about the Christian god, and the other one can be tested and empirical data can be collected on to give much clearer answers. Now you might disagree that “God’s character” isn’t massively arbitrary, but if you do I’d ask you to try to take me for task on that one, because I haven’t read much the bible and I’ve seen some flat out contradictions in that gods behavior. Let alone the attributes attributed to Gods behavior and character by Christians.

            Now as to your finding it puzzling that those folks such as myself who are not overwhelmingly nihilists. I have two answer for you. One nihilism is pretty silly, it’s a dead end, game over man game over. It’s clear to most everyone with half a brain and but a meager shred of empathy that the existence of moral frame works benefits everyone, not just society as a whole. Even those people who wish to abuse the morality of our societies to their personal gain general recognize those moral system as benefiting them. Without them we’d probably all die, and we certainly would not reproduce anywhere near the rates we do now, all but guaranteeing out species demise. Which rolls nicely into my next answer.

            We are (mostly) born with an inbuilt desire to live and procreate, and to create more generally, amongst other things because of evolution, so while there lacks inherent meaning that does not mean that we do not come with inbuilt desires. Which in turn will gives us guidance in how we what we will ultimately choose as good/bad. If we choose to look at things in that manner at all. This give us a beginning, and as I said there may not be an ultimate end which shall work for all times and all peoples making the problem of infinity not really a problem as you get rid of the need for an ultimate end. This may also (though not necessary) make it impossible to have an objective source of morality, but since I don’t think that’s currently possible that doesn’t worry me.

            Also we fall into the question of is it god because god wills it or is god good because he wills it. Now you seem to be trying to get around this problem with some presuppositional apologetics, but really your still going to need to give me some better reasons for why god is necessary for existence and then why that then means he’s also necessary.

            Okay so I read and reread your third to last paragraph and well one where the hell are you getting the trinity bit? Like this sound like someone pet theory, and has no justifications included. Like you have behind one of god characteristics, but you negated any positives that may have brought about by now insisting that somehow this let to the creation of humanity, and all of existence. Like the story of the universe brought about by god love is compelling and all, but what you said there comes across to me as all fluff and no substance. Your asserting things about gods nature and how there necessary, but you’re not backing those claims for connecting them in any tangible way. Your conclusions don’t follow from your premises, or at least you haven’t made a good enough account for them yet.

            Though this still leave a gaping problem which I have not seen anyone fill successfully. If you want to base a moral system on the nature of Yahweh first you are going to have to define that nature. If you can’t do that then the core of your morality remains hollow and ready to be filled with any ad hoc measure people need to justify their actions.

            To be clear I don’t truly mock any “gods” motives though I entirely concede that I allowed confusion to seep in into how I used my language. I don’t believe in Yahweh so mocking “his” intentions would be fairly silly outside the realm of hypothetical’s. In truth I’m mocking the intentions of the people who wrote the text, altered them, and many who’ve translated them. Now I’m assuming your thinking the bible is divinely inspired so those two target are probably largely the same to you.
            I understand that to worship something you generally need to at least fear that thing. You don’t necessarily have to hate something to fear it, and historically most religion have had mixed relationships with their gods. They would both help and hurt them for a wide variety of reasons. The mythical stories of Yahweh are no different, God both hurt and helped the Israelite throughout their relationship.

            “Maybe, you disagree with God, but where else can you derive objective morality?”
            This is the biggest problem which I really haven’t mentioned up till now is that you think we can’t have satisfactory subjective explanations of morality. I disagree. It’s easy enough to see why we might think human flourishing is a good reason, it allows us to keep asking these question, to keep enjoying life. To part take in life and love, pain and suffering. To do good and ill. All of these things in one way or another have some value to us. Even if it’s just value we assign to them. I think this desire to have an object source of morals blinds you to the more difficult possibility that the only meaning we have are those we assign to things. That doesn’t mean we need to be relativists, or more specifically Nihilists it means we might not have any source for easy answers, and that will have to work for everything we have even the most basic foot holds for reality.
            Remember subjective does not mean relative, it just means there is no outside immutable source. Wanting there to be an objective morality does not necessitate one, and only having a subjective morality does negate morality all together. We can create systems, and have created systems of morality that allow us to test the waters see what works and what doesn’t, be it Kantian ethics, Consequentialist, value ethics, ect. We can see what works and what doesn’t, which system or combination of systems brings about those ends we want.

            Moving on you said ” I would like to see how you might establish that as something good without using God’s character.”
            Well to be terse I’d like to see you define gods character, and I would like to see how you try to back up that definition.
            So far you’ve been claiming somehow your conception of god grant us objective source for morality, but you have not done even a fraction of the ground work to justify that claim. You haven’t even shown how we can know it’s objective!

            ” Humans rely on God for existence” I’ll consider it when I see a cogent and convincing argument. You can keep asserting that all you like and it will niether won’t make it true, nor will it convince me.

            “If God forced everyone into communion with him he would deny free will and make moral agency impossible. He would also be unjust, an aspect of his character, if he did so.”
            What and it is somehow just to reward/punish everyone based on something which is not evidently true? Now I’m certain you’ll argue that it is evidently true, but it that was the case damn near everyone would be a Christian, and you’d see that regardless of geographical area. You would have no need for apologetics, because proving god would be trivial. This however is the opposite of what we see. We see a whole host of conflicting deities, and conflicting sects for those same deities arguing over minutia, and educating their children that they have the “true” faith.

            If any of this was obviously evident you would even have to argue this with me, there would be bullet proof proofs for your god, and his nature would be well defined at least so that we would have this objective source for moral you’re so keen on.
            It is dishonest to claim something as self evident when it is not so, and just because you like a certain idea doesn’t make itself evident.

            Well this is utterly massive, if you’d like to keep doing this I just suggest keeping this focused in the future or writing a post to which I can respond to in parts.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Neither Hessian nor I speak German, unfortunately the Canadian public education system does a exceptionally poor job of teaching languages (besides English) outside of Quebec. Though If I can pick out some of what your saying there. Then yes. Hessian’s family hails from that part of Germany and draws linage to the Hessian Mercenaries if that was want your where asking. Though you’ll need to talk to her about it should you want more details.

          Yes attack is a charged word, but in many ways the argument, be it a good one or not, is seen as an attack. Often we (people in general) attack those ideas we feel are harmful, or if we are less polite those we disagree with.

          Hessian and I mostly reserve our anger to what we see as the dangerous ideas, and the thinly veiled personal attacks that some times get thrown away, but are worth responding too (most never see the light of day). Though I also try to be civil, kind, and charitable to what people have to say here. It’s very easy to incorrectly write comments or ignore some important context so it’s generally best give people that benefit of the doubt. That is until they prove that they really are not trying (to make an argument generally), or are using abusive language.

          Now you’ve said a lot in that comment and I’m not going to concern myself with responding to all of it here and now, but there was a point you made to Equipped cat and I that I want to respond to.

          First “The direct products of beliefs are behaviors and positions.” Positions yes, behaviours not necessarily, while important to one another string belief does not necessarily lead to the corresponding behaviour. Though they are by no means independent. Beliefs can and do lead to actions and behaviours, but I would say directly. Rather I;d say they tend to promote one another. And you belief something and do a related action those two thing over the course of time will create a behaviour, or a behaviour might end up enforcing a belief.

          Withteeth

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  • friendlyskeptic

    If you wouldn’t mind posting some links to the posts mentioned, I would love to join you in responding to said posts. 🙂

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  • kinginascendent

    You can be spiritual without dogma. Virtues of compassion and equanimity existed long before organised religion.

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  • kinginascendent

    I look at this in a number of ways. The jungian concept of projection is a telling guide to what’s really troubling them. One of my favourite quotes from Robert Pirsig ‘fanatics are seldom certain’. Also I always wonder what they are not dealing with internally that makes them lash out at others. I forgive them because they have no tangible evidence and even the St Thomas Aquinas argument for a creator is a logical argument but unsupported by evidence that you can demonstrate on a material level.

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  • makagutu

    Every so often when I look for posts tagged atheism, they are most of the time written by theists about atheism and they get worse by the day. Which makes ask, do they tag them atheist to draw the attention of atheists or what is their aim.

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    • truthtangible

      I suspect they do. Most Christians think they could debate any atheist and win. Most of them have never met an atheist in real life and are working off a caricature. You could take these people on but they will make logical fallacies until your brain explodes. Good luck.

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    • D.T. Nova

      More than once I’ve searched for science and the results included creationists saying that evolution and atheism are the same thing and (badly) criticizing one or the other.

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      • makagutu

        Why evolution and atheism are taken to mean the same thing has defeated my understanding

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      • equippedcat

        It’s a pretty silly point of view. The “logic” is, evolution is not of God, so if you believe in evolution, you don’t believe in God. Or, the Bible is the word of God and if you believe something contrary to what it says, you don’t believe in God. There is so much wrong with those logical statements that I’m not even going to try to explain it.

        Suffice it to say, there are those who believe in God, and believe that God used evolution to create us (a subset of Intelligent Design), so the statement that evolutionist = atheist is proved wrong by example.

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    • equippedcat

      The purpose of tagging is to allow searches to find your post. If I were writing a post about atheists or atheism, I certainly would tag it thusly.

      Like

  • Allallt

    If you post some link of the posts you wish to rebut I’d love to join you on your project. It can be good to get a second perspective. (There’s a blog called Enquiries on Atheism–atheistenquiries.wordpress.com–you might enjoy, and I am also an atheist blogger, but I don’t like the word.)

    Like

    • equippedcat

      Which word, atheist or blogger? Why don’t you like the word?

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      • Allallt

        THe word I don’t like it ‘atheist’
        It uses a word to describe a lack of a position. By giving it a name, people have appended a lot of baggage to it. I spend too much time packing the word before we get into anything of content.

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        • equippedcat

          I would tend to agree. The original concept was a belief that no gods exist, but that has been broadened and so can give an incorrect impression. You may prefer the term “nontheist”.

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        • clubschadenfreude

          a lack of position? How is “there is no evidence of any gods” a lack of position?

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          • equippedcat

            More like two possible positions, either no evidence of any gods or some evidence of no gods.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Is there any evidence that there are gods?

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          • equippedcat

            Much of it is of the personal experience type, which can be useful to those having the experience, but not so much to everyone else.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I was sure once that heard Santa Claus and his reindeer. Was I correct? Would you believe me because of my claim?

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          • Allallt

            “There’s no evidence” is an assumption of some sort of rationalism. Immediate appended baggage. That is baggage I’m comfortable with, because I am a critical rationalist (and a methodological naturalism and a fallibilist). But that’s all baggage. If I wanted to talk about those things in particular I would use those words.
            Atheism is the failure to be convinced of the tenets of theism. People have emotive reasons for that, naive reasons for that and rational ones. But atheism is simple that first sentence: the failure to be convinced. I’ve spent a lot of time having dead-end conversations because it turns out the other person thought atheism was identical to scientism, ontological naturalism or some other pocket of presuppositions and that is time wasted.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Me saying there is no evidence is a statement of fact. Unless you wish to claim that there is evidence. If there is, I’d be more than happy to acknowledge it. If there is no evidence, then “there is no evidence” is a statement of fact. This is why I am unconvinced by claims of theism. It is the same to say that I am unconvinced by the claim of children who believe in Santa. Atheism is not scientism, another claim of theists that has yet to be born out in fact. As for naturalism, I would consider that this is a mistake if you can show evidence that there exist anything outside of this reality.

            I would say that atheism is the conclusion that there are no gods, not a believe since that can be based on evidence or not. Would you agree with that?

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          • Allallt

            I don’t agree. I still can’t see atheism as the positive stance that God doesn’t exist (based on evidence or as a presupposition, although your stance is clear). If you want to defend the stance “there are no Gods” then that is fine. I find the definition of God too flexible to know what evidence I possible could hold up to defend that position. And, as a positive position it does need evidential support, not just the absence of evidence.
            Atheism is the lack of belief.
            Consider this question: how do you get from “there is not evidence for God” (which I agree is a fact) to “there is no God”? I can be done, of course. It is simpler to get to “it is unreasonable to believe in God”. The bridge to both claims is built from a philosophy. You are inviting the philosophy in to the definition of atheism.
            But that excludes naive and emotive atheists; people who lack belief for lack of knowledge of the claims or people who see too much horror to believe reality is managed (both are nonsequiturs). It also makes “atheism” the same as “rationalism”.
            I am a methodological naturalist, which is to say that I acknowledge the limits of what we can know, however I won’t also make unfounded claims about potential “realms” we can’t explore or intellectually navigate.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Allallt, do you think that Santa Clause possibly exists? I do have further comments but they may be clearer if you can answer this for me.

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          • Allallt

            No. Santa has a narrow definition and should materially be in certain places at certain times and isn’t. Plus we have satellite images that show no homes at the north pole and there’s no infrastructure for trade to his root factory etc…

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          • equippedcat

            hmmm. Santa is supposed to visit “every” house, or perhaps every house with children in one “night”. Even if he were to take maximum advantage of time zones to increase the effective length of night, it would not physically be possible. Thus the only way it could be possible would be if he uses magic. In which case, the buildings at the North Pole could be shielded from our detection or underground, and his raw materials and other supplies could be generated on site or transported in a manner outside our notice.

            Your evidence against Santa Clause is pretty good, but not absolute.

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          • Allallt

            Pick a child’s house, stay up all night, see if Santa comes. He does not. Every present in my house is accounted for by parents and family (even though there is a six year old).

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          • equippedcat

            Now there is evidence which is hard to argue with.

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          • Allallt

            It’s basically the naturalist’s argument: it’s all otherwise accounted for and nothing magic turned up.

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          • equippedcat

            When you are talking about one home, and defined results (present) then you can make observations which are undeniable. When you expand the location and the results to infinity, some degree of uncertainty sets in.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            There is uncertainty in every claim, the question is. How much? Reality itself is not completely certain, our existence with in it is not certain, but that does not mean we can not know anything it just means we are never completely certain of anything (as of yet you never know we might figure out some objective knowledge one day).

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          • Allallt

            Ask the person who makes a claim about Santa whether Santa visits every house with a (Judeo-Christian) child in it. If yes, then my experiment works: methodological naturalism fully accounts for the observed phenomena. If the claimer says no, there’s an interesting conversation to be had about what “Santa” is.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            God is a narrow definition if one believes in the bible. He should materially be in certain places, have materially caused events that leave physical evidence and has not.

            Why do you need satellite images? Santa’s house is invisible. Santa uses magic to make toys.

            etc.

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          • Allallt

            I can see this heading the way of Sagan’s Incorporeal Dragon; Santa is going to be increasingly hidden from investigation. If that is where this will go, my response would be to need to know what the claimer means by “exists”, because they have just defined an object as having many of the characteristics of not existing (i.e. not being detectable, not even in principle). Alternatively, I could say that the claimer has defined Santa as not existing, so that’s the conclusion I am keeping.

            Yes, the Biblical God has a narrow definition. The Biblical God doesn’t exist. The lineage of humanity demonstrates that, as women did not come from the rib of a man, but from other primates.

            Because theism–and as a result, God–is vaguely and flexibly defined, I can equally dismiss the claims of a God as not being available to reasonable scrutiny; everything is compatible with God (according to the theists) therefore the theory explains nothing and is dismissed.

            But none of this is the same as disproof.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            First, allallt, can you define “disproof” for me as you understand it?

            I am glad that I don’t have to explain Sagan’s dragon in the garage story. First I’ll go back a bit to your post about how do you get from “there is no evidence for god” (something you acknowledge as a fact) to “there is no God”. You are right, it can certainly be done and very easily when I can say that there is no evidence for God (I going with the Christian omni-everything monotheistic idea) and that there is evidence that precludes all of the claims of this god and the events it supposedly does, e.g. other things happened, are supported with evidence and both can’t happen at the same time.

            So why say that you’d rather say “It is unreasonable to believe in God” rather than “there is no God”? I do not see that there is any philosophy here. If you do, perhaps you can explain how and what it is? You seem to be arguing that there might be other realms. Again, why assume that there are when there is no evidence to support that? When you claim that we might not be able to intellectually navigate those, it sounds like the usual theist claim that we somehow can’t understand God or that baseless claim “there are other ways of knowing”.
            There is no evidence for God and I can get to the concept “there is no God” as easily as I can get from there is no evidence for Santa to there is no Santa. Why say that it is unreasonable to believe in Santa rather than bluntly there is no Santa? This comes down Russell’s teapot. Yes, there could be a lovely Georgian silver tea set circling Zeta Reticuli, but there is no reason to think there is because one must accept more and more baseless claims to say how it got there. I could also be a reptilian alien without knowing it but again there is no reason to say that is true just because it could “possibly” be true.

            You are right, this can be quite like Sagan’s dragon. Santa’s supposed non-existence can be explained away with more and more excuses and facts added to the description. This has happened with all of the gods claimed to exist. And I mean *exist* as is appropriate for this context and how I am guessing you would too: objective independent presence that affects other objective independent presences. Thoughts exists, love exists, potatoes exist, waves exist. Yes, it is hard to define the word. Would you agree with my definition? If not, I’m curious why.

            Theism and God are not always flexibly and vaguely defined. So those versions can be disproved. The possible “something” that could stand in for “God” has no attributes and simply doesn’t exist by that definition alone, so proof and disproof can’t even apply. I think this might come down to the idea that to accept the possibility of *anything* is somehow considered more virtuous (for want of a better word) than to not, that an “open mind” to all sorts of strange things is better than a skeptical one that considers vanishingly small possibilities to be no possibility at all. For example, from my viewpoint, I am not “open minded” if I claim that it’s fine to believe that the chance of the existence of a brass and corduroy zebra on the surface of Antares serves tea with adamantium crumpets is as valid as anything else with attributes.

            Hope I was clear in this. Ask away if you’d like or come to my blog and we can discuss this as much as anyone would like.

            Like

          • Allallt

            I accepted that the God of the Bible is disproven* by the lineage of humans and evolution at large. Pinned down definitions of God can be disproven. That’s why theists have taken to not giving any (in my experience).
            Another way to disprove God is, if a sufficiently complete definition is given, is to demonstrate the paradox of the multi-omnis. Omnipotence and omniscience can’t both exist because one would contravene the other: I can’t be free to wear any colour tie I want and know know in advance with certainty which one I will wear. If I know, where’s the freedom to choose?
            I agree that in a vast majority of presented Gods, they can either be disproven by direct evidence contrary to the Book, or by identifying the impossibility of the description given.
            And so most theists will collapse their definition of God, and start to describe it like Sagan’s dragon: basically defining God as not existing (being, in principle, impossible to detect). This is why I brought up the definition of “exists”; not because I think you and I will disagree (and from your definition, I see we don’t) but because theists with their collapsed God will stretch the word. “Exists” becomes indistinguishable from “doesn’t exist”. I’d consider that a disproof, too: theists inadvertently saying “God is defined as having traits of [nonexistence].
            We get the same problems with supernaturalism — it’s logically incoherent and there is no evidence for it. I don’t believe in it. Thus, the entire realm, as poorly defined as it is, is something I don’t believe in. But I can’t say it doesn’t exist if I don’t know what it is. But I can say there is no epistemic requirement for it. At present, naturalism accounts for everything. And so, under Occam’s razor, I accept naturalism (provisionally). That necessarily excludes supernaturalism.
            Equally, there is ignosticism. The idea that a claims doesn’t make sense (what is an “adamantium crumpet” anyway?). If it doesn’t make sense, I dismiss it.
            Dismissal is a lack of an evaluation. Not the taking of a stance.

            *by disproven, I mean an incompatible claim has been supported beyond the confidence of the initial claim, and beyond reasonable doubt e.g. evolution (which cannot be reasonably doubted by a well-informed person) is incompatible with God (which is supported to a lesser extent than evolution [in this case, not at all]). Therefore evolution disproves God. It’s a slightly lazy use of the word, because proof is about mathematics, logic and certainty. But given that we both accept the unattainableness of certainty, I think we have an understanding there… let me know if I’m mistaken.

            Liked by 1 person

          • equippedcat

            Sorry, God is not disproved (as far as I know, nor is He proven either). And evolution does not say anything certain about God or not God. Evolution COULD be the result of natural occurrences OR guidance by God. Now if you want to talk about creation taking 6 24 earth hour days, then you would have a valid contradiction between evolution and one thing some people claim of God.

            Omnipotence and omniscience are not mutually exclusive with each other (or even omnipresent). One says “knows everything” and the other says “can do anything”. Can do does not mean has to do. And in the case of the tie example, God is theorized to be able to put knowledge away from Himself.

            That God or the Supernatural is not detectable (currently, by us) does not have any impact on whether they exist or not. It might be a reasonable basis for a BELIEF that they don’t exist, but is by no means definitive. Keep in mind that anything which is “supernatural” is OUTSIDE of the natural which we can measure and even comprehend, by definition. Just because it is possible that everything in the natural world is completely natural does not guarantee that a supernatural does not exist, or has no intersection with the natural.

            To show a conclusion to be “logically incoherent” you would have to show that the premises are wildly incorrect or the logical methodology is completely invalid. Even to show a conclusion to be logically unsound would require finding some flaw in the premises or the logical methodology.

            It is perfectly reasonable for you to believe there is no supernatural and me to believe that there is a supernatural. That your belief is more likely given our current capabilities does not mean that my belief is wrong; all it says is my belief is less likely as far as we can tell at this point in time.

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          • Allallt

            We might disagree about the word “reasonable”. Naturalism is self enclosed and explains what we observe. Supernaturalism is wild speculation, superlative to the world we observe that we do need to explain.
            This is also what i men when i say theism is flexible, bending to any evidence.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            The most famous case is the problem of evil. If god is omniscience, omnipotent, and benevolent. You simply can not reconcile that formulation of god with reality. You have to toss at least one of those properties out.

            You can’t disproce God in the sense you can’t really discuss an undefined quantity in a meaningful sense, and if you define god as some undefinable entity then you run into the problem of not being about to discuss it. While there is some room for adjusting one view of god, when pressed many theologians will just move the goal posts.

            Though it is impossible to test or disprove certain kinds of claims, and some make those claims, but that doesn’t mean they are good claims it just means there no way of substantiating them in a meaningful sense. So those claims are by natural insubstantial having no evidence and it is not unfair to disregard them for being that way. Though that isn’t disproving them.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            There seems to be little doubt that “evil” exists. We can certainly wonder why that is.

            Is it as basic as in order for good to exist, evil must exist to be a point of reference? Sort of like light and darkness. Or is it that evil exists so that we have different directions to choose between? Whatever the reason, God allows what appears to be evil, in our opinion, to occur.

            If God is not omnipotent, then He might not be able to prevent evil. If God is not omniscient, then He might not know the evil was going to occur. And if God is not benevolent, then he might not care about evil deeds happening to us or even crave that. But these possibilities are not the complete set of possibilities. What if God IS omnipotent, omniscient AND benevolent, despite “evil” occurring? What if the evil, no matter how terrible in our eyes. has greater positive benefit later or elsewhere?

            Imagine a young child with parents who want the best for their child. The child might think it was quite evil that they had to eat their broccoli. They might think it was quite evil that they could not watch a movie which exalted anti-social behavior and foul language. And they would almost certainly consider it to be evil when they were spanked for sneaking over to their friend’s house to watch the movie despite being told in no uncertain terms they were not to see the movie. Are the parents not benevolent to force these “evils” on the poor child? Or is it, that “evil is in the eyes of the beholder”?

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I agree, it is that theists have taken to not giving any, but they have repeatedly given these pinned down defintions of their gods in the past. The bible is essentially one big claim as a definition of God.

            Now, I do wonder about your qualification “a sufficiently complete definition.” What would determine its sufficient completeness to you? There is no reason that I can think of why omniscience and omnipotence should contravene the other. Does all-powerful have to mean one has free will? That I’m not sure about and find fascinating. Can being unable to make a choice to do something else mean that one isn’t omnipotent? But one could do anything if that was what one was going to do? Hmmmm.  It’s been such a long time that I’ve seen something original that I’m just tickled pink with this.

            Yep, I agree, most theists, if not all, will make their god vaguer and vaguer if they are forced to think about them. In my experience, they never really do that though, not in safe company. God still is “love”, still hates this and loves this, etc. We do get the Sophisticated Theologians who think they are beyond such a human god, but 99.999…% of theists aren’t that. In my experience, the STs aren’t even that since they always go back to very typical claims of their gods..

            I think where we disagree is that I think one can say that something doesn’t exist if there is nothing that says what it is and you don’t. I may be wrong.

            And an adamantium crumpet is just in my imagination. It’s a crumpet (pretty much an “English muffin” here in the states, small breakfast bread thing) made from the imaginary metal adamantium that makes the bones of the comic book character Wolverine. It’s my way of saying that just because something can be imagined doesn’t mean it has to be accepted as possible.

            Now, I’d say that dismissal is taking a stance because you have said something is invalid, it doesn’t make sense in the real world and thus doesn’t exist. You have evaluated the claim.

            I don’t think we quite agree on the unattainableness of certainty. I think that certainty may be unattainable in mathematics and perhaps logic but in the concrete world, I think one can be certain of some things. It may be in just how one defines certainty. Am I certain that there are no brass and corduroy zebras in a supernova? Yep, I am for how it impacts my life. Can I imagine this zebra and consider the thought problem that possibility doesn’t exclude it from the universe? Yes; and I am still certain that it doesn’t exist.

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          • Allallt

            A sufficiently complete definition must have at least one falsifiable or demonstrable claim, that if falsified would be considered the whole definition being wrong.
            Omnipotence must include the ability to make a choice, else omnipotence would be as you described it–one could do anything if it was what one was going to do–and would describe you and me. If i know i will X i will not have the power to contravene X. If i have the power do not do X then i didn’t know i was going to do it.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Okay, then if “something” has no falsifiable or demonstrable claim, can one say that it possibly exist at all if we have no idea what it is or could be?

            And I see what you are getting at with the omniscience/omnipotence thing. Good point. I was only thinking about tasks and you were thinking about precluding events.

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          • Allallt

            No, one cannot say (reasonably) that it exists.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            and that, in a nutshell, is my reason that I don’t find the idea of agnostic atheism to be something that I can agree with.

            thanks for the good discussion, allallt.

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          • Allallt

            I’m still not convinced that is the same as being able to reasonably assert it doesn’t exist. But fair enough.
            Than you too.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I intend to do a post or three on these video’s eventually, but you may find this interesting.

            Dammit him and his damn playlists. the link was broken.

            Here we are : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-txT9RpnI1c

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Actually, I do agree, since a “conclusion” is a personal thing. Two people, using the same data, can come to different conclusions.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            they can come to different conclusions. And they can come to wrong conclusions. Can you show yours is the correct one?

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          • equippedcat

            Yep, wrong conclusions are certainly possible. No, I can’t show you my conclusions are correct. .

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          • clubschadenfreude

            EC, maybe now you can see why I have no desire to allow the religious to have any power based on their claims since their claims cannot be shown to be correct.

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          • equippedcat

            I do indeed (and have since before I was born again), and even agree that we should have no power over anyone except ourselves.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            It seem you two are using different definitions, but generally a belief can be justified or unjustified,but a belief itself is a state separate from truth. You can have a false believe, you can also believe soothing even if you other wise know it can’t be or isn’t true.It is what you think is true, but it is know a knowledge claim. A knowledge claim is when you claim to know something to what ever degree of certainty. This generally take shape in the form of a justified belief, or a belief backed up by evidence. You based the validity of the claim based on the evidence presented, or that is failed to be presented as the case might be.

            Otherwise saying Atheism the a conclusion is not wrong, it does capture the idea that atheists are atheist for many different reasons. There is no single argument that leads to becoming an atheist, or even really a primary one.

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          • equippedcat

            Certainly, a person can hold a belief which is not so. This makes them mistaken I’m not clear how a person can believe something they know is not so. Wouldn’t that make them delusional?

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well there is this wonderful thing called compartmentalization. So humans do have the capacity to hold contradiction. In fact there are some eastern traditions which focus heavily on contradictions. Delusion is inline with metal illness and not quite the same thing. Compartmentalization is something we are all capable of and tend to be more benign.

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          • equippedcat

            I’m still not clear how that would work. Let us say that as a child, I had a stuffed panda bear that was blue. As a result, I believe that all real pandas are blue. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to go through life without ever encountering a panda which seems not to be blue. No matter how I compartmentalize it, I don’t see how I can continue to believe that all pandas are blue. Perhaps I could still believe that SOME pandas are blue.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            ah, very nice way to put that!

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  • sirgb

    WP is a great ground for conducting studies on field of sociology, and I think neuroscience is active in deriving data about mental states of different social groups as well. You did it well and I’d be glad to see more about your findings, however, assertiveness, violent reaction, arrogancy, tediousness are not attributes that you can attach to Christians, only!

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Of course not. However, there are a lot of Christian bloggers here and not very any of any other group. Here on WP it was a very small percentage of Christian bloggers doing the attacking, but it was all Christian bloggers. There weren’t atheists attacking Christians (though I’m, sure that has and will happen), it wasn’t Muslim, Jewish, Buddhists, etc. In this case they were Christians. Which is why I’m focusing on them right now.

      Like

  • Emy Will

    Morality should not be confused with religion. A person can be one without the other.

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  • Jay Dee

    I’m not sure if this trend will ever change. I have an old high school classmate that posts constantly about abortion and religion on Facebook, and he always sounds angry. He attacks everything. I’ve responded very rationally, and he disagreed with me, of course. He has the opinion that since he’s a Christian, everything should be done his way. He’s against support groups for the LGBT community in public schools, claiming it’s un-Christian. But they’re public schools, accessed by many religions, sexualities, etc. I wonder if he does it for the attention.

    Anyway, my blog isn’t about atheism, but it is pro-science and I’ll have the occasional post about religion. Haven’t been attacked yet 🙂

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  • The Bad Catholic

    I apologize for adding to the echo chamber. I can understand your frustration; I want a community more welcoming to atheists and less accepting of hate too.
    Hate shouldn’t be what Christianity is about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      Nope, the claim is that Christianity should be about love. It is quite disturbing that so often it is not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Bad Catholic

        You’re telling me. St. Benedict wrote in his Rule (the guidelines by which Benedictine monks and nuns should live) about “good zeal” and “evil zeal:”
        Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
        which separates from God and leads to hell,
        so there is a good zeal
        which separates from vices and leads to God
        and to life everlasting.
        (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 73: http://www.osb.org/rb/text/rbeaad3.html)

        I read this as essentially drawing a line between the drive to live a good life, and the drive to condemn others. My responsibility is to live my own good life to the best I can, according to the rules I believe in, and if others see that and think it’s worth checking out my rules, cool. If your rules work better for you to make sure you’re living your life as true to yourself and respectful of others as possible, cool. They’re your rules, not mine.

        (Though I love to hear about other people’s rules, in case they might work better than my rules.)

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    • clubschadenfreude

      I agree, Christianity shouldn’t be about hate. If it only said “love you neighbor” and practiced love as described in 1 Corinthians, that would be great. However, at its base, Christianity is the claim that no one is right except Christians, and that anyone who does not worship the Christian god deserves death or worse. The bible is more than clear about that. I’ve read it a couple of times, as a believer and as not.(and I’m reading it book by book again to address some of the weirder stories in it at the moment)

      Hessian and WithTeeth, I do think it’s a great idea to respond to anti-atheist blog posts. It’s only by confronting such theists that we can make any head way. It is huge task but every instance does help.

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      • The Bad Catholic

        At the same time, Scripture was written by human beings, through the lens of their own time, and translated and copied over and over throughout several languages, over hundreds of years.

        Catholic teaching is that the Bible should be read as a library, not a single book; as _containing_ divine truths rather than _being_ divine truth; as containing mythological (in the academic sense of stories that explain the world) elements as well as historical elements; and that the sociological, cultural, historical and political background of the known authors and their translators should be taken into account. The same man who said that “in Christ there is no slave or free” also counseled slaves to obey their masters, because that was the culture.

        (Also, I do agree. The more people we have correcting those who mindlessly condemn with intelligence and calm, the better the world will get.)

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        • clubschadenfreude

          Bad Catholic, does your faith say that no one else is right except Christians (and in your case, that only Catholics have the completely right answer) and that anyone who does not worship the Christian god is deserving of death or worse?

          To have a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient being limited by humans and their culture is a bizarre excuse, one I always have to laugh at. All you are doing is cherry picking like every other Christian, and most other theists.

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          • The Bad Catholic

            To your question: My _faith_ does not say that. My faith is personal to me. My _church_ does, in many interpretations– and I disagree with my church in that respect.

            But you do have a point; thank you for pointing it out. I _do_ cherry-pick, because I haven’t read the entire Catechism, much less the whole of Christian and Catholic Biblical scholarship. All I have is what I know, and I’m learning all the time.

            I should say, however, that there seems to have been a misunderstanding. I never said that what I view as God is limited by human beings and their culture. I apologize for being unclear. What I believe is that there is a creative force, a force that fosters strength and interconnectedness. I call it God. Another may call it by a name meant to be unpronounceable. A third might see that force as embodied in a God and a Goddess. A fourth might see it in all living things, a fifth in _everything_ and you, completely understandably, may see that in nothing at all, or not view it as something worth embodying.

            In other words, I believe that something I call God exists, and that that something has a set of traits and a representation I can understand. My culture doesn’t limit God, but it does limit how I understand God.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I guess your internet name is correct, then 🙂  I have no more reason to respect your “faith” than anyone else’s, but I do know that Christians think I should and that many of them think that I should be forced to agree with them. That’s when the claims of “personal faith” fail, when people claim to have truths and that they should be allowed to force them on me and everyone else upon pain of death or punishment.

            I am glad that you disagree with such things, but again, it shows that the claim that you or anyone has some truth that there is some god that agrees with you is utter nonsense. It is a claim that some powerful thing agrees with you and that somehow validates your opinions.

            It does not surprise me that someone who would claim to be a certain kind of theist doesn’t know what they are claiming to be. I found that out when I was losing my faith that so very many Christians had no idea what their bible said or what their particular sect claimed. They decide, by their own magic decoder rings, that their god “really” wants this and “really” doesn’t want that. One doesn’t need to know the whole of Christian and Catholic bible scholarship to know that its claims fail. It’s been thousands of years and all we have to show for supposed “truth” is nothing but sect after sect and none of them being able to show that they are the true believers. If one is to believe the bible, then there is a way to know who those people would be. No one can do what is promised, which seems to indicate that there are no true believes, or that the bible is wrong in a very important place, which calls all of it into question.

            Your claim of this god being a “creative force, a force that fosters strength and interconnectedness” is no more supported than the bible that says this god is a being that feels hate, anger, jealousy, and that this being sent part of itself to somehow be a bloody sacrifice for rules that it set up in the beginning. You appear to have divorced yourself from anything that defines Christianity, and I find that interesting. I tried that when I realized that Christianity made little sense and was outright nasty in some things; and looked at other religions that weren’t so detailed, like Wicca, etc. It has been my observation that this god becomes more and more vague because the claims that faith makes are unsupportable.

            If you are a Catholic, then your culture limits this god because it defines this god in huge amounts of detail and says repeatedly that this the ultimate truth. Admittedly, those defining factors do get changed every so often as reality shows that the claims of “truth” aren’t quite so much and/or that human civilization changes to find some “truths” less than palatable e.g. Augustine and Fulgentius’ claim that unbaptized babies are damned. And it seems that like so many other Christians, you wish to claim that your god is somehow unknowable and knowable at the same time and that seems to come about when you do not want to consider the difficult questions like the problem of evil, the problem of hell and punishment, and the problem of none of the essential events in the bible having any evidence at all for them.

            Again, I am glad that you don’t believe in the worst parts of your faith, but I do encourage you to look at why you believe any of it.

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          • The Bad Catholic

            Reading what you wrote above, something concerns me.

            At no time did I ever say that your beliefs were nonsense, invalid, or not worth respecting, or that you should abandon what you believe and follow what I believe. That is not something I would ever say, to anyone.

            However, what I read above is that you have no desire to extend the same courtesy. I can accept that, particularly if you’ve never been given cause to respect anyone who holds similar beliefs (or dissimilar beliefs with the same name attached). However, because of that, I don’t think I can continue our conversation. Thank you for the opportunity, though. I appreciate that.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            BadCatholic, I have no problem in saying that someone’s beliefs are nonsense if they are. I did not hide the fact that I had no respect for your beliefs from the beginning, nor do I feel I must respect anyone’s beliefs without reason. Respect is earned not demanded. I don’t care if you would tell me the same, as long as you had evidence to back those opinions up. I also have no problem in hoping you might read your bible, your catechism, the writings of the Catholic “fathers”, etc. and come to your own informed conclusions.

            Your beliefs are no different from any other theists, they are what you have created for yourself. I am sorry if you don’t like that. I know that most theists don’t like being reminded that there is nothing to support their claims, as benevolent as they might be. Your bible says that I should be either hurt/killed or made to follow those beliefs. Your religious sect says the same thing. I am glad you may not feel the same way, but this only tells me that the idea of religion and truth is false. People don’t just believe in these things, they act on them. And acting on something false never works out well.
            I mentioned the questionable claims of your religion for a reason. I know that they are uncomfortable to see. However, I would not stop mentioning them just because someone didn’t like them mentioned. It does not surprise me at all that you will not continue the conversation. It is about here where many conversations between atheists and theists end.

            “ All I have is what I know, and I’m learning all the time.” I hope that this is the case. Good bye

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  • Tree Hugging Humanist

    I am not claiming this is an excuse, but I do think that some Christians attack atheists as an attempt to get blog views.

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    • The Bad Catholic

      Atheists are rather an easy target for the standard stone-throwing cultural “Christian”, no matter what the medium. It’s horrible, but there it is. There should be more emphasis on common ground, rather than proclaiming that one’s views are invalid because they come from x background rather than y.

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