Media fawning over Papal claptrap »« The Source of Human Morality debate videos

Comments

  1. says

    "Lee and his outlandish misrepresentations and conflations"We're getting that a lot lately, aren't we? I just listened to the Hitchens vs. Dembski debate, and it was more of the same.

  2. says

    I figure Matt will have this sent to him soon enough, but I want to be the first to link it here. It makes what I consider to be the best argument yet on providing a dividing line between atheism and skepticism.I'd love to hear Matt's comments on it. After reading it, I may have changed my mind.

  3. Martin says

    SecularDad: There's no link in your comment. Give it another try.DavidCT: That caller wasn't Lee. Lee was the self-described former-Baptist-atheist-libertarian who was giving us a load of shit about "tiptoeing around Islam" because of the whole Park51 issue. What he didn't get, and what he kept misrepresenting, was that my discussion on NPR with Gia and Chris about this was not even a discussion about Islam, but about minority rights. We've been intensely critical — and always will be — of the foul and inhumane cultures that arise in Islamist societies. His insistence on making analogies to Fred Phelps was totally misguided, because he was conflating the actions of an individual and the supposed collective guilt of a whole group. In other words, just plain dishonest. And as Jen pointed out, he doesn't seem to know what being libertarian is all about. It's an odd "libertarian" who would be all for depriving people of their rights.

  4. says

    How could Lee not see that what he was suggesting was tantamount to blaming all baptists for something Fred Phelps did. It seemed so simple. He was flippantly asserting motives. After listening to him, I have no idea why he felt so sure about these motives.On the other hand, there was something expressed on the Non-Prophets that I'm not yet on board with. It was said that Islam is not inherently any more dangerous than other religions. I agree they don't exist in a vacuum. But it's entirely possible that one religion could be more dangerous to the planet than another at a baseline level. Who's worried about Jain violence, after all? I'm not convinced it is fundamentally more troubling, only that I don't rule it out.

  5. says

    His analogy with Fred Phelps Would me more analogous to Osama Bin Laden trying to build a mosque as near to ground zero as possible. And, as was said by the Matt and Martin. Even Osama Bin Laden would have the right to build a mosque at Park 51 if he owned the land. Is it tasteless and rude? Maybe. But, people have the right to be tasteless and rude in this country.

  6. says

    I don't think that he was of the belief that all Muslims are not to be trusted, just the group associated with the "Ground Zero Mosque." It seems to me that he has bought into the conspiracy theory surrounding the construction of the mosque, and can't understand why other atheists don't see what has become so clear to him. Things were a little muddled in there, though, so I can't be sure. That still doesn't excuse the poor analogy or the accusation that somehow atheist writers/commentators are soft on Islam.

  7. says

    Abiogenesis is going to present the same 'problem' as evolution for debates it seems. Every time a new piece of how self replicators may have first got together is found they just create two inexplicable new 'gaps' in the formation theory, so to speak.

  8. says

    Re JAFisher44: I was just about to most more or less the same sentiment regarding the caller Lee.I think part of the problem is that conservatives as a whole seem more predisposed than liberals to judge people as good/bad instead of judging actions as good or bad. If you regard the people as evil (in this case the wrong people) then it's easy to oppose any further actions they take, even innocuous actions.

  9. says

    In regards to the !Abiogenesis -> God caller, I do wish they understood that they can't just "logic god into existence".For quite awhile, we logically deduced that black holes probably existed. If you extrapolated everything we knew about the universe, they should be out there.However, we didn't officially accept that as true until it was backed up with empirical evidence.Ultimately, you need some evidence to back up your claim.

  10. says

    Who's worried about Jain violenceI am. Obviously, in its present form it's pretty benign, but all it would take was one priest to point out that allowing harm through inaction is as bad as causing it yourself. Then you'd have a justification for using violence to force compliance with Jain morals, since it'd be the lesser evil.Some religions are, in their current form, more overtly dangerous, but that's incidental. No religion is inherently any more or less violent than any other, since irrational people can always be convinced to do horrible things.All religions share a common core of irrationality and that's where all the problems stem from. It's not their surface beliefs, it's the irrational foundation that allows those beliefs to stand.

  11. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  12. says

    Incidentally, I think Thunderfoot used a similar, if the not identical to Lee's, Phelps comparison in one of his anti 'Ground Zero Mosque' videos.I stumbled on the ensuing youtube drama fest recently. It's all quite overwrought.

  13. DavidCT says

    Ooops! sorry about confusing callers and topics. I'll just have to blame it on the Mad Cow and the mind rotting effect of Fr. Jacobse this week.I’ll try to make another comment. This time about the real Lee. I have to state that I find myself more sympathetic to Lee’s point of view about the construction of Cordoba House than the hosts. As far as his criticism that atheists are giving islam a pass, I agree that he is off the mark. It is too bad that most of the discussion involved two sides talking past each other with Lee being the biggest problem. I did not find the distinction between groups and individuals particularly meaningful when Fred Phelps came up. The thing about the Phelps family is that they are clearly outrageous and that provides a clear focus for criticism. The situation of wether or not the Cordoba house is an insult is much more subtle. It is not clear if there is any intent to be provocative. The promoters have not engaged in provocative rhetoric. The funding question is of concern but due to our general deference to faith based finance we don’t have have the right to treat a mosque differently. If this were a new church funding sources would not be questioned. Cordoba house is a fuzzy target for criticism. I suspect that this is intentional but do not have proof.Regardless of the money source or the agenda, there is no legal basis for denying the project. If some people find the mosque offensive they do not have the right not to be offended. In spite of being forced chose the side of legal and human rights, I am glad that this promotion of islam has not gone unnoticed.

  14. says

    @SecularDad:I've read your link and for the most part I agree with it, apart from 2 things:1) I think the null-hypothesis should be part of scepticism.2) Most religious people make specific, falsifiable claims about the god they believe in. Once they have given you that definition, you just need to falsify one part of their claims to prove the being they described to be nonexistant. If tomorrow everyone started to belief in some kind of deistic being that floated around the universe and didn't really interact with us, I don't think we would see that many outspoken atheists anyway, since such a belief wouldn't harm anyone.

  15. says

    Sebastian,"If tomorrow everyone started to belief in some kind of deistic being that floated around the universe and didn't really interact with us, I don't think we would see that many outspoken atheists anyway, since such a belief wouldn't harm anyone. "Unless…they would decide that sacrficing some goats or people would persuade the floating being to begin communicating with us. Just sayin.

  16. says

    Listening to the none-prophets you are talking about a games tournement between you guys and the Ask an Atheist guys – suggestion on a game – Bible Adventures for the NES.

  17. says

    During your call with Kevin, you mentioned "the swan falacy"? I've never heard this before (I've listened to all of the Non Prophets' and most of AE). What I have been hearing for years on the shows is that "unicorns" are a mythical creature… So does this "swan" thing suggest that because we've only observed horses without horns (so far) and have not yet discovered a horse with a horn, we should not rule out the possibility of unicorns existing? My point is; (not proving unicorns) but I don't like it when believers, in the face of thousands of years of having NO evidence for the existence of god will still hold to the belief of…"there could be some (evidence that is)…we just havn't discovered it yet…so until we do..I still believe!" Is that not the same "swan fallacy"? p.s. You guys were 100% right about LEE. I'm almost curious on which arguments convinced him the become atheist, cause he obviously had fingers in both ears during your conversation with him.

  18. says

    I'm with you rrpostal. If anybody has any delusions that islam isn't generally more dangerous than xtianity then they're being incredibly naive. That's not to suggest that all, or even most, muslims are responsible for atrocities like 9/11 and 7/7 but there is an entirely different mindset amongst most muslims that is born from the ignorance of a 'socialist' style ideology that has remained fairly unchanged for the last 1000 years or so.Maybe you don't see this mindset so much amongst native born American muslims who probably think of themselves as being American as much as, or possibly more than, being muslim, but over here in the UK and the rest of Europe I would say that, for a large minority, islam is the one and only code by which they will live their lives, and the laws, culture and tradition of their adopted country (even if they're born there) is a poor second best if not completely irrelevent.

  19. says

    six45ive,On the subject of Christian violence, in Ireland the Protestants and Catholics have been blowing each other up for year. In the former Yugoslavia it's a three way beat down between Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Muslims. In the U.S. and Canada, members of Christian groups have bombed abortion clinics and shot abortion doctors.Muslim violence has become a big thing of late because they've managed to make some very large and highly publicized attacks. However, Christianity is used as an excuse for violence on a regular basis as well. As to who is the more dangerous of the two? Well, I guess that depends on who's holding the gun to your head when the question is asked.

  20. says

    I also fail to understand how the continual backing of a constitution that enables an organisation (in this case a religious organisation) the 'right' to follow a (religious) path that leads to so much conflict, child abuse (both physical and mental), psychological and emotional problems leading to an inability to disseminate fact from fiction is looked at as being 'the norm' and generally a 'good thing' when all the evidence of actually living in this kind of society shows this not to be the case.

  21. says

    @friend from the north:That's not really what the Black Swan Falacy is about, it's about ignoring new evidence to protect earlier conclusions, respectively the unwillingness to adapt your views to contradicting evidence.Example (from IronChariots):* A: All of the swans I have ever seen have been white. Therefore, all swans are white.* B: Here's a black swan.* A: All swans are white, therefore that can't be a swan. A Black Swan Falacy would be:* A: There is definately no god.* B: Here is absolute proof of a god.* A: Your proof is valid, however I already know that there is no god, so the being you're describing can't be a god.///The only remaining question: Are unicorns really horses? What about pegasi?

  22. says

    Cole;Please don't have any illusions about Northern Ireland. This was mainly a group of deluded xtians killing another group of deluded xtians on a relatively small scale and became as much a political war as a religious one. For the most part, any bombing that happened on the British mainland was against property rather than killing civilians. Coded warnings were given to the police which enabled them to evacuate areas that were to be bombed. It was the tiny splinter groups that broke from the IRA that set off bombs without warnings to kill and maim people. Shootings that happened in NI were generally against the paramilitaries of the opposing factions or the security services. The former Yugoslavia……basically backward, simple people whose lives and culture had changed very little in the last 100 years or so therefore the same old religious tribalism flared up once again when the country broke up.When I talk about muslim violence I'm not just talking about terrorist attrocities. I'm talking about an ideological mindset that is harmful to women, gays, apostates and basically anybody that doesn't follow the tennets of the koran and the divinty of allah.I've yet to hear a xtian preacher call for the death of a former believer who wrote a book critical of xtianity or command fellow xtians to murder cartoonists. The different mindset is very stark and quite clearly much more dangerous.

  23. says

    Just to clarify my point- I am not saying that I am convinced Islam is inherently more dangerous, although I do see some evidence. What I am saying is that all religions are not always and in every case equal in their foundations. It may be possible for one religion to be different and more dangerous to the world. If we don't agree on that, why bother with specifics?

  24. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  25. says

    @six45iveThe reason you don't see that level of extremism in christianity is that those nations which are mainly christian have undergone dramatic reforms over the centuries. Islam has had no such "enlightenment age" and therefore is closer in it's observance to the bronze age mythologies it's derived from. The christian doctrines in their purity are as intolerant as the muslim doctrines. We're just fortunate enough to have had the violent past that let us escape from most of its oppressive nature.

  26. says

    Are the Muslims who sign up for suicide bombings not just as deluded as the Christians in Ireland? The fact that the conflict there was small and didn't claim as many civilian lives as recent Islam inspired attacks doesn't change the fact that religion was a driving factor. Nor do I think that if I were, say, a Catholic and had lived in Ireland during the conflict's peak, would I feel much safer knowing that at least I wasn't under attack by Muslims.In regards to the comment about Yugoslavia, has the Muslim culture changed a whole lot in the last few centuries? I know that certain parts of the Muslim world have joined the 20th century in terms of technology over the last several decades, and i know the region has a rich history. Culturally, however, it seems that many, especially the extremists, could be considered backwards.The major difference seems to be that the Serbs and Croats haven't taken their conflict beyond their borders.Is Christian ideology not harmful to women and homosexuals? That would be news to me.I realize your talking about actual physical harm, and I'm being a bit facetious. Although I would be remiss if I didn't point out that a great deal of the violence perpetuated against gay individuals could be attributed to Christianity. I also realize that the Qur'an contains a number of passages that making instilling hate and violent behavior very easy. However, I think any religion can be twisted into a tool to inspire people to violence. The fact that there aren't vocal preachers standing at their pulpits commanding their flock to strike out at gays and Muslims does not, in my mind, make the extremist Christian groups somehow less dangerous than the extremist Muslim groups. Small segments of both religions are willing to use their faith as an excuse to kill, it's just that they each have different reasons for doing so.I will concede that the last several years has seen an upsurge in militant Islam, and thus currently it can be considered the most dangerous religion. However, that has not always been the case, nor do I think that it will always be this way.

  27. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  28. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  29. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  30. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  31. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  32. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  33. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  34. says

    @ SecularDadThe article is silly blathering nonsense. The author makes unsubstantiated claims concerning his 'agnosticism' that knowledge of god/s is/are impossible. This is incorrect."we are dealing with claims that cannot in principle be proven either way ever."This is a totally false assertion. Just because a proposition is unfalsifiable doesn't mean it can't have evidence in its favour. Let's say that the deists are correct. Right now, their belief in a creator god that doesn't interfere at all with the world is unsubstantiated and unfalsifiable. However, that doesn't stop said god from showing up tomorrow to let everyone know he/she/it is here and wants us all to know. Unfalisfiable claims cannot be proven false, but they can be demonstrably true. His position that knowledge of god/s is impossible is an irrational position. We don't know if knowledge of god/s is impossible, and anyone who asserts that it is is making an unsubstantiated claim.Furthermore, his analogy with the galaxies is flawed. First, we don't know what kind of evidence will be available for future astronomers, or the tools they will have at their disposal. It's silly to conclude that they will necessarily believe that there are no galaxies. We can't make that judgement. Furthermore, they WILL have evidence that galaxies exist, it will be enshrined in hundreds of thousands of years of substantiated evidence from former astronomers and scientists. "I think it’s much easier to convince someone to change their mind about something when I can claim to have knowledge, because with that claim of knowledge comes presentable evidence. And then I think this is easier still when you aren’t trying to sell a belief that does not come with evidence or knowledge as part of the package."Apply this reasoning to fairies. "Do you have evidence that fairies DON'T EXIST?!?!? How can you try to convince someone that they don't exist if you don't have KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CLAIM?!?!?"His position is absurd. Skepticism DOES have a mechanism to deal with unfalsifiable claims. They require evidence, like any other claim. His conflation that unfalsifiability means that evidence is impossible either way is absurd. Furthermore, just because we can't prove them wrong doesn't mean we should not withhold belief. Without evidence, the proper position is to withhold belief. This is includes gods, fairies, goblins, transcendental pixies, the invisible Loch Ness monster that moved from the lake to my closet, etc.

  35. says

    Just to add to Daemon6's point above, look at the majority Christian countries of Africa today. The version of the religion practiced there has not been filtered through the enlightenment values as it has in Europe and the US. The only current difference is that the African nations where Christianity has strong influence are largely focused inward while the Islamic nations place their focus mostly on the outside.

  36. says

    Cole;Basically….what daemon6 said.The point I was making about NI was that, for the most part, the terrorist attacks weren't indiscriminate in the way that, as far as I know, all muslim attacks have been.On top of that, I'm not saying that xtianity isn't, or never has been, discriminatory towards women and gays or that xtianity isn't harmful to society in general. For me it is very much about the levels and types of attrocities that are committed on behalf of a particular religion that's important meaning that you have to put your energy and resources into fighting what is the biggest threat out there rather than what you perceive the biggest threat to be. And that, without a doubt, is islam.Your comment about a recent rise in militant islam seems to show your ignorance of the attrocities and human rights abuses that have gone on in muslim countries for many centuries. The execution of gays, the stoning of women (and sometimes men) who've been accused of adultery, widespread female and male genital mutilation, forced and multiple marriages of men to female children, the forced covering of women, the general repression of women in limiting their social lives and education. Do you seriously believe that all these attrocities have only come about with the so called rise in militant islam over the last few years?This is not just about terrorism. This is about raising awareness that even so called moderate islam is incompatible with a civilised, western, democratic society and yet it seems that certain liberals in the US are OK in giving it a pass because an (arguably) anachronistic constitution says it's OK to do so.

  37. says

    Oh…..and not to mention the death sentence for apostates.As atheists we'd all be in trouble if that was still the doctrine of xtianity.

  38. says

    I'm well aware that the atrocities committed in the Islamic world are not new things. I'm also aware that if you shine the light of history on Christianity you see the same thing. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Witch Trials. They just used fire instead of rocks.I take issue with the idea that we need to devote our resources to threat A just because it seems a little more severe than threat B. I see Christians make the argument that Islam is the threat, not them, so go criticize the Muslims. There are Christians in America that treat women as second class citizens. Some have even argued recently that the Civil Rights amendment doesn't extend to women. There are Christians in America that believe violence is an acceptable solution to the "gay threat." They certainly believe that homosexuals don't deserve basic civil rights. There are Christians in America that blow up abortion clinics and kill abortion doctors. There are Christians in America that want to turn the Constitution into the Bible Part 2. Do not begin to tell me that somehow all that is less of a threat just because the Christians don't bury someone up to their neck and throw rocks at them.Should Islam be left alone, free from criticism for atrocities committed in its name? No. But neither will I allow Christians to traipse unopposed through America as they tear away at the basic rights and liberties of those that live here.

  39. says

    I'm tempted to keep quiet because this sounds like the same kind of "sky is falling" conspiracy theory bullshit that I suspect we're all sick of hearing… but…six45ive, did you know that there are people over here in the UK who fervently believe that our only hope for survival against the ravening hordes of Islam is to reembrace a Catholic theocracy? Sure, they're (supposedly) only motivated by a desire to protect Britain from Islam, but would we be better off in a Catholic theocracy than an Islamic one?The sky is not falling… they're a small group of lunatics as far as I'm aware, but still, religious people are all capable of madness.Islam is not the problem any more than Christianity was the problem for the last millenium and a half. The problem is dogmatic nonsense and brainwashing. Address the problem, not one specific subset of problematic symptoms.

  40. says

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes_for_evidence_of_the_paranormalHOW NOSTRADAMUS WON ALL THE PARANORMAL PRIZES!en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NostradamusTHE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTIONyoutube.com/user/xviolatex?feature=mhum

  41. says

    It puzzles me that many people try to cover the issue of Islam with the wet warm blanket of the Christian past and the potential dangers from other possible religions. But the question is not how to resolve dangers from the Middle Ages or from the 30th century. The questions are "what is the danger NOW?", "what are the fears NOW?" "How do we go about trying a workable relationship with dangerous people who feel implicitly supported by the Islamic community NOW?"

  42. says

    I always hear the argument that there was never any reform in Islam and Islamic societies. Most of these countries where British or French colonies. That is a huge change in my opinion. There is another point that should be remembered, most arab countries had large minorities, several flavors of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others (in some cases these "minority groups" made up more than 50% of the population). In the 50's and 60's there were major secular movements all over, worthy of mention are Nasser in Egypt, Ben Bella in Algeria or the Palestinian PLO (which was mostly secular). One important Palestinian leader was George Habash who had Christian origins but was completely secular in his outlook. When talking about Islam one of the more shocking aspects which always come up are the suicide bombers. This is also something new: a product of the 80's.I remember reading a text by Tariq Ali where he was talking about a conversation he had with another Pakistani in the late 60's and early 70's. He mentioned that he was worried about extremists and the other guy replied that he should not worry about that because the mullahs were too busy banging boys behind the mosque (that sounds familiar…).My point is that things are not so simple. There is obviously something messed up in those societies and that the west has a lot of responsibility in what is happening today. But the main point is that when dealing with religion, things can change from bad to completely fucked up in very little time and often we don't even know why.

  43. says

    Permafrost, it does make sense to deal with the problems of now, it's just not sufficient.When you have a cold, blowing your nose will give you instant relief, but unless you deal with the cold you'll just have to blow your nose again later.We need to deal with the mindset that these religions are founded upon, otherwise we'll just have to deal with these same problems again later.

  44. says

    Cole……I'll reply to "your quotes" individually."I'm well aware that the atrocities committed in the Islamic world are not new things. I'm also aware that if you shine the light of history on Christianity you see the same thing. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Witch Trials. They just used fire instead of rocks." Which simply brings me back to the point that Daemon6 mentioned. You're comparing apples and oranges. The comparison of xtianity 100s of years ago with islam today. It's a complete non sequitur and red herring."I take issue with the idea that we need to devote our resources to threat A just because it seems a little more severe than threat B. I see Christians make the argument that Islam is the threat, not them, so go criticize the Muslims." I'd agree with you if the islamic threat was 'a little more severe' but it's clearly not. The threat is overwhelmingly more severe. When xtians start to commit the same level of atrocities from a theological standpoint then I will agree with you but until then I'm afraid your assumptions are clearly wrong.

  45. says

    "There are Christians in America that treat women as second class citizens. Some have even argued recently that the Civil Rights amendment doesn't extend to women. There are Christians in America that believe violence is an acceptable solution to the "gay threat." They certainly believe that homosexuals don't deserve basic civil rights. There are Christians in America that blow up abortion clinics and kill abortion doctors. There are Christians in America that want to turn the Constitution into the Bible Part 2." I know…….and those xtians need to be continually challenged but there's a world of difference in professing something and actually carrying it out.As for xtians blowing up abortion clinics and murdering doctors, imagine how much worse it would be if these murdering xtians actually believed so fundamentally in what they were doing that they were prepared to martyr themselves in the same way that muslims have done. "Do not begin to tell me that somehow all that is less of a threat just because the Christians don't bury someone up to their neck and throw rocks at them." Of course it's less of a threat. Please tell me how a xtian expressing their reservations about a particular lifestyle has the same effect on society as a group of muslims flying planes into buildings. The effect of this on American society can be seen every day at airports across the country and in many other respects that I'm sure Americans experience on a daily basis since 9/11."Should Islam be left alone, free from criticism for atrocities committed in its name? No. But neither will I allow Christians to traipse unopposed through America as they tear away at the basic rights and liberties of those that live here." Are the atrocities of islam something that should be simply criticised or are they so serious that stronger action needs to be taken? However I've no real problem with the above statement but just make sure that while you're trying to put out the fire in your own house, the rest of the neighbourhood isn't burning down around you.

  46. says

    Spoondoggle;The problem is that we don't have the know how to eradicate the common cold just like we don't have the know how to eradicate religion. All we can do is treat the symptoms as we see them.However there's no point in spending vast amounts of time and energy on combating the common cold (xtianity) when everybody else is suffering from Pneumonia (islam)!

  47. says

    Spoondoggle…..I'll respond to "your quotes" individually."I'm tempted to keep quiet because this sounds like the same kind of "sky is falling" conspiracy theory bullshit that I suspect we're all sick of hearing… but…"How many more 9/11s or 7/7s do you need to experience to realise that the sky's already fallen in?What would it take for you to take your head out of your arse to understand the severity of the threat……a nuclear bomb going off in Central Park?"six45ive, did you know that there are people over here in the UK who fervently believe that our only hope for survival against the ravening hordes of Islam is to reembrace a Catholic theocracy? Sure, they're (supposedly) only motivated by a desire to protect Britain from Islam, but would we be better off in a Catholic theocracy than an Islamic one?"Of course I know that and I'll start to take their concerns seriously if and when they become a large minority and start to threaten and carry out terrorist acts.

  48. says

    "that is born from the ignorance of a 'socialist' style ideology that has remained fairly unchanged for the last 1000 years or so."Don't know what socialism is. There's a relevant test to decide:The school curriculum should be set by:a) A panel of publicly elected representatives that are accountable to public opinion.b) A structured community of academics appointed based on relevant qualifications that are accountable to equally qualified peers.Answer A and you're democratic, answer B and you're a socialist. Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses. The idea that socialism is a totalitarian regime is an Americanism.

  49. says

    "The sky is not falling… they're a small group of lunatics as far as I'm aware, but still, religious people are all capable of madness.Islam is not the problem any more than Christianity was the problem for the last millenium and a half. The problem is dogmatic nonsense and brainwashing. Address the problem, not one specific subset of problematic symptoms."But they're not a 'small number of lunatics' are they as you can see from last night's Panorama program (I'm assuming you live in the UK)?http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/world/europe/23britain.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=AMPUTATE&st=cseYour assertion that islam is no more of a problem than xtianity shows your ignorance of the voracity of islam as a meme compared to xtianity. As I pointed out earlier even moderate islam is incompatible with secular western values on the demands it puts on individuals. Individuality itself is a complete anathema to the muslim mindset and in a recent poll for a Channel 4 program it was found that 40% of muslims in the UK wanted sharia law to be the law that they follow.

  50. says

    "The former Yugoslavia……basically backward, simple people whose lives and culture had changed very little in the last 100 years or so therefore the same old religious tribalism flared up once again when the country broke up."don't simplify that conflict to religion because that was only a minor part of the whole thing

  51. says

    Dances_with_the_beast;I never said socialism. I simply described islam as a 'socialist' style ideology.What I mean is that it's an ideology that believes no one man has a greater worth than another man. No man should hold power over another man. Man should only be subserviant to Allah and his laws.All of these ideals are totally unworkable in a capitalist 21st century democracy and go just a tiny way to begin to explain why islam has fundamentally changed so little over the last 1000 years or so.

  52. says

    In the Hitchens-Dembski Debate, Dembski's argument for religion seems to play on the card that science is 'tentative' at best being inherent with mistakes and revisions and as such god still has a rightful place in our world.

  53. says

    Six45ive, have you ever read the full story of Chicken Licken? There is a reason that we talk of the sky falling and not of people trip-trapping over bridges.I'll give you the brief version. Chicken Licken is hit on the head by an acorn, which he perceives to be the sky falling. In a panic he sets out to tell the king of this catastrophe and gains a following of other forest creatures who, upon hearing that the sky had fallen, are also struck by panic and feel the need to tell the king of this catastrophe. They are so blinded by panic that, when taking directions from a fox, fail to notice that they are being directed into the foxes lair where they are all eaten. Because they are so blinded by their fear of one threat, they entirely fail to notice another threat and end up thoroughly dead. Panic. Solves. Nothing.Now, granted, my awareness of the underlying threat means that I have my head up my arse and cannot see that there is a threat from Islamic terrorism at all, and certainly, the king does need to be informed of the one and only threat that is Islamic terrorism (because once we deal with that, everything will be fine for ever and ever) but I actually think we would do better if we tried to address the problem of fanaticism in general rather than the specific problem of Islamic fanaticism alone.I have to agree that religious schools in general are a deeply troubling issue, but again, Islamic schools are not the only schools which are troubling. (Please do note that I am saying "not the only schools which are troubling" rather than "not the schools which are troubling.") Again, there is an underlying problem in the fact that faith schools exist at all and have their own curricula – education should be education, not indoctrination.Polls. Polls are difficult. 40% of Muslims polled want Sharia; that is not necessarily 40% of all Muslims. Where was the poll taken? What do they mean when they say the want Sharia? I have no problem, beyond the obvious problems, with social Sharia courts which only apply to Muslims and stay within the bounds of national law. I have serious problems with death sentences for being raped and amputations for stealing apples. But which are they referring to?I know, I know, I'm making excuses for them because I'm scared or something.My only assertion was that the underlying problem is the problem, not that the current face of the problem is no more of a problem than the previous face of it is today. Surely the fact that the problems we had for centuries under Christianity are the same problems we're having now with Islam are suggestive of this?True, no 17th century Christian flew a plane into a building, no 17th century Christian wore concealed bombs on busses and trains, but would they have done if the technology was available? (I mean wearable bombs. I know explosives have existed for a very long time.) Probably yes.More recent centuries have gone a long way toward dealing with the Christian problem such that it is more akin to an angry dog than the murderous barbarian it once was, but the underlying problems of credulity, dogmaticism and arrogance disguised as humility were left nearly untouched and Islam has jumped in to be the modern face of these problems.When we deal with Islam, we must deal with the underlying problems, otherwise we're just setting the stage for another religion. Maybe scientology. Ew.Geddit?Deal with the cold, don't just blow your nose, because you'll just have to blow it again later.

  54. says

    One of the most dangerous parts of irrational thinking comes when you can start making quick and broad decisions about who does not deserve human rights anymore. I certain irony strikes me when I consider that the above kind of thinking was most certainly employed by the 9/11 attackers and is also employed by those that oppose the NYC "mosque", just with opposite enemies. Granted, the mosque opponents are not endorsing death and it is a poor comparison in that regard, but the thought process is the same even if it is not as extreme.I have yet to hear any argument against the building of the mosque that does not involve "because they are Muslim". Islam is dangerous in that it is generally xenophobic and labels people on the outside unworthy of the rights of those on the inside, but if even a few Muslims can avoid this idea we are not justified in treating them all as if they do think that.We have laws against terrorism, we should enforce them. We just have to do better than1) Some Muslims attacked us.2) All Muslims must be treated as if they endorsed that attack.

  55. says

    First off let me say that suicide bombing is nothing new…kamikaze pilots anyone? Nationalistic fervor can be just as damaging as religious fervor, examples are found in Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, and Mao's China. I agree that the problem is not a specific brand of religion, but fundamentalism in all it's stripes.Human beings are very good at pointing out the threat of traumatic events, but not so good at pointing out common threats we face on a daily basis. This is why more people have a fear of flying but not a fear of driving even though the chances of dying in a car accident is much greater. 9/11 and 7/7 were horrible events, but the number of deaths is smaller than those who have died because they were told condoms were immoral and would not protect them from disease. We also tend to care more about those who died in the former events because they were white Westerners, while we don't care so much about those suffering in the Third World who are black or brown.I also think some have missed the point of the attacks. It was an attempt by Islamist extremists to panic the American (and western) public into giving away their rights and subverting the constitution. Which worked to a great degree. That is, after all, what I think they hate about us. They do not want a secular, pluralist society, but a theocracy with Sharia Law. However, this is exactly what the Christian right wants in the United States. A Christian nation that is based on the 10 commandments and the teachings of the Bible. As a secularist I find both of these notions equally frightening and worthy of an opposition.The reason atheists and secularists in the United States are so loud about Christianity is that they make up the majority of the voting public and therefore have a greater probability of installing a Christian theocracy than an Islamic one. I think this is very different in Europe where the threat of Islam is probably greater. Also given how overly PC many European nations are it makes them unwilling to call a spade a spade. But I must tell my European friends on this board that if they want to understand why atheists in the US go on and on about Christianity, go to a megachurch or the Creation Museum or the Holy Land Experience and you'll understand why we push back so hard. Our constant fight to keep our secular liberal democracy is almost always against the Christian majority, not Islamists who strap bombs to themselves and kill innocent people or others like Timothy McVeigh who bomb federal buildings and kill innocent people as well. I think some posters fixate on one incident and all ideas flow from that. All religions are dangerous in that they breed dangerously unthinking people.

  56. says

    Nationalism generates the same kind of unthinking and unquestioning people as well, which is another danger in the United States I worry a great deal about.

  57. says

    Spoondoggle…..I'll respond to "your quotes" individually again."Six45ive, have you ever read the full story of Chicken Licken? There is a reason that we talk of the sky falling and not of people trip-trapping over bridges.I'll give you the brief version. Chicken Licken is hit on the head by an acorn, which he perceives to be the sky falling. In a panic he sets out to tell the king of this catastrophe and gains a following of other forest creatures who, upon hearing that the sky had fallen, are also struck by panic and feel the need to tell the king of this catastrophe. They are so blinded by panic that, when taking directions from a fox, fail to notice that they are being directed into the foxes lair where they are all eaten. Because they are so blinded by their fear of one threat, they entirely fail to notice another threat and end up thoroughly dead. Panic. Solves. Nothing."The problem with Chicken Licken is that he only observes one event (an acorn dropping) and makes a clearly rash decision based on so little evidence. Islam is more like never ending golf ball size hail stones raining down on you in which case even hiding in a foxhole (xtian theocracy) may be preferable because the fox may be old and lost its teeth (which is certainly the case with xtianity in this country).Also I can assure you there's no panic in what I'm saying because I experience the cultural effects of so called moderate islam every day in the inner city school where I work with an approximately 20% muslim population. On top of that I work alongside a wonderful young muslim man who tells me the reality of islamic life on a daily basis and the unbelievable demands it puts on him in a culture that is so alien to what he's learnt in his local mosque.

  58. says

    As soon as the Biogenesis caller said, "the Law of Biogenesis" I really wanted Matt to briefly explain this law.Louis Pasteur's Law of Biogenesis states that life comes from pre-existing life, and does not spontaneously generate from non-life. This countered the thinking of the time that things like maggots spontaneously arose from rotting meat, or that mice and rats appeared from hay, or from mud and sunlight. (Or men from mud?)The Law of Biogenesis is an argument against spontaneous creation – against a form of Creationism. According to a strict observance of this law, life only comes from life – it's "turtles all the way down" and God is excluded.(Although, you did touch on God being "alive". "Does God fart?" was hilarious!)This "law" is modified – in much the way that Newton's laws were modified by Einstein – by the theory of, and study of Abiogenesis. Self-assembling chemistry is everywhere, all it takes is a mechanism for replication to get the ball rolling.

  59. says

    "Now, granted, my awareness of the underlying threat means that I have my head up my arse and cannot see that there is a threat from Islamic terrorism at all, and certainly, the king does need to be informed of the one and only threat that is Islamic terrorism (because once we deal with that, everything will be fine for ever and ever) but I actually think we would do better if we tried to address the problem of fanaticism in general rather than the specific problem of Islamic fanaticism alone."Classic case of strawman building you've got going on there I'm afraid. I've never once said that islam is the 'one and only threat'. For proof heres my post history on my local forum Sheffield Forum; http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/search.php?searchid=13191076I'm more than willing to give xtianity a good roasting when I'm in the mood."I have to agree that religious schools in general are a deeply troubling issue, but again, Islamic schools are not the only schools which are troubling. (Please do note that I am saying "not the only schools which are troubling" rather than "not the schools which are troubling.") Again, there is an underlying problem in the fact that faith schools exist at all and have their own curricula – education should be education, not indoctrination."No problem there. As I've already stated I work in a school and it's one hell of an eye opener. You may or may not be aware that Y10 students in the UK (15 yr olds) have to discuss creationism in regards to the fossil record in science classes if they wish to receive top grades in their exams.

  60. says

    Regarding Lee (who I very much doubt is an "atheist"):I've been hearing this "atheists have a double standard toward Muslims" claptrap a lot lately. Twice within the last week alone on the JREF forums from two of their resident fundamentalist trolls. Apparently we also ignore the growing "threat" of Sharia law being imposed into the States while hypocritically oppose Christian theocracy.Of course, the fact that 1) American Right-wing Christians far outnumber American Islamic militants, and 2) the former have far more access to the political process than the latter does not seem to sway them. They are convinced that atheists coddles Islam as part of of some sad attempt to try to tar non-believers as being in league with America's "enemies." (Sound familiar?)I don't know where these morons get their talking points from, but it's getting awfully tiresome.

  61. says

    "Polls. Polls are difficult. 40% of Muslims polled want Sharia; that is not necessarily 40% of all Muslims. Where was the poll taken? What do they mean when they say the want Sharia? I have no problem, beyond the obvious problems, with social Sharia courts which only apply to Muslims and stay within the bounds of national law. I have serious problems with death sentences for being raped and amputations for stealing apples. But which are they referring to?"I've tried to find the video but I can't remember the title. It was on Channel 4 in the UK a couple of years ago. I seem to recall that the poll was asked of 3000 muslims about sharia law in both its civil and criminal manifestations as to whether sharia should be the overarching law that they abide by even if it conflicts with British law.As for civil sharia law that we already have in the UK I support this organisation http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/ which has helped to develop this report http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/New-Report-Sharia-Law-in-Britain.pdf highlighting clear human rights abuses and cases of sharia courts ruling on incidents outside of their remit.

  62. says

    "True, no 17th century Christian flew a plane into a building, no 17th century Christian wore concealed bombs on busses and trains, but would they have done if the technology was available? (I mean wearable bombs. I know explosives have existed for a very long time.) Probably yes.More recent centuries have gone a long way toward dealing with the Christian problem such that it is more akin to an angry dog than the murderous barbarian it once was, but the underlying problems of credulity, dogmaticism and arrogance disguised as humility were left nearly untouched and Islam has jumped in to be the modern face of these problems."You seem to have forgotten about Guy Fawkes!LOL.Again I would agree with most of what you're saying here."When we deal with Islam, we must deal with the underlying problems, otherwise we're just setting the stage for another religion. Maybe scientology. Ew.Geddit?"The problem is that you never say what the solution actually is, probably because, at this moment in time in history, we don't know what the solution is. We can only deal with the symptoms as and when they arrive. "Deal with the cold, don't just blow your nose, because you'll just have to blow it again later."But I've already said that just like we can't deal with the cold so we can't deal with islam in the accommodationist way that the American constitution (and other democratic systems around the world) is set up. All we can do is blow our nose to get rid of the islamic phlegm when it anchors itself firmly in our nasal passages.

  63. says

    To derail things a little, while listening to the Hitchens and Dembski debate, Dembski mentioned a quote from Hitler comparing Christianity to smallpox.I had never heard this, so I went on a search for this quote. Apparently, the comparison is completely made up by a French translator.http://www.nobeliefs.com/HitlerSources.htm

  64. says

    After listening to the show today, and speaking as someone who thinks libertarians are mostly narcissistic hypocrite pricks, I have to say that Lee gives libertarians a bad name.How the heck can call yourself a libertarian yet go on and on about how building a legal building on private land is improper? Irony meter overload!

  65. says

    Regarding the Australian caller's question about people suiciding and becoming depressed after leaving religion, my husband knows quite a bit about that. He's a former fundamentalist pastor from the south who is now an atheist. We recently started doing a podcast about his experience leaving the faith and how difficult it was and how he's gotten past it and how life can be very wonderful and gave plenty of meaning without god. It's called Living After Faith if anyone's interested. Hope this isn't too spammy. :)

  66. says

    I think the hosts were a bit hard on Lee. Yes, his overall statement about atheists was too broad and ultimately incorrect. But I think the point he was trying (badly) to make about the "mosque" is at least somewhat valid.As I understood it, he was trying to say that the hosts (or atheists in general, not sure) are quick to call Fred Phelps an asshole, or to harshly judge Christians who try to push ID into schools. They don't generally take the approach that, "They have the legal right to do those things so we shouldn't judge them." They do, in fact, judge them, even if they acknowledge their rights to do those things. Lee was asking why, when it comes to the "mosque", some atheists (though hardly "all", as he said) seem to focus very much on the legal aspect, and take the approach that *because* it's legal, we shouldn't judge it.I can see his point, barely.

  67. Martin says

    I wouldn't say Lee was being as reasonable as you think. He pretty much flat out accused us of being soft on Islam, which is crap.As we pointed out to Lee, his Fred Phelps analogy collapsed in that the people responsible for Park51 are not the same people responsible for the 9/11 attacks, though both groups profess Islam as their religion. Religious people, deluded as they may be, are not some kind of hive-mind. Not all Muslims bear collective guilt for 9/11, any more than all Christians bear collective guilt for the crimes of abortion clinic bombers, pedophile priests, or the ravings of Phelps.

  68. says

    Quantum: It depends on how you define "libertarian." if you want to use the traditional definition of some who advocates government non- interference in both economic policy and personal autonomy, then no, Lee is not a libertarian.If you're using the new Tea Party definition of the word, someone too right-wing for the KKK, then Lee is spot on.

  69. says

    What aggravates me is the false dichotomy that Creationists like Mr. Biogenesis use to distinguish "life" from "non-living" matter. When last I checked, all life is composed of all the same atoms that inanimate matter is made from, only in differing proportions and arrangements. Living creatures are not composed of divinely created "magic matter" that mystically imparts " life" to it.What Creationist who dredge up arguments about Tornados-creating-747-out-of-junkyards fail (or flat out refuse) to grasp are the magnitudes of time and opportunity for abiogenesis to have occurred. Vast oceans thick with organic molecules, churning away for millions of years under the right atmospheric pressures and compositions, operating under the physical laws of the universe, could quite easily give rise to more complex self-replicating molecules. Then, after several more millions of years, more complex variants of those molecules give rise to simple life forms, and so on as the ball of evolution starts rolling.Of course that sort of answer does not sate the YEC whose narrow interpretation of his holy book excludes " millions of years." (Ken Hamm and his Fundie Funhouse in Kentucky loves to make a big deal out of that.) Nor the OEC who wants to use creative translations of Hebrew words to stretch six 24-hour days into vast undefined lengths of time in a laughable attempt to give the Genesis account some scientific credence. It only sort of works on those who Creationists who embrace "theistic evolution" and are willing to accept science so long as it includes a hidden creator who used natural processes with human beings as the intended result. Creationism used to a way of explaining the existence of the universe before science could give us a more accurate explanation. Now it is a means for some to escape the conclusions of that science; that humans are just another animal in an uncaring, meaningless universe. It is superstition to excuse hubris.And they have the gall to accuse atheists of arrogance!

  70. says

    I am "Lee in Richmond" and I never proposed that the Ground Zero Mosque be made illegal. Even a legal thing can be a bad idea.I think all religion is based on irrational thought, therefore I think ALL religious leaders promote irrational thought. As a result, I put all relious leaders into the same category, including Imam Rauf and Fred Phelps.(Christopher Hitchens wrote an excellent article on this issue, describing Rauf's statements "shady and creepy").Is it possible a religious leader would put the interests of his religion over the interests of humanity as a whole? I'd say yes. In fact, I'd say it's very likely. Why is it so hard to think Rauf might want to do something hurtful and insenstive to further the interests of his religion? Certainly wouldn't be the first time a religious leader has done it.

  71. says

    @AtheistVaWhy is it so hard to think Rauf might want to do something hurtful and insenstive to further the interests of his religion? Certainly wouldn't be the first time a religious leader has done it.We have this concept of "innocent until proven guilty". Sure, he can do something hurtful, but he's not established to be a guilty of anything, not even by association.

  72. says

    To clarify; sure, we can be wary of such an individual, and keep an eye on him, but it would be wrong to accuse him, or otherwise restrict him from being as free as any other member of society, if he's done nothing wrong.Society can't exist if everyone is paranoid of one another.

  73. says

    Once again, I NEVER said that it should be illegal for him or anyone else to build a mosque near Ground Zero (I wish someone would listen to that). I'm simply saying that it's rude and insensitive and may be doing it to further the interests of his religion. As Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, Imam Rauf has some suspicioius ties and has made some "scary and creepy" comments about 9/11."If you don't let me build a mosque at this location, violence will erupt.""If you draw that carton of Mohammad, violence will erupt.""If you burn that Qu'ran, violence will erupt.""If you show that Theo van Gogh movie, violence will erupt."At some point, you have to stop backing down and place the blame where it squarely belongs: on those threatening the violence (A veiled threat is still a threat)>

  74. says

    @AtheistVaOnce again, I NEVER said that it should be illegal for him or anyone else to build a mosque near Ground Zero (I wish someone would listen to that).I understand that, but it's always the logical conclusion to what you're rambling on about. If it isn't, then why are you speaking?It's like you're railing against drunk driving, but then insisting that we do nothing about it.I'm simply saying that it's rude and insensitive and may be doing it to further the interests of his religion.…. so what? People are allowed to be rude, insensitive, and attempt to further their religion. It's called America.As Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, Imam Rauf has some suspicioius ties and has made some "scary and creepy" comments about 9/11."If you don't let me build a mosque at this location, violence will erupt.""If you draw that carton of Mohammad, violence will erupt.""If you burn that Qu'ran, violence will erupt.""If you show that Theo van Gogh movie, violence will erupt."A christian or athiest could have said the same things, and they'd still be true. The fact he's stating facts about others of his religion isn't an advocation of those activities. At some point, you have to stop backing down and place the blame where it squarely belongs: on those threatening the violence (A veiled threat is still a threat)>Thought crimes are not a good thing. We don't back down. We treat all theists the same. When they do bad things, we take appropriate action.But they actually have to DO something first.If we took action every time some christian made a threat (veiled or not), millions of our population would be going straight to jail right now.How exactly are we supposed to not "back down" when we're also simultaneously not allowed to bar them from doing things?

  75. says

    Making something illegal is not the "logical conclusion." Hopefully, dissuading through rational discussion and would be sufficient, without either side resorting to threats of legal action or violence.Yes, it is their legal right to be rude and insensitive. And it is my legal right to speak against those being rude and insensitive. Example: Fred Phelps recently held a protest at a funeral in my area, and many atheists (and christians) banded together for a counter-protest.Even the ADL has taken a position against this mosque. If Imam Rauf is interested in "healing wounds" and "building bridges" maybe he should speak to the "others of his religion" who are threatening violence instead of those who oppose the mosque. After all, we aren't threatening anyone.If peace really is his goal, he should be willing to simply move the mosque as a gesture of goodwill to thwart the extremists, to show that Islam can be kind and senstive. But I'm not counting on it. I stand by my earlier statement on ALL religious leaders.

  76. says

    @AtheistVaI mostly agree with your points, however, my stand on the issue is slightly different.I think they should build 10 mosques around ground-zero – not so much to "back off" islam, but rather to make a point to the rest of the country, about the civil liberties and constitution that we have.If you want to get christians on the side of secularism, the lightning-fast approach is to have another religion flex its muscles. Then they have that divine revelation as to why we have a secular nation.I'm not "backing off" this issue, because I'm applying my stance equally. Follow the law and constitution. I just don't see that legally buying a building near ground-zero, and building a community center is a problem beyond the average christian church being plopped down somewhere else in the nation.

  77. says

    "If you want to get christians on the side of secularism, the lightning-fast approach is to have another religion flex its muscles. Then they have that divine revelation as to why we have a secular nation"Yes, I have heard the theory that atheists should side with Islam to oppose Christian tyranny ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend"). But encouraging any religion to "flex its muscles" is inherently dangerous. Remember, Islam has little love for atheists, there is the chance they'll "flex their muscles" on us. Also, there's no guarantee that Christians will ever get on the side of secularists, it might simply make them more militant.Again:It should be perfectly legal to build a mosque anywhere. I've never argued differently. It should be perfectly legal to protest funerals. I've never argued differently.Yes, this is America. It is perfectly legal to do an "in your face" to the families of murder victims. It is perfectly legal to be a dick (hopefully I'm safe using one of Matt's favorite terms).I do admire Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Pat Condell for having the courage to speak out against Imam Rauf and the Ground Zero Mosque. It's the podcasters (American Freethought, Freethought Radio, and the Non Prophets) who seem to be taking an accomodationist position. (Or as Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls it, "surrender on the installment plan").I also stand by my original position: Religion is based on irrational thought, religious leaders exist to promote irrational thought. Therefore, I have a basic distrust of all religious leaders.

  78. Martin says

    It's the podcasters (American Freethought, Freethought Radio, and the Non Prophets) who seem to be taking an accomodationist position.Then you're continuing to misrepresent us deliberately. It is neither accommodation nor surrender to acknowledge the Constitutional rights of religious groups — even ones we don't like, which would pretty much be all of them — to build whatever they please when they please. Indeed, you did it yourself just now. Somehow you've decided that when we do it, it's different.One of these days you'll quit lying and throwing around double standards, Lee, and then you might be worth talking to.

  79. says

    @LeeYes, I have heard the theory that atheists should side with Islam to oppose Christian tyranny ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend").The only peoples' side I'm on are the ones who are within their constitutional rights, versus those who aren't. If the roles were switched, I'd be backing the christians over the muslims.It's fine to be wary of these people, and to keep on guard. If you want to try to persuade them to do something else, that's fine too. Once they decide to invoke their rights, the discussion is over – unless you want to open a new discussion about what rights we should have, in general.

  80. says

    @MartinI hope you'll have the integrity to admit that you were too busy shouting me down last week to acknowledge that I NEVER advocated taking legal action against the Ground Zero Mosque.I do acknowledge their constitutional rights. I also acknowledge when religious groups use their constitutional rights to be rude and insensitive, i.e. Imam Rauf and Fred Phelps. That isn't a double standard… I'm being completely consistent. I criticize both.

  81. Martin says

    I hope you will have the integrity to admit that the reason you were being shouted down was that you were lying out your ass, accusing us of "tiptoeing around Islam" for acknowledging the same constitutional rights you are now acknowledging. You made the false claim that Rauf had threatened violence if Park51 was not built. You made a false analogy to Fred Phelps. You never gave a coherent answer as to why you had no objection to the two mosques that already exist in the Ground Zero area.That is what we do on AETV: Call out people who make false claims. We do it to atheists as well as theists.Neither Matt nor I have accused you of advocating legal action against Park51 (which, incidentally, isn't a mosque). What you have done is use the same collective-guilt argument against Park51's construction that the right wingers are using.Your double standard lies not in your criticisms of Rauf and Phelps, but in attacking us for holding views you also admit to holding.See, I can play the "integrity" game all day.

  82. says

    There is no mosque closer to WTC than Cordoba House. A mosque is a place dedicated exclusively to Muslim prayer. Cordoba House will contain a mosque.Mosques near WTC site Much has been made of a proposed mosque at ground zero, but the Islamic center would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal Lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearest of the two destroyed in the attacks. The center's location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam's former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds. Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site. – from MSNBC 8/18/2010

  83. Martin says

    Okay, so what's the problem?Tip: You don't get to use "people will be offended." Because that's irrelevant. You can't say Muslims shouldn't build a (facility that includes a) mosque because it would offend people any more than you can say atheists shouldn't have TV shows or billboards or podcasts because they would offend people.

  84. says

    I think Christopher Hitchens and Pat Condell said it much better than I could. It does seem that political correctness has rendered many people, even atheists, incapable of recognizing when they are being insulted.Then there is the issue of "collective guilt."1. We shouldn't condemn all Muslims for the bad actions of a few.2. We shouldn't condemn all Christians for the bad actions of a few.3. We shouldn't condemn all Nazis for the bad actions of a few.If you're going to say that Nazis are an exception, I'd like to know the basis for the double standard. Once you declare your allegiance to an ideology, it does come with some baggage.

  85. Martin says

    The Nazis were not a religion. False equivalency. Also, -5 for Godwinning.And you missed the part where I said you cannot use "people will be offended." Being offended is no grounds to demand that a group voluntarily surrender their constitutional rights.

  86. says

    Why does it matter if I'm insulted? I'm constantly offended by these people. What matters is whether rights are being violated, harm is done to others, etc. When they are, we sure as hell call them out on it.

  87. says

    The Nazis were not a religion. False equivalency. Also, -5 for Godwinning.It's more than that, even. 1) The godwinning is taking advantage of an emotional knee-jerk reaction our culture has to anything nazi. There were probably innocent nazis. If a nazi has not committed a crime, that nazi shouldn't be incarcerated by association alone.2) The guilt-by-association also dilutes.A fairly small number of soldiers (~17Million) fought for Germany in WWII, many of which were lied to, and defending their homeland. A fraction of that were involved with the holocaust. An even smaller fraction of that were responsible for managing the holocaust.Should we condemn all Germans because they're German, just like the nazis? Maybe we should condemn all Europeans because Germany was part of Europe too.What what magical line does the guilt-by-association stop?Both Christianity and Islam have billions of people who haven't done anything wrong.While the books they "subscribe to" have vile commands within, most of these people (thankfully) rationalize away why they don't follow those. You cannot determine who is going to do what, simply due to the label they use. The more broad that label, the more difficult it is.

  88. says

    @JTQuestion about rights.The courts have decided that "In God We Trust" on currency is legal. No one's rights are being violated. Are they?

  89. Martin says

    JT: The godwinning is taking advantage of an emotional knee-jerk reaction our culture has to anything nazi. There were probably innocent nazis.Indeed there were a number of anti-Hitler Nazis who were convinced der Fuehrer was leading the nation to rack and ruin. The 40+ assassination attempts on his life by his own officers testify to that.Naziism's racial purity ideology was beyond abominable, as are the anti-Semitic writings of Martin Luther that inspired them. One can legitimately condemn an ideology without making the mistake of thinking that everyone born under that ideology had the choice of adopting it willingly, or agreed with it in principle, let alone actively participated in its dissemination. Children are born into Catholic and Lutheran families every day. Do they merit the label "anti-Semite" right out of the womb?

  90. says

    Not a false equivalency."All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and a singlehearted allegiance."- Eric Hoffer, from The True Believer, on the Nature of Mass Movements

  91. Martin says

    Lee, I have no doubt that you can find quotes from books all the live long day to validate your views. None of this changes the relevant fact that not every Christian or Muslim living and breathing on the surface of the earth today is a fervent, hate-crazed intolerant fanatic enthusiastically ready to die. You're continuing to look for justifications to apply collective guilt and it isn't working.Indeed the false equivalency you drew earlier is an example of how dishonestly you're arguing now. You offered the line about not blaming all Christians or Muslims for the crimes of a few, then immediately switched to the emotional-button-mashing topic of Nazis (ooo, I see what you did there!), ignoring that the former are world religions that have existed for millennia while the latter was a fascistic and expressly racist political ideology that only ran its country for 12 years before being destroyed utterly. And by treating Nazis as if they were interchangable with Muslims and Christians — because who would ever want to be caught out saying there's such a thing as a "good" Nazi? Hah! Gotcha! — you end up implying that one should blame all Christians and Muslims for the crimes of a few. If one Christian has ever been an ultraconservative homophobic anti-abortion Glenn-Beck-loving wingnut who ever beat up a gay man, then they all are.And that, to put it politely, is fucked.

  92. says

    My final comment on this issue:"Organised religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children." – Christopher Hitchens from God is Not Great.Thank you Hitch.

  93. Martin says

    Oh no, he's whipped out the Hitch! I'm meltiiiiiinnng…!Yes, organized religion is those things. In fact, I think we've been making that very point on TV since, oh, 1997.Now, are all religious people that way? No they aren't. (Which is why, I'd argue, many are leaving the fold and becoming more secular.)There's a meaningful distinction there that you just don't want to make in all your hiding behind quote-shields, Lee.

  94. says

    Which is it?First you say that we can only condemn individuals who commit wicked acts, and should not condemn religion as a whole, because in your words "are all religious people that way? No they aren't"Then you say that we can condemn religion as a whole because it "is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children."You can't have it both ways. Oh wait, yes you can. It's called a "double standard." I'd like to hear you spend as much time doing critical analysis of the Qu'ran as you do the Bible. I'd like to hear you cover some of the violent crimes going on around the world in the name of religions other than christianity. What I hear from podcasters is hours and hours of criticism of "crazy Qu'ran burning preachers" and child-molesting priests.Fact is: The Politically Correct Left in this country exercises this same hypocrisy every day: making excuses for Islam in a way they would never do for Christianity.I simply wanted to state my opinion. I got shouted down and hung up on pretty quickly last week. I know you'll disagree and call me a liar, idiot, etc. but I'm okay with that. If I were looking for acceptance, I'd pretend to be christian and join a church.

  95. says

    How about: people can condemn religion but they can't impinge the rights of the religious because they are religious?And since we've established Park51 is legal and not triumphal, what does it have to do with being 'soft on Islam' either way?

  96. says

    You can't have it both ways. Oh wait, yes you can. It's called a "double standard." Not even remotely. It's one standard applied to two different things.One is attacking the ideas posited by people who've formed/manage a religion.The other is attacking the actions by individual people.What you're doing is asserting that anyone of a religion is guilty because they're a member of that religion, even if that individual hasn't done anything wrong.Of course we think the religion of the mosque-guy is stupid, and will say so. I could even agree that his actions are "rude", however, his actions are not in violation of any law.We defend the constitutional rights of anyone.It just so happens that the christians have an unending assault on the constitution in this country right now, whereas the muslims don't.Fact is: The Politically Correct Left in this country exercises this same hypocrisy every day: making excuses for Islam in a way they would never do for Christianity.That's assuming the sheer level of non-comprehension, misrepresentation and ignorance that you've managed to achieve.

  97. says

    I can see some valid points on both sides here, and I actually think the areas you (Martin and Lee) both agree are probably more numerous than the places you don't.Correct me if I'm wrong, but you both seem to:1. Agree that the owners of Park51 have the legal right to build a "mosque" on it.2. Agree that you are (to varying degrees) not in favour of seeing it built.3. Agree that the building of it may upset some people.The disagreement, it seems to me, comes from what someone should DO about it. One side seems to think that, given #1, nothing should be done about it. The other side seems to think, given #2/#3, something SHOULD be done about it. That's where Lee's analogy about Phelps has some validity, I think (even though the way he presented it on the show was not valid). All three of those things above are also true about Phelps' protests of soldier's funerals–they're legal, they offend people and we all probably would rather they didn't happen.The difference is, when some people decide to take action against Phelps by staging a counter-protest, they aren't generally admonished for trying to take away someone's rights. Yet that is what tends to happen to people who want to protest the building of the "mosque".That's the difference I think Lee is trying to point out here.As evidence for his overall claim that atheists are "soft on Islam", I think it's pretty weak, but on its own it is a valid point. Lee: "I'd like to hear you spend as much time doing critical analysis of the Qu'ran as you do the Bible. I'd like to hear you cover some of the violent crimes going on around the world in the name of religions other than christianity."Well, here you lose me, Lee. As an American show, I have no problem with AE and NP focusing on America's primary religion. Suggesting that they don't *already* "cover some of the violent crimes going on around the world" related to Islam is also inaccurate.

  98. says

    Hmm, it occurs to me that there is a significant difference between the two examples above–in the Phelps case, their actions are clearly trying to cause offense; in the Park51 case, there is no direct evidence that they are (though many assume it to be the case). I'm not 100% sure if that should make a difference or not, but it might be the actual focal point of the disagreement here.

  99. Martin says

    Eric: You got it in your second comment. The general assumption among opponents of Park51 is that Imam Rauf and the group building the place are all high-fiving each other and dancing to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" over the 9/11 attacks, and that the construction is a deliberate middle finger to Manhattan for a job well done. They offer no evidence that this is so, of course, but since the goal is to stoke fear of terrorism (the same reasoning used to justify all these ball-groping TSA airport searches), evidence really isn't part of the playbook.Again, Lee's Phelps analogy fails because when people protest Phelps and the WBC, they are protesting things those people have done. To draw an accurate analogy to what the anti-Park51 crowd is doing, you'd have to picket and protest every single Christian church that sought to be built in Kansas over the actions of Phelps, whether or not those churches had any affiliation to Phelps, or even if they repudiated him. Phelps is Christian, those people are Christian, so obviously, they all think the same and share the responsibility for anything each of them does.Lee: I'd like to hear you cover some of the violent crimes going on around the world in the name of religions other than christianity.And we have, many times, over the last 13 years we've done the show. We've energetically attacked Muslims, Scientologists, Raelians, you name it. Another false assumption you should outgrow is this idea that if you haven't seen us talk about something, we haven't talked about it. Anyone who has any background with AETV at all knows that we aren't "soft" on Islam, so any continued accusations along those lines only make you look willfully ignorant.

  100. says

    I'm going to go one step further here and say that I don't believe the Park51 project is even offensive one tiny bit. 9 years after, 3 blocks away, and having nothing to do with the perpetrators of 9/11 (and a completely different sect of Islam) makes this project 100% non-offensive. Even if it were only a mosque and not a community center with a prayer space in it, I don't see anything wrong with it. Not offensive, not insensitive, not rude at all.

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