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  1. says

    After showing why I am not public speaker material, getting flustered after having to condense my argument in the last minute, I'll just put the outline here:My point was gonna be about the similarities between Nazi Germany in spirituality and Christianity. While people make the argument that the Nazis were sufficiently different as not to be considered, say catholics, the amount of differences were not greater than than which exists between existing branches of Xianity. Simply put, if protestants, evangelicals, methodists, catholics and eastern orthodox can all fit under the christian label, why not the Nazis?

  2. says

    I started writing an email to disagree with the way you had made the distinction between weak and strong atheism and then determined during the writing that I didn't disagree very much after all. My issue was that Russell equated "strong atheism" with "certainty," and I'm concerned that this conflates the strong/weak atheism distinction with the gnostic/agnostic distinction. While I agree with Martin's distinction that it's possible to be "certain" about specific self-contradictory god claims, I think it's also possible to be a strong atheist — i.e. someone who not only rejects theistic claims as unjustified but also goes so far as to make the active claim of believing that no god exists — who is simultaneously agnostic. I believe that all evidence indicates that we live in a universe that is unthinking and unfeeling and that no god exists at all, making me a "strong" atheist, but I would still not say I am 100% certain that no god exists, because like Dawkins (who, by the way, I would categorize as a firmly "strong" atheist who believes actively in a godless universe rather than passively rejecting god-claims as presented), I don't think that absolute certainty is an intellectually tenable position. This goes to the distinction between gnostic and agnostic and how the popular label of "agnostic" as a statement of belief is nonsensical, which is the main reason I take issue with it. The less belief vs. strength of belief are intertwined, the easier it is for people to understand the atheist position, particularly the position of the "weak" atheist.

  3. says

    I think the Atheism hard vs. Atheism soft discussion is interesting. I see what the critics were saying. The show does operate under a double standard, claiming atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief, but then you guys sledge hammer all other supernatural beliefs.

  4. Martin says

    MVP: Just thought I'd go ahead and get the thread going for folks who could watch the live stream, not to deprive the rest of you who must wait for the podcast. Sorry. It will come.BathTub: Prepare to be enlightened. As soon as the photographic evidence turns up in my inbox. (At least one of us had a camera!)

  5. says

    Oh yeah, remembered another thing reading the "Naughty Companies" post…Martin, do you really think that nothing is inviolable? Including freedom of expression or conscience?

  6. Martin says

    I wouldn't say that nothing is inviolable. But I would say freedom of expression and conscience are, inasmuch as I believe they should in no way be curtailed. But since I think I know where you might be going with your question, allow me to reiterate that criticism and even mockery are not curtailment. The AFA is completely free to boycott whomever they choose. Just as we are completely free to point and laugh when they do it over silly, imaginary "wars on Christmas."And let me also ask that, to avoid thread drift, if you wish to keep discussing this topic, please do so on the appropriate thread.

  7. says

    I think the reason we don't have too many atheists getting onto a Hard 7 is a little thing called "intellectual honesty." Personally I think that theist caller would have gotten it a little bit more if one of the guys had said "look, we don't claim this to an *absolute* degree of certainty."

  8. says

    But since I think I know where you might be going with your question, allow me to reiterate that criticism and even mockery are not curtailment. The AFA is completely free to boycott whomever they choose. Just as we are completely free to point and laugh when they do it over silly, imaginary "wars on Christmas."Oh, no no, that's not where I was going with it at all. I absolutely agree with you that criticism and mockery aren't curtailment or "censorship" in any sense. I'm sorry for confusing things by bringing up that other post, you just used the word "inviolable" there and it reminded me of you using it — in a completely different context, I am fully aware — on the show, and compelled me to ask about it. I was just curious because I personally side more or less with Pat Condell on the issue — if anything is "sacred," it's freedom of expression and conscience, and when you said "nothing is inviolable" (or words, it seemed, to that effect) it piqued my curiosity. Obviously if I'm with Pat I'm not going to consider criticism or mockery to be a curtailment, but more an exercise of free expression. Believe me, I'm on your side and no concern troll. I was just curious, and interested in some clarification. :)

  9. Martin says

    Well, when I say "nothing is inviolable" I'm referring to the ideas/beliefs themselves and their merits, not the right of people to hold and express them. Kind of like Voltaire's old principle of defending your right to say whatever you wish though I may disagree with it.Didn't think you were trolling.

  10. says

    Before starting a debate on Dawkin's position… this is what he has to say about it himself:Let us, then, take the idea of a spectrum of probabilities seriously, and place human judgments about the existence of God along it, between two extremes of opposite certainty. The spectrum is continuous, but it can be represented by the following seven milestones along the way.1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, ‘I do not believe, I know.’2. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. ‘I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.’3. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. ‘I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.’4. Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. ‘God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.’5. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. ‘I don’t know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.’6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. ‘I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.’7. Strong atheist. ‘I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.’I’d be surprised to meet many people in category 7, but I include it for symmetry with category 1, which is well populated. […] I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7 – I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.[Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion"]@Philosopher's MessWhere's the double standard exactly? You perhaps believe that all theistic claims (of which atheism is a rejection) are inexplicably linked to other supernatural claims? That would indeed explain why so many believers seem to not only believe in god X but also in phenomenon Y and Z (e.g. astrology, vampires and ghosts) even though they often contradict the prevalent dogma and their respective holy books say nothing of that sort to begin with.Nevertheless, those are actually different independent claims. Atheism doesn't address them at all. It's not a world-view. There's no dogma. But the host are humans and as such do have other world-views, beliefs and skills and use those to work on those claims.Or are you saying Atheists are not allowed to have other beliefs as well?Perhaps some of the confusion stems from a misunderstanding of the show's title? It's not trying to purport a wide statement about all atheists (and how could it?) but rather think about it like this:Every Sunday you can turn on your TV and in front of you inside that little box you can see two particular atheists. Like in a zoo you can look at them, listen to them, study them, call them, challenge them; in short: experience them. Ergo: Atheist Experience.In any case: "Sledgehammering" on most supernatural beliefs is easy: If it manifests, it can be investigated. If it can be investigated, it's part of nature. If it's part of nature, it's not supernatural. Consequently, since it doesn't manifest and cannot be investigated, why do "you" charlatan claim to know anything about it in the first place?Furthermore, never ever has there been a single bit of compelling evidence in favor of those claims; to the contrary, every investigation so far either shows nothing or reveals someone as a fraud. Randy still has his million bucks and recently, even Uri Geller conceded that he lied for more than three decades and admitted that it was all bogus.

  11. says

    I almost wish you had put a unicorn in his mouth.My goodness what a blowhard. He was so deep into thought that he completely missed the pedestrian meaning of the word "positive". I bet in his daily life he misses completely obvious things in somehow not thinking on his "level". "Well how can you know I wanted ONE grilled cheese sandwich when I say I would like one because you can't define one and…blah blah". Dude, come back off that ledge sometimes. It's a great ability to be able to think on such a level, but you can't live that way or you'll go mad.

  12. says

    Wow, was just listened to the show. This problem of people confusing abstract concepts with something that physically exists in reality (reification) seems to be happening way more frequently these days.Coincidently (or maybe a miracle/prophesy if you're into that sort of thing) i wrote this for the TAG argument page on http://www.ironchariots.org no less that 2 weeks ago:"To summarise, a simple analogy to the logical absolutes would be abstract mathematics. The number 4 is “transcendent” by the TAG definition. It isn't a 'thing' that 'exits'. It cannot be photographed, frozen, weighed, or measured. It is always the number 4. It always remains the same. It always remains true.""However, if there were no minds in existence to conceive of the number 4, the shape we currently call a square would still have the same number of sides it has now. It would not physically gain or loose any sides. The abstraction of the number 4 is conceptual, but the concept isn't dependent on a transcendent mind for the real world underpinning of the concept to remain true."-murphy

  13. says

    4 is a descriptor of real things in a real arrangement, an evaluation of quantity. That arrangement has to exist, first, before the descriptor is useful.'God' as a conceptual descriptor isn't useful, because it hasn't been shown to actually exist yet.The cart is before the horse.

  14. says

    With the second caller I sadly actually think i picked up on what he was getting at.a) you argue from methodological if not philosophical naturalismb) he believes that there is a Platonian world of forms and world of shapesc) therefore he believes in extra-universal realities that are physically real, are not conceivable to humans save as abstracts, and by nature affect the universe. ie, ONE is not just a label we put on a single unit of a like objects, there is a physical source of ONEness outside our universe. numbers are real not just as a concept but as a physical reality.d) you're philistines because of the above.Of course Oscams Razor comes into play here. eithera) abstract concepts like numbers are abstract concepts representing heuristics and mental models for examining the universeorb) There are vast real parts of reality we can't see, yet effect us and are physical and are indistinguishable from a mental construct.You were too kind in letting him go so far with this to quote Novella "Magical thinking". He dressed it up in classical philosophical buzz words but he might as well have been arugeing for Ze Sommerland or Faysworth.My answer to him is that yes the concept of one exists and it exists physically in the synapse connections in the brain that make up that concept. If you remove them from the brain, isolate them, put them in a jar, you will have isolated "oneness". You can do the same thing with "love", "happiness" "a Child's laugh" and even "Pauli Shore".He's basically looking at his computer screen and saying that somewhere out there there is a room decorated with flying toasters and covered in magical clicking icons. He doesn't realize that the physical reality of his OS exists in really tiny electron sequences.

  15. says

    "I think the Atheism hard vs. Atheism soft discussion is interesting. I see what the critics were saying. The show does operate under a double standard, claiming atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief, but then you guys sledge hammer all other supernatural beliefs."I don't see that as a double standard. Soft Atheism is starting with the null hypothesis. Any supernatural claim must be presented and convincing before it is accepted. If giving those claims the scrutiny they deserve when raised is sledge hammering to it than I don't see that unreasonable.

  16. says

    "My point was gonna be about the similarities between Nazi Germany in spirituality and Christianity. While people make the argument that the Nazis were sufficiently different as not to be considered, say catholics, the amount of differences were not greater than than which exists between existing branches of Xianity. Simply put, if protestants, evangelicals, methodists, catholics and eastern orthodox can all fit under the christian label, why not the Nazis?"While you're getting into "Godwin's law" / "Hitler ate Sugar" I think you have hit upon something valid. Read "Flight From Freedom" which explores the sado-masacistic tendencies in portions of populations and makes them gravitate towards fundamentalism/fascism due to a fear of the responsibilities of democracy.

  17. says

    I wants to elaborate a bit more.'God' as a concept, throughout time, has been used as a placeholder, a wildcard, a "I don't know" for a multitude of seemingly supernatural events… say, lightning, for example. Time and time again, these attributions have been falsified."Being wrong", to me, is not a very useful concept. Nor is it useful as a substitution for a regular placeholder/wildcard. We don't need another word for "We don't know". It's called "We don't know".For example, "God" is not a useful explanation for the beginnings of the universe. There's multiple possibilities for the beginning of the universe.1) God done it.2) It's an unending chain of big bang to heat death.3) The first mover was the big bang4) There's another natural mechanism that we don't know about yet.When one just picks god out of those 4, it's not useful.. it's arbitrary. It doesn't explain anything. It's just a person picking what he/she wants the answer to be. In reality, the current status is "I don't know", not "I don't know therefore a supernatural fartknocker done it.".

  18. says

    @Ing "I don't see that as a double standard. Soft Atheism is starting with the null hypothesis. Any supernatural claim must be presented and convincing before it is accepted. If giving those claims the scrutiny they deserve when raised is sledge hammering to it than I don't see that unreasonable."From what I understood, the double standard is that the show says "We just don't believe", then then goes onto dismiss all these various gods as false, which isn't very "Neutral". It seems, from the external viewer to be asserting that the gods don't exist. Or something like that.The problem for this supposed double standard goes back to the "IF you don't believe in gawd, why do you hate him so much?". They juxtapose our irritation with the followers' deeds with the supernatural entity they worship. What we rail against is their beliefs, irrationality, deceit, misrepresentation, willful ignorance, and so on. It's the way their beliefs form, and are sustained, that are battled on the show.They could be right about a god existing, ultimately, while at the same time being right for the wrong reasons. It's the reasons that are at issue, not whether the god exists or not.

  19. Steve says

    I have a problem with the whole "strong atheism" and "weak atheism" thing. Strong atheism isn't atheism, it's a belief, whereas atheism is the exact opposite, the lack of a belief. Instead of referring to a belief that there are no gods as a contradictory type of atheism, just lose the label and simply say that you believe there aren't any gods. It would help make things clearer to those who aren't familiar with what the word "atheism" actually means.Also, I haven't listened to the episode yet, so this might have been discussed on the show. I just wanted to go ahead and throw my two cents in.

  20. says

    @JTNo, it's not a double standard. Present something with evidence, IE a reason to believe it exists, and that's accepted. Saying unfounded assertion is unfounded assertion is not activily attacking it. Look at it this way, every other fucking fact on the planet is scrutinized for evidence. If I say "The Sky is filled with delicious cheese" you have grounds to say call me an idiot due to my lack of evidence and the abundance of contary evidence. For some reason labling these claims as 'spiritual or supernatural' now makes it untouchable? Any other claim is subject to scrutiny. It's a double standard to let bullshit slide by because it's dressed up in a Woowoo mask. At the end of the day the two claims"we should kill Xpeople because they are immoral savages"and"Everyone should be atheist or die"and "We should stop giving vaccines because Xgod says so and homeopathy works even better!"have AS much grounds to be criticized. All are stupid and harmful.

  21. says

    "They could be right about a god existing, ultimately, while at the same time being right for the wrong reasons. It's the reasons that are at issue, not whether the god exists or not."If someone provides ANYTHING other than the "wrong reasons" then the idea of god is worth discussing. No sooner.

  22. says

    I was the first caller yesterday and I found something Martin (I think) said very curious. I've always thought (perhaps, subsconsciously, wanted to think) that Christians and other people who attacked Darwin for his supposed views on race were just ignorant or misinformed. But Martin commented that religious people are so desperate to disprove evolution that they'll use anything. Does anyone else want to weigh in on this? I'd never considered that before.

  23. says

    @GuyI don't doubt it for a second.Darwin wasn't the first guy to propose evolution, exactly. He's the first one to propose a non-God powered explanation.It's basically a direct contradiction to the Biblical Genesis, which is like Christianity 101.It's actually an insult to many of these people. My former employer commented once that he just doesn't want to believe that he came from a monkey. One of the antagonists in the Nova documentary about the Dover trial said basically that it says that we aren't the "Special" creation of god. Evolution doesn't support the idea that we're special, but are just animals. We're an "accident", not a "creation".They've built their entire world view, self worth and hopes and dreams on this God thing, and Evolution's existence says, "Nope, you, all your beliefs, dreams, hopes and worth are false."I think it's the main drive behind the mass anti-intellectualism, anti-science dumbing-down of America. They can't deal with Evolution's supporters, so they're trying to weed them out over the generations.

  24. says

    From the documentary…Bill Buckingham – "I find it [evolution] personally offensive because I'm a Christian. I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and that the book of Genesis tells it like it is, as to how we came into being. God didn't create monkey and then take man from a monkey. He created man."

  25. Afterthought_btw says

    Re: the second caller,This really reminded me of P.Z. Myers response to Richard Dawkins critics. (i.e. Emperors New Clothes) He was out there trying to show off abstract language, and unnecessarily obfuscatory words without ever giving something concrete to talk about. Not once did he define the concept of god in clear (let alone concise) terms.I'm sure he left the call thinking he had somehow 'won', and looked really intelligent. Unfortunately, to me he came across as a pseudo-intellectual. The number 'four' may indeed not be a physical thing. However, this does not mean it can ever be comparable to a deity. For one thing, a number never claims to have existence as anything more than an adjective in reality. God apparently exists as a noun. You can have 'four oranges'. You can't have 'God tambourines'.Numbers, and mathematical symbols are all part of a human made closed system based upon set axioms. Given the axioms, the rest of mathematics follows. Our axioms are founded from properties we notice of reality. That doesn't mean there exists some kind of detached reality where maths is 'real', it just means that any intelligence that creates a closed system with these same properties as axioms will create the exact same field as us.Logic is the same; it's one of the many reasons TAG holds little allure to me.As for the strong v weak atheism thing – the problem here, at least imo, is that god is routinely defined as omnipotent, in which case, by definition, there is no possible way of disproving it. Personally I call myself a weak atheist, but a strong atheist with the proviso that logic always holds true.(Which I guess is a truism, actually)Finally, to Ing, as for Godwin's Law, it doesn't actually comment on whether bringing Hitler up helps or hinders a point. It's become a bit of a corollary (a false one in some situations imo) but originally, all Godwin's Law is:"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."If you're as sad as me, you can look at the Godwin's Law wiki page! :)Anyway – I guess I'm just agreeing that Cafeeine Addicted's point was a valid one!

  26. says

    I'm with you, though, it seems reasonable. I just can't imagine how unpleasant that must be; constantly hiding from real evidence because of the implications. I've been going to church ever since I was a young child (I still attend with my parents) and I've always found that people who argue against evolution have no idea what they're talking about. I had one lady tell me that evolutionists think that "a horse evolved into a bird" or something to that effect. Perhaps, then, they don't educate themselves because they like what Christianity gives them.. I remember my brother telling me something along those lines. It's just difficult for me to understand because I'm willing to go wherever the evidence takes me. Maybe I have an idealistic view of most of humanity.

  27. says

    "Finally, to Ing, as for Godwin's Law, it doesn't actually comment on whether bringing Hitler up helps or hinders a point. It's become a bit of a corollary (a false one in some situations imo) but originally, all Godwin's Law is:"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."If you're as sad as me, you can look at the Godwin's Law wiki page! :)Anyway – I guess I'm just agreeing that Cafeeine Addicted's point was a valid one!"Oh I know Godwin's law. I also know that people will cite Godwins Corellery (First one to mention Hitler forfeits) constantly. I personally have no problem godwining myself if the situation calls for it. I agree with CA. I might have a link to a video somewhere of a lecture exploring some shared themes between certain religious mindsets and certain fascist mindsets. I am fairly swayed by the argument that there is a shared sado-masacistic root to both. the argument boiled down to both populations having two main desiresa) to have a strong ultra masculine alpha male force dominate and lead themb) to while subjecting themselves to their father figure, they also want to find easy targets to exert their own power/masculinity over.

  28. says

    "I'm with you, though, it seems reasonable. I just can't imagine how unpleasant that must be; constantly hiding from real evidence because of the implications. I've been going to church ever since I was a young child (I still attend with my parents) and I've always found that people who argue against evolution have no idea what they're talking about. I had one lady tell me that evolutionists think that "a horse evolved into a bird" or something to that effect. Perhaps, then, they don't educate themselves because they like what Christianity gives them.. I remember my brother telling me something along those lines.It's just difficult for me to understand because I'm willing to go wherever the evidence takes me. Maybe I have an idealistic view of most of humanity."Having been a fan of Buddhism and some of the Dali Lama's writings I can imagine wanting to hide from evidence. I remember distinctly a very strong fight/flight reflex activating when Penn and Teller or Skeptoid brought up the issue. My first instinct was to skip those episodes and ignore them. Recognizing this I forced myself to view the counter opinion and have thus had my own views change greatly, I think for the best. Everyone with deep held beliefs/preferences can fall into hiding from data when it's challenged. It is very important to be vigilant against it and force yourself to learn, even the hard stuff. ESPECIALLY the hard stuff.

  29. says

    Guy, Oh absolutely. Evolution deniers will reach for any rock they can (or think they can) throw against Darwin. There is nothing they will not stoop to.The funniest part, of course, is that the racial and political views of Darwin are wholly irrelevant unless it can be shown that they caused him to dishonestly present his case.Put another, more Godwinesque way… did the nature of Wernher von Braun's employer mean his rockets didn't work?Chuck D was no more racist – indeed, markedly less – than your average man living in the middle 1800s. So what? Evolution is not true because one man says so. It's true because it simply is.Next time someone brings this up, respond with:"You know, Isaac Newton was a sincere devotee of Alchemy, so clearly his work on mathematics and physics is unreliable…"

  30. says

    Newton was also a major assholeEdison a plagiarizerFranklin a lecherEinstein an adulterer.The only negative trait that would harm their findings would be if any of them were a moron.

  31. says

    Newton was also a major assholeEdison a plagiarizerFranklin a lecherEinstein an adulterer.Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,Hobbes was fond of his dram,And René Descartes was a drunken fart,"I drink, therefore I am."Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed,A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed!

  32. says

    The real kicker here is that any historically literate Protestant Christian has already wrestled with this… in the person and legacy of Martin Luther himself.Luther had a number of despicable traits – those who see him as some kind of late medieval CS Lewis are simply delusional – yet that doesn't change the quality or impact of his achievements.

  33. says

    I would wager to say that a slew of popes and telenagelists would disagree with you. The god concept was extremely useful in lining their pockets and assuring them a life without any hard work.

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