Special Easter counter-programming: AE #492/493 double feature


Atheist Experience #492, 3/18/07: Deconversion. Everyone’s favorite commenter Tracie talks about the common path that Christians take when they become atheists.


Atheist Experience #493, 3/25/07: Pascal’s Wager. Don Baker takes on the “Believe or else!” pseudo-argument, commonly given by Christians.

Comments

  1. Emanuel Goldstein says

    I thought I’d bring up my own experience of being raised by “freethinkers”. My uncle was an atheist, and held “freethough” meetings in our basement on Saturday nights.He had a library of over 2500 atheist books and pieces if literature and they would discuss books, politics and the coming day when atheism would be supreme.They also drank a lot.Afterwards, he invariably forced my aunt to have sex…nowadays we would call it rape…after cussing her out for a while and pushing her around. Years later I found out he had been abusing my sister.He died of a heart attack four years ago, and the only think I inherited was his llibary of atheist material…which I am by now starting to get familiar with.I suppose I would have been impressed but it turned out our philosohy professor at the local community college where I took a couple of classes my senior year of high school was a Christian…still is, and just got on at the state university in our city. He pointed out to me the common thread of assumptions that run through the literature I have been reviewing, and the stuff does not seem as impressive. Its own reliance on faith commitments is as extensive as any fundamentalist propaganda I have seen.This, combined with my experience of being raised by an atheist, has led me to abandon that philosohy..and that is exactly what it is, despite the protestations of its only being a “lack of belief”.The professor pointed out that is the weak definition that has only been more commonly used in the past generation because it is obviosly easier to defend.One of the clinchers was Richard Dawkins coming to speak at KU in Lawrence…the man was a fanatic. My professor actually got to ask him why, if most scientists are atheists, can atheist be absolved of the responsibility of blaiming fundies for war when in fact atheist scientists have filled the world with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?Dawkins response? “Who let this guy in here”. He visibley lost part of the crowd of two thousand at that point. It was spectacular!Remember, “fundies may talk about the end of the world, but atheistic scientists have made it POSSIBLE.”

  2. says

    Atheist scientists filled the world with weapons?? Please…This last post has so many fallacies that it boggles the mind.-Confusing association with causation-Ad hominem-False Continuum etc..A knife can be used to cut bread or to cut someone up. Should knife makers be made liable for murder then??This supossed professor’s question is totally ludicrous. If i were on the audience i too would have asked who let such bozo in…

  3. tracie harris says

    I think your experience with your uncle was highly unfortunate. However, I would no more say all Xians are Fred Phelps, Jim Jones, Waco cults or child-molesting priests, than I would accept that all atheists are represented by the handful of people you mention in your life who seem to have influenced you away from reason.The last AE episode I appeared on, I pointed out that people tend toward belief in a god for emotional, rather than logical reasons. And your post is a fine example of this. I can certainly understand how overpowering your emotional responses must be to what you’re describing. And it’s not a surprise that they would pre-empt reasonable thought in this case. Much as I wouldn’t expect a woman who was raped as a child to reasonably understand that not all men are untrustworthy–I wouldn’t expect anything different from you based on the abuse you describe.However, “the atheists I’ve known weren’t nice people” is hardly an argument for the existence of a god.You have my symptahy for your unfortunate life experiences. And I hope you find healing one day in the form of being able to free your mind from the emotional baggage it has obviously (and understandably) caused you.

  4. says

    One of the clinchers was Richard Dawkins coming to speak at KU in Lawrence…the man was a fanatic. My professor actually got to ask him why, if most scientists are atheists, can atheist be absolved of the responsibility of blaiming fundies for war when in fact atheist scientists have filled the world with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?Dawkins response? “Who let this guy in here”. He visibley lost part of the crowd of two thousand at that point. It was spectacular!I don’t believe you – so I’m going to do my best to find out the truth of this situation.Why don’t I believe you? Because this is one of the weakest questions I’ve ever heard, and I don’t believe that it came from a philosophy professor and I don’t believe that Professor Dawkins would balk at this question.I believe you’re a liar, from start to finish in this post – with the intent of building a big straw man of atheism.I may be wrong, and if you can prove that I’m wrong, I’ll quickly admit it – and include an apology.However, assuming your post is legit:1. Your “uncle’s” drinking and raping had nothing at all to do with his atheism. Atheism is a guarantee of neither virtue nor vice.2. The “common thread of assumptions” among atheist literature aren’t something that someone well-versed in philsophy would reject as “reliance on faith”. For the traditional arguments for the existence of god there are rebuttals which have no reliance on “faith” – in the sense that you seem to be using the word. The objections center on logical fallacies contained in those arguments, a lack of evidence to support those hypotheses and a considerable bulk of evidence (scientific models of the natural world) which contradict those hypotheses. That isn’t “faith”.3. I’ll do my best to find out if Professor Dawkins addressed the question you listed as stated.

  5. Emanuel Goldstein says

    Matt, you hypocrite. I tell you my experiences, and you say I am a liar, but you spew your experiences and expect people to believe them?BS. You have just added additional confirmation to my experience.Dawkins toured the US last fall, and I have changed names of locations to protect people I know because I don’t want anyone trying to contact the school and get them in trouble because of something I said.You don’t think that sounds like Dawkins? Just read his vicious book equating Christians raising kids with child abusers or his remarks about the NOTORIOUS Jewish Lobby. (pages 4 and 44 of TGD.) He is full of conspiracy theories.And he treats the opposition with unconcealed contempt. Its hard to believe that this guy is a professor of “public understanding”.And drinking had a lot to do with atheism; my uncle was always spouting shit about how we make or own rules.Tracie…I would agree with you that my negative experience with atheism is not an argument FOR theism as such, but it is sure not an argument for an atheistic veiw, either.I have seen no evidence for superiority.

  6. tracie harris says

    >Tracie…I would agree with you that my negative experience with atheism is not an argument FOR theism as such, but it is sure not an argument for an atheistic veiw, either.In fact, it’s not an argument for or against either. It’s irrelevant to the issue 100 percent. It only explains your feelings.

  7. tracie harris says

    In fact, the impolite term for what you’re doing is “engaging in a pissing contest. No one can “win” in this event, because people exist who believe in god who are harmful people, and people exist who disbelieve in god who are harmful people.I don’t know what your point actually is in this case?If I am to reject information based on “bad people” in a camp–then I could no more be a theist than an atheist–since there are severly harmful people and groups in that camp as well; and I have certainly met my share of people who can tell horror stories of the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of religious adults (in the name of religion) in their families.There is no winner in the game you’re promoting. Truth is all that matters ultimately. But you are still in the midst of unresolved childhood issues, and I hope you’re taking steps to resolve that currently, otherwise you will never be able to move on with your life. You are, literally, trapping yourself in your uncle’s grip to this day (I have no idea how many years later). Continuing to empower an abuser only costs you. It doesn’t punish him. It doesn’t hurt me. It only holds you there, and stunts your ability to move on. Your pain is clear.I hope one day you can let it go. I really don’t care if you believe in god or not. For you, I only hope that whatever you choose, you can lay down these negative emotions and live free of them one day.

  8. Buck Turgidson says

    Goldstein is a well know rabble rouser. He undoubedly had some bad experiences, but so what?but he is right about Dawkins, Dawkins IS a bigot and I read the references to the NOTORIOUS Jewish Lobby on pages 4 and 44 of The God Delusion that Goldstein mentioned.Is Dawkins INSANE! Thats pure conspiracy theory crap!And I don’t doubt that he made dispariging remarks to questioners. Its his standard procedure.

  9. Martin says

    Buck: Goldstein is a well know rabble rouser. He undoubedly had some bad experiences, but so what?So what? So it’s no excuse to refuse to grow up and go through life an ignorant liar and prejudiced moron, that’s what.Re: Emanuel’s misrepresentation of The God Delusion.There is no passage on page 4 calling religious parents child abusers.There is, however, plenty of discussion about the prejudice atheists face from religionists, citing polls that show atheists are, for no reason other than ignorant bigotry, the least liked group of folks around.On page 3, Dawkins points out that children are too young to understand the religious beliefs in which are raised. This is in support of his opinion that is its not appropriate to refer to a “Christian child” or a “Muslim child,” when the correct term ought to be “a child of Muslim/Christian parents.” He uses the phrase “victim of childhood indoctrination,” which I see as being utterly true, but does not compare parents to child abusers.In Chapter 9, Dawkins does argue, in a long section discussing the physical/sexual abuse of children by pedophile priests and the like, that it could also be considered a form of “mental abuse” to raise uncomprehending children in fear-based, unfounded superstitions about things like hell and damnation, and to instill in them bigoted views that non-members of their religion are to be hated and feared. He does not, again, say that religious parents are child abusers. He attacks the practice of raising children in beliefs that they are too young to grasp and that have no evidentiary basis, and I see no reason to disagree with him.On page 4 and 44, Dawkins does discuss the Jewish political lobby, and says this:Page 4: “Unlike Jews, however, who are notoriously one of the most effective political lobbies in the United States, and unlike evangelical Christians, who wield even greater political power, atheists and agnostics are not organized and therefore exert almost zero influence.”Page 44: “As I said in the preface, American atheists far outnumber religious Jews, yet the Jewish lobby is notoriously one of the most formidably influential in Washington. What might American atheists achieve if they organized themselves properly?”These single sentences are all the reference Dawkins makes to the Jewish political lobby, which, one assumes, comprises the ADL and like-minded groups. Emanuel and his pal (sock puppet?) “Buck” have made great hay over the word notorious in these passages. Notorious means “widely and publicly known,” with an unfavorable connotation dervied from common usage in unfavorable contexts. How Emanuel and Buck derive a “conspiracy theory” out of a reference in a single sentence is evidence of nothing but their own bizarre inclinations to read more into a passage than what is there in their desperate effort to smear Dawkins at all costs. (Indeed, both passages are more openly critical of atheists!) To state the simple fact that a group of people have a political lobby (lots of them do) hardly equates to being a “conspiracy theory”. And if Dawkins thinks the Jewish political lobby is “notorious,” while one might agree or disagree with that assessment (I would describe the Christian Right lobby as infinitely more notorious), even that does not constitute a “conspiracy theory”.As we see, it is “standard procedure” for religionists who want to smear Dawkins to lie out their asses all the live-long day about what the man has actually said or written. In the case of one of Dawkins’ books, such lies are easily caught. But that such lies are routinely made is why both Matt and I feel entirely justified in doubting Emanuel’s characterization of what he alleges went on at Dawkins’ KU talk. If Dawkins has a history of disparaging remarks to his critics, I would suggest that it’s because, like Emanuel and Buck, they routinely make stupid, distorted, and outright false remarks that deserve disparaging.

  10. Goldstein's Clones says

    Martin, regarding the Dawkins remarks on the “Jewish Lobby” the word notorious, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means “Known widely and regarded unfavorably, infamous.” It is of course standard procedure for atheists to play with definitions as you have.(Are you Mikes’s “sock puppet” or just another stooge?)Dawkins mentions it twice,( and those are on pages 4 and 44) how many times does he have to bring in up?And that is not ALL he says about Jews, he even blames the Jews for their own problems for refusing to “marry out”…which in itself is another lie from Dawkins about Jews.He also compares Jews to Nazis on page 242 where he says Abraham used the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defense. Further the “child abuse” term is on page 318…”I am persuaded that the term child abuse is no exaggeration”What do you do with child abusers? You lock them up!He is a consiracy monger and bigot.No doubt about it.And you are defending him.

  11. tracie harris says

    >He undoubedly had some bad experiences, but so what?While it is true that “experiences” alone don’t negate raw data or, necessarily, interpretation, Emanuel’s only point seems to be to say that since his uncle was a mean alcoholic rapist/molestor, who happened to lean toward free-thought; and since he had a professor who thought that cementing an abuser’s damage into a victim’s brain was not an unconscionable thing to do, that now all atheists are absolutely evil people, bent on outlawing religion and ending the world.Any prejudice can use actual data to support itself–but the data usually only supports the prejudiced conclusions if the interpretation is dysfunctionally skewed. Just because a woman is raped doesn’t mean men are untrustworthy sex aggressors. Just because more African Americans are arrested percentage-wise in the population doesn’t mean blacks are hardwired criminals.It doesn’t make sense to engage in a discussion where one person is discussing theology and the other is working out personal abuse issues. This forum is not set up to be anyone’s personal therapy. And nobody here is qualified to deal with someone who has the issues Emanuel is exhibiting. Anyone here could end up doing more harm than good toward Emanuel, and we wouldn’t have any way of knowing.I just spent weeks dialoguing with Dan Marvin at this forum, and never once asked about his past or personal issues. We discussed ideology and theology; he vehemently pressed his points, and I felt completely comfortable addressing him. If a person wants to engage in a dialogue, I’m open to that. If a person comes on board immediately explaining, and openly proclaiming that a history of personal abuse, combined with input from a professor who re-inforced an abuser’s message of prejudice is the basis for his beliefs, I’m not going down that road. There’s no point. If simply reasoning with abuse victims at an e-forum could resolve such dysfunctional connections, nobody would be prejudiced in this age of the Internet.Whether or not Dawkins is a jerk is debatable. I have not cause to defend the man’s character–he’s not me. And, again, if poor character of someone promoting an ideology negated that ideology–whose ideology would be left standing? Nobody’s that I can see.If Emanuel’s true point to coming here was to discuss (or even debate) ideology—why hasn’t he presented his own? He’s only here to antagonize and insult others. His point is to instigate an argument that will bring back his uncle’s alcoholic diatribes. As a child, he was not in control of an abusive situation. And if he can make us play that role, then he can face the situation with more control, as an adult now, and say all the things he wants/wanted to say to his uncle way-back-when, but was either unable to (or perhaps has since, but to no avail). I’m not his uncle. I’m not his therapist. Replaying the past over and over and over in order to create an ugly situation where nobody benefits, and where there can be no positive outcome, is an utter waste of time and completely unhelpful to everyone involved. And if Emanuel is honestly a victim of such a flagrantly abusive, unapologetic, alcoholic, raping/molesting uncle, (and his own story calls his parents into question as well–were they absent, utterly unconcerned and in denial, or condoning this abuse?) this cycle may even be delaying his getting help for himself.Yes, by all means, discuss Dawkins, discuss ideology; but it’s just naive to put forward that “some bad experiences”–ones as intense and abusive as what Emanuel describes–aren’t going to color his ability to be objective regarding data and unprejudiced regarding people.

  12. Martin says

    goldstein’s clones blithered: He is a consiracy monger and bigot.No doubt about it.And you are defending him.Nice try, you lying little fuck. Check here.no·to·ri·ous 1. widely and unfavorably known: a notorious gambler.2. publicly or generally known, as for a particular trait: a newspaper that is notorious for its sensationalism.From the same page, from the etymology dictionary, 2001. notorious 1548, “publicly known,” from M.L. notorius “well-known, commonly known,” from L. notus “known,” pp. of noscere “come to know” (see know). Negative connotation arose 17c. from frequent association with derogatory nouns.As we see, I am not playing with definitions. I am being accurate. The negative connotations of the word ‘notorious’ arose the following century after the word was coined. And as often as we hear theists play the “words mean different things” game, any one of them who accuses atheists of “playing with definitions” is doing this. pro·jec·tion [pruh-jek-shuhn] –noun11. Psychology.a. the tendency to ascribe to another person feelings, thoughts, or attitudes present in oneself, or to regard external reality as embodying such feelings, thoughts, etc., in some way.The lies keep a-comin’…And that is not ALL he says about Jews, he even blames the Jews for their own problems for refusing to “marry out”…which in itself is another lie from Dawkins about Jews.On p. 261-262, Dawkins cites a 1982 study on religious homogamy in which he notes that “observant” Jews (as distinctly compared to secular Jews, which Dawkins makes clear) are discouraged from “marrying out”. Goldstein’s illiterate clone, in his efforts to paint Dawkins as an anti-Semite, ignores that Dawkins, in the same chapter, reports similar findings about Catholics, Muslims and Hindus, and the practices of all four groups are shown to discourage “marrying out”. Dawkins quotes a rabbi who refuses to officiate at interfaith marriages. Another example given is that when Catholics marry Anglicans in the UK, the child is required to be raised Catholic. This reinforces Dawkins’ point that religion is divisive, encouraging enmity between groups that would not exist were it not for religion. It’s a bald fact.As we see, Dawkins’ wannabe critics will read his work very selectively, latching onto things Dawkins says about practicing Jews while ignoring that he says nearly the exact same things about other religions. A more dishonest and pathetic attempt to accuse him of anti-Semitism could not be made, its calumny made all the more flagrant when you note the passage in TGD that condemns and exposes Nazi anti-Semitism and points out its Christian roots in the writings of Luther (p. 275).Dawkins-bashers just can’t attack him without lying about him. Here’s another one.He also compares Jews to Nazis on page 242 where he says Abraham used the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defense.Nope. Take one of these, and call me in the morning. Dawkins does not compare “the Jews” to anything here. He accuses Abraham specifically of making “the Nuremberg defense” (“I was only following orders”) in agreeing to murder his own son, Isaac, for God. At no time does Dawkins make a blanket comparison between this myth and the practices of Jews, but uses the story to demonstrate how we cannot claim to get our morals from religion. Here is the entire passage, in context, where the functionally literate will see no attack on “the Jews” present.God ordered Abraham to make a burnt offering of his longed-for son. Abraham built an altar, put firewood upon it, and trussed Isaac up on top of the wood. His murdering knife was already in his hand when an angel dramatically intervened with the news of a last-minute change of plan: God was only joking after all, ‘tempting’ Abraham, and testing his faith. A modern moralist cannot help but wonder how a child could ever recover from such psychological trauma. By the standards of modern morality, this disgraceful story is an example simultaneously of child abuse, bullying in two asymmetrical power relationships, amd the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defence: ‘I was only obeying orders.’ Yet the legend is one of the great foundational myths of all three monotheistic religions.Once again, modern theologians will protest that the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac should not be taken as literal fact. And, once again, the appropriate response if twofold. First, many many people, even to this day, do take the whole of their scripture to be literal fact, and they have a great deal of political power over the rest of us, especially in the United Staes and in the Islamic world. Second, if not as literal fact, how should we take the story? As an allegory? Then an allegory for what? Surely nothing praiseworthy.So you see: read what Dawkins really writes, and the attacks by the bashers are revealed to be a heap of steaming bullshit.Grab those shovels…there’s more!Further the “child abuse” term is on page 318…”I am persuaded that the term child abuse is no exaggeration”Well, well, let’s just read the whole fuckin’ passage then, and see how you’ve quote-mined and distorted it, shall we! Following a lengthy passage discussing the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, Dawkins writes more of psychological abuse:‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.’ The adage is true as long as you don’t really believe the words. But if your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell (or some other obnoxious article of doctrine such as that a woman is the property of her husband), it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds. I am persuaded that the phrase ‘child abuse’ is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell.What do you do with child abusers? You lock them up!Sounds like a plan!He is a consiracy monger and bigot.Again, a “conspiracy monger” in what way? By simply mentioning that religious Jews have a powerful political lobby, and that he regards this lobby as notorious? If that’s all it takes to be a conspiracy monger, then so is a guy who tells his friends that his wife belongs to a bridge club and has potlucks every Wednesday, and their food sucks. And a bigot against whom? Those who indoctrinate children into hateful, fear-based beliefs while fondling their genitals? Those who warp kids’ minds and turn them into this? Then so am I, asshole, and proud of it!You’re just a lying little scumbag. No doubt about it. And the sad thing is you aren’t even all that good at lying.

  13. says

    Matt, you hypocrite. I tell you my experiences, and you say I am a liar, but you spew your experiences and expect people to believe them?I’m not a hypocrite, people are free to think I’m lying if they don’t find what I say compelling.Dawkins toured the US last fall, and I have changed names of locations to protect people I know because I don’t want anyone trying to contact the school and get them in trouble because of something I said.So, you say something and when I point out that I’m going to attempt to verify it, you claim to have changed the names. How convenient. Somehow this doesn’t make me any less convinced that you’re a liar.You don’t think that sounds like Dawkins?Nope. I think he’s sufficiently intelligent to respond to such a simple question. If, in fact, he did utter those words, I’d be willing to bet that it was a joke and not some nastiness that lost him points with the crowd, as you’ve suggested.Just read his vicious book equating Christians raising kids with child abusersI’ve read his books. Considering that the answer to the question you raised is broadly answered in several of his books, I’m even more convinced that you’re full of it.And drinking had a lot to do with atheism; my uncle was always spouting shit about how we make or own rules.What I was trying to say is that alcoholism and atheism aren’t causally connected – in either direction. Any problems your Uncle had were incidental to his atheism.but it is sure not an argument for an atheistic veiw, either.That’s because the alcoholism has nothing to do with theism or atheism. You’re implying a link where none exists. The superiority of a rational, naturalistic worldview is in its power to reliably and consistently explain the world without appeals to “god done it”.Quite frankly, given the nature of the points you’re raising – I suspect that you may even be a troll. If you’re not, then you’re welcome to take the challenge:1. Do you believe that belief in god should be the default position? (Believe until proven wrong…)If your answer is “no” – then 2. Give me your best evidence/argument for the existence of a god.If your answeris “yes” – then2. How do you decide which god claim is the default?

  14. Anonymous says

    Matt,yuou should be ashamed of yourself for calling that man Emanuel Goldstein a liar. If there was such a thing you as an atheist should repent.

  15. Martin says

    Except he is a liar, as Matt ably demonstrated. And as is typical of trolly bitches, you haven’t got the courage to sign your name to your posts…unless, as I suspect, you’re D.M., and know full well you’re banned here for your own dishonest and wretched behavior.

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